how did you keep your sanity underway?
what do submariners do to keep their sanity while underway? for us on the old seawolf, liberty ports were non-existent. following overhaul, we went to san diego for degaussing, and keyport/dabob bay for torpedo trials and ship silencing testing. that was the infamous "East Pac" run following our refueling. when we went to sea, it was for a long time, with no pitstops, unless something broke. a pitstop in pearl in 74 for a new evaporator basket comes to mind.
so how did we keep our act together. it could be argued that we didn't, but that's for another post.
i can't tell you how many sets of "Flintstones" or Sesame Street sheets covered bunks. many of the married guys "borrowed" their kid's sheets just to have something of home nearby. and in that environment, the expected ribbing simply didn't exist, because we "got it".
some took "listerine" to sea with them. listerine had about the same visual characteristics of Scotch. that was in the days listerine came in glass bottles, and you could tell there was a whole bunkpan full when we were on the surface. rattle rattle clink, rattle rattle clink in time with the rocking and rolling of the boat was usually a dead giveaway.
others played cards or acey-duecy for hours on end.
many qualified every watchstation they could, just to pass the time. i was a nook, with my sonar supervisor card, torpedoman of the watch card, diving officer of the watch card, and junior officer of the deck card all filled out.
many, like me, had our noses buried in a book. i usually took something like 50 books to sea, read them, and then swapped for others. i can remember being pissed that we were out at sea because Stephan R. Donaldson was releasing a new book in the Ill Earth cycle, and i wasn't going to be able to read it for a couple of months. sad, but true.
We made bowling pins out of tape and rags, and rolled EB green duct tape rolls in a makeshift bowling alley in the engineroom.
I learned to embroider. go ahead and laugh. it helped pass the time, and the motorcycle i embroidered on a workshirt was "BITCHIN"
we had a saying in the nuke world that we had raised sarcasm to the level of a performing art, and we practiced day in and day out.
i watched more abysmally bad movies than any free man should be exposed to.
i laid down on the deck under the after escape trunk once when we were in Nanaimo Bay for weapons trials. we had to disassemble the entire hydraulics systems on the boat after an A-ganger mistakenly struck down amines for the CO2 scrubbers into the hydraulic oil storage tanks. that necessitated a total teardown and rebuild of every hydraulics system on the boat. including the torpedo tubes. hence... nanaimo bay weapons accuracy range in British Columbia. but i digress.
here we are in beautiful Nanaimo, clear sunny skys above, with a few big poofy clouds to break up the monotony of nothing but blue. i pulled out my camera and took a picture of the sky through the hatch ring.
when we got home, i took the picture down to a poster shop in san francisco, and had a big poster printed.
the next time we got underway, i taped the poster over the hatch opening. it didn't take long before folks from up forward headed aft just to stand under the hatch looking up at a clear blue sky. i can't tell you how many times looking up at that poster helped clear my mind and help me cope with the fact that it had been months since i'd seen the sun, with a lot more time ahead of me down in the tube.
so, bubbleheads. what did you do to keep your sanity?