Photo Essay: Saving a Sailor's Home
When Tropical Storm Debby blew through Florida in 2012, a sail boat called the Promise was driven onto the beach in a small seaside town called Gulfport, its keel buried in sand. The boat is owned by a former Navy SEAL who is retired and has been living on it; he has no other home to go to.

Gulfport gave him 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 salvage operation, and captured some amazing images of total strangers coming together to help a veteran, bonding with one another in the process.
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 the Promise would have to be rolled onto her side. Two large straps are wrapped around the hull fore and aft.
Rain falls across the bay as volunteers coordinate their efforts
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.
Steve Smith, an old sea dog and line rigger, organized and managed the salvage operation
A flooded aluminum rowboat will provide an additional counter weight to help pull out the keel
The beach-front park was crowded with spectators, news trucks and the curious
As the volunteers push, the slack from the lines attached from the Promise to boats anchored offshore will be continually tightened, so that the Promise does not slip back into the sand.
Shouts of "HEAVE!!" and "HO!!!" fill the air, mingled with the grunts of exertion, as volunteers push with all their might, rocking the bow and stern back and forth
The efforts are paying off; the angle of list is much steeper
The barnacle encrusted propeller shaft becomes visible behind the rudder.
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.
The Promise in its new mooring. A veteran's home has been saved thanks to the efforts of strangers who came together for a good cause.
Photo Essay: Saving a Sailor's Home
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Photo Essay: Saving a Sailor's Home

A group of strangers come together to save the floating home of a retired naval veteran
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73
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Published:
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