Opacity

Posted by Ken Campbell October 26, 2010 0 Comment 750 views

A couple of days ago, at about 3 in the afternoon, the Coast Guard got a report of an overturned sailboat in the Tacoma Narrows. A driver called in as he crossed the bridge, describing a blue-and-white boat, inverted, being swept along by the wind and current. Rescuers were on the scene quickly and searched for more than an hour, but found no trace of the emergency. They did speak with another sailboat they came across, the only other vessel out in the gale, and the skipper told them that his boat had experienced no difficulties and he had seen nothing. No distressed boat was found and the search was suspended.

That same day, a little further north, search crews combed the waters after being alerted by the ferry Tillicum to an orange kayak drifting near Blake Island. Details are spotty, but I think there was a PFD and a paddle on board, but no paddler. Rescuers searched for 11 hours, were unable to find the owner of the kayak, then called off the dogs.

The sea holds many mysteries, even a virtually landlocked portion of the sea like Puget Sound. The two incidents described above only caught my eye because they had been placed adjacent to one another. (That, and the words “missing kayaker” in any headline always pull me in.)

The thing is, stuff like this happens all the time and never makes the paper. Boats sink, people disappear, great and small tragedies are played out in silence, literally every day. Not just sad stories, but actual mysteries, in the sense that those who come behind are often baffled by what they encounter. It’s as if sometimes the facts are impossible to line up, like there is a missing piece, a clue or two that is withheld. The sea, unlike the land, is a participant in the story, not simply the backdrop, and the sea doesn’t say much.

The storm is still blowing out there, two days after it was supposed to end.

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