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  • The Whistle that had to be blown!

    I spend a lot of my childhood days with my father, Captain Sherman Helmey, being his so-called “Striker.” That is what we called a boat helper back in the old days. Today they are called “First Mates.” Most of the first mates of today that work with charters boat companies back then have become licensed charter boat captains.

    One day on my way home from fishing the Gulf Stream, I looked over and saw one of my customers munching out on a box of cracker jacks. I had to ask, “what did you get for a prize?’ My customer laughed and replied, “a paper tattoo.” This conversation triggered my thoughts to drift back in time. This is when I remembered something that had happened when I was with my father, the original Captain Helmey.

    I was about seven years old when this happened. We had been fishing all day and we were returning home at a very slow pace. My father’s boat, which was named Miss Jerry, top speed was on about 12 knots. In those days this was considered fast, you already know about these days. The Coast Guard had stopped us and asked if they could board our vessel. My father let them on board, not that they could stop them. They wanted to see all of his required safety gear. I remember most of the flares and the great shark repellent that was located in the old icebox, which was used as our safety storage space. That’s not all that was in the ice box/storage space, lots of sea rations. Daddy purchased cases of these prime, out of date k-rations from the army-navy store, which was located on world famous Victory Drive. I think the name of the place was called “EAT’S.” If you lived in Savannah long, it was the place that has had the old fire engine sitting out in front for years. They served the best hotdogs in town. I am not sure if the hotdogs or the army-navy stuff was the side line business, but I always had a good time going through all the stuff while waiting for my hotdogs. I don’t remember what daddy was doing. I guess maybe telling fishing lies or drumming up new business. There were always lots of people coming out of the back room.

    I watched a special on television about the use of the old shark repellant. They showed old footage of the original test they made with the repellent. They put it in the water where there were no sharks in sight. However the new findings were not good. It seems that the repellent didn’t keep the shark away, but instead lured them in. I am glad we never had to use that stuff. We would have been calling the shark to dinner and we would have been their snack.

    Back to the Coast Guard inspection. I was crunching on my newly openly box of Cracker Jacks, my favorite snack for that day. Everything seemed to be going well except daddy couldn’t find has required manual horn. The button that I always pushed to blow the electric horn didn’t work either.

    This is something you must have or else you get a ticket from the little yellow book. I kept eating my Crack Jacks. I finally got to the prize, which was a whistle. I stared blowing it because that is what kids usually do with a whistle. I got everyone’s attention including the Coast Guard inspector. Daddy smiled. My Cracker Jack whistle had gotten the Miss Jerry approved.

    Thanks for reading! Captain Judy