Buddy Ebsen once thwarted a potential boat hijacking by thinking like Barnaby Jones
"I began to wonder what Barnaby Jones would do."
Here's a message for all the kids out there: Don't ever let your parents tell you that television isn't educational. In fact, Buddy Ebsen may owe his life to one man: Barnaby Jones.
Ebsen, an avid boatman from his youth, made a hobby of designing and building catamarans. According to an interview with the Associated Press, Ebsen once took a job delivering two boats by sailing them to Florida when he got more than he bargained for.
According to Ebsen, the journey required crossing through a path known to Ebsen as "the hijacking triangle." The triangle had become infamous for the frequency with which ships seemingly disappeared while traveling the waters nearby. It's a mysterious phenomenon that has more than one sinister explanation; the article stated that many believed these ships were being stolen by smugglers in the area.
While in the area, Ebsen found himself sailing with an unwanted visitor on his tail. He said, "I figured if we were going to have trouble it would be someone following us out of port. Our first night out of Apalachicola, on the same course course taken by one of the yachts that disappeared, we saw running lights behind us. They stayed right behind us."
It was a tense situation straight out of a crime series. Luckily, Ebsen was well-experienced with such situations due to his time playing private investigator Barnaby Jones, a character who had gotten into his fair share of scrapes and lived to tell the tale.
Ebsen knew what he had to do. He said, "I began to wonder what Barnaby Jones would do." He then quickly sprung into action. He continued, "So I said, 'What say we turn out our running lights and change course.' We did that and steered 30 degrees off our rhumb line to Sarasota."
Luckily, the maneuver was successful. Ebsen stated, "We saw the lights stay on the original course." There was no guarantee that the lights following Ebsen were after his ship, but in Ebsen's opinion (and Barnaby Jones's too), it was better safe than sorry. He said, "We'll never know who they were, but it was a relief to be rid of them."