I asked one of the guests to take the helm while I went to check the engine.
During the summer of 1948 I was captain of a sightseeing boat taking tourists for a waterfront view of the nation’s capital. The boat was available for charter, and in the days before air conditioning it was popular with Washington hostesses giving evening parties. We sailed with one deckhand who doubled as bartender and waiter.
One evening when we were in the river below Alexandria, one of the guests asked permission to come into the darkened wheelhouse. During our brief chat the boat’s engine developed a noise that I did not like. Since the deckhand was busy with the guests, I asked the gentleman if he would take the wheel for a few minutes while I went below to check on the engine. I showed him the course I was steering and went about my business. He was right on course when I returned, and a few minutes later he left, remarking that it had been some time since he had been behind the wheel.
Shortly afterward the hostess came into the wheelhouse asking if Admiral Halsey was still there.