I always wanted to be afloat. When I was nine years old I begged my parents to let me join the sea cadets. My father took me along to the local unit where I was told to come back when I was twelve. I sulked for three years. Having reached an insurable age I was finally allowed to join and I loved it. I signed up for everything, spending a large chunk of my early teens travelling around the UK to various naval and army bases to get involved in sailing, canoeing, motor boating and all sorts of adventurous training.
When I was fourteen they let me shoot a bolt action Lee Enfield .303 rifle at Bisley. The shells were longer than my hand. It was so heavy that I could only hold it pointing downrange in the prone position with the bloody thing strapped to my shoulder. The recoil from the first shot nearly broke my arm, I have no idea where the bullet went. The second shot hit the cardboard enemy fifty yards away and I was elated, until the first spots of blood dripped off my nose. The Royal Marine sergeant in charge could barely stop laughing to explain to me that the second recoil had sent the bolt mechanism back into the middle of my forehead where there was now a perfectly circular hole the size of a pea. The remaining eight rounds in the clip all hit the cardboard argy.
I joined the Royal Navy in 1986 at the age of sixteen. The first four years were spent completing the Artificer Apprenticeship, one of the finest marine engineering apprenticeships in the world, at HMS Sultan. My time was split fairly evenly between the workshops, the classroom and a range of other leadership courses and naval general training as well as a three month spell aboard HMS Intrepid, an assault ship. I gained a range of professional qualifications including a BTEC diploma in marine engineering and a C and G trade certificate as a fitter and turner.
Upon graduation I volunteered for service in submarines and was sent to the RN nuclear school to undertake specialist training in reactors. I am not permitted to elaborate further on that. Then across to HMS Dolphin for my first taste of submarine escape tank training, a thirty metre tall, vertical circular swimming pool that all RN submariners must ascend every three years. Its very scary.
I joined my first submarine, HMS Talent in dry dock in Devonport in 1990. Once my initiation training was complete I took and passed the exams to qualify as a machinery space watchkeeper and was promoted to Petty Officer MEA. My three years aboard this outstanding warship were almost entirely active service, carrying out multiple covert patrols of over one hundred days dived. I loved the work I felt as though I was at the cutting edge of marine engineering, operating a nuclear reactor underwater. The living conditions however, would make prison feel like a gentleman’s club.
First draft over, I got married, had a son, volunteered for early return to sea and was sent back to the nuclear school for some more advanced secret stuff.
HMS Triumph, a sister vessel to Talent, was my second seagoing billet. I was promoted to Chief Petty Officer shortly before my twenty fourth birthday and in the same year took and passed the unit watchkeeping certificate for nuclear steam raising plant. Piece of piss. Everything seemed to be chugging along pretty smoothly until the submarine visited Ft Lauderdale and I was given two weeks off as the vessel went up to Canaveral. During this period the correct definition of the word ’party’ was made graphically clear to me. Upon returning to the boat and heading back to sea I began to realise that I had pretty much sacrificed my youth sneaking around under the polar ice, playing kiss chase with lethal communist hardware, while the rest of my generation were living large on the beach.
When I returned to Plymouth in 1997 there was a Labour government coming to power and so, remembering how shit the 1970’s were, resolved to make some changes. I left the RN, the wife and the UK on the same weekend in July and went to the Bahamas to join Atlantic Goose. I spent the next five years in Florida, the Caribbean and the Med as engineer aboard an assortment of turn of the century 500gt motor yachts, notably Noble House, before eventually settling in Mallorca.
I have been an instructor at bluewater for ten years now and have been involved in teaching a few different courses over that time but these days tend to focus mainly on training engineering candidates for the Y4 to Y1 certificates. I have a rather forthright teaching style and am uncomfortable in the company of fools. I still enjoy working in the classroom as I get to spend all day listening to someone who knows what they are talking about.
Now that the adults are back in charge of the UK government and the Scots are about to secede from the union, I enjoy spending time in England when I can. My principle hobby is pottering around on my little canal boat in Lancashire. I also enjoy riding my motorcycle too fast and mocking religion, as well as the occasional drunken fist fight with close friends. I consume very little fiction in printed or broadcast form (except cartoons) but enjoy factual and comedic TV and I like to watch any sport that involves manipulating a ball. I read Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and the Daily Telegraph. I am a Libra and my favourite colour is blue. I am a fussy eater. I bite my fingernails and swear too much.