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Disasters averted!

June 8, 2013

We were in route for our first overnight of the new sailing season. 5 miles down the Sassafras River near green 8, I had just finished a bologna sandwich, and was drinking a bloody mary (virgin), when I felt strange. Something was wrong. I told Arlene “something’s wrong” Then blackness, a ringing in my ears, sparkles and fireworks cloud my vision. Then I dropped like a sack of potatoes. Don’t know what happened for the next 5 minutes” but when I came to, Arlene was screaming, my mind struggled to make sense of what she was saying. I heard her saying Mayday, Mayday. Medical emergency! Why would she be saying that. who was pulling on my arm? My head hurts, I feel a buzzing sensation in my ears, and face. What the hell is that loud alarm I hear, damn someone should turn it off Beep! Beep! beep! I struggle to focus my eyes, Arlene is screaming something again, What the hell is she saying! Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep! I wish Arlene would turn off that damn alarm. There it is again, Mayday! Mayday! Medical Emergency! this is Trinity Help me Please, Beep! Beep! Beep! I need to turn off that alarm, Arlene’s face is right in front of me! she seems to be crying! why? What’s wrong? I have to tell her how to turn off that damn alarm, which one is beeping, is it the off course? maybe the shallow depth? Beep! Beep! Beep! Mayday, Mayday, Mayday, this is Trinity, Please someone help me!

I’m a little confused about what happened for the next 20 minutes. But When I could make sense of what was happening, Trinity was in 6 feet of water heading toward the shore line, Arlene was struggling to free my arm, which had jammed the wheel hard over to port, and we where moving! I crawled toward the port bulk head. and managed to push the raymarine depth guage button. Still it screams, Beep! Beep! Beep! again I push the buttons. Nothing happens it continues to blare out it’s annoying beeps. Oh yea I need to hold it for 3 seconds, that will turn it off! Arlene is steering the boat, she has the hand-held VHF radio and again I hear her saying Mayday! Mayday! this is Trinity. Someone help me please! Her voice says volumes. She’s scared! I struggle to focus my eyes! where the hell are we? All I see is green trees all around. That’s not right. Where is the water? I ask her what’s wrong? Let me help. She looks annoyed! I realize she’s mad at me. Why? I see blood on my left arm. Where did that come from? I hear the Coast Guard Station Baltimore calling Trinity. Arlene answers them, They ask her to repeat her message! She again says this is Trinity Medical emergency. Trinity what is your position? Arlene says. We are in the Sassafras River, Help Us. Arlene doesn’t know how to read the GPS Lat. Long. from the chart plotter. Her voice is panicked. Help me please, “medical emergency.” I’m sitting now, beside Arlene, I’m trying to see where we are. I see the water now. Still see a bunch of trees. That’s still not right. We need to get the trees on both sides of the boat. Arlene says, I passed out, and had a fit! What the hell is she talking about? Arlene is fighting the wheel steering. She is having trouble turning it. I focus on the wheel and realize the Autopilot is engaged. I point to the gray lever at the bottom and tell her to push it down. She can’t find it. The Coast Guard is calling again. Trinity what is your position? Please repeat what is wrong! Arlene is screaming again! “This is Trinity, Medical Emergency! someone help me Please!. Someone is calling us, Trinity this is **@@, skipjack. I reach for the VHF and call, Station calling this is Trinity, Again I hear Trinity this is @@@XXX, Skipjack! Someone is calling from Skipjack Marina. I have to let them know something is wrong with Arlene, She’s screaming, That’s not good. I push the vhf button again. Station calling this is Trinity we are on the Shark River, over! Arlene is yelling at me. No, No. We are on the Sassafras River! I hear that damn Beeping again. Look over at the depth gauge, but it’s blank. Why the hell is it Blank? oh yea, I remember I turned it off! what the hell is beeping now! The Coast Guard is calling again, Trinity this is Coast Guard Baltimore, what is your position? and problem? over! I turn to Arlene and point to the chart plotter. The Lat. Long. is there! She looks frantic, her eyes stare at the plotter. I can tell she doesn’t understand me. Again I hear. Trinity this is U N me, Skipjack Marina, over. I push the Push to Talk button and say, station calling this is Trinity, Shark River, over. Again Arlene is yelling at me! No, we are on the Sassafras River! I can tell she is frustrated with me, Boy she should lighten up. It’s an easy mistake to make. After all Trinity’s home port is Shark River! I call the “Skipjack” station again. This is Trinity, Sassafras River. Medical emergency! My voice is harsh almost a whisper, It doesn’t sound like me at all. I wonder, why do I sound like that. I stand up and point to the chart plotter telling Arlene, read the numbers, that’s our position! She seems to understand now. She takes the radio back from me and calls, Mayday, Mayday This is Trinity, Sassafras River! I tell her, you need to say Over! Arlene is still struggling with the wheel, I realize it’s hard over and we are just drifting and not making any headway. I tell her, to turn the wheel the other way, Then realize we are in neutral. I tell Arlene to put us in gear, The trees start to move. That’s better. Water all around trees on both sides! Arlene is talking again to the Coast guard. our position is 39.22.610N, 75.57.621W. the Coast guard asks How many people on board. Arlene answers 2. They ask does everyone have life preservers on? Arlene say no. And she can’t leave the wheel to get them. I grab the vhf and tell the coast guard I can’t get them either. because if I stand up I’ll fall overboard. I think to myself that was pretty funny. I always wanted to tell them that! I hear that boat from SkipJack Marina calling again. They say they are underway, and should be there is a few minutes. I start to relax. skipjack is just about 2 miles away. Arlene will be ok. Maybe now I can get her to calm down and tell me what’s going on. I tell Arlene just remember Red Right Returning. Keep the boat moving between the red and green markers. I stand up again and point to the chart plotter. “try to keep the boat in the white area” I point to what I think is the boat displayed on the screen, but my eyes are still not focused. Everything looks so bright. It’s hurting my eyes to keep them open. Arlene is calmer now. I stand up and can see a “normal” scene. trees on both sides water all around! That’s better. I can see a marker ahead. I think it says 8 but maybe not. I reach for the vhf again and the coast guard is calling again, I ignore them. and call the boat U-N- Me, skipjack marina. This is Trinity calling, over. They call us back and say they are underway. Should be there in a few minutes. They ask do we know where we are. I ask Arlene can you read the marker number? She’s not sure. I tell U-N-Me, I think we are near green 7 but it could be green 8. My eyes are still unfocused. The Coast Guard is calling me again. I tell them I can’t talk now. There is a boat coming to help us! I Need to talk to them. I hear the coast guard calling U -N- Me, asking them to contact Coast Guard Baltimore when they are on station. U – N – Me is calling again. are we the sailboat coming around the bend? How the hell do I know, I can’t see any bend! I tell them I’m not sure. They ask me to describe my boat. I start to laugh to myself. It reminds me that every time someone asks what does your boat look like. I say, It’s a sailboat, all white with blue stripes. Looks like every other sailboat. They ask if our sails are down. I have to look up, can’t remember putting up the sails. Yea, The sails are down. They tell me that they see us. I look forward, and see this beutiful power boat doing 20 knots in a 6 knot no wake zone coming straight at us. I tell Arlene. Just hold the boat steady, pull back on the speed and let them steer to us. I start to move forward, I need to get some lines ready for when they arrive. Arlene is yelling at me to SIT DOWN, she’s afraid I’ll fall over-board. So am I. I feel dizzy. But manage to get a line on the mid starboard side around a cleat. and another around the starboard after cleat. I call U – N – Me again. And ask them if they can come along side us, and jump aboard, because I couldn’t steer the boat. I manage to toss both lines to them. and just as we are tying up. I hear them say “The Coast Guard is here” I don’t see any other boat! Then I feel a bump on the port side and see this young person dressed in all blue stepping onto the boat. Strange she doesn’t look like a Coastie! She is grabbing my arm and talking to me. Can she take a blood sample? Sure why not, I reply. I hear her say 230. wonder what that means. They want me to come with them. Wait a minute what about Arlene? Who’s going to drive my boat? They tell me not to worry, I try to bargain with them asking if they would just come aboard and come with me while I bring my boat back to Sailing Associates. They keep telling me not to worry! Arlene is sitting beside me in the red inflatable there are 4 other people onboard. someone is taking my blood pressure, people keep asking me questions, which I don’t understand. They say we’re going to Duffy’s Creek. My mind can’t get a grip around that. Why Duffy’s Creek. I settle down, and figure just go with it. Arlene is right beside me. All’s going to be OK. I don’t even know where my boat is. But it doesn’t seem to matter. I can’t help wondering how the Coast Guard got from Baltimore to us so fast. Even going 30 knots it seemed like it would take longer than the 15 minutes I thought had passed. I ask the blue uniformed girl, what coast guard base did they come from. She tells me. No!, we’re the rescue paramedic’s from Cecil County! After two days in the hospital in Elkton, Md. The pieces start to fit together. With all the medical sh?t I’ve been dealing with, seems the blocked arteries leading to my brain combined with a quick drop in blood pressure, caused me to lose conciseness, twice, within 5 minutes. Now, I’ve got several new doctor’s appointments, probably a surgury schudeled in the next few days. Plus the biggest task of all. Showing the new captain how all the systems work together. Plus showing her a whole lot of respect. She handled the Disaster quite well. Plus she didn’t smack me nor really yell at me at all. Just jumped into the fray, kept her head, and Still tells me, She Loves me! What a great wife! A special thank you also to U N Me, skipjack marina, and the Emergency Paramedic’s of Cecil County.
these are great people.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Joe permalink
    June 8, 2013 1:41 pm

    Holy Shit Uncle Danny !! That is an edge of the seat rip-roaring read ! ( Not to mention being true, sucking, and a horrible thing to have happen to you…) …But I think you should write a book….

  2. Anonymous permalink
    June 8, 2013 1:57 pm

    Wow, glad you’re ok. Keep us posted on how you’re doing, and ya, you have a great wife. ;)

  3. Dinesh permalink
    June 8, 2013 2:09 pm

    Holy crap! Glad you’re ok!

  4. Loren permalink
    June 11, 2013 12:21 am

    Holy Shit is right! am (as always :) impressed with your amazing ability to find the humour in the awful…and your gratefulness for the blessings along with the bad shit is admirable Uncle Dan. Meantime, am with you on the amazing wife – she is incredible and am so glad that you were not alone when this happened. But, would like to know…is the surgery for your arm (which sounds like you cut it?) or something else and where are you and what hospital – shark river or friggin Baltimore at this point? either way – and always – sending you hugs and love!
    -Loren

  5. Anonymous permalink
    June 12, 2013 6:39 pm

    It was like reading an adventure novel.

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