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An Easter Morning Rescue

Aug 2, 2012 11:28 AM

In the iconic words of radio legend Paul Harvey, I would like to present “the rest of the story” as to the rescue of a sailor from a capsized catamaran on Easter morning off of Annapolis.
 
For the record, I was the bay pilot who notified the U.S. Coast Guard and contrary to reports, I never saw or heard anything from the distressed vessel.
 
Since the event, I’ve been thinking about how very lucky Thomas Lundvall is. On Easter morning, I was piloting a 750-foot Greek bulk carrier up the bay with orders to berth on arrival (0730) in Baltimore, the normal routine. At 0430 we received information that the berthing procedure was unexpectedly delayed for an unknown period of time. To wait out the delay, we decided to anchor at Annapolis, 3 miles north of Thomas Point Light, which we did before sunrise at 0530.
 
At 0800, we began getting under way from the anchorage. The vessel was heading in a southwesterly direction. Checking for traffic (standard operating procedure), all I saw were two other vessels anchored to the south, a southbound sailboat at Thomas Point Light, another southbound yacht approaching the Bay Bridge (3 miles away), a fishing boat to the east trolling, and a benign unidentified target 1-plus miles to the west on my starboard side in shallow water.
 
Once under way, we began slowly making a significant course change to starboard, subsequently putting the unidentified target visibly into my consciousness. Being more than a mile away, it was not clearly discernible, even when looking through the binoculars. There was no definable shape and no apparent movement. It appeared to be only white floating debris with a splotch of red. Neither the vessel’s captain nor I had any clear idea of what it was but after more than 40 years piloting on the bay, my “gut” felt very uneasy about what we were looking at.
 
Not sure, I was hesitant to call the USCG on an Easter morning for what might be nothing more than a scenic ride on the bay. I almost didn’t. But in the end, better safe than sorry prevailed and I made the call. They responded quickly, assisted by other local safety assets. Within 30 to 40 minutes Lundvall was being plucked from the frigid bay water. Kudos to all who helped for a “job well done.” Thank you.
 
I’ve been re-playing the events over and over, sometimes thinking what would have happened if I had not made the call. I was very close to not doing so. Considering the sequence of events — the unexpected delay, anchoring where we did, laying in a direction that necessitated turning toward the target rather than away, sensing that something was wrong, being able to pinpoint the location, and then making the call — has made me ponder the coincidence of the timing, on Easter and its message of Resurrection.
 
Even though I admit to be “theologically confused,” I have reached that stage of life where I seem to reflect more on the meaning of life and the hereafter. The symmetry of rescue and resurrection on a beautiful Easter Sunday morning surely is thought provoking. In the end, was Lundvall just lucky because of the cosmic convergence of random events or was there some higher or “divine” intervention working on his behalf? I guess we’ll never really know.
 
The writer is a member of the Association of Maryland Pilots.
This article first appeared in The (Annapolis, Md.) Capital and is posted here with the permission of the newspaper.

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