In the several years I have been coming here I have become good friends with Audrey. She spends the winter here on her 40 foot trimaran called Bradypus. Last year when Hank’s place was booked I stayed with her on the boat moored in the harbor for a couple weeks. Many evenings were spent listening to her tell stories about the adventures her and Fred had in years past. Fred has since past on but Audrey is alive more active than many in there twenties. I asked her the other day if she minded if I wrote some of her stories and she agreed.
To start with Audrey and Fred built the Bradypus at their home in northern California. It took a total of 6 years before it was finished and ready for the sea. They launched the boat in Eureka, Ca. and did the maiden voyage down to the Bay area with 7 people on board. In 1972 they sailed down the Mexican coast, along El Salvador and then Panama and through the canal. They sailed north to Florida, found a place to park the boat and bought a VW bus to head back across country to northern California. They had very little money left and just enough to buy the old bus and pay for gas.
In 1973 they sailed to the Bahamas. This was also the year the Bahamas gained their independency from the British. She said during this time life was great. They sailed to every island in the Bahamas except Great Inagua. It was during this time some friends of theirs lost their 50 foot trimarin on Hogsey Reef during a storm. They were stranded there 8 days before they were rescued. Fred and Audrey took them aboard their boat and they went back to see if they could salvage anything but all was gone. A few days later they heard on the radio of a seaplane that went down in the gulf stream. Apparently it had just run out of gas. The Coast Guard rescued the crew but just left the plane adrift. They heard it had drifted to the west coast of Andros Island near Williams Island. That’s when they came up with the idea of salvaging that seaplane and that would give their friends enough money to buy a new boat. They sailed through the Middle Bight to the west side and then north toward Williams Island. There near norwest point they found the plane. Fred and Audrey were both avid pilots and after checking it out found there was nothing wrong with the aircraft. It had simply run out of gas. It was stuck in the mud on the shore and the pontoons were filled with water. They spent 8 days there pumping water out of the pontoons, sealing up the leaks and digging a path through the mud to get it back afloat. Now keep in mind it was during this time there was major drug trafficking on Williams Island and the west side. She said there were planes constantly landing on Williams and during the night the place would be lit up with high speed cigarette boats taking off toward Florida. She said the only reason they probably were not killed is they had a huge malamute dog that kept a constant eye on them. Also they never got on the radio and reported what was going on. Most likely the drug runners saw what they were doing and decided to just leave them alone.
They finally after 8 days got the plane afloat and tied to the Bradypus to begin towing toward Florida. They got into the gulf stream and the seas got rougher and rougher. For 10 hours they were towing it and the weather kept getting worse. They were almost there and in sight of Key Largo in 180 feet of water when the wing bolts broke on the port wing. The wing dipped in the water and a big wave flipped it over. It started to sink taking the Bradypus with it. She said they barely managed to cut the tow lines before it took them along down. There went the plane in 180 feet of water and she said it’s probably still there. They had figured the salvage on the plane would have been between 90 and 150 thousand, more than enough for their friends to get another boat.