Last week when Irene was blowing around the East Coast, I heard a news report about evacuations on the Carolina Outer Banks and I was reminded of my own evacuation from those same islands some forty years ago.
In the summer of 1971 I was traveling on the Eastern seaboard with the then love of my life. We were taking a car ferry to one of the islands off South Carolina. This was one of the remote islands, back then you had to boil your water when camping out there. We parked the car about midships and I headed for the restroom under the bridge. On my way back to the car the ship lurched and started to pull away from the dock, I was between the bumpers of two vans and decided that might be a dangerous place to be standing, so I stepped out into the space between the vans and our car.
What I discovered later was that the ferry was running behind schedule and the deckhand was drunk. So the captain gave a hurried sign to cast off from the auto dock and the deck hand missed it. The ferry started to pull away from the dock before the final chain (not rope but one inch diameter chain) was unhitched.
The end link of chain snapped under the thrust of the ferry, it opened up like a three pound horseshoe and was flung forward. It would have shot the entire length of the boat and splashed down harmlessly in the ocean had it not been for the right side of my head being in the way.
I went down against the side of the car, didn't quite lose consciousness but by the time the incident was brought to the captain's attention we were more than halfway to the island so we completed the trip, waited for cars to disembark and then made the run back to the mainland. About two hours later I was getting my neck stitched up with several South Carolina Ferry officials trying very hard not to say the word - liability.
I remind you this was 1971, which might lend some perspective to the doctor not giving my any pain meds nor mentioning the potential for swelling in my neck and throat. So at 2 a.m. I was in an emergency room fifty miles down the road getting an injection into my throat and medication for pain and soft tissue trauma.
Forty years ago, my crackerjack lawyer got my medical expenses reimbursed and the cost of three nights in a motel so I could recover in an air conditioned room. No damages, no pain & suffering, no negligence.
That was the time I got bit by a ferry.