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The Farm boy becomes a Puddle Pirate


New Member
At the age of 16,
I read a High Times(sorry Rob) article about the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Daughtless and decide if I wanted to get my hands on mass amounts of weed, cheap,
I needed to learn how to move it without getting’ caught.
What better place than the USCG to learn?
I still remember the first few words of the article, “At first glance it may look like a bunch of rich hippies on a cruise But Beware it’s the USCGC Daughtless”
I had been looking to join the service and had found out that I was too young for the Navy but the Coast Guard would take me.
Musta been fate ‘er somethin’?!?

I had gottin’ into trouble for riggin’ coin machines and got caught.
Shotguns drawn and all.

I went to Dad’s in Tulia, on the dairy for awhile.
Was sorta workin’ on the dairy and hunttin’ coyotes.
It was back during the agriculture strike in ’77-‘78 I believe.
Just killin’ time till I was 17 and then I returned to Austin and joined the Coast Guard.
I reported to bootcamp in Almeada….

Yeah, it sucked but I got through it in the top half of the class and chose Support Center Kodiak as my first duty station.
When you graduate BootCamp, as least that’s how it was done with me, the class goes into a room with a huge chalkboard and all the Open billets /Duty assignments. Then you choose what you want according to your final scores.
Yes , I chose Kodiak, Alaska .. I was goin’ Bear huntin’ ..
Folks are considered residents after a certain time period and permits are always cheaper and easier to get if you’re a resident .
I also had a pretty nice gun collection. A Shotgun, 6.5 mm hauser, and a couple handguns.
I arrived with one gun case and left with 2 long gun cases and a large pistol case.

After 18 months of raisin’ hell there, I transferred/rotated out, to a 95 foot Patrol boat in Key West.
Yeapper, from one extreme to the next.
I even got the kind of Unit I wanted, an underway unit with a 7 day range. If you pull in for stores you’ll probably have time for a beer and if your real lucky, a Babe.
Three to four days Steam from Key West,
Bahamas, Cuba, Mexico … I was a happy boy.

Yes sir, right in the Middle of the shit. Monroe County deputies helped smugglers unload Loads, escorted them up A1A and everybody made money.
Key West was like the Old West back then But Laid Back … runnin’ on ¾ time as Jimmy puts it.
Not many tee shirt shops back then, but just as many Strip joints.
The Shrimp fleet ruled the waterfront from the USCG station on around to the Navy Mole and All of Stock Island.
A morning ride along A1A beach, you would see 30 –40 boats swingin’ on the hook after a long night of fishing. Charter boats making way for them to collect shrimp trash for bait, fresh shrimp for dinner and a day of Tarpon fishin’.

My first wife and I met at the Boat Bar. She also danced around the corner at the West Key Bar. We dated for a few months before we got married. She was seeing a shrimper when we met but he did fish a lot. We were together when he was gone and she broke up with him about a month after we met. I moved in with her. Beat sleepin’ on the boat all the time.
Actually we had a building on the dock that included a squad bay/dorm with head and showers.
There were so many of us that we took turns staying at the dock.
We would always be in a recall status. Unless!!!
We were in Charlie status which is down for maintenance and repair,
We were in Bravo status( 2- 6) meaning we had to call into the boat every few hrs or we had to be where they could call us back to the boat. Cellphones still weighed pounds in those days.
Alfa status was underway.
We spent 9 days a month, mandatory, underway on Law enforcement patrols.
These patrols were broken into three 3-day trips.
The rest of the time we were on-call for “Hot Tips” generated by other US federal Law enforcement agencies.
I looked it up in later years and found we had an Underway rate of +80%.
I missed movement once and got restricted to the boat/base for a week as punishment (Non Judicial Punishment). Sorta like misdemeanors to civilians.
While I was on restriction and had duty/watch.
About 3am the girlfriend showed up and had to have sex.
Ay, Nobody said I couldn’t have visitors.
Ship’s Office was the safest place since there were folks sleeping in other areas. Ol’Man’s cabin would have been great but just couldn’t do that. The desk also gave me a good view for the gangway.

Life tied to the dock was partying and day work. I forget what our duty rotation was but the Watch was made up of a petty officer and a non-rate. The petty officer usually let the non-rate sleep till 11 or midnight then the non-rate was up all night making rounds of the boat and dock areas till 6-7am.
Then ya’ got the day off.
Captin’ Billy was one of the non-rates I served with on the boat. Not an ordinary fella, he shrimped out of the Carolina’s before joining the Coast Guard. Shrimpers knew him as Captain Space.
In those days, maybe even now, the Carolinas’ fleet came down to Key West to fish part of the year.
Billy knew most all the shrimpers and we hung around the boats and docks a bit. Not to mention they were always in the Bars with us also. This lead to the strangest part of our job, holdin’ guns on friends. They understood and never held a grudge.
Since we hung around the docks so much, we saved the Government some fuel one night.

We got called back to the boat for a hot tip. We are standing at muster listening to the Ol’Man describe the boat we would be looking for, Blue and white wooden Desco, called the Draggin’ Wagon…
Dragon wagon, I looked over at Billy and said “Ain’t they tied up?!?”
He replies “I think so?” We bring this up with the Ol’Man and he sends Billy out to Stock Island to check.
We waited about 20 mintes for Billy to get back,
Yeapper, they are still tied to the dock.
So we had already found them without even leavin’ the dock.
The Ol’Man and the Chief went over to the Group office to give them a Situation report. They returned about 10 minutes later and we all went back to bed.

Now we just didn’t harass the fellas All the Time,
some times we got to save their butts.
The most memorable was the Ocean Lady. A boat in the Phelps fleet.
The kid of the fleet owner was on his first trip as a captain. They had been draggin’ all night when they hauled up an old mine anchor. A lot of those and mines have been dragged up around Key West due to the heavy mining that was done back during World War II.
Instead of bringing it in the boat and handling it then.
They tied the nets off to the side of the boat and went to bed.
Well when they woke up,
they found the boat filling with water from 2 holes that the mine anchor had banged into the hull just aft of the wenches at the water line.
We got the call and headed out.
When we arrived on scene we nosed up and passed them a couple pumps.
They radioed that their pumps and ours were clogging up with the chaffing gear from the nets.
We stood to and launched the small boat.
We used it to ferry pumps back to our boat to work on them.
I got to run the small boat on one trip, I tied off to the Ocean Lady and was headed up the side of the boat when this dude sticks his head over the side and says “You got a joint?”
It was a fella I knew named Nitro, “sure do buba, wanta get stoned?!?”
We burned one without getting’ caught.
I was workin’ so just had a couple hits and left it with the fellas.
We ferried pumps back and forth for a couple hours before we realized if we took them in tow, since the water had the engines half covered, the low pressure on the hull where the holes were located would suck the water out.
And sure enough,
we started to tow them to Key West and 20 minutes later the boat was bone dry.
I later worked on a Phelp’s boat but not the Ocean Lady.

Herb Fellow

New Member
Excellent story! The 70's in the USCG were a blast. I was on a black hull.

Smokin Moose

Fallen Cannabis Warrior
We should have a buccaneers convention. Smugglers and rascals of the "high" seas of life. Fair winds and following seas to you matey.


New Member
Not to mention,
Tight Lines and Screamin Reels :3:
when ya' slow down enough to troll :3:

We're gonna have to make it happen somewhere and how.
Hmmm, maybe west hollywood would be a good half way point or amsterdam.

A ship going to Amsterdam was one of the billets open
and up on the Board when I walked into the SIU hall in Houston with my fresh off the press AB's ticket to join the Union.

A Black Hull?!?
Hawt Damn another PuddlePirate!!!
Wasn't the BlackThorn was it??!??

Herb Fellow

New Member
46' patrolled the James River and the Chesapeake Bay. Shallow Water Sailor! =)
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