Sunday, October 14, 2007

Swept out to sea

I found this following story from here, complete with this nice nearshore wave picture:
Here's the story:
Standing near the edge of his boat that was gently rocking with the waves, Greg Hartley made the final adjustments to his scuba gear. Satisfied all his equipment was just right, he stepped off into the frigid waters of Queen Charlotte Strait. Queen Charlotte Strait is a long deep channel of water that runs between the northern part of Vancouver Island and Canada. Greg's co-workers on the boat watched his trail of air bubbles for a few moments before they resumed working on other duties.

With a series of kicks with his flippers and a sweep of his hands, Greg propelled himself to the bottom of the strait. The amount of life he saw during these dives never ceased to amaze him. Through his mask he saw red rockfish, green ling cod, multitudes of starfish, crabs and eels. On the floor of the strait he was looking for sea urchins.

Whenever he would see one, he would grab the spiny little creature in his hand and then drop it in a bag made out of netting tied to his belt. Sea urchins were a favorite food of sea otters. Many people considered them a delicacy also, and Greg made his living by diving for them.

Once His dive went well and bag was bulging with the red and sometimes purple little urchins. He checked his watch, it was time to surface. Upwards he swam, when he broke the surface, he did a 360 degree turn looking for the boat. It was nowhere in sight. Slowly it dawned on him that the tidal current had swept him along while he was diving and now his boat was nowhere near. The current moving as fast as a man might jog had been carrying him out to sea. What a fool he had been for diving when the tide was rushing out!

He must do everything possible to stay afloat until someone spotted him. He knew he couldn�t swim long with the heavy equipment so he undid the latches and the belt and let his expensive equipment slip from him and sink into the depths. After treading water for what seemed a long time he saw a log and swam to it. He pulled himself up and straddled it like a horse. The log would keep him floating but he wasn't out of danger for the relentless current was still carrying him out to sea.

The hours passed and the sun dipped beneath the horizon. By the light of the moon and the stars overhead, Greg could barely see the faint outlines of the waves as they washed up against the log.

This reminds me the movie I once watched about a couple went on a diving trip on a commercial boat. The couple lost track of time while underwater and the boat lost count of total passengers. When they surfaced, their boat had already left without them. In the movie the couple were never rescued. I did not expect an ending like that and I was very dismayed by it. But in this story Greg was luckier:

Greg didn’t perish in the water that night. Through out the long hours of darkness he sang songs like “Home on the Range” to keep himself awake. Then out of the darkness of the night he was startled to see a giant freight ship bearing down on him. The prow of the ship was slicing through the water like a giant knife. Huge waves of foaming white water curled up its sides. To his dismay the ship was headed directly towards him. It would crush him and snap the log to pieces as easily as if it was a toothpick. Wildly Greg waved his arms and yelled with all his might. Just when all seemed lost, the boat turned slightly to the side and slowed to a stop. The captain hearing that a man had been lost at sea had prudently placed a sailor to act as lookout on the bow of the ship. He had seen Greg and notified the captain with just enough time to avoid hitting him. They picked him up out of the water and Greg was saved. It was a night he will never forget.
It was a night he will never forget! You can certainly say that again, and again. This is a better story than the Hollywood movie I wasted my time to watch!


Anonymous said...

I'm Greg's older, and I have some sad news.

Greg passed away in Paris on August 20th.

He just turned 43 a week earlier, leaving his wife and two fine sons whom he cherished.

He is missed by us all

rehartley ( at ) msn ( dot ) com

Anonymous said...

Wow, Ted, fancy reading you here!

I'm Greg's youngest sis, Mel. I remember how afterwards he made us laugh hysterically when telling us what he answered his rescuers when they asked him if he needed anything: 'Just a touch of Grey Poupon please'. There are so many crazy & wacky stories that punctuated Greg's life. I miss him terribly but remember him fondly.
PS I miss you too Snodge.