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17 days on a lifeboat in the Atlantic

Discussion in 'Atlantic Naval Conflict' started by ww2thebigone, Jul 5, 2016.

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  1. ww2thebigone

    ww2thebigone Member

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  2. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member

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    Good story. Thanks.
     
  3. YugoslavPartisan

    YugoslavPartisan Drug

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    Good story indeed.
     
  4. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    A moving story , I like the cigar episode.
     
  5. green slime

    green slime Member

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    OhneGewehr likes this.
  6. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    In 1980 we were sailing from San Juan to Baltimore and found a drifting boat awash in the Gulf Stream. It was a typical fiberglass recreational boat probably 30 feet long with a small day cabin, but of an old design, perhaps 1950(ish) or so. It was marked Havana, and was completely awash with just a few feet of the top of the cabin visible. This was near the end of the big Cuban Mariel exodus, so we thought at first it was just another abandoned boat, the inhabitants rescued and taken to Miami or the Keys. When we got close we could see the top of the cabin was ringed with rope and tied into it were pieces of human arms; forearm bones, wrists, hands. The flesh was picked away by birds, but many of the bones and ligaments were still attached. The bodies had broken off, and just the skeletal arms remained. Sobering. We had a big crane for handling buoys, so some guys went down and chopped holes in the hull to let the water out and we slung the whole boat up onto the deck and took it into Baltimore. Somebody there would try to ID the boat and those who were on board so families in Cuba could be notified.

    The striking thing is that during that period the entire strait between Cuba and south Florida (90 miles) was filled with every craft the Coast Guard and Navy could send down, the skies filled with search craft. Yet, this one boat had taken on water and drifted through all of that, with those people clinging to the top. It likely went down due to overcrowding. God only knows how many people were jammed into that little craft when they shoved off. They would have gone right up the current, through the strait, through the crowded Bahamas and into the south Atlantic. And nobody saw them. The ocean is a big empty place even in crowded waters. From the surface, even the smallest chop creates a haze that hides things a few miles away. From the air, it's just as bad. Anything white becomes just another breaking wave, while black, blue, green, any dark color is almost as invisible. We only saw it because it was right in our path, a white cabin bobbing around. Mere chance, and weeks too late to do them any good.
     
  7. OhneGewehr

    OhneGewehr New Member

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  8. Hama

    Hama New Member

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    I was just going to mention that. 133 days on that tiny raft in the middle of the Atlantic must have been a heck of an experience!
     

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