We were tied up pierside in Cam Rahn Bay, doing a little necessary maintenance on the boat. I had finished tweaking the radar and radios, so I was helping Malcolm, our engineer with some work in the engine room.

We discovered we needed a 9/16” box end wrench, and couldn’t locate one in the toolbox. There was a tool issue building at the head of the pier, so Malcolm and I wandered down there to see if we could borrow one.

“I need a 9/16 box, if ya got one,” Mal said.

The guy in charge tossed him the keys to the tool locker and said “Go ahead, grab what you need.”

Well, if you give an engineer the keys to the tool shed and tell him to take what he needs, that’s like an early Christmas present. We walked in, and Mal told me to close the door.

“Let’s see, first thing I need is a toolbox,” said Malcolm, and grabbed one off the shelf. He then proceeded to make his rounds of the room, filling the box with one of every available tool. When we left, the toolbox must have weighed 50 pounds.

As we walked by the guy in charge, Mal tossed him back his keys, and with a quick “Thanks, shipmate”, we made our way back to the boat, hoping the guy wouldn’t notice the heavy toolbox.

When we got near the boat, Malcom set the box down on the pier and called the rest of the crew over to show off his good fortune. He opened the box and started pulling out tools – all brand new. He was chuckling about his good fortune, and wondering what he was going to do with his old tools. After a quick inventory, he put the tools back in the box and picked it up to set it on the boat.

Oops – one slight problem. Malcolm forgot to latch the toolbox shut, and when he lifted it up, it opened and dumped a whole bunch of tools out …. right into the water! Most of his new tools found themselves in ten feet of water, under our boat. Malcolm was so pissed off he tossed the toolbox in after them.

We managed to settle him down, and grabbing our diving mask, and one from another boat, we took turns diving down and retrieving his tools. In about a half hour, we had managed to retrieve the box and all the tools – well, almost all the tools.

Seems the only one we couldn’t find was the 9/16” box end wrench! Malcolm was not about to press his luck at the tool issue room, so he just borrowed the wrench from another boat. Since the guy he borrowed it from knew he would probably never get it back, he went down to the issue room and got another one.

Malcolm told us later the first thing that went through his mind when the toolbox popped open was, “God I hope they float!”

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