Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Say a Prayer for Thomas Tighe

The AP ran a story yesterday about sailors who were en route to Bermuda from Bridgeport, CT and encountered 28 to 33 knot winds off the coast of Virginia this past Sunday. Two of them abandoned ship in a life raft when their vessel began taking water from 16 to 20 foot waves. One of these two, Thomas Tighe, 65, from Patterson, N.Y, was found dead in the water…the other was rescued by a merchant mariner. Patterson, NY is just north of us and Bridgeport, CT is just south which meant that the story was picked up on our local TV news – they showed footage of a battered vessel being swept by wind and waves. Most of us recognize that we should never (ever) abandon ship short of an imminent beating on the rocks, a conclusive lack of buoyancy or a short swim to the beach bar. While it’s easy to sit safely on shore and pass judgment on the poor seamanship of others…it’s much more interesting to me to speculate on the scene in the tight, cramped cabin - wind howling and lashing an increasingly fragile and out-of-control craft. I imagine them broadside to the swells, the rhythmic beat down of the waves slowly unmanning them inch by inch until two defect under the protest of the others, can’t take what feels like waiting to drown and decide to act, to ride the storm to safety in a rubber raft at the utter mercy of the elements. I’ve been in 40 knots with gusts tapping 50 off the Virginia coast; weather so foul that the owner, who is a damn good sailor, was content to let his paid crew take the spanking at the helm while offering the occasional word of encouragement through the companionway. Anyone who tells you they’re not afraid during a true blow is a fool or a liar – either way you don’t want to go to sea with them. Its managing the fear that matters and if you let it get on top of you, it will be a bad ride. God speed Thomas Tighe from Patterson, NY.

Eternal Father, strong to save
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave.
Who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep
Oh hear us when we cry to thee
For those in peril on the sea.

- William Whiting

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That was my Grandfather.My dad was supposed to go on that trip...im glad he didn't. I remeber being on the boat the summer of 2004. It was a fantastic boat...Ty for the prayer.