Swim Call

By John R. Long

 

 

The Coast Guard Weather Wagons often visited Bermuda and for many years maintained a mid-ocean presence there for Search and Rescue and other duties. There are hundreds of stories about some of the adventures our Coasties had on liberty in St. George, Hamilton, and points in between. At least our heroes of this tale didn't face a local magistrate and see the inside of a Bermuda Gaol. They also didn't learn that the fine for urinating on the "Queen's Streets was 10 Pounds. Motor bike adventures and cruise ship visits were some of the more interesting highlights of a Bermuda visit. Somebody eventually will write more about this mid ocean paradise - Jack

In 1951 after a patrol on station "Easy" the Yakutat paid it's second visit to Bermuda.

Due to the mischief (or downright destruction) caused by the crew on our first visit we were not allowed to dock at the regular facility but were required to anchor out and come ashore by motor launch.

CGC YAKUTAT

The third watch had liberty so I and two of my fellow snipes, Danny O'Reardon EN1 and "Bud" Cassidy EN2, decided to go ashore together.

Of course we stopped at the first watering hole for some fortification and consequently two or three more pubs before one of us came up with the brilliant idea that such a balmy day called for a swim despite the fact we had just come off a 30 day patrol and one would think we had seen enough of the ocean for awhile.

After picking up a jug or two of rum we flagged a cab and instructed the driver to take us to a beach where we would not be disturbed.

The beach was just as we had requested with not a soul in sight and an idyllic setting.

We promptly peeled down to our nothings and commenced to enjoy the surf and sand immensely for and hour or so until I happened to notice we were no longer alone as in my vision a hundred yards or so down the beach was a Marine Shore Patrol, Coast Guard Shore Patrol, and a member of the local constabulary headed our way post haste. I notified my shipmates that it seemed a good idea to get back in uniform ASAP .

As we were being handcuffed for transportation to the Marine brig we asked what had been our infraction and the Coast Guard SP pointed to a structure approximately 50' up on the bluff above the beach which, as luck would have it, turned out to be a very exclusive (and full) tea room with floor to ceiling glass that afforded a gorgeous view of the ocean and the beach below where our antics had recently been on display.

For the rest of our stay in beautiful Hamilton we were provided with solitary confinement cells in the Marine brig until time for the last launch to return to the ship.

While I was being seated in the launch with two dozen or so of the drunkest, sickest sailors I had ever seen I noticed another black gang member "Lefty" Lester and as I sat next to him stated I would sure like to have a drink and, as if by magic, "Lefty" produced a flask of rum from his boot. The rum tasted much better on the trip than it did the next day while we stood at Captains Mast while the Skipper read the following charge: "These men were picked up at Elbow Beach, Bermuda where they were observed frolicking in the sand and exposing private parts of their bodies" and then he proceeded to upbraid us unmercifully for the better part of an hour and ended with the statement that we had almost caused an international incident. I presumed there were some politically connected people in that tea room.

Of course the Mast was nothing compared to the ribbing we took from our shipmates for months afterward.

I have often thought about the cab driver with the weird sense of humor.

EN2 John R. Long served in the U.S. Coast Guard in mid-century.

 

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