CAMEL ADRIFT

by Don Gardner

Nautical terminology befuddles a boot radioman....

In 1967, my next-to-last duty assignment was as Radioman-in-Charge at Coast Guard Radio Station Long Beach, NMQ. Whenever a boat or yacht called for assistance or to report a menace to navigation, the radiotelephone operator would obtain as many details as he could from a caller who would often be irritated at the seemingly endless stream of questions. Having satisfied himself and the watch supervisor that all the necessary details were obtained, the information would then be forwarded to the 11th Coast Guard District Rescue Coordination Center to act upon.

Whenever a certain LT was on duty, no matter how many details were collected by the radiotelephone operator, he would inevitably call on the hotline and ask for more in an intimidating manner, scaring these young men with his curt orders.

One day a Radioman, who had just reported fresh from boot camp via radio school, received a call from a tugboat captain reporting a camel adrift in San Pedro harbor. The captain considered it a menace to navigation and requested a Notice to Mariners be issued. As all experienced sailors know, a camel is a log, secured at both ends to a dock, to prevent a vessel from rubbing against the dock.

The radiotelephone operator was not familiar with this nautical term, but kept in mind the caveat regarding the LT to provide as much information as possible, asked: "Is that a one-hump or a two-hump camel?"

The tugboat captain was NOT amused.

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