‘The power is unbelievable’: Fla. man survives Hurricane Sally on sailboat
PENSACOLA, Fla. (WEAR) - A Florida man says he feared for his life when his sailboat was caught up by Hurricane Sally. He encourages everyone to evacuate for the next storm, saying he’ll never again attempt to ride one out.
On the Saturday before the storm, experienced Capt. Robert Falkner and his shipmate anchored their sailboat, Moby, onto the shore of Fort McRee. The plan was to ride out the storm, just as Falkner had Hurricane Ivan 16 years ago.
But as the hurricane shifted, they were right in Sally’s path.
“Tuesday night, the winds were really quite strong, and at about 3:30 in the morning, the anchors let go,” Falkner said.
The boat started moving, and Falkner realized it was now in the Big Lagoon. He tried to steer the boat, but with the winds, he couldn’t.
“You couldn’t see the front of the boat. You couldn’t see the other boats in the anchorage. You couldn’t see anything. The rain was horizontal,” Falkner said. “You really aren’t afraid. You just are very engaged and alive and - you fear for your life, of course.”
Falkner and his shipmate had to stay on the boat until it reached shore and stopped moving. Before he knew it, they had gone over the seawall and washed up between two homes off the Big Lagoon.
That’s when Falkner jumped off the boat and ran to safety.
“At the time I was jumping, I really thought about it then. It was like the exclamation point at the end of that crazy experience,” he said.
Now, he says he doesn’t think he will ever attempt to ride out a storm again.
“The newscasts tell you that you need to evacuate or you need to get out of the way of a hurricane, you should because the power is just unbelievable when you’re in the middle of it. It’s really something,” he said.
Falkner says he’ll either need to get a crane to remove his sailboat from the property or cut it apart. He’d prefer the former because the boat only suffered minor damages, and he’s had it for 26 years.
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