Duty on the CGC Cayuga

by Jim Donahue

 

A couple of brief snippets about life in the pre WWII Coast Guard..........

When I was a boot Apprentice Seaman aboard the CAYUGA in the spring of 1935, we were hoisting stores aboard. Having come right from high school to the Coast Guard, I had a tough time tying a shoelace.

On a work detail one day, the Chief Commissary Steward was down in the lower hole and a couple of us boots were above, lowering crates of cold storage eggs and not paying much attention to what we were doing.

Without any prior warning, the top cover on a crate being lowered came loose, spilling the entire contents on the Chief. He came out that hole, looking like a chicken that had just been hatched. Fire was in his eyes!

But I believe he was more concerned over losing the twenty-four dozen eggs and how he would have to make up the difference in the chow bill than he was about the slimy eggs running down his face.

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In the winter of 1937, we were on a routine seven-day patrol when we received orders from the Commandant to proceed to Boston, take on stores and personnel, and inaugurate the Ice Patrol season. After a two-day stay in Boston, we headed for the steamship lanes to start the early season. Arrangements had been made while laying-over in Boston to broadcast over radio station WBZ. On our first day heading out, we held a practice run with WBZ and everything went fine; however, this was not the situation when the actual broadcast was to be made.

We were using the old carbon mike in conjunction with a model T-10 transmitter. WBZ maintained that our RF carrier was strong but there was no modulation. After several futile attempts brought no results, the broadcast was abandoned. An investigation revealed that the six-volt battery for the mike had been placed on charge about six or eight hours prior to the scheduled broadcast. The Chief Radioman, temporarily coming over from the CHELAN just to make the trip, was blasted. He just had about enough time to square away his locker and find a bunk before we threw off the lines. I was the culprit who placed the battery on charge, and it has been said "ignorance is bliss," which certainly was true. I was a lowly Radioman striker about six months out of radio school.

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