I joined the Navy when I was 17, fresh out of high school and plucked from the far reaches of a diminutive, low country town named Darien, where the biggest industry was crabbing and the wild Georgia shrimp grew plump and succulent, fed by the nutrients that flowed abundantly from the Spartina marshes and estuaries.
I loved small town, simple minded people where a handful of friends spent time sitting in each other porches, making baskets, boiling peanuts and tossing football.
From time to time, they would be a celebration, a family birthday, a milestone anniversary or when their beloved Bulldogs just kicked the living s*** out of 'Bama or Ole Miss, or LSU or their arch-rival Gators.
Normally pop would get the pot of hot water boiling, steaming the red potatoes until they were tender and the skin just melted off in the sizzling Georgia heat. Next came the smoked link sausages, a full bag of crab boil seasoning and four pounds of the freshest wild Georgia shrimp bought off the city docks earlier that morning, the fleet of shrimp boats hoisting its nets wide with pride in the early morning mist.
And I loved the sea -- raised on a 40-foot yawl for most of my childhood existence, I was naturally drawn to the peace and calm solitude.
Now I wanted to see the sea and travel to ports where only story books showed.