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Tragedy On The Bay

By Janski

The following story was written by our very own Janski, (copyright applied for). Each month, Janski will release a chapter of this story to our newsletter for our reading pleasure. So, get yourself comfortable, maybe pour a drink and be prepared to imagine.

Chapter One : Capital "T" for Trouble

"Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! This is Toronto Coastguard Radio. This is Toronto Coastguard Radio on channel16. We have report of an overturned boat with someone standing on it just west of the bridge canal into Alderschott Bay. Is there any vessel in the area that can investigate?"

"Toronto Coastguard Radio. Toronto Coastguard Radio. Toronto Coastguard Radio. This is the pleasure vessel 'Blarney Barge', 'Blarney Barge'. Whiskey Zulu eight, two, two, zero on Channel 16. Switch and answer on Channel 71".

" 'Blarney Barge', 'Blarney Barge', 'Blarney Barge'. This is Toronto Coastguard Radio, Toronto Coastguard Radio, on Channel 71. The stricken vessel is reported to be north and west of the bridge canal. Conditions in Alderschott Bay are reported as rough with two foot waves and a west wind of 25 knots. Sailing vessel reporting this problem is without engine and cannot maneuver adequately to provide assistance. We will await your response on channel 71 after your investigation. Over."

"Toronto Coastguard Radio. This is the pleasure vessel 'Blarney Barge' on channel 71. We have the stricken vessel in sight. The man atop the overturned craft does not appear to be wearing a PFD. We are maneuvering so as to toss him a line. Once he has the line affixed to his person we will attempt to get him off and into our craft. Over"

'Blarney Barge'. This is Toronto Coastguard Radio. We will leave you to your work. You sound as if you have things coming under control. Contact us once you have him aboard your craft. This is Toronto Coastguard Radio switching back to channel16".

"OK Phredd, fasten this safety line onto the harness of your PFD. I have the other end secured and will pay out line as you need it. Take the throwing line with you out on the deck. I will attempt to maneuver close enough down wind of the overturned boat so that you can throw the line over the stricken craft. I'm afraid to go to windward of him since the 'Blarney Barge' is so much bigger if the wind brings us together my vessel will crush the other like an egg shell."

"Aye, aye, Skipper."

"Brandi, please take the helm so I can hang onto Phredd's safety line with both hands. His Grandfather will have my hide if lose him overboard".

"Good heave Phredd. The guy has the line and is wrapping it around his chest. OK Brandi, throw it in reverse and back away. Phredd, get off the deck and into the cockpit. Brandi, put her in neutral so that we can get the guy onto the swim platform without chopping him up. Phredd, here is the throwing line. Pull the guy around to the stern of our boat and help him climb aboard the swim platform. Brandi, please get a blanket from down below. The guy will probably be going into shock."

"Mayday, Mayday, Mayday; Toronto Coastguard Radio. Toronto Coastguard Radio. Toronto Coastguard Radio. This is the pleasure vessel 'Blarney Barge', 'Blarney Barge'. Whiskey Zulu eight, two, two, zero on channel 16. We have the man off the overturned sail craft and in our cockpit. He reports that he had two women with him in the sailboat when they capsized. No one was wearing a PFD. He lost sight of the women shortly after he climbed onto his overturned boat. The women he claims are his wife and daughter. Please instruct! Over."

" 'Blarney Barge'. This is Toronto Coastguard Radio, Toronto Coastguard Radio, on Channel 16. We have made contact with the Port Authority Harbor Patrol. They are sending a patrol boat. It's on its way and claim they have you on their radar."

"Hey Ryan; who are they trying to impress. I can see them with my naked eye. So why do they need radar?"

"Phredd; it's one-upmanship. They are flexing their muscles showing that they are more qualified and will be taking over from us toute suite".

"Toronto Coastguard Radio. Toronto Coastguard Radio. Toronto Coastguard Radio. This is the pleasure vessel 'Blarney Barge', 'Blarney Barge'. Whiskey Zulu eight, two, two, zero on Channel 16. The rescued boater has been taken aboard the Port Authority Patrol Boat. The boater claims his Lightening dumped by the markers for Randolf Reef. The Harbour Patrol has taken off to look for the missing women. Personally I think they 're on a wild goose chase. What do you want us to do? Over."

" 'Blarney Barge', 'Blarney Barge', 'Blarney Barge'. This is Toronto Coastguard Radio, Toronto Coastguard Radio, on channel 16. Please switch and answer on Channel 71."

"Toronto Coastguard Radio. Toronto Coastguard Radio. Toronto Coastguard Radio. This is the pleasure vessel 'Blarney Barge', 'Blarney Barge'. Whiskey Zulu eight, two, two, zero on Channel 71. Repeat. What do you want us to do? Over."

" 'Blarney Barge'; suggest you affix some kind of marker on the overturned craft so it will not pose a navigational threat to other vessels. Perhaps you might affix an anchor to keep it from drifting. Over."

"That's a ten four. This is 'Blarney Barge' switching back to Channel16."

"Ryan, contact my Grandfather. He'll know what we should do."

"Good idea Phredd. I'll get on it pronto."

" 'Vixen'. 'Vixen'. 'Vixen'. This is 'Blarney Barge', 'Blarney Barge', on one six, over.

" 'Blarney Barge', this is 'Vixen'. Switch and answer on zero six, over"

"Papa Charon, this is Phredd on 'Blarney Barge'. You won't believe what's happened. I think we need some help. Let me explain! Over."

"No need. I've been monitoring the VHF since this whole thing started. Phredd, do you have your fins, mask, and snorkel with you. Over."

"Affirmative, Over".

"Get Ryan to get you as close as he can to the lee side of the overturned boat. You should swim over and check that there is no one caught in the rigging. See if there is an anchor aboard so you can use it to keep the boat from drifting. Over."

"Charon. This is Ryan. Phredd reports that no one is caught in the rigging. He did find one oar jammed in the thwarts. One oar is missing. I've handed him my 'Man Overboard Pole'. He's attempting to jamb it into the centerboard well. Also Phredd says that the mast of the overturned boat is jammed into the silt at the bottom. He doesn't think an anchor will be necessary. Over."

The foregoing was my introduction to what turned out to be a most troubling experience. I'm Charon Yanski. My Eastern European parents named me after the most enigmatic boatman of all time. Now in the autumn of life, my years give me credentials that cast me into the role of Socratic teacher and father confessor to our small community of unique and committed wharf rats. While cleaning and reorganizing the line locker on 'Vixen" my Alberg 34 cutter the first of the VHF broadcasts caught my attention. I was instantly front row centre when 'Blarny Barge' came into the picture since I knew my grandson was aboard.

" 'Blarny Barge' this is 'Vixen'. Get Phredd aboard. Punch in the GPS coordinates for the overturned boat. Circle the overturned boat slowly. Then increase the size of the circles in 10 foot increments and look for the missing oar. Alert me when you find it. Punch in the GPS coordinates for the oar's location. Over."

Once the oar was located I would instruct Ryan to plot a reciprocal course from the oar to the overturned boat. By traveling that course he would then pass over or very close to the place where the dingy overturned.

" 'Vixen' this is 'Blarney Barge'. We are approximately a quarter mile from the position of the capsized dingy. We've spotted a woman in a one piece bathing suit face down in the water. Brandi is sweeping the vicinity with binoculars for another sighting without success. The swimmer is not moving so I am suspecting the worst. Over"

" 'Blarney Barge' this is 'Vixen'. Get the woman aboard ASAP and attempt resuscitation. Get on the blower and report your find to Coastguard Canada. I'm going to hang on the side of zero six. Get back to me when you can. 'Vixen' standing by on zero six."

I tossed the remaining unorganized lines into the cleaned line locker and closed the hatch. I'd finish the job later. What would possess someone to embark on a sailing excursion in really rough conditions in an open dingy with two women and apparently no PFD's for anyone?

I recall the words of Bob Turrall a past mentor, "Charon, you must always remember. There are old sailors and there are bold sailors. But there are very few old, bold sailors!".

" 'Vixen' this is 'Blarney Barge'. I contacted Coastguard Canada. They contacted the Port Authority Harbour Patrol who came with their launch and took the comatose woman. They still had her father with them. He identified the woman as his daughter Gretchen. They left him with us without any instruction. The father is absolutely nuts. He's trying to commandeer my vessel instructing me to tear-ass all over the place looking for his wife. Over"

" 'Blarney Barge' this is 'Vixen'. Ryan! Don't mince words! Take control and put the guy in his place! Point out that he was not a competent skipper on his own vessel. You are skipper of 'Blarny Barge' and if he doesn't like that he can walk! Work out a grid search pattern. I'm sending you some help. Expect to see 'Blue Angel', 'Water Music', and 'Destiny' out to give you a hand. I'm on my way over to the 'Cop Shop'. I'll keep in touch with you on my hand held VHF. Suggest you monitor both channel 06 and 16. 'Vixen' continuing to stand by on channel 06."

Powder Magazine Yacht Club is located just west of Pekkers Point on the east bank of the Millstone Creek estuary that empties into the northwest end of Alderschott Bay. Alderschott Bay lies at the extreme western apex of Lake Ontario. I grabbed my hand held VHF and jumped into the small 'Whaler' we use as the 'Vixen's' launch heading across Alderschott Bay to the Port Authority Patrol boat basin.

... to be continued