Campbells Shipyard…

The San Diego tuna fleet had so many things to it such as Canaries and shipyards. But when I think about the shipyards you had to think about Campbell’s. The shipyard and the Seiners Classic design with the stern engine. The shipyard put out so many boats, and  changed its design a few times from the early ones like the Elizabeth CJ, to the most recognizable Uncle Louie style, and finally to the more modern Margaret Z. One thing for sure they were recognizable and they were a huge part of San Diego. I never did get to a launching, but I added some photos; looks like it would have been a blast.
Elizabeth C.J later named Maria C.J

Uncle Louie

Margaret Z
Hornet III

The Tuna Industries impact on San Diego

When the tuna boat fleet left San Diego, not only did the boats leave but so did thousands of jobs. Like Campbell’s shipyard, the Tuna canneries, to the hundreds of little shops that worked on tuna boat related items. Such as fuel docks, supply stores, food, and even the little deli that use to supply the lunches for the crews. I personally remember driving down Shelter Island and taking my dads navigation sextant to the shop; Baker marine to get it serviced (yeah they didn’t always have computers, navigators really used to work) and right across the street was Mauricio and sons where the boats would bring there skiffs to get fixed. There were businesses like that all over San Diego. But back to the canaries, you had Van Camps and Bumble Bee , Westgate, starkest where each place employed around 3,000 people.
I could only guess at how many jobs Campbell’s and San Diego Marine shipyards employed due to the tuna boats. It’s safe to say San Diego lost thousands of jobs when the Tuna industry left San Diego. There were estimations of around 30,000 to 40,000 jobs. You didn’t need to be Portuguese or Italian to work in the industry, simply put if you were in San Diego in the 70’s or early 80’s somebody you knew worked in the industry. It is just a shame it’s gone. Below are photos of what our waterfront use to look like…

Cabrillo/ Top Wave


Gann Discoverer/ Jeannine

Ed Gann

Simply put you can’t talk about the San Diego Tuna Fleet without the name of Ed Gann. He was a monster, his boats were always beautiful, and some of the most modern. He owned somewhere around 52 boats in his lifetime. Although I did not personally know him but I am lucky to say I knew his niece and if he was anything like her he must have been a great guy. We lost Mr. Gann this year as we have lost a number of icons in the fleet. He will always be known as one of the greatest in the tuna fleet worldwide…
Capt Vincent Gann
Bold Adventures (1st one)
Bold Fleet
Bold Adventures

Good Times!

As I’m going through some tough times in my personal life I sit back and think when that happens you always end up thinking about the past and reminisce. And when I think about how things were with the fleet in San Diego these are just a few of the pictures that I have that shows how many boats there were. They were the good times, too bad we just didn’t know it…

Fishing is Dangerous!!!

I guess the most important thing to remember about fishing is how dangerous it is; and how unforgiving the ocean can be. After all you are fishing hundreds of miles from the nearest land at times. Help just cannot get to you that easy. That is why fisherman always counted on each other to help for parts or any other assistance they could offer. Because of this, many wonderful men have lost there lives at sea. May God bless each and every one of them and there families.

You see the most important thing when the boats came home was that our Dads were safe. God bless our Fisherman…

photo taken by Eddie Costa

Manuel Silva, Boats

Manuel Silva, had some wonderful boats 4 to be exact he was one of the last to sell his boats. Personal favorite was the Proud Heritage and the Sea Quest. He later added the Tradition and the Legacy all beautiful. A great owner with great family .Unfortunately and ironically two of his boats the Sea Quest later named the Betty C and the Tradition which turned into the Cape Elizabeth both sunk due to fires at sea, that was after Manuel had sold the boats…

Uncle Rollie

I think everybody has a uncle that you loved and were a little scared of at times. In my family that was uncle Rollie. He did have a heart of gold but if you crossed him, you better get out of the way.
Boy did he catch his fish as a captain and then as a boat owner. He started as a captain on the Liberty Bell, to the Neptune then to the Cape Cod and the Ana Maria. Uncle Rollie one of the first to go fish in Africa with the Neptune and later the Cape Cod. He owned the Mary Lucille which was the old Louis Seaver. Later after he did well with the Mary Lucille and fixed it up as nice as he could the unthinkable happened, it sanked.

He then bought the City of Lisbon and renamed it the “new” Mary Lucille. I was young when uncle rollie was running the boats so I do have a few memories but one of the funniest memories I have was when the first Mary Lucille was coming in to customs.  If you’ve ever been to customs it use to be at the end of broadway pier. Well there just about getting ready to throw the lines to tie the boat up when “Prince“ decides to go for it. Prince was my uncles German Sheppard, you know the type with a head the size of a horse weighing about 100 lbs it seemed. Well Prince saw the familys on the dock and decided to jump he did so good except he was about 2 feet short. Into the bay Prince went. Well after all the screaming and yelling they plucked Prince out of the water. Here comes the funny part. Whenver a boat would come to customs so did a harbor police it seemed. Well this cop decided to stop and get out, but he maded one mistake leaving his door open. Yeah Prince thought it would be great to jump into the front seat and shake it all off. he just sat there and wouldn’t move. Ofcourse their was more yelling and screaming and maybe a ticket I don’t remember all I do remember was Prince was wet and he wanted to dry off in the police car.
The boat got cleared at custums they moved the boat and we went home with a story that the whole family still remembers. Uncle Rollie soon retired from fishing and has know moved on to heaven. He will never be forgotten. God Bless you Uncle Rollie your missed ….

Zolezzi’s Fleet

The Zolezzi family was another family with multiple boats in the fleet and also their own fuel dock. Many of my father’s trips either began or ended at that fuel dock. The Marietta and Mary Antoinette may have been relatively small boats but they sure did catch a lot of fish…
Lone Wolf
Mary Antonette                                                                                     Marietta

Castagnola’s Fleet

The Castagnola Family was another respected fishing family who owned some of the most prominent boats in the fleet and may I add some of the best looking boats too.

Antonina C.

Uncle Louie

Andrea C.

Conte Bianco

Mr. Madruga: a Legend

Growing up in the tuna fleet there were always people to meet and places to see but there were a group of people that were above the rest, and one of those was Joe Madruga. He was a power in the tuna industry. Fortunately I got to know him very well when my cousin married one of his sons Matt. Mr. Madruga owned a total of 14 boats and as many as 6 at one time. The Madrugador, Conquest, Frontier, Montana to name a few. The Thing about Mr.Madruga was that he deserved respect but you were just at awe of him. I personally never called him by his first name, he was just Mr.Madruga to me. When he would walk in the door with his cigar and cowboy hat I just found myself like a kid in a candy store. If you got lucky and he was talking about fishing that was even better and I would always try and sit and listen to his stories. You see we only have our elders for a short time before there gone and we need to be a sponge and get everything we can learn from them. Life’s short and unfortunately Mr. Madruga has now moved on but he’s in a special place in heaven. I am very lucky to have known Mr. Madruga who was a legend in the tuna fleet and to be lucky to have listened to him tell his stories. The tuna fleet was stronger because of men like Mr. Madruga, God rest his soul.

The attached picture is just one of many boats owned by Mr. Madruga.