Takaom Universe

Takaom Universe
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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Yonder is the sea

Yonder is the sea, great and wide, 
Wherein are things creeping innumerable, 
Both small and great beasts.
 Psalm 104:25

I come from a family with nautical ties in Tidewater Virginia.  If family stories are to be believed, not only did three generations labor at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia, but the family also had at least one tugboat captain and a boat builder. Although our family records are pretty spotty, it's a pretty safe bet that one part of the family, the Hunts, watched the battle of the ironclads at Hampton Roads, and they were not rooting for Ericsson's cheesebox on a raft to win.

I unknowingly followed our family's nautical bent when I attended a coastal technical school with a maritime training program where I learned to chip paint, grind rust off deck plates, and paint the diesel-fouled shaft alleys of the school's oceanographic research vessels. These tasks are not very glamorous but they are a necessary part of maintaining ships.

Finally running out of money for school, I stepped off the school's research vessel the Advance II for the last time in December 1972 and joined the military to eventually pay for college. My career ambitions changed and I never finished my goal of gaining a doctorate in physical oceanography.

I left school with an appreciation for the Cummins and Detriot Diesel  marine power plants, Bowditch, Mixter, and Chapman. I knew enough marlinespike seamanship to splice and frap after a fashion. I knew port (larboard) from starboard, the rules of the road, how to plot a course, how to crew a whaleboat, and how to mend fishing nets. I turned my back on a good many things, but kept a deep, abiding love for the sea, particularly things under the sea.

As a kid, I loved Lloyd Bridges in Sea Hunt and the TV series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea with Richard Basehart and David Hedison. I briefly met Hedison in a bookstore where I worked in the 1980s and my throat was so dry I couldn't utter a word.

Throughout my childhood I read Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea in various editions, skipping over the big words and devouring everything about the amazing underwater craft. My school notebooks were covered in designs for submersibles and underwater battles.

When Jacques-Yves Cousteau hit television, I believed it was a sign from God that I should go under the sea.  I don't know how much the LORD was in my passion, but I don't regret for a minute the time I spent at that school.

So it should  come as no surprise that now almost 38 years later, I write Christian speculative stories with a nautical setting.

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