The WWS’ Maiden Voyage

19 Nov

At eight PM that night, we lowered the WWS into the water, broke a nearly empty bottle of San Miguel on her prow, and Casey set off on the inaugural voyage. As Jimmy leaned over and pulled the 250 engine to life, Casey screwed his cap on tight, and grasped the throttle like it was his favorite woman. Six seconds later he was out of sight in the dark, and all of our jaws were bouncing on our chests.

The average banka boat uses either a 5.5 or 8.0 HP B&S engine. We had thought about a 16 HP, because of the additional power/speed. Only one of us had any idea of what we were creating when we put the 250 engine in the WWS.

“Hey, Tony, how many horses has that puppy got?” asked Emmet.

“Oh, it depends,” answered Tony, as he looked worriedly along the wake Casey had left.

“On what?” I asked.

“Oh, mostly on your reduction gear,” mumbled Tony.

“Yeah, but Casey doesn’t have any reduction gear. He’s direct drive, right? So how may horses has he got?” asked Jimmy.

“Well, I guess it would be close to, or almost, anyway, mphmhpmhp.” Tony mumbled.

“Huh? What’s that?” asked Rudy.

“Well,” Tony said uncomfortably, “near as I can guess, he’s pushing between 90 and 120 horses.”

“WHAT?” coughed Jimmy. “There’s no way he can handle that in that toy. It’s WAY too much power!”

“Well, actually,” offered Tony, “it’s not as bad as you think. He’s got nearly two miles of straight water before he has to make the turn at Chiquita Island.”

“TURN? That thing can’t TURN! It can only explode in a different direction! Knob, start the boat,” snapped Jimmy. “Emmet, cast off. Knob, grab your medical kit. Let’s go!”

As we rounded the same turn around which Casey had earlier disappeared, I was on the helm, with the throttle wide open, and Jimmy was on the radio, trying to raise Harbor Patrol. I suddenly glimpsed what I first thought was a flying fish, shooting across my port bow. When it screamed, I recognized Casey. He went into a hard right turn, about a half mile off the shore and skipped like a flat rock, to within probably 20 feet of the shoreline, with the 250 screaming wide open. He quickly faded out of my vision, as I heard Harbor Patrol responding to Jimmy, “Negative, Sierra Tango1. I repeat, Negative. Do NOT get underway at this time. Be advised we have possible hostile craft in the harbor. We have gunboats in pursuit. Do NOT get underway. Acknowledge. Over”

Jimmy turned to me and said, “Boy is Joe ever going to be pissed if Casey loses his engine.” Then he keyed the mike and said, “Hotel Bravo X-ray, this is India Charley Two. Be advised we are taking small arms fire from a hostile craft 300 yards west of Pier 15. Request assistance. Over” He then quickly keyed again, changing the tone of his voice, “Roger, Hotel Bravo X-ray, this is Sierra Tango One, standing by. Over.” And turned and grinned. Jimmy had just sent Harbor Patrol on a wild goose chase, at the other end of the harbor.

I killed all our lights, and eased out into the waterway. No sign of Casey. No sign of Harbor Patrol. Then Rudy pointed off my port beam. “There! Is that him?” I came about as quickly as the old Swift could, but by that time, Casey was far out of sight. I decided the best thing to do was to get back to the pier before we took friendly fire, and began easing back toward our base. As I approached, I saw the WWS alongside our barge, with Casey, Tony and Joe standing nearby. I docked and secured the engines, as Joe took a deep breath and began cursing each of us. He went on for about three minutes, never repeating himself once. When he finally noticed that we were paying more attention to Casey than we were to him, he muttered, “Aw, the hell with it!” and stalked off the barge.

We found many uses for the WWS. We used it occasionally during training operations in the harbor, ‘til the Harbor Patrol complained that nothing could catch it. Another was when Casey and I rented bungalows at Gaines Beach, to avoid having to live in the barracks. We used the Special as transportation to and from the barge, as well as to go from Gaines Beach to Subic City. Ours was the fastest boat in the bay and would handle up to four people with no problem.

On one occasion, we were at the bar at Gaines Beach, drinking away the weekend, and shooting dice with Ernie. There was a couple spending the weekend, and they had gone down the beach for some privacy. After an hour or so, they came stalking back, to inform us that they had been robbed. It seemed that while they were swimming on this deserted stretch of beach, two guys had rushed out of the jungle, grabbed her purse, and his watch and wallet, and disappeared back into the jungle.

Ernie dispatched one of his boys to run a boat over to Subic City and fetch Moy L. Moy was then the Chief of Police in Subic, a much feared man who, we learned, had earned his reputation. After 45 minutes or so, Moy showed up in a banka boat, accompanied by a 250 LB assistant, with a lousy disposition.

After questioning the couple, Moy nodded to his “torpedo”, and they walked down the beach to the spot where the robbery took place, looked around a bit, and then walked into the jungle. We went back to drinking and gambling.

About three hours later, someone noticed Moy walking toward us from the edge of the trees. His sidekick was in the shadows just inside the tree line, holding someone. Moy approached the couple at the bar, and placed a watch, wallet and a few odds and ends on the table. When they identified the items as theirs, he turned and faced the jungle, and waved toward the beach. The then saluted them and headed down to the dock, to his waiting boat. We heard a shot, and turned and saw Moy’s assistant carrying a body toward the beach. Moy took his boat down the shore, picked up his man and the body, and headed for Subic.

Ernie reached for the dice cup and said, “two bucks says I qualify in one roll!” His wife, Linda, brought us a platter of lumpya. Neither seemed the least bit surprised at the outcome of the “investigation”.

The couple went to their bungalow and packed, and they were on their way to Subic within a half hour.

Ernie was a retired Chief Bosun’s Mate, US Navy. He retired while stationed in the Philippines, married Linda, and never left the island that I ever heard of. He had five bungalows, as well as their own house, the bar and restaurant, a dock for the boats, and about 500 yards of prime beachfront property, backed up against dense jungle. I could easily see how Ernie decided to stay there. Linda was a beautiful woman, a classy lady and a good cook. Put all that in the middle of a private paradise, and you have Gaines Beach. The months I lived there were some of the most relaxing of my life.

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5 Responses to “The WWS’ Maiden Voyage”

  1. Mark Simon April 10, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

    Excellent story of recounting the events that transpired while at Gaines Beach!! I am ex-military and was one of the last personnel to leave the philippines and subic bay (nov ’92). I am so curious about Ernest Gaines and Gaines Beach, but there is next to nothing online about him or the beach. Could you please tell me about Ernie the person and your experiences at Gaines Beach? Thank you in advance.. AT1 Simon

    • steve November 17, 2014 at 1:59 pm #

      i live at balaybay castillejos. tried to find gaines beach by motor yesterday again to tidy up ernies grave but couldnt find it. It seems hanjin land has taken over everything over there.

  2. Marvin Dockery, ex PH2 August 14, 2013 at 6:16 pm #

    Ernie Gaines was in charge of the photolab at NAAS Whiting Field in Florida until he left for the Phillippnes in the summer of 1960. He was a photographers mate, and in 1959-60 was married to a french woman named Rene. She had a son named paul, who was nine or ten years old.
    A great guy.
    I have a picture of him on my Whiting Field gallery at http://www.pbase.com/modelsmodels

    • Doc Sheldon August 14, 2013 at 7:10 pm #

      Hi, Marvin. Thanks for dropping in and sharing a link to your photo site. Yeah, couldn’t miss Ernie in that shot… he was 15 years older by then, but aside from being a little more grizzled, never really changed much.
      He always claimed to be a bosun’s mate. Interesting to learn he was at Whiting. Never knew he flew, either.
      Spent many an hour (okay… days) swapping sea stories with Ernie, and got to be pretty good friends after we moved into a couple of his bungalows. I guess we lived there for nearly six months… good times.
      Linda was Filipino… a gorgeous woman… all lady (but I wouldn’t want to cross her). I guess Ernie did something right – she worshipped the man.
      Don’t be scarce!

  3. steve November 17, 2014 at 2:03 pm #

    i live near gaines beach,,went to try to tidy up ernies grave yesterday but couldnt find it from the road to hanjin.

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