Friday, November 13, 2009

The Unexpected

I got an unexpected phone call today. LCDR Camilla Bosanquet called me. She was CO of KISKA back in 2003-2004. She had sent me an email a while ago, after having seen our press release on our return to homeport post drydock, congratulating me on command and sharing some of her memories of being onboard. I don't think she remembered that we had met when we were both stationed out here. I finally responded to her by email yesterday, and she called me this evening.

She was LT Messing when she was on KISKA, and she was definitely someone I looked up to. She was always positive, cheerful, gracious, more than competent and her crew loved her. I knew I had monstrous shoes to fill, coming to KISKA as the next female CO after Camilla. Thinking of Camilla reminds me of an old post on mentors from last year...I'll probably repost it shortly. She had some good advice for me and some wonderful words of kindness.

The advice was to enjoy and savor every moment of my time onboard. The ship is a good ship, the crew is outstanding, the area of responsibility beautifully daunting, and the community welcoming and supportive. It really doesn't get any better than being a CO of a 110 in Hawaii. She said, she didn't remember many of the details of her own drydock on KISKA, she mostly remembered the people. I think I've been doing ok with this one. I know my time onboard is short; I'm only here for about 14 months, due to my own choice. Camilla didn't have the luxury of an easy choice, unfortunately. Her knees went bad on her, and if there's one body part that takes a true beating on a 110, it's the knees. It's a rough ride. So she had to leave early. I know she's right, though, and it does go fast.

The words of kindness were that I've done good things, and that I'm an amazing person for my accomplishments...I'm paraphrasing, because I'm horrible at remembering conversations, so this is what I took away from the exchange. I don't know about all that, really. It's everyday, common-place to me. It's just what I do. I forget that it is an exclusive group to which I belong, that most people view commanding a ship through the lens of news stories, tales of adventures, and movies. I think Camilla was also expressing some regret for her own loss, having to give up command, in a no-win situation. It got me thinking a little about what I would do if I couldn't do this anymore. I bitch about some of the more aggravating aspects of the job (middle of the night phone calls, holding members accountable for their actions, rough weather), but I love what I do. The camaraderie with such a professional and capable crew, the power and versatility of the platform, the wondrous blue ocean, the sense of destiny standing on the open bridge staring out at the horizon...I will sorely miss all of it when my tour is over.

Camilla, thanks for getting me thinking about and attempting to articulate what I get out of this.

Another unexpected thing: we rocked our ready for operations (RFO) inspection. The crew put a lot of hard work into getting ready for it, so it's not entirely unexpected. But the RFO team was very complimentary, saying the effort really showed.

And the other unexpected thing is the weather right now. I knew there was a storm on the way, but I guess I've been gone from Hawaii for long enough to have forgotten that winter storms here are no joke. There's a crazy northeast swell right now that has pretty much shut down the cut into Radio Bay. Translation: it's really dangerous to transit out of the harbor right now. There's white water breaking over the breakwall about every 30 seconds to a minute. I meant to get some pictures, but ran out of daylight. I'm hoping the swell shifts around to the east a little like it's supposed to by tomorrow. With all the rain associated with the storm, we may have snow on Mauna Kea tonight. I'll definitely get pictures of that.


Anonymous said...

Lift a lot of this when you talk about your time on the KISKA at your COC in July. What you've posted is great--a compliment to USCG, your crew, and your leadership.

Azulao said...

You are the lucky one! Most people never get to feel the way you do during their jobs. Congratulations, Girl, on being great at it.

Here in Academy-land, we're playing shell games with money right now and wondering which of our colleagues and students will not be in the hall come January. I could do with some feeling of destiny at this point.

Just a Girl said...

I've been wincing at that "sense of destiny" since I wrote that last week. I truly still believe it. But I also believe that I poked some prankster fate in the ass by saying it, and now that fate is snickering maliciously at me.

Weather's been snotty since we got underway. Gremlins in electronics. Schedule changes.

Still love my job, though.

JulieAnn said...

We only had just over a year there too... my husband got a visit once by someone who had been CO of another ship homeported in Hilo over 30 years ago. He said that of all of the duty stations he had been to, that leaving Hilo was the only one that made his wife cry. And thus far, it's been the same for me too...

Yucky weather, howling winds of Alenuihaha, and electronic gremlins (hopefully it's still not the gyro messing with you these days) aside, enjoy your time there. Hilo truly is a special place.