A sailor was caught AWOL as he tried to sneak on board his ship at about
3 am. The chief petty officer spied him and ordered the sailor to stop.
The officer ordered the sailor, "Take this broom and sweep every link on
this anchor chain by morning or it's the brig for you!"
The sailor picked up the broom and started to sweep the chain.
Just then, a tern landed on the broom handle. The sailor yelled at the
bird to leave, but it didn't. The lad picked the tern off the broom
handle, giving the bird a toss.
The bird left, only to return and light once again on the broom handle.
The sailor went through the same routine all over again, with the same
He couldn't get any cleaning done because he could only sweep at the
chain once or twice before the silly bird came back.
When morning came, so did the chief petty officer, to check up on his
"What on earth have you been doing all night? This chain is no cleaner
than when you started! What have you to say for yourself, sailor?"
barked the chief.
"Honest, chief," came the reply, "I tossed a tern all night and couldn't
sweep a link!"