i'm getting ready for work, and i've got my favorite coffee in the world, Major Dickason's blend from Peets
brewing in the french press.
i love coffee. i've been drinking it since i was a kid, and i've had great coffee, and i've had really really terrible sour nasty make you want to wash your mouth out coffee over the years.
the worst stretch of my life, though, was an underway on the seawolf.
some wizard decided that the boat didn't need coffee grounds. instead, they installed these coffee makers that took a jar of Taster's Choice
instant coffee. you stuck your cup in the machine, pushed a button, and it started to whirl, mixing instant coffee with hot water, dispensing it into your cup.
it was horrible. i don't know if they've made any significant changes to the taste in the intervening years since 1976, but i'm here to tell you that what we were drinking was swamp water, septic tank runoff, chrome plating shop holding tank fluid. eeechhh.
fortunately, there were those of us that quietly rebelled. well, quietly would be mis-representing the case. we were vocal as hell. they installed these machines in the crews mess, and in the engineroom during the refit period prior to a spec op. so we had a chance to try out the coffee before getting underway. it was horrible. oh, i think i already said that.
this coffee was so nasty, and when we did garbage disposal unit (GDU) ops, dropping our trash and garbage out the end of a big pipe with weights in the bottom of the mesh bags we used, it was not unusual for sonar to report hearing a jar of this stuff implode as the water pressure increased during descent to the bottom. muffed booms. sonar calling cards. giant "hey you, we're over here" noises that submariners deplore. yet it still happened, even with the skipper threatening torpedo tube ejection while at depth. the crew hated this stuff and were willing to risk anything to get rid of it.
the word was, no grounds. makes too much of a mess, and the containers were too hard to get rid of at sea. never understood that, because we still had to get rid of the damned jars, didn't we? i'll concede that the accumulation of grounds could be problematic, but not undoable.
so, to make a long story even longer, we
appropriated 10 twenty pound cans of navy coffee, and squirreled them away outboard the main engine reduction gears. you had to be a dedicated sombich to find them, because there were a lot of obstacles between you and the coffee. and at least then, the coffee the navy bought and shipped out to the fleet was pretty good stuff. i.e. not portapotty liquid like the instant swill they were trying to foist off on us.
once we were underway, the 30 cup aluminum coffee pot came out of hiding, and on my watchsection, we always brewed a fresh pot of coffee. it didn't take long for the coners and wardroom to discover the nukes had real coffee. hell, you could smell it forward when we brewed it in the engineroom. all of a sudden, officers were fighting to get on the engineering watchbill, rather than standing officer of the deck. dudes we never saw aft of frame 45 during an underway were showing up in the engineroom to shoot the breeze. always with an empty cup in their hands, by the way.
it got to where the captain, Charlie Mac, would come aft with a cup, and ask if he could have a cup of our coffee.
see, we made a huge deal about our bringing our own personal coffee, stored in our own personal storage spots under our bunks. that was the only way we could get away with it. if the command figured out we had navy coffee, stored in the engineroom and not in our personal storage, taking place of candy, smokes, skivvies or whatever else you might take to sea with you, we would have been stomped flat.
but, make it sound like you were willing to sacrifice your own couple of cubic inches of storage to bring real coffee... hell, now you are a hero.
and since the rest of the crew all bought it that this was coffee bought out of our own paychecks at the grocery store, they didn't abuse our stash.
the whole thing was an elaborate exercise. we didn't have ziplock bags then. so when it was time to replenish the coffee, i would climb outboard the main engine carrying a 12 x 24 green poly bag, open a can, fill the bag, then tape the bag shut.
when people saw the coffee in taped bags that laid relatively flat, they bought the whole "personal space" line.
when we got back from our spec op, the skipper had the shipyard tear out the instant coffee dispensers, and had the supply office turn in the unused instant for credit on real grounds.
we were heroes in the eyes of the crew, willing to give up personal space and a large chunk of our paycheck just to drink real coffee. it was all a sham, but it worked!
Labels: seastory, seawolf