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”

 

WCAI – Interview with Mindy Todd

On Thursday, November 15, 2018 – WCAI the Cape and Islands NPR radio station ran an interview with me about Neptune’s Nor’easter on their program, The Point with Mindy Todd. This was an important and significant date to air this interview about the book because it was the 56th anniversary of the actual storm that I call Neptune’s Nor’easter. If you would like to listen to this 15-minute radio program just click on the link below and it will take you to the WCAI site and their description of Neptune’s Nor’easter.

The link to WCAI is below:

http://www.bit.ly/2OKvJCw

At the bottom of the WCAI page on Neptune’s Nor’easter just click onto the start button and the audio will begin.

56 Years Ago Today

As you are coming to the end of this day, Thursday, November 15th, 2018, take a minute and ask yourself what were you doing this morning at 3:26 am? Most of us were sleeping. Fifty-six years ago at 3:26 am, on November 15, 1962, the F/V Venus has just been hove down while fishing on the Northern Edge of Georges Bank. The Venus and her eleven man crew encountered an unknown storm of massive power and fury. They are fighting for their lives.

As I am writing this blog post at 7:30 pm tonight, in the safety of my home on November 15th, 2018, at this same time fifty-six years ago the men on the Venus had been battling Neptune’s Nor’easter for sixteen hours. They have had nothing to eat all day, and they are 10-hours from having the privilege of drinking coffee and eating toast. As we go to bed tonight the men on board the Venus were still battling the most dangerous storm of their fishing careers, and it would not end until we are about to wake up tomorrow morning. It puts some perspective on the life of an offshore commercial fisherman.

The New Bedford Fisherman,

Second to None,

Then and Now,

The Finest Kind!

Tonight a powerful low-pressure system is moving across the country, and the television weather people are saying the word Nor’easter. I guess it’s a fitting end to the fifty-sixth anniversary of Neptune’s Nor’easter.

We pray that all the fishermen and mariners at sea tonight will be safe when we wake up tomorrow morning!

Excerpt From Neptune’s Nor’easter

NEPTUNE’S NOR’EASTER

The Midnight Sun Going

 

A STORM AT SEA

THE TRUE STORY OF A BOMBOGENESIS STORM

THE UNEXPECTED NOR’EASTER STORM OF
NOVEMBER 14 thru 16, 1962

The saga of men at sea, and the six ships and thirty-six men who were lost, when an Extratropical Cyclone visited the Western North Atlantic.

These losses included the fishing vessel Midnight Sun,
a New Bedford scalloper, and her eleven-man crew.

Paul J. Doucette

 

HOVE DOWN ON GEORGES BANK

THE ESCAPE FROM NEPTUNE’S TRIDENT

 

291271-poseidon-statue-near-the-harbor-copenhagen-denmark

 

ANCIENT MYTHOLOGY

The Romans knew him as Neptune!

The ancient Greeks knew him as Poseidon!

He was their God of the Sea!

He carried a “Magical Trident,” and it was believed that if he was angry, he could slam his Trident into the ocean floor, and it would create earthquakes and violent storms at sea.

The Romans knew her as Venus!

The ancient Greeks knew her as Aphrodite!

She was the Goddess of Love and Beauty!

It was believed that she could grant prosperity and victory.
She was considered the mother of the Roman people.
It was said that she was born from the foam of the sea.

Venus and Neptune linked by the Sea!

Forever!

 

“There was very little that your father didn’t know about fishing.”

Captain Ole Andersen

Spoken to me on November 27, 2016 at the
New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center,
38 Bethel Street,
New Bedford, Massachusetts,

“His father saved my father’s life.”

Mrs. Kirsten Edvardsen Bendiksen

Spoken to author and filmmaker Kevin Kertscher,
while we were discussing the premiere of the documentary film,
“The Finest Kind – The New Bedford Fishing Industry.”
On August 13, 2017

Two of the nicest compliments I have ever had the pleasure of hearing

about my father, Captain Louis Doucette, Jr.

 

This book is dedicated to the following;

CAPTAIN LOUIS DOUCETTE, JR.

My father, and the mate of the F/V Venus, during a vicious nor’easter storm, while fishing the Northern Edge of Georges Bank, on November 15th, 1962.
A New Bedford Fisherman for fifty years.

CAPTAIN LOUIS DOUCETTE, SR.

My grandfather, and the holder of the Carnegie Medal for Extraordinary Heroism, for his role in the rescue of the crew of the six-masted schooner, the Mertie B. Crowley, on the backside of Martha’s Vineyard, in a nor’easter snow storm on January 23, 1910. His lessons allowed my father to have the skill to bring the F/V Venus home,
after being “Hove Down at Sea,” on Georges Bank.

AMABLE DOUCETTE

My great-grandfather, lost at sea while fishing on Georges Bank, in the year 1880.

CAPTAIN MAGNE RISDAL
AND THE CREW OF THE F/V MIDNIGHT SUN

They lost their lives (11 men total) battling the unexpected Nor’easter Gale of November 14th & 15th, 1962, on Georges Bank.

CAPTAIN JOSHUA “SPUD” MURPHY,
ENGINEER HERBERT DOUCETTE,
MY UNCLES,
AND THE CREW OF THE F/V DORIS GERTRUDE

They lost their lives (11 men total), in a nor’easter snow storm while fishing
Georges Bank, on January 13, 1955.

JOHN PENDERGAST
MY SISTER’S FATHER-IN-LAW

Swept from the deck of the F/V Terra Nova, while fishing in heavy weather,
on Georges Bank in November of 1966.

“THE FINEST KIND”

EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THEM!

 

 

Prologue

SETTING THE STAGE

November 7th, 1962, a Wednesday, dawned clear and bright in the harbor of New Bedford, Massachusetts. There is a massive high-pressure system sitting off the East Coast of the United States, and it is in control of the weather from Maine to Florida. It’s going to be a beautiful early November day with a high temperature of 46-degrees in New Bedford. Captain Thomas Larsen and Captain Louis Doucette, Jr., are busy preparing the F/V Venus to leave the dock at the D.N. Kelly & Sons Shipyard, in Fairhaven, Massachusetts. The Venus will be leaving shortly for a fishing trip to the Northern Edge of Georges Bank. Captain Magne Risdal is busy preparing the F/V Midnight Sun to leave the same shipyard. Captain Risdal is carefully monitoring the loading of the food for the trip because his regular cook, Hallvard Stoll, has been fighting off a bad cold and he has decided to take this trip off, to recover before the winter weather takes hold. These two boats are sister ships, both built to almost identical dimensions by the Harvey Gamage Shipyard in South Bristol, Maine. The Venus is two months old, and the Midnight Sun is two years old. These boats are both beautiful eastern rigged, pilothouse aft, wooden fishing boats, built by one of the top boat builders in the business. Gamage boats are built to be strong sea boats with an excellent track record of longevity and seaworthiness. Gamage boats are handmade by highly skilled Maine craftsmen. The Venus is rigged as a dragger to trawl for groundfish, and the Midnight Sun is rigged for scalloping, they are both top notch fishing vessels, and the captains and crews of both boats are friends.

On this same morning, Thomas Ewing III is a lawyer with the law firm of Debevoise, Plimpton, Lyons, and Gates in New York City. He is a young hard-charging attorney at one of the top law firms in the world. He is also an avid sailor, and he is the owner of a 30-foot, blue-hulled, sloop rigged sailboat, the Kria. He is busy this morning with his law career, but he is also busy contemplating a sail from Point Judith, Rhode Island to Essex, Connecticut, this weekend. His law associate and fellow Yale graduate, Attorney David Evans, has just agreed to act as crew on the Kria, for this weekend’s sail.

The M/V Captain George is a 442-foot Greek-flagged cargo ship, and she and her crew have recently completed stops in New Orleans, Louisiana and Houston, Texas to take on cargo. The ship is in St. Mary’s, Georgia this morning taking on a load of explosives to be transported to the oil drilling industry in Libya. She will be leaving St. Mary’s, today and after another brief stop in Savannah, Georgia she will be bound for the Mediterranean Sea. The crew is looking forward to the trip east across the Atlantic, because after the delivery in Libya, they will be on their way home to Piraeus, Greece.

The schooners Curlew and Windfall are tied to the dock in Newport, Rhode Island, and they are preparing for a voyage to the Caribbean. They both plan to enter the winter charter trade in the Virgin Islands. The two crews are friendly, and they agree to an informal race to the Caribbean, with an intermediate stop in Bermuda, to keep things interesting over a long sail.

The USNS (United States Naval Ship) New Bedford (AKL-17), and her sister Camino Class cargo ship, designated as the USNS AKL-43, are both docked at the State Pier, in New Bedford, Massachusetts. They are taking on supplies for the United States Air Force – Early Warning Radar Detection Towers, known as “Texas Towers.” They will be making a run out to re-supply Texas Tower #2, and Texas Tower #3, next week. These radar towers are erected offshore of the East Coast of the United States in international waters. They are designed to be our first line of early warning defense, should the Soviet Union launch an attack against the United States. We have just lived through the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Cold War is very hot right now.

Captain William Fielder and crewman Louis Raulet of the F/V Moonlight are working on the boat in New Bedford, and they will be heading out to the Georges Bank fishing grounds tomorrow.

On this morning, John Isaksen is the mate on the F/V Aloha, his father Nils is the captain. Although he doesn’t know it today, John Isaksen will be the last man to speak to the captain of another New Bedford scalloper, before she is lost with all hands.

Captain Hans Davidsen, of the F/V Florence B., will be taking his scalloper out to the Southeast Part of Georges Bank tomorrow, to commence a fishing trip. In seven days, the Florence B. will amaze Captain Davidsen with her ability to shed water. On this day, he has no idea that the Florence B., has submarine like capabilities.

Captain Albert Dahl, of the F/V Monte Carlo, is at his home this morning in Fairhaven, Massachusetts. He will be leaving for the fishing grounds on Saturday. He has no way of knowing it today, but he will soon be repeating the same word three times that all mariners dread, “Mayday, Mayday, Mayday.” He also doesn’t know that he will soon be leading the fight to improve the weather forecast for the fishing fleet.

Captain Edward Clark is the master of the 155-foot, Canadian cargo ship, the M/V East Star. He departed Havana, Cuba on October 24th, right in the middle of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the U.S. Naval Blockade of the island of Cuba. This morning, Captain Clark and his crew of twelve men, are battling a problem with the quality of the diesel fuel that they have on board. The East Star is somewhere north of the Turks and Caicos Islands and south of Bermuda. The M/V East Star entered and then left Cuba, during one of the most intense moments in world history, the nuclear weapon showdown between the United States and the Soviet Union. This morning he is squarely in the middle of the infamous Bermuda Triangle, and his ship is experiencing engine failure. November 7th, 1962 is not starting out to be a good day for Captain Clark, and things are going to get much worse.

Robert J. MacCharles is at the helm of his 30-foot ketch rigged sailboat, the Islander, and along with two friends, he is sailing somewhere south of Cape Cod. He is four days into a three-month vacation sail. His next intended destination is Bermuda. Captain MacCharles and the Islander, will never make it to Bermuda.

Within ten days, thirty-six men will be dead, and six of these ships ranging in size from 30-feet to 442-feet long, will be lying on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. The remainder of the boats and men who survive the coming storm will never be the same, as they were, on this bright sunny Wednesday morning, in November of 1962.

Dedication Page – Neptune’s Nor’easter

This book is dedicated to the following;

CAPTAIN LOUIS DOUCETTE, JR.

My father, and the mate of the F/V Venus, during a vicious nor’easter storm, while fishing the Northern Edge of Georges Bank, on November 15th, 1962.
A New Bedford Fisherman for fifty years.

CAPTAIN LOUIS DOUCETTE, SR.

My grandfather, and the holder of the Carnegie Medal for Extraordinary Heroism, for his role in the rescue of the crew of the six-masted schooner, the Mertie B. Crowley, on the backside of Martha’s Vineyard, in a vicious nor’easter snow storm on January 23, 1910. His lessons allowed my father to have the skill to bring the F/V Venus home,
after being “Hove Down at Sea,” on Georges Bank.

AMABLE DOUCETTE

My great-grandfather, lost at sea while fishing on Georges Bank, in the year 1880.

CAPTAIN MAGNE RISDAL
AND THE CREW OF THE F/V MIDNIGHT SUN

They lost their lives (11 men total) battling the unexpected Nor’easter Gale of November 14th & 15th, 1962, on Georges Bank.

CAPTAIN JOSHUA “SPUD” MURPHY,
ENGINEER HERBERT DOUCETTE,
MY UNCLES,
AND THE CREW OF THE F/V DORIS GERTRUDE

They lost their lives (11 men total), in a nor’easter snow storm on
Georges Bank, in January of 1955.

JOHN PENDERGAST
MY SISTER’S FATHER-IN-LAW

Swept from the deck of the F/V Terra Nova, while fishing in heavy weather, on Georges Bank in November of 1966.

“THE FINEST KIND”

EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THEM!

Neptune’s Nor’easter – 1962

Neptune’s Nor’easter – November 14-16, 1962

Neptune’s Nor’easter, is the story of a severe storm which struck the Western North Atlantic, on November 14th and 15th, in 1962. This storm was unexpected, and the United States Weather Bureau did not forecast that it was coming. This unknown nor’easter generated 105-mph winds from a low pressure of 968-millibars, with seas reaching 60-feet in height. It reached out 1,000-miles from its’ center, and in 48-hours it caused the sinking of six ships and resulted in the death of thirty-six seamen. These losses include the fishing vessel Midnight Sun, a New Bedford scalloper, and her eleven-man crew.

Captain Louis Doucette, Jr., was aboard the fishing vessel Venus in this storm and was fishing on the Northern Edge of Georges Bank. Although he had weathered three named hurricanes at sea, including the Great New England Hurricane of 1938, and numerous nor’easters and other gales in his 50-year career, he always said this storm was the worst heavy weather event that he ever experienced, and it was the only time that he thought he would be lost at sea. During this storm, the F/V Venus, a 74-foot dragger, was “Hove Down” (capsized) in the most dangerous part of Georges Bank, the area between the Cultivator Shoal and Georges Shoal. This part of Georges Bank, 120-miles east of Cape Cod, has charted points that are nine-feet deep under normal conditions, and three-feet deep in storm conditions. The F/V Venus required ten-feet of water to float. The book begins and pivots around the recollections of Captain Doucette, but it also encompasses the stories of the other boats and ships that were caught unaware by this monster storm. The death toll could have easily exceeded 200-men and 21-ships, but for the skill and experience of the mariners involved, and the help of the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy. Today, this storm would be defined by meteorologists as an Extratropical Cyclone with Explosive Cyclogenesis, or in the newly popular definition, as a “Bombogenesis Storm.”

This book highlights the skill, courage, and tenacity of the men who are called;

New Bedford Fishermen.