[OPE-L:6616] [OPE-L:77] Re: Shipwrecked!

Francisco Paulo Cipolla (cipolla@SOCIAIS.UFPR.BR)
Thu, 27 Aug 1998 08:30:51 -0200

Before anything else, welcome back!
In reading your message i thought at first you were making a joke! "He
might have seen Titanic recently!" I thought. Even now it seems to me
like a piece of a movie. Goodness me! It must be hard to go through an
experience like that. But somehow you went through your summer in a more
interesting way than most of us. Later on, when most of our lives will
be memories you will certainly have what to tell. Those pieces of
property will fit together and life will look like a recomposed puzzle.
Oh captain my captain Congratulations!!!

Gerald Levy wrote:
> I'm back in New York City again ... about 9 days earlier than I
> anticipated. (No, I haven't read my e-mail yet).
> I had a *GREAT* summer ... until Wednesday morning.
> I spent the summer sailing out of Newport, Rhode Island and living on
> my 27' sailboat, "Bon Copain". Except for 2 stormy Mondays and this last
> rainy Monday, I sailed *every* other day. I sailed throughout
> Narragansett Bay and elsewhere (including Block Island, the Elizabeth
> Islands, and Martha's Vinyard) ... all singlehanded. It was everything
> (and more) that I had hoped for.
> On Tuesday, I sailed in a fresh (15-20 knot) southwesterly wind to
> Cuttyhunk Island (the westernmost island in the Elizabeth Island chain). I
> anchored outside the breakwater in 14' and got myself ready for a stormy
> . The forecast was for the winds to veer North - Northeast and
> increase in intensity to 25 knots. It was a very stormy night indeed with
> gusts above 35 knots and waves that came into the anchorage that made the
> yacht pitch violently. Under these circumstances, it was hard really
> falling to sleep. So every 30 minutes or so I would get out of my berth
> and check our position (by looking out the ports to take a range on other
> nearby moored vessels and a light) and the fathometer (which indicates the
> water depth). It wasn't a pleasant night, but we appeared to be safe.
> Then at about 0215, there was a loud bang on the side of the hull. It
> sounded *very* bad so I jumped out of my berth, threw on a few clothes,
> and went up the companionway. What I saw would put a chill in the heart of
> any mariner! We were broadside to the stone breakwater smashing against
> the rocks with each roll!
> The anchor must have dragged and, within seconds, we were on the rocks. I
> thought about starting the engine, but it was already too late. The cabin
> was beginning to flood (indicating that she had been holed and was
> taking on water fast). I would have liked to go down below to gather some
> of my possessions (including my heart medication), but seconds mattered.
> I.e. I felt confident that given the proximity of the deck to the rocks I
> could climb off of the boat and save myself if I timed it right and acted
> quickly; if I went below for a few seconds the boat might shift and I
> might find myself having to swim for the mussel and barnacle-encrusted
> rocks (leaving a vessel for the rocks is a very risky, and often
> life-threatening, proposition). Luckily, I got onto the rocks with hardly
> a scratch. From there, I sent out a "Mayday" message with a portable VHF
> radio. The US Coast Guard answered my distress call and a private vessel
> (which had been out answering the distress calls from two other vessels in
> nearby Quick's Hole and Hadley Harbor) picked me up a few minutes later.
> I was lucky to get out of the boat in one piece. From the rescue boat, I
> could see that my boat was already descending below the waves. I was taken
> to the Captain's home and given some dry clothes and then put up for the
> night in the Town Hall -- which, I was told, was the traditional place to
> take shipwrecked sailors to.
> Of course, I couldn't sleep. At first light, I walked back to the
> breakwater ... hoping that my boat and personal gear could be salvaged.
> It was a pitiful sight. She was holed in several places, her decks were
> awash, she was flooded, and her mast was leaning at a 60 degree angle. She
> was wrecked!
> I went back later that day ... three more times. I wasn't able to salvage
> much of anything.
> In addition to being my boat, she was also my home for the summer. When
> she went down, so did most of my clothes, personal items, gear, etc. The
> boat was insured, but I will still take a large financial loss for the
> uninsured items. And, of course, I also lot my boat ... which had given me
> such pleasure and pride.
> It was a very wrenching experience (it still hurts a lot), but I'm still
> alive! And I'll buy another boat and be back sailing next summer! I won't
> be defeated.
> It seems weird being back in NYC. During the summer I didn't have a
> computer, telephone, television, refrigeration or basically any of the
> modern conveniences. I was also basically inaccessible. It was great but I
> look forward to hearing again from my many friends -- of which there are a
> lot on this list.
> Life goes on ....
> A shipwrecked mariner