We had become quite comfortable as Station Ship in Hong Kong, and like many good things, it would not last. Commander Art Mix describes the journey to Nha Trang as follows:
The Gardiners Bay received an urgent message to proceed to Nha Trang, Viet Nam to rescue a P5M crew that landed there after losing an engine. At midnight we got underway with Capt. Wally Short as the Commanding Officer and I was navigator. The only charts we had of Nha Trang were French, with English notation, published in 1906. I took a course well off shore to avoid shore obstructions and an ocean current that would have slowed us down. I planned a 90-degree right turn to head directly into Nha Trang when we reached the proper latitude. We made the turn and were due on site at daybreak. The Captain and I kept a close watch on the radar because we were worried about the accuracy of the charts. Just off the starboard bow an island appeared on the radar, but the charts showed two islands at that location. The Captain spoke over my shoulder as I was checking the radar; “How much do you bet that is the right island, he asked? I replied, “I am betting my career and yours too”. Right on schedule, the island, as it appeared on the radar, split into two islands just as the chart showed, and we made anchorage with no problem. Captain Short has kidded me about this many times since.
As expected, the plane and its crew were in the harbor, anxiously awaiting our arrival. We housed the planes crew, and prepared the plane to be picked up by a larger tender, as soon as it might arrive. The plane shown above is tethered to the fantail of the Gardiners Bay while we ply our trade. After doing our duty, we were under no obligation to return to Hong Kong with the same degree of urgency. Two days liberty in Nha Trang appeared to be in order. A few rare experiences were not far away.
Not far from our anchorage near Nha Trang was the above patrol craft with dozens of flags flying. More fascinating was the ingenious fishing rig shown this side of the ship. As may be seen, a net is suspended from four poles, which are apparently hinged on the bottom of the bay. As may be seen, there is also a line that runs from the net to the shore, where it is attached to the ladder, seen extending from the shore on the right. The boat under the line makes a complete fishing system, and was operated by a single native. It works this way: The fisherman moves onto the ladder, unties the line holding the net above the water, and lets the line out. He extends the line until the net, and all four poles are flat on the bottom of the bay. Then the fisherman throws all kinds of attractive, smelly, and rotten bait into the water over the net.
The fisherman then takes a short siesta while the fish gather above his net. After an abundant gathering of fish starts feeding over his net, he pulls the line very slowly back toward the shore, lifting the four poles and the net in the process. He can see immediately whether there are fish in his net. For a worthy catch, he gets into the boat, pushes himself under and into the middle of the net. There he opens the trap door in the center of the net, and the fish fall into his boat. He poles himself back to the ladder where he crawls ashore with his fish. He remains perfectly dry throughout this exercise. With the proper amount of rotten bait, he can fish to his hearts content. Then he cleans the fish and sells them in the open market. Salvaging his cleanings from the day before, he has enough rotten bait for the next days fishing. It is almost a perpetual motion business, worthy of a fast fishing franchise.
Had the above observation been the extent of our contact with food in Nha Trang, we would all be fortunate. It was not to be.