On The Yukon (OTY)/On The Ayeyarwady (OTA) – 5

OTY: Indoctrination into the River Rat culture was unique. With all the down time moving along the Nenana and Yukon rivers, there were opportunities to be creative. Drinking beer apparently was one creative strategy used by a few river rats. It did promote a stress free break and eased bonding with crew-members. Certainly no mutinies will get hatched if the crew is blissfully blitzed. Yet the aftereffects tended to influence one’s clarity during a shift on deck. Not a good strategy for survival. Our Captain Don was an odd one. He relished his role as Commander, demanded respect (without earning it) yet struggled to relate to the crew. His comment about our rate of alcohol consumption made me wonder what sort of crew he commanded prior to this voyage. Hey Ho Matey! Pass the Grog and fight the Scurvy!

OYA: I have worked for or sailed with four Captains, and Captain Dumwa was the kindest of them all. I held the hand of a Cook Island Captain suffering from early stages of dementia, deflected the creepy paternalism of a racist Aussie Captain, and avoided antagonizing the short, authoritarian bully Captain Don. Captain Dumwa was so kind that you had to avoid mentioning a desire or he just might fulfill it. Shopping for longies, I did not expect Captain Dumwa to be a fashionista, but he knew where to find the best quality and who had an excellent tailor. And he really did deliver the longies to us on board. In return, I volunteered to suffer through modeling the traditional Burmese attire in front of the passengers after supper one night. Given my tall stature and thin build, I was a fun-house mirror reflection of the Burmese look. I spun and my crowd was amused. But Elite Model Management did not get in touch.

About Whittoons

Cartoonist, and community organizer who has covered the globe as a doodlebugger, gandydancer, supernumerary steward, Able Bodied Seaman, Wireman, monkey man, Night Baker and dishwasher, Hobo, hitchhiker and husband.
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