Friday, July 22, 2011
Booty: I'm Alone (with my booze)
That’s why I was thrilled to come across a brief entry at the Louisiana State Museum’s Facebook page. It’s a short but interesting glimpse into yet another episode in the Gulf Coast’s smuggling history.
In 1929 the Canadian registered brig I’m Alone was on one of her usual cruises in the Gulf of Mexico. Her habit was to drop anchor off the coast of Belize in Central America, load up with cases of booze and then head for the Louisiana coast. I’m Alone’s usual drop off point was Vermilion Bay where small craft would take on her cargo and ferry it inland on the bayou waterways once used by smugglers like Big Rene Beluche and the Laffite brothers. On March 22nd, however, the usual habits went right out the window for I’m Alone and her crew.
She was spotted by U.S. Coast Guard cutter Dexter after nightfall. Dexter demanded the unknown ship hove to for inspection and, when she did not, the Coast Guard opened fire. I’m Alone sank near Marshall Island. Her captain, Jack Randall, and most of her crew managed to escape drowning in the dory pictured above. They were taken into custody (as this short but amazing contemporary video shows) and it appeared they would serve time on smuggling charges.
Captain Randall, however, argued loudly that he had been in international waters at the time of the attack and was therefore not in violation of U.S. prohibition laws. The Canadian government got involved and a joint commission was formed with U.S. and Canadian members to hash out the issue. The commission found in favor of Captain Randall and his crew. The U.S. eventually paid reparations to Canada in the amount of $25,000 along with the captain and crew of I’m Alone ($25,000) and the widow of a seaman who drown ($10,000). Find a brief but in depth evaluation of the case from April, 1929 here.
This is but one of so many forgotten incidents, albeit with an interesting twist, that proves once again: nothing good comes out of prohibition.
Header: Dory from I’m Alone in the Louisiana State Museum