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Friday, August 26, 2011

God Looks Out for Fools, Drunks and Children

 I had never even sailed out of the Bay, and now found my self in a bad storm in the middle of the Gulf Stream .   ..                                                                                                                                                 Our patience had run thin we had been sitting in the Angelfish Creek mangroves near Ocean Reef Club, Key Largo  waiting for favorable weather to begin our Bahamas sailing adventure . It was February 6 1983 we were aboard the 30 ft. Trimaran “Lovely Lady”. We had sailed South from Coconut Grove before attempting to sail to Bimini , Bahamas. The thinking was to compensate for the drift of the Gulf Stream current . Day after day of bad weather . We were going through supplies and growing more anxious every minute .                                                                 We consisted of my bother John and my friend Mary. Blissfully ignorant of the danger we had just decided to “go for it “ rather than sit in the Mangroves another day. The boat had no power  no radio, no running light’s no maps or charts we had not filed a float plan,  or even checked the weather on that moonless winter night.    Our only “safety” equipment consisted of a few old life preservers a flare gun and a flash light.      Motor sailing  with the Main and  Jib sail up and our 25hp Mercury engine ½ throttle  hoping to make 7 knots.  The seas were rough but we managed to convince ourselves that the seas would soon calm as the lights from the Florida coast  faded .                                                             Sea conditions continued to deteriorate,    and soon the Boat was being slammed by huge waves the sea spray made it hard to see or communicate I estimated 10-12 ft swells,   the  first sign of trouble was the Jib sail had ripped and become useless we were committed ;  no turning back .  There was a real possibility we would end up  dead ,We all sensed danger but didn't panic.  Not long after losing the Jib , a  large wave came up from behind and swallowed our 12’ dinghy,  the smaller boat in tow  trailed  us on a 5/8 nylon rope , It was never seen again...We were a small boat in a bad storm in a big ocean.  I was at the helm trying to keep the compass needle pointed East, John and Mary were below praying for a miracle. A quick check of my watch revealed that it was only 11pm to early to even pray for daylight !      The 5 gallon gas tanks that feed the Mercury had to be changed every few hours , a dangerous task on a slippery boat deck . John was up on deck and just starting to change tanks when he fell over board ...... (To be continued)...

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