How Sweet It Was

When the Boeing Company was performing underway trials of USS HIGH POINT (PCH-1) during the early 1960s, the Puget Sound marine community was greatly interested in the Navy’s first hydrofoil configured as a warship. Seeing an opportunity to further relations with local shipyard managers, the Supervisor of Shipbuilding for the Thirteenth Naval District arranged for them to enjoy a flight.

The party, including me as the Supervisor’s representative, boarded a rented cabin cruiser that departed at nine-thirty in the morning from a pier just south of Seattle. We were to transfer to HIGH POINT when it arrived minutes later from its berth in Tacoma. The fog that greeted us cleared at a rate that justified getting our water taxi underway as scheduled. Visibility was good at the rendezvous, but HIGH POINT was nowhere in sight. A gentle breeze had concentrated the fog in the Tacoma region.

I slipped into the cabin and by radio, was informed by the Boeing skipper that HIGH POINT was underway, would appear in a minute, and would fly by within fifty yards before picking us up. As I approached the managers to give them the good news, one testy individual, unaware that I could overhear, said, “This is another Navy arrangement that is going to turn sour.”

Placing my left arm around his shoulders and pointing due south with my right, I said, “Look!”

Since there was no discernable separation between sky and water, out of the gray a dot appeared that grew larger and larger. As if there was a metamorphosis taking place, a complete transverse view of a ship, keel and all, materialized out of the fog with no visible means of support. It was only when HIGH POINT was nearly upon us and roaring by that its struts could be seen.


The sight was eerie. The experience was breathtaking. The heretofore cynical guest was mesmerized. So was I.


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