Photo taken day after events described below.
In 1990 I reported for duty aboard the USS Belleau Wood and within a week found myself underway for the northern Pacific to patrol the waters between Alaska and the rapidly deteriorating Soviet Union, where a new drug smuggling route had apparently sprung up. As the new guy on board, I was subjected to my fair share of hazing. I spent four hours on the bow of the ship searching for an imaginary mail buoy, climbed atop one of the masts to untangle an equally non-existent “sea bat” from a radar antenna, attempted to requisition a figure of speech called a “gigline” and ran a request to change the bulb in a figurative “smoking lamp”. I even once participated in a bogus maintenance check on a safety harness that resulted in me being left alone, suspended from the ceiling of our shop, with absolutely no way to get myself down. My Master Chief (who was in on the prank) eventually walked in on me and delivered a monumental ass-chewing to me about screwing around on the job before finally freeing me. Needless to say, within a week I quit believing anything my shipmates said.
As we approached Arctic waters, the weather took a spectacularly sudden turn for the worse. Five-story waves started breaking over the bow and the ship started taking on water. It poured in through the mooring line ports in the foc’sle, flowed down four flights of stairs and started collecting in the last compartment before the ship’s power plant, which just happened to be the compartment that I slept in. Between the ship’s rocking and pure exhaustion, I was sleeping so hard that I did not even realize it until the alarm to General Quarters was sounded and all hands were ordered to report to their battle stations.
As the lights came on in our living area, I pulled back the curtain that afforded me the only privacy I would know for the next four years and asked one of the more experienced crew members what was going on. With an extreme expression of genuine concern on his face, he told me that the ship was sinking and we had to get ready to abandon ship.
“Whatever.” I responded, knowing for certain that my leg was being pulled once again. Then I saw that there was about eight inches of water on the deck and heard the flooding alarm go off. Thirty seconds later, I had climbed nine flights of stairs to arrive at my General Quarters station wearing a pair of combat boots, a life jacket and a pair of pristine white underwear that had even odds on whether or not they would remain that way for much longer.
Besides myself, my General Quarters station was occupied by three other men, two radar technicians and my Master Chief, all of whom who were unsettlingly devoid of the dire sense of urgency that I had been afflicted with. All eyes were locked on me as if I walked into the space covered in plague. For an instant, I considered adopting a fake lisp and greeting them all with a “Well, hello thailorth!”, but I thought that the only thing that could possibly guarantee a worse beating than that would be to add an unfortunately ill-timed case of morning wood to my battle dress ensemble. All I managed to squeak out was “Ehhhh, we’re not sinking are we?”
My Master Chief, with a lit cigarette dangling out of the corner of his mouth in direct violation of General Quarters procedure, shook his head no. The other members of my shop shook their heads in disbelief and watched as I took a seat in the corner of the radar room, have been instantly accorded the social standing of a syphilitic sewer slug.
After a little while, someone brought me a pair of overalls and after donning those, I spent the rest of the night trying to ride out the weather. There was an improvised angle indicator hanging on the wall opposite me. It consisted of a weight suspended by a length of string that was tacked to a piece of cardboard. At the very bottom of the cardboard was a tick mark followed by a zero. If the weight was positioned at the zero, that meant the ship was perfectly upright. From that mid-point, were tick-marks positioned every five degrees up to 45, indicating the angle of the ship’s tilt. The maritime version of an urban legend stated that the island structures of naval ships (of which we were positioned at the very top of) were designed to break off during a 45° roll to prevent the rest of the ship from capsizing in heavy seas, hence the reason no one bothered to put a 50° mark on the cardboard. This was widely regarded as rubbish in calm seas, but in this particular instance I saw that everyone in the radar room, including my Master Chief, turned and faced the exit in a sprinter’s starting position every time that weight cleared the 35° mark.
Some time before dawn, the seas finally flattened out. The ocean was still angry, but its temper had finally simmered down enough so that the waves stopped breaking over the bow of the ship. The captain called an end to general quarters and the crew went about the business of trying to repair the damage the Arctic waves had done to us, which mainly consisted of getting rid of a bunch of salt water from places it should not have been. By lunch time I was spent. I had been up all night then worked my butt off trying to dry out our living quarters. I also had a long day ahead of me, thanks to all the extra-curricular activities my Master Chief assigned me for showing up at GQ in my skivvies, so I decided to step out for a breath of fresh air and a smoke to help recharge my batteries. Now that it was daylight, I also wanted to get a good look at what was out there that had beaten us so badly the night before.
Now, the Belleau Wood is a huge ship and even though at the time I stepped outside the ocean was still raging unrelentingly, the vessel was barely swaying at all. This kind of lulled me into a false sense of security, especially since I was looking down at the salt water tempest below from four stories above the savagery. I could not imagine trying to ply those waves on any ship less than a hundred feet in length and remembered thinking that the drug runners we were on the lookout for had worse things to worry about than us. The northern Pacific was truly a force to be reckoned with and I was truly in awe of the incredibly display of the violence of nature boiling beneath me.
I turned to my left to view the bow of the ship and try to gage how large the waves were. Before I could manage to do this however, something about the horizon grabbed my attention. The horizon always varied a little with the rise and fall of the ship but as I stood on the starboard weatherdeck, I saw a gargantuan rise that was independent of the ship’s movement. The longer I stared at it, the larger it got until it appeared menacingly at the Belleau Wood’s bow. It was a wave unlike anything I had ever seen in my entire life. I can not begin to describe the sight of it. It hit the ship just below the flight deck, just a hair below breaking over it, and it seemed like the entire vessel shuddered under its impact. I was forced to look skyward to see its crest and I stood giddy with amazement as it starting lurching its way down the length of the ship. I just could not comprehend the power contained within this bestial phenomena and as I watched it I was certain that nothing directly in its path could ever possibly survive. It was about that time that I realized that I was directly in its path.
With speed that could only originate from sheer terror, I leapt back away from the rail and dove for the watertight opening. I wrenched back the handle of the door, threw it open and jumped inside. I had my hand on the door, on the verge of pulling it back shut when the wave hit. The steel door was propelled into my hand, jamming virtually all of my knuckles before propelling my mit back towards my nose where it made impact with pinpoint precision. I was propelled backwards by the blow and the hatch, which I had been unable to secure, somehow was forced back open to let in a knee-high wall of water that took my legs out from under me and sent me hurtling face-first into the floor before propelling me ten feet down the hall.
Terrified that we could get hit again, I scrambled to my feet and ran back for the hatch. I pulled it shut as quickly as I could and secured it before falling to my knees out of breath from the effort I had just expended as well as the fear that I felt upon realizing just how close I had came to being swept out to sea. I eventually sat down, soaking wet with my back against the bulkhead when, over the ships public address system (known as the 1MC), I heard a message broadcast with a degree of proactivity so unique that it could only have originated from a military entity. “Secure all weatherdecks.”
I looked up at the speaker it had originated from and responded with, “F*** you, too.”
The door I had let the ocean in through was located very close to the mess decks and it did not take long for a gaggle of our Filipino cooks to turn the corner to investigate what the origin of all the commotion was, as well as try to find the source of all the sea water that was wreaking havoc upon their freshly mopped floor. I was relieved to see that I outranked them all. “Which one of you %$#@!?$ morons left the #&%@!?* hatch open?!?!”
They stepped back a second and looked at each other accusingly.
“WHICH ONE?!?!?” There was a brief exchange between them in Tagolog that I did not understand so, before they had a chance to figure out that none of them had I told them that since no one was willing to take responsibility, they could all grab mops and clean the shit up. I then walked away with a new-found respect for the power of water and went to try and find something to stem the steady stream of blood cascading out of my nose.
Fifteen years later, I still harbor a deep respect for the power lurking just below the surface of large bodies of water. Over the last Independence Day holiday weekend, I embarked upon our annual pilgrimage to the shores of Lake Michigan early, mainly to join my in-laws on a fishing trip upon this westernmost of The Great Lakes. The city we holiday at, Ludington Michigan, is a hot spot for King Salmon and Steelhead and on any given summer morning, beginning at 4:30 in the morning, the channel in front of my wife’s uncle’s cottage is lousy with dozens of boats on their way out into open water in pursuit of these brawling behemoths.
Due to the fact that we had been drinking until 1:30am the morning of our trip, we got a late start. I stumbled out of the house with a blistering hangover at a quarter after five and was startled to see not a single vessel on its way out to the lake. I was even more surprised to see that the channel leading to Lake Michigan, which is normally placid in even the most temperamental weather, had white-capped waves all over the place. The wind was blowing out of the west at about 25-30 miles an hour, and though there was no sign of rain, the water was looking far too rough to go fishing in. My wife’s uncle, Tom, emerged from the house a couple minutes after I did and shook his head in disappointment upon surveying the weather. “Doesn’t look good, does it?”
“Not really.” I answered as Tom’s son-in-law Mark, who had arranged the trip and was good friends with the boat’s owner, stepped out as well. As he walked up, I asked him if we should all just go back to bed.
“Naaw,” Mark said. “We need to at least show up and see what Craig wants to do. I don’t want to just leave him hanging. We can at least catch breakfast together up at the Olde Hamlin or something.”
We then got into Tom’s car and made our way to the marina. To my surprise, “Captain” Craig was awake and waiting for us at the dock. Craig had been drinking with us the night before and I was impressed that, unlike his passengers, he showed no signs of being hungover at all. As he swaggered over to meet us though, I realized why. He was basically still drunk. “What’s up, guys!” he shouted out with a beer already in hand as he walked up the pier. “This kind of sucks, eh?”
“I’ll say.” Tom replied. “So, what do you want to do?”
I figured that they would quickly decide to pack it in and try to make it out another day, but instead found Craig, Mark and Tom sincerely trying to figure out what they could safely do to try and get out to catch some fish. The three of them fish together all of the time and know the waters. Since I did not, I decided to stay out of the debate and let them come to the logical conclusion that venturing out onto the big water was nothing short of aquatic suicide. The more I listened to the conversation however, the more I realized that it was not so much that they were weighing legitimate options rather than they were trying to figure out a way to get out of admitting that they were too scared to go out. They eventually gave up and asked me what I wanted to do, the three of them staring me down with eyes that were almost pleading with me to own up to my cowardice and call off the trip. Had I been with another crowd, I might have done exactly that. With this group however, I knew that if I chickened out I would be the target of their jibes all weekend.
While they waited for my answer, I mulled over the situation and had flashbacks of the time I almost caught a wave to oceanic oblivion. I looked out across the marina and saw that I was surrounded by a couple of hundred boats. These vessels were owned by people who fished these waters religiously for years. They were experienced captains that were fully aware that this was not a day to be fooling around on the water. There was NO other boat even attempting to troll the channel, let alone trying to take on the open waters of Lake Michigan. In contrast, Captain Craig had only owned his boat for a couple of months and I believed he had just enough nautical experience to know that he did not have enough nautical experience to go out in those kinds of conditions. I did not think that he would risk all of our lives, or even worse, his boat, to keep us from questioning his courage.
After thinking about this for a couple of moments, Craig asked me, “Well JEP, what about it? You wanna go out or not?”
I walked over to the cooler at the back of the boat and cracked open a beer. I took a long hard drink before answering, not so much to boost my confidence rather than to impair my judgment. I then said, “I’m game if you are.”
Upon my agreement to go, everyone set to loading the boat with considerably less enthusiasm and speed than we usually set out with, each of us probably hoping that if we took long enough the weather would break, but going through great pains to conceal that sentiment. When we finally pushed off, a middle aged man emerged from the boat next to us and shouted, “Where the hell do you guys think you’re going?”
“Fishing!” we all cried almost in unison.
He shook his head and waved us off dismissively. “For what? A watery grave?”
As we idled down the channel, we were pleased to see that it was not as bad as we thought. It was unmistakably choppy, but nothing to be scared of. Filled with resurgent bravado, Captain Craig turned on the radio which was appropriately playing “It’s Only Rock and Roll” by the Rolling Stones. We all joined in for the chorus until the lighthouse at the end of channel came into view. Beyond that lighthouse was Lake Michigan, and she looked pissed. As we approached the outlet, we could see waves battering the break wall, sending plumes of white water clear across it. Our singing stopped as we cautiously approached the channel’s mouth. We were parallel with Ludington’s Coast Guard Station when the Stones took a break to let WKRK broadcast its weather forecast. As we were still basically in the city, reception was crystal clear, particularly the part about the Small Craft Advisory posted for the eastern waters of Lake Michigan where waves were reported to run between five and seven feet.
As the breakwater loomed before us, Tom pulled out what looked like a circular Band-Aid and stuck it behind his ear. I had seen them when I was in the navy, and though I forget what the things are actually named, we called them “Pussy Patches” and they were to help prevent sea-sickness. Tom offered me one which I refused. In my four years at sea with the navy, I had been through the northern Pacific as well as two hurricanes. I had never even come close to being seasick. Incontinent, yes. Seasick, no.
As I was unwisely turning down free drugs, Craig looked over at me from the Captain’s chair and threw a thumb in the direction of the rescue boat in front of the Coast Guard Station. “You think they’ve got a radar trained on us right now?”
I shrugged my shoulders. “I don’t see anything. I’m betting though that there’s a group of them looking at us from behind the curtains placing bets on how long it will be before they have to come out and get us.”
Five minutes later, we had crossed out of the channel and hit the breakwater. We hit a respectable five-footer head on almost immediately and the bow of the boat lifted out of the water significantly before crashing back down. It actually was kind of fun and the boat broke into a series of cheers. The same thing happened on the next big one. And the next. In fact, this went on for a few minutes. Then we were hit by a huge wave broadside that soaked my back and brought us uncomfortably close to the point of capsizing. The cheering immediately stopped as Craig cut speed and tried to stabilize the boat. “Okaaaay. I think that’s enough! You guys ready to go back and fish the channel?” We all nodded silently.
It took some doing, but Craig finally got the boat turned around and pointed back at the breakwater we had just crossed. We were now facing a formidable array of waves to get back home and none of us relished the idea of trying to cross again. I reached for another beer, having always had a dire fear of drowning sober. Craig was just about ready to gun the engine propelling us forward when Mark pointed out that now that we had passed the break, the water appeared much calmer and asked if it would not make more sense to hang around in the calmer open water until the break had settled down. As no one was very enthusiastic about courting capsizing again, we agreed that not trying to cross the break again so soon would be a slightly less worse idea than trying to. We turned back toward open water, struck up a chorus of the theme to “Gilligan’s Island” and put out a fishing line as soon as we threw out the drag bags and slowed to trolling speed.
Had we not caught anything, we probably would not have attempted to go out as far as we did, but as it turns out, the fish had teamed up with Mother Nature. No sooner had the first lure hit the water than it was hit by a fifteen pound fish. As it was my first trip out, I had the honor of bringing it in and the instant success propelled us out even further. We all felt that catching that first fish so early was an omen for a truly awesome day of angling. Of course, we were wrong but there was no way we could have known that as we kept going further and further away from shore.
About an hour after we hit the water, and a couple of minutes after downing my fifth beer, I felt a rebellious acidity in my stomach and I started regretting turning down the patch that Tom had offered to me earlier. I locked my line of sight onto the horizon to minimize the sensation caused by the rocking boat, but it did little good. Finally I had to break down and ask Tom for some drugs. He told me they were in his duffel bag down below in the cabin. Though I really felt like hell, I forced myself up to get up and go get them.
Almost as soon as I entered the cabin, I knew I had made a huge mistake. If hit with seasickness, the first thing one should do is lock one’s vision upon the horizon and do whatever it takes to not lose sight of it. This will not eliminate the nausea, but it will keep it manageable. Loosing sight of the horizon is death. You WILL hurl, and unlike the sickness associated with over-imbibing, you will NOT feel better about it afterwards. Of course, while in the cabin looking for the drugs I needed, there was no way to look at the horizon. Inside of fifteen seconds, my knees went weak, my mouth filled up with acidic saliva and my sweat pores went into hyperactive overdrive, warning me that I was about to blow.
I turned around and fell to my knees on the three steps that led to the outside. I threw open the door and, too woozy to step outside, stuck my head out of the opening and laid it down on the deck beside the captain’s feet. My stomach felt as if it was bubbling over, expanding past its point of maximum capacity before contracting ever so slightly. I let out a small, bilious burp that tasted of digestive fluid and cheap beer and was followed by a long pitiful groan that caught the captain’s attention. “You all right, JEP?” Craig asked.
“I’ll be fine in a minute.” I lied while staring at the Captains toes, which were positioned a couple of inches away from my eyes. “You may want to consider putting those feet somewhere else though just to be safe.”
At that point, the boat hit another wave broadside. It was smaller than what we had encountered at the breakwater and though this did not put us in any danger of capsizing, it ran up the port side of the ship, through an opening in the cover I had unzipped to flick my cigarette ashes through and down the seat I had been sitting in earlier before cascading into my face. This set the captain off on a tirade about me not closing the cover that I completely ignored. The water was a welcome relief to my discomfort and I was glad I had screwed up.
Unable to return to the cabin to get the medicine I needed, I untied and kicked one of my shoes off and tried to feel around for Tom’s duffel bag with my foot, all the while looking off the aft end of the boat on the lookout for the horizon, which periodically came into view when the stern dipped down into the water. After finding the bag, I worked it up to within reach of my hands and then managed to pass it to Tom, who retrieved the patch I needed and put it behind my ear. A couple minutes after that, I had worked my shoe back on without bothering to retie it and returned topside to take my place in the wet seat I had vacated before to leer at the horizon with a lascivious intensity that is usually reserved for internet pornography.
We had been idling out for around three hours before the captain decided that we had been battered enough. The open water was quickly becoming as treacherous as the breakwater had been and things were getting intolerably dicey. We brought the lines in, since with the way the lake was it would be impossible to execute the wide sweeping turn required to keep them untangled without getting broadsided, and the captain went to work pointing us in the other direction. It took some doing, but he finally managed to get the bow of the boat facing land. We then brought in the drag bags and the captain hit the throttle. In response, the engine revved, then made an incredibly unsettling gurgling noise before breaking into a series of engine misfires and skipped strokes.
Upon hearing the ominous protests of the boat’s engine, I turned and looked over at Craig. He looked back at me with the same expression Han Solo had possessed every time the Millenium Falcon failed to jump into hyperspace. At that point I knew we were in trouble. As if to remind us of our predicament, the radio station we were listening to broke in with another Small Craft Advisory warning of 5 to 7 foot waves on Lake Michigan. As this report ended, a monster wave reared up behind us, lifting the stern and pushing us forward. At that point I wondered who the hell was measuring those things. Granted, my perception may have been distorted by nausea and fear, but that wave look significantly taller than my living room ceiling. Tall enough to take my mind off of my volatile stomach and focus it on my bladder anyway.
Now that we were facing east, the wind was at our backs, all 25 miles per hour of it. This proved a momentous advantage to a distressed fishing vessel limping its way back in to port, but posed a significant obstacle to an uncomfortably buzzed, seasick passenger trying to take a leak off of the ass end of the boat in heavy seas. At first, just getting started seemed impossible. The severe rocking of the boat just made everything want to crawl back up. It was as if every big roll we took caused an involuntary reflex of the prostrate that cut off urinary flow mid-stream. Finally though, fullness overrode fear and once flow was established, nothing could stop it. Not even the angry wind-gust from Chicago that redirected the piss stream into a gravity-defying anti-arc that took it up over the port side of the boat and sent it on a collision course with Tom, who was seated directly behind me. I hurriedly tried to compensate by turning to my right to try to project it further out off of the port side, but this caused some concern on Tom’s side who, suspecting my intentions, shot out of his seat while loosing a stream of profanity and barking orders to watch where I “WAS #%&amp;$@ POINTING THAT #%$&*!?& THING!!!”
As I was still jockeying for a safe position, we took another good roll and I was forced to use both hands to hold on to something other than my manhood in a valiant effort to stay upright. The last thing I wanted to do was go over the side with that particular appendage flying free so close to the boat’s propeller. The result was predictable and reminiscent of watching a loose firehouse, or rather would have been had my genetics been a little kinder to me. Once finished I had to hose down the deck, the bulkheads, a seat, my shoes, my hands and the lower portions of my pants. Tom probably could have used a squirt or two as well but I managed to convince him that the stuff he had been doused with was water spray from the waves breaking across the stern.
The closer we came to shore, the rougher the water got. After taking a couple of very severe hits, we started preparing the boat for the eventuality that the Coast Guard may indeed be plucking us out of the water in the very near future. These preparations consisted mainly of hiding all of the empty beer cans in the cabin below and turning the radio to the emergency channel in preparation for transmitting our distress signal. I eyed the captain’s cell phone and tried to figure out if it would be better to dial a “9” and a “1” and wait, or to complete the call to emergency services and give them a real-time account of what was going on while it was happening so that our rescuers would know what they were in for, a conversation that I imagined would go something like:
Emergency Dispatch. How may I help you?
Hi! How’re you doing, babe?
Fine. Can I help you with something?
Not quite yet, but we’ll probably have something for you in a couple of minutes.
Oh, I don’t know for sure but we could possibly muster up a couple of missing persons, a drowning and, if we really put our minds to it, a fiery explosion that would look awesome on the 10 O’Clock News.
Background Voice 1:
Hey Guys! Watch this!
You’d better get the Coast Guard on the way. I think the possibility of disaster has just graduated to a probability.
We hit the breakwater like brick wall. The boat was struck by another broadside wave that sent us hurtling towards the lighthouse, a trip that was halted only by another set hitting us on the opposite side. We then took a hit in back that sent us sideways, a precarious position that Craig worked feverishly to correct before we were swamped. The water refused to cooperate though and we got nailed several more times while we tried to straighten out. Only luck kept us upright. At this point, the boat went completely silent and the color bled out of the captain’s face. Finally, he turned to me and asked, “You ever seen anything like this when you were in the navy?”
I nodded uncomfortably, having a good idea what this question was leading to. “Yeah, a couple of times.”
“What did you do?”
“Usually I just shook and pissed all over myself.”
“Seriously, man!” Craig obviously did not think it was an appropriate time for cracking jokes. “What do you do? Didn’t they make you guys steer ships and tie all those weird knots and shit?”
“Dude, I was an electronics technician! I spent six years getting drunk and playing Nintendo. I didn’t steer ships and I can barely keep my shoes tied!” As I said this I happened to look down at my feet and saw that the shoe I had kicked off earlier was still untied. I lifted it up into the air as proof. “SEE!”
Craig was very visibly agitated at this point as things seemed to be spiraling out of control. He pointed towards a point to the left of the channel we were trying to enter and asked, “You think I should steer for there and hope the current takes to where we need to be?”
I looked towards where he was pointing and saw a couple of serious waves break over the lighthouse pier. “Dude, if you do that those things are going to screw us up worse than Kenneth Lay’s checkbook.” No one even attempted to acknowledge that joke. I figured that it was because no one knew who the former CEO of Enron was, they were too scared to appreciate the humor involved or that this particular attempt to lighten the situation was just not very funny. In reality, it was probably a combination of all three factors.
While Captain Craig tried to decide what to do, the water made his decisions for him. We got broadsided again and then, as we were spinning, got aft-ended. I was lifted out of my seat and thrown to my knees in the aisle. Mark was holding on to anything he could to stay on board. Tom was speechless and Craig was turning the wheel every way could with no effect. At idling speed, the boat just did not have the propulsion it needed to steer. We seemed to get hit both port and starboard, a situation I thought nautically impossible. Some waves seemed to hit us from the front while others tossed us forward from the back. My nausea finally disappeared, terror turning out to be a far more effective cure for sea-sickness than medication. I was bracing myself for our imminent capsizing when suddenly everything went silent. Inexplicably, we ended up in the channel, upright and unharmed.
In an instant, we emerged from seven-foot waters into a channel where the sea-walls kept the waves below three. Relatively speaking, the water was practically a sheet of glass. Captain Craig erupted into maniacal laughter as he righted the boat and pointed it towards the marina. He then looked at the rest of us and let out a phrase that was somewhat less than inspiring. “Hehehehe! I didn’t think we were going to make it!”
When we pulled back alongside the dock, Craig’s middle aged neighbor emerged from his boat smiling and shaking his head. “You out there fishing all this time?”
Craig nodded. “Hell yeah!” He then lifted the lid to the cooler to show off the salmon and lake trout we had reeled in. “None of you wooses went out, eh?”
Craig’s neighbor shook his head. “No way. You’re friggin’ nuts. We all got together and watched you head out. We thought for sure the Coast Guard would be on their way to get you guys in an hour.”
“Gimme a break. It was a piece of cake.” Before long, Craig was telling the story to a group of people who had gathered around to hear how he had braved the weather just to get a good day’s worth of fishing in. A couple of people commended us for our dedication to our sport and commented about our fearlessness in the face of conditions that bad. They said our boat looked like a ping-pong ball on its way out and no one could believe that we kept going further into open water after the beating we took at the break. We took our accolades with modesty and responded in kind with humble nonchalance. I would not say that we entered the annals of legend with our little escapade, but Craig undoubtedly had people talking about him the rest of the weekend. After we left the marina, we were a bit impressed by the minor adulation we had received back at the dock. It made me wonder how many other times acts born of nothing more than sheer stupidity on a biblical scale were lauded as courage upon their conclusion with a happy ending. Having made it back, we were hailed as fanatically dedicated sport-fishermen. Had we capsized at the break like we probably should have, we undoubtedly would have been known as nothing more than four clinical morons who, though undoubtedly blessed with balls, came up far short on brains and, ultimately, buoyancy.