Sometimes I feel like an old bird in the Navy world. I was already married with two babies on 9/11. I remember when the FRG was still actually called the Wives Club, and of course, I remember when the only communication I had with my sailor during deployment was a honeygram. Fifty empty squares on a page to fill with every thought I had to share with my sailor and only six times per patrol. It wasn’t great, but we made it work.
So when I complain about boat email, I do understand that it’s better than what we used to have, buuuut it sure ain’t a heart-to-heart phone call, amiright? Boat email definitely has its issues, like not always going through or sometimes sending two or three times, but there have to be ways to make it work for you. I recently found out our shore duty orders became “just one more patrol” so I figured I wanted to make the best of it. I asked the experts (YOU GUYS!), and here are 8 Great Boat Email Tips From the Experts: YOU!
Do you know each other’s email addresses? It may sound silly, but make sure you know his correct boat email address before he leaves. (HINT: It’s not the same as his navy.mil address.) Also make sure he knows your current email address. I once changed emails during offcrew and forgot to share that with my sailor right away. YIKES! When email is all you’ve got, make sure you’re doing it right!
Discuss your expectations. Do you want an email every day? Is that something he is even able commit to? How often does he expect you to sit down and write to him? Make sure each of you knows what to expect.
Reader Kelly says: We also have an agreement on how often we are writing to each other and an understanding of priorities when it comes to writing- we had very different expectations starting out and had to have a good talk about it after a patrol of very few emails on his end.
Ask if there will be “quiet times” when he can’t email you and a guesstimate of time that will last. We’ve gone over 30 days with zero communication in the past, and it makes things much easier if you’re at least halfway expecting it.
Number them. Pretty much all the experts say to number your emails. Sometimes emails just don’t make it to the boat, and that can cause some interesting misunderstandings.
And use those numbered email to your advantage in later emails! Seriously, 15 deployments in, and this tip blew my mind! Reader Hannah says, “When replying to an email from your sailor, start the paragraph with Re: #4 (for example). I cant tell you how many miscommunications this has saved my sailor and I!”
Date your emails. Or maybe don’t. Some folks said this was an OPSEC no-no. Others did it with no problem. The lesson here? Maybe talk to your Ombudsman and find out the specific rules about email at your Command.
Give ’em something to laugh about. Don’t forget to share the everyday silliness that they are missing.
Reader Danielle shares: I try to always send something happy or funny the kids did because I want him to laugh. Like when our daughter told my parents her father had a big something and I got lectured about it being time to bathe the kids separately and make sure day closes the bathroom door.
And reader Nichole adds: I always make funny comments in the subject line and base my emails off that. I also have a funny saying at the end when I put who it’s from. Such as your crazy wife, annoyed wife, loving wife etc…
Most importantly keep a good sense of humor about this better-than-honeygrams but still flawed system.
Boat email is a blessing, I know. Otherwise us sub gals would have no way to talk to our sailors at all! But since it is a slightly flawed system, it helps to have tips from the experts to make the very best of it!