Love this."Hmm" Tanner thinks. "You're right! Get the life vests, rope and lifelines and we'll use the little boat to get as many of those folks out of danger as we can."
Kbass and Gold Cup get to work and set off on the black Lund.
"We should refuel." Rimrock says. Thankful he had decided to keep as many gas cans as possible. "Save a can for Kbass's boat"
The myahct was a bit crowded now with the crew of the C-17 on board. The ac units struggled to keep the cabin a comfortable temperature as the boat strained against the forces of the whirlpool.
"Look!" They're coming for us!" Deb pointed to the little boat coming towards them.
The water was slowly rising towards the temporary safety under the ledge. The whirlpool was moving too swiftly for the little boat to beach. Dreamweaver assessed the situation.
"Quick. hop on top of that boulder!" Having explored every inch of Glen Canyon he had a lot of experience boarding little boats from precarious lakeside ledges.
Instead of beaching the boat sometimes you just hopped on the boat without the boat touching shore. That's what he hoped for now.
The Inn's survivors did as they were told and gathered on top of the rock.
"What the heck are they doing" Gold Cup said as the pulled closer to the folks gathered.
Close enough to make out faces Kbass says" Is that Dreamweaver?"
From a distance they see the old man waving and motioning his arms trying to give direction from afar.
"Look like he's waving in a 747" Gold Cup joked.
Kbass understood the plan. he would maneuvered upstream against the current and they could slide down the boulder into the little boat. Avoiding swimming in the water.
"Think we can fit them all?" Gold Cup wondered out loud.
"Kbass, Gold Cup! Am I sure glad to see you!" Dreamweaver yells as they approach the rock.
"What's a girl like you doing in a place like this" Gold Cup makes an awkward joke that falls flat
"Slide 'em down when I get there" Kbass yells. He expertly put the boat in perfect position. One by one the survivors slid down the boulder into the Lund.
"Boats full" Dreamweaver said from up top. Only he and Deb remained.
"We'll drop them off and come back for you." Kbass said.
"Throw me 2 vests and a lifeline" Dreamweaver yells ."And a FLARE!"
Gold Cup ties 4 vests to a lifeline and throws the line up to Dreamweaver. Deb catches it and pulls the vests up.
"Be right back!"
Deb and Dreamweaver watch as their rescue boat disappeared into the steam. Struggling to hear the last of the motors whir in the distance.
Then they were alone. In the desert. Next to a rising flood. Near a lava dam. With no where to run.
"Hope they make it back in time?" Deb said
Dreamweaver was looking for safer higher ground. Not much to be had.
"Put on 2 vest." He said. Deb watched as he tied on end of the lifeline around the boulder making sure it was secure. Then he tied the other end to his belt buckle then with 10ft left he tied the end to Deb's belt buckle. Felt his pocket just to be sure his knife, he always carried was there. Just in case.
Deb understood what his plan was. And could only hope the little boat would be back before they had to use his plan.
"Here they come" Someone on the myacht shouted. The windows had fogged up on the big boat as the temperature difference between the air conditioned cabin and the steamy whirlpool they were sailing in. It wasn't till the little boat was almost on top of them when they appeared.
"Get them on board" Rimrock says. Captain Tanner was busy on the radio.
His command was easier said than done with 2 boats under way. The air force crew were a great help. Strong arms held the 2 boats together as the survivors disembarked.
"Tie up the little boat" I say. As I put the last red, 5 gallon can of gas in the Lund
"No" Kbass yells. "We got 2 more"
"Drea....." Gold Cup yells as they pull away but I couldn't make out what he had said.
Now with the extra passengers, we were definitely exceeding the manufacturers recommended weight capacity. I always wondered why I used up storage space on 8 life preservers I thought I'd never need...
"What can we do to lose some pounds?" Rimrock asks
"Toss the grill"
"Empty the freezer?"
"Drain the potable water tank." I recommend.
Not a simple task. The tank is under the guest bed. the guest bedroom is now filled with a mixture of air corpsmen and Vermillion Cliff's survivors. So it takes a minute to clear out the room and turn the valve to empty the tank.
The water was lapping at their feet. Deb noticed how calm yet determined Dreamweaver was and relaxed a little in the stressful situation.
Stretching their ears into the mist waiting for the soothing sound of a outboard humming. To no avail.
Dreamweaver broke the silence:
He raised one brow and looked Deb in the eye "My friend called to tell me he changed his name to spinal column. I had to call him Back"
Before she could figure out what he had said he broke into a big smile. Then a hearty laugh.
Was this guy crazy? Deb thought. Then she repeated the joke in her head. She smiled and started laughing too.
Now their feet were getting wet.
She added: "What's the best way to hold down a frog? RIVETS!" and laughed louder
Dreamweaver was slapping his knees in full guffaw. The water was at their ankles.
Through the comfort of their laughter a hum of a motor could be heard in the mist. They stopped laughing and looked at each other.
The water is up to their knees and the current will soon sweep them off the boulder.
"Now I'm going to cut us loose if we run out of line. If worse case scenario I'll have to cut you loose from me. I hope it doesn't come to that."
The sound of the motor got closer. They struggled to stay on their feet as the current had gone above their knees.
Kbass was glued to the map on his fish finder. He followed the path back to where they had been by gps because they couldn't see a thing through the steam
"Do you thing they're still there?" Gold Cup asked
"Hard tellin'" Kbass replies.
Deb is the first to lose her footing and float downstream. Dreamweaver absorbs the yank on the rope as the 10ft plays out but can't keep his footing for long. Thankfully Deb swims to the edge and is able to grab a hand hold relieving Dreamweaver. A big push in current sweep him off his feet. There's no time for him to grab anything. He calculates Deb's precarious hand hold won't hold them. "I hope the lifeline holds" he thinks.
Deb watched Dreamweaver lose his footing. They were going swimming. Before she went in the drink she thought she heard the sound of a motor boat.
Kbass steered the boat to the exact spot where the others had slid down a boulder to board his boat. But there was no boulder. And more importantly no Dreamweaver!
Gold Cup pointed downstream without saying anything.
"Fire the FLARE!" Deb yells to Dreamweaver as they float away from land. He was ready. He waited until he thought the lifeline he tied would get taught, he pulled the trigger. Then the rope grabbed. Deb floated by 10 feet then she to was stopped against the current. The lifeline held.
"Did you see that" Gold Cup said. A red glow lit up the steam further down stream. Kbass realized his friends plan an maneuvered a bit down stream from where he thought the lifeline would stretch to.
"Grab the gaff!" Kbass yelled.
After firing the flare Dreamweaver looked at Deb as they both fought the current tied to the lifeline.
Deb grew up in and around the Glen Canyon. In here fear it didn't take a second to realize she was holding on to a ski boat tow rope. She had learned to waterski barefoot by the time she was ten and quickly hopped up to "ski" the current. One body in the current would be less force on the life line. Dreamweaver hadn't water skied in years and after a few attempts he was going to give up trying when the rope snapped. Setting them free and dropping Deb back in to the water.
"There they are!" Gold Cup said. "Is she water skiing?"
That's when they saw her fall in the water and the floated with the current towards the Lund.
"Gaff 'em" Kbass yells, noting they might only get one chance to grab them safely.
Gold Cup gets the gaff within reach of Dreamweaver who grabs it but the force of the current and waves pulled the gaff out of Dreamweavers hands. "Circle 'round" Gold Cup yells as Deb and Dreamweaver float past. Gold Cup noticed that they are teathered together.
"Drive in between them!" Kbass wondered why Gold cup would say that but followed his instructions as he watched Gold Cup cleat the bow anchor with 5ft of line.
Standing on the bow like a whale boat harpooner, Gold Cup held the gaff in hopes to save his friend.
Sure enough, Kbass split the rescuees and the anchor line grabbed their life line. With the gaff they were able to get them safely on board.
"Back to the myacht" Gold Cup said. Dreamweaver raise an eyebrow.
Kbass throttles up back towards the big boat. The engine sputters.
"Uh Oh" Kbass says tapping his fuel gauge.
That's when Gold Cup remembered the 5 gallons of gas in the boat.
"Roger, Over" Tanner acknowledges the voice on the radio and signs off.
"Switch to channel 64" Rimrock says. Hoping Kbass's Lund would contact them
Kbass followed his gps to where he had met the myacht before but in the mist it was hard to to see. When they got there the myacht was gone.
"Call them on the radio" Dreamweaver suggested.
"Kbass to myacht, Kbass to myacht" He spoke into the radio.
Tanner grabbed the mic out of Rimrocks hands." Head towards the Lee's Ferry Bridge! Copy, Over!"
"Lee's Ferry Bridge, Copy. Over"
On Tanner's request a set of gears were set in motion. His nephew worked for the Fulton Drafting Co. The famous Fulton Skyhook rescue system was invented where his nephew worked. To stay relevant and continue to get contracts from the military the company kept innovating ways to save soldiers. His nephew had mentioned a prototype littoral rescue project in development.
Kbass did as he heard on the radio. As he emerged from the steam he saw the myacht holding steady upstream. Before pulling up t the big boat he heard the roaring sound of a jet flying low over head.
The plane dropped a load. Quickly a parachute unfolded to slow it's decent. Compressed gas inflated floats as the package floated into the water. Gaffed and onboard the airforce crew set to task with the help of the little boat and the myacht crew.
"Let 'em flicker" Tanner orders. The new system includes a net below the boat with 4 points with inflated balloons attached to Steel cables.
Once the balloons reach altitude a radio beacon directed the rescue aircraft.
"Hang on to something everybody" Captain Tanner warned
The rescue craft honed in on the beacon. Visibility was nil.
The rescue crew's training came in handy. The Fulton grapple worked perfectly. Although in training they had only rescued unmanned PT boats and minesweepers. The loaded houseboat would be a bit more then they had trained for. As trained he punched it and pointed the nose up.
WHAM! The superstructure of the air craft shuddered as it seemed to stop in midflight. Struggling it continued on as engineered.
Without as much as a jerk the myacht swept straight up in the air.
"We're flying" Rimrock said.
The myacht floated above the flood towards Page. The passengers on the boat looked down at the canyon some of them had just floated down.
"Shut off the the generator" Rimrock says
Tanner is the first to realize. How do you land a houseboat going 170mph in the air?
Captain Tanner = Dirk Pitt!!!!!!!!! Can't wait for the book AND movie!! Oh ya - Mondo = Giordino?? Or is it Kurt Austin and Mondo AS Zavala!!In training, Captain Mondo thought, the boats had been mono hulled and unmanned. Practicing plopping them in the water after using the Skyhook didn't have any consequences.
Now there was 10+ living souls on board of the twin pontooned aluminum myacht!
Commander Mondo of the C-17with the Skyhook, had grown up with Tanner and Rimrock as well. His family's houseboat had also been part of the Wilson Creek crew back when. That's how Tanner's nephew ended up at the Airforce's test facility based out of McClennen. Using Lake Mead for practice.
Tanner and Mondo were calmly yet anxiously commandeering the radio. The myacht crew and Inn survivors looked out the windows in disbelief as they held on to anything, like they were on a crowded subway or trying to go to the bathroom when turbulence hits on a plane.
The Airmen looked anxiously at their commander ready to spring into action.
"Sandwiches?" Th Boat Queen thought. She had them prepared but she kept silent.
Captain Tanner put the microphone down and calmly gave orders to his men who scrambled into action.
"What's the plan and how can we help?" Rimrock asks. Shocked that they are flying through the air in a houseboat, the crew of the myacht takes their eyes off the scenery out the window to watch the conversation.
"We're going to try and land this thing safely." Tanner starts
"Where?" I foolishly interrupt
Tanner continues ignoring my question.
"Now when they cut us loose a plethora of parachutes will deploy to slow our descent. On the way down there will be momentum shifts. I'm going to need all of you to help create ballast against any over compensation the myacht might do. So be prepared to move north south east or west on my command. To start I want the lightest people aft with the bigger in front of them ready to run to the bow."
"Holy ship" I accidently say out loud.
"Yes Captain," Skip Tanner addresses me for the first time since he took command of my boat. Which was flying through the air, with what I'm sure is more weight than the manufacturers recommended occupancy limit.
"We can use a little help from above" Tanner said "Apparently the water is pooling behind the rubble of the dam so we're going to try and set down there."
"That was you" Rimrock asked. Referring to when they had watched a plane bomb the remains of the dam.
Captain Tanner's confidence from leading men into battle helped still the fear of the folks who had been on vacation until this morning.
"Ready, Steady" Captain Mondo called on the radio
"Roger" Tanner responds.
"10,9,8,7,6,5,4 ready,2,1, a go go" The myacht crew heard Mondo yell over the radio
The cable holding the houseboat to the airship was cut. For a moment the myacht whooshed forward with it's remaining momentum. The nose of the boat tried to point down.
"Every one aft" Tanner ordered. Then hand signaled his air crew.
Parachutes they had brought from the plane deployed aft to slow the boats forward momentum.
The nose dipped precariously more.
Another hand signal from Tanner and more parachutes deployed on the bow and along the gunnels.
Tanner authouritively ordered the passengers to the proper part of the boat to help steady the boat as the multiple parachutes slowed her descent.
I just need to take a moment to say, as the Captain of the myacht. In all the storms and good times I've had with this boat, I never thought I would be ordered to huddle under the helm to balance the boat as she parachutes from 10,000 feet.
AwesomeWayne looked around his office after the White House hung up.
"Are they really going to bomb the dam?" He thought out loud. Maybe head down there to watch? He kept thinking.
Then it hit him. There are going to be a lot of stranded boaters. Possible injuries. A massive rescue needs to start now.
Even though it was April there would still be a good amount of boaters on the lake this time of year. Mostly houseboats and fishermen. The wakeboarders don't usually come out until it warms up.
He imagined more than a few boats would be high and dry still anchored to where the shore had been. Many in box canyons with no egress up to the rim. The former lake bed will be a muck no one could trudge through very long.
He pulled out his rolodex and picked up the phone and called Weeds a copter pilot for the Forest Service. Then Weeds called 2 pilots and then they called 2 pilots which started a grapevine to every helicopter available to come to the rescue. The grapevine reached from L.A. to Denver and from Salt Lake to Phoenix. Farmington to Cedar City. Soon a fleet of copters were in the air heading to Lake Powell.
Wayne left his office and just closed the door to his truck when he watched a C-17 flying towards the dam. The plane flew by. From this far away he couldn't tell if they dropped anything. Then 2 plumes of smoke shot up into the air near where the dam had been.
"Wow, that's some ordinance" he said as the dust cloud grew. Then the shock wave hit his truck. He was still in park and the truck got pushed back a few feet. In his rear view he saw and heard the plate glass windows and door to his office shatter into the building. "Glad my windshield held he thought."
Weeds happened to be refueling in Flagstaff when he got Wayne's call. He was on his second call to another pilot when he glanced towards Page. A plume from the volcano shot up into the sky. "Oh MY!"
"What's that?" the pilot on the other end of the line asks.
"You'll see it when you get here! Hurry!" Weeds hung up and finished refueling.
He quickly fired up his copter as fast as he could. But made sure to follow the checklist before taking off.
Heading to Page first seemed a good move. He was torn between speed and conserving fuel. He decided conserving fuel for the unknown was the wiser decision.
Wayne decided to drive down to the marina to see if he could help. On the way he saw other cars heading the same way. Good. We're going to need all the help we can get. The smoke and dust from the bombs still lingered where the dam had been. "Is the bridge still there" He wondered. Out of his driver's window he saw the beginning of the volcano shoot hot ash into the air. "Oh My!"
A gust of wind blew down stream. He assumed the hot air heading into the sky was causing the wind on an otherwise perfectly still late April day. The new breeze pulled the dust and smoke obscuring the dam and bridge down canyon to reveal the bridge still stood!!
Crossing the bridge slowly, he looked to his right at where the dam had been. The C-17's efforts had paid off. The cliffs on both sides of the canyon had fallen into the riverbed. The flood hadn't completely stopped but it would help keep some water in the lake and maybe help downstream and prevent Hoover Dam's collapse. If it still stood? Did the earthquake hit there too?
He made it to Wahweep as other cars poured in to an unbelievable sight.(I've only been to Page and Wahweep once so it'll be a stretch for this part. Thanks for hanging in there!)
The first thing he noticed was the covered slips and docks were all lying on the ground in the muck. Boats where leaning in wrong directions still moored to the docks. It looked like some folks were trying to walk up through the muck while others were trying to walk down into the muck to check their boats or help anyone in need. Some fools had tried to drive their 4X4 trucks into the muck but didn't get far.
There seemed to be a trio shouting orders and giving commands. "Good" Wayne thought. As he got closer he saw the trio was his old friends Rick, Old No 7 and Cactus Juice. They all smile for a second as they see Wayne approaching.
"Are you the reinforcements?" Rick jokes.
"Don't laugh, I may have called in that airstrike." As he explained the phone call from the White House. "What can I do to help?"
"We need a chopper" Cactus Juice said
"We need a bunch of choppers" Old 97 adds.
"There on the way, I hope. I know Weeds will be here soon." Wayne said.
Beyond the marina he saw little boats and houseboats stranded further out in what use to be the lake. Some were upright but listing. Some weren't. Some with folks waving towards us. Some not. Wayne shuddered. Then they all got to work helping the rescue efforts.
Weeds radio crackled. "Copy. Over"
Shoot. He thought. His boss ordered him to observe the volcano from safe distance and report back. Diverting him from Page. As much as he wanted to help there it was important to know the extent of the danger from the volcano as well. So he climbed and charted a path to circumnavigate the plume clockwise starting from the south. Making sure to keep a safe distance with an exit plan. As he approached he turn on the helicopter's cameras for his superior. Sending video in real time back to the office.
He was about a quarter of the way through his circuit when the second largest explosion belched from the earth. He swerved away for safety but he felt he was already a safe distance. He continued on course. For a second he thought he saw a plane out of the corner of his eye in the smoke.
After completing his circuit he was ordered to do it again. Weeds did as told but really wanted to get to Page. After an excruciating amount of time he was finally free to head to Page. He dropped altitude and made his way towards the dam.
On the phone with Wayne flying over Page on the way to the marina when he saw something. He blinked. He saw it again. He blinked again. It was still there.
"Weeds? Are you still there Wayne said.
"Wayne, look up! Do you see what I see?"
Wayne looked up. Rick, Cactus Juice and Old 97 followed Wayne's gaze.
"Is that what I think it is?" Old 97 says
"It can't be" Cactus juice adds.
"It is!" Rick shouts.
"Looks like a parachuting houseboat to me Weeds." Wayne says calmly, still looking up.
"Incredible." Weeds says astonished.
"Looks like they're trying to land in what's left of the lake. Weeds they might need your help when they land"
"Copy" That's when it occurred to Weeds his cameras were still rolling. He'll have proof when people call him crazy when he tells them he saw a houseboat fly.
One of the airmen was shouting out the altitude as the houseboat plunged. He had to shout over the noise of a "houseboat" falling from the sky.
Tanner had everyone in perfect ballast. He stood in the middle of the roof, looking at the chutes, then the lake, fine tuning their descent by moving back and forth.
"They're coming down way too fast" Weeds said out loud forgetting he was still on the line with Wayne.
"Absolutely" Wayne agreed
"I'm not sure they're going to hit the water" Rick said
"This isn't going to be pretty." Cactus Juice muttered.
"NOW,NOW,NOW" Tanner shouted "HANG ON!!"
The airmen deployed the parachutes that came with the Littoral Sky Hook System. Anchored on the four corners of the canvas below the craft and tethered to the houseboats corners as well.
The boat gave a mighty shudder as the chutes caught. Something made a loud metallic snap. Silently the passengers looked at one another. Not knowing if they were safe. Seconds passed. No one said a thing. Then Tanner hopped into the room.
"Every on O.K.?' He asked with a smile. "Y'all did great. I mean it."
Relief spread across the boat.
"I just need you to be ballast for just a bit more so if you don't mind staying put. But feel free to enjoy the view on the way down. See you in a bit." with that he went back up top.
"Woah, would you look at that" Old 97 hollered
"Wooo Hooo!" RIck and Cactus Juice hollered
"Looks like a moon capsule landing with all those parachutes" Weeds says
"Yup" Wayne remains calm
"Look at Wahweep" Rimrock says enjoying the view on the descent.
"What a mess Gold Cup says"
"It'll take years to clean that up." Kbass adds.
"Think of the insurance claims" I wonder.
"BRACE YOURSELVES!" Tanner shouts.
Swooosh. There wasn't much impact at all. The forward momentum across the pontoon hulls glided in for a stop. SAFE!
"Cut them loose" Tanner ordered his airmen to release the parachutes so the didn't cover the boat on their descent.
"Get the motors ready, but make sure no lines get caught in the prop" That order was meant for the houseboat crew. Who sprung into action.