Backside of Catalina
We usually ran open-party for the summer, but one day we took a charter of factory workers from Santa Monica on an overnight trip. Hard-working guys enjoying a cold one and catching rockfish at the backside of Catalina. There was one gentleman who started acting strangely. He would break into tears and Spanish, lamenting some pain. His buddies tried to comfort him, but he started acting as if he were going to jump overboard. I made sure he was in a booth in the galley and surrounded by friends.
The depressed guy came out of the galley alone and headed for the rail about midship behind me as I was facing sternward. He said he needed to throw up. I heard the splash and saw the boil as we passed it and called, “Man overboard!” The captain said, “Where is he?” over the com. Following my finger, the captain said, “Got him” and pushed the throttles full. I saw the guy treading water and looking back at me calmly. The next swell, I saw only his legs kicking as though he were swimming downward. The next time I saw him, he was floating face-down. I went in as soon as we were near enough, rolled him over into a rescue hold, and started backstroking.
The captain got the boat close enough to reach out a gaff and pull me and the victim to the gate. By the time I got onboard, the second was administering CPR with the other deckhand. The Coast Guard helicopter arrived within 15 minutes and lowered an EMT to the boat. We had been taking turns with the CPR and he took over. He tore the guy’s pant leg open and gave him a shot of ephedrine, checked for vitals again, then shook his head.