A Memoirby Barbara Williams
Dad was forcibly retired at sixty-two because the tugboat he worked on, the Swiftsure Seven, was bought by a Japanese company. He had to stop felling trees after he broke his back and left booming when his knees gave out, but he was expecting to work on tugs until he died.
The year before, he was on night watch sailing down from Alaska when the tug got caught in a violent squall between Ketchikan and the Queen Charlottes. The log booms they were towing broke loose, and rather than save his hide and get to shore, Dad went after them. He shot a spear into a boom timber and pulled the boat to it, then he climbed out and fastened a cable to the logging chains at each corner of the boom. With giant waves crashing down on him, soaking him to the bone, he shimmied along the timber that bucked and jostled in the tempest. Risking hypothermia, drowning, crushed limbs, and pulverized fingers, he secured the boom then clung to the cable, waiting for a wave to give him the momentum to jump back on the afterdeck, but the wind was against him. The skipper was steering and couldn’t give him a hand, so Dad jumped with full force, landing stomach down on the cable winch.