SHIPS AND BOATS THAT I HAVE KNOWN
SHIPS AND BOATS THAT I HAVE KNOWN
by: Frank McClatchie
By the time I was seven years old, I had crossed the North Atlantic three times on passenger ships. At that time that was the only way to get across the North Atlantic. The first two crossings from Germany, where I was born, were to visit some relatives in Michigan and return to Germany, the third trip was when I came to America to stay.
After WWII started, I enlisted in the U.S. Navy as a Second Class Radio Technician, was sent to a Radio Materiel School in Washington D.C., and then later saw Sea Duty on the Neal A. Scott, DE 769, first to the Mediterranean on convoy duty, then later joining a KILLER GROUP of destroyer Escorts to scour the North Atlantic Ocean of German Submarines. Over 800 German Submarines were sunk during WWII. My ship, the Neal A. Scott, DE 769) was credited with sinking the German U-Boat U-518, and also most probably sank another submarine at The Straights Of Gibraltar when it attacked our Convoy. I completed one year in the battle zone in the BATTLE OF THE ATLANTIC, after Germany surrendered, I boarded the German U-Boat., U1228 in the middle of the North Atlantic and crossed the ocean to intern the Submarine and German Crew at Portsmouth, New Hampshire. I cover this part of the story in some detail in “SIX DAYS IN A GERMAN SUBMARINE AND OTHER ASSORTED ADVENTURES”.
After securing the U1228 at Portsmouth, the Scott went south to Florida to escort Aircraft Carriers. Some of the airplanes missed the landing and crashed into the Sea. It was our job to rescue the pilot. We did save two pilots, but the third pilot that crashed while we were on duty was not recovered. We had swimmers aboard that would jump overboard to try to rescue these pilots. While in Florida, we weathered two Hurricanes at sea. One of the Hurricanes had three water spouts visible in quick succession. Water Spouts at Sea are exactly the same a Tornado on land, except much wetter. You do not want to run into a Water Spout at Sea. The ship would probably not survive and encounter with a Water Spout.
After the war with Japan ended, it was time to raise a family, so it was not until my DIVORCE, that I began to think about the Sea again, I discovered a private club called THE FRIENDS OF TAHITI, and really fell in love with that life style. A friend and I decided to build a Trimaran. About the time we completed the building process, I resigned from my job at the Telephone Company (after a 26 year career) to accept a position as Vice President of the Electronics Development Company. That Company was located in Newport Beach, so of course I had to move down there. In the process, I bought a 29 foot sail boat, and promptly moved aboard. Now I was actually living on my own boat. Through the FRIENDS OF TAHITI, I had many adventures and resulted in many flights to the South Pacific, some of which I have written about. One of the Tahitians that I met at the club was Marita. Her mother was an actual Queen of an Island near Tahiti.
When Electronics Development Corporation went out of business, I decided start a boat building business, building FERRO-CEMENT SAIL BOATS, so I formed McClatchie Marine as a boat yard in Newport Beach. Some people think a cement boat cannot float, but the Navy build boats of steel all the time, and they float just fine, and so do ferro-cement boats. In time I had five boats under construction in my Boat Yard. One day I had a visitor from Korea, who was very interested in the boat building process because he wanted to build them in Korea. About a year later, I was contacted by the King-Choy Company to take over construction of Sail Boats in Korea and importing them into the United States. Of course I had to move to Korea to do this. I had about 120 Korean workmen and started building five 36 foot sail boats in a yard at Masan Korea..
Building the boats in Korea, and putting so many Koreans to work at the factory attracted the attention of the Korean Government with the result that the Korean Government decided to invite me to Soul to a STATE DINNER to be held in my Honor for starting a new business in Masan. I flew to Soul and attended the dinner as the principle guest of honor. The dinner and entertainment were supplied by the Korean Government. The dinner was held in a large hall with a ceiling about 16 feet high and about 50 feet on a side. The government supplied three Generals in the Korean Army and one politician. Each man had a personal female servant to pick choice morsels from the thirty five dishes of food on the table to hand-feed to “her man”. Her Main duty was to make sure that the cup of Jack Daniels was always full to the top after you set it down. They each had a large tea-pot to make sure the cup did not get empty. One of the Generals was the particularly boisterous. I found out later the reason, his death sentence had just been revoked. He had been stealing much to much, and had made amends. The entertainment came in cycles.
The first entertainment cycle consisted of four Korean ladies playing some very ancient looking mandolin type of instruments. I have no idea how old those instruments were, but they looked ancient. The music was also very old and classical.
The some time went by eating and drinking, then the second cycles of entertainment began. A three-sided enclosure was set up with all sizes of bells attached on the three sides at various levels. There must have been about thirty or so bells suspended in the structure. A girl came dancing out and twirled about in the three sides enclosure, hitting the bells with hands, knees, feet, elbows, head, thereby creating a very musical sound.
More eating and drinking ensued, then the third cycle began. A troupe of six dances came out with musicians to dance for us. One man had a very long cloth streamer (about 20 feet long) attached to a pivot on his head. By swinging his head around, he was able to keep the entire length of streamer in the air at all times. He must have had very strong neck mussels! Now I know why the ceiling was so high.
Even more eating and drinking, then another group of musicians came in. This time they played modern music and we danced with our Girls.
Then finally a desert was served, and the party ended after a while.
I should mention that the Hotel that I was booked into for the State Dinner has some special arrangement too. As I came into the Hotel I was lead to a particular elevator to go to my room. I later decided to look around town before going to bed. That was when I discovered that the elevator was exclusively reserved for my personal use. The elevator operator waited in that particular elevator for me to show up all night long. No one else was allowed to use that elevator in case I might show up to use it. Service like that does make you feel important.
Once a year I would make a trip to the South Pacific to charter a boat for two or three weeks at a time. This made it possible for me to visit some very remote locations in Tahiti, Tonga, Fiji, New Zealand, and Australia by sail boat. Some of the Islands that I visited had not been seen by a white man in five of more years. I was really on my own! One time I even got into one heck of a storm, and wound up being ship wrecked (yacht wrecked?) on a Coral Reef until the next day a larger boat was able to pull me off of the reef, still in one piece! That particular adventure is called “HOW I GOT SHIPWRECKED ON A SOUTH PACIFIC ISLAND”, what else? In many ways, that is a better arrangement than sailing your own boat to the South Pacific.
All told, I have been involved in building fourteen sail boats and I have chartered another twelve sail boats in the South Pacific in addition to the ships that I sailed on before and during WWII. I have also been aboard six German and American Submarines, including two Nuclear Subs, in addition to accepting the surrender of the German U1228 Submarine.