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This is Buzzy's Country Store blog designed to keep you apprised of what's going on at the Store. Buzzy's is a general store located in St. Mary's County, Southern Maryland near Pt. Lookout State Park. Buzzy and Jean Ridgell purchased the Store from Jean's father Harry Raley in 1953. Buzzy operated it until his passing in 2009. His son J. Scott Ridgell is the current owner.

Friday, December 2, 2016

El Toro Deju Vu

The terrible boating tragedy Saturday a week ago brought to mind the sinking of the El Toro II on 5 December 1993.  From 10 December 93 here is the front page of the Enterprise article written by John Wharton: 


The El Toro was a fishing party boat that took on water off Pt. Lookout with 23 passengers aboard, three of whom subsequently died.  The boating accident last week involved a smaller, recreational boat, but three people also drowned following that accident.  The El Toro went down during the day whereas the latest incident occurred in the early evening.  In both accidents though the conditions were very similar with winds 20-30 mph and out of the north.  In both cases too advisory warnings had been issued earlier in the day.  Check out this account of the El Toro incident.  It is a review of the Coast Guard's official report on the accident.  Here is an excerpt from that article:

At 3:30 AM on the morning of the 5th, NOAA issued a small craft warning with predicted winds of 20-25 knots and six foot seas.... At that time seas were calm. But it was known that a frontal system was approaching that would soon change the current conditions.

Then check out The Baynet's account of last week's accident as follows:

“At that time of night the winds were North West at 27 knots with 46 miles per hour wind gusts.”

There was something else in the article about the El Toro accident that caught my eye:

At this point the report is very vague about what happened next, but the report does say that three persons were rescued from the water, outside of the raft. One of these was the 19 year old mate who later died of exposure. Yet the Captain and his brother managed to get safely in the raft. The implication here is that the 19 year old sacrificed his life that another passenger might have a place in the life raft while the Captain and his brother save themselves. Oddly, no mention of the mate's heroism is made. Why not? Perhaps because he doesn't hold a CG license? Would that have helped? Of course the report will make note of the heroic efforts of their own people and the exposure that they suffered.

Most famous song about a boat going down has to be the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.  (There is also a Catholic hymn "Gather Us In" that has the same melody.  Like a lot of things Catholic, there is a claim that this song was nicked from the pagan Celts.  Lightfoot wrote the tune in 1976 and acknowledges that he recalled an old Irish dirge that he had heard when he was 3 years old (click here.)

Also, Lightfoot has two versions of the song due to investigators having learned new details about the accident.  Initially it was thought that the sinking came about due to a crew member having left a hatch open that allowed water to pour in.  Lightfoot mentions this when he sings "At 7:00 pm the main hatchway gave in."  

However, investigators found that the hatch had been secured and that a rogue wave was probably responsible for flooding the ship (click here.)  After learning this, Lightfoot then changed the line to say "At 7:00 pm the light grew dim."  (In second video he discusses this.)


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