A Word from the Survivors

As a follow-up to the life altering events described in our last blog post, we want to share with you a little update from the survivors.

Larry Bell called me after Ms. Andrea called. To correct the earlier post, Larry was the one wearing the heavy boots. Thankfully he is a very fit 61 years of age.

Larry Bell

Their fishing buddy, Charles Jones, lost one sock.

Charles Jones

Larry’s 45-year old son, Dana Gent, was the one who lost his pants.

Dana Gent

Larry calls us his angels. An extremely proud father, he quietly said “my son Dana almost didn’t make it.” Words cannot express the flood of emotions I felt as his words sank in; one or more of the men really could have drowned, bringing tears to my eyes.

Why do the men have blue towels?

You will notice the photographs, of all the survivors, include a blue towel.

Here’s why. After the men climbed on board Exhale I gave them water and food to help them recover. I also gave each one a soft towel, in an effort to wipe away the salt water from their faces. To my delight I noticed – as they departed from the boat – all four men had the blue towels over their shoulders, sparking a little joy in my heart.

Larry Bell said he is hanging his blue towel on the wall of his home, as a reminder of the day he, his son, and his two fishing buddies were able to exhale.

A little message to the survivors – we are so thankful everyone is okay. Thanks to each of you for reaching out!!

A special message to Alvin R. Dawson, Jr.

Alvin R. Dawson, Jr.

Your bravery, strength, and cool head in a moment of duress helped to save yourself and your fishing buddies. You are deeply loved by your friends and family, especially that beautiful mom, Ms. Andrea, pictured in the earlier post.

Alvin, Larry, Dana and Charles – we hope you keep fishing – with life jackets! Next time we are in the Vero Beach area, we will reunite.

Thanks Anders and Marty

We parted Stuart, on a sweet note. Keeping up with a long standing tradition, Anders brought us a small box of local pastries. Thanks for the sweets Anders.

Stuart, FL

We close with a spectacular shot of the clouds. As the sun was rising on a new day, full of hope, we say a thankful prayer for the Liljequists.

Men Overboard – NOT a drill

Maddie barked in annoyance, as another small fishing boat went whizzing by us.  She is NOT fond of the loud little motors.  To me, it sounds like she is yelling SLOW DOWN!  

“Yet another fishing boat in the middle of the channel?” I groused.  As a courtesy, we consistently slow to an idle for small boats of all kinds, endeavoring not to wake them.  But when the boats elect to fish in the middle of the channel, it’s vexing. 

Roughly 400 feet in front of us, the sense of annoyance was replaced with sheer horror as we witnessed the small boat keel over, dumping the fishermen into the water.  Holy Shit, they capsized!  We could see one man clinging to a cooler, as two more latched on to the overturned boat. 

Capt. Rick was already on the radio, “Coast Guard, Coast Guard, man overboard!  Three men in the water.  NO LIFE JACKETS!  Immediately in front of us.  We will attempt to rescue them. Our coordinates are …” 

“There’s another one!” I shrieked.  Four men in the water.  Three of them hugging the hull, the fourth was still gripping a cooler to stay afloat.  Terrified of the odds, I ripped open a brand-new package of 4 life jackets (a mess I had to repair later) and scurried to the bow.  As Capt. Rick eased towards the capsized boat, I threw the life jackets towards the 4 men – with herculean effort. Success.

4 Adult Size Life Jackets

Ever steady, Capt Rick said, “Put on your headset. You go to the stern, drop the swim ladder, and throw them the life ring when we get close enough.”  Copy that.

Life Ring with 70′ throw rope

From the swim platform I yelled – “Please hang on men, don’t panic, we are going to help.  Can you swim?” 

Only one man said yes! Roughly 100 feet away, bolstered by a life jacket, Alvin swam towards our boat.  With a mighty adrenalin rush I helped him climb aboard. 

Alvin R. Dawson, Jr.

With great haste I rigged the life ring to a floating line, secured the line on a boat cleat, and then told Alvin to throw it to his buddies.  The Lifeline is only 70 feet long.  There was no time to lose.  Alvin threw the perfect toss, then together we pulled in one of his fishing buddies (Charles). 

Another perfect toss and we pulled in the remaining two, father and son (Dana and Larry).

Larry Bell and family (son, Dana Gent, upper right)

Capt. Rick reported to the Coast Guard, ALL Four Men were now on board. No-one was injured.  Shaken up, we all knew they could have lost their lives. 

Apparently, the steering failed as the wheel popped off into the hands of Alvin. Spinning out of control, he was pitched into the water.  Moments later the boat overturned, spilling the other three into the salty water.

Larry Bell was lamenting over the mistake of wearing heavy, tightly laced boots on a boat, he was sure they could have been the cause of his death – since he could not untie them.

Gone: fishing gear, phones, wallets, keys, shoes, one sock, and a pair of shorts (thankfully Dana’s briefs stayed intact). 

Saved: four precious lives. 

Boat Tracks

Garmin Boat Tracks. 1:37 pm

Let me take a thankful pause here.  These are the boat tracks – and the coordinates of the incident.  Capt. Rick remained extremely calm during this ordeal.  For the non-boater fans, let me explain.  The white section is the channel.  You can see the channel is only about 100 feet wide.  The dotted line (cookie crumbs) indicates our path.  The sideways “v” shape is where we threw the life jackets, the small circle is where we rescued the men.  This was ONLY possible because Capt. Rick is such an exceptional navigator.  Thanks, Babe.  You are amazing.

Time to Exhale

As we pulled up to the dock in Vero Beach, the men climbed out of our boat, thankful to be alive. 

Then one of them exclaimed – “Your boat’s name is Exhale! That’s incredible.  Because of you, we are all still breathing!  We will NEVER forget you.”

Epilogue – A Mother’s Love

We were enjoying dinner with our dear friends in Stuart – Marty & Anders, John & Sue – when Ms. Andrea called. Roughly 24 hours had passed since the rescue. Now, an eternally grateful mother was reaching out.  Prior to her call we didn’t know the names of the men we had rescued. And, we did not take a single photo.

Ms. Andrea Woulard

Alvin’s mother, Ms. Andrea Woulard, forever touched our hearts with her expression of thanks. She was extremely emotional as she recanted her’s son’s brush with death. She also assured me that he will never again go out on the water without proper life jackets. She’s a strong mother. One look at this beautiful soul and you know, life is good.

Thanks for the Facebook photos Ms. Andrea.

Celebrating Milestones. Birthdays: Steven “with a v” Hunt – October 27; Megan Ginsburg Newton, October 31; Gail Bernstein – November 3 (Go Max, Go!)

Next Stop: Clewiston – reuniting with Lit’l Houlegan.

Boat Safely my friends! Everyday above the water is cherished.

Chasing a Squirrel

Do you see that pesky squirrel?

Maddie loves to go for a walk, especially if she can chase a squirrel.  The only thing she loves more is a proper belly rub, on a certain Fleming of course.

Beaufort, NC

Our stop in Beaufort (pronounced “no” in North Carolina) was a great chance to reconnect with fellow Maine Event boaters from Treble in Paradise, NP45.

Faye Turke, Treble in Paradise, NP45

Hi Tom and Faye – safe travels on your slow journey back to Florida!

Wrightsville Beach, NC / Harbor Island

Kiss Her Too, iii is another beautiful North Pacific 49, hull number 4. Several months ago we saw this boat from a distance, at Spring Cove Marina on Solomon’s Island. What a surprise to find her tied up just a few boats away.

Kiss Her Too, iii.

On board are Tony and Judy Kuester and their two dogs. Can you believe she is a 2015 model?! So gorgeous.

Back at the Marina, Maddies was on a quest for cookies, alas, no luck.

Where are those cookies?
Another beautiful day on the water

We took on fuel at Wacca Wache, a teeny tiny marina on the Wacca Maw River.

Did you say Wack a something?

Georgetown – Fresh Shrimp

Thanks Gail for the suggestion to buy fresh shrimp in Georgetown. A short walk from the Marina, this place was amazing; the shrimp dinner we made was absolutely delicious.

Fresh, Fresh, Fresh

Breaking News for our Sports Fans

Did you know the rivalry between the Giants and Dodgers began in the late 19th century when both clubs were based in New York City? The Giants played at the Polo Grounds in the borough of Manhattan and the Dodgers played in the borough of Brooklyn.

Ryan Mendoza, Matthew Valdez, and Javier Angulo

So proud to know these men! Friendly rivals reunited at the ball game. Oh yes, the Dodgers got to celebrate the win!! Tony and Taco were dancing in the streets. Sorry MV, it was an amazing game!!


Back to Georgetown – we left BEFORE dawn, surrounded by calm waters.

Sampit River, 6:53 am

Engine Room Inspection

Some tasks on board require an extra set of eyes. Thus, Maddie often supervises Capt. Rick’s engine room duties.

Everything seems to be in order, are you coming up soon?

St. John’s Yacht Harbor, John’s Island

Another early morning departure rewarded by a gorgeous sunrise.

John’s Island, 7:00 am

Beaufort, SC

We greatly enjoy Beaufort (pronounced with a “view”). It’s a town with great little shops and award winning restaurants. Scroll back in our blog to read about our stop heading north.

Old Bull Tavern. Beaufort, SC. Lamb shank braised in red wine and tomato seasoned with rosemary.

Look Craig and Maureen, we got to eat at Old Bull Tavern, at 5:30 pm! Check out this lamb-a-saurus. That’s a happy Capt. Rick.

The city of Beaufort, SC knows how to enjoy life. These popular swings, found on the promenade of the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park, have a spectacular view. Their slogan is “Swing, Stroll, and Stay a While.”

Sniffing is almost as good as chasing squirrels.

Hilton Head, SC

Bruce Peck, Beverly Abel, Capt. Rick and Mary S. Dinner at Ela’s

Reunited with Sea Trek, we dined at Ela’s. Enjoying a Lemon Drop Martini, continuing a tradition with Bruce Peck.

Celebrating the Norths

Congrats to fellow NorthPacific owners, Dr. Patricia North (recently retired) and P. Jeffrey North, Esq. It was spectacular finally meeting you!  Long Cove Club was lovely.

Long Cove Club

The Norths recently opted to down-size their land base (congrats on the sale of your house) and up-size their water home.  Owners of an NP43, they are now busy customizing a new NP49 euro, scheduled to arrive in 2022. 

The challenge of selecting a clever name is in progress, contenders include “Just a Splash”, “Copycat”, or “Patty’s Way”.  With two gorgeous German Shepherds on board, I am suggesting they call their next boat “Good Shepherds”.  

That also reminds me of the 2006 movie “The Good Shepherd” starring Matt Damon and Robert De Nero, with scenes filmed at Yale (for Ryan).  Worth watching again.

We look forward to cruising with them in Florida and in the Keys this winter. Thanks for the amazing wine. 

Generous gift from the Norths

For Mija and Ynot

We leave you with a rhetorical question (that’s for Jeff). Did you know that the IATSE strike was averted?  Hooray!! With a strike off the table, Taco is extremely relieved Alisha and Tony will not have to cut back on his rations.

Celebrating Taco’s Blog Debut


Birthdays – Bushranger, Mark Rutherford – the month of celebrating continues! October 14: Linda Matlock; October 15: John Buckendahl, Jr.; October 22, Kelly Thorn-Hiebert

Next Stop:  Kilkenny, GA

Unexpected Winners and Losers

Ryan Davidson, PassageMaker; Mary and Rick, M/V Exhale; and
Trevor Brice, President, North Pacific Yachts

2021 People’s Choice Award – Winner, Winner!

North Pacific Yachts won the Passagemaker Ocean Navigator Trophy!  The attendees at the show vote over the course of 4 days, then the winner is announced at the end of the show. Surprised and honored, it was a great way to wrap up the festival.  North Pacific Yachts also won the award back in 2018 with the original Exhale. Thanks to the wonderful team at PassageMaker! Congrats to Exhale and Congrats to Trevor Brice!

Ocean Navigator Trophy:
TrawlerFest 2021 and TrawlerFest 2018

Leaving Baltimore, we slowed as we traversed under the Francis Scott Key bridge. A Star Spangled Banner moment.

Francis Scott Key Bridge, Baltimore, MD.

Solomon’s Island, MD

It was a short visit, back to Spring Cove Marina, departing at sunrise.

Back Creek, 7:25 am

Deltaville, VA – Regatta Point / Doziers

Another short stop in Deltaville, then we were on the road again, early. 

Deltaville, 7:32 am

The journey back to Florida is now the main focus as we begin a series of long days on the water. Thank goodness we have a Sea Keeper.


The early morning rise meant we encountered a Warship. We also saw a submarine, but did not get a blog-worthy photo.

A Winning Plan

As reported earlier, we prefer the Dismal Swamp route, but the Corp of Engineers had reported numerous massive logs floating down the canal. For the first time, we navigated towards Coinjock Marina – enticed by many well respected reports of award winning prime rib. Capt Rick loves prime rib, preferably an end cut – so we pressed on for 11 hours on the water, salivating at the thought of a delicious meal.

Coinjock Marina, VA – Loser, Loser!

A good plan, gone VERY wrong.  Did you know they have Overflow Parking at Coinjock? There is the east side dock, next to the restaurant, and the west side dock, across the waterway!

There is no polite way to describe how upset we were when the dockmaster directed us to tie up on the west side, AND, there was no staff available to run the boat launch to shuttle us to the infamous restaurant on the east wall.  WHAT???

As we approached the marina we could see long stretches of open space – it seemed there was plenty of room for more boats on the east wall. 

Coinjock Marina East Dock

Perplexed, we radioed back and asked, again, to be placed on the east wall, emphasizing we wanted to dine at the restaurant. Nope, said the Dockmaster, there were more boats on the way, and Exhale was going west.  So much for first come, first served.

It turned out, restaurant access would soon be the least of our complaints, since the entire westside dock should have been condemned, long ago.  Seriously.  NOONE should be allowed, never mind directed, to dock there.

You be the judge for yourself – here are a series of photos to document our stop.

Dangerous Docks on the westside.

There was a swimming pool, adjacent to our tie-up. With Halloween approaching I wondered if this location was ever used in a horror film.

Pool Entry Way
No Glass. No Bottles – Where is the “UNSAFE – NO ENTRY” sign?!

It was shocking that there were no signs warning you to stay off the docks, or stay away from the pool. The dock lights were broken. And there was no water –  on the dock or in the pool. There were LOTS of mosquitoes. We are talking the equivalent of Everglades mosquitoes – all you SFYC members, you know what I mean!

A swimming pool for mosquitoes

A winning moment

To be fair, there was an unexpected “winning” moment. Introducing Lance, the owner of a travel trailer on the westside – adjacent to the dock wall. One of the kitchen staff, it was his day off.

The kindness of strangers.

Lance TRIED to help us secure the lines to the pilings, apologizing that he had zero experience with this dock wall. As he said, “I have NEVER seen a boat here before.” Read that back slowly, NEVER – SEEN – A -BOAT – HERE – BEFORE … He has been living here all summer …


When Lance heard we wanted prime rib, he generously offered to go across the waterway to the restaurant in his tiny skiff, to retrieve dinner for us. Thanks, Lance.

CoinJock – look at that lovely dock wall!

Eager to continue our journey, we passed by the Restaurant at 6:48 am, frowning. That’s right, the marina is a BIG LOSER in our books.

Belhaven, NC

After 10 hours on the water, we returned to River Forest Marina in Belhaven, where Henry greeted us warmly.  Unfortunately, he also reminded us of our north bound incident – when Jim Merritt (Gypsy) dove into the water to free up a 35-foot stern line that got sucked into the thrusters. Just scroll back in our blog if you want to read the embarrassing story. 

BIG Winner, Winner! 2021 BEST Restaurant

We have been to Belhaven multiple times before, and never managed to dine at Spoon River. Let me just go on record now, this restaurant wins, hands down, the BEST Restaurant on this trip!

Spoon River Decoy Duck

Introducing the Owners, Mark and Teresa.  Mark is a farmer, and he knows fresh ingredients. Teresa is just beautiful, inside and out.

Eclectic mix of wine and bubbly
Decor for Mija. The “wine list” is open for perusal.
The view from our table, a Full House!

The service was impeccable and the food scrumptious. My tuna was exceptional. Rick’s yummy beef tips were fork-a-licious. We highly recommend the stop. Reservations are encouraged. Just text a message, and Teresa will reply :-). Click Here for the website. Oh yes, we will be back.

Sirloin Beef Tips with Mark’s winter garden veggies.

Milestones: Columbus Day – Tuesday, October 12 (celebrated Monday); Birthday – October 14, Bushranger, Mark Rutherford

Next Stop:  Beaufort, NC

Treble in Paradise – see you VERY Soon.

O say can you sea? Baltimore, MD.

Fells Point mural

Fun Maryland fact: the Star-Spangled Banner was written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key, who had seen, first hand, the bombardment of Fort McHenry from a ship anchored in Baltimore’s harbor.

Welcome to Baltimore

An active waterway for more than 300 years, Baltimore was once a key port for tobacco trade with England.

Exhale docked in the Baltimore Inner Harbor on Sunday 09/26 with a departure planned tomorrow, Monday, 10/4.  Why the long visit?? Trawlerfest Baltimore! A very popular east coast boat show. More about that farther down in this post.

Baltimore Public Works Museum

First, accompanied by Lit’l Houlegan, we toured the Baltimore waterfront before the boat show began. This historic gem was built in 1912; to my surprise, today the building is still an operating sewage pumping station.

Adjacent to the museum we found a tractor for Sam.

Scarlett Place

As we continued to walk along the waterfront we came upon this massive complex.

Scarlett Place

Built in 1987, Scarlett Place was cleverly designed to look like it sits on a hillside. The 18-story high structure includes 147 luxury condo-homes. No doubt, the owners have a spectacular view of the inner harbor. You will also find the Baltimore offices of Jellyfish.com on the ground floor. Now that’s a great place to work.

Supporting IATSE

Back at the boat, we think Maddie was standing in solidarity with Alisha, as she went on strike, demanded better working conditions, and tried to create a road block for the pending invasion from the Boat Show.

I am striking against the unfair conditions.

She also voiced her protest to Ray, who listened intently and then offered to increase her allotment of cookies, if she would please go back to work.

Ray promised more cookies.

Maddie’s list of complaints included the heavy coat she had been forced to wear in the blazing heat of Baltimore.

Fuzzy Wuzzy was a Bear

It has been noted that Maddie did resemble a small stuffed bear.  What do you think, Bert and EJ? So, we finally found a groomer in Baltimore.  Mind you, the shop owner was a bit nutty, reminding me of Woody Allen and Gene Wilder, oh and Marty Feldman, that British guy with spastic eyeballs.  Thankfully the co-owner, Beverly, was a gentle and talented groomer.

A successful makeover.

Hello little princess – with fancy poodle boots! After a successful negotiation, Maddie looks young and spry once again; agreeing to return to work full-time. Mija – we are wishing you equal success

Baltimore Trawlerfest

The Baltimore Trawlerfest water show (think open house) began at 10 am on Thursday. The well publicized annual event is sponsored by Passage Maker.

In case you missed it, here’s a link to the article about Exhale in the April edition of PassageMaker.

We understand a total of 1100 tickets were sold, explaining the constant stream of visitors onboard! Thanks Caryl and Ray for helping us to prepare the boat and to manage the crowd on Thursday.

Inhale, Exhale, breathe gently – thanks Caryl!

Hi Sandy! Thanks for joining us at the Baltimore boat show.

A little commercial break for two sweet seconds of fame. At the boat show we saw the October Soundings magazine. Wait, What??? To our delight we discovered Exhale on the cover, the photo was taken in Maine! Here’s the article!

Working at a boat show is not easy stuff, so we had to recruit the Maine lobster to lend a helping claw.

The Show was a VERY busy event. To our delight, several folks traveled a long distance just to see the first North Pacific euro style. We quickly learned brand awareness is growing, and the demand is strong.

We are proud to be a part of your growing North Pacific Yacht family.

Capt Rick and Trevor Brice, President and CEO of North Pacific Yachts

Thanks Trevor, for all the great meals and laughter.

We close with a picture from my brother, taken from his driveway in Girdwood, AK. Yes, Mike and Susie Gillespie, that’s Mt. Alyeska, where we all stayed in 2015. Maddie Sue, if you were in AK you would have wanted that bear coat.

September 24, 2021; a single night of snow

Milestones: Birthdays – October 1, Sam Straley; October 4, Mayor Scotty Harvey;

Next Up – the Solomon’s. 

Looking Ahead: We aim to be back in Fort Myers in time for Halloween, looking forward to the Wittman Drive block party.