Dec. 29, 2013. This is not a current story and it was Easter not Christmas. Twenty years ago now and we were not on Sable, but our Camper and Nicholson, 40, Moriarty. But any time we are in Hope Town, Abaco, we say to each other. “Remember that Easter morning?” It went like this.
Hope Town Marina then was a tiny place with a few slips. Not at all filled with boats and docks like this. Most everyone who came into this lovely protected harbor anchored out. But we were headed to the marina. As we made our way carefully through the boats at anchor, we spotted the Fred Wade Jones III. A Shannon pilothouse sailboat with a salty old sailor (probably the age we are now) Horace Beck. We’d met up with Horace on the trip down the waterway many months before-that’s another story.
We had become friends so after we got squared away, we hoped in the dinghy and went calling. Bottom line. Horace is also a fine cook and he invited Ed and I for dinner Saturday. Sunday was Easter. Keep in mind, April is hot in the Bahamas. This was no exception.
As usual, Horace was alone on his boat. He had a hard time keeping crew, especially his own family. He was a bit gruff and always had a pipe in his mouth-usually unlit.
When we got to his boat, he said, in a rather non-pulsed way, that he was taking on water and, oh by the way, his bilge pump wasn’t working. Now this is a real problem since it meant any water coming in the boat would not be automatically expelled and yes, it can sink a boat. Ed ask if he could help track down the problem, but Horace said, no, he wouldn’t sink until at least the next morning and dinner waited.
We had a great dinner-as I recall-and departed with Ed saying we would come back about 1:00 pm the next day to help Horace fix the leak and repair the bilge pump. Horace wasn’t mechanical and didn’t have the tools to do this.
We had finished our Easter morning activities (We had our two youngest sons onboard so an Easter egg hunt was mandatory.) and headed out to the Fred Wade Jones III early to get on with the repairs. We could see Horace’s dinghy tied to the stern so we knew he was onboard.
As protocol requires, when we came along side, we called to ask to board. No answer. We called again. No answer. Now we knew Horace had to be onboard. He had no way to get to Hope Town other than in his dinghy. We made a decision to board without his permission. It’s kind of like going into a neighbor’s house uninvited but we were now worried. As I said, Horace was well into his 70s and alone.
We called out as we stepped into the pilot-house and finally heard a voice demanding, “Get me the Hell out of here.” Horace had climbed into the cockpit locker in an attempt to fix his bilge pump and the locker lid had closed locking him inside. The hasp on this boat was designed so as the top closed, the hasp automatically locked on the pin. Not a good design. Horace had no way of getting out of the locker.
When we figured out where he was, and opened the locker, he was pale and sweating profusely. Of course, Horace didn’t say thank you, he just asked Ed if he had brought his tools!
So often we had wondered if he would have still been alive if we hadn’t gone to his boat until 1:00. I don’t know how long he had been in the locker when we rescued him.
All’s well that ends well and we know that Horace continued to sail. Ed actually joined him for a few days the next season to bring his boat south from New England. But even Ed didn’t last the length of his commitment. Horace was a bit gruff.