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.
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
Start with the first diary entry, or use the Table of Contents below to view different sections.
Table of Contents
- 20 July 1997 – Part I
- 20 July 1997 – Part II
- 21 July 1997 – Part I
- 21 July 1997 – Part II
- 22 July 1997 – Part I
- 22 July 1997 – Part II
- 23 July 1997
- 27 July 1997
- 31 July 1997
- 3 August 1997
- 7 August 1997
- 9 August 1997
- 14 August 1997
- 16 August 1997
- 18 August 1997
- 27 August 1997 – Part I
- 27 August 1997 – Part II
- 30 August 1997
- 4 September 1997
- Thoughts 2 Decades Later (November 2017)
2 thoughts on “Gone Fishing”
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.
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.