Thursday, September 15, 2016
LOST AT SEA
LOST AT SEA
I just read an article about a 16-year-old girl who was missing from a camping trip and found after a long search of a National Park. I can only imagine the relief of family, friends and the young girl when she was found.
It reminded me an old family story about my dad. I’m fuzzy on the facts, but I remember seeing a newspaper clipping* on the story so I know it is true. I have Googled for further information but was not successful.
My dad was many things, one of which was a sailor. Not an in the Navy sailor, a recreation sailor. He learned to sail racing dinghy’s when he was very young, and later participated in ocean racing.
In 1938 (I believe, but it could have been 1936) he crewed in an ocean race from I believe Newport Rhode Island to Bermuda. This is a race that occurs every two years and today is fairly routine for skilled sailors in very expensive boats.
In 1938 the race was very dangerous. Boats then were not as well built and equipment not as reliable. I’m not sure if they even had radios, and coast guard rescue was not as sophisticated or as available as it is today.
Dad crewed on an old wooden boat owned by a friend. They did not expect to win as their boat was not as fast as those owned by wealthier participants. The first boat finished after five days. Another day or two and every entrant was in Bermuda and accounted for. Every boat but the boat my dad was crewing on.
The newspaper article I remember seeing had a headline “Local Boat missing in Bermuda Race, Feared Lost”. I can only imagine the fear and distress felt by my mom, grandmother, grandfather, other relatives and friends.
Dad’s boat had no radio and a search found nothing.
What must have been a very scary time for his loved ones, was just a pleasant sail for my dad. They were not lost, well they did miss the island initially, but they did find it and they were just very, very slow.
When they finally arrived in Bermuda, three days after the last finisher, they were greeted with great fanfare. There was rejoicing and relief all around from the other sailors and the folks back home.
My dad and his fellow sailors were surprised by the greeting. They were never truly lost (not in the underwater kind of lost) and while others were worried sick they were always just fine. Never the less, when they sailed into port there was rejoicing and celebrating and I’m pretty sure they whole heartedly took part in the party.
There may have been alcohol involved.
That boat never raced again. My dad told me the next year when they were scrapping and painting the hull, a yearly chore on those old wooden boats, they ripped holes into the boat as there was so much dry rot.
He was luckier than he even realized.
*My SIL claims she knows she has the clipping…when she finds it I will publish it.