For the last two weeks, the ship buzzed with activity. But now, the storerooms and magazines are full, and the last items, the fresh fruits and vegetables, were loaded on Friday. Finally, after a deceptive calm overtook the ship for the weekend as RUSSELL’s crew finished their personal business and packing - and savored their last hours at home - RUSSELL took in all lines yesterday at 1:29 PM and headed fair for sea.
My weekend overflowed with many of the routine activities of a holiday weekend – an Easter Egg hunt on Saturday and services and dinner on Sunday. I squeezed in the critical items on my “Honey Do” list, and even managed to pack most of my last-minute items without detracting from the family time. Still, Monday morning came all too quickly, and after making my spouse’s favorite comfort foods for breakfast, Eggs Benedict with tomato and asparagus and Mexican chocolate mocha, we piled into the car for an unusually quiet drive to the ship. Finally, after the last of the goodbyes and prayers of Godspeed, the business of the day surged to the forefront.
Now go to your stations all the Special Sea and Anchor Detail
The hard work and planning that went into a fast cruise and one-day underway after our leave periods expired manifested itself immediately when the Officer of the Deck ordered the sea detail to their stations. Long periods in port tend to dull our mariner skills, and when we pretended to go to sea on the 15th and went to sea on the 18th for the day, the ship struggled here and there to execute the plan. Not so on “Game Day”. All hands were on station and on time, and with the exception of one bridgewing pelorus, all our equipment worked as designed. In what felt like no time at all, heat billowed from the stacks and all lines were hauled on deck, and the Boatswain’s Mate of the Watch’s whistle screeched over the ship’s announcing system as he called out, “Underway. Shift colors.”
Soon, we were bidding farewell to Mighty Mo’ and turning out of the basin for the channel. As we pulled away from the pier, though, the crowd struck me as unusually thin. I soon discovered why. All along the channel, the shores were dotted with small groups and individuals gathered to say their goodbyes and wave as the ship passed. A man and three children perched on rock at the water's edge, and stood at attention and saluted. The ship’s whistle howled one prolonged blast in farewell as we passed the final group, left our home behind, and hurried off to undertake the potentially deadly business at hand.