WOULD YOU BELIEVE 100 YEARS HAVE GONE BY SINCE CAP WEBSTER GOT A LITTLE TUG AND STARTED TOWING ON LAKE UNION? WE ARE STILL HERE GOING ON OUR THIRD GENERATION, ” DOC, MARK THEN ERIK & TOM.
OBITUARY FOR TES (THE TUGBOAT ENTHUSIASTS SOCIETY). JOE DeMUCCIO, A NEW YORK DECTIVE WITH A LOVE FOR TUG BOATS, PUBLISHED HIS FIRST NEWSLETTER IN JANUARY 1990. AFTER HE DIED IT KEPT RUNNIN. IN FACT IT LASTED FOR NEARLY 22 YEARS. IT STARTED OUT BEING PRINTED ON A COPY MACHINE AND ENDED UP AS A REGULAR GLOSSY MAGAZINE. I JUST LOVED THE OLDER BLACK AND WHITE COPIES; THEY WERE VERY DOWN TO EARTH AS IS MOST TUGBOATING. MY FRIEND HUGH WARE WAS EDITOR FOR YEARS WITH THE HELP OF BRENT DIBNER. THE LAST EDITOR WAS JON JOHANSEN WITH BRENT STILL HELPING. ALL THE OFFICE WORK WAS VOLUNTARY AND THERE WAS A TON OF IT. A BIG THANK YOU TO ALL THE PEOPLE THAT MADE IT HAPPEN. IT WAS VERY PERSONAL – WHICH YOU DON’T SEE MUCH ANYMORE – AND I FOR ONE WILL SURE MISS IT. I AM IN THE PROCESS OF HAVING ALL THE ISSUES BOUND SO THAT IF YOU WANT A LOOK-SEE THEY WILL BE HERE IN MY OFFICE,
HERE IS ANOTHER STORY FROM MY BOOK IN PROGRESS “LIFEBOAT STATION SAILOR” WHICH COVERS MY FOUR YEARS ON ACTIVE DUTY WITH THE COAST GUARD FROM MARCH 1955 TO MARCH 1959. THIS STORY TELLS ABOUT A SURF RESCUE FOR WHICH I RECEIVED A LETTER OF APPRECIATION FROM THE COAST GUARD.
It is August 19, 1957 and it is a hot summer day at the lifeboat Station, the wind is out of the Northwest and thousands of people are out fishing for salmon in every kind of a boat from the small 15 foot outboards to the large charter boats. The beaches are just crawling with people and their kids it is hot out and it is August. The highways are jammed, the tavern and cocktail lounges are going full swing: it is bordering right on hysteria. It reminds me of the town in the movie “Jaws” when the ferry unloaded at Amity Island. I don’t have a bar patrol yet but I am working and ready to roll. Everybody in a lifeboat station has to be ready at a moment’s notice to go help someone who is in trouble, or who we ascertain is in trouble before they know it – like the current sweeping you into the breakers in the middle ground and you not being aware of it. Chief Albert E. ( Nasty) Morris hollers at me to grab some crew and the Oshkosh, our biggest truck, and get to the beach by the Lighthouse. There are people in the surf in trouble. I used to go to the beach and enjoy it but I no longer go because it just drives me around the bend watching people not taking care of their kids playing in the surf. I look around for a crew. There is an engineman to drive the truck and three or four seaman and this Reserve Chief Robert J. Hayes. We are training reserves in the summer time now while they get their two weeks active duty time in. I grab some lifejackets and we all jump onto the big truck which has been backed out of our garage and is already pointed in the right direction. After hitting the beach access road I immediately spot a large group of people and I direct the driver where to go.
I look out at the surf and there are two children on their air mattresses outside the surf line; they look around 8 to 10 years old. We bail out of the truck and I find that the mother of the two boys went into the surf to rescue them and hasn’t been seen since. There is always an undertow sucking you out into the surf as well as a north or south current. I start stripping my clothes off and I turn around to the bunch of young seaman standing there and ask “who’s going with me I need a volunteer?” These seamen are all hotshots or they think so, but they are the ones that fall asleep on lookout tower duty and are your typical know-it-all lazy slackers. They all say, to a man, “we are not going out in that surf no matter what.” I am appalled – this is what we do for a living and this is what you volunteered for. When you sign up you have to go out but it says nothing about having to come back but none of them are stripping and they are all saying ‘man I am not going out in that shit.’ Every one of them is a chicken shit hot shot big time I just want to go on liberty guy. Guess who starts stripping? The Reserve Chief now here’s a guy -an “old guy” – who is about 35 years old but he has balls something quite lacking in the seaman. Stripped to our shorts and dragging a lifejacket on a line, we enter the surf. Out the other side clear of the surf I take one little boy and the Chief takes the other. They are terrified, still on their air mattresses, no life jackets and drifting back into the surf where they know they will be knocked off their air mattresses and drowned. We reach both kids about the same time. I grab this one kid in a standard rescue position – my right arm over his shoulder and under his other arm so he can’t grab me and try to drown us both; back thru the surf and we have them both saved and on dry land never to venture into the water again. I sure am glad that I had a new pair of Jockey shorts on because by this time quite a crowd has gathered.
Still no one has seen the mother since she had tried to rescue her children. By this time Roland E. Miller Jr. has brought his 40 boat in from bar patrol and is standing by just outside the surf line. I swim back out thru the surf and his engineer pulls me onboard and the search begins. I get on the right side of the pilot house and Roland takes off to the north just outside the surf line – risky business if you get a sneaker wave but I see her in the middle of the surf – face down – a bad sign. Roland stops the 40 boat and I jump -not dive – into the water, swim into her and there are no signs of life. I reach around her just as we have been taught and head in to the beach thru the surf – where an even larger crown has gathered along with TV cameras from a Tacoma television news station. I get ashore with many hands helping and lie her down and start artificial respiration. In those days no one knew what CPR was and she had been in the water for at least a half hour, so she didn’t have a chance. We worked on her for a long time “press, release, lift, release” as we worked her arms trying to bring life back to her. Her husband had been fishing on a charter boat and one of our boats had picked him up and delivered him to the Lifeboat Station and then had driven him to the beach. I was working on his wife when he arrived and he collapsed head first into the sand when he saw her. He knew that she was dead; that had to be one of the saddest things that I have ever seen. Someone, I don’t remember who – possibly the ambulance driver, said “you might as well give up you have been working on her for 45 minutes and nothing.”
The next part, driving back to the station, I don’t even remember. I do remember that I wanted to court martial or put on report those seaman who would not help. I was so mad that I could not see straight. But nothing came of it. I guess the old man figured that they were just chicken shit and he would make sure that they never got promoted. I saw myself and the Chief on TV that night. My clean new jockey shorts showed up like a neon sign, but I am sure that I was the only one who noticed. The Chief and I both got a nice letter of Appreciation. They did not give out medals in those days. That’s what you signed up for, so you were just doing your job. Today, it would have earned at least a Silver Lifesaving Medal. Oh well.
I CALLED THIS STORY DEEP SEA GEAR AND A BROKEN TAIL SHAFT.
I am home on liberty and down at our gas plant yard where Dad keeps his surplus boats and ships for sale. I am going through this big pile of used chain and I find just what I am looking for: a nice piece of ½” galvanized chain almost new and 50 feet long. Then I go over to this pile of wire straps and I find a good set of 5/8″ wire bridals about 22 ft. on each leg with 4 foot eyes in one end and short eyes and thimbles in the other end. I add a few 1/2 and 3/4 inch galvanized shackles for old times sake and load them in the trunk of my car. I clear it with my dad and the next morning I take off for the Lifeboat Station wanting to be there at least an hour early because this is summer and things are jumping.
Well you should have heard the howls of laughter when I unloaded my new towing gear. “What is that stuff? Where did you get it.? What are you going to use that for.? What boat is that going on? Are we the Coast Guard going into the barge towing business?” Well I am used to lots of flack it kind of runs off my back like water. So down the dock it goes and I put it in the stern of the INVINCIBLE with all her towlines and I wait – you know that my middle name is patience. I know that I may get some big boat in tow and I will need the wire bridals because they don’t chafe as easy as does manila line and I will need the chain pennant to put some catenary in the tow line. I can pull harder and no jerking the only jerk is running the boat – me. The INVINCIBLE has pretty good power a 6-110 GM diesel which is about 220 horsepower coupled to, I think it was, a 2.5 to 1 reduction gear. I don’t know if I ever knew how big a propeller that she threw.
In 1972 I bought the STANDFAST in Portland and she had a 6-110 with a 3.71 to 1 reduction and she threw a 48 inch propeller and she was always a good puller. I think the INVINCIBLE would pull between 3000 and 4000 pounds not too bad for a lifeboat. I called my chain pennant and wire bridals my deep sea gear. I used it a whole bunch and was always glad that I had it and now for the rest of the story: A broken tail shaft. This halibut schooner the ODANAH calls in one morning for assistance. She is a house forward type around 55 feet overall and has broken tail shaft. He is in 50 fathoms and bearing about 270 degrees from the outer buoy. We fire up the INVINCIBLE and leave our dock at 0500 and are at “2NB” by 0615 and she fogs in solid 15 minutes later and the NW wind is freshening There is an old wives tales out there about the wind not blowing when the fog is thick — not true! At 0830 we have the ODANAH in sight. We go alongside, well within hailing distance, I ask “have you tied down the shaft so it won’t come out or turn when we get underway?.” :Well, no.” the answer comes, “the shaft broke just inside the stuffing box.” I said “well I don’t want to have to tow you stern first all the way back to Westport. So why don’t you try and get a big line around the propeller and take it to your winch and see if you can get it tied down?” “OK we will try it.” So it takes them about 15 minutes of screwing around and they say “Let’s try it.”
I put the bridals on them at 0900 and start pulling slowly. They holler “Stop, let us try something else.” At 0915 I start in again but nothing will hold the shaft. So I have them drop the bridals which I take back on deck and attach the chain pennant to them and my 600 foot 1 and ¾” diameter tow line to the other end of the chain pennant and come up to their stern and pass a couple of heaving lines across and my bridals are on. Meanwhile the NW wind is increasing all the time along with the chop and the swell. Oh it’s going to be one of those days. It finally blew 30 to 35 knots all day and the towline never came out of water or jerked and still everyone laughed at me for my Rube Goldberg rigging. At 1000 I am stretched out and coming up to speed slowly. They told me on the VHF radio that it was going fine the prop wasn’t turning and the force of water was pushing the prop back against the bearing. We are all set now all we have to do is hang on till we get to the outer buoy “2NB”. At 1405 we arrive to wait in the trough as I can’t buck her in against the ebb tide current. We finally get up inside at 1850 and are shortening the towline.
You have to understand how the INVINCIBLE is built she has a lot of weight on her keel so that makes her very stiff and gives her a vicious roll or really it is a snap. She is not a non-capsizeable Motor Lifeboat and I never ran her as anything but a very able double-ender. She is very good going straight into a break but you do not want her sideways to a break and when running in over the bar in a big swell you always want to shut the power off at the right time and let the big swell go on by you so you didn’t get thrown forward and semi-pitch polled or a complete pitch poll. [End over end]. Her exhaust was straight up and did not go out each side like the 36 foot motor lifeboat. She was a great boat and saved my ass not over a 100 times (I never kept track) but a true roll over lifeboat she was not, any roll over about 135 or 140 degrees and she would not recover herself so we had to be careful with her if that’s possible. We know that’s possible as her sister ship the TRIUMPH rolled over and sank on the Columbia River Bar in 1961. Back to the fishboat rescue, we had a new seaman along and he was sea sick from the time we left till we got back. I even tied him to the engine hatch so we would not lose him. He finally had to go inland and never got over being seasick. We fed him soda crackers but nothing worked. All of us were very tired – the INVINCIBLE had beaten us into submission. The system had worked perfectly and I used the Deep Sea Gear many times … and I didn’t charge the Coast Guard. We can just say that my dad, Doc, donated the gear. Bless his soul.
AT THE GRAYS HARBOR LIFEBOAT STATION WE WORKED SIX DAYS ON AND TWO DAYS OFF AND DURING YOUR SIX DAYS ON YOU GOT TWO NIGHTS OFF. EVERYONE ALSO GOT A MONTH OFF EACH YEAR. I WAS ALWAYS GOING HOME SO I COULD GET ONE DAYS WORK IN SO THAT I COULD GET AHEAD A LITTLE ON MY PAY CHECKS. LIBERTY STARTED AND ENDED AT NOON. I RAN A TOWBOAT FOR DAD OR DID WHAT EVER HE NEEDED DONE AND ON MY MONTHS LEAVE I WOULD WORK FULL TIME FOR HIM, I ALSO WENT WITH MY BROTHER-IN-LAW PAT STOPPELMAN ON HIS TUGS. I WAS VERY BUSY AS USUAL.
MARGIE AND I GOT A CHANCE TO DO LAKE UNION WITH THE ON-TIME WHEN THE SUN WAS OUT NEXT WE WILL TRY AND FIND THE TIME TO DO BALLARD.
OUR MAN IN COOS BAY, BOB RICHARDSON, WENT FOR A PILOT BOAT RIDE ON A REALLY NICE DAY WHICH YOU DON’T GET VERY OFTEN ON THE COAST.
MORE PHOTOS OF OLYMPIA TUGBOAT RACING BY CAPTAIN SCOTT SCHOCH OF DUNLAP TOWING. WE USED TO HAVE GREAT FUN AT THE OLYMPIA RACES BUMPING IN TO EACH OTHER, INSULTING EVERYONE, GETTING AHEAD BY HOOK OR CROOK, BRAGGING RIGHTS AND BIG WAVES.
MARGIE AN I DROVE OUT TO THE EVERGREEN STATE FAIR GROUNDS AT MONROE,THEY HELD THEIR ANNUAL MODELERS SHOW. ITS A REAL SHOW WITH AIRPLANES FLYING, MODEL CARS RACING AND OUR CLUB, THE NORTHWEST RADIO CONTROLLED SHIP MODELERS, WAS WELL REPRESENTED. KEVIN KLOCKE BROUGHT HIS POOL AND IT WAS FULL OF RC BOATS OF ALL SIZES AND SHAPES TUGS, CRANE BARGES A THREE ISLAND WW I FREIGHTER, CREW BOATS, A FIRE BOAT THE 343, PUSH BOATS, A BRITISH PUFFER, FISH BOATS AND MY FAVORITE THE CANNERY TENDER SALLY S. THE BS WAS WONDERFULL WITH A GREAT BUNCH OF GUYS AND GALS.
OUR MAN ON WHIDBEY ISLAND, STAN WILLHIGHT, SENDS GREAT BLACK & WHITE PHOTOS OF CANADIAN TUGS,
Thanks to all of you who send in pictures and facts so that I can share the information one photo at a time, anything that you send me, I can scan and send back to you as good as new.
1.Crowley decals and cloth patches for jackets & caps. The one I really like says “Red Stack Tugs”.
2.Old Cary-Davis & Puget Sound Tug & Barge Photos & Advertisements.
- Old Cannery Tender & Log towing photos.
- We buy old tug and waterfront photos or collections and snapshots, as well as (pre-1946) Marine Digest magazines. We also buy old marine stuff: models, lights, etc.
- Wanted: photo of tug LEWIS II; builders plate from USCG CUTTER BONHAM and photo of Pacific Towboats SEA MULE.
Please donate to the Northwest Seaport to help repair the ARTHUR FOSS we don’t want to lose her to old age. So far we have lost the CHICKAMAUGA and the IVANHOE.
ALL THE BEST FROM:
Mark & Margie Freeman, Captains Erik & Tom, Miss Blue, Richie, The Mark Freeman Maritime Museum, Tatoosh Towing & Salvage, Fremont Boat Co. Fremont Tugboat Co. and the three cats. Braveheart (Indy), Razz & Batman.