I got this story from Brian, a Boatswainâ€™s Mate and previous contributor who has a knack for spinning a good yarn.
A few years ago, Brianâ€™s ship visited Naples for a port call, and the Sailors were given â€œCinderella Libertyâ€ (they had to be back aboard before midnight). During the evening, he and his buddies were enjoying the time off a little too much. Hereâ€™s where we pick up his story.
â€œA good time was had by all, but we all knew we had the Sword of Damocles hanging over our heads. Well, somehow I got separated from my buds somewhere along the way. As I made my way back to the ship in the wee hours of the morning and the fun was wearing off (funny how that happens), I knew I was in deep kem-shi.
â€œAs I made my way down the pier, I noticed there wasnâ€™t anyone on the quarterdeck of the ship. Now, even in my current state of disrepair, I knew that wasnâ€™t right. However, as I got closer, I could see that the OOD. POOW, and Messenger were all on the fantail with their heads hanging over the stern lifeline with fishing poles!!! One of them had hooked a monstrous eel and they were all looking at it. Now, Iâ€™m sure youâ€™re all thinking, ‘Oh you gotta be kidding.’ But Iâ€™m not. The world was not as dangerous then as it is today, and you didnâ€™t have to keep your guards up for scumbag tangos like you do now-a-days. Well, as you all know, when you go ashore in a foreign port, you must sign the log with time departed and time returned. So since their attention was momentarily diverted, I took the opportunity to slip up the brow and duck inside the door furthest aft, right next to the quarterdeck. I didnâ€™t sign the log, (but) I didnâ€™t think I could do it unnoticed. It was an incredible stroke of luck to get back onboard without being seen. However, being the brilliant Boatswain Mate I thought I was, I already had begun to formulate a plan. So I crawled into my rack for a couple hours of sleep.
â€œI had barely closed my eyes when revile went. I jumped out of my rack, and feeling like a hundred bucks, headed to the mess deck for some greasy eggs. (Just what I needed) Well, it wasnâ€™t long before my Chief was jumping all over me. Blankety blank blank blank, what the hell happened to you last night? They tell me you werenâ€™t back on board by pumpkin time!!! Now, before I had headed up to the mess deck, I had gotten with the 2nd class BM I worked with, and told him what I had done, and the plan I had. I already knew he had gone back to the ship early the night before. After I told him what the watch was doing when I came back, he told me when he had come back aboard, the watch was checking out a beautiful Italian girl on the pier and they didnâ€™t see him come back aboard either. But he signed the logbook and was covered. I said, ‘Thatâ€™s perfect Joe! You can claim you found me out in town drunk and brought me back aboard with you! Since they didnâ€™t see either one of us, they canâ€™t prove otherwise! Weâ€™ll just say it was all you could do to get me to my rack, and you forgot to log me in when you did.’ After I assured him no one had seen me come back aboard, he agreed.â€
Brian was eventually taken to a Chiefâ€™s review board where he told his story so convincingly that any potential charges were dropped.
â€œI could never have gotten away with it if Joe hadnâ€™t had my back. But I worked hard and I played hard and that mentality served me well, my entire career. So Joe, if youâ€™re out there, and you read this, this Budâ€™s for you!â€