Watch "Hooligan navy" documentaryJun 1, 2012
Some of the sailboats of the "Hooligan navy" in port
It's amazing to think that sailboats were used to patrol off U.S. coasts in the early days of World War II. A documentary about this ad hoc force, informally called the "Hooligan navy," is available for streaming at the National Sailing Center & Hall of Fame's online Film Library.
"The Hooligan Navy" tells a little-known story about the Corsair Fleet, a band of young yachtsmen and fishermen who were recruited into service - their vessels "armed" - so they could patrol the coastline of America's Eastern seaboard and, if necessary, engage Nazi U-boats. The sailors and their sailing yachts were sent out so quickly the grey paint was still wet when they left the docks.