Thursday, February 15, 2007

It was 25 years ago today.

In the early morning hours of February 15, 1982, 315 km from the coast of Newfoundland, the Ocean Ranger, described by her builders as "indestructible", which had been battered for hours in a vicious Atlantic storm, capsized and sank.

All 84 hands on board, 56 of them from Newfoundland, were lost.

An investigation later found that the rig inverted completely as she sank.

The terror, the terror of those men, doesn't bear imagining.

I remember standing in the kitchen with my parents on that morning, listening to radio reports to find out if the vocational school I was attending until my parents decided I was old enough to attend University was closed because of the storm.

They had lost contact with the Ocean Ranger, the newscaster said. They hadn't heard from her in hours. They thought something terrible had happened.

I looked at my Dad and said, "None of them are coming home. They're all gone."

I didn't believe it. I didn't even understand it. It was like someone else was speaking through my mouth. Like I was channeling some Cassandra who already knew how things would turn out, though none could believe her. And I remember that it took days - days - before we began to realize that none of them, not one, not one, had made it to a lifeboat and survived.

And we, a province of seafarers, all learned that it doesn't matter how you make your living from the sea. She will take you at her will.



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