We could not sleep - the lights stayed on ; bare bulbs in their porcelain sockets. But it meant that there was heat. There was safety, so we didn’t mind, and tried to doze, eat crackers and planned the next day. The Harbormaster shooed us out of his office and we went to sit on the uncomfort of the Electronics Store floor. All of the radio scanners were on - lined up on shelves and counters - squawking alternatively and sometimes together. Our Siberian settled down and curled up between us and we were warmed.
That evening we heard reports that the pilot boat, “The Can-Do”, had set out from Gloucester to rescue the crew of the “Global Hope”. The Harbormaster was swearing - the “Can-Do” was in trouble.
“C’mon Quirk!”, a few of the men shouted and whistled. They explained to me that Quirk was the captain and had effected many rescues around Cape Ann and further towards The Banks. He had no fear of the Atlantic. But there was a hush as we heard his transmissions, progressively dire, a few miles from us. He and his boat and his crew were in trouble - a forty-foot long, double-hulled steel working boat.
Out in the White World, over the water, Quirk struck Egg Rock. His engine failed, they hit the Rock. They thought. They had lost their electronics, had lost their bearings, but they were on the Rock. But then, he reported, they were being pounded by twenty-foot waves. They were “sitting tight”...”Thirty-foot waves”….
A few hours later, around 11 pm or midnight, there were reports that the crew of the “Can Do” had been rescued, or rescued themselves, and were on shore, “ being taken to the Hospital”. We all smiled ; Quirk had failed, but prevailed. He would live another day. No one knew the crew - there had been several other men on-board. Meanwhile, the Crew of the “Global Hope” had been reporting that they were in no danger of sinking but very uncomfortable. They decided that help wasn’t necessary and would wait for the good weather the next day to be air-lifted by the Coast Guard.
All of a sudden, over the radio, as we were still smiling, came a voice. It was a Ham Radio Operator in Manchester-by-the-Sea. He said that the “Can Do” crew was still onboard, being battered by the waves and were in danger of sinking. We heard the “Can Do “ Captain’s last transmission.
A wave had broken through the 1” thick glass of the windshield and other windows on the bridge and they had stuffed a mattress in the hole. They were getting into their survival suits. There was a cry from one of the crew pleading for help, but Quirk pushed him back and calmly told those listening not to try to rescue them. That their situation was hopeless.
He signed off.
( continued )