Reporting Steve Miller
CHICAGO (CBS) – The father of a Blue Island man who survived the sinking of the replica of the HMS Bounty during Hurricane Sandy said it hasn’t quite dawned on his son yet that he’s lucky to be alive.
“They’re going through an emotional roller coaster right now; there’s some grieving and relief, all at the same time,” said Jim Salapatek, the father of Drew Salapatek, a 28-year-old deckhand on the Bounty.
The Bounty, a 180-foot sailboat, set sail from Connecticut last week, hoping to navigate around the storm. However, it couldn’t dodge the hurricane and began taking on water on Monday, then its engine failed, and the crew abandoned ship off the North Carolina coast.
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The Coast Guard rescued 14 crew members of the Bounty by helicopter Monday. Hours later, they found crew member Claudene Christian, 42, unresponsive. She was later declared dead. The rest of the crew was in good condition.
Salapatek said he spoke to his son shortly after the crew was rescued.
“I talked to him right after they pulled him out of the water, after the Coast Guard debriefed him and obviously the paramedics gave him a going-over, and… tired. Tired and I think emotionally drained, but fine; in good spirits for all that he’s been through.”
The captain, 63-year-old Robin Walbridge, has yet to be found.
Salapatek said his son and other crew members were grieving the apparent loss of their captain, and the death Christian.
“It wasn’t just a crew mate. This is like a sister, this was a best friend,” he said.
Salapatek said he hopes his son will be able to come home to Blue Island in the next few days.
The Bounty was a replica of the original 18th century HMS Bounty, whose crew mutinied in April 1789, taking over the ship from its commander, Lt. William Bligh.
The replica was built for the 1962 film “Mutiny on the Bounty,” and was also featured in one of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies.