Keeping A Promise – Saving A Veteran’s Home


The best posts of the old Magnum Arts blog will be imported to the new format, and this post definitely qualifies. This is a feel-good post about strangers who came together to help a veteran, and it has a happy ending.

John Burki, known to his friends as Captain Jay, lives aboard the sail boat Promise, in Gulfport with his dog Dreamer. When Tropical Storm Debby blew through the state in 2013, Burki’s boat was driven onto the beach, its keel buried in sand. A former Navy SEAL, he is retired and has been living on the Promise for the past two years. He has no other home to go to.

Burki was in a bind: the town of Gulfport wanted the boat off the beach, and began issuing fines, but Burki could not afford to hire a company to move the boat off the beach. Gulfport gave Burki an ultimatum: it would chop up the boat and haul it away as scrap unless a way was found to move it.

So Steve Smith, a marine line-rigger, organized volunteers to push the boat off of the sand and anchor it in deeper water. I spent the whole day in the water with my Nikon D90, photographing the rescue operation, and captured some amazing images of total strangers coming together to help a veteran, bonding with one another in the process.

Captain Jay was in the hospital with a broken jaw, having been attacked two nights before by a felon with a long rap sheet. He saw the activity on the news from his hospital bed.

At 8 AM, the Promise lays grounded just feet from the shore
The keel, anywhere from seven to twelve feet long, was buried in the sand and this meant Promise would have to be rolled onto her side. Two large straps are wrapped around the hull fore and aft.
Steve Smith, an old sea dog and line rigger, organized and managed the salvage operation
Several lines are attached to the Promise, tied to boats anchored further off shore. It is critical that all lines are taken up equally, so that the weight is evenly distributed as the vessel is pulled.
Rain falls across the bay as volunteers coordinate their efforts
A flooded aluminum rowboat will provide an additional counter weight to help pull out the keel
Keeping the rowboat filled with water...reverse bailing in action
An old dingy holds a pump that will be used to suck sand away from the keel, using a long hose
Volunteers begin pushing the Promise from the underside.
As they push, the slack from the lines attached to boats anchored offshore will be continually tightened, so that Promise does not slip back into the sand.
The beachfront park was crowded with spectators, news trucks and the curious
The efforts are paying off; the angle of list is much steeper
The barnacle encrusted propeller shaft becomes visible behind the rudder.
Two teams push on the bow and stern in an attempt to rock the keel out of the sand.
Shouts of "HEAVE!!" and "HO!!!" fill the air, mingled with the grunts of exertion, as volunteers push with all their might
Powerboats race around in circles, generating big rolling waves to help rock the Promise free
Steve Smith supervises the progress
SUCCESS!! The Promise floats away from the sand bar, now completely free
A tired but happy group of volunteers celebrate their success in saving a man's home. There is nothing like the feeling of helping someone. It just brightens your whole day.
The Promise in its new mooring

Comments [imported frm Blogger platform]:

    • Anonymous said…
      When negative stories seemed to inundate our lives, it is wonderful to see people come together to help a neighbor in need. God Bless everyone who assisted Captain Jay in saving his home. May the photos taken serve to inspire others to reach out to others in need. It has been said “a rising tide raises all boats.” I hope as we help our own neighbors we will somehow raise humanity as a whole. (August 1, 2012 at 7:40 PM )


    • BLGilmore-Corcoran said…
      What a fantastic and unselfish thing to do – BZ (Kudos) to everyone who was a part of this operation, which appears to have been well-planned out and well-implemented. How refreshing it is to see people pull together for a deserving cause. Everyone there can be proud of a job well-done! :-)
      (August 1, 2012 at 9:50 PM)


  • Anonymous said…
    Thank you to all that helped
    August 4, 2012 at 7:09 PM
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