Saturday, December 09, 2006

"I heard it before I seen it!"

Here is a heart warming happy-ending story of surviving an encounter with real life freaque waves, copy-right from today. I think in the spirit of the Advent to Christmas, it should be re-told and re-read it again and again:

A rogue wave sunk a commercial fishing boat off the coast of Florida nearly killing the captain and another crew member. Friday night, for the first time since the November 17, 2006 ordeal, Captain Duane Grove, of New Smyrna Beach, returned to the ocean with his wife Becky.

Still fearful of what happened that night Grove looked out at the waves as the wind blew and his wife gave him a hug.

Grove doesn’t know how he survived.

“I don’t know how I got out.”

It started with a storm that was making conditions rough in the Atlantic, but the captain and his crewmate, Bobby Christenson, had seen worse.
Christenson was cooking and Grove was in the wheel hull when he says he saw the wave.
“I heard it before I seen it and I looked up and I could just see a wall of water there,” said Grove Friday night. He added, “It had to be 15 to 20 ft.”

The wave rolled the boat over sending Christenson into the water and trapping Grove.

“I couldn't go out the door because of the water rushing in. I knew I had to go out the window. I tried to get to the window and the window didn't want to open up, within seconds I had water up to my neck.”

Grove was able to slide the window to the side and dove into the water.

Once in the water he met up with Christenson and they decided to try and free the life raft.

It hadn’t automatically deployed and it was stuck under the boat.

Using a rope attached to the raft, Grove triggered its explosive and it rose to the top where Grove quickly climbed aboard.

The boat itself began sinking and the rope from the raft was still attached.

The fishing boat pulled the raft under and took Grove with it.

“I was 15 ft. underwater before I got out,” Grove said.

The captain did make it back to the surface.

He hadn’t gone down with either the boat or the life raft.

It was then that he saw his only source of hope, the ship’s emergency beacon.

It was floating in the water.

He stroked and kicked to reach it.

After he grabbed hold of it, he had to find his way back to Christenson, “I swam as long as I could then I just laid on my back and I started backstroke. Bobby would yell at me so I knew which direction to swim in.”

Eventually, he made it back to a fish cooler where Christenson was already holding on.

The two then used the fish to feed the nearby dolphins and even small sharks.

The whole time they thought this could be the end.

“You don’t know which one is gonna die first and it’s the worst thing you can go through,” said Grove as a tear fell from his eye.

It looked like all hope was lost, but the two men confided in each other and did what they could to stay warm, “we hugged quite a bit.”

As hypothermia started to take hold of the men they spotted and a Navy aircraft making circles.

Christenson took of his soaked t-shirt and started waving it back and forth and the plane which was helping the Coast Guard look for the men spotted them.

“I told God he needed to send me an Angel and he did,” said Grove.

The plane called in a Coast Guard helicopter that hoisted the two men to safety.

Once in the hands of the Coast Guard, the two men had their temperature taken and it was just 94 Degrees.

As he looked out over the water tonight, it was clear Grove isn’t ready to hit the high seas anytime soon.

He does however have a fresh outlook on life.

“It was like being born again,” said Grove.
“I told God he needed to send me an Angel and He did!” What a wonderful thing to say and hear!

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