To The Coast Guard Commander. My report on the demise of the Molly Dee:
The only individual claiming to have witnessed this disaster is Blunt Davis. I, Sidney Wells, Mayor of Depot Bay, interviewed Davis while his memory was still somewhat clouded, having just rejoined to Depot after a four-day drinking binge.
Last evening, the Newport Coast Guard Station ran up gale flags minutes before Oliver, the skipper of the Molly Dee attempted to enter Depot Bay. Anyone remotely familiar with Depot Bay knows it’s too narrow. It’s a fair weather harbor only. Even experienced skippers with boats having excessive power won’t try it during a storm.
Blunt claimed he tried to wave Oliver off. But he was apparently a bit anxious, the Molly Dee resembling a coal-fired Boston Whaler. The only one I’ve seen like it was the African Queen featured in the movie starring Humphrey Bogart. With its fire-box and boiler out in the in the open, the whole shebang is at the mercy of the ocean. One rogue wave and the fire’s out. According to Blunt Davis the light was already failing when Oliver began his entry into the harbor. But the wind slacked off for a couple of seconds, long enough for he river current and the outgoing tide to sweep that old red boat out to sea. Blunt said he couldn’t see him after that.
At first light the town marshal and I drove down to the coast highway and scanned the horizon with war surplus field glasses from a yard sale. But we saw nothing. That is, not until we reached Boiler Bay. There was a lot of wood trash, much of it the same red color of Oliver’s boat.
We climbed down over the rocks for a better look. There, rolling in the white water was Oliver’s boiler. We weren’t absolutely sure it was his until we found his cap on the rock near the highway. We retrieved his cap and headed back to town. Lo and behold, there was Oliver waiting for us. He was scratched and bruised to beat the band, and he didn’t remember a think until he awoke on a narrow stretch beach south of town.
Hoping to wrap the story, with Oliver in tow, I returned to question Blunt one more time. But now that he’s sober and when he set eyes on Oliver I could have knocked them off with a golf club. For a minute he seemed to lose his voice, then he denied everything he’d sworn to earlier.
So I guess all I’m reporting is a boat that went missing.