THE APPROACH


Two in the morning

Winter

80-degrees

Approaching the Florida coast

A tanker loaded with jet fuel

A long complicated tedious approach

Boats everywhere

A darkened bridge

Doors to each wing wide open

Me

The Captain and the Pilot

As is customary

The Captain was a silent observer

The relationship was between me

And the Pilot

In low tones

He would give me a rudder

One after another in rapid succession

I would repeat the course

Then repeat it again when we were steady

On course

I could not pay any attention to the multitude

Of small lights surrounding us

I had to focus only

On the rudders

And the swing of the ship

It went on for four hours

Light was appearing in the eastern sky

My shirt was soaked and sticking to my back

The lights of the dock directly ahead

Out of nowhere In the dark

I felt a tap on the shoulder

I gave my relief the course

Gave the Pilot the course

Let go of the wheel and stepped away

I had almost reached the door leaving the bridge

When the Pilot spoke again

“Nice job Quartermaster”