‘The Oceans and the Stars,’ by Mark Helprin

The Oceans and the Stars: A Sea Story, A War Story, A Love Story, by Mark Helprin, The Overlook Press (October 3, 2023), Kindle and Hardcover available for pre-order.

All of Mark Helprin’s novels are on my shelf. It’s an understatement to say that, as a former Navy man and fan of his work, I’m very much looking forward to this book–and inspired by a 75-year-old author who is still at work.

From the Publisher

“Mark Helprin, the #1 New York Times, best-selling author of Winter’s Tale and A Soldier of the Great War, returns with a fast-paced, beautifully written novel about the majesty of the sea; a life dedicated to duty, honor, and country; and the gift of falling in love.
“A Navy captain near the end of a decorated career, Stephen Rensselaer is disciplined, intelligent, and determined always to do what’s right. In defending the development of a new variant of naval ship, he makes an enemy of the President of the United States, who assigns him to command the doomed line’s only prototype­––Athena, Patrol Coastal 15­­––with the intent to humiliate a man who should have been an admiral.
“Rather than resign, Rensselaer takes the new assignment in stride, and while supervising Athena’s fitting out in New Orleans, encounters a brilliant lawyer, Katy Farrar, with whom he falls in last-chance love. After failed marriages for both, this is a completely unexpected and exhilarating last chance. Soon thereafter, he is deployed on a mission that subjects his integrity, morality, and skill to the ultimate test, and ensures that Athena will live forever in the annals of the Navy.
“As in the Odyssey, Katy is the force that keeps him alive and the beacon that lights the way home through seven battles, mutiny, and court martial. In classic literary form, an enthralling new novel that extolls the virtues of living by the laws of conscience, decency, and sacrifice, The Oceans and the Stars is nothing short of a masterpiece.”

From the Author’s Website

Helprin in the Italian Alps

“Mark Helprin belongs to no literary school, movement, tendency, or trend. As many have observed, and as Time Magazine has phrased it, “He lights his own way.” His three collections of short stories (A Dove of the East and Other Stories, Ellis Island and Other Stories, and The Pacific and Other Stories), seven novels (Refiner’s Fire, Winter’s Tale, A Soldier of the Great War, Memoir From Antproof Case, Freddy and Fredericka, In Sunlight and in Shadow, and Paris in the Present Tense), and three children’s books (Swan Lake, A City in Winter, and The Veil of Snows, all illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg), speak eloquently.”

Helprin’s plots are solid and his writing is among the most beautiful on the planet. Once the book is released, I’ll try to add an editorial review.


Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the Vietnam War novel “At Sea.” The author’s cover photo is of the USS Ranger (CVA-61).


Nostalgia: old airliners and military planes

I can’t remember all the aircraft I’ve flown on. They would include the Convair, Fairchild, and Fokker. For a while, I probably logged more miles in DC-9s and 727s since they flew back and forth between Atlanta and Tallahassee. Lesa was not a fan of the DC9 because she thought pilots flew it like a hotrod. It was a tough, gritty plane.

The first large plane I flew on was the DC-8. I flew it between Luxembourg and New York City (with a brief stop in Iceland) and between Manilla and California. Both flights must have been smooth because my main memory was being asleep for most of both trips except when the flight attendants woke me up to eat again and again.

My favorite plane was the L-1011 (TriStar), very technologically advanced when it appeared in 1972, even though it certainly had a lot of people in that center section where the windows seemed several miles away. I think these were retired much too soon.  Delta and Eastern flew these, so I saw a fair number of them.

The strangest plane I flew on was the Grumman HU-16 Albatross. These were used by the Navy and Air Force for search and rescue operations and could be configured as a seaplane, though the one I flew on in the Philippines was land-based. Jimmy Buffett flew the seaplane.

The Albatross typically carried 10 passengers. The Grumman C-1 Trader typically carried nine, though its main role in the 1960s and 1970s was bringing mail and/or flag-level staff to aircraft carriers. While it was capable of taking off from a carrier without using the catapult, the time I flew between the USS Ranger and Da Nang, we were catapulted off. That was a bit rougher than a DC-9 taking off from Tallahassee.

The DC-3 I flew on in the Boy Scouts seemed rather ancient and it was for a special trip out of the Tallahassee airport down to the coast and back. This would have been in the late 1950s. My biggest surprise was seeing the Gulf of Mexico right after we took off. Oddly enough, a few airlines and cargo operators are still flying this 1935 aircraft.

Okay, thanks for putting up with my trip down memory lane. Obviously, I’ve been on other planes, including the DC-10, MD-80, and the 757. (Don’t sit in the rear section of the 757.) Never was on a 747. Sigh.


Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of At Sea, a Vietnam war novel. I took the cover photo but taking pictures on the flight deck didn’t get me a ride on any of our fighter jets.

Rainy day memories

As the rains come down and keep coming down and darkness settles into the house, I find myself thinking about things that happened long ago. I wonder, as I get older, how many of those involved in these little snippets of memory are still with us. I suppose part of the nostalgia is not knowing and/or wondering if any of them are wondering if I’m still with us. (So far, so good.)

  • The ship we were restoring

    Speaking broken Dutch, while part of a volunteer group restoring an old ship to serve as a school for the children of shippers, one duty was selling lottery tickets at that summer’s sailboat races, I approached many people and hoped for the best. Each ticket cost one guilder, so we weren’t asking for a big commitment. I saw several college-age girls and thought they probably had extra cash. Their response to my questions (in Dutch) was, “Spreekt u Engels?” You can probably figure out what that means. I said, “Sure,” and when they said they were on vacation from Florida in the U.S., I said, “I hope y’all are having a good time” in my best Southern accent. That surprised them. I confessed that I, too, was from Florida and was in a volunteer group restoring and old ship. I don’t think they bought a lottery ticket, but the encounter was somewhat surprising.

  • Once while I was in a sailor bar in the Philippines, one of my shipmates came over and asked if a particular bar girl could sit at my table for a few minutes of animated conversation while he left the bar. Her boyfriend was there and they couldn’t be seen leaving together.  I have no idea what she and I talked about while sipping San Miguel beer. Well, she probably had tea. After a while, she left. Several days later I saw my friend in the so-called “VD line” on the aircraft carrier. Everyone in the line caught something in town. He shook his head and said, “Things happen.”
  • While growing up, I was part of a Boy Scout troop sponsored by my church. Many meaningful experiences came out of this, not the least of which were camping trips in the Florida Panhandle that would later serve as raw material for the novels I would write. At some point, long after I left town for college and the navy, the church gave up its sponsorship. I didn’t find out until many years later. When I e-mailed the church, nobody seemed to know that it had ever sponsored the troop and, if it had, why the relationship ended. This always bothered me. I kept wanting to find the culprit and ask what the hell they were thinking.
  • Two Swedish girls and two U.S. male students were part of that international group restoring the boat in the Netherlands. As lame as it sounds, the other guy from the U. S. and I ended up dating the Swedish girls. When the girl I was dating invited me to Sweden to live with her in her parents’ house to keep me from being drafted into the Vietnam war, I came very close to accepting her offer. If I had, I might never have seen my parents or brothers again. Nonetheless, I almost did it. For years, I thought that not going to Sweden with her was the biggest mistake I ever made. Such thoughts, though, make me pause when I think that if I had gone with her, my daughter and granddaughters wouldn’t exist. It’s a sobering thought. Even so, I wonder where Anna is today.
  • When I attended the University of Colorado one summer, I spent most of my time with the university’s mountain recreation department climbing mountains every week. My father had done it before me. We summited some of the state’s 14,000 peaks and my skills improved more every weekend outside the classroom than inside the classroom. I met a lot of great people and wonder what became of them after the summer session ended. We hiked and climbed a lot of miles together, but they’re all gone with the wind.

Like most of you, I have hundreds of memories like this, memories that are gathering dust in the recesses of my mind. I capture some of them in my fiction, but the others fade away. It’s part of growing older, I suppose and knowing that when each of us in my generation is gone, a lot of memories will be done, too.


Happy Valentine’s Day – a time to remember loved ones serving far away

When I served aboard the U.S.S. Ranger (CVA-61) during the Vietnam War, I often “got selected” to work night shift as editor of the shipboard newspaper. In those days before WiFI and cell phones, there was no instant news other than this mimeographed, four-to-six page newspaper on legal size paper that I handed out to berthing areas, offices, the mess decks, and other compartments just before reveille every morning in 1968

Wikipedia photo

While my headline “Ho Chi Minh is Dead” probably got the most attention, my most popular headline–on a slow news day–was “A Modern Love Story.” Since we weren’t supposed to take those papers off the ship, I have no copies. So, I no longer know where this love story happened or when or even the details. It ran on the Associated Press wire and filled up a fair amount of the front page of “The Daily Shield.”

Basically, two lovers were separated from each other, perhaps by the war, perhaps by transfers to new jobs or colleges, or the random vicissitudes of fate. Like a tear-jerker movie, the young man and young woman spent many days months or years trying to find each other again. They went through hell and high water, never gave up, and finally–by the end up the story–were standing arm and arm, perhaps in the sunrise, filled with hope.

At a time when there was a long line of sailors who thought they had VD outside the sick bay door after every liberty call at a sailor town, that anyone on the ship would read “A Modern Love Story” seemed unlikely. After all, these are the tough sailors who said, as they went into town, “if you not in bed by nine o’clock, you might as well go back to the ship.”

Our cruises (as we called them) lasted about nine months. Being away from wives, fiancées, girlfriends, and parents for that long was more difficult than rough sailor talk about bar girls would lead one to believe. Even so, I was unprepared to walk through the mess decks at breakfast and find an unusual silence. The men weren’t talking, laughing, or complaining about the food. They were reading the story, some sharing the paper with others at the table. They cheered when they got to the end of it as the young lovers were reunited.

Pure schmaltz. The hard-boiled reporters and copyeditors back in the States would have relegated such a story to the features section, not page one. I didn’t run the story because I thought it would bring out the best in everyone, I ran it because I was desperate for enough copy to fill up the paper.

The Ranger was a flagship, and that meant the admiral and his staff we aboard. The following day when I arrived before the crack of dawn at the flag office, the admiral himself was standing there waiting for his papers. This wasn’t unusual. What was unusual was shaking his hand as he said, “If you find any more love stories, print them.” “Aye aye, sir.”

My good luck made me look like a genius, and that was unusual.

If your husband or wife or son or daughter or mother or dad is serving his or her country far away, remember them always, but especially on February 14th.




Wow, almost 100,000 views for this blog


Aw shucks, folks, thanks for all the visits and for putting up with the fact I haven’t felt the need to place this blog squarely in one niche or another.

  • The all-time favorite post is: The Bare-bones structure of a fairy tale. Even though that post is a little over two years old, it still out performs every new post from week to week. I have no idea why, but at over 7,000 views, it’s well ahead of the rest of my 1,065 of posts since 2007.
  • The second most popular post is: Heave Out and Trice Up. This, I understand. A lot of people search for the meanings of navy jargon and slang, most especially what “heave out and trice up” actually means. This post was written in 2010 and still gets hits every week.

I’ve done a lot of reviews on this site, a few author interviews from time to time and talked about writing (including my own). Those posts are in the majority. However, when north Florida’s notorious Dozier School was in the news, my 2012 post about the White House Boys got a lot of hits. So did my 2013 (and frequently updated) post about the fate of the aircraft carrier USS Ranger that was scrapped rather than turned into a museum.

Since my books are mostly set in Montana’s Glacier National Park and the Florida Panhandle, I’ve written posts about my stories’ settings. Those get more hits over time than they do on the day they appear. I’m glad you find them whenever you find them.

I’ve appreciated your comments over the years as well. One never knows what people will say. I do know it takes time for you to write them.

Want a chance at a free Kindle Fire?

For those of you who’ve enjoyed reading my books and short stories, I want to mention that my publisher is starting a newsletter. I hope you’ll sign up. It’s free. Better yet, one subscriber will receive a free Kindle Fire Tablet. Deadline is 16 days from now. Click here to subscribe and enter the random drawing for the Kindle.

As for heaving and tricing

Now, for those of you who are curious about heave out and trice up, it has nothing to do with throwing up while seasick or drunk. I don’t know if navy ships still use the phrase as a wake-up call over the ship’s public address system. It means get up and raise your bunk (rack) or hammock up away from the floor (deck) so that the compartment cleaners can sweep out your berthing (sleeping, not having babies) area.


Malcolm R. Campbell writes magical realism, contemporary fantasy and paranormal novels and short stories.





Creating a Book Cover on the Cheap

Since the release of my Vietnam novel At Sea is a relatively modest Kindle production, I didn’t want to spend money for a cover photograph, artist or a cover designer. It’s a hard choice. The expense might produce a cover that increases sales or it might run the whole project in the red.

I wanted a cover that showed readers At Sea is set on an aircraft carrier. When I was in the navy, the pictures I took as a navy journalist belonged to the navy. There are many stock images of aircraft carriers on navy sites, but they cannot be used without permission for a book cover or advertising.

Many self-published books end up with little or no art work on them and rely on print, color, and a few simple graphic shapes. I don’t think these attract attention or help sell the book. Plus, they give prospective readers little to no idea what the book might be about. I definitely needed an aircraft carrier on my book’s cover.

Finally, I found an old color slide of the USS Ranger’s flight deck I took when I was part of the crew:


Several issues come to mind. Although a lot of people are doing a lot of things, the picture doesn’t have the dynamic punch it would have if it showed the ship navigating a stormy sea or a plane taking off.

Even though the color was muted due to the age of the Ektachrome slide, it still brings out detail, potentially leading some readers to infer this book is nonfiction. Also, it’s a landscape rather than a portrait photo. The first thing I did was get rid of the color:


Now it’s less busy and the black and white photo rather lends itself to older times such as a book about a war that happened in the 1960s. Whether or not this picture would “work” depended on how it was cropped, how the title displayed, and how dramatic color might be added to the resulting book cover:


First, the detail has been downplayed via black and white and cropping. The cropping provided a portrait format and the added color framed the image of the two planes and the ship’s superstructure. To keep the author’s name and title from looking static, I have them displayed at an angle.

I like the two planes displayed on the cover because the main character works in the ship’s aircraft maintenance department and is best friends with one of the air wing’s pilots.

The result works for me because it came together without my having to hire an artist and/or pay for an expensive stock photo. Perhaps you would have approached it differently.

Doing a cover on the cheap won’t work if it looks cheap. Perhaps my ideas here from rough photo to finished cover will give you some ideas for your next cover.


Note: Another version of this story was originally published as “The Sailor,” a book that’s now out of print.


Mail Call – Are you sending mail?

“Carrier onboard delivery (COD) is the use of aircraft to ferry personnel, mail, supplies, and high-priority cargo, such as replacement parts, from shore bases to an aircraft carrier at sea. Several types of aircraft, including helicopters, have been used by navies in the COD role. The Grumman C-2 Greyhound has been the United States Navy’s primary COD aircraft since the mid-1960s.” – Wikipedia

On board ship, we heard an endless chatter of messages over the 1-MC “public address” system. We disliked “General Quarters” because it meant something bad was happening or we were going into another endless drill. We liked “Mail Call” because that meant messages from home, something perfume scented from a lover or spouse, something to eat from mom or grandmother such as pre-crushed cookies or flattened fruitcake.

C-1A Trader - USN Photo
C-1A Trader – USN Photo

While carrier onboard delivery refers to a service, we tended to refer to the mail plane itself as “the COD.” Launch and recovery operations were available on closed-circuit TV throughout the ship, so we often saw the COD land. We knew then it was a matter of time before we’d hear “Mail Call” announced.

I served onboard the USS Ranger during the Vietnam War and mail arrived via a C-2 Greyhound or the carrier’s smaller C-1 Trader. Both were made by Grumman. I liked the Trader best because we saw it the most. Plus, I flew off the ship in a Trader when I transferred to shore duty.

1-MC speaker
1-MC speaker

I have no idea what it was like to be “in-country” in a hostile environment and receive a letter. A treasure, it was, I imagine.

Those of us onboard ship outside the direct line of fire welcomed mail because it was a positive interruption in the daily grind during cruises that often took us away from home for nine months at a time. Word from home: nothing was more important.

Like many factory settings, a carrier was in many ways a dangerous place when you think of large equipment, stores of aviation gasoline and jet fuel, bombs and missiles, aircraft launch and recovery, and all the things that could possible go wrong. Mail Call was an oasis in this madness afloat. In fact, it reminded us of why we were putting up with the madness.

Ranger's COD - Malcolm R. Campbell photo
Ranger’s COD – Malcolm R. Campbell photo

Today, of course, sailors on board ship get e-mail and, as far as I know, Skype. So there’s a faster way to connect if folks will just remember to do it. Mail in 1968 took a long time to go to and from an aircraft carrier at sea. If we went for a while without letters, it took a long time to find out why. Today, one can send an e-mail with a header like “where are you?” or “everything okay?”

However your service man or woman gets to hear from you, I hope you’re sending snail mail and/or e-mail. I assume cookies are still in demand. Things you can hold in your hand are a change of pace from words and JPGs on the screen: a locket, a lock of hair, a color-crayon card from one of the kids, a pressed flower, a program from a play or recital, something you touched and took the time to put in an envelope with an APO or FPO address on the front.

COD is still important even in a world of e-mail and Skype. Keep in touch.

You May Also Like: Where is Hong Kong’s Li Lai Ha Today? – Kong Kong girl visits Ranger’s Marine Detachment


Flight Deck - Malcolm R. Campbell photo
Flight Deck – Malcolm R. Campbell photo

P.S. Most of you who served onboard the USS Ranger (CVA-61) know by now that the Navy dishonored all of us by selling the ship to a scrapper for a penny rather that turning it into a museum. It sits at the scrap yard now where cutting torches will do what time, storms, accidents and the enemy couldn’t accomplish.



Ex-carrier Ranger set for last voyage in early 2015

from the Navy Times:

USS Ranger at sea in 1968 - US Navy Photo, cleared for publication
USS Ranger at sea in 1968 – US Navy Photo, cleared for publication

The ex-carrier Ranger is set to make its final sea voyage in early 2015.

The Navy paid 1 cent for shipbreakers to tow and scrap the decommisioned aircraft carrier, which once launched combat missions in the Vietnam War and Operation Desert Storm, Naval Sea Systems Command said Monday.

“Under the contract, the company will be paid $0.01. The price reflects the net price proposed by International Shipbreaking, which considered the estimated proceeds from the sale of the scrap metal to be generated from dismantling,” the NAVSEA release said. “$0.01 is the lowest price the Navy could possibly have paid the contractor for towing and dismantling the ship.”

The Ranger is to be towed from its berth in Bremerton, Washington, to Brownsville, Texas, where International Shipbreaking Ltd. is based. The carrier will have to be towed around South America, a four to five month journey, as its too large to fit through the Panama Canal, NAVSEA said.

The Ranger was commissioned in 1957 and spent its entire 36-year career in the Pacific, making a total of 22 Western Pacific deployments, NAVSEA said.

The dismantlement comes after veterans’ and historical groups were unable to raise enough money to turn the Ranger into a museum, like The Intrepid Museum in New York City. The Ranger had been on donation hold for eight years.

“After eight years on donation hold, the USS Ranger Foundation was unable to raise the necessary funds to convert the ship into a museum or to overcome the physical obstacles of transporting her up the Columbia River to Fairfview, Oregon,” NAVSEA said. “As a result, the Ranger was removed from the list of ships available for [donation] and designated for dismantling.”

What a waste.


Memories from an old press kit for the USS Ranger


USS Ranger at sea in 1968 - US Navy Photo, cleared for publication
USS Ranger at sea in 1968 – US Navy Photo, cleared for publication

While sorting through boxes of old file folders in the garage, I came across a 1968 press kit for the decommissioned aircraft carrier USS Ranger (CVA-61). (The Ranger was active between 1957 and 1993).

These kits were handed out to reporters and special guests who came aboard ship in port or at sea. They contained information about the ship’s history and its departments, aircraft, and a variety of photographs of the ship, planes and personnel.

In addition to the carrier’s missions that stretched between the Vietnam War and the Gulf War, the Ranger is notable for being the first carrier to be built from the keel up with an angled deck.

A Portland Oregon foundation worked for some time to acquire the ship for use as a museum, but the effort fell through when it didn’t gain enough support from high-profile financial and political individuals and groups to put together a working plan that met the navy’s strict requirements.

To learn more about this effort, see USS Ranger Closer to New Home in Portland and Navy to Scrap Historic Aircraft Carrier – UPDATE.

Flight deck crews move two A-4 Skyhawks - US Navy photo, cleared for publication.
Flight deck crews move two A-4 Skyhawks – US Navy photo, cleared for publication.

Consequently, the ship is being scrapped this year. Had the ship been converted into a museum, I would have sent them this press kit, copies of the shipboard magazine and cruise book, and a fair number of news releases I wrote for the military and civilian press while on board.

Ranger in Films

As Wikipedia reminds us, “Ranger appeared on television in The Six Million Dollar Man, Baa Baa Black Sheep and in the films Top Gun, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (standing in for the carrier USS Enterprise), and Flight of the Intruder.”

I worked in the ship’s public affairs office and put together a lot of these kits during my time on board in 1968 and 1969.

The press kit usually contained pictures of the aircraft of from the squadrons assigned to the ship during the October-to-May deployments to the western pacific. The A-4s in this photo belonged to Squadron VA-155, the “Silver Foxes.

In addition to the standard materials, we included copies of the latest news releases about shipboard operations and deployments as well as visits by film companies and USO shows.

Finding Your Way Around

Handout Sheet
Handout Sheet

Television shows like JAG and NCIS frequently show shore-based navy and marine personnel getting lost on board aircraft carriers when trying to find their way between the bridge, the mess decks and their quarters. It’s easy to do. We cleared up the confusion for guests by handing out a diagram that showed how the decks were numbered.

The sheet noted that every single compartment on board has a number indicating its deck, location, purpose and opened/closed status based on the ship’s “Material Condition of Readiness” (XRAY, YOKE, ZEBRA and WILLIAM).

I read with interest the news stories about the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) which is currently undergoing tests prior to its entry into the fleet in 2016. The changes in design and capability of the Forrestal-class carriers ( Forrestal, Saratoga, Ranger and Independence) built in the 1950s and the new Ford-class carriers (to include the Ford, Kennedy and Enterprise) is amazing. Even the sailors serving aboard the current Nimitz-class carriers will see exciting changes.

The Ford-class carriers will have three aircraft elevators, upgraded RADAR systems, and more efficient nuclear power plants, and Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) rather than conventional steam pistons for launching aircraft.

I suppose ships will continue to use some form of press kit, perhaps printed off as needed with different combinations of pages and pictures when dignitaries and reporters arrive. Most of these folks will probably look at the skips’ websites and print out their own press materials before they arrive. When describing the Ranger to others, we mentioned the size of the flight deck, the weight of the anchors, and the number of crew members.

We also said the ship was a floating city. I see that some things don’t change. In the news stories about the Gerald R. Ford, that phrase is still being used.


Malcolm R. Campbell’s novels include “At Sea,” an adventure inspired by his two western Pacific cruises on board the USS Ranger. Ranger was, in those days, called the top gun of the Pacific Fleet.

That Navy Slang Gets More Hits Than Almost Anything Else

ussrangerunrepOur of this blog’s 60,000 page views, a surprisingly high number of people are searching for navy slang. My three-year-old post “Heave out and Trice Up” still gets dozens of hits a week. And just to think, I wrote it for kicks.

I was working on my novel The Sailor. Needless to say, that novel has a lot of navy slang in it. I got to wondering: “Do non-sailors know what any of this stuff means?” There are dozens of sites about navy slang, some of which allow people to post questions. Apparently the words “heave out and trice up” are asked about more often than anything else.

As the Vietnam War fades into memory, I can understand why there would be fewer people asking about Hanoi Hannah, the “Tokyo Rose” of her day. And, as cigarette smoking becomes less pervasive in our culture, fewer people are asking what it means when a ship’s 1-MC public address system informs the crew that “the smoking lamp is lighted.” In fact, the interior spaces of ships are now being declared “smoke free.” Of course, the smoking lamp is out while loading ammunition or fuel during an unrep (Underway Replenishment as shown in the photo.)

But “heave out and trice up”? I’ll give you a clue: it has nothing to do with getting seasick, an event that’s much more likely on a can (no, not the head, but a destroyer) than an aircraft carrier during heavy weather. Part of the problem with the phrase is the word “trice.” We don’t use that word around the office much these days. It’s a sailor’s term, meaning to tie up or secure something, as in a sail or a bunk.

After seeing old pirate movies as kids, we went around shouting “avast,” which means to stop doing what you’re doing–such as trying to get away. When pirates shouted “avast” to a merchant ship they wanted to board, they expect the captain of the hapless boat to heave to, meaning to bring the ship to a stop.”

Wikipedia has an alphabetized glossary of navy slang. If you’re about to join the navy, buy a sailboat, be hired on to a cruise ship, or play pirate games with the kids, this glossary is much easier than searching through old books for jargon until 0-dark-thirty.

As we said in Navy bootcamp, those attending class were expected to take a good set of notes in order to past the tests. If you can’t past the tests, much less figure out what’s going on aboard ship, you’re pretty much considered a bent shitcan whether you’re assigned to a can or a birdfarm.

My heave out and trice up post has received more hits than any other post, except one: a book review of Raymond Khoury’s “The Last Templar.”   Go figure.


thesailorcoverMalcolm R. Campbell is the author of “The Sailor,” a Vietnam-era novel about life on board an aircraft carrier.

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