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Capt. Bill Pike's blog

Capt. Bill’s Boat Show Regime

Sometimes no plan is the best plan of all.

Oh, I know it. I should evince more personal development and maturity at this stage of the game. But hey, what can I say.

Sometimes no plan is the best plan of all.

So Long Vietnam (For The Second Time)

Danang Skyline

Capt. Bill Pike has been keeping us abreast of his search through Vietnam for a Vietnam War-era U.S. patrol boat. Here, in his final blog post, he gives us some insight into that country’s culture, boating, and otherwise. It's a great read.

The Strange Interlocking Boat

boat

So we’ve come across two boats that are (or rather were) obviously American. The first we found along the Perfume River in Hue…it was certainly not a PBR but, on the other hand, it was decidedly Army-issue. From what we could tell, the darn thing had been raked with machine-gun fire—there were probably 40 or 50 holes in its riveted-aluminum hullsides.

The Trail Gets Warmer

Capt. Bill Pike in Vietnam

We used a sampan to make our way from the bridge at Dong Ha in Quang Tri, the northernmost province of what used to be South Vietnam, to Cua Viet, the spot where the U.S. Navy kept its PBRs and other watercraft back in the day. Of necessity, of course, we had to travel some water that I hadn’t traveled for 40-some years.

We used a sampan to make our way from the bridge at Dong Ha in Quang Tri, the northernmost province of what used to be South Vietnam, to Cua Viet, the spot where the U.S. Navy kept its PBRs and other watercraft back in the day. Of necessity, of course, we had to travel some water that I hadn’t traveled for 40-some years.

Cruising Down The Perfume River

Capt. Bill Pike in Vietnam 

Nada on the Han

River Views on the Han

Retracing the steps you took, or rather the waters you swooped across, during a combat tour that enlivened your youth need not be a totally grim endeavor. In fact, there are aspects of it, I am finding out, that can actually be fun. For example, a couple of days ago on the Song Thu Bon, the Vietnamese skipper of our little single-diesel-powered double-ender (sort of a sampan, I’d say, with a roof and benches) let me drive for a while and I had a superb time doing it.

Retracing the steps you took, or rather the waters you swooped across, during a combat tour that enlivened your youth need not be a totally grim endeavor. In fact, there are aspects of it, I am finding out, that can actually be fun.

An Extraordinary Project

Cua Viet River

Back in 1969, I served as an infantryman—a combat medic—in Vietnam. My unit operated in what was then called I Corps, just south of the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone), a stretch of no-man’s land between the northern and southern parts of a country torn apart by a horrible war. A few weeks into my stint with Charlie Company, First Platoon, a cool thing happened—the brass decided we needed a little R&R and sent us all to a spot at the mouth of the Cua Viet River, just a bit south of the DMZ.  Cua Viet was home to a Navy base, with a beach, a mess hall—with food that beat the livin’ daylights out of the C-rations we were regularly feasting upon—and movies on most evenings in a sort of outdoor theater.

Forty-five years ago Executive Editor Capt. Bill Pike was a young combat infantryman slogging through the jungles and swamps of Vietnam, his only respite the occasional ride up the river on a patrol boat. Pike has returned to Vietnam to write a story about his experiences on the river, both then and now. Here is his first dispatch from ‘Nam.

Removing The Un-removable

Using a Sextant for Navigation

Going Back For Backup

Can you believe? A celestial voyage down memory lane!

Many years ago, during what often seems like another lifetime, it was my job as a U.S.

Goodbye Split Controls...And Good Riddance

Boat HelmSo let’s go totally retro for a sec. Let’s say it’s 1988 and I’m just making what I remember as a fairly ragged transition from commercial seafaring to the recreational realm, or to be more technically accurate, to the realm of marine magazines.