CANNON BEACH Seventy-foot waves batter a tattered life raft 250 miles out to sea in one of the world's most dangerous places, the Gulf Stream. Hanging onto the raft are three men a Canadian, a Brit and their captain, J.P. DeLutz, a dual citizen of America and France. The waves repeatedly toss the men out of their tiny vessel, and J.P., with nine broken ribs, is hypothermic and on the verge of death. The captain, however, is a tough-minded character, having survived a sadistic, physically abusive father during his boyhood, and now he's got to rely on those same inner resources to outlast the storm.
Trying to reach these survivors before it's too late are four U.S. Coast Guardsmen, including Nevada Smith, battling hurricane force winds in their Jayhawk helicopter. They know the waves in Gulf Stream will be extreme, but when they arrive they are astounded to find crashing seas of 70 feet with some waves topping 80 feet. To lower the helicopter and then drop a rescue swimmer into such chaos is a high-risk proposition. Smith wonders if they have a realistic chance of saving the sailors clinging to the broken life raft, and if they will be able to retrieve their own rescue swimmer from the towering seas. Once they commit to the rescue, they find themselves in almost as much trouble as the survivors, facing several life and death decisions.
This adventure is chronicled in Michael Tougias' book, A Storm Too Soon, a heart-pounding read of survival, the power of the human spirit, and one of the most incredible rescues ever attempted. Cmdr. Smith, the heroic pilot, will discuss the rescue, show a visual presentation and be available to sign Tougias' book at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 13, at the Cannon Beach Library, 131 N. Hemlock St. in Cannon Beach. For more information, call 503-436-1391.