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Stormy seas lead to longtime friendship

Lasting friendships, not to be confused with casual acquaintanceships, are sometimes forged through unscheduled circumstances.

One of the finest friendships Peggy and I have ever experienced began under what might be called a rude encounter.

On a windless, starlit August night in 1954, our live-aboard lobster boat Sea Scribe slipped its mooring in a Massachusetts harbor around 2 a.m. and drifted down on an anchored 50-foot sailboat named Luana.

Sleeping aboard the Herreshoff sloop were Bill and Lee Faelton, who were awakened, as were Peggy and I on our boat, by an occasional thumping sound.

As we moved out of the cabin toward the cockpit, I heard a squeaky noise sailors associate with the dry sound of two boats rubbing against each other.

Seconds later, we observed that our home afloat was snubbed up alongside a sizable sloop, its mast towering above us like a cathedral spire.

I went forward on Sea Scribe, telling myself in rapid mental flashes that I had meticulously put her serenely on station, correctly executed right out of Chapman's textbook gospel on anchoring: hook set firmly, proper scope out, swinging room to spare, anchor light on, fore and aft landmarks noted, all's well.

I can report that high on the list of life's embarrassments afloat is that hitting a boat at anchor calls for the ultimate plea of forgiveness.

Carefully, I pulled on the anchor line. It came toward me wet-noodle-limp at first, then the anchor weight was felt.

While I was on the foredeck of our boat, I heard voices astern. Peggy was talking to Bill and Lee Faelton. Introductions had been made. There had been no physical damage, but I can affirm for my part there was one psychologically wounded participant.

Normally, that would be the end of this story, with no hint that it had any extended future.

A day later, Bill and Lee rowed over to visit us. We got to know each other better, but a more serious subject came under discussion.

Hurricane Carol, which we all had been tracking for several days, was headed for where we were: Sippican Harbor, Marion, Mass., our anchorage a half-dozen miles west of the Cape Cod Canal.

Bill explained that Lee's elderly mother was aboard Luana and her safety was a major concern. A decision had been made to go ashore and return to their home.

Our home was wherever we floated.

Bill, an experienced sailor, put out a storm anchor and prepared for the worst in seaman-like fashion.

I rowed ashore to a boatyard and made arrangements to put Sea Scribe on a new mooring capable of holding vessels much larger than our humble but seaworthy craft.

We told the Faeltons that we would keep a watch-out on Luana, but, when Carol roared down on us with 100 mph gusts, we lost sight of her.

The harbor was jammed with boats, many of which broke loose. Shortly before noon, a drifting sailboat headed toward us, sailed over our taut, wrist-thick mooring line and severed it, creating the sound of a shotgun blast.

We powered Sea Scribe away, ducking yachts with no one aboard and trying to avoid floating minefields of debris. When a piece of lumber got under Sea Scribe, the propeller was jammed and propulsion power lost. We were in for big trouble.

The hurricane surge of waves and wind blew us out of the harbor into a wooded area.

The stately Luana, we learned later, also left the confines of the harbor and sailed down Marion's main street before stopping in the driveway of a harbor-side residence.

After Carol departed, the Faeltons drove back to locate both their boat and the Marstons. They insisted on taking us to their home for a few recovery days.

Several days passed before Sea Scribe was tractor-towed out of the woods and put into the water. Luana also was returned to Sippican Harbor.

In the passing of mutual time, the Faelton/Marston friendship grew to the extent that Bill and Lee sold their home and sailed Luana down the Intracoastal Waterway to live near us in St. Petersburg.

They became part of our family. Not a Christmas or Thanksgiving went by without them being with us.

A few years later, Lee became ill, and they moved to Camden, S.C., her hometown. Both died there and are in Camden's beautiful, tree-filled cemetery.

_ You can write to Red Marston c/o Seniority, the Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, 33731.