Remember This Powerful True Story From a Chatham, Massachusetts Ship Rescue?
Those of us who live in New England sometimes take for granted all the incredible people, places and things that happen in this part of the Country. This past week, I was reminded of the kind of people who live here and what amazing humans they truly are.
Our first stop on vacation was in Chatham, Cape Cod Massachusetts. We didn’t know it at the time but we walked right onto the location where the film "The Finest Hours" took place in 2016. The movie, starring Chris Pine as Bernie Webber and Casey Affleck as Ray Sybert, was the true story of the SS Pendleton. The Pendleton was a huge oil rig that literally split in two due to a storm in the Atlantic ocean in February of 1952. Half of the ship went down with all its crew and the other half of the ship was floating on the ocean on its own.
The captain of the SS Pendleton didn’t survive, however the engineer was trying all he could so the rest of the crew had a chance to survive. That engineer, the aforementioned Ray Sybert, played by Casey Affleck, was trying everything he could to keep that half of the vessel afloat waiting for help to arrive. (Side note: I feel I should mention that Casey is so much better an actor than his brother Ben. I’m sorry if Ben Affleck is reading this right now--- it’s just a fact. No offense, Ben. You're super hot, so you've got that going for you.)
The US Coast Guard station in Chatham saw the Pendleton on their radar. The rig itself couldn't call for help. All that gear went down with the first half. The storm taking place was a big Nor' Easter and no one thought it was safe to go out. However, one of the commanders at the US Coast Guard station sent out Bernie Webber with a small crew. There were several people that told them they were crazy for taking that assignment. It was a death sentence. They told Bernie, "why don’t you just go out with the boat and tool around for a little bit and then come back in and say that you couldn’t quite get over the Chatham bars." But Bernie Webber wasn’t that kind of guy and he was going to do his very best to rescue the men of the Pendleton.
By some miracle the rescue boat and the small crew made it over the Chatham bars during that storm. At one point they got lost at sea, however they heard the Pendleton in the water, turned on their light which they had shut off and found the half of the still floating oil vessel. As it turns out there were over 40 men still on the Pendleton and the rescue boat was only made for maximum of 12. Bernie decided he was going to get as many men as he could on that boat and he did. He got 32 men of the Pendleton on board. On the way back in, the commander at the US Coast Guard Station on land told him to go back out to sea 5 miles, but Bernie did not listen and kept on going toward shore. Bernie Webber brought them back to shore. Amazing!
The U.S. Coast Guard Station in Chatham is a special place indeed. It sounds the bugle in the morning when they raise the flag.
I should also mention the Chatham Beach, right across the street from the lighthouse, has amazing sand. Perfect for morning swims.
If you do go visit Chatham Lighthouse, I would suggest you go back to your hotel room and watch the Finest Hours like we did. It’s an amazing movie of bravery, tenacity and courage. They don’t make men like that anymore.
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