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mainsail. Winds were 40 knots, gusting to 60; but all seemed well. I was sitting in the cockpit, dead tired, approaching the end of a second day without sleep, when a wall of water dropped into the cockpit. It flattened out around my ankles on the cockpit floor, about 8 inches deep. That brought me to full alert. I scrambled to slide a second board in the companionway doorway. Before I could get the next board in place, a second mountain of water washed in from the port stern quarter. This time it washed over the companionway board and down into the cabin. I quickly got the second and a third board in place and then grabbed a five-gallon bucket and started bailing out the knee-deep cockpit. Once I had it under control, I put one leg over the companionway boards and reached below for a towel to stuff into the door boards to make them a little more water-tight. At that precise moment, the third wave hit starboard with such force that I was thrown in a heap onto the cabin floor. I staggered to my feet, my left arm numb and useless for several days, but fortunately not broken.
“This was my introduction to rogue waves. It wasn’t an introductory course, with a single wave; I had a graduate course, with the full Three Sisters’ treatment.”24
Barker survived the waves this time, and several more times as well, and brought Nepenthe safely back to California. He wrote a journal of his trip, fittingly titled Rogue Wave, from which this excerpt is taken. At several points in his journal, Barker sums it up by saying, “The devil lives in the Tasman Sea, and he’ll beat you to death with his rogue waves if you don’t watch out for him….”
You can meet Barker if you care to travel to San Pedro (the Port of Los Angeles) and board the SS Lane Victory. The Lane Victory, now a national monument, is where Barker works as a volunteer steam engineer. The Lane Victory is a fully restored, 455-foot-long World War II victory ship that sails from San Pedro on Saturdays and Sundays during the summer. Enjoy a cruise to Catalina, along with a simulated air attack by a squadron of World War II planes that come screaming out of the sky! Not only can you meet Barker, you can support this historic merchant marine steamship—a worthy cause.
In the 20-year period from 1980 to 2000, more than 200 supercarriers—bulk carriers, combination carriers, and crude oil tankers