May 19th, 2018
Chlöé says that she and her uncle both passed the highest ARC water-safety tests, but that her uncle, who got his cert a generation earlier, had to learn to jump into the water from destroyer-height, wearing a Mae West, without having the vest break his neck on hitting the water.She wondered whether you’d learned how to do this, and if so, how to do it.Reynaud
March 20, 2018ZurichDear Reynaud,
Yep, sure did. The most important thing is to look before you leap: you have to expect the water to be full of debris, as well as your shipmates, and you don’t want to land on either of them. The vest thing makes perfect sense, but I don’t remember what to do about it–the old kapok vests have a high collar, which is meant to keep your face out of the water if you lose consciousness, and indeed, if forced straight upwards hard enough, it could probably take out your cervical spine. What I do remember how to do is that when you jump, you hold your balls. And, no: I’m not kidding about your balls. The idea is to avoid them getting racked up when you hit the water. Today there are women on board ship, but I don’t know what they’re told to do. You’re also taught to use a hat, your shirt, or your pants as flotation devices. That last one is effective, but fucking HARD to do–I got worn out the first time I tried, and had to do it again to pass the test.The basic thing once you’re safely off of the vessel is to get as far from the ship as quickly as possible: you don’t want to get sucked down when it sinks, and depending on how deep it is when (if) the engines explode, you could get injured by the shock.The thing that they didn’t have us practice is swimming with burning oil on the surface. They told us that at night, the burning oil lights up the water underneath it, so you look for a shaft of darkness, swim up to the surface through it, take a breath, and then submerge again to find your way away from the oil.Zipf
ARC: American Red Cross.
- cert: certification.
- destroyer: a small ship, mostly used to screen big ships from submarines and aircraft.
- Mae West: a kind of life vest. It’s named after Mae West, a film star of the epoque known for playing super-sexy roles.