Aug 1, 2012

Keeping A Promise: Rescuing A Sailor's Home

This is a feel-good post about people who came together to help someone who was in need of help, and it has a happy ending.

John Burki, known to his friends as Captain Jay, lives aboard the sailboat Promise, in Gulfport with his dog Dreamer. When Tropical Storm Debby blew through the state, Burki's boat was driven onto the beach, its keel buried in sand. A former Navy SEAL, he is retired and has been living on the Promise for the past two years.

[Click on all pictures for a larger view]
all photos copyright Magnum Arts
To see the huge gallery of pictures, click HERE
LINK to the Tampa Bay Times news story

Burki was in a bind: the town of Gulfport wanted the boat off the beach, and began fining him, but Burki could not afford to hire a company to move the boat off the beach. Gulfport told Burki that it would chop up the boat and haul it away as scrap unless a way was found to move it. 

So Steve Smith organized volunteers to push the boat off of the sand and anchor it in deeper water. 

Captain Jay was in the hospital with a broken jaw, having been attacked two nights before by a felon with a long rap sheet. He saw the activity on the news from his hospital bed.

At 8 AM, the Promise lays grounded just feet from the shore. 

The keel, anywhere from seven to twelve feet long, was buried in the sand and this meant Promise would have to be rolled onto her side. Two large straps are wrapped around the hull fore and aft.

Several lines are attached to the Promise, tied to boats anchored further off shore. It is critical that all lines are taken up equally, so that the weight is evenly distributed as the vessel is pulled.

A flooded aluminum rowboat will provide an additional counter weight to help pull out the keel

Rain falls across the bay as volunteers coordinate their efforts

The beachfront park was crowded with spectators, news trucks and the curious

Keeping the rowboat filled with water...reverse bailing in action

An old dingy holds a pump that will be used to suck sand away from the keel, using a long hose

Steve Smith supervises the volunteers' efforts aboard the Promise, which looks like it's smiling

Volunteers assemble to begin pushing the Promise from the underside. As they push, the slack from the lines attached to boats anchored offshore will be continually tightened, so that Promise does not slip back into the sand. 

Two teams push on the bow and stern in an attempt to rock the keel out of the sand. Shouts of "HEAVE!!" and "HO!!!" fill the air, mingled with the grunts of exertion, as volunteers push with all their might

A motorboat races back and forth to generate waves that will help free the Promise.

Below: two larger boats raced around in circles to generate larger, rolling waves to help the volunteers

The efforts are paying off; the angle of list is much steeper

The barnacle encrusted propeller shaft becomes visible behind the rudder. Below, much more of the underside of the vessel is now visible.


The Promise floats away from the sand bar, but gets hung up on a second sand bar. Undeterred, the volunteers continue their efforts

A tired but happy group of volunteers celebrate their success in saving a man's home. There is nothing like the feeling of helping someone. It just brightens your whole day.

Below, the Promise in its new mooring.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing these pictures..I was very thankful to all that had a part in helping captain Jay free his home.I had said many prayers for these sailors throughout the storm Debby.And many prayers that someway, somehow the Lord would make away for him to receive the help he needed to get his Boat/home removed from the gulfport beach without his home being destroyed.So Just wan't to say to all of you that helped,You were an answer to pray!God Bless you all!When you sow good seed,you reap good harvest!

Anonymous said...

When negative stories seemed to inundate our lives, it is wonderful to see people come together to help a neighbor in need. God Bless everyone who assisted Captain Jay in saving his home. May the photos taken serve to inspire others to reach out to others in need. It has been said "a rising tide raises all boats." I hope as we help our own neighbors we will somehow raise humanity as a whole.

BLGilmore-Corcoran said...

What a fantastic and unselfish thing to do - BZ (Kudos) to everyone who was a part of this operation, which appears to have been well-planned out and well-implemented. How refreshing it is to see people pull together for a deserving cause. Everyone there can be proud of a job well-done! :-)

Michael K. Lyman said...

It was really inspiring to see strangers come together to help someone who needs it. I'm glad I could be there to document the efforts of the volunteers, so that everyone can see how special they are. Thanks everyone, for letting me be part of this great story!

Anonymous said...

Thank you to all that helped