A Christmas Eve Watch

Michael L. Zapawa

24 DEC 2001  COMCOGARDGRU CHARLESTON/NMB

GUARDING 156.8MHZ/2182 KHZ

TWAS THE RAYDAY BEFORE CHRISTMAS WHEN ALL THRU OUT THE GROUP
NOT A SPEAKER WAS HISSING, NOT EVEN TWENTY ONE EIGHT-TWO
THE EQUIPMENT SHEET WAS NORMAL, AND PLACED IN THE BOX
MY SPOUSE CAME TO VISIT DRESSED LIKE A FOX

THE CUTTERS WERE ALL MOORED, WITH THEIR CHRISTMAS LIGHTS ALL A-GLOW
THE TIDE WAS BEGINNING AN EBB-FLOW
THERE WAS NO PENDING TRAFFIC, NOT A SINGLE LONG BREAK
NOR SAR OR MEDICO, DID I MENTION THE HARBOR WAS AS STILL AS A LAKE?

THE OOD SAT IN THE $750 DOLLAR CHAIR.
WATCHING LATE NIGHT T.V., HOPING THE WEATHER WOULD STAY FAIR
I WORKED ON COLLATERALS, AND SENT A FEW E-MAILS
THE WATCH WAS MOVING AT THE PACE OF A SNAIL.

WHEN ALL OF A SUDDEN THE PHONE RANG WITH A CLATTER
I ROSE FROM MY CHAIR TO SEE WHAT WAS THE MATTER
WAS IT A FLARE?, A GROUNDING, MAYBE A PIW OR TWO?
NO JUST THE PILOTS, REPORTING MSC LAUREN WAS TO PASS THROUGH.

I CHECKED THE PRE ARRIVAL LIST, TAPPING THE COMMS RACK
THERE IT WAS, ON THE LIST, TWO PAGES BACK.
I MADE A CHECK  MARK, AND RECORDED THE TIME
AND WISHED THE PILOT A SAFE TRANSIT, AND WROTE IT DOWN IN RHYME.

I LOOKED AT THE CLOCK, 0345 ZULU, 35 MINUTES TO BROADCAST,
A BROADCAST WITH A PRELIM ON TWO ONE EIGHT TWO
OPENING THE BROADCAST BOARD TO WHAT TO MY WONDER SHOULD APPEAR?
NOT A SINGLE NOTICE TO MARINERS, JUST THE WEATHER TO CLEAR.

TRYING TO BURN TIME, I THOUGHT ABOUT THE MISHAP TWO DAYS AGO PASS
WHEN QM1 SHURTZ, IN A HURRAY WALKED FULL SPEED INTO THE COMMCEN GLASS
ALTHOUGH HE DIDN'T BREAK ANYTHING, 'CEPT MAYBE HIS PRIDE
I'M SURE HE'LL THINK TWICE NEXT TIME, BEFORE TAKING A BIG STRIDE
 



TC2 M.L. ZAPAWA ON WATCH AS BEFORE
IT LOOKS AS THOUGH SOME COFFEE MIGHT HAVE BEEN SPILLED ON THE FLOOR
THREE MINUTES TO BROADCAST, I'D BETTER PREPARE
I GRABBED THE WEATHER PRINT-OUT, I INTENDED TO SAY IT WITH FLARE.

HELLO ALL STATIONS, I SPOKE THREE TIMES CLEAR,
THIS IS UNITED STATES COAST GUARD GROUP CHARLESTON, I SAID, THEN GRINNED WITH
HOLIDAY CHEER.
FOR COAST GUARD REGULAR SCHEDULED BROADCAST MY ANTICIPATION GREW.
LISTEN TWO SIX SEVEN ZERO KILOHERTZ I SWITCH GSB CHANNEL ZERO TWO

I FINISHED MY NIGHTLY PERFORMANCE, JUST ONE THING LEFT TO DO
LOG A SENT BROADCAST: FOR LOCAL WEATHER, AT 0421 ZULU
I SAT BACK AND RELAXED, SIX AND A HALF MORE HOURS TO GO
I BEGAN TO GET SLEEPY, AND GRABBED A CUP OF HOT JOE

THE OOD MOVED TOWARD ME, AND WITH A KNOWING LOOK STOOD
"ISSUE A UMIB, THERE'S PIW'S IN THE WATER NEAR LOCKWOOD"
PAN PAN, PAN PAN, PAN PAN, HELLO ALSTAS I SAID
BREAK.. TIME 0622 UNIVERSAL COORDINATED TIME, THE TENSION MADE MY FACE GLOW
RED.

THE SAR ALARM SOUNDED, BM1 BOWER PIPED THE CALL
THE STATION MOVED QUICK UNDERWAY WITH 03, THEY WERE ON THE BALL
I ASKED FOR MORE INFORMATION, TURNED OUT IT WAS CAR
THAT TOOK THE TURN TOO QUICK, AND WENT JUST A LITTLE TOO FAR

I MODIFIED THE UMIB, IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE
AND SENT OUT ANOTHER BROADCAST, ON THE VHF SITES THAT STAND HIGH
"UPDATE ZERO ONE" I SAID TO MAKE SURE, THAT ALL MARINERS WOULD NOT THINK
ANOTHER CASE WAS IN PROGRESS, THAT IT WAS JUST A CAR IN THE DRINK

THE 272503 CALLED "ON SCENE," ONLY A MINUTE TO GET THERE (FAST AT ANY RATE)
I RECORDED THE TIME AS A MINUTE TWO-EIGHT.
THE CAR IS IN THE REEDS REPORTED FIVE ZERO THREE
WANT US TO STAY? I REPLIED.. JUST UNTIL THE POLICE AGREE



TC2 M.L. ZAPAWA ON WATCH AS BEFORE
I HOPED THE MISFORTUNED PERSON WAS ALRIGHT, MAYBE JUST A LITTLE BIT SORE
BM1 EXCLAIMED "TELL THE FIVE ZERO THREE TO RTB!
THE POLICE HAVE GOT HER, SHE'S FINE, THANKS TO THE CHARLESTON PD"

I CANCELED THE BROADCAST, USING MY MULTISELECT TOOL
PAN PAN, HELLO ALL STATIONS HELLO ALL STATIONS, HELLO ALL STATIONS WITHOUT
LOSING MY COOL.
BREAK.. TIME 0646 UNIVERSAL COORDINATED TIME
THE PERSON WAS ASSISTED, AND THEY WERE DOING JUST FINE

THE FIVE ZERO THREE CALLED MOORED, AT A MINUTE FOUR SIX
I LOGGED IT, THEN REMEMBERED I FORGOT TO DO A WWV TIME TICK
A LITTLE EXCITEMENT TO MAKE THE TIME PASS BY
I'M GLAD EVERYONE IS ALRIGHT, I SAID ALOUD WITH A SIGH.

IT'S CASES LIKE THIS THAT MAKE ME BELIEVE
WE'RE DOING GOOD WORK, TO THIS END, WE ACHIEVE.
WE GO TO OUR LOVED ONES, STANDING TALL AND PROUD,
A COASTIE IS A PERSON, WHO STANDS OUT IN A CROWD.

WATCH RELIEVED BY MY COWORKER, AND MY FRIEND
HIS NAME IS TC3 J.J. SINGLETON, TO HIM I WILL SEND
THAT THE EQUIPMENT IS WORKING, AND THE TRAFFIC IS CLEAR,
ALL THE CUTTERS ARE MOORED HOMEPORT, THERE IS NOTHING TO FEAR.

THERE IS NO SAR OR MEDCO, JUST ANOTHER WATCH TO BE STOOD.
I'D DO ANOTHER TWELVE HOURS IF I COULD.
WITH THAT, I'LL SIGN OFF, CONTINUING THE TRADITION,
FOR ANOTHER "RAYDAY BEFORE CHRISTMAS" RENDITION.

                
                   TC2 M.L. ZAPAWA


TC2 MICHAEL L. ZAPAWA
UNITED STATES COAST GUARD GROUP CHARLESTON SC
OPERATIONS/COMMUNICATIONS

"WE THE WILLING,
LED BY THE UNKNOWING
HAVE BEEN DOING SO MUCH
FOR SO LONG...
WITH SO LITTLE
WE ARE NOW CAPABLE OF DOING EVERYTHING....
WITH NOTHING"

Return To Coast Guard Stories

A Christmas Eve Watch

 

By Michael L. Zapawa

 

24 DEC 2001 COMCOGARDGRU CHARLESTON/NMB

GUARDING 156.8MHZ/2182 KHZ

 

‘TWAS THE RAYDAY BEFORE CHRISTMAS WHEN THROUGHOUT THE GROUP,

NOT A SPEAKER WAS HISSING, NOT EVEN TWENTY ONE EIGHT-TWO.

THE EQUIPMENT SHEET WAS NORMAL AND PLACED IN THE BOX,

MY SPOUSE CAME TO VISIT DRESSED LIKE A FOX.

THE CUTTERS WERE ALL MOORED, WITH THEIR CHRISTMAS LIGHTS A-GLOW,

THE TIDE WAS BEGINNING AN EBB-FLOW.

THERE WAS NO PENDING TRAFFIC, NOT A SINGLE LONG BREAK,

NOR SAR OR MEDICODID I MENTION THE HARBOR WAS AS STILL AS A LAKE?

 

THE OOD SAT IN THE $750 DOLLAR CHAIR WATCHING LATE NIGHT T.V.,

HOPING THE WEATHER WOULD STAY FAIR.

I WORKED ON COLLATERALS, AND SENT A FEW E-MAILS,

THE WATCH WAS MOVING AT THE PACE OF A SNAIL.

WHEN ALL OF A SUDDEN THE PHONE RANG WITH A CLATTER

I ROSE FROM MY CHAIR TO SEE WHAT WAS THE MATTER.

WAS IT A FLARE? A GROUNDING, MAYBE A PIW[1] OR TWO?

NO, JUST THE PILOTS, REPORTING MSC LAUREN WAS TO PASS THROUGH.

 

I CHECKED THE PRE ARRIVAL LIST, TAPPING THE COMMS RACK,

THERE IT WAS, ON THE LIST, TWO PAGES BACK.

I MADE A CHECK MARK, AND RECORDED THE TIME,

AND WISHED THE PILOT A SAFE TRANSIT, AND WROTE IT DOWN IN RHYME.

I LOOKED AT THE CLOCK, 0345 ZULU, 35 MINUTES TO BROADCAST

WITH A PRELIM ON TWO ONE EIGHT TWO.

OPENING THE BROADCAST BOARD AND WHAT TO MY WONDER SHOULD APPEAR,

NOT A SINGLE NOTICE TO MARINERS, JUST THE WEATHER TO CLEAR.

 

TRYING TO BURN TIME, I THOUGHT ABOUT THE MISHAP TWO DAYS PAST

WHEN QM1 SHURTZ, IN A HURRY WALKED FULL SPEED INTO THE COMMCEN GLASS.

ALTHOUGH HE DIDN'T BREAK ANYTHING, 'CEPT MAYBE HIS PRIDE

I'M SURE HE'LL THINK TWICE NEXT TIME, BEFORE TAKING A BIG STRIDE.

 

TC2 M.L. ZAPAWA ON WATCH AS BEFORE

IT LOOKS AS THOUGH SOME COFFEE MIGHT HAVE BEEN SPILLED ON THE FLOOR.

THREE MINUTES TO BROADCAST, I'D BETTER PREPARE.

I GRABBED THE WEATHER PRINTOUT; I INTENDED TO SAY IT WITH FLARE.

 

“HELLO ALL STATIONS,” I SPOKE THREE TIMES CLEAR,

“THIS IS UNITED STATES COAST GUARD GROUP CHARLESTON,” I SAID, THEN GRINNED WITH

HOLIDAY CHEER, “FOR COAST GUARD REGULAR SCHEDULED BROADCAST,” MY ANTICIPATION GREW, “LISTEN TWO SIX SEVEN ZERO KILOHERTZ.” I SWITCH GSB CHANNEL ZERO TWO.

 

I FINISHED MY NIGHTLY PERFORMANCE, JUST ONE THING LEFT TO DO,

LOG A SENT BROADCAST: FOR LOCAL WEATHER, AT 0421 ZULU.

I SAT BACK AND RELAXED, SIX AND A HALF MORE HOURS TO GO,

I BEGAN TO GET SLEEPY, AND GRABBED A CUP OF HOT JOE.

 

PIW                  Person in the Water


THE OOD MOVED TOWARD ME, AND WITH A KNOWING LOOK SAID,

"ISSUE A UMIB,[2] THERE'S PIW'S IN THE WATER NEAR LOCKWOOD."

“PAN PAN,[3] PAN PAN, PAN PAN, HELLO ALL STATIONS. BREAK.

TIME 0622 UNIVERSAL COORDINATED TIME.”

THE TENSION MADE MY FACE GLOW RED.

THE SAR ALARM SOUNDED, BM1 BOWER PIPED THE CALL,

THE STATION MOVED QUICK, UNDERWAY WITH 272503,

THEY WERE ON THE BALL.

I ASKED FOR MORE INFORMATION, TURNED OUT IT WAS CAR

THAT TOOK THE TURN TOO QUICK, AND WENT JUST A LITTLE TOO FAR

 

I MODIFIED THE UMIB, IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE AND SENT OUT ANOTHER BROADCAST, ON THE VHF SITES THAT STAND HIGH.

"UPDATE ZERO ONE," I SAID TO MAKE SURE, THAT ALL MARINERS WOULD NOT THINK

ANOTHER CASE WAS IN PROGRESS, THAT IT WAS JUST A CAR IN THE DRINK

 

THE 503 CALLED "ON SCENE," ONLY A MINUTE TO GET THERE (FAST AT ANY RATE).

I RECORDED THE TIME AS A MINUTE TWO-EIGHT.

THE CAR IS IN THE REEDS REPORTED FIVE ZERO THREE,

“WANT US TO STAY?” I REPLIED. “JUST UNTIL THE POLICE AGREE.”

 

TC2 M.L. ZAPAWA ON WATCH AS BEFORE

I HOPED THE MISFORTUNED PERSON WAS ALRIGHT, MAYBE JUST A LITTLE BIT SORE.

BM1 EXCLAIMED "TELL THE FIVE ZERO THREE TO RTB! [4]

THE POLICE HAVE GOT HER, SHE'S FINE, THANKS TO THE CHARLESTON PD."

 

I CANCELED THE BROADCAST, USING MY MULTISELECT TOOL,

“PAN PAN, PAN PAN, PAN PAN, HELLO ALL STATIONS HELLO ALL STATIONS, HELLO ALL STATIONS” WITHOUT LOSING MY COOL. “BREAK. TIME 0646 UNIVERSAL COORDINATED TIME

THE PERSON WAS ASSISTED, AND THEY WERE DOING JUST FINE.”

 

THE FIVE ZERO THREE CALLED, “MOORED, AT A MINUTE FOUR SIX.”

I LOGGED IT, THEN REMEMBERED I FORGOT TO DO A WWV TIME TICK.

A LITTLE EXCITEMENT TO MAKE THE TIME PASS BY,

I'M GLAD EVERYONE IS ALRIGHT, I SAID ALOUD WITH A SIGH.

 

IT'S CASES LIKE THIS THAT MAKE ME BELIEVE

WE'RE DOING GOOD WORK, TO THIS END, WE ACHIEVE.

WE GO TO OUR LOVED ONES, STANDING TALL AND PROUD,

A COASTIE IS A PERSON, WHO STANDS OUT IN A CROWD.

 

WATCH RELIEVED BY MY CO-WORKER, AND MY FRIEND

HIS NAME IS TC3 J.J. SINGLETON, TO HIM I WILL SEND

THAT THE EQUIPMENT IS WORKING, AND THE TRAFFIC IS CLEAR,

ALL THE CUTTERS ARE MOORED HOMEPORT, THERE IS NOTHING TO FEAR.

 

 

 

 

 

 

UMIB                Urgent Marine Information Broadcast

PAN PAN            The Urgent voice signal, which indicates imminent loss of life or property.

RTB                  Return To Base


THERE IS NO SAR OR MEDICO, JUST ANOTHER WATCH TO BE STOOD.

I'D DO ANOTHER TWELVE HOURS IF I COULD.

WITH THAT, I'LL SIGN OFF, CONTINUING THE TRADITION,

FOR ANOTHER "RAYDAY BEFORE CHRISTMAS" RENDITION.

 

            TC2 M.L. ZAPAWA

            UNITED STATES COAST GUARD GROUP CHARLESTON SC

            OPERATIONS/COMMUNICATIONS

 

"WE THE WILLING, LED BY THE UNKNOWING,

HAVE BEEN DOING SO MUCH FOR SO LONG,

WITH SO LITTLE,

WE ARE NOW CAPABLE OF DOING EVERYTHING

WITH NOTHING"

 

 



[1] Person in the water.

[2] Urgent Marine Information Broadcast.

[3] The Urgent voice signal which indicates imminent loss of life or property.

[4] Return to base.