My Dog Lily

Lily Doucette
RIP

It is with a heavy heart that I must report that my constant companion and friend, Lily, a Golden Retriever dog, passed away on November 27th at the age of 13-years and 8-months. I rescued Lily when she was seven, and we have been inseparable since that day. For those of you who have purchased Neptune’s Nor’easter in paperback, you have seen her picture on the back cover of the book, as she and I were sitting on Pier #3 in New Bedford. Lily was by my side during the four years that I spent researching and writing Neptune’s Nor’easter. We had many adventures together including riding out a hurricane in Georgia, and multiple car trips between Massachusetts and Georgia.

I have written this post not to elicit sympathy, but rather to honor the memory of a great dog. Lily came to me abandoned, afraid, unsure, and she blossomed into the greatest dog I have ever known.

In Memorium

Lilly “Billie” Doucette

March 30, 2006 – November 27, 2019

A TRIBUTE TO A GREAT DOG

In this urn are deposited the Remains of one who possessed Beauty without Vanity, Strength without Insolence, Courage without Ferocity, and all the virtues of Man without his Vices.

This praise, which would be unmeaning Flattery if inscribed over Human Ashes, is but a tribute to the Memory of Lily, a Golden Retriever Dog who was born in Budapest, Hungary on March 30, 2006, and died at Fairhaven, Massachusetts, United States of America, November 27, 2019.

This Dog, in life, my firmest friend, The first to welcome, foremost to defend, Whose honest heart is still her Master’s own, Who labors, fights, lives, breathes for her Master alone, Unhonored falls, unnoticed for all her worth.

Ye, who behold perchance this simple urn, carry it with respect, it marks my loyal friend’s remains.

Until we meet again, Boo Boo!

(with respect to Lord Byron’s Epitaph to Boatswain, his Newfoundland dog in 1880)

The Vigilant Incident

USCGC VIGILANT
Mr. Simas Kudirka

On the evening of November 15, 2019, I attended the New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center Dock-U-Mentaries presentation for November. This series is presented on the third Friday of every month at the New Bedford Whaling National Park auditorium, and it is free to the public. The subject this month was an event that occurred on November 23rd, 1970. It has come to be known as the “Defection of Simas Kudirka” or the “Vigilant Incident.” The offering was a movie depicting this day in 1970 when a radio operator on a Soviet fishing factory ship jumped onto the deck of the USCG Cutter Vigilant and requested asylum. This situation became an international incident, and our government, through a series of miss-steps, forced the Commander of the Vigilant to return Mr. Kudirka to the Soviet fishing ship. Unbeknown to those of us in attendance on this night, the Executive Officer of the USCGC Vigilant on November 23rd, 1970, Lt. Cmdr. Paul Pakos was also in our audience. After the film, he told us additional details of his experience during this incident, which resulted in military disciplinary action for everyone in the chain of command above him, including the forced retirement of a Rear Admiral. This experience is still raw and disturbing to him, 49-years after the event, and at one point, he had to stop and compose himself.

I have read an after-action report of this incident, and Lt. Cmdr. Pakos, a graduate of the United States Coast Guard Academy, was praised for his judgment and attempts to bring clarity to this terrible day as it was unfolding. He was not sanctioned in any way, and he completed his career in the U.S. Coast Guard. His words on this night were riveting and compelling, and his story was one of the best investments of my time in my entire life. I will never forget his words and his lesson on leadership.

The New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center hit a home run on this presentation!

F/V Addie Mae – 1930

Al and I are working through my father’s collection of photo’s and here’s one from 1930 that I especially like. Grandpa must have been a good teacher because most, if not all, of these four young men later in their careers became captains themselves.

 

The Crew of the F/V Addie Mae working on gear in New Bedford – July 1930

Addie Mae - 1930 or 31 - New Bedford - Repairing Scallop Dredge B&W

Left to Right;

Louis Doucette, Jr.  –  Bill Rose  –  Captain Louis Doucette, Sr.  –  Eli Pothier  –  Louis Sears

Chasing Swordfish – Beware!

The following is an excerpt from the book Neptune’s Nor’easter;

My father loved to go swordfishing in the summer months, and I always thought that to him, harpooning swordfish was as close as he could come to having fun while fishing. Swordfish are a predatory fish, they hunt and eat smaller fish, and they are fighters. They fear no other fish in the sea. Fishermen have a high level of respect for swordfish because whether they are aware of it, or not, they both share some of the same traits. Fishermen are predators, they hunt and catch fish, and they will fight. They fear no fish in the sea, nor any other man on the sea. In some ways, fishermen have more in common with Mr. Swordfish, than he does with Mr. Smith, his next-door neighbor, at home.

The scientific name for swordfish is Xiphias Gladius, the Gladiator of the Sea. This is a fighting fish, and they will attack anything; big boats, small boats, any fish they come across, and humans if they decide you are a threat or a nuisance.

The following is a clip from a television fishing show. These gentlemen are fishing for swordfish in the Florida Keys with rod and reel. They are annoying the Gladiator and he’s watching.

Swordfish Eye

Click on the link below and watch this crazy fighting swordfish attack a cameraman in the water. This attack occurs at the 18-minute mark of the video.

Crazy Swordfish

The Gladiator

Swordfish image

Daisy the Sea Dog

Daisy the Sea Dog

There are all kinds of “Sea Dogs.” This term is often used to describe mariners who have spent much of their lives on the ocean, and they are often referred to as; “Old Salts” and “Sea Dogs.” These are terms that are used out of respect for those who have weathered the many moods of the sea. Then there is another type of “Sea Dog,” and this refers to actual real dogs who have gone to sea on various types of vessels, sometimes recreational craft, but also those canines who have gone to sea on commercial working ships of all kinds. These working sea dogs go to sea to provide companionship to the mariners that they sail with, but they often have a job to do aboard the boat as well. I wrote about this in my book Neptune’s Nor’easter concerning the role that dogs played on commercial fishing vessels before the invention of radar.

The following is an excerpt from the book;

“I thought about how in my grandfather’s day, there were no weather forecasts. He had a compass and charts to navigate by, he had a lead line to determine the depth of the water under the boat and to view the composition of the sea bottom. He had a barometer to assess changes in atmospheric pressure, and he had his instincts and visual interpretation of the sky and the sea. He also had a secret weapon. He had a collision avoidance system that was foolproof and essential when anchoring up for the night in thick fog, when dory fishing, or swordfishing. He had a dog! My grandfather loved dogs, and he considered them an essential piece of safety equipment and companionship aboard the boat.”

My father and my brother told me that my grandfather often had a dog that went fishing with them aboard the boat, and the most famous of his dogs was Daisy, a black coated Water Spaniel. For most of my life I just always thought that my grandfather liked dogs and that was why he had a dog around. It wasn’t until recently that I understood that his dog was an essential piece of safety equipment on the boat. The dog was very much a member of the crew. Yes, the dog did what all good dogs do, he provided companionship to the crew. But, for a large portion of my grandfather’s career, he was dory fishing from a schooner for cod, haddock, halibut and other ground species of fish. Dory fishing was only done during the daylight hours because in the dark of night the men in the dories would not be able to find their way back to the schooner. So fishing stopped for the day when the sun went down.

On the next dawning of the sun, the whole process would start again. They also went harpooning for swordfish, and this could only be accomplished during the daylight hours so the schooner would anchor for the night in this fishery as well.

While the schooner was anchored up for the night on the fishing grounds, this is where the dog became a trusted and critical member of the crew. Most of the crew would be below decks sleeping, but one member of the crew would be awake and on watch and even more reassuring for the men sleeping was that they knew and trusted that their dog was always awake and watching over them. Due to the incredible hearing of dogs, they could hear trouble coming from miles away.

During the days of the fishing schooners, many vessels and men were lost at sea when a breeze would come up during the night and another schooner would drag her anchor and come crashing into their vessel and everyone involved would perish. A good sea dog would hear another vessel bearing down on their boat and sound the alarm to the crew that trouble was coming their way. These fishing sea dogs were also valuable when the vessel was underway in dense fog, as they would alert the crew of another vessel in their vicinity. Often the other boat would have their own dog, and these dogs would begin barking back and forth, and this would alert the fishermen on both vessels and hopefully allow the boats to avoid a collision.

These fishing sea dogs were valued members of the crew in the days of the great fishing schooners. The fishermen came to love and respect these dogs that helped to protect them while at sea. No one loved his sea dog more than my grandfather, Captain Louis Doucette Sr., and his favorite sea dog was Daisy, and the captain would prove his love for that dog beyond a shadow of a doubt on the evening of September 25th, 1932. To explain how my grandfather would demonstrate his loyalty to Daisy and how she would prove her loyalty back to her master, we need to understand the time and circumstances of this time in history.

The Great Depression began with the Stock Market Crash on October 29th, 1929 and it continued for a full decade in the United States and finally ended in 1939. Prohibition banning the sale of alcohol was enacted in 1920, and it was repealed in 1933. It was a tough and desperate time for everyone who was alive, bread lines and soup kitchens were everywhere, and people were going hungry. The market was so depressed that the fishermen were receiving one to two cents per pound for their catch. They required three to five cents per pound to breakeven. My father told me that when they would return to the dock in New Bedford from a fishing trip people would be standing on the dock begging for fish from the fishermen. My grandfather would always send a barrel or two of fish to the nuns that ran St. Mary’s Home for Children in New Bedford. It was his way to help feed the children that due to various circumstances were being cared for by the nuns. My grandfather also entered into bartering agreements with some local farmers. Farmers and fishermen have a bond that is forged by the life that they pursue. They must catch fish or grow successful crops, or they will fail. My grandfather would provide his farming friends with fresh fish, and they would provide him with meat, vegetables, and firewood, and this would help all of them survive these perilous times. These survival lessons and habits were stamped into the brains of these fishermen and farmers who grew up during the Great Depression. Even in the early 1960s, my father would send me across the street to see my friend Tom Alferes and deliver some fresh fish to his family who maintained a farm, and they also always sent me home with fresh vegetables. Old school manners and respect for hard-working neighbors that were forged in the depression.

This backdrop leads us back to the night of September 25th, 1932 and our story of “Daisy the Sea Dog” and the bond between man and his best friend. My grandfather and grandmother had eight children and an orphan that they had taken into the home, and Pa found himself in financial difficulty. He made a decision that he did not want to make, but it seemed to be the only way out, so he agreed to take his schooner and her crew and go “rum-running.” They picked up the liquor outside of the international territorial limits of the United States from a “mother -ship” and were in the process of bringing the contraband ashore on Cape Cod when they were caught by the Revenue Agents. The value of the liquor was estimated at $48,000 which in today’s money would be about $700,000. The crew was arrested and the schooner Addie Mae was confiscated by the feds. They were all taken to the jail in New Bedford to be held to await a hearing in Federal Court in Boston. Here is where the fun begins.

To my grandfather, Daisy was as much a member of the crew as any man aboard the Addie Mae. Grandpa carried his dog in his arms to New Bedford, and he absolutely refused to surrender his dog when asked. So on this night Daisy, and my grandfather spent the night together in a jail cell in New Bedford just like any other member of the crew of the schooner Addie Mae. He was not giving Daisy to anybody! She was his dog, and she was a valued and trusted member of the fishing schooner Addie Mae.

Captain Louis Doucette, Sr. & Daisy

New PA & Daisy

Grandpa and his dog pose for the newspaper reporter.

The newspaper article calls the dog Davie, but she was no he and her name was most definitely Daisy, and she was a bonafide fisherdog. Daisy was 4-years old at the time of this adventure and her unfortunate jailing in New Bedford.

Daisy and Slim – 1937

Daisy the Dog on Deck 1937 5

Here is Daisy in 1937, five years after her rum running arrest. She is hard to see in this old photo because of her black coat and the darkness of her surroundings. She is posing on the fish hold hatch cover with “Slim” a member of the crew. Still aboard the boat and going fishing at the age of nine. She is now both an “Old Salt” and a “Sea Dog” who was respected by all who went to sea with her!

Black-English-Cocker-Spaniel-Dog-Standing-Near-Sea-Shore

R.I.P.
Daisy Doucette
A Loyal Companion
A Great Sea Dog
“The Finest Kind”