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deck above. I remember thinking this is another joke, it has to be, a boot initiation thing. No one could be expected to go in that small dark locker while that huge chain was coming back down that hawse pipe. I wondered how far this joke would go. When we got to the hatch and I was told to get in. Reality began to dawn on me as I realized this might be for real. Besides, it was beginning to feel too well orchestrated for a joke and it had held together much too well. Maybe it was the best joke

yet, I remember thinking?

I wasn‘t scared, but I was starting to get scared I might get scared.


a lengthy involved conversation which might be called a prayer meeting with the boson, whoever he was, we must have taken a field trip up to see the mechanism on deck that prevented the chain from paying out and chewing me into little pieces if the brake failed. I remember the safety catch to this day. Finally I remember being resigned to the fate before me.

I remember as I entered the hatch to the chain locker the boson or whoever it was at the hatch door explaining my job. He told me if the brake failed and the chain started to pay out at any time I should immediately dive out the small hatch or I would be killed. His final word was something like, ―it was nice knowing you,‖ and then he was gone. The only light in the damp dark was from the open hatch and the little bit of light that filtered down through the hawse pipe from the deck above. I remember the pipe acted as a conduit for sound from above and I soon found I could communicate with the anchor detail on deck by yelling into the pipe, which I did. I lived through the day as you guessed. The chain came down the pipe that day and every day there after without an incident. I faked out the chain, as we all did, so it would run out without fouling. We must have done OK it never did.

Like I said, I was one of a handful of boots on that 67, 68 cruise and the chain locker duty filtered down to us most of the time. We were pretty meticulous about taking our turn in order. There were no volunteers for the chain locker detail. It was just par for the course, like garbage runs in the LCVP and Boat watch and other details that had to be done, but the chain locker detail made me thank God I was not a boot forever.

Wes (Bull) Durham


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