BOS'N AROUND : SEAMAN HELPS KEEP ACADEMY AFLOAT.Byline: Elizabeth Hayes Contra Costa Times The Contra Costa Times is a daily newspaper based in Walnut Creek, California. The paper serves Contra Costa and eastern Alameda counties, in the eastern part of the San Francisco Bay Area.
Tom Allen For other persons of the same name, see Thomas Allen.
Thomas H. (Tom) Allen (April 16 1945– ) is a member of the United States House of Representatives representing Maine's At-large congressional district (map). He is a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2008. can tie 40 different knots several different ways and in the dark, splice rope, operate winches and set rigging.
It's all part of his job at California Maritime Academy The California Maritime Academy (also known as CMA, Cal Maritime, and CSU, Maritime) is one of 23 campuses in the California State University system and is one of only seven degree-granting maritime academies in the United States. . Allen is an able-bodied seaman who served this spring as bos'n during the academy's two-month training cruise up and down the Pacific Coast.
The bos'n's job is one of the oldest and most multifaceted in the Navy and maritime industry. It encompasses most deck operations, save for navigation and steering.
The name comes from the older title ``boatswain Boatswain
Byron’s favorite dog. [Br. Hist.: Harvey, 239]
See : Dogs .'' The job calls for the bos'n to maintain all gear, wires, rigging and equipment aboard. They operate the lifeboats and anchors and are responsible for the ship's painting and maintenance. And bos'ns know their half hitches, bowlines and monkey fists inside out.
``If you're a bos'n, you can look at the top side of a ship and everything is neat and clean and painted. It gives one a sense of pride.''
On the Golden Bear's training cruise, he taught marlinespike seamanship Marlinespike seamanship, or marlinspiking, is the art of handling and working all kinds of natural fiber, synthetic fiber, and wire rope. So named because it often involves use of a marlinspike, it generally covers all types of knot tying, splicing of cordage, sail repair, , which encompasses handling lines, tying up ships, splicing splicing /splic·ing/ (spli´sing)
1. the attachment of individual DNA molecules to each other, as in the production of chimeric genes.
2. RNA s. rope, dropping anchor, canvas work Canvas work is a type of embroidery in which yarn is stitched through a canvas or other foundation fabric. Canvas work is a form of counted-thread embroidery. Common types of canvas work include needlepoint, petit point, and bargello. and tying knots, a forgotten art for some sailors.
``I tell students to learn how to tie knots in the dark,'' Allen said. ``If you don't tie it properly, you could have a disaster with it.''
It's probably not a career path most high-school counselors steer students into, especially with a shrinking maritime industry. So how did Allen enter the age-old profession?
Allen, 47, served in the Navy for 22 years before coming to Cal Maritime in 1989.
``It's something I always wanted to do,'' said the rural Louisiana native. ``I was always fascinated with boats and ships early on in life.''
Besides, he figured being drafted into the Army would have sent him to Vietnam, with a slim chance Noun 1. slim chance - little or no chance of success
probability, chance - a measure of how likely it is that some event will occur; a number expressing the ratio of favorable cases to the whole number of cases possible; "the probability that an of a return ticket.
He trained to be a steward, attending culinary school at the Naval Training Center in San Diego. He served on a ship bound for Vietnam and had trouble with the poor ventilation in the galley.
After six months, a rule change allowed Allen to become a seaman on deck. He went on to become a chief petty officer, serving on everything from battleships The list of battleships includes all battleships since 1859, listed alphabetically. The list also contains battlecruisers which share most of the characteristics of a battleship or have otherwise been referred to as battleships. to aircraft carriers.
In his early years, he would spend nine months at sea, but that dwindled to six months later on.
``It's not for everyone,'' said Allen, who is married. ``I saw a lot of young people who couldn't stand being at sea. I was a natural. It was something I wanted to do. I keep myself busy and time goes by.''
After he left the Navy, a newspaper advertisement caught his eye: Winch operator wanted at Cal Maritime.
The school hired Allen to teach lifeboat certification in the continuing maritime education department, preparing crews to serve in Operation Desert Storm Noun 1. Operation Desert Storm - the United States and its allies defeated Iraq in a ground war that lasted 100 hours (1991)
Gulf War, Persian Gulf War - a war fought between Iraq and a coalition led by the United States that freed Kuwait from Iraqi invaders; . After that six-month job, he took another as able-bodied seaman at the boathouse.
Allen, who lives in Suisun City, is in charge of boathouse maintenance, including painting and cleaning, and taking care of 14 small craft and lots of equipment. He is also finishing a bachelor's degree in industrial technology.
He has applied for a vocational instructor-bos'n position at Cal Maritime, the next rank up from able-bodied seaman.
If hired, he would be the academy's first African-American instructor and bos'n.
``I feel I have a lot of knowledge to pass on to students,'' he said. ``I enjoy teaching.''
Photo: Tom Allen measures rope for life preservers at the C alifornia Maritime Academy.