Gone Fishing

How many people can say they did a cannonball off the stern of a purse seiner while in the middle of the Pacific Ocean somewhere around the equator?

I can. I did. Back in my ‘wild and crazy’ days. 😂

This is a 20 year old story of my 7 weeks at sea where I was the helicopter mechanic on a tuna boat operated by Carribean Fishing Company (owned by StarKist). The year was 1997 and I was a mere 25 years old. This was before I was married, though I was dating my future wife and we got married the same year.

I took a leave of absence from the helicopter factory where I was working as a quality assurance inspector, so I could get field experience as a helicopter mechanic on a 225 foot long fishing vessel. The ship was based out of American Samoa in the South Pacific. To get to the ship I flew from LAX (I was living in the LA area at the time) to Honolulu to American Samoa. Made for a long-ass day!

The helicopter I worked on was made at the factory I was currently employed. This model helicopter was one that I started working on when I was still in aircraft mechanic school a few years prior, so it was definitely a machine I was very familiar with.

The helicopter pilot I worked with, Jean, was someone I knew pretty well (small world and all). I had worked with him at a flight school at my job prior to working at Robinson Helicopter. We got along great at the flight school so it was a true pleasure to be working with him again, half a world away.

mush sleeping on float

Me hard at work!

This is the diary of my experience that I handwrote in a spiral bound notebook while I was on the ship. When I returned home to Southern California, I typed it up on my computer and saved it for the future. There it sat since the late 90’s. I knew someday I’d have a platform to publish my story.

I have that platform now, so here is my fishing tale story…

Start with the first diary entry, or use the Table of Contents below to view different sections.

gone fishin

Table of Contents


Image Gallery


Glossary of Terms Used

Crew Listing

The Faxes

Pay Stubs

Thoughts 2 Decades Later (November 2017)

2 thoughts on “Gone Fishing

  1. I just found this, Marshall. It is very late and you might not even be following it. No matter. Here is my comment.

    I have been a full-time nomad for the past year and was following Camp Addict for a while before that started. You and I have some things in common. I spent 30 years working for the FAA’s Flight Standards Division and spent the first 8 or so years in the Long Beach FSDO. As a helicopter specialist, one of my assigned duties was the Robinson Helicopter Company’s pilot designees. I went through the R22 safety course, part of which was actually taught by Frank. I was also one of the FAA inspectors assigned to the final test flight approval process for the R44. I retired in 2011 and after a pretty good 45-year career, left aviation behind for good.

    The ONE thing I never got to do in my long professional aviation career was fly helicopters off a tuna boat. I almost got the chance before my FAA days, but it was about the same time that the San Diego fleet was being phased out in favour of satellite location. I was also on the shortlist to be the pilot of Jacques Cousteau’s helicopter, but they ended up hiring a pilot mechanic, which I am not.

    Anyway, my best to you and I wish you continued success as your live(s) change.


    • Hi James,

      Thanks for the comment and for following my personal journey and the Camp Addict journey!

      I left Robinson in 2001, so chances are good that our paths almost crossed paths at the factory more than one time.

      My tuna adventure was a pretty cool one and I’m really glad I did it. One trip was good for me, but it sure was a lot of fun and something most people don’t get the opportunity to do.

      I hope your full-time nomad journey is as fulfilling for you as it was for me. I’m happily a part-timer now (currently in the middle of a 5-month trip) and enjoying having a homebase.

      Happy travels!


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