One evening in 2010, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Grand Isle (WPB-1338) let go her anchor in Salem Harbor, Massachusetts, to pass the night. At 29 years old and with 7 years of sea duty under my belt, I was the captain of the vessel and responsible for her successful operation and the safety of the crew of 17. As the anchor line paid out, the cutter drifted astern with the current at a good pace. Normally we help set the anchor by ordering a quick shot of astern propulsion—yet this time it wouldn’t be necessary. I instructed the conning officer to withhold the normal shot of backing bells. Instead of the expected “aye, aye” response, I received a perplexed look and the question, “why?”
The Power of Tradition
Shipboard rituals have a place at the helm when it comes to how skippers should be treated by their subordinates. It’s all in the authority that comes with nautical lore.
By Lieutenant Commander Brooke Millard, U.S. Coast Guard