• Marine Radios, Dirt Daubers & Sea Rations

    What do marine radios, dirt daubers, and sea rations have in common? This story!

    Hereís a picture of the old style VHF marine radio that was on the wooden Miss Jerry. I asked my good friend/computer whiz Captain Steve Triple Trouble Howell to find me a picture and you see that he did for sure. This vacuum tube model was first produced in 1949 by the Harvey-Wells Electronics Company. This was the style of marine radio that daddy had on his boat during the fifties and sixties. If you have been keeping up with my Little Miss Judy Stories you already know that I had to use Daddyís old 1950ís style radio on several occasions to ask for assistance from the coast guard. And thanks goodness when I called they always answered!

    Back in the fifties and sixties you couldnít leave your marine radio on all the time. Heck, if we talked on them then as much as we do now they wouldnít have lasted very long! Why? The old radios had tubes and lots of them. And back in the good old days a radio tubeís life wasnít very long. Heck, I have seen them blow up for no good reason. In my younger years it seemed that my father was always working on the insides of his marine radio. Why, for some reason dirt daubers loved to get inside the radio and set up housekeeping. And according to my father these pesky bugs got inside the radio bringing along with them the makings of their soon to be nest.

    When we were down working on the boat, daddy would turn the old marine radio on and let her warm up. Now, he wasnít turning it on so that he could hear any sort of radio chatter, because believe there never was. Daddy wanted to make sure that the dirt daubers hadnít gotten into his radio. I remember several occasions where after a warming up a bit that a puff of smoke would come out of the case of the radio. Or a weird smell would circulate the salon. That is just about when dear old dad would start to saying words that I canít put to paper. Anyhow, after he pulled the radio out from its wooden cabinet Daddy would begin taking the cover off. As I remember Daddyís radio cover had several different kinds of screws to deal with. This meant he needed several tools to take her apart. And normally when doing so he always dropped something on the deck, which immediately prompted me to go on a looking expedition.

    Photo taken by Shirley
    While one fisherman is fighting a big shark a couple more arenít feeling too good. Sea sickness comes in many forms. The fisherman with his head on the gunnel is most likely going or already has cascaded over the side. And the fisherman holding his head most likely has a serious headache. My fatherís standard question in the morning was, ďWhat did you bring for lunch?Ē why? According to my father what they didnít eat could possibly be our lunch.

    Right next to the radio cabinet was our ice box, better known now as our refrigerator. My fatherís so called ice box, at least during my memory, never worked. So basically it was another storage locker. And boy was it. Inside you could find flares, shark repellent, and very out of the date sea rations. Daddy always told me that the sea rations were leftovers from WW II. The bottom line when it came to these sea rations was it basically was our lunch at least most of the time. Thatís especially if the customers didnít get sick, which meant they were eating their own lunch.

    Did you know when I was around 6 years old I could always tell when someone was going to get sick? My father always told me that I would say, ďDaddy he is getting geen?Ē For some reason I had trouble with the letter R!! And did you know that in most cases I can still make this call! But I normally do keep it to myself and Captain Kathy Brown my first mate. On the way out of the sound I always motion to her and she replies my holding up a certain number of fingers. And most of the time we can pick the fishermen out that are most likely going to get sea sick!

    This is kind of what the sea rations looked like. Some cans had dry cookies, meaning no taste thatís unless you found the strawberry jelly. To find the jelly was hard to do, because a lot of times the code marking the can was not clear. So therefore in some cases we had to open a lot of cans to get to what we might want to eat. According to my father this was part of the lure of eating sea rations. Sometimes you got what you thought you wanted and other times you didnít. There were these green thick plastic packages that I loved to open, because normally chocolate and small pieces of chewing gum were part of this kit. And thatís not all sometimes tissue paper, matches, coffee, salt, dried milk, and sugar. I didnít realize until later that the tissue was really toilet paper. When you are a child this puts a whole new meaning to the word tissue and what you are supposed to do with it. I do remember some things that didnít taste too bad. However, I can remember opening a few things I would not eat. As soon as daddy looked away over board they went.

    A request! If anyone has any photos of my father (Captain Sherman Helmey) or pictures from the old days! Heck he had eight wives! Somebody somewhere has to know something! I certainly would be interested in getting copies of them or if you have a story to tell, please give me a call 912 897 4921 or email me fishjudy2@aol.com or

    Mail to
    Captain Judy Helmey, Miss Judy Charters, 124 Palmetto Drive,
    Savannah, Georgia 31410

    Check out this dirt dabber condo!

    My always told me that a dirt dauber should have been called mud daubers. The reason being is that they make their nest out of mud. And believe me there is plenty of mud for these bugs to find in our area. So hereís what I know in regards to my father about this bug when it comes to nest building. Now keep in mind daddy came to this conclusion after many encounters. According to my father, if he happened to turn his radio on a time before the dirt dauber mud was dried this is where the problem came to light. What a pun? The bottom line was this, as the tube or tubes warmed; the mud nest created steamed breaking one or several of the glass tubes. Now, my father never was happy about this happening. However, words did fly especially if the tube broke wasnít one in his arsenal of spare parts! And the more I write the more I know that I had a very interesting childhood!

    Thanks for reading! Captain Judy