Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Thoughts on Laura & the Picton Castle

The Picton Castle never found Laura. They searched the waters long after hope for “small miracles” had faded. Now they continue on their sail to the Caribbean where they will continue to “live Laura’s dream.”

I first learned of this tragedy on my flight home from St. Thomas. And ever since, I’ve been following it closely. Initially I didn’t place Laura’s name and figured that the missing sailor was some newbie. When I saw her pic it hit me. I knew her.

She had a tattoo on her left shoulder of a tall ship – a silhouette. There was a red dot on one of the sails. I had no idea what the red dot was, but I was always curious about it - curious enough to steal glances, but never curious enough to ask.

Dimples dotted her smile.

Her hair was shorter than mine.

I didn’t know that her father was hockey hall of famer, and GM of the Canadiens, Bob Gainey. I haven’t read a story about her disappearance without the mention of this and it kind of burns me. They all read: “The daughter of Bob Gainey, hockey hall of famer…” To me she was just Laura. I didn’t know her last name. I had never heard of her father. Referring to her as “Bob Gainey’s” daughter makes her seems like she was a vulnerable little girl. She wasn’t. In fact, I’m pretty sure that if it came down to it, she could’ve whooped me.

In some of the reports I’ve read, experts are calling out for an investigation. But neither the Canadian nor the US governments can investigate because the Picton Castle is registered in the Cook Islands. These same experts did not expect one to be launched, but the Cook Islands just announced that they will be carrying out an investigation.

It’s not uncommon to have ships registered with a country far away from its homeport. This is the MO for about every cruise ship. Capt. Moreland the Captain of the PC says that the reason the ship is registered in the Cook Islands is to make it easier to employ sailors from all over the world, not to skirt regulations or safety procedures.

Being on a boat is dangerous. This is nothing new. It is especially dangerous when you are on a ship that requires you to work 10 stories above the deck on a rope ladder. It’s what made sailing on the Picton Castle such an experience.

I hope the investigation is carried out thoroughly to the satisfaction of all and that the PC can continue to do what it does. Because, as I mention in the conclusion of my story on the PC:

The Picton Castle haunts the dreams of those who know her. But even if they never see her again, they will find comfort and joy in the knowledge that somewhere out there, on Earth’s great waterways, she is afloat. That someone is on watch from her decks. Someone is aloft, greasing her masts.

My heart goes out to Laura’s family and the crew of the PC.

2 comments:

Dan said...

"The Picton Castle haunts the dreams of those who know her. But even if they never see her again, they will find comfort and joy in the knowledge that somewhere out there, on Earth’s great waterways, she is afloat. That someone is on watch from her decks. Someone is aloft, greasing her masts"

-- As former Picton Castle crew on the second world voyage, I've often tried to put a finger on the emotions I feel when remembering my time onboard. Your last paragraph here is very well said.

My sympathies, thoughts and warm regards are with Laura's family, Captain Michael and crew, Captain Dan, and the rest of the Picton Castle family.

Kelsey said...

Dan,

Thanks. I was on the PC for a short time and only got a taste of what it must be like to be a part of the ship.

I'm jealous of your experience and realize that I could never know what it must really be like unless I was to go on an extended voyage. Listening to those who had, and watching their expressions and passions surface, enabled me to write that last paragraph.