Tag Archives: Fishing

San Pedro Fisherman Ready To Sell Out And Retire At 99 Years Old

https://www.dailybreeze.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/0513_nws_tdb-l-spfisherman-051319_25981715_50625.jpg?w=862Robert “Bobby” Austin is 99 years old and just retired from fishing in San Pedro with his boat “Pisces”.

When Robert “Bobby” Austin was growing up in the 1920s and 1930s, Torrance was an expanse of open acreage.

He also started driving at 10 — walked right into the Torrance police office at the age of 14 asking for a driver’s license. “How did you get here?” the desk officer asked.

“I drove,” Bobby replied, pointing to the Model T Ford outside. Good enough.

Traffic was nonexistent and gas was a nickel a gallon.

Only a couple years later, in 1937, he beat the captain of a fishing boat at arm wrestling to win a spot on his crew for the next trip out.

He quit Torrance High (he was a junior just a year behind famed alumnus Louis Zamperini; they were both on the school’s track team together) and never looked back.

“I was making so much money, why would I want to go back?” he said.

The San Pedro Fishermen's Cooperative Association opened March 26, 1938. Robert "Bobby" Austin was president in 1955. (Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Maritime Museum)The San Pedro Fishermen’s Cooperative Association opened March 26, 1938. Robert “Bobby” Austin was president in 1955.

For 81 years, Austin’s fishing boats have called San Pedro Bay home. His most recent one, the Pisces, bought in 1958, is tied up to a creaking dock where it gently bobs in San Pedro’s SP (Southern Pacific) Slip just south of Ports O’ Call.

In truth, the 60-foot long boat hasn’t been taken out in a while now. But with his 100th birthday approaching on June 14, Austin plans to finish some work on the Pisces before he sells it and retires.

Whether he’s set some kind of record for years fishing out of the harbor or not isn’t clear, but the Port of Los Angeles in April feted him with a Certificate of Appreciation for being a living connection to the port’s forebearers.

When Tuna Was King

There were once 16 fish canneries on Terminal Island in the commercial fishing heyday.  (Photo courtesy of San Pedro Bay Historical Society)There were once 16 fish canneries on Terminal Island in the commercial fishing heyday.

Long before giant containers and cruise ships populated the Port of Los Angeles, the commercial fishing fleet and the canneries dominated San Pedro’s coastline.

In terms of career timing, Austin hit it just about right. San Pedro already was the nation’s largest fishing port and work to complete Fish Harbor on Terminal Island had just been completed in 1928, according to port records. By the following year, 75 percent of catches in California were being canned in Los Angeles harbor. When the wind was just right – or the cannery workers got off the ferry after a long day’s work – the pungent smell of tuna filled the air in San Pedro’s downtown shopping district.

For Austin, like so many others, fishing was a lucrative job from the start.

The youngest and smallest of five children, Austin grew up learning how to make the most of his physical strength, a skill that served him well at sea.

Maybe more important, though, was his keen eyesight. He’s never worn glasses, still drives (a red 2003 Mercury Sable sedan) and can read the tiny print off a supermarket coupon.

Austin recalled an early fishing trip when he spotted the tell-tale signs of birds over the water just off of San Nicolas Island off of Ventura.

“I said, ‘I think there’s some fish out there,’” Austin said. The captain obliged and they headed that way, loading up 4.5 tons of albacore tuna by the time they were done.

“I made that guy a lot of money,” he said.

Needed A Bigger Boat

Austin bought the Pisces in 1958. (Photo by Charles Bennett)Austin bought the Pisces in 1958.

It was around that time that he met his future wife, Frances (“a cute gal”), whom he spotted on the roller skating rink in Culver City in 1938. Austin broke in between the guy she was skating with and managed to find out where she lived – even when she wouldn’t give him the address. They were married in 1940. She was 19 and he was 22.

For a short time, Austin fished off a “rickety boat,’ The Comet, built in 1900 and first owned by his brother-in-law. It lasted until a “Russian kid” crew member beached it in the fog and it fell apart.

Austin’s first real boat was a 27-footer that quickly earned him “10 times” the money his machinist father had made, Austin said, but it was all relative in the early days, he said, when the going wages were $1 an hour.

“Then my wife said to me, ‘They’re building new boats in San Diego, 38 footers.’ That would hold 12 tons of fish,” he said. It cost $7,200 and Austin by then could easily afford to pay cash. “She was always a little bit ahead of me.”

He named that boat “Liny,” after the oldest of the couple’s two children, Linda, 76. Austin’s wife of more than 70 years died at the age of 89 in 2012; their daughter lives in San Diego and Austin’s son, Robert P., 75, lives with his father in Long Beach.

While the early money might not sound like much now, the industry approaching mid-century was booming. He recalls catching $66,000 worth of fish on one trip alone.

“I handed her the check and she paid off our new house,” purchased for $4,200. The two-bedroom home was at 120th and Figueroa streets.

He was 25 when World War II broke out and was given a deferment so he could continue to supply defense forces with the Vitamin A-rich fish that was being caught. At the very end of the war, he served on an oil rig off the coast.

He recalls the displacement of the Japanese fishermen on Terminal Island when the internment camps were set up, saying a few of them were good friends, “good guys.”

Fishing’s Heyday

Fishing continued to be plentiful after the war and in 1955, the now-defunct San Pedro News-Pilot carried a front-page photo of Austin with a giant shark that they’d caught.

Through the years, Austin fished for mostly tuna and mackerel and squid, sometimes being out at sea for a month at a time. What did he like most about it? “Coming in” to shore, he said..

He remembers the scariest experience in 1974 when he was about 100 miles off the coast Washington state.

It was around noon when: “All of a sudden, here comes this great big wave,” Austin said. “I pull the boat in reverse. The wave was probably 35 feet tall. Then, behind that, comes another higher one. Then another one. I was in reverse at full speed, the bow was under the water. I thought what the … is going on here?”

The boat and crew were unscathed. He never knew what caused the unusual swells but speculates it could have been an undersea earthquake.

His son Robert was on board when a typhoon struck in 1959. They were 85 miles off the coast near Eureka when the 90 mph winds ripped off the boat’s hatch cover. The son managed to put it back on before a 40-foot wave was about to hit. Thirteen boats were sunk that day.


Times — and the fortunes of independent commercial fishermen — eventually changed due to rising competition and fuel costs and industrial-sized nets among so many other factors. Today, only a handful of independent commercial fishing boats remain in the Port of Los Angeles. The once 16 canneries that employed thousands, gone. The Fishermen’s Cooperative, which opened in 1938 and for which Austin was president in 1955, is gone, too, now.

The price of fuel is so high now, Austin said, “there’s no way you can make any kind of a living.”

In his spare time, Austin became something of a horseshoe pitching champ, placing second statewide in 1995 and winning other awards until his right rotator cuff went out.

He’s a believer in science (not religion) and once invented a brine spray and a handy automatic fishing pole set up on his boat. Both were later copied.

His determination throughout his life was something of a family legend.

“I just always found a way to win,” he said, recalling that as a second grader he was already beating the sixth- graders at marbles on the playground.

The plaque given to him in April by the Board of Los Angeles Harbor Commissioners will be donated to Torrance High School.

Austin and his family are planning his 100th birthday party, which will be a simple gathering of neighbors outside to eat a cake from Costco. Austin said his house is worth close to $1 million these days and he still owns an avocado grove near Oceanside.

The secret to his long life?

“Don’t smoke or drink and just keep working,” he said.

And he’s still a force to reckon with at arm wrestling.

As he was about to carry a heavy pump off his boat for repair just the other day, a fisherman across the slip called out to caution him.

“He said, ‘You’re too old and too weak,’ ” Austin said. “I said, ‘How would you like to arm wrestle?’ I put his arm down like it was nothing.”

After that, sure enough, he hauled that pump off his boat. And drove it to Maywood the next day for repair.

Source: by Donna Littlejohn | Daily Breeze

An Old Cowboy, His Trusty Horse And Faithful Dog


An old cowboy was riding his trusty horse followed by his faithful dog along an unfamiliar road. The cowboy was enjoying the new scenery when he suddenly remembered dying and realized the dog beside him had been dead for years as had his horse. Confused, he wondered what was happening and where the trail was leading them.

After a while, they came to a high, white stone wall that looked like fine marble. At the top of a long hill it was broken by a tall arch topped by a golden letter “H” that glowed in the sunlight. Standing before it he saw a magnificent gate in the arch that looked like mother-of-pearl and the road that led to the gate looked like gold.

He rode toward the gate and as he got close he saw a man at a desk to one side. Parched and tired out by his journey he called out;

“Excuse me, where are we?”  “This is Heaven sir”, the man answered.
“Wow! Would you happen to have some water?”, the man asked. “Of course sir, come right in and I’ll have some ice water brought right up”.

As the gate began to open the cowboy asked, “can I bring my partners too?”  “I am sorry sir but we don’t accept pets”.

The cowboy thought for a moment, then turned back to the road and continued riding, his dog trotting by his side.

After another long ride, at the top of another hill, he came to a dirt road leading through a ranch gate that looked as if it had never been closed. As he approached the gate he saw a man inside leaning against a tree and reading a book.

“Excuse me,”, he called to the man. “Do you have any water?” “Sure, there’s a pump right over there, help yourself.”

“How about my friends here?”, the traveler gestured to the dog and his horse. “Of course!, they look thirsty too,” said the man.

The trio went through the gate and sure enough, there was an old-fashioned hand pump with buckets beside it. The traveler filled a cup and the buckets with wonderfully cool water and took a long drink, as did his horse and dog. When they were full, he walked back to the man who was still standing by the tree;

“What do you call this place?”, the traveler asked. “This is Heaven”, he answered.

“That’s confusing”, the traveler said. “The man down the road said that was Heaven too”.

“Oh, you mean the place with the glitzy, gold road and fake pearly gates?, that’s hell.”

“Doesn’t it make you angry when they use your name like that?” “Not at all. Actually, we’re happy they screen out the folks who would leave their best friends behind…”

A Russian Plane Zaps U.S. Warship’s Missile Defense System

Gary North

An unarmed Russian bomber in April flew over a high-tech U.S. ship. A crew member pressed a button. Poof! No more missile defense system on the ship. No more radar. The ship became a defenseless floating coffin.

Then the plane flew over the blind ship a dozen times. Basically, it was “Nyah, nyah, nyah.”

This story got no play in American media.

On 10 April 2014, the USS Donald Cook entered the waters of the Black Sea and on 12 April a Russian Su-24 tactical bomber flew over the vessel triggering an incident that, according to several media reports, completely demoralized its crew, so much so that the Pentagon issued a protest.

The USS Donald Cook (DDG-75) is a 4th generation guided missile destroyer whose key weapons are Tomahawk cruise missiles with a range of up to 2,500 kilometers, and capable of carrying nuclear explosives. This ship carries 56 Tomahawk missiles in standard mode, and 96 missiles in attack mode.

The US destroyer is equipped with the most recent Aegis Combat System. It is an integrated naval weapons systems which can link together the missile defense systems of all vessels embedded within the same network, so as to ensure the detection, tracking and destruction of hundreds of targets at the same time. In addition, the USS Donald Cook is equipped with 4 large radars, whose power is comparable to that of several stations. For protection, it carries more than fifty anti-aircraft missiles of various types.

Meanwhile, the Russian Su-24 that buzzed the USS Donald Cook carried neither bombs nor missiles but only a basket mounted under the fuselage, which, according to the Russian newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta, contained a Russian electronic warfare device called Khibiny.

As the Russian jet approached the US vessel, the electronic device disabled all radars, control circuits, systems, information transmission, etc. on board the US destroyer. In other words, the all-powerful Aegis system, now hooked up — or about to be — with the defense systems installed on NATO’s most modern ships was shut down, as turning off the TV set with the remote control.

The Russian Su-24 then simulated a missile attack against the USS Donald Cook, which was left literally deaf and blind. As if carrying out a training exercise, the Russian aircraft — unarmed — repeated the same maneuver 12 times before flying away.

After that, the 4th generation destroyer immediately set sail towards a port in Romania.

Since that incident, which the Atlanticist media have carefully covered up despite the widespread reactions sparked among defense industry experts, no US ship has ever approached Russian territorial waters again.

According to some specialized media, 27 sailors from the USS Donald Cook requested to be relieved from active service.

Vladimir Balybine — director of the research center on electronic warfare and the evaluation of so-called “visibility reduction” techniques attached to the Russian Air Force Academy — made the following comment: “The more a radio-electronic system is complex, the easier it is to disable it through the use of electronic warfare.”

In short, “back to the drawing board!”

Problem: it takes about seven years for the Pentagon to design and deploy a new cyber security system. As for missile guidance systems, it takes even longer.

If you want to know how much bang for the taxpayer’s buck the Pentagon gets, begin here.

This is blind man’s bluff. The Pentagon is the blind man.

The Pentagon’s strategy is to play dumb. “Incident? What incident?”

Congressional hearings? Don’t hold your breath.

Now Russia’s defense minister says that Russian bombers will soon start patrolling the Gulf of Mexico.

George H. W. Bush and NATO promised in 1990 that NATO would not be expanded to Russia’s borders. Then NATO broke the promise. It was mission creep by a bloated bureaucracy, whose original mission was to defend Western Europe for a few hours against an invasion by the USSR until the USA launched nuclear missiles on the USSR. That mission officially ended in 1991, when the USSR committed suicide.

Russian bombers in the Gulf? We are now seeing tit-for-tat. It is mission creep from the other side.

All those Pentagon bucks! So little bang!

Bowhead Whale May Be the Planet’s Oldest Living Mammal

https://i1.wp.com/media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/7d/56/6a/7d566ad2ad817b723c787e1f858c12de.jpgby Sean Breslin

Even though a massive storm became the strongest on record for the Bering Sea this week, there’s a creature in those seas that might have seen more punishing storms long before weather conditions were studied in that region of the world.

Some of these mammals are probably older than the novel “Moby-Dick” as well, which was released in 1851.

The Bowhead whale can live to be at least 200 years old, according to Smithsonian.com. It’s a dark-colored whale that can grow to 60 feet long and weigh as much as 60 tons, National Geographic says.

And the oldest of the living species survived a time when nearly every Bowhead whale was killed by fishermen. Yankee commercial whaling killed all but about 1,000 bowhead whales from 1848 to 1915, according to Alaska Dispatch News.


Now, there are more than 14,000 of the animals alive, according to scientists’ estimates, and the surviving ancestors have been proven to be nearly two centuries old because of the primitive hunting tools found in some of their bodies, ADN adds.

Herman Melville wrote “Moby-Dick” after spending a brief period aboard a whaling ship, Smithsonian.com reports. None of Alaska’s whales are white, as was the albino sperm whale that stole the show in Melville’s novel, but it’s amazing to think that a living species of the mammal may have been crossed by the writer before he wrote that 163-year-old story.

These cold-water whales are easily among the oldest mammals on Earth, but it’s unclear if the Bowhead whale takes the crown for the eldest creature alive right now. Mother Nature Network says the oldest Bowhead whale lived to be 211 years old, but a tortoise named Adwaita was believed to be 250 years old at the time of its death in 2006.


The Spike Series By Cold Steel

Spike Series

Cold Steel Bowie Spike Neck Knife, 53NBS. Entirely re-engineered in 2013, this Spike series continue to raise the bar for neck knives! Thin, light and super-tough, their razor sharp, zero ground blades, are complemented by heavily scalloped, textured handle scales that offer a comfortable, secure grip.
Integral quillons provide a safe stop for index finger and thumb, while the textured Faux G-10 provides excellent positive traction even when your hands are cold, wet and slippery.

Available in four distinctive blade shapes (Bowie, Drop Point, Tokyo and Tanto point) they offer all the strength of a solid steel one-piece construction (much stronger than any tactical folder and even rivaling the strength of some boot knives) while still being light enough to carry all day without fatigue.

The brand new Spike series come complete with all-new Secure-Ex sheaths that provide even greater retention and safety. Super lightweight (weighing in at 3oz. in the sheath!) the Spikes can be comfortably worn around the neck 24/7 by using the black bead lanyard provided, or carried on a waistband or belt by taking advantage of their new Tek-Lok™ compatible design.

Easily concealed, razor sharp and light as a feather — the Spike series by Cold Steel!

Good Alternative

How An Asian Country Beat Scotland To Become The World’s Best Whisky Maker

by Sonali Kohli

Famed international whiskey connoisseur Jim Murray releases his annual Whiskey Bible this month, and there’s something missing from the top five: a Scottish whiskey.

Instead, Japan’s Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013 took title of World Whiskey of the Year, making it the first Japanese whiskey to earn the accolade. Yamazaki is the flagship single malt for Suntory, the company that bought Beam, Inc. earlier this year for $13.6 billion to become the world’s third-largest distiller.

Murray, who gave the whiskey 97.5 out of 100 points, wrote that the Yamazaki has a “‘nose of exquisite boldness’ and finish of ‘light, teasing spice.”

A brief history of Yamazaki Distillery explains its rapid ascent among whiskey connoisseurs: It was the first whisky distillery in Japan, built in 1923 after World War I and headed by Masataka Taketsuru (who later went on to found competitor Nikka Whisky). Taketsuru, who brought Scottish whisky making to Japan, was a student of the Scottish brew. He studied the University of Glasglow and visited distilleries around the country to learn how the Scottish make the drink.

 How did Japan learn the Scottish craft better than, for instance, American distilleries that have spent centuries trying to make a name in the business?

New York Magazine’s Jordana Rothman points to the youth of Japan’s whiskey industry, which she says makes it “less shacked to tradition.” Yamazaki also has the benefit of its mineral water which “is treasured enough to be bottled and sold on its own.” Its wood barrels, meanwhile, are made of a native oak, Mizunara, which Rothman writes “impart an almost ecclesiastic perfume you won’t find in any Scotch.”

Bill Murray’s character in the movie Lost in Translation would approve.

Cowboy Codes Of The West


These American cowboy codes of the west were common sense approaches to cowboy and western etiquette. Many deal with horses, shooting and a little bit about how to act around a woman.

Never pass anyone on the trail without saying “Howdy”

When approaching someone from behind, give a loud greeting before you get within pistol shot.

Don’t wave at a man on a horse. It might spook the horse and the man will think you’re an idiot (a nod is the proper greeting).

After you pass someone on the trail, don’t look back at him. It implies you don’t trust him.

Riding another man’s horse without his permission is nearly as bad as making love to his wife. Never even bother another man’s horse.

Never shoot an unarmed man. Never shoot a woman at all.

A cowboy is pleasant, even when out of sorts. Complaining is what quitters do and cowboys hate quitters.

Always be courageous. Cowards aren’t tolerated in any outfit worth its salt.

A cowboy always helps someone in need, even a stranger or enemy.

When you leave town after a weekend of carousing, it’s perfectly all right to shoot your six-guns into the air, whoop like crazy and ride your horse as fast as you can. This is called “hurrahing” a town.

A horse thief may be hung peremptory.

Never try on another man’s hat.

Never wake another man by shaking or touching him. He might wake up suddenly and shoot you.

Real cowboys are modest. A braggart who is “all gurgle and no guts” is not tolerated.

A cowboy doesn’t talk much; he saves his breath for breathing.

No matter how weary and hungry you are after a long day in the saddle, always tend to your horse’s needs before your own, and get your horse some feed before you eat.

Cuss all you want, but only around men, horses and cows.