head was clogged for the better part of a week. None of us deck apes
could fix it, so Mista Mate took over. He tried all the usual remedies
and nothing worked. STILL CLOGGED. So he sat in that head and pondered
away for hours.
Finally, a "Eureka Moment!" Mate figured
if he hooked up the fire hose from the Lista to the discharge hose,
he could build up enough back pressure to blow out the Tarpaulin
Cove Mother Of All White Fish. So in his methodical way, he mapped
out the route the white fish must swim and the fire hose must be
attached in order to free the discharge line. As far as I know, Mate
traced the connections, the line, and the route on paper many, many
times both before and after the fire hose was connected. He could
not be wrong! He had it all figured out.
The fire hose was connected to the proper opening.
The other opening of the discharge hose (from which the white fish
would emerge, I mean explode) was inserted into a plastic bag in
a plastic trash barrel. Everything was set. Mate took Big John, Kip,
Steve, and me aside. Very solemnly, Mate explained the hose set-up
and stationed each of us along the fire hose for accurate communication.
If memory serves me, Steve was at the foot of B companionway, Kip
was at the top of B companionway (on deck) and John and I were at
the Lista (one at the valve and one at the on-off switch).Now here
is where events get cloudy, interesting, mysterious, confused, or
Mate decides to go below to get his complete
set of oilies on. I guess in case (God forbid) he did not trace the
line out correctly. Mate wasn’t gone
more than 5 minutes. But there he was all sealed up in oilskins — nothing
could penetrate. He stands at the companionway, checks to make sure
we are all in position, and descends as if going into hell to do
battle with the devil.
There was an audible hush over the entire
schooner. Hearts were pounding, mouths were dry. Each of us along
the fire hose was waiting with muscles tense ready to spring into
action with the Mate’s command. Mate checks out the line one
or two more times and then passes the command to Steve. Steve wide-eyed
and with voice croaking in anticipation passes the word to Kip. Kip
wheels around to face the Lista and relays the order to Big John
and me. “Fire up the Lista!”
We waited for pressure to build. “Open the
valve to the fire hose!” Nerves
were tense as we heard the Lista groan as it took the pressure. We knew the pressure
of that sea water was now in competition with the old white fish. The Lista strained
hard! The fire hose was rock hard and pulsating! Anything could happen! The tension
and anxiety were unbearable!
Suddenly a scream! More of a screech! No! More of
a shriek! This blood curdling sound shot up the companionway and
exploded over Tarpaulin Cove. TURN IT OFF! TURN IT OFF! TURN THE
_______ THING OFF!
We on the hose line were stunned. We had never
ever heard the reserved Mate like this. We were so stunned we were
immobilized. Our muscles and nerves all froze up at the same time.
We stared in awe with mouths agape as an apparition of the Mate (still
cursing) reached the top of the ladder and with one leap to the deck
went right over the starboard rail into the cove.
Not only was he
in full oilies and glasses, but he was covered with slime (you know
what that means). His oilies glistened with it. And the greatest
sight of all was the toilet paper hanging off both ears.
As you can
rightly imagine, the hose-line crew erupted into hysteria. All reverence
for the Mate passes within microseconds. We were rolling on the deck
in agony from laughing so hard. My sides still hurt just thinking
about that night in Tarpaulin Cove. Apparently the Mate took the
full charge squarely in the right ear.
To this day Mista Mate, Rob,
Big John, Steve, Kip, and I have never been the same. The head incident
in Tarpaulin Cove changed us forever. Mate thinks we changed the
feed on the discharge hose. We will go to our graves denying it.
We‘ll never tell!
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© 2007 Newport Harbor
Guide. All rights reserved.