A recent post that I do not want to reopen because it degenerated into chaos asked why gCaptain lets unprofessional disgruntled mariners post to this forum. I asked if the terms disgruntled and professional are mutually exclusive.
I thought I had read a good discourse on this very topic… something about disgruntled Chief Mates being the only type you can trust. This weekend I found it! And it was written by my favorite ship master turned author, Joe Conrad, in his book The Mirror Of The Sea.
Here’s an abridged version of what he said:
Therefore, of all my chief officers, the one I trusted most was a man called B——. He had a red moustache, a lean face, also red, and an uneasy eye. He was worth all his salt…
I discovered, without much surprise, a certain flavour of dislike. Upon the whole, I think he was one of the most uncomfortable shipmates possible… he had a little too much of the sense of insecurity which is so invaluable in a seaman. He had an extremely disturbing air of being everlastingly ready (even when seated at table at my right hand before a plate of salt beef) to point fingers or exit to grapple with some impending calamity. I must hasten to add that he had also the other qualification necessary to make a trustworthy seaman—that of an absolute confidence in himself. What was really wrong with him was that he had these qualities in an unrestful degree. His eternally watchful demeanour, his jerky, nervous talk, even his, as it were, determined silences, seemed to imply—and, I believe, they did imply—that to his mind the ship was never safe in my hands.
there were moments when I detested Mr. B
It so happened that we both loved the little barque very much. And it was just the defect of Mr. B——'s inestimable qualities that he would never persuade himself to believe that the ship was safe in my hands… The effect of his admirable lack of the sense of security once went so far as to make him remark to me: “Well, sir, you are a lucky man!”