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Standing Tall
The ANTICIPATION sport fisher blows up and the heros that saves lives 

                   STANDING TALL - cwferguson


     It was shortly after one o'clock in Cabo San Lucas.  A full moon rode high and proud over the Sea of Cortez and a hundred securely moored yachts bathed in its moonlight.  Gentle white combers frolicked along the deserted beaches surrounding the protected harbor.  John and Sarah Donnavan were sipping a glass of

Cabernet on the deck of their 42-foot Bertram; admiring the cloudless sky and the quietude of the cool, January night.  They waved joyfully at a young couple strolling hand in hand down themoon drenched beach, but the couple, caught up in the romance of the moment, never noticed them.

     The explosion was stunning.  The Donnavans spun toward the noise and saw a shimmering glow fifty yards down the anchorage.

They reached the gunnel just as the second explosion rocked the harbor.  Before anyone could ascertain the exact location of the disaster, the bay was illuminated by frenzied shadows dancing grotesquely through multicolored lights; fire.

     Emergency channel 16 crackled, "Jesus Christ, a god-damned boat just blew up out here.  Get us a Doctor!  Do ya read me?.  Oh, my God.  Doesn't somebody out there read me?"

     Tom Sample wasn't quite ready to go to bed and stepped outside to have a cigarette on the beach.  He glanced up at the star studded sky and then looked admiringly toward the 64-foot Hattaras that had just checked in from Newport Beach, the ANTICIPATION, on its way to La Paz.  "Yeah, I was having a cigarette and all of a sudden I heard a loud hissing sound; like gas escaping from a canister of propane.  I heard an explosion and it looked like there was a fire in the galley.  I don't know why, but I looked at my watch; it was exactly one thirty-six.  When I looked back toward

the ANTICIPATION, the whole damned boat just exploded."   

     Chris, Jim, and George, young adults from Southern California, had decided to call it an early evening and left The Oasis discotheque just before 01:00 hours.  They walked to the Hacienda dingy dock and pointed their ponga toward the CASA DEL MAR, a 61-foot Tollycraft, moored a hundred feet aft of the ANTICIPATION.  They heard the first explosion as they cleared the harbor entrance; as they entered the bay they saw a boat engulfed in flames.  Jim was coherent, but still shaken the following day, "Jeeze, I thought it might be our boat on fire when I first saw it.  Then I realized it was the new one.  Flames were boiling a hundred and fifty feet in the air.  It was terrifying."

     Chris maneuvered the ponga next to CASA DEL MAR and ordered, "Cut the lines, Jim.  Get her outta here.  It's really getting hot."  He remembers seeing the ESCAPADE through dense smoke and vaguely remembers John Kilroy or Charlie Johnson yelling at a couple of sailing yachts, "Get the hell away from her or we're all gonna burn up."

     Ignoring the blistering inferno, Chris motored toward the ANTICIPATION; looking for survivors.  A rubber raft floated by with a guy crumpled up inside, clutching a line.  George cried out, "Chris!  Over there!"  Two bodies were floating in the water; one, face down.  Chris eased next to the first victim and they hauled him into the ponga; sputtering, but alive.  It took both young men to lift the second victim aboard.  Jim glanced at Chris, his eyes wide with shock.  "This guy's burnt pretty bad. I...I think he's gone."

     There was a movement on the port side.  One of the deck hands from the ANTICIPATION was attempting to swim toward the blazing vessel.  Chris gunned the ponga to within fifty feet of the flaming Hattaras and cut the swimmer off.  They grappled with him to get him aboard; he was in shock.  "My friends.  I have to get my friends.  Help me get my friends."  Jim threw a blanket around him, "We got 'em, buddy.  Everything's O.K.  We got 'em."

     Jim and Gloria Davis had switched on the spot light of their 85-foot DEMONSTRATOR.  "Bring them over here, boys, we've got blankets ready.  The Doctor's on her way."  As the four of them tenderly eased the victims on board they heard a cough.  Jim's face relaxed with a smile.  "He's alive.  He's still got a chance." 

     A ponga raced toward the DEMONSTRATOR from the inner harbor.  Dr. Alma Va'zquez scrambled aboard.  She administered what aid she could under the circumstances and took charge.  The burn victim required immediate emergency room treatment.  Within 24 hours, George Pasha, owner of the ANTICIPATION, was admitted to a burn center in California.  The others were treated at local facilities and released. 

     Of the six marlin fishermen aboard, two died a fiery death, one would die at a California burn center, and three have thanked his individual Keeper, while continuing to mourn the loss of their friends.  Dave Hagerman, who skippered the ANTICIPATION, was on shore that night and will always wonder 'what went wrong.'  The

Port Captain and a U.S. Consular employee would have to deal with the charred remains of the unidentified deceased.  A marine casualty representative would have to deal with the cause of the disaster and a salvage crew wouldl have to deal with the blackened hull of the fire gutted cruiser, entombed in thirty feet of water.

     Christopher Norton, Jim Vidales, and George Espinoza will never forget the early morning hours of January 9th, l988.  Their unselfish acts of bravery almost surly prevented the death of one man and might very well have saved the lives of two others.  There were others on the scene who would have stepped into the breech:

Bob McGarty, Skipper of NO RESPECT, Kilroy and Johnson, and the Davises.  They all would have leaped to aid the endangered, and they did.   But Chris and Jim and George were there at the appointed hour.  It was their turn to be counted.  And counted they were.  For the duration of their alloted time on this good planet, They will stand tall; never doubting that they are responsible men.