The shipwreck

May 29, 2008
By Chris McEvoy, Discovery Bay, CA

It was the summer of 2005 and Joe, Don and Tony had been close friends since high school. It had been 20 years since they last all got together for a vacation. All three of them had very busy lives with their careers and family and had no real time to go on a vacation. Joe had just finished breakfast and was getting ready for work. Joe was a dentist who had a very lucrative practice in Hollywood. Joe had been thinking about his old high school friends and how they haven’t had much time for each other. Joe told his wife, “ I really have to get a hold of Don and Tony and try to schedule a vacation with them this year.”

Joe left for work and while he was stuck in traffic, he decided to give them both a call. Joe called Tony first. Tony was a firefighter and was at his station in San Diego. Tony answered the phone and Joe said, “hey there bud, it’s Joe and I got a plan for us.” Joe told Tony that he was planning a vacation. Joe thought a trip to Tahiti by plane and then a fishing voyage to several islands would be ideal. Tony said he didn’t have time for a vacation. After some persuasion, Tony gave in to Joe’s vacation plan.

Joe next called Don, who was a pharmacist at Walgreens. Joe explained his vacation plans to Don who actually was very excited about the trip. Don said, “ I’m all for it, lets get the heck out of here and have some fun.”

Joe spent the next few days calling travel agencies trying to make all the reservations. Joe had scheduled an early morning flight from Los Angeles to Tahiti. Once they arrived in Tahiti, they would take a charter boat to several islands to do some sport fishing. The plan was complete and they were scheduled to leave on July 2.

Joe couldn’t wait and was so excited for the trip with his best buddies from high school. They all met at the airport with their luggage and fishing supplies. The boarded the jet and would be in Tahiti in about 8 hours. During the flight, Joe, Don and Tony did a lot of chatting trying to catch up on old times. Before they knew it, it was time to prepare for landing. They were already in Tahiti and the fun was just about to begin. They grabbed their carryon luggage and waited their turn to disembark the plane. When they arrived inside the terminal, a man holding a sign with their names on it was waiting for them. The man was from their fishing charter boat and was going to give them a ride to the fishing harbor.

They drove by van for about one hour when the arrived in a small fishing village about 45 miles from the center of Tahiti. There they were to board the 45-foot Chris Craft fishing vessel, which would then take them by sea to the island areas for a week of fishing. It was a clam day and the weather was around 75 degrees. The trip to the island fishing area would take a half-day.

The left the harbor at 9 am and the seas were calm and it looked like it was going to be a beautiful trip. As it approached noon, they sky started to darken and the calm sea began rolling and the swells were getting higher and higher. The captain checked the radar and saw a fast moving storm coming their way. The storm was not predicted and there had been nothing on any of the weather reports about it. The seas were getting rougher and rougher and the 45-foot vessel began tossing back and forth in the ocean. The captain, over the loud speaker, yelled, “ Get you life jackets on and prepare for rough seas”.

Don grabbed his life jacket first and started to put it on. Tony and Joe grab their life jackets next. Tony said, “ This is not what I had planned for in a vacation”. Joe told them it was just precautionary and not to worry. The sky was getting darker and darker and the rain started to pour down on them. The vessel, which at one time looked very big, now looked very small against the huge swells in the ocean. The boat tossed them around the deck and they had to grab on to the rails to keep them from falling overboard.

The rain was not stopping and the boat began taking on water from the large amount of rain and the ocean water that was coming over the side from the huge swells. The boat’s emergency pump tried to keep up with the large amount of water, but was having a difficult time. The captain was worried that his boat was not going to make it through the storm. He radioed an SOS to the Tahitian Coast Guard and then prepared for evacuation. The captain tried to lower the single lifeboat, but the cable from the electric winch jammed. Don helped the captain try to free the cable, which was twisted inside the motor. It was no use. The cable could not be freed. The captain told us that we would have to abandoned ship and use our life jackets to keep us a float in the ocean. The vessel began to list to the starboards and it was ready to capsize.

The captain gave the order and we jumped into the ocean just as the vessel began to go under water. The seas were really rough and Joe wasn’t sure if everyone got off the vessel safely. He yelled out to Don an Tony to see if they were ok. The sound of the vessel going under and the heavy rain made it hard to hear anything. Joe yelled, “Don, Tony are you ok?” Joe waited for them to answer.

To be continued.

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