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THE SHIP OF FOOLS IN A PERFECT STORM
by Mariane Holbrook
6/21/2019 / Humor
The Three Amigos, Harry G, John Holbrook and Captain Wetlegs haven't seen the movie, "The Perfect Storm"; they don't need to. They rode out the "Perfect Storm" and lived to tell about it.
One morning at Carolina Beach, The Three Amigos met as usual for their wake-up coffee at McDonald's. They were in splendid form. They joked and cajoled, downed several cups of coffee and finally bidding their envious compadres goodbye, headed for Captain Wetlegs' Big Yellow Boat which was parked beside the bait and tackle shop. It had been gassed up by Herb at the local gas station, a chore Herb relished since the Big Yellow Boat drinks gasoline with the same gusto that Harry G guzzles his favorite beverage.
As the men stashed their fishing gear, snacks, drinks and bait into the boat, Herb suggested that in order to relieve the boredom, John should take along a book to read. Dismissing the idea, the men headed for the marina to set forth on a day of fun fishing, fellowship and (the group being what is) sheer foolishness.
At the marina, they added another passenger, "K" to the boat, waved goodbye to strangers they didn't know and laughed their way through the inlet to the ocean.
They needled each other, picked on Harry G who began snapping can lids and made fun of Captain Wetlegs' piloting skills. Wetlegs' name wasn't just handed to him on the proverbial silver platter; he earned it single-handedly by sinking two boats; hence the name "Wetlegs".
Reaching their destination of 26 miles out, they began some serious fishing. They managed to haul up an imposing curtain of about 18 fish, a few grunts and some small black bass. "Not to worry. Plenty of time to bring up the big ones," they reassured themselves.
They told jokes, made fun of each other's fishing skills and were content with Captain Wetlegs' earlier weather forecast which promised optimum fishing conditions all day.
Suddenly Harry G spotted them. Huge black clouds and lightning due West. Thinking he had better seize the moment, Captain Wetlegs revved up the motor and made a beeline toward home on full throttle.
At 15 miles out, white caps began appearing, followed quickly by 12-14 foot waves. (They later learned that 2 storms had come together and their boat was smack-dab in the middle of the converging storms.)
As the sheets of rain began stinging their faces, bare arms and legs like angry, nose-diving hornets, John, feigning bravado exclaimed, "Wow! Look at that beautiful lightning!"
"You crazy idiot" yelled Harry G. "We're a lightning rod out here on the water!" With that, Harry G popped another seal on a drink can.
John laughed and remarked, "I'd give $5 million to have my wife on this boat now for only 5 minutes!" (a remark his wife later rewarded with an uncomprehending, blank stare).
As 13 feet high waves dumped gallons of water inside the boat, "K" began bailing water out with a 5-gallon bucket, a chore made virtually impossible with Harry G's scores of empty drink cans clogging the 2 drain holes.
Captain Wetlegs instructed Harry G to radio their bearings at 167 DEGREES off Carolina Beach. Harry, having by now consumed enough beverage to satisfy the sixth fleet of the Navy, nervously informed the Coast Guard that the Big Yellow Boat was 167 MILES off Carolina Beach, an error which did little to further endanger them since the radio was set on the wrong channel anyway.
With air temperatures dropping 20 degrees, the men became cold and anxious. Harry G, white with fear, eyed John's snuggly fitting official Coast Guard life jacket (which John had bought earlier at a yard sale). Grabbing hold of John, Harry reasoned that John was a practicing Christian and if this boat was going down, Harry was going to his eternal reward holding onto John for dear life. (Who knew? It might work!)
With the storm now at full force, Captain Wetlegs could only see 3 feet in front of the boat. He followed the GPS to continue his bearings. The waves shook the boat and sprayed the men with salty foam, while around them, the sea rose as great mountains, angry, turbulent and unforgiving. Jagged spears of lightning crashed around them, narrowly missing their target.
Back on shore, Harry G's son, Chip, (a mate on another boat) expressed alarm that his dad was still out on the ocean in such a dangerous storm. Friends began phoning each other to ask if the Big Yellow Boat had returned. Wives began pacing, watching the clock, alternately praying for and inwardly screaming at their husbands on board the boat.
Finally, the soaked and exhausted men reached shore and pulled into the marina with a full crew and a boat half full of water.
The Big Yellow Boat proved how soundly it was constructed. Wetlegs proved his prowess as a captain, John proved he could fish with the big boys and not lose his lunch, "K" quickly made a bee-line for home and Harry G proved he could face the worst storm of his life, still open a drink can, and call on God to protect him.
And somewhere in the heavenlies, a group of guardian angels folded their wings, slammed them down on a table and declared flatly and in unison, "WE QUIT."
Mariane Holbrook is a graduate of Nyack College and High Point University, a retired teacher, a published author, musician and artist, is married, has two sons and three grandchildren. Her passion is Jesus Christ; to know Him, love Him, serve Him, and one day to be with Him forever.
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