One week ago, I wrote a post called “Links to Stories about Dungeness Crab Boats in Peril,” in which I included links to stories about two different boats that had run into serious trouble at sea outside of Westport.
I also mentioned that one of George’s crewmembers had seen and heard members of the crew of one of the boats shortly after their rescue, and that I hoped to get his story.
I am pleased to inform you that (after prying him away from his very beautiful and pregnant wife for a few minutes on a recent break) I now have that story.
One must keep in mind, however, that after any unexpected event, it is natural for multiple interpretations and recollections to follow. For example, five people could watch one event, and there would be five separate and vastly different accounts of that one event.
My witness was inside a bar in Westport one night about 9:00. The following is his account—simply that of a bystander— of what he saw and heard. Neither one of us is claiming that it is exact.
“Well,” he begins, “I was over playing pool when this lady came into the bar screaming. She came screaming into the bar like bloody murder, ‘The boat’s sinking! We need some help!’
“It was my understanding that she came right off the boat. She was soaking wet. Fresh-out-of-the-water wet. Half of the bar just sat there not knowing if this was just a crazy lady, or what was really going on. Apparently, they had been swimming in the water. She was soaking wet as though she had swam to shore really quick.
“There was some confusion at first as to whether their boat sank at the dock or on the jetty. It became clear the boat sank out on the bar. Anyway, she ran straight inside to the bar, and then a bunch of people left with her.
“Meanwhile, I was still playing pool when six cops burst through the front door: a State trooper, a few Westport cops, a sheriff. I thought they were coming for the smokers, as this is a bar that still lets you smoke inside.
(Note: In the State of Washington, you cannot smoke inside of or within 25 feet of any public building.)
“They blew right by me, though,” he continued, “And tackled a Mexican guy who, I guess, was wanted out of Arizona on a $20,000 warrant. Apparently he had been hiding in Westport, working at a cannery. ‘I love you, Baby!’ he called out to someone at the bar as he was hauled off.
“The craziest thing though,” my witness said, “Was that nobody at the bar missed a beat. Nobody even looked up. It was like this happened every day.
“About an hour later, everyone who went to help the sinking boat came back in and they were all soaking wet. I believe they went straight to the bar and bought a round of drinks. At least, that is what I heard. I lost track of it all after the incident with the cops, so this is now just a bar story. I didn’t hear anything more about it after that.”
“They were buying drinks?” I asked.
“Well, there was nothing else for them to do,” he replied.
I asked the witness then if he was ever nervous or even scared while at sea. He responded by telling me a story about an especially wild (“odd,” was his word) storm in Alaska that he experienced during the halibut-and-blackcod season last spring.
“But,” he said, “I never have felt unsafe. I’ve thought about it a million times, what the scenario would be like. But I’ve never felt unsafe. I’ve just thought about what I’d do.”
“And what would you do?” I asked.
“I’d haul over to my survival suit and grab the EPIRB. They’d have to pry it from my hands,” he answered.