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Before World War I, Barataria Boat Works had established a reputation for building some of the finest speed boats in the world. During the war, it suspended production of civilian boats, building at least 10 coastal patrol boats for the U.S. Navy and another 5 for such diverse customers as the Alviso Port Authority, the small island nation of Carlotta, and the Colonial Constabulary of the Seiber Islands.
After the war, Barataria struggled to meet the pent-up demand for its civilian speed boats. In May of 1920, however, Barataria received a visit from one Yoshiko McHale and her son Quinton. The McHales explained that they needed a "high speed lighter" to off-load "rice vinegar" and "cough medicine" from ships and deliver the cargo to their customers around San Francisco Bay. They also suggested that it would be helpful if the boat did not look as fast as she actually was.
Barataria's chief architect realized that what he had to do was combine the best features of Barataria's speed boats with those of the patrol boats it built for the government during the war. To ensure that the boat's true capabilities (and use) were not readily discernable, he also realized that features of the company's fishing boats should also be incorporated.
In just 4 months, a prototype "high speed lighter"--named the Barataria Blackfish*--was ready for sea trials. All plans and photographs of the Blackfish appear to have disappeared from Barataria's files, but it was once described as a cross between a tugboat and a P.T. Boat.
Yoshiko McHale immediately purchased the prototype and ordered another two Blackfish. From 1920 to 1933, Barataria built at least 25 Blackfish, but for some unknown reason, the civilian market for the Blackfish just seem to dry up with the end of Prohibition in 1933.
By this time, however, the Blackfish had developed quite a reputation in its niche market. The Blackfish had also come to attention of U.S. government officials on both coasts. At least five of the boats were impounded by various state and federal authorities after their owners were found to have committed unfair business practices in the course of importing goods into the country. The Corporation will neither confirm nor deny that any additional Blackfish were built for any agency of the U.S. Government before or after 1933.
*The name "Blackfish" is used for both the pilot whale (which is actually a porpoise) and the killer whale (which is also actually a porpoise), as well as various kinds of true fish.