30. On Board a Submarine
The front page of the Hilo newspaper had the story that a WWII pocket submarine was anchored in Hilo Bay. They were on a final goodwill tour around the Pacific before retiring. One of the sailors on board was from Honokaa, a small town up the coast near Waipio Valley, and the folks there were throwing a luau for the sub crew. The captain and a skeleton crew were left on board.
Thinking we had an opportunity for some fun and a gesture of aloha, we grabbed a couple of pineapples from the store and launched our little sailboat to go out to the submarine to hand the pineapples to the guys left on board who were missing the luau.
Why in the world did they anchor the sub way out by the entrance to the Bay, exposed to the swells coming in off the Pacific? We sailed alongside the sub bobbing up and down, and yelled “ahoy!” to a sailor on board, as we waved the pineapples. They invited us to come aboard – wow! I looked at the sailor standing on the round side of the bobbing sub. He was wearing regulation leather soled shoes, and had his hand extended to help us up — chance it? I took a deep breath and he pulled me aboard and helped me walk across the deck where I met the captain.
The captain thanked us for the pineapples, and explained it was their last tour. He said his wife thought he had been “lost at sea” for 30 years, and wouldn’t know what to do with him when he got home. Then he asked if we would like a tour below.
The steps of the ladder going down were so far apart that Betty couldn’t reach the second step, so one sailor lowered Betty to another sailor down below. The inside of this “pocket” submarine was very tight, and we had to turn sidewise to move along the passageways. Nobody with claustrophobia here! We saw the stacked bunks, and the control room. It was hard to imagine living for many days in such tight confinement. I greatly prefer boating on top of the water!
The sailors lifted us up and out, and we slid down the side to our 10 ft O’Day, and sailed back to the beach. Another once-in-a-lifetime experience on Hilo Bay.
Has anyone ever been on a submarine or Navy ship? Love to hear your story!