Friday, October 30, 2009

Can you do a lien Florida???

A French female caller from Québec rattled the D-Man's cage this morning. She and her mate were considering buying a boat in Florida and she wanted to know where she could have a lien search done on said boat, here in Canada. Hilarious...

Liens are used in the world of finance, and also in the justice system. It is the claim against a property by a creditor or a court. A lien is removed once the debt is paid or a court ruling is satisfied.

Lien searches are due diligence involving a thorough search to see if there are any claims against the property of a business or an individual. Main sources of information in a lien search are the Provincial Enquiry Centres here in Canada, and County Clerk's and Secretary of State's offices in the USA.

It goes without saying that a lien search cannot be done here in Canada on a boat (or any other piece of property) that is from the United States or any other foreign country. It never ceases to amaze me, the number of people that still think it can be.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Why we must stay in Afghanistan...

Anyone who knows me or who has read any of my ramblings, will also know I am NOT a big fan of the media. In the main, they exist to muddy the waters, trivialize the important and glorify the imbecilic in this world, all in the name of garnering ratings, advancing their own political agendas and entertaining the masses. Basically, anything but actually reporting the news per se.

I found a very well-written article by Christiane Amanpour (of CNN fame...), which if nothing else, provides a very good background of logic as to why OUR troops are over in Afghanistan, as well as a very compelling argument as to why we should stay the course, until some sort of stability is achieved in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.


October has been the deadliest month for the US and NATO militaries fighting in Afghanistan as well as UN workers trying to organize an election runoff. Surely the surge in deaths serves to underscore why Afghanistan matters.

For all the debate happening away from the battlefield, here are a couple of important bottom-line questions:

Is the world prepared to see the Taliban and their opportunistic allies al Qaeda return to power in Afghanistan? Are people prepared for the terrorists' dream- photo-op of Mullah Omar and Osama Bin Laden sitting smiling together in Kabul?

And here's what's at stake:

The West fortunately has been free of terrorist attacks on its major cities in the last few years, but it was not so long ago that the London Tube bombings; mass murder in Madrid; mayhem in Mumbai in 2008; the murders of Benazir Bhutto and Daniel Pearl; the Bali bombing; the shoe bomber and, of course, 9/11 and the attacks on the World Trade Center changed our world and our way of life.

Together, those events created pervasive fear and anxiety, not to mention a change in our lifestyle caused by security measures in airports, trains, banking transactions and office buildings.

What all of these events have in common is that the perpetrators all came from, visited, were financed by, or were led by terrorist organizations operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan, especially the ungovernable territories on those countries' border. The Bush administration, in the view of some, may have gone too far in responding to these events by creating an all-encompassing "war on terrorism."

However, for the eight long years America and NATO countries have been at war in Afghanistan, this war, uniquely in modern history, is still supported by all the world's major powers, the neighbors of Afghanistan, and mostly by the people of Afghanistan, who dread both insecurity and a return to the brutal horrors of the Taliban.

If the threat of new terrorist attacks is not enough, what about the threat of a nuclear catastrophe?

Look at Pakistan this week. Horrific bombings in the frontier town of Peshawar and elsewhere have also killed scroes of people, just as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives to firm up security and development co-operation with that country.

While foreign policy and intelligence experts continue to worry that terrorism, Islamic extremism, the continued threat of renewed war between Pakistan and India, plus the presence of nuclear weapons in the arsenals of both countries, could prove a combustible mix in the not-too-distant future. This is not scare-mongering; it's simply the reality that what happens in South Asia could affect all of our lives. That's why all of us must be concerned by the outcome of the war that is being fought today in mountains of the tribal areas in Pakistan and the plains of Afghanistan.

Many of the soldiers and officers I speak to in Afghanistan say the best way to beat back the threat of Taliban insurgents is with boots on the ground and additional military resources, as well as a proper development assistance for the Afghan civilians. The Afghan people need protecting and enabling.

I have been reporting from Afghanistan since 1996 and the one thing I've noticed over the years is that every Afghan asks foremost for security. Then next on the list is development to help them earn a decent living and raise their families. They also want a decent government. They know this will take years of patience and effort. They know it will be a hard slog. After all, they have been at war for 30 years now, during which the traditional, honor-bound society they had for decades has all but vanished.

Though it is true that fierce tribal traditions mean some Afghans distrust even the tribe next door, not to mention foreign troops, over and again, Afghan men, women and children have told me they do not see the U.S. and NATO forces as occupiers, rather as armies from countries who came to help them ... but who have fallen short of their promises.

This fear and disenchantment is what the Taliban feeds on today. They want the U.S. and NATO out, they try to convince the people those outsiders are occupiers bent on harming them. And yet, if you look at the current trends and the latest polls in Afghanistan, despite massive governmental corruption, abuse and dysfunction, the majority of the people want nothing to do with the Taliban.
Polls show only a tiny minority support them. And that is mostly because they are desperate for security and safety, something the West has failed to follow through on after roundly defeating the Taliban and al Qaeda in seven weeks after 9/11.

And across the border in Pakistan surveys show Osama Bin Laden has lost his luster among Muslim youth. Support for Islamic extremists is dropping. The Pakistani government is finally fighting back against the extremists who threaten the future of this mostly moderate Muslim country. Under pressure, the militants are lashing out in parts of the country.

Unfortunately, at this crucial moment, people in America and Europe are tiring of their governments' support for the war in Afghanistan and the battles in remote parts of Pakistan. The agonized debate over strategy in Washington hides the sad fact that since sending the Taliban and al Qaeda packing, shortsighted U.S. vision snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

The Bush administration mostly ignored Afghanistan while diverting its attention and resources to Iraq. Now that the U.S. is finally refocusing on the war in Afghanistan it's an opportunity to look at what is at stake: the urgency of finishing the job in Afghanistan pitted against the real war-weariness of western voters. This is the dilemma of the modern world where the latest of life's challenges such as the financial crisis, unemployment, new flu pandemics, health care, and the housing market dominate daily life.

Getting the job done in Afghanistan will take years in time and resources. It will require faith and patience. The mass media is not the best place to reflect that. It does not usually focus on the hard slog, instead it is constantly in search of the new and the now.

But the next time there is a major terrorist attack, in all likelihood it will have been generated by an organization somewhere near the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Again, people will ask: Why weren't our leaders and the media there to warn us of the dangers?

As a member of the media I believe that's our job: to report the facts.


I for one, happen to agree with Ms. Amanpour's take on the realities of this situation. It's distinctly refreshing to hear such a clear and knowledgeable report on this area.

There be deer...

So I've arced across the overpass which spans the 174. I am entering the run leading to the carousel turn in Deer Alley this morning. I have my passing lamps on as it's still pretty dark out there at 0645hrs. The cars ahead of me don't like it, but these lights allow me to see and most importantly, be seen by these BCICs. Then I spot it... Standing in the ditch on the right-hand side of the road, is a very large doe, staring balefully at us as we file by. I felt elated at the sight of her. Until this morning, I had been nursing this premise that the NCC must have rounded up alll the deer and relocated them to parts unknown, if they haven't culled the entire herd.

Had I not had my passing lamps on to illuminate her, I don't know that I would have been able to make her out in the darkness. Score one for the passing lamps. What a great start to the day!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

So... would YOU hire him?

We received this e-mail this morning. It seems they just keep getting worse...

"To whom this may concern.

Hello im ***** ** ******** and im 20 years old. im currently enrolling myself with the RCMP in hopes of going out west to try to get into the CCR.

i went to school for police foundation and mised my 2 credits. i want to join the CCR team and am willing to do anything nessasary. i would like some help getting in if possible. willing to work and make up and courses needed to do so. i worked with the OPP Marine unit 2 summers past and have my lifeguard and license to work on a marina boat.

i hope to heat back from you soon with hopes of getting involved with your team. thanks for taking the time and responding to what i had to say."

If this guy was big and muscular, I could possibly see him having a future as a doorman, but not much beyond that.

Monday, October 26, 2009

How stupid do I look...???

Despite the number of filters our servers run, we still get the odd piece of spam that manages to worm it's way through. In this day and age, it boggles the mind to read these uber-transparent scam e-mails that still float around out there. And what is even more distressing, is that somewhere, there is a tool who will send money to these not-so-inventive crooks...

This winner came in this morning:

Re: Please help me.

Am in a hurry writing you this note,Just wanted to seek your help on
something very important, you are the only person i could reach at
this point, and i hope you come to my aid. Because something very
terrible is happening to me now,i need a favor from you now,I had a
trip here in UK on a mission.

Unfortunately for me all my money got stolen on my way to the hotel
where i lodged along with my bag were my passport was ,And since then
i have been without any money i am even owing the hotel here.

So i have limited access to emails for now, please i need you to lend
me about 1000Pounds so i can make arrangements and return back
please,i have spoken to the embassy here but they are not responding
to the matter effectively, I will return the money back to you as soon
as i get home, I am so confused right now.

I will be waiting to hear from you.


Md. Saifur Rahman


Seriously??? No... I mean really... Seriously???? :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Behold the might of current Canadian education...

We received the following e-mail this morning. All I'm gonna say here is that this lad is from Alberta. To add anything else would be superfluous...

"Hello Canadian Coast Guard,

I am interested in a career in the Canadian
Coast Guard. I would like to know how to apply,
and what is require? I lived on the Coast Of BC, till I was five years old, then my parents moved
to Alberta. I would go back to BC in the summer, and any chances I could. I fall in love with the
sun shine coast. I would spend my summer in Poweel River BC, or Victoria BC. This summer I
came to the conclusions I could see myself doing this the rest of my life. So, where do I sine up?
I am 24 years old, I would need to redo my swimming lesson, I have a grad 12. I am in great shape.

If you sine up with the Coast Guard, do you get to decide where you want to work, or is it like the RCMP they send you where they need you, and you have no say? That's why my Step Sister drop out of the RCMP after 10 years and join the Vancouver Polices department.

Thanks for your time."

Yeah... we'll be sure to rush right out and scoop you up before anyone else gets to you first.

Christ on a stick...

An impromptu day off...

So yesterday was a pretty good deal. I had decided to finally cash in that paid day off I had been awarded some time back. Now admittedly, it was not all sunshine and wonderful as they had previously forecast, but I wasn't going to let that dampen our enthusiasm. Besides, when have they ever been known to be even remotely near the target?

So my honey and I set off at around 0900hrs, to first take the van in for an oil change. Easy-peasy, right? We stop into Crappy Tire and the dude there tells us it'll be about 3 to 4 hours before they can look at the van. We look at each other... screw that! Off we go to Mister Lube on Saint Joseph. There, we drive right into a vacant bay and they set to work on her. The van has a little over 72,000kms on her (it's a 2004 model, believe it or not...) and has never had the tranny fluid changed out yet. They ask my better half if she wants to get it done while we're there. She looks at me for some guidance. We talk about the two Dodge vans she had previously purchased, whose trannies had literally exploded on us. We get the tranny fluid changed out.

$154.00 and some 40 minutes later, we are trundling out with all fluids topped up, oil and tranny fluid replaced and the van running noiselessly. Love it. Money spent on preventative maintenance for your vehicle, no matter what type, is ALWAYS money well spent. Now we are feeling like the world is our oyster. What to do with the rest of the day? Hmmm... a road trip sounds like the perfect answer. She wants to investigate a shoe store in Massena, NY for a pair of slippers before her trip to Oz at the end of the month and suggests that from there we might venture out to Alex Bay. Cool... We'll swing by home, pick up our passports and off we'll go.

And so we did. Loaded up with all we needed, we struck out first of all for Cornwall via the 417. Before long we were taking the exit for the 138, which would lead us South to the water. I was a little rueful that we were not riding, as the temperature was absolutely balmy, but then again you couldn't acount for the weather stateside and whether or not it might bring rain a little later on. So I kept my bottom lip in and concentrated on enjoying the day. As we neared Cornwall, we both spied a little black vole on the shoulder of the road. It was running furiously towards the roadway, only to do an abrupt 180 and scamper off in the opposite direction, after a car passed a hair's breadth from it's wee head. Both my wife and I laughed at this comical performance.

This was my first time going through the new US Customs inspection point. There were 3 lines opened and things were moving swiftly along. My wife observed a sign which cautioned motorists that their actions and conversations were being recorded on video. "Did you read that?", she said. "Is that true?" "Absolutely", I replied, "It really shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone". As our turn arrived, the customs agent asked us where we were heading, as she examined our passports. We advised her we would be stopping in Massena then heading out to Alex Bay. She handed us back our passports and bade us a pleasant trip. "Wow... that was pretty simple", my wife said. 'Sweetheart", I replied, "after all the times we've been across here, there ain't nothin' they don't know about us, or that hasn't been verified at least 3 times. Soon as our license plate shows up in their scanner, they got everything on us."

I had brought my riding jacket along, as I had thoughts of perhaps finding a new riding vest. I'm currently looking for a home for my recently received Veterans - UN/NATO - Canada crest... We stopped in at the St.Lawrence Centre Mall in Massena. There we visited her local haunts such as T.J.Max (which contains incredible bargains and a great selection of winter wear for both women and their menfolk, by the way...), The Shoe Store and J.C.Penney's. While she busied herself in the shoe store looking at various models of slippers, I wandered over to their men's section, where I had previously found a great pair of Sperry 'Topsiders' shoes. These are particularily big with the "boating set" and are a well-made, comfortable and waterproof type of boating shoe. They were fairly expensive here at home ($70.-$80.), but down there I picked up at pair for a mere $34.00.

I looked at many pairs of very well priced , quality sets of footwear (notably the winter stuff), when my attention was caught by a pair of black, industrial-looking boots. Upon further inspection, the ol' Bar and Shield logo (as in Hurgle - Durgleson) was impossible to miss. The boots themselves closed with double zippers at the front, were very ruggedly built, were quite a bit heavier than my present set of boots and had style to spare. Boots of this quality back home would cost me $200.00 easily. The price tag on the box indicated $99.00 US. I was very interested, even though they carried the 'common-as-dog-dirt' Harley logo. "Well... with my riding pants over them, no one'll see the logo", I reasoned to myself. I decided to schmooze around a bit more before finally deciding one way or the other.

My better half was having no luck in the slipper department, so I dragged her over to where the boots were, just to get a second opinion. She was duly impressed by them and asked if I had made up my mind on them yet. I replied that I hadn't, but that it was a kick-ass price for them at any rate. We decided to carry on to T.J.Max's from that point. Again I occupied myself doing some browsing of my own and making mental notes of items I just might return for. We left there finally after about a half-hour and began making our way back to the end of the mall we had entered by (J.C.Penney's). As we passed the shoe store, my wife told me she had to make a pit stop in the heads and said she'd meet me at the bench in front of the store.

I plunked myself down for a spell and thought about them boots. They sure were nice and that price? You couldn't beat it with a stick. I saw my Honey walking back in my direction and she was smiling. "You're still thinking about those boots, aren't you?", she asked me. "Tell you the truth", I answered, "I kinda am". "That is a really, really good price on them", she volunteered. "If not this year, you might need 'em next year", she teased. "Oh Hell okay... I'm gonna get them", I told her. "Good", she said, "I'll just be right next door here when you're done". And off she went as I made a beeline for the aisle which held the boots. The cute little blonde employee intercepted me at the door, looking hopeful for a sale. "I'll take 'em", I told her. "Great!!", she said and hurried off to get the only remaining set of size 11s left in the store.

I met up with my better half and we left through J.C.Penney's where on the way out, she found the perfect pair of slippers. Just what she had been looking for! You have to love it when a plan comes together. From Massena we proceded to Alexandria Bay. It was a nice, relaxing drive, during which we saw a herd of penned elk. We stopped off in Alex Bay and went to stroll along their Main Street, only to discover that the shops are open only on the weekends. It was our first time there on a week day and we had been unaware of this up until now. That pretty much cut short our visit there and my wife suggested since we were here, we might just as well carry on to Watertown. I agreed and we packed up and headed out along I-81 to Watertown.

As we cruised along Route 12 out of Alex Bay, we spotted 2 deer grazing on someone's front lawn, only feet from the roadway. This put us on alert and as we continued along the wonderfully divided highway that the I-81 is, we spotted several more deer along the edge of the left-hand bank. We stopped off by a field, where are situated 3 large metal statues of crows. My wife wanted to capture this sight on film, as we had often passed by there and admired this whimsical piece of artwork. So she clambered out and took a few pics from various vantage points, before hopping back in. We continued on without incident. I sent out thoughts of positive energy, as we passed the sign for the turnoff to Fort Drum, home of the US Army's 10th Mountain Division. Their unit has served with great distinction in Iraq and Afghanistan, sustaining many KIAs. The tale of S/Sgt. Jared Monti is but one instance of the bravery and sacrifice exhibited by this particular unit.

We arrived in Watertown as the sun was fading from the sky. We stopped first to have some supper at the local Red Lobster. There was no wait for a table and we were happy to sit and focus on something else besides 'deer' or 'eyeshine'. I ordered the sirloin and shrimp, while my better half opted for crabcakes on a bed of rice pilaf. And of course, there were those biscuits... I have to say I have never had them hotter or fresher, than what we were served that evening. We were good kids, stopping ourselves at just one order of them. That way we actually managed to save room for dessert, in which we decided to indulge. My steak was done to perfection and the shrimp were more than generous in size. For dessert, both of us had the apple crumble, served à la mode. Yummm!!

After waddling out, we stopped first to investigate Kohl's and then the local Target store, before calling a halt to our gallivanting and heading back home. We were on high alert for deer on the way back, but all for naught. We saw not hide nor hair of them the entire remainder of the trip. We drove the 1,000 Island Parkway all by ourselves and it was brilliant. Cutting off at Brockville, we found gas selling for $0.824 a litre and decided to fill up the tank, as in town they were selling it for $0.925. Ten cents cheaper and they were still making a profit on it. Makes you wonder...

On the way home, we stopped momentarily at Tim's in Manotick, where we exchanged drivers for the rest of the trip. We pulled into the driveway at 2245hrs. A full day by any standards and one that had provided me with a great new pair of riding boots, but still no riding vest for my new patch. Ah well... I'll have all winter to work on that one.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Bruin Watch...

In late August of 1976, HMCS Fraser was deployed to the area of the Grand Banks, 250 nautical miles off the Southeast coast of Newfoundland. This was to be my introduction to this fabled area of the ocean. It seemed that the Russians had lost a large, long-range reconnaissance aircraft there. In fact, a Tupolev TU-95RT (NATO Codename 'Bear-D') aircraft.

They had dispatched a few ships to the area, in a bid to retrieve whatever wreckage they could. As this was pretty much at the height of the Cold War, Russia routinely sent long range patrols to probe the outer defenses of North America. Long before C.W.McCall's "Convoy" ever hit the airwaves, sailors were using the term: "a Bear in the air...". Bears were enormous aircraft with a prodigious range. They were considered even more exotic due to their four contra-rotating turbo-prop engines. Many nations have dabbled in this technology, but only the Russians had stuck with and perfected it's use in military aircraft. They employed the same type of technology on their military helicopters, such as the KA-25 'Hormone' (ASW/ASUW), the KA-27 "Helix' (ASW/ASUW), the KA-50 'Hokum' attack helicopter, or the KA-52 'Maks' attack helicopter:

On September the 6th, 1976, Viktor Ivanovich Belenko defected to Japan in his MiG-25 Foxbat jet fighter, one of the most well-known defections from the Soviet block.

But in that same year, there was another defection so embarrassing to the Soviets that its particulars remained a secret for more than twenty-five years.

Newspiece as it appeared in the British magazine Aviation International of June 1987:

"In August 1976, two TU-95 Bear D maritime surveillance aircraft of the Soviet Naval Aviation took off from an airbase in the Kola Peninsula to participate in the Okean 76 multi-ocean exercises of the Soviet Navy, rounded the North Cape, crossed the Norwegian Sea, overflew the Soviet naval forces exercising in the Iceland-Faeroes Gap and proceeded on Southward to Cuba. This flight of more than 10,000 km took the airplanes to the airbase of the Fuerza Aérea Revolucionaria Cubana (Cuban Revolutionary Air Force) at San Antonio de los Baños, Havana, from where they could fly ELINT missions along the entire American eastern seaboard."

All media accounts of Soviet TU-95 flights participating in the Okean ’76 naval maneuvers mention only two planes. Whenever they were confronted in private, however, the Soviets acknowledged that in reality, three planes took off from Russia, with the third aircraft crashing at sea, killing everyone aboard. Since it sank in deep waters near Newfoundland, Canada, no one attempted to salvage the wreck.

There has been a 'fictional' book written titled "Bear: Flight to Liberty". In this tale, author Miguel Vargas-Caba describes a scenario wherein the crew of this 3rd Bear-D aircraft would presumably have defected to Canada.

I've only recently found out about this, some thirty years plus after the incident. It certainly sheds a different light on that particular deployment. I remember wondering about the fate of the crew, as we sat there in the silent hours, tracking and reporting the vessels as they searched the ocean floor for any signs of wreckage. It made me shudder...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"The Gubmint is stoopid...".

Every now and again in my line of work, we run into the type of person that believes wholeheartedly that everyone who works for the federal government, is a lazy, unschooled, unskilled and unmotivated slacker, who is simply trading in time for a paycheck and waiting listlessly to be put out to final pasture.

Now, I'm not even a bona fide federal employee, but I can't help but take offense at being lumped into this same class of people. Still, I can certainly understand how or better yet why, so many people arrive at these types of conclusions. I have been having a back-and-forth recently with a section of Transport Canada. I am doing so in order to be absolutely clear in my mind, how our boating regulations apply to Canadians, under any foreseeable circumstance. Why? So I can provide the best and most accurate information I can to the people we serve: the Great Canadian public.

Better to be prepared than caught flat-footed, right? That's what I thought... Throughout this process, I have made it a point of being meticulous as I always do, ensuring that my correspondence is crystal clear and completely unambiguous. The responses I have received in return however, border on the insane.

In my initial letter, I asked the following question:

"Good afternoon!

I have a question which arose from a recent conversation here at work. We know that the Canadian regulations (Small Vessel Regulations) apply to foreign recreational boaters who are in Canadian waters for a period exceeding 45 consecutive days, piloting their own vessels. If an American boater takes out a Canadian-licensed pleasure craft (either owned or rented), the Canadian regulations apply right off the bat.

However if a Canadian citizen (and resident) keeps a pleasure craft in the US (perhaps he owns a cottage over there...), having had it legally licensed there, when he brings said vessel into Canadian waters, is he subject to the 45 consecutive days moratorium or as a Canadian resident/citizen, is he immediately subject to the Canadian boating regulations (PCOC, minimum safety equipment requirements, etc...)?

I am of the mind that as a Canadian citizen and resident, he would automatically fall under our regulations. Some direction in this would be appreciated.


As a first response from the "head authority" on boating regulations, this is what I then received:

"Dear Mr. *****,

In response to your inquiry regarding the pleasure craft licence: (Wha-aaaaaa.....????)

If your (It's not mine, it's hypothetical...) craft is principally maintained and operated in Canada, then it must be licensed. This 44 days applies only to the Pleasure Craft Operator Competency Card (PCOC).

For the latest updates from the Office of Boating Safety, I encourage you to subscribe to our electronic mailing list:

For further information, please visit


Office of Boating Safety Bureau de la Sécurité nautique
Design, Equipment and Boating Safety Conception, equipment et sécurité nautique
Transport Canada Transports Canada
Place de Ville (AMSRO) Tower C
330 Sparks Street, Ottawa K1A 0N5
Government of Canada Gouvernement du Canada
Tel. ***.***.****

Undaunted (unfortunately...), I sent him the follow-up e-mail:

"Dear Mr. *****,

I thank you for your reply, although I was not enquiring about the licensing aspect at all. In this case, the boat in question normally remains in US waters throughout the year, let's say in the State of Michigan, where it is legally licensed by that State's authority. It is kept at a cottage which is owned stateside by said Canadian citizen.

I suppose it is easier to simply assume that since the boat's operator himself is a Canadian, that he must comply with the Canadian Small Vessel Regulations, regardless of where his boat is licensed.

Would that be accurate?


The very same morning, I received the following from this gentleman:

Dear Mr. *****,

In response to your inquiry regarding the pleasure craft licence, you should contact the Service Canada National Pleasure Craft Licence coordination office either by e-mail:

NC-PCL Enquiries-Renseignements

Or by calling their HelpDesk @ 613-960-3255.

For further information, please visit


Office of Boating Safety Bureau de la Sécurité nautique
Design, Equipment and Boating Safety Conception, equipment et sécurité nautique
Transport Canada Transports Canada
Place de Ville (AMSRO) Tower C
330 Sparks Street, Ottawa K1A 0N5
Government of Canada Gouvernement du Canada
Tel. ***.***.****

Seriously??? If clues were shoes... this lad would be friggin' barefoot. I swear to God.... If I went and found the next convenient retard on any Ottawa street corner and asked them the same question, I would probably get a more pertinent and concise answer.

The person who was given the task of responding to my e-mail on behalf of that particular department, is probably still at the development stage where he flings feces at strangers and spends his lunch breaks climbing the office coat rack. This is exactly the type of blinkered, philistine pig-ignorance that can launch an otherwise calm and rational citizen, into fits of apoplexy. This lad could well serve as the proverbial "poster child", when it comes to why the Canadian federal gubmint civil servant is perceived by many of the 'great unwashed', as being 'stoopid'.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Happy Thanksgiving...

What a wonderful weekend... Great food, very nice weather and a pretty nice surprise yesterday, when my better half suggested that we both go out for a Thanksgiving ride. This was her first time back on the bike with me since my accident last year. It was quite cool outside and we had initially decided to make the run out to Merickville and back. We dressed for the weather and I made sure Baby was cleaned up before we headed out. I had taken advantage of opportunities to ride two up with other people during my recovery so I was more than ready for this.

We saddled up by about 1025hrs and headed out. It was just like it had always been. She is a very good passenger and rides well on the back. We manoeuvred through the 'chicane' leading to Renaissance Street, up Dorima and then left onto Innes in one smooth motion, as there was virtually no traffic to impede opur progress. It was an auspicious beginning. We motored along sedately until we arrived at Mer Bleue, where again we caught the light and wheeled left unapposed. Things were really going great. I kept our speed under 80kmh, so it wouldn't be too breezy for us. The trees were amazing as they were pretty much at their peak, colour-wise. The smell of decaying leaves was heavy in the air and it was a picture-perfect fall day.

By the time we had reached the end of Anderson Road, I began to suspect it might be a little too cool for my Honey to ride all the way out to Merrickville. I mentioned this as we rode along, suggesting that maybe we'd want to make our way to the River Road and then double back into town, where we could take Colonel By along the canal, then the Rockcliffe Parkway back home. "Ahhh...but then I wouldn't get my wonderful curry vegetable stir-fry...", she chided. "Roger that", I said. "Merrickville it is!"

We cut off the Ramsayville Road onto Rideau Road, which we followed past Bank Street and the Bowesville Road. As we arrived at Limebank Road, figuring I'd surprise her, I turned left and we headed off towards Mitch Owens Blvd. We rolled along through the countryside, my favorite place to be, just enjoying being out there and a part of it all. Reaching Mitch Owens, we swung through the light and headed into Manotick. A nice little rest and warm-up stop at Tim's would be just the ticket.

We pulled into the parking lot and the place was jumpin'. It is a rare thing indeed to arrive here and not find a multitude of people. It's a social hub for the community in these parts. Much like back home, I might add. We hauled into the very first spot at the entrance off the River Road and dismounted. It had been a cool little jaunt so far, but I had nothing to complain about.

My better half thought she might have worn a pair of heavier socks with her riding boots, but other than that, was toasty as well. I made a mental note to see if I could find some heavier socks for her, in one of Merrickville's small shops. We headed into Tim's and I ordered up a green tea and a small double-double. We took a seat and toasted one another on this, her first ride of the season. The warmth of being inside felt good and she had soon peeled off her riding jacket. We chatted about the ride so far and how she was doing. Before long, it was time to get going. I was hoping the sun might warm things up as the day progressed but it didn't look as though that was going to happen.

We bundled up and headed out once more. We swung out onto River Road, heading towards the Swan on the Rideau. As we coasted along passed the grand waterfront mansions of Manotick, she tapped on my shoulder. "Maybe we'll do what you suggested before. It is a little cold out and Merrickville is still at least another 40 minutes away...". "What about your curry stir-fry...?", I asked. "No, that's okay", she replied. Fair enough. I didn't want to push the matter and riding is about enjoying yourself, after all. If she was going to be getting cold, there wouldn't be much enjoyment in that. I wanted her first ride (and potentially last ride...) of the season to be a nice one. As we came to the Swan on the Rideau, we hung a right onto Roger Stevens Dr.

I was kind of debating crossing the 416 and returning to town via the 16 (The Ho Chi Min Trail), when I came upon a better solution. We crossed the bridge spanning the Rideau River and I turned us onto County Road 13, which would lead us along the river, right back into Manotick. There, we viewed some pretty nice properties bordering the water's edge. Arriving into the village, we had to take a little detour, sidestepping some construction work through the back streets, in order to make out way back to Bridge Street. Eventually we ended up right back at the corner of Mitch Owens Road and the River Road (CR 19), right across the street from Timmie's.

We hung a left at the lights and followed the River Road right into town. Again, I kept our speed down and we just bimbled along, enjoying the view. As we passed through Honey Gables, I half-turned and asked my better half if she would want to stop for lunch at the Elgin Street Diner. "Sure...if we can get a parking spot near there", she replied. "No problem", I reassured her. We hit the intersection of Hunt Club and River Road, where we turned left at the lights. I wanted to take Prince of Wales, which would get us on to Colonel By Drive. I knew from my trip through there last weekend, that the leaves along the canal, notably near the Carleton University campus, were absolutely stunning. We both got to enjoy the view this time and I was happy for it.

Traffic was light as we ambled along the canal. Gone now were the armies of earth-pigs that used to inhabit the still lush, green lawns of the campus. Only the occasional black squirrel could be seen darting about, gathering the last of the remaining acorns. "A rat with a boa", is how my wife describes these little fellows. The little earth-piggies have long since moved into their burrows, with their 46" plasma screen HDTVs, all set for their winter hibernation and re-runs of "That '70s Show". We were finally halted by the light at the Pretoria Bridge. Our old stomping grounds, from back in the day when we inhabited Lees Avenue.

We turned left with the arrow, crossed Queen Elizabeth Drive and climbed Elgin Street. We actually found a parking spot (the very first one) at the corner of Elgin and Gladstone Street. Right kitty-corner from the Diner itself. The Gods were truly smiling on us. We dismounted and made our way to the front door, stripping off gear as we went. Inside, the place was full, not surprisingly. We took our place in a lineup of perhaps 6 people. As we stood there, my better half admitted to feeling a bit chilled from the ride. Two seconds later, the owner, who had been standing behind her at the counter, handed her a nice hot Cappucino. She demured as she isn't the coffee type and so the owner turned to me with said beverage. "You Sir, are a gentleman and a scholar!", I praised him. It was a wonderful Cappucino, for which the Diner is reknown.

Before too long we wered seated in a corner booth, all comfy. I ordered the eggs benedict with a side of sausages. It was marvellous. The service there, no matter how crowded it becomes, is always above par. It's always a treat to stop in at the Diner for a bite to eat. Many of the regular wait staff are now like family to us, we have known them that long. We enjoyed our stay there and the food was definitely a good thing. I asked my wife if it made up for the lost curry stir-fry. She replied that it absolutely did. Draining the last of my coffee, we got dressed and headed back out for the last leg of the trip.

We hopped on the bike and headed up Elgin Street. We'd pass through the Market and then along Sussex, to take the Rockcliffe Parkway back home. There was hardly any traffic ahead of us and what there was we left behind at Rockcliffe Park and on the turnoff to the Aviation Parkway. We had clear sailing ahead of us and we motored along at a sedate 70kmh, taking in the scents and the scenes of the blazing leafs. We made it back home with nothing untowards to report. It had been a great ride, with not even one close call. Truly something to celebrate. We were finally back on the road again. Both of us. And it felt good.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

First time at sea...

The Summer Olympics of 1976 ended and HMCS Fraser was set to sail back to her home port in Halifax, NS. I was both excited and nervous. Yes, I had been on ferries before and things of the like, but actually going to sea? Not so much... It was the 4th of August or thereabouts, when we sailed from Montreal. It would take us 3 days to sail back to Halifax. The watch system at the time was 1 in 4. Meaning that you stood watch every 4th one. The watches were divided as follows:

- Morning Watch: 0400-0800

- Forenoon Watch: 0800-1200

- Afternoon Watch: 1200-1600

- First Dog Watch: 1600-1800

- Last Dog Watch: 1800-2000

- First Watch: 2000-0000

- Middle Watch: 0000-0400

So as you can see, if you stood the afternoon watch, your next watch would be the Mids (Middle Watch). If you had the Last Dogs, you would have all night in your bunk. (Or "all-nighters-in", as we used to call it.) For special evolutions such as entering or leaving harbour, refuelling at sea, navigating restricted waters, or during operational deployments (whether exercise or war footing) the ship goes into a two watch rotation. Port and Starboard. When we left harbour, the Starboard Watch was closed up in the Operations Room. I was on the Port Watch and as such I was assigned with the Part Ship hands. Our job during this evolution was to handle the lines on the top part of ship, as we slipped and proceded to sea.

Once the lines were all stowed into the appropriate cable lockers, the sea boats were hoisted and into the gripes, with the boat lines properly coiled down on deck, we were free to remain on the upper decks and take in the scenery as we headed towards Québec City and the estuary. There was little motion as we made our way downstream and I revelled in the fresh air. I was in heaven. Had they not taught us from day one that: "A sailor's place is on a ship and a ship's place is at sea... and land is a navigational obstacle to be avoided at all costs!"

I visited the ship's canteen at the very first chance I had. I purchased 4 ship's t-shirts, which were emblazoned with Fraser's likeness. These we wore as part of our 'night clothing'. Which meant we were entitled to wear these in the Ops room while on watch, along with our work pants and jacket. I had also sewn on both ships' crests to my work jackets, to make it official. I belonged to the Fraser. I was a part of a ship's crew and I had never felt prouder. I also carried a Zippo lighter with the Fraser's crest on it. Zippos are amongst the most iconic pieces of military kit ever issued and I treasured mine.

Port watch had the afternoon watch. As I recall, I was closed up on the AN/SPA-4 radar display on then port side. I was ranged out to 10 nautical miles on the SPS-10 surface search radar, with the control order to continuously report all contacts to the ARL table. My seat was a regular-sized, free-standing stool. The radar display itself had handles built into the frame, so I did have something to hold onto, should it get rough out. The ARL plotting table was manned by a plotter and a the Surface Track Supervisor (Track Sup). It had an illuminated graticule which projected a 'spider web' on the glass plotting surface above. This was divided into 360 degrees and was also divided into range rings at a scale of 2nm: 1".

This graticule travelled on a mechanized carriage. This carriage was fed the ship's course and speed coordinates via the ship's gyro and speed log system. The plotter would plot the position of the reported track, initially with a 4-figure time and subsequently with a 2-figure time for every other report. Onboard a ship or military unit, everything operates on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), which is referred to as 'Zulu' time. This is universal in it's application. From contact reports to messages, to voice transmissions, everything is in Zulu time. The Track Supervisor would filter the track, using a parallel ruler and a speed/time/distance ruler, calculate course, speed and CPA (Closest Point of Approach) and report these findings to the OOW (Officer of the Watch) on the bridge. A standard report would sound something like this:

- "Bridge... Ops".

- "Bridge...".

- "Roger, Sir... New contact... Skunk 'Alfa'... bearing 050... 5.6 nautical miles, over?"

- "Bridge, Roger... report Skunk 'A'...".

- "Bridge, Ops... Roger... Report Skunk 'A' ".

The pro-word 'Report' means to continue tracking the contact and to report back in 3 minutes with a rough course and speed. The Ops Room would then report again in 6 minutes, with a course, speed and rough CPA for the same contact.

- "Bridge...Ops".

- "Bridge...".

- "Roger, Sir... Skunk 'A'... now bearing 050... range 5 nautical miles. Appears to be parallelling our course of 070... speed 8 knots. We are slowly overtaking, Sir. CPA will be on our port beam at 2.5 nautical miles in 25 minutes. "

- "Roger, Ops... Keep an eye on him and advise when he's at CPA".

- "Ops, Roger... Report Skunk 'A' at CPA".

I was totally engrossed at my post. We weren't at the Ops Trainer back in Fleet School Halifax, anymore. This was the real deal. I was responsible for the safety of everyone onboard, and for the ship itself. I would attempt to fine tune my display as best I could, turning down everything, bringing the sweep up until I could just barely discern it, then increasing the video, so that every contact, no matter how minuscule, showed up sharp and crisp against the dark, fathomless background of the CRT tube. At the flick of a switch, I could select either our SPS-10 Surface Search Radar, our SPS-12 Air Search Radar or our Sperry Mk.II 'I'-Band Navigation Radar. I would also be standing the mids that night. I could feel the motion of the ship changing as we hit the wider section of the estuary. We were nearing the Gulf of St.Lawrence. Big water. Beyond that, the open sea. I still felt pretty good, although my appetite was off.

I scanned my display in a clockwise direction, reporting every contact I saw. I was still honing my skills at recognizing static objects, from moving ones. I found I was gaining experience with every report. By the time I had secured from my first watch, I felt I had done well. A feeling which was confirmed by my SHW (Senior Hand of the Watch). I was next on watch at midnight, but I couldn't get myself to sleep. I spent most of my time on the upper decks, taking in the view as we sailed along. I tried my hand at eating supper, but my stomach was not up to the game. I should have known better, but this is how we learn.

Sunset occured and the pipe was made throughout the ship: "Darken ship... darken ship". Then shortly afterwards: "Hands to clean into night clothing". Upon the pipe of 'darken ship', all white lighting in passageways and on the upper decks is extinguished. Red lighting is then used throughout the ship, as this will not obliterate a person's night vision, as they make their way to stand their watch either on the bridge or on the upper decks. At about 2200hrs, I was starting to feel weary and decided I might lie down in my bunk for a spell, before going on watch. A sailor's bunk is called his cart, his rack, his pit... everything but a bed, I reckon. It is his best friend at sea and certainly, as I was to find out, in foreign ports. It was certainly very comfortable and the overhead ventilation provided a wonderful cooling breeze throughout the Mess. The bow was gently rising and falling as we headed into the gathering swell. Within minutes, I was rocked to sleep by the 'motion of the ocean'.

At 2300hrs I was awoken by a member of the on watch crew. He had been sent down to shake the watch, making sure we were all awake and getting ready to relieve them. When you are relieving a watch at sea, you don't want to get there spot on the hour. It's disrespectful and it takes you a little while to get a proper turnover from the person you are relieving. Showing up in the Ops Room 15 to 20 minutes ahead of time, ensures a proper turnaround time and allows your opposite number to go get his head down a little earlier. A favor he will return, when it comes time to relieving you...

I grabbed a coffee in the cafeteria before closing up in the Ops Room. I was groggy from lack of sleep and I could feel we were moving a lot more than I remembered. I was discovering that the higher up you went inside the ship, the more you felt the motion of the ship as it made it's way through the seas. We were well beyond the Gulf now and in open waters. The winds had shifted and were building the seas. Nothing terrifying, mind you, but enough to make me feel the beginnings of a long, long watch. We could feel the ship rise, then poise herself on the top of the swell, before dropping down the other side. The bow would hit the wall of the next swell, abruptly stopping the fall. The ship would shudder as it shook it's bow free from the tons of water which had crashed over it, then slowly begin it's rise again.

I was not feeling well at all, but I was bound and determined to stand my watch. I couldn't have anyone picking up the slack for me. What kind of sailor would I be, if I couldn't overcome my work milieu? What good would I be to anyone? No... I couldn't have that. I tried deep breathing, focusing on my radar display screen, even lighting up a smoke to have along with my coffee. Nothing seemed to be working for me. It actually felt like I was drunk. At about 0130hrs, I asked the Senior Hand of the Watch if I could make a trip to the head (bathroom). I didn't think I could contain myself any longer.

Mercifully, he said I could go, but to bring back a 'NATO-standard coffee' (cream and sugar) for him on my way back up. "And don't be long!", he cautioned me. I left by going forward, passing through the bridge and launching myself down the hatch that would lead me to the sea heads. This was simply a urinal, which was at the foot of the ladder leading from the bridge. I peered inside and thought better of it. I had to make it one deck lower and forward to the MS & Below's heads and washplace. I had yet to become proficient in taking ladders like a seasoned matelot, which consisted of grabbing both rails, lifting your feet and sliding all the way down in one, fluid motion. I finally made it to the bottom, stopping twice to dry-heave and ran as best I could to the sanctuary of the heads.

I found an empty stall and fell to my knees. I was even further forward than I had been in the Ops Room. In fact the forward heads, were right outside No. 2 Mess, just below No. 1 Mess. As I knelt there, the nausea hit me in waves. Problem is though, I hadn't had the foresight to eat. There wasn't a lot down there to come up in the first place, so I spent some hard time in front of the Porcelain Princess, talking to "Beuuuuuuu-lagghhh!!". In the midst of all this, my Divisional PO, Petty Officer 1st Class 'Pappy' Mills, came down to check up on me. The conversation, as I recall, went something like this:

"How you doin' in there, Prudhomme...?"

"Uuuunnnhhhh... Not so good, PO...".

"Seasick, huh?"

"Yes, PO... I believe so...".

"You think you'll be able to stand your watch, or should I get someone from the off-watch?"

"No... no. I'll be okay, PO... I don't need no one to stand my watch!"

"Well... Hey, Prudhomme....?"

"Uuunnhhh... Yes, PO...?"

"If you feel something round and furry in your mouth... hang onto it. It's probably your asshole...".

Up until that moment, if you had asked me if it were physically possible to blow chunks and laugh at the same time, I would have told you that it was impossible. Thanks to 'Pappy', I discovered otherwise. There is no sympathy in the military. There is simply no room for it. As I was told many times, the only place you'll find sympathy, is in the dictionary between 'shit' and 'syphilis'. After I regained my composure and cleaned up a little, I swung by the cafeteria to fetch a coffee for my senior hand. One of the cooks took a look at me and said: "Here, take a few packets of these crackers. They'll soak up your stomach acids and keep you from feeling so bad". I thanked him profusely and loaded up on crackers.

I arrived back in the Ops Room, delivered the coffee and resumed my post at the radar display. "You were gone quite awhile there, Prudhomme. You okay...?"

"Yeah, I'm fine now, thanks. I'll be okay for the rest of the watch, I'm pretty sure".

"That's good to hear... we need people that we can rely on. Lemme know if ya have to go to the heads again".

Well, there were a few other close calls that evening, but I stood my watch alright. It was to be my one and only brush with seasickness and I decided right there and then that I didn't like it. I would make sure I ate whenever we sailed, whether I felt like it or not. And I would work on developing my sea legs. It was an interesting start to my career and I learned much that evening. I knew I was surrounded by people who would become my family, who were tops at what they did, who had a sense of humour and who recognized when someone was doing their best and meeting the standard.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Great Bonsecours Market Fire...

I have never written about this, but it is a vivid recollection I have of the 30th of July, as we were tied up near old Montreal. A ship was transiting the seaway, outbound from Montreal. As she approached our position, she lost steerage way. Whether she suffered a total loss of steering is unknown. What I do know is that she was bearing down on HMCS Protecteur, a large naval supply ship filled with fuel, avgas (JP-5), munitions, etc... Her master must have been in quite a state. She sounded her whistle and fired flares into the air, as a warning to Protecteur and ourselves to brace for shock.

It was one of these very flares, which landed on the cupola of Bonsecours Market and set it alight. For all the concern that this emergency generated, the master eventually regained control of his vessel, before it collided with Protecteur. I'm sure the radio logs onboard Protecteur and the OOD/Duty Cox'n logs from each respective ship, still bear the entries describing this event. I seem to recall the ship being a cargo vessel of Greek registry, though it's name escapes me at the moment. I do not know if the authorities in Montreal ever determined the cause of this blaze, as I never saw it published anywhere. But as for myself and the others who were onboard ship that day, we certainly know what caused the Great Bonsecours Fire of summer, '76.

Living the reality...the Montreal Olympics.

I had finally managed to get squared away in #1 Mess. It was time to start my shipboard in-routine. That is the process whereby a new member of a ship's company signs in with the various departments onboard. This long, arduous (usually a full day to complete...) procedure will take you to:

- the Cox's office (where you will get your first 2 ships crests, to be sewn on your work jacket),
- the pay office,
- sick bay,
- your Divisional Officer,
- your Divisional Chief,
- your Divisional Petty Officer,
- the stores office (where you will also draw your shipboard gear, such as war bags, life jacket, weather jacket, wet weather gear, bellaclava, sea boots, cold weather gloves...),
- the rations clerk,
- the Buffer (who is the Senior Boatswain or 'Bosun' onboard),
- the XO's office (the Executive Officer, second in command onboard),
- the ship's laundry,
- the ship's canteen and finally;
- the senior hand of your Mess (also called the Mess Mother).

Once all these signatures were acquired, the in-routine card was then presented to the Ship's Office. When you were done, you had to report back to the Cox'ns office to let him know. By this point, you had already met the major players on the ship. Certainly those who would influence your life on a daily basis. A new member is normally assigned a sponsor from his department, to show him around the ship and instruct him in shipboard routines and procedures. Dave Bell had been assigned as my 'shadow'.

There is a mind-boggling amount of information to assimilate when arriving on a Navy ship. It's a small floating town. Everything revolves around a rigid schedule, everything is timed. Rest periods, meals, returning to chores, securing for the day, calling the duty watch or any other special teams to assemble (muster)... everything is done to the shrill tune of the Boatswain's Call or whistle. When an announcement is made on the ship's broadcast system (an announcement is called a 'pipe'...), it is preceeded by the whistle which, through a series of 'pips', 'trills', 'warbles' and 'stills', announces every event. At sea, only the whistle is used. No verbalization, except in the case of a man overboard (MOB) or calling the ship's company to 'action stations'. As a new matelot, I not only had to learn to recognize these and understand them, I also had to be able to duplicate them on the whistle, for when it came my turn to stand my duty watch as Quartermaster.

While alongside in Montreal, HMCS Fraser provided manpower from several departments, to serve as escorts for the Olympic athletes. As well, there was a duty watch which provided security for the ship after working hours. Each department provided duty personnel for any given day in harbour. The Bosuns (Rope Techs, Deck Apes), the Hull Techs (Chippies), the Electricians the ETs), the Communicators (Sparkers), the Weapons Techs (Guns), the Signalmen (Bunting Tossers), the Sonarmen (Ping Bosuns), the Radar Plotters (Scope Dopes), the Marine Engineers (Stokers, Bilge Rats), the Storesmen (Storesies), the Cooks and of course, the Medical Assistants (MAs).

The duty watch is also composed of Quartermasters (2), Roundsmen (4), Corporal-of-the-Gangway (2), Officer of the Day (1), Duty Cox'n (1), Petty Officer of the Day (POOD), Master Seaman of the Watch, Duty Tech, Duty HT, Duty Engineer and Duty Storesman.

As a newcomer, I would be made to stand Jetty Sentry for my duty watches, as well as learning to ropes to become a Quartermaster. The Quartermaster is charged with the handling of the ships telecommunications system. He stands his watch at the Brow (the gangway, where one gains access to the ship from the jetty), in a little shack called the QM's Lobby. There he answers the ship's telephone system, receiving both external calls to the ship and internal calls from ship's company members who either want special pipes made, or seek to inform the brow staff or Officer of the Day (OOD) of particular goings on. Like informing the brow that they are recirculating JP-5 fuel, which calls for restrictions to smoking throughout the ship. Or to announce that a person is going aloft in the ship's mast, which necessitates a number of safety precautions being taken.

There are a list of normal daily routine pipes which must be learned and memorized. There is a very important list of emergency pipes which must be learned as well. Mistakes when making these pipes, are not an option. Confusion while broadcasting an emergency situation, such as a fire, a flood or a casualty, can lead to a very bad outcome. Add to that the fact that they are made over the upper deck speakers, so everyone in the dockyard can hear you... Messing up a pipe is not something you can hide. If you screw up, EVERYONE knows about it and are merciless in their reminding you of same. And then of course, there is always that dreaded call from the Cox'n's office to anticipate.

Example: "Prudhomme!!!! Would you kindly tell me what the $#&* was going through your vacuous @$#?%&* mind when you decided to butcher the "Hands to dinner" pipe??? Are you some sort of 'special needs' kid?? Are you one of "Jerry's Kids", fer Chrissakes??? A *#%$?* retarded babboon could have done a better job, if he had been beaten unconscious with large, spiked @%$#*& clubs!!! GET IT RIGHT or so help me GOD when we get to the next foreign port, you're not going to see even so much as a blade of $@#?*& grass ashore!!!.... CLICK!!!"

Character forming? Yes! Terror inspiring? Oh, Hell yes!!! But as I look back on it in my later years, after a long career of having served with such unique, eclectic and inspirational characters, ultimately hilarious. Every ship needs such a character. Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Bob Wibberley was more than a mere Cox'n (and there is no such thing as a 'mere' Cox'n...). Chief Wibberley was a force of nature to us, his young charges. He was a God. He was like your favorite uncle who would always know all the best stories to terrorize you with. He was loud, coarse, abrasive and larger than life. He could truly make you believe that the Navy HAD taught the Army to swear. And what I loved the most about him, he had a wicked sense of humour. He could call you down to the absolute lowest, yet in such a way that it was all you could do to contain yourself from howling with tearful laughter. He was a master of the creative insult and I would spend hours trying to commit to memory, his use of outrageously stylish invective.

My days were spent onboard, learning the ropes of the department, familiarizing myself with our radar sets and displays, the plotting tables and the myriad of other pieces of equipment we were responsible for operating. I was introduced to the wonderful world of Deck Force. Every department onboard was requirted to assign a couple of it's bodies to the ship's Deck Force. This was a manpower pool which the Bosuns controlled. They were responsible for ship's husbandry in port and at sea. Ship's husbandry, is the process of taking care of a ship, so that she always looks her best. Scraping, priming, painting, polishing the ship's upper decks and fittings, as well as the deck surfaces themselves, which on the weather decks, are surfaced with non-skid. It was idyllic... Working aboard ship, on the upper decks in the fresh air, what else could a person ask for?

My first Duty Watch saw me as a Jetty Sentry. We fell in (mustered) at the end of the working day, which was at 1600hrs. The pipe was made: "Secure... the Brow is now open! Duty Watch to muster, Quarterdeck!" Those of the ship's company who were not duty, were free to proceed ashore for the evening. Those of us who were duty that day (a duty watch lasts 24 hours), proceded to muster on the after end of the ship, on these large metal slabs which covered our triple-barreled Mk.10 ASW mortar.

There were 4 of us Jetty Sentries and we were to stand 4-hour watches patrolling the jetty. We were briefed on our responsibilities and the ROEs (Rules of Engagement), noted our watch hours, issued a PRC, an armband, a Browning 9mm pistol and webbing and a whistle. Our mission, to rove the jetty, belay people meandering about, check their credentials, look for any signs of suspicious activity and generally ensure our area remained secure. Off I went... I ran my weapons training through my head and put on my best war face.

As I stood my watch, I thought about the days when I would hang around these docks as a civilian. I never would have seen myself here today. But I had arrived. I represented not ony my country, but my ship as well. I would occasionally cross paths with officers returning from a run ashore, to either Fraser, Skeena or Protecteur. I would salute them smartly, bidding them a good evening and carrying on with the sweep. One of them called me over. He was a two-and-a-halfer (a Lieutenant-Commander) and as I later discovered, our Combat Officer. "What's your name, Sailor?"

- "Ordinary Seaman Prudhomme, Sir!"

- "You gonna keep us safe, are you Prudhomme?", he smiled.

- "Absolutely, Sir!", I replied.

- "Very good", he said. "I'll undoubtedly sleep better tonight...". And off he went to the ship.

I wasn't sure if he was shining me on or if he actually meant that, seeing that I probably came across as a real keener. Either way, I was bound and determined to make sure nothing went awry on my watch. If anything happened, I would deal with it, raise the alarm and secure the area. Every now and then the PRC would crackle to life and the voice of the Corporal-of-the-Gangway would come across. He would ask if I had anything to report and I would respond that no, everything was quiet.

I spent the evening running every possible scenario through my head, in which I might be authorized to use deadly force. After all, if you're not ready for it, how will you react if faced with it? It's all about the training and the conditioning. Blessedly as it turned out, the 1976 Montreal Olympics went off without a hitch... Romania's Darling, Nadia Comenici captured the hearts of the world and made Olympic history, by earning the first-ever score of 10 for her uneven parallel bars routine. She would carry on to be awarded seven such scores during the games. The only truly negative aspect of the Olympics that year, were the millions of dollars in deficit that the games occasioned for Montreal itself. A debt the grandchildren of people my age, are still paying on today.