no time during my half-year’s duty on board the 40381 did I ever find it
boring. Indeed, every patrol was an adventure, and even when we were off, I
actually didn’t mind polishing those clamshell air scoops on the side of the
cabin, the cleats and other brass. She was a wonderful boat to handle, and had
absolutely no bad habits.
ran six-hour patrols at the Captain of the Port, Seattle (NMW43), which was
located at Pier 70. I remember that a returning fishing boat might call us over
and toss us a huge freshly caught salmon. Being young and single, I never took
any of it, but the skipper would invite me over to his house for my “share.”
boats would likewise hand us large bags of fresh shrimp. We were well-liked in
the fifties. And carrying that even further, on weekends we’d do courtesy
boardings of pleasure craft. No one carried side arms, and there was no
resentment. Oh no, instead, sweet young things in skimpy bikinis would offer us
liquid refreshments, which we couldn’t accept. But nothing kept us from an
occasional drumstick or sweet roll. (No, not that kind!)
at lunchtime (box lunches? Us!), we would back into Ivar’s seafood restaurant
on the Seattle waterfront. The loser of the coin toss would climb the ladder and
get our fish and chips, much to the admiring flirtations of sweet young things.
We left the engines idling and the deep rumble of the twin 6-71’s added to the
ambiance. I believe a few telephone numbers were exchanged during those
only found one “floater” during my tour, and I’d rather not remember it.
It was shortly before we got off watch at 0600 and breakfast just wasn’t
palatable that morning.
also pulled alongside a huge foreign freighter one night that had anchored quite
a way out from Seattle’s waterfront. I waited aboard the boat while the
skipper climbed the long ladder and was gone for nearly an hour. I never found
out exactly what the deal was, but it was something different, at least.
of our most exciting events was chasing a Republic Seabee that had somehow
divested itself of its pilot. How, no one ever could figure out, but the huge
swinging door in the nose of the airplane was open, the pilot was in the water
and the Seabee, running at a fast idle, was going round and round, one of the
wing floats dragging it in a circle. Our boat and another 40-footer finally got
the thing caught, the pilot put back on board, and we headed back on patrol.
quiet nights were enjoyable. Standing at the outside con station, both engines
at fast idle, we moved slowly through the still black water, with Seattle’s
brightly lighted skyline reflecting off the water. It was peaceful and quiet, a
time for reflections of a different kind.
the highlight of my 40-footer “career”
was one mid-watch when the senior seaman (only two of us on patrol) got a sudden
and severe case of appendicitis. I immediately called Pier 70 and advised them
to have an ambulance at the ready. I shoved both throttles full forward and the
old girl fairly leaped out of the water. Using the searchlight to watch for
deadheads, I roared across Elliott Bay and into Pier 70. Cutting the engines
back to idle, I rode the following wake up against the dock, pulled the outboard
engine into reverse, and that sweet old 40381 just sidled up to the dock like I
knew what I was doing. She always made me look good.
took the seaman to the hospital and dispatched another boat to finish the patrol
since I couldn’t go out alone, even though I volunteered. For the first and
only time in my entire Coast Guard career, I entered the events into 40381’s
logbook and signed my name as skipper of a Coast Guard vessel! Wish I had a copy
of that entry.
I wish I had the 40381. She was, as Bing Crosby said in the movie High
Society, “Yar.” He used the phrase to describe his love, a sailboat, to
his fiancée. It meant a sweet-handling vessel with no vices of any kind. 40381
was indeed “yar.”
I was on temporary duty awaiting an opening in radio school, class 64.
A Completely Restored To The Original Specs Forty Footer
There was something about the forty footer that no boat before it nor any after it could match. There was a feeling of power about it that told you that if somebody got a line to it, the forty could pull the bottom out of hell. This was a real man's boat. Nothing wimpy about it. They were built on the cheap, with very few amenities. They were workhorses that you could take into some pretty tight places. Most of this great class of steel hulled boats have been turned into razor blades by now. They will never be forgotten by the hundreds of different men that operated them.
The boat pictured above was restored from a surplus boat used for 20 years by Ozaukee County (Wisconsin) as a Lake Michigan Rescue Boat. It was purchased and refurbished and is still in excellent material and operating condition by a group of people with the same love for forty footers that I have. - Jack
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