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Walt Hardester

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Being Swept Out To Sea
By Walt Hardester
Posted: Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Last edited: Saturday, June 13, 2009
This short story is rated "G" by the Author.
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Recent stories by Walt Hardester
· Almost Busted
· Who to Believe?
· She Told Me To Do It
· Five Minutes Of Fame
· Papa There's A Big Fish
· A Steamboat Springs Nightmare
· I Wonder If He Even Realized
           >> View all 67
Angel wings.
It was the day after Hurricane Frances. The skies were beautiful blue and the wind was still blowing like crazy. I had spent a week waiting this one out in Apalachicola, Fl., and was anxious to get the “Three Hour Tour” back to her home port of Carrabelle. I needed an extra pair of hands, but none were available to help me crew for the 35 mile sail home, so I decided to solo her back.

The seas in St. Georges Sound were an unusual 5-6 feet with a very short MWP, or Mean Wave period. MWP means the time between the top of one wave and the top of the next. The shorter the MWP, the rougher the sea. Along with a short WWP I had following seas, or sailing with the swells instead of against them. It was still rough, but not as bad as it could have been.

I was actually enjoying the ride until I turned loose of the wheel once to grab a rope and the rudder was caught by a swell. The force of the wave against the rudder caused it to slam to one side, dislodging the control wires going to the wheel. Normally this wouldn’t have been too big of a problem, except on this trip, I had no emergency tiller on board, and was adrift, with no steering whatsoever. At this time also, the tide was going out. It was a very swift tide this day because of the runback of the storm surge from the night before.

I had made it almost home and was situated near the channel between Dog Island, and St. George’s Island, Florida, headed for Carrabelle . I radioed the marina and asked them if the Tow Boat US was around, The marina told me to call Rusty’s wife on the cell phone. I had his number several places on the boat, I had needed him before. When I called She asked my position and she told me she would get back to me. She called me right back and told me to drop anchor. I did and it stopped me from being swept into the channel and out to sea like just some more flotsam, or jetsam.

I went below and tried to fix the rudder cables to no avail. I tied the rudder in place so it wouldn’t continue to flop with each wave and went back up on deck to wait for the tow boat. While on anchor it was rougher than before, I just had no choice but to sit there. The Coast Guard heard my marina call and I was soon over flown by a CG Gulfstream.
On their second pass, I waved and radioed them I was ok on my end. Anchored down and waiting.

A couple hours passed and I was getting a bit anxious and ready to get back to port. It was then I saw the red Tow Boat US vessel.
He was traveling against the swells and his boat was causing major sprays from the bow as they hit each wave. To me they looked like Angel wings. That is one of the prettiest sights a sailor in distress can imagine, help on its way.

The anchor had sunk so far into the bottom mud from the strain we had to pull it out with the towboat. My anchor had the capacity to hold a boat ten feet longer than mine, but one of the tines had bent at a 45% angle. That’s how it goes with the sea. Sometimes you can lay back and steer with your toe. But, sometimes you can’t turn loose for a second or she will kick your ass, and laugh.
But I lived to share and that’s what really matters. I would do it again in a heartbeat. Hopefully without the rudder incident.

Later, teasing Capt. Rusty, I asked why it took him so long to get to me. He told me that I was only one of three being rescued at the same time. One was a ship and it was a busy day that day.



Reader Reviews for "Being Swept Out To Sea"

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Reviewed by J Howard
that i don't sail, so...some of this passed me by-however, it is clear that your short trip home was one of the longest trips of your life-at least at that time. :) good read
thanks for sharing,
Reviewed by Michael Guy
Incredible story! I had wanted to read it the day you posted but somehow lost the tab and never got back. I like your short stories anyway, they are so to the point and "cooly, almost matter of factly" written. That shows in this one, even though you took a risk that day, you must be one heck of a confident sailor to handle that day's perils. You seemed to have handled it well. From what I know of weather (quite a bit), though I'm no sailor, post hurricane conditions can be very perilous...

Thanks for sharing, this one helped me as well as gave me some experience from a master sailor; you don't get any in the "armchair" where I sail!

Later, Mike
Reviewed by Jon Willey
Walt, you learned that day, that you were simply a temporary master of the wheel of your own fate -- this is a good story and great object lesson for tars of all levels of experience -- much love and peace my friend -- Jon Michael
Reviewed by Margaret Ottley-Okubo
You must lead an exciting life.Well, live and let live is what I say. Beautiful write with vivid imagery.Excellent.
Reviewed by Karen Vanderlaan
interesting--i enjoyed this story
Reviewed by Felix Perry
Thank God for the men who brave the sea and wear the uniform of the Coast Guard. I wore it and my brother wore it until the day he died and it was his coast guard ship that carried his ashes out to bury him in the sea he loved. Glad you made it home safe and sound Walt

Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado
Great story, Walt; well done!

(((HUGS))) and much love, your friend in Tx., Karen Lynn. :D
Reviewed by Georg Mateos
Salty Walt needing of sea help? Captains Kidd and Barbarossa are spinning in their graves!
A good story to chicken landlubbers... :-)


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