One night the TV ran a show about the US’ largest-ever pot smuggling operation. I was barely listening or watching when the names Bill and Kris Shaffer were mentioned. Immediate attention to the screen, and a two-second flash of what looked like mug shots. I knew these guys!
In 1979 I was drifting around the waterfront in San Diego and talked my way aboard the sailing vessel SOL, which is mentioned in the book Reefer Men by Tony Thompson. Kris was the vessel’s owner. Bill came aboard once and we were introduced but I don’t remember much else about him. I stayed on SOL and we left SD for points west mid-1980. I thought we were going to be doing scuba diving charters. Kris did not sail with us.
The next time I saw Kris was weeks later in Tarawa, about mid-way across, where I departed SOL for good with $500, just enough to reach Honolulu. There was a rumor aboard (which, according to the book, turned out to be true) that she was going to SE Asia to pick up a load of pot.
I read Reefer Men hoping to find out if any of my shipmates got caught up in the dragnet that came years later. But they were very small fish among the whales and I only remember first names: Glen. Charlie. Chris from Oz. Bonnie. Mort. Ron. I hope they all made it out ok. Where are they now?