We all survived the weekend in San Diego. No jail time. Just probation. Understanding judge. Water. Ships. Friends. People watching. We had a blast.
There is always a rhythm to a city. This one is laid back. You don’t get the frenetic activity but rather people enjoying the water and the day. It is almost as if work is a necessary evil. Probably is. It’s not valley girls or lala. It’s just a whole bunch of people at peace with themselves. Kinda cool.
Not everyone owns waterfront property but then again they do. They crowd into beachfront bars with open patios. They pitch camps on the beach early in the morning. They have barbecues for several dozen family and friends. Some live inland but the parks and beaches are their country clubs on weekends.
Even the well off seem restrained. Sure there are mega yachts. They are well over 100 feet but everyone waves on the water. I didn’t see many fancy cars. You do your thing. I will do mine. There is a lilt to sailboats rocking and halyards banging that is music. The sea gulls though intensely disliked, have a mournful cry. It bespeaks water and sand.
But let’s talk Navy. This is a Navy town. We counted at least 25 ships in port. The roster included the megacarrier Carl Vinson. I was looking for the scrape marks where Bin Laden went over the side. There were frigates and jeep carriers and supply ships and some things that looked ominous just sitting at the dock.
Ever present were Navy security boats. Ships were surrounded by cables and buoys that I am sure were not environmental in nature. We sailed by the Amphibious Base and saw a vast array of every type of craft imaginable that were designed for one thing….The US Navy Seals.
You were proud to be an American. But you also had to look at all the redundancy and wonder if we couldn’t start saving that afternoon. Then a pair of Navy F18 jets came screaming off a runway in front of you and you knew the brass wouldn’t allow the cutbacks. Just bring the congressman down here. We’ll win him over.
There was a Swift Boat memorial replete with the only remaining boat in captivity. My friend Don arranged for them to open it up for me on Saturday morning. I hadn’t set foot on one for 41 years but nothing had changed. I could do it in my sleep.
Memories flowed back. There were the twin 50’s in the gun tub. Twin Graymarines got you up in step fast. Ever watchful. Ever wary. That was war. Yet I showed Kathy where I would tape letters to her on cassettes. That was good and I think she got it.
The last part of the base we saw was on top of Point Loma. It has a spectacular and majestic view corridor to the bay and ocean beyond. There were row upon row of headstones from WWII standing at attention. These warriors should have the best seat in the house. They earned it. It was sobering to see.
We stayed with our great friends on their 58’ Hatteras motor yacht. By the time we left even Kathy was saying she could spend a year or two there. There was a relaxed atmosphere you couldn’t imagine. Many times I played “what if” not with a spreadsheet but with my mind. Not regretting. Just reveling in all the sea has meant to me.
I also met up Saturday night with a fellow Swift boat captain by the name of Don Farrell. The last time we said hello and good bye was in Cat Lo, Viet Nam. 41 years ago. It took us about 20 seconds to melt away those so many months and decades. The only war stories we told were the fun ones. We bored everybody and drank too much, but who cared.
Don is good people. The same type as all the guys I was over there with. Just decent sorts that wanted to do their job and make sure they got everybody home in one piece. Don and I marveled at the responsibility given to us as 23 and 24 year olds. We were glad we were more right than wrong on the shots we called. I am incredibly proud to be one of them.
Trips to La Jolla, Torrie Pines and Del Mar filled out our itinerary. One of my favorite stops was a coffee shop on Orange Avenue on Coronado Island. I could hang out there for hours. There were pull carts on the Coronado Golf Course overlooking the water and I felt I could stay for another week or two or seventy five.
Life is so good whether you are on the Atlantic, Pacific or downtown wherever. Count your blessings. We are so lucky. Yes we have to get our act together. All of us. We have got such a long road ahead as a country. Let’s all pull on the oars of this boat at the same time. And yes, may we have fair winds and following seas.
Sorry for the soft soap. It’s what is in Ted’s Head right now. I will get back to deep thought next week. Request permission to come aboard, Sir.
Ted The Great.
There are now 285 commissioned ships in US Navy.There were 752 in my day…1970. There were 6084 in WWII.
The US coastline of all 50 states 19,924 miles. Think of all the waterfront property, Jimmy.
The USS Carl Vinson is a shade under four football fields at 1192’.It has approximately 6000 service personnel.. Every one says they were the one who dumped Bin Laden over. It needs at least 37’of water to operate in.