Let me give you a little background. When seamen signs on a large deep-sea merchant ship they
are sign a contract for that particular voyage. Payment procedures are federally mandated and have been since the 1920's.
When one signs on they fill out an allotment sheet. The allotment is part of your payoff that
is sent to someone at regular interval during the voyage. Maximum allotments are decided upon prior to the voyage. Sending
an allotment to your wife is a good thing. Sending an allotment to your girlfriend whether you are married or not, just never
seems to work out. You are not allowed by federal law to send an allotment to your brother. What does this say about brothers?
It has been my experience that women mariners seldom send allotments to husbands, always to a bank. I don't know if that means
The other way of getting money owed to you during a voyage is to
draw against your payoff. Generally, prior to reaching a port a draw sheet is put out and you put down how much money you
want to have for the port stay based on the amount of money owed to you. The captain is personally responsible for any cash
disbursement during the voyage so you can understand that there is a certain amount of paperwork and accounting involved.
Draws can be quite a large amount of money.
Usually another draw sheet is
put out if the port stay exceeds five days. Now seamen will be seamen (this is boys will be boys to the eighth degree, at
least) and, at times, they will misjudge their monetary needs. One can't be judgmental with draws. Sure it would be better
if they saved their money and didn't frequent certain parts of town but if you owe them the money, you give them the money.
Some of the guys will hit you up outside the usual draw times. I generally say tough luck
or, at least, I'll fill out the forms. Then there are the wonderful old heart-of-gold captains that reach in their pocket
and pull out a wad and peel off two or three hundred for you. This is a pocket draw. I don't have a good enough memory
for this. No one I know does.
The very first ship I sailed on as third mate
had a captain like this. When we anchored in Colon the first trip out, he came walking down the gangway
Do you need a draw?”
“Yea, Capt put me down for two hundred.”
He pulled out a wad, peeled off two hundred dollar bills. “Are you sure you don't want
more?” He tried to hand me two more hundred-dollar bills.
never had anybody give me two hundred dollars with out signing something but he just walked off. The Bosun told me, under
no uncertain terms to go and write down the draw amount on my calendar and don't let the old man forget about it. I'm sure
I had a quizzical look on my face.
At the end of the trip we had the longest
payoff in history. Everybody was arguing with the old man about his or her draws. This captain just used a blanket $150 draw
on everybody's voucher. Yelling matches were not uncommon.
it, Captain, I drew out $700. Now go and redo the voucher!”
no way you could have drawn that much.”
“Well, I did. Now go redo
So the captain would redo the voucher (by hand). And then
the next guy would come in and the argument would be the same. This went on all day. Heaven have mercy on you if you
didn't make sure the captain got it right because the crew would not. And somehow they all knew what everybody else
I've used this captain as a model for many things and I would be
delighted to have a loyal crew like this but I still don't give pocket draws.