Part 16. Why Sparky Turned Back Now safely on deck, we were embraced by Sparky’s welcoming crew, who described watching, with a combination of wonder and horror, the pantomime of five aged men leaping one by one into a circular yellow raft. Fred sustained the only visible wound, a deep and bloody gash on his shin, which would turn into a serious cellulitis infection. Providentially (like so much else about this rescue), a woman, who introduced herself as “Nurse Nancy,” appeared with bandages and disinfectant to bind Fred’s wound – after which she offered us all rum and cranberry juice.
Sparky, a 42-foot Hinckley sloop, had also been returning from Bermuda and was less than a day from her destination when she answered our call. She was already packed with a crew of five, who absorbed us seamlessly, insisting we take the bunks and get the first helpings of food, while they slept where they could (in one case, not sleeping at all) and ate what was left, as we set sail for land almost 24 hours away.
It’s hard to describe the intimacy you feel for people who have just saved your life, but this crowded boat abandoned all formalities and became an instant community of shared lives. Rob, the captain, set the tone, responding to our expressions of gratitude by invoking the camaraderie of those who sail offshore.
“When you do this kind of sailing,” he said, “you know the cavalry isn’t always coming. So when you get the chance, you try to be the cavalry.”