Mishaps at Sea


I collected this from Amy Gebert, 19, who heard it from her sailing instructor, Captain Lars Harding, during a sailing class here at USC.  Amy is self identified Caucasian and is a Political Science major at USC.


So, this is pretty much what he said.  Now, it’s not necessarily good to not use technology altogether either though.  See, I knew this one guy, and he was a pretty experienced sailor and all that, but he refused to use any kind of technology in his boat.  No motor, no radio, no GPS, not even flares, no nothing!  So he goes out one day, sailing to Catalina, which is a pretty easy voyage out of L.A.  But as he’s going, his mast breaks.  I mean, just snaps in half.  And now he’s left with no working sails, no motor, and no radio.  So he tries waving to people passing by, to the fairies, but you know what they thought.  They thought he was just waving at them as they were passing by, like to say have a nice day or so.  So no one actually stops to help him.  Well, as this is going on, his boat starts to drift in the cannel, and pretty soon he is pretty darn far from most traffic to and from Catalina.  Turns out, this guy drifts for four months, four months I tell you!  Before someone finally found him.  I mean, his family thought he was dead, and then some container ship spotted him floating along and picked him up.  Course, he was completely haggard and delirious by then, beard out to here [points to stomach] and wild hair and all that.  You know how he survived? Well, he took the sail, what was left of it at least, and used it to catch rain water, although that stuff is still pretty salty.  And then, cause these seagulls would come and land on the deck, he would wait right under the deck with this big old paddle, and wait there until a seagull would hold still and when it was least expecting it, he would jump out and WHAM! [reenacts jumping and slapping paddle] hit the seagull with the paddle and kill it.  But he didn’t have fire, so he was basically living off of salt water and raw seagulls for four months until they found him.  And that stuff really fucks you up.  Anyways, it’s a good idea, even if you don’t have a motor, to at least keep a radio with you and some extra batteries.  You never know when you’ll need it.


This story is a warning to always bring safety equipment when sailing.  The story may or may not be true, though there is some slight possibility that it is real.  Nonetheless, it uses this unfortunate man’s experience as a warning not to follow his example.  The active participation in the tale, through reenactments and hand gestures, helps make the story more memorable and impactful.  To Amy, this story was particularly significant because it gave her motivation to study and learn how to use the instruments needed for sailing. Interestingly, this story is relatively common in several fishing communities around the pacific and variants have appeared in the news several times.  The story always follows the same pattern: a few people(three or less) are on a boat that drifts out to sea and they must survive for several months on rain water and raw sea gulls until they are miraculously rescued by a passing, larger ship with only a few more days to live.