PT Joe

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HISTORY:

When I was growing up in Newport Beach there was an unconverted PT boat on a mooring near the ferry landing. It always fascinated me. The local newspaper runs nostalgia articles about once a week. This showed up recently. The boat was named PT Joe. It was owned by a local judge and the only modification he made was the addition of an awning. It still had the Packards in it. As I recall it didn't go out very often! It was said to cost $1,000 just to run to Catalina. Turns out it was eventually donated to the Rio Vista group. Be fun to see it again.

Alan Sandoval


Good old LA Times. I didn't know they posted the local insert on the web. They do.

NEWPORT BEACH A quiet place to moor P.T. Joe rested in Newport Harbor, both after and before some mighty adventures. 

By John Blaich, Special to the Pilot. 

The motor yacht P.T. Joe was homeported at Balboa from 1946 to 1955. Boat number PT 695 (P.T. Joe) was built by the Annapolis Yacht Yard Inc. of Annapolis, Md., in 1945. Plans and specifications prepared in England by the Vosper Co. were used. She was 72 feet long, with a 19-foot, 2-inch beam and a draft of 5 feet. PT 695 was powered with three Packard gasoline engines of about 1200-horsepower each. These engines could drive the boat in excess of 40 knots. PT 695 carried 3,000 gallons of aviation high-octane gasoline. Her armament consisted of four torpedo tubes, two twin 50-caliber machine guns, a 20-milimeter gun, depth charges and a smoke screen generator. Eight men and two officers manned her. 

The boat was built for the Russian Navy under a lend/lease agreement. She arrived, as deck cargo, at Los Angeles Harbor at the time of the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II. PT 695 was offloaded and her armament removed. 

Judge Joseph Marchetti acquired the brand new boat through war surplus. She was painted white and became the yacht named P.T. Joe. Marchetti moored his yacht, for and aft, off the Christian's Hut Restaurant on the Balboa Peninsula, between Fernando and Cypress streets. P.T. Joe became quite an attraction in the harbor. Her six large engine exhaust pipes protruding from the transom gave the impression of power and speed. 

It is rumored that the fuel cost to run Catalina and back was about $1,000 -- we seldom observed P.T. Joe underway. A white canvas awning was added over the bridge deck area. However, the entire original PT 695 configuration was maintained. About 1955, P.T. Joe left Newport Harbor for Long Beach Harbor. In 1979, the P.T. Boats Inc. Assn. acquired her. She cruised to San Diego on her own bottom, with a group of enthusiastic World War II ex-PT boat officers on board. They hoped to get the Navy to transport PT 695 to the PT boat museum at Battle Ship Cove in Fall River, Mass. The plans never materialized. P.T. Joe was sold to a man that may have had plans to use her in a smuggling operation. However, he was put in jail. P.T. Joe, now unattended, languished at anchor in lower San Diego Bay. She sank, then was raised and used as a fishing boat. 

In August 1991, P.T. Joe was donated by the San Pedro Boat Works to the Sea Scouts of Rio Vista, Calif. These enthusiastic, hard-working young men have restored P.T. Joe to her original PT 695 condition (without the armament). Painted Navy gray and designated PT 695, she operates out of the Rio Vista Sea Scout Base on Sea Scout training missions on San Francisco Bay.

 * EDITOR'S NOTE: John Blaich is a Corona del Mar resident and volunteer at the Newport Harbor Nautical Museum. About once a month, he writes histories of interesting boats that graced Newport Harbor.


I think the date of PT Joe leaving Newport is suspect. In 1955 I would have been 8. I clearly remember navigating my own (borrowed) boat around PT Joe and also serving as crew on the harbor cruise boats at some time and seeing and hearing the skippers spiel about the boat. I wasn't allowed to crew until I reached the age of 12. Crewing was pretty cool. By some Coast Guard rule as long as they had under 40 passengers on the boats they needed only a skipper. If the passengers reached over 40 they needed a "crew" member. These were boats that had a total capacity of around 60. Realize, these were 45 minute tours of Newport Harbor. One trip to the east end, the next trip to the west end. You could book a 1 1/2 hour tour for a discount. I loved it!

I was just the kid hanging around at the time. They all knew me, of course. I was 12, I knew where all the life jackets were stored, I qualified as "crew." I really did know the boats pretty well. I should have, I hung out there all the time. The company I "crewed" for had three tour boats. During the busiest times I recruited my friends as additional "crew." On days that were expected to be busy I hung out at the tour headquarters. Once the count reached 40 I'd be designated as "crew" and they paid me 50 cents to work that trip. I would collect tickets, answer questions and do anything the skipper asked. Mostly it was just handling lines and assisting in exit and return to the dock. I was fully qualified to do that. Since I wasn't really an employee, most of the other time I helped out in turning the boats out in the morning, cleaning, putting out the seat cushions, etc. I wasn't being directly paid to do that, but it was understood that it was part of my "job." I didn't spent all my time at the dock during those times. 

We had a "code." If I heard the boat horn sound 5 blasts I would report and immediately be "crew." I would probably be at the ocean side of the peninsula or maybe at my parents arcade. I remember one time I was pissed off at them for one reason or another and I was on the beach on the ocean side. I heard the siren call of 5 blasts and I ignored it. We didn't have a formal agreement, (who the hell would make a formal agreement with a 12 year old?) I knew exactly the time frame they operated under. The boats were scheduled to leave on exactly the hour, or during busy times every twenty minutes. There was a five minute zone that was allowed to fill the boat if possible. No boat EVER left the dock more than exactly five minutes after scheduled departure time. I kept my stance and ignored the calls. They probably called me to duty about five times before they gave up and pulled someone off the street to fill my shoes. We did have a discussion about my actions. I guess this was a one person labor action. Whatever had been pissing me off was resolved. More later. 

Alan