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Looking for a ship

by John A McPhee

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Entertaining and catchy   (2010-04-23)

Very Good

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John McPhee’s Looking for a Ship is a fascinating read, from the very beginning.  Being a Coast Guardsman, I was first timid about reading a book with the Merchant Marine card on the front.  However, this symbol only linked the text to the sea, and did not detract from the overall excellence of the book.
    Looking for a Ship is from the eyes of a young merchant marine as he travels with his older and more experienced friend, Andy.  It is while laying for a ship that we beginning our sea voyage.  Because of the demands of the Merchant Marine union, they only have 12 months to regain employment after their last voyage.  For Andy, this date is drawing all to close and it is with great excitement that he sets his eyes on his ship of choice and waits it out to see if seniority will kick him out of his first choice.  It is with great excitement that Andy receives his billet as second mate on the S.S. Stella Lykes, and is able to get the narrator a job as deck hand..  Beginning in Charleston, SC, they are soon underway to deliver and receive trade up and down the Pacific coast of South America.
    Through these travels, sea stories are told and heard, and a few are gained along the way, whether in port call events or underway pirate encounters.  The jobs and lives of the crew are followed and entertained to be a new life experience for our narrator.
    This book is worth reading.  It begins with a tense sense of doubt in searching for a ship and holds your attention as they make their way through their ports of call and their duties aboard the ship.
    As future officers it is important to understand life underway.  Looking for a Ship allows hints of sea life to be seen by showing how even those with seniority and rank must sometimes do the dirty work.  Similar it characterizes the relationships between the captain and crew and the crew throughout the ranks, both high and low.  As a professional mariner and Guardian this allows us to see, from the outside in, great leadership and authority while still maintaining the respect and discipline of the crew.  Having appropriate relationships and understands with the ship and the crew and by allowing those understandings direct the function of each time and duty.

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