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Sunday, August 21, 2011

A SEA STORY........


Spending a few days at "A" dock in Santa Barbara harbor reminds me of a charter I ran on my dad's large schooner "Kelpie" in August 1962. The ink was barely dry on my 100 ton skipper's license when a salty character named Lee Lewis chartered "Kelpie" for a cruise to Santa Rosa island with ten of his buddies. Lee formerly owned the schooner "Idelia" and was author of the popular "Sea Guide" series of cruising guides. I knew I had a bunch of jokers with me when I asked at breakfast one morning while anchored off Santa Rosa island, "how did anchor watch go during the night?" Lee piped in, "we pulled it four times and it was still there!" When we finally made port in Santa Barbara my motley charter party headed ashore with but two things in mind. Booze and women. About o200 while moored to a side tie on "A" dock I heard "Kelpie's" rigging creaking and straining and the boat started taking on a serious list? I rushed out of the foc'sle and was startled to find that the big cannon that normally resided near the front door of the Santa Barbara Naval Reserve building was in mid air and about to be lowered on to the deck of the "Kelpie." Ten drunks with Lee as their leader had attached the gaff foresail throat halyard to the cannon and now had the cannon sitting on "Kelpie's" deck. Then the s--t hit the fan! The police, coast guard, harbor master and commandant of the Naval Reserve showed up. My eleven drunks were proud of their accomplishment and were patting each other on the back when the harbormaster said they were all going to jail for stealing weapons from the Federal Government? I stepped forward and introduced myself as the captain of "Kelpie" and begged all the officials present to let us return the cannon to its home and promised "Kelpie" and crew would be out of the harbor before daybreak. The officials went into a huddle and a few minutes later, the Harbormaster acting as their spokesman stated that, "if the cannon is back at the Naval Reserve building and "Kelpie" and crew is not visible by daybreak, the entire incident would be forgotten. I thanked the officials, took charge of the cannon operation (it must have weighed 1500 pounds) and with much work and luck we got the cannon back to its original home. As the sun broke the eastern horizon, "Kelpie" was reaching along at 10 knots in a brisk Nor'wester bound for Catalina island, with Santa Barbara harbor 15 miles astern.........

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