Time seemed to stand still, a calmness overtook the water, the man with the Hat bobbing just a little. Having gotten control of his breathing he turned his attention to time. How long had he been in the water, how long could he be in the water, how long how long? Should he begin now working out ways to keep track of it, so he would know how much time he had left? Maybe not, maybe resignation would set in if it came too close to the end, maybe it was better not knowing. He was not the first one to ever go in.
There had been others, some he had seen and one he had not. The one he had not was mid Aug. maybe 10 years ago now, he can still hear the radio call. Sitting down with a cup of tea taking a needed break, the incomprehensible terror in the voice, fear panic. He was at the radio in the kitchen in seconds as was the rest of the crew. What had happened, the radio silent now, not answering. Not knowing what to expect he had the crew prepare for the worst, all first aid equipment ready now, waiting. As they were readying themselves, the story on the water unfolded. One guest in the water, jettisoned from the boat after it hit a rock surrounded by kelp. With the floater suit keeping her afloat she seemed at ease with her situation. “Ok, so I’m in the water, but I’m not hurt, I’m floating just like I’m supposed to. Now, what did they tell me…, keep calm, tuck in, keep the warmth close, breathe, they will come and get me”. While these thoughts brought her some peace it was short lived. A boat was bearing down on her, she could hear it’s coming, now there it was straight ahead. Reflexively in a split second, she marshaled every ounce of strength she had and as the boat appeared she kicked mightily only just veering it off. Adrenaline. Stunned, shocked but still present, she breathed, breathed.
A second boat approached now, they had all been in the same group, now coming back to help. The boat struggled to get close in the kelp, but they reached her and leaned over to pull her in. Water logged and weak now she could not help, only hope. They pulled up and she slipped down, again and again they tried, not able to get her over the gunnel. At this point her thoughts turned to despair, “They won’t do it, they can’t get me out, they can’t, I’m not going to make it”. A third boat approaches and rafts up alongside, a crew member. They take charge, redirect the men in boat to shift fore and aft, the other to the starboard for ballast. Now together they try again to bring the woman over the port side, this time broadside to the boat, one at the shoulders one at the knees, it works. She is aboard, they cover her and turn for home with 3 other boats in the fleet for escort and they call the lodge, “Incoming, one soul on board, possible hypothermia, shock, conscious, unknown injuries”. Ok, oxygen, blankets, splints, everything laid out, ready. At the dock now and up to the room, she manages to make her way with some support, still in shock, she says she is embarrassed, apologizes for the trouble. Stripped of her wet clothes, wrapped in wool blankets, oxygen on, again she breaths, but this time with ease, with relief. She would finish her trip, fishing the next day, walking with a limp, the lump on her leg as big as a grapefruit from where the boat had ricocheted off.
She came back the following year and fished again as if nothing had happened. Amazing and in her 70’s! Of all the people who find themselves in life threatening situations it is said that the one difference between those who make it and the ones who don’t is the will to live. He knew this from his training, years of courses and he had seen it first-hand.
So now, what time was it again when he went in, how long had he been in the water? Time suddenly meant everything, it stood still and disappeared. He would be found, they would be on the water now, looking for his boat, he was certain. He knew his crew, trusted them, their judgment, they would find him he was certain, he had to be. He would make it, he would make it. A cloudless night, the stars a riot of light over the water, so far from any city here, there seemed to be far too many of them, they crowded each other terribly, the Milky Way clearly evident. Incredible, mesmerized, gazing up, he breathed, breathed and waited.
To be continued….
Category: Tales of the Pass