$50 Bills Don't Float
Reykjavik Harbor, Iceland
Reindeer's 1976 Transatlantic Crossing
Monday, June 29, 1976
Blog Entry #19
When Newbold's two fifties flew out of his hand, I was on deck taking on supplies and handing them to Terry Lloyd in the companionway. Newbold realized what had happened immediately, but because of his "disability", he couldn't bend over quick enough to pick them out of the water off the floating dock where Reindeer was berthed. I watched the money take flight and land in the narrow space between the dock and amidships of the boat. Thinking I could pluck both of them from the water while they were still floating, I immediately raced to the rail, squeezed my thin frame under the lower lifeline and leaned overboard. Unfortunately, I could not reach far enough and still hold on to the lifeline. Either my arms weren't long enough or the deck was too high off the water. By the time I had realized my efforts were futile, both US Grants had started drifting towards the bow. I thought about jumping off Reindeer and onto the float and racing to the bow. While this was happening, Newbold alerted the entire crew to what had happened. A great scurrying of bodies and legs. Unfortunately, we did not have a boat hook handy or a small crab net on deck; either of which might have proved helpful in snagging the two bills before they submerged. Our only hope seemed to be to grab them before they got fully soaked. Someone yelled "jump in" (It had to be Newbold!), but my immediate thought was, "No freakin way...that's cold Icelandic water down there!" My next rationalization was that anyone who got into the water somehow would definitely have created too much of wave action for the $100 which were barely afloat like tree leaves at this stage of our failed rescue. By the time my third thought of becoming the day's hero by jumping in, the Grant's were sinking fast to their vaulted tomb.
All eyes were on Newbold who could not believe what had happened. I remember his words. This seemed like an odd statement to me at the time as if we were held responsible for not recovering his cash....and equally odd considering he was a multi-millionaire. I remember imagining myself in another future scenario reacting quicker by making an heroic jump and atoning for my missed grab. Somehow, I felt I had been the closest to saving Newbold's money. Though I didn't feel any guilt, it was one of those missed opportunities that at the time I wish I could have rewound. I vowed I would be ready for the next chance if there ever was one.
Later in our voyage as we neared Norway, a member of the crew would actually have to dive overboard close to the Arctic Circle to rescue Reindeer's propellor. We had more time then; a wet suit and time enough to draw straws to decide the "lucky" diver.