finally had reason to be optimistic. The storm had blown the Flying Enterprise 200 nautical miles closer to England, and he now hoped that he could get the Flying Enterprise into Falmouth for salvage.

For three more days they progressed—Carlsen and Dancy alone on the Flying Enterprise, the tug in front, the USS Willard Keith (DD775) now on the scene as an escort vessel. On January 7, the list was 70 degrees. On January 8, only 60 nautical miles from Falmouth, the weather once again deteriorated and Turmoil and Flying Enterprise heaved to in gale-force winds. Flying Enterprise was rolling up to 80 degrees. On January 9, the towline separated, but the weather continued to move the Flying Enterprise in an easterly direction. On January 10, only 40 miles from Falmouth, the two men on board observed unmistakable signs that the ship was going down. They walked along the ship’s funnel (now nearly horizontal), and stepped off into the sea—Carlsen, of course, being the last to leave. They were picked up within minutes by Turmoil, in time to watch the Flying Enterprise sink stern first into the sea.

On January 11, when the Turmoil docked in Falmouth, Captain Carlsen was greeted as a hero by a crowd of thousands. He received numerous honors and awards, including a ticker-tape parade up Broadway when he returned to New York. But amid the attention, he remained modest and declined to capitalize on his accomplishment, stating that he didn’t think he was entitled to any special treatment, because “I failed to bring my ship back to port.”

In truly bad weather, there are times when all you can do is hunker down and wait for the weather to abate. Tania Aebi sailed away from New York at age 18 in an 26-foot-long sloop to return two and a half years later in 1987 as the youngest woman ever to sail around the world single-handedly. On the last leg, after leaving Gibraltar to cross the Atlantic for home, her log book recorded her fear when she was hit by a sudden gale. Mountainous waves taller than the length of her boat engulfed her vessel from every angle, rolling it, tossing it forward, water breaking into, over, and all around the boat. On deck in the darkness as she struggled to reduce sail, she saw the silhouettes of gigantic waves bearing down on the boat like “freight trains.” Unable to watch any longer, she resigned herself to her fate and went below. To get her



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement