Thursday, August 25, 2005

Try a float plan next time

Originally uploaded by The Thirsty Sailor.
So last night about ten o'clock, Mrs. Smith (not her real name) was getting worried. Her husband had gone out sailing in the afternoon and he wasn't back yet.

Mr. Smith, 61 years old, purchased a 17-foot sailboat a month a go. Mrs. Smith didn't like the idea of him sailing alone -- or sailing at all, for that matter -- so Mr. Smith wasn't all that forthcoming with information whenever he decided to get underway.

Yesterday he told her he'd be back in by 8PM. He didn't tell his wife where he was going; she only knew he kept the boat at the marina a Fort Monroe on the north side of Hampton Roads and the facing the Chesapeake Bay.

By ten o'clock she was worried, so she drove on down to the marina. Her hubby's car was there; his cell phone was on the front seat. The boat was not in its slip. She got worried and called the Coast Guard.

The Sector Hampton Roads' Operations Unit Controller (who, until last week was known as the Search & Rescue Controller, but that is a different story altogether) took down the information about Mr. Smith and his boat. Mrs. Smith thought the boat had no radio or other electronics, no light, and no safety equipment. Actually, she wasn't sure at all; since she didn't like the fact Mr. Smith had bought the boat, he hadn't filled her in on what the boat had.

At the same time, the watchstander at Station Little Creek was receiving a report of a suspicious small sailboat without any lights in the vicinity of the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel.

Suspecting the two reports were correlated, the Controller dispatched a Coast Guard small boat to find the sailboat, assess the situation, and -- if it was Mr. Smith -- get him back to the marina and the arms (clutches) of his wife. Not being certain these were one-in-the-same, the Controller also began to develop a plan for subsequent searches, including a search plan for a C-130 Hercules from Air Station Elizabeth City.

Thankfully, the suspicious boat was Mr. Smith, and the small boat crew got him back to Fort Monroe safely.

Of course, we're not sure what happened after that. We suspect his wife did him in. He probably was thinking that it was better to be lost and missing than to receive the treatment his wife was bound to give him. He's going to be in the dog house for a good long while. She'll likely never let him take the boat out again.

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