Where dreams lead.
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Where dreams lead.

Eli Carr's fascinating and tragic story about the mysterious SOS signal her father sent from the middle of the Pacific...
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Translation of Eli Carr's story we have to publish in short. The full original English version was published on outsideonline.com.

My dad's e-mail was almost pointless, but he seemed to mean that pirates had landed on his boat.

«The Blackcult of the Deep South was taken over by the company of the film," it said. - The ship is immobilized.

He sent this to my mother, Martha Carr, at 4:30 am Pacific Time on 28 May 2017. She was at home in Los Angeles and asleep, so she did not see the message (and a couple of others similar) until 8:30am. For a few hours my dad, 71-year-old Richard Carr must have thought they hadn't arrived.

Dad was in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, on his way from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, to the Marquesas Islands. He made a 26-day, 2,780-mile solo voyage, which was to be the first important step toward realizing his lifelong dream: sailing around the world.

It was 3:30 a.m. at the equator where he was - an hour less than the US Pacific coast. It was 1,160 nautical miles from the Marquesas Islands, 1975 miles from Hawaii and 1553 miles from Mexico. As far from land and help as you can get.

Ten minutes after the first message, he wrote to one of his younger brothers, John Carr: Captured by «pirates. Talk to March. John was asleep, too, and he didn't see the letter. Two hours later, Dad went on, writing to John: «I must have been spared. A few more minutes later, at 6:45, he wrote to Mom: The Strongwind «pirates had left. I'm okay. We'll talk»later.

It said it sent an SOS signal and activated EPIRB, an emergency locator beacon that transmits data to rescue workers via satellite when a boat is in trouble. He asked her to call and cancel the call.

At 7:45, shortly after dawn, he wrote to his mother: Write «to me as soon as you can. I'm really shocked. Then he tried again to contact John: Very «scary. Thought I wouldn't live to see you in the morning.

For Daddy, sunrise meant 13 hours of sitting in a 26-degree heat, in silence, in an area near the equator with unstable conditions that make sailors settle inone minute, squeeze from squall to squall and then fight to catch a strong gust of wind to the third.

Around 8:00 a.m. in Los Angeles, Mom went out to the garden to work there before it got too hot. She still didn't know about the disturbing letters that Dad had sent.

«Richard used to write to me in the afternoon, and I would reply," she told me later. - So I didn't check my mail when I got up.

At 8:30, there was a phone call. John wanted to discuss the strange messages he received. She ran upstairs to her laptop. That was almost an hour after Dad sent the last morning message. The family finally answered him.

Mom's first letter was: «OMG, do you need anything? Are you okay?»

She called my brother Tim and his wife Jen, who lived 45 minutes away. Tim texted my dad, asked if he was okay, and gave him instructions on how to cancel the SOS. Then he came to see Mom. That's when they called me on the west coast, Woodstock, New York.

Before leaving, Dad gave Mom a list of emergency numbers. She called the Coast Guard. After hearing Daddy's details, the woman checked the EPIRB signal from him. When she came back, she said: «There was no EPIRB signal.

What was going on? There were several possible explanations, but none of them were good. We tried to find answers, knowing that there might be little time...

Richard Carr was born and raised in New York State. His family was the most ordinary for that time (1940-1950) and those places: seven children and working parents, living in a house with three bedrooms. Boys often spent all day outside. Richard loved water and scuba diving. He taught children how to swim and fish in a local boys' club, built a canoe with his brother, where they rafted down the canal playing the lost boys«from Peter Pan on the Niagara«»River. He wanted to study marine biology at the University of Miami, but fate decided otherwise, and he received a degree in anthropology from the University of California at Los Angeles and then became interested in psychology. At university, he met his future wife, Martha. The wedding took place in 1978, a year later his first child Tim was born.

Daddy, learning to sail in California, sold his boat, a 9.5-foot Cortez sea ketch...bought an old Spanish-style house in the San Fernando Valley where Tim and I grew up and where my mother still lives. My parents were busy with my brother and I raising and taking care of clients who were undergoing therapy, but navigation was always on Dad's mind. He often tried to persuade his mother that the whole family should sail around the world, but she wanted the children to have a normal upbringing. However, when I was a kid we used to take a rented sailboat to Santa Catalina sometimes. It took half a day to travel from Los Angeles.

As the years went by, he became increasingly attached to his psychological practice, interested in scientific work: he studied the neurology of embryos in the womb and wrote a book on neurology in art therapy.

But although his father was selflessly devoted to his work, his coffee table always had a Cruising World number on it.

Daddy was thinking seriously about sailing around the world in 2010. On March 16th he paid his last instalment and won the 1985 Celebration 11m Sailing Tender. The boat was once called Pelican, but the previous owner changed his name while sailing, which was to become a round the world boat. The idea was not successful because the yachtsman had a stroke and had to change his plans. There is a belief that in order not to irritate the sea gods, when renaming a boat it is necessary to observe some rituals: for example, to burn an old logbook. I have no idea if the previous owner of this boat has heard of this tradition, but he renamed his boat just in San Diego, where he had a stroke. In 2017, seven years after buying Celebration, Dad bought a carved pelican in Mexico and put it in his cabin as a mascot.

Dad spent the weekend working meticulously on Celebration eight hours a day. It was a lot for him, a man in his 60s.

The more time he spent on the boat, the more he wanted to finish the repairs. When business at work got in the way of Celebration, he got upset and annoyed.

Daddy had hoped to start his journey in late 2015, but El Niño was expected that winter. Besides, the boat was still not navigable. The delay seemed to him colossal, as if following the schedule was one of the main goals. He did not realize that calm would allow him to practice and prepare. I think he felt that at this stage in his life it might take longer to prepare for a trip than he had left.

The day of departure was approaching and Mom was becoming more and more worried. Their lives were closely intertwined for decades, and he was about to embark on a journey that could last for years. Repair, which cost about half the cost of a boat, was a constant source of controversy. But she had to accept that he was not going to give up his dream, and they, sometimes awkwardly, continued to move towards the goal, bringing closer the beginning of his incredible adventure.

In early 2016, it was clear that the Celebration deck needed to be replaced. After this part of the work at Marina del Rey was completed, Dad went south to Los Angeles Bay by motor. On the way, the engine started smoking. It had to be partially recycled. The vital time needed to test the motor and practice solo swimming was lost.

Finally, Dad refused to postpone going out to sea at least one more time. He forced himself to apply for a two-week cruise rally from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico in late October. His marina companion Marty Richards went with him to Celebration during the regatta.

Shortly before his voyage started, Tim talked to a sailor at a San Diego bar. He talked about pirates, who are many in African waters, where Daddy is sure to get, since he is going to go around the world.

«I remember being impressed by his courage, how proud he was that he was doing it, but also scared," said Tim. "I hugged him on the boat and said I was scared that he might not come back.

As Dad and Richards traveled south, the problems continued. Among other things, they had to fix the bilge pump, which created an alarmingly large amount of steam in the engine compartment.

The new noise on the first night kept Dad awake.

After talking to him on the phone the next day, Mom noted that his mind was completely confused due to lack of sleep. Also, he had a visual impairment.

At night, he thought he saw a wall of forest rising out of phosphorescent water. His hallucinations bothered us, but we knew that they often came to the sailors on night watch.

«I was tormented by questions... When Marty gets off the land, who will I share my thoughts with? How will I handle running the boat day and night on long crossings? Am I ready to travel alone?» - Daddy used to write.

On May 3rd, Dad's round-the-world trip really started. Only the ocean was waiting for him until the Marquesas. This was his first transoceanic crossing, and it was to be the most difficult part of the route, judging by the expected weather and duration - 27 days. When I asked him what scared him most about his journey, he replied that this lack of sleep was an unavoidable condition for single yachtsmen who were often so busy that they could only rest occasionally.

The Celebration, a slow but steady boat, was equipped with solar panels, a wind power generator, a desalination unit, a lifeboat for four people, an autopilot, a signal gun, three months' worth of food and a $1,300 Alaskan climate survival suit. Connoisseurs say this boat was easy to handle. In a storm, it could be safely drifted while waiting for the weather.

At first, the journey seemed like a dream come true. Every few days, Dad would tell us what great conditions he had. It gave us a feeling of relief. It was great to know that after all the years of hammering and lifting that made Daddy's hands dirty and rough, the boat finally justified the work he had put into it. Daddy really did it.

Over time, the waves got bigger and coarser. Daddy's helmsman was overloaded, he had to stay on deck and help with the bow thruster. Trying to use the wind, which was not ideal in its direction, required vigilance and fatigue accumulated.

Ten days after the start of his voyage, during which Daddy slowly moved an average of 80-90 nautical miles, he began to get to know himself better in isolation.

He told his mother that he talked to himself a lot in his mind. It was a normal way for him to deal with difficult situations.

Day after day, the frequency of messages from Daddy decreased. The pace of his progress slowed down as well: now he could only travel 77 miles a day, so the transition threatened to stretch out for five weeks.

From May 20th to 24th, the weather changed from disgusting to calm and back. On May 26th, two days before Daddy sent his first pirate report, he made a sharp turn on Khiva-Oa, the second largest island in the Marquesas Islands, but the storm threw him back 20 nautical miles. Winds were predicted to be more favorable within 24-48 hours. He had an almost full tank of fuel. He could have driven most of the way to Hiva-Oa, but he seems to have forgotten that the weather wouldn't always be like this.

«Serious problems continue," he wrote on the 26th. - I need some new ways to get close to them. The weirdest thing just happened. Too weird & far beyond the limits of digitability. Involved in fraudulent film-making.»

An anxious mother answered within a couple of minutes, and said she wanted to hear more about the challenges he faced. He wouldn't answer.

On the afternoon of 27 May, at about 1:15 pm, he wrote, "The Rain-Was «intensified at times, at times horizontal. my deck is relatively clean, unlike the sails. Happy 39th wedding anniversary. Film deception again. Maybe my Brilliant Mind warns My Yachting Mind. Take this as a book idea. As a real dilemma. After 2 days of sleepless, Banderas Bay, Shortwave Radio plays a stranger that made me think I was in trouble. Then I thought I'd check it out. I was laughing».

Mum replied: «Happy Anniversary, Dear! I was wondering if there was a hallucination of repeating a film deception, but I thought maybe you were listening to something strange on short waves... SPI!»

Then she got a message, after which it was clear that his boat had lost course. «I'm drifting. Heavy storm. Moving north... Unpleasant until next Friday. Can you imagine? Obstacles at almost every turn. Problems holy»... That's where the text broke down.

On the morning of May 28, when Mom read the pirate letters, the family started trying to reach out every 10 minutes: Are you «okay?», «In connection with the Coast Guard , Trying»«to find you , PLEASE»«ANSWER»

It's no use.

The coast guard tried to wake Dad up with test messages, but he didn't answer.

Four hours later, in silence, Dad appeared around noon in his time. «It's part of the production of my Southern style dream," he wrote. - Details later .

But there was nothing that made it any clearer.

On the contrary, after about an hour he wrote: «I'm fine now. One of the fishing boats next door works for the southern boss. Who, with my knowledge, wants to put me in my place. It's a long story».

Why was he dark? He was captured by pirates and someone else sent these messages? Did he try to communicate with the code? Mom asked him for a radio frequency to transmit it to the Honolulu Coast Guard. «You have to answer... NOW. What you're saying makes no sense. Something was stolen?» The Coast Guard on a satellite link asked the boats around Dad to look after Celebration.

It's been an hour, and Dad said he'd try to contact the Coast Guard on longwave radio (SSB).

He apologized for not answering and then added: Nothing «was stolen No one was hurt, no information about the boat. Was inside deciding how best to do».

We exhaled with relief, but we were confused. The pirates let him stay inside and think about his options while they were on board?

At 3:00 p.m., the Coast Guard texted him again.

He sent his coordinates (6 35.9712' Z 127 17.7952') and wrote to them, "This is a boat. Celebration WDJ4510 needs confirmation of cancellation of EPIRB 2DCC7B512CFBFF this morning 5/28/17 around 6:30am. I cannot contact the U.S. Coast Guard via SSB .

We were still confused. Daddy's unexpected switching - from vague reports of pirates to clear detailed service letters for the Coast Guard - looked absurd. Why couldn't he clearly explain what had happened to him?

An hour later, he wrote to his mother: «I could still be in trouble if my data were to get a public report. She replied that nothing was made public. At 5:08 he told the Coast Guard: I'm watching «the sun.

«We don't understand your message," they replied. - Are you in trouble? Has someone come aboard your ship? What's a black cult in the deep south?»

Tim's wife, Jen, wanted to make sure it wasn't someone else pretending to be dad. «Say something that only you know about me. What do I do for a living?»- she wrote.

«Sports physiotherapy»," he said. That's right.

Mom insisted on the details of the pirates. «We talked about Phyllis' disability. She's mentally challenged or mute," he wrote about someone we'd never heard of. - She thought I was a friend who should stay. I said no.

«Who talked to you about Phyllis? - Mom asked. - Does she have anything to do with the fishermen? -Nbsp;Phyllis? -Nbsp;asked Mom. I have no context. It sounds weird. - - Did they get on your boat? Threatening to you?»

«I have always lied to you," he said. - Marnie's ashes are buried at sea. Ala, too.»

It was a blow to the breath. Marnie and Al were mom and stepfather to mom. They both died two years before Dad's trip. One of his goals was to scatter their ashes in the ocean. «When I saw that message, I thought, uh-oh. He's going to do something," Mama said later. - It looked like he was getting things in order.

«Thank you, dear," she wrote at 18:06, "I am concerned that you do not answer my other questions. It's safe to send messages. Do you want to go to Hawaii?»

Three minutes later, he said, "Killers«. Watch out in the back. Sorry»... A few minutes after that: Hawaii's a good «barbecue at sea... Sorry about the insurance...»

«WHAT ARE YOU DOING? - My mother wrote. - You're scaring me. What's going on? Sounds like you want to hurt yourself! Do you need help? Say yes or no.

«These people of this killer are not a fine mind,"»he said.

Throughout the day, Daddy slowly but continuously moved southwest towards Hiva-Oa. But now the map that showed his position at the time of sending each message showed that he was going west. He was leaving the course.

At 18:59 he wrote, "It was not his helper who had knocked «out his daughter. Poisonous crack. She dies These old Southerners. People say I killed myself. Better than exactly what he's going to do, I'll wait. Miss you.

«Is your boat immobilized? - My mom wrote it. - The company?»

«No, not literally. I'm listening to a man from a distance on the loudspeaker.»

«You listen to the radio? Who's talking to you?»

«I'm listening to you. He's talking to me».

My sister-in-law stepped in and said she was worried. «So I don't dream of dying," he wrote. - I don't want to be killed or taken into slavery.

At that moment, the Coast Guard asked him to print a D or an H to ask you if your life «was in danger...?

«I think so»," said Dad. A few minutes later he wrote to our family: «Please.

«You're coming home! NO!!!»- my mother begged. Ten minutes later, he said: I «wouldn't have to act fast.

Within the next hour, his response time slowed down. At 20:48 Tim wrote, "The satellite «shows that the nearest boat is miles away. This isn't just a sleep deprivation, is it?» At 9:08 p.m., when a new letter from Daddy didn't arrive, Tim asked: «Click SOS, please».

Family members kept sending messages until late at night, but no one heard from Daddy from 8:30 a.m. to his time. The last letter from him was: I «can't stop UPaposta news she will be rescued & banned her fight by the brand .

By the end of the day, May 29th had passed the day since we last received messages from Dad. In the area where Dad was, the Coast Guard never recorded any pirate encounters. It is possible that at night he got confused in fishing nets and ran into angry locals who spoke an unfamiliar language.

The question was: Did something happen to him at all? Dad said he sent out EPIRB and SOS signals, but he didn't. And what did he mean by barbecue «at sea? «Sorry about the insurance message he» sent right after that. Did he try to tell Mom that she couldn't get the insurance money because there was no body?

My idea of my dad leaving this world wasn't the same. I longed to know what his face was like, how he felt at that moment. His words gave us no idea.

When the darkness thickened around me on the 29th of May, there were endless questions in my mind: «Dad, where are you? What have you done?»

The Coast Guard started looking for resources to search. The closest ship was 200 nautical miles, more than one day's journey. The cargo plane could have reached it, but the crew would have only ten minutes to search: then they would have to go back.

At 11:00 p.m., the manufacturer of the tracking and messaging device my dad used confirmed that it stopped receiving messages the moment he sent the last one to us. The device was turned off, either it failed or it was destroyed.

On the evening of May 30, an American Enterprise fishing vessel with a helicopter on board began sweeping the area southwest of Dad's last known location. By the evening of May 31, three days after their last contact with Dad, they had searched an area the size of Connecticut, but had found no trace or wreckage of Celebration.

In the southwest, where Papa might have been, a 200-meter Panamanian vessel joined the search. But it didn't find anything, either.

By June 2, we were desperate. We knew that Dad, even if he was still alive, probably couldn't survive longer.

June 4th, a week after the last report, two more ships joined the search, but that didn't work either.

The next day there was a glimmer of hope: on the satellite data received by the Coast Guard there was something that looked like a sailing boat heading south on the theoretical Celebration course. The length and color were the same as Dad's boat.

On June 6, the Coast Guard contacted hospitals in Tahiti to see if Daddy had been brought there. The answer is no.

On June 13th, two weeks after the last session, the unidentified boat was close enough to be reached by plane from Tahiti. On June 15, the C-130 Hercules flew into the area, carrying a communications device, life raft, and other items that could be dropped. The Falcon surveillance plane went with him in search. They met four boats. Three of them were identified at once, and the other with two sailors on board, which had to be contacted on the radio, did not fit the description of Celebration.

On June 21st, Hercules returned to Hawaii. On June 22nd, the Coast Guard suspended the search.

In 24 days, 154.3 thousand square meters were checked. The remains of the boat were also not found within the next 17 months after Dad disappeared.

I doubt they will ever appear, although one analyst suggests that if Celebration is still drifting, it may reach New Guinea in two years. But I believe that the boat - or what's left of it - is at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. The last coordinates are his only tombstone.

My family can try again and again to understand what happened and why it happened. But we'll never know for sure. We can feel guilt, remorse, anger.

But we'll always go back to one thing: maybe Daddy wasn't experienced enough to get it done, but he had to try. Or die dreaming and remaining dissatisfied with his own life.

You can hardly say that everyone has to die like this. But the question remains: if you have a dream of your life, and time is running out, what will you do?

Like any adventurer, Dad didn't know how it would end. He had to get the sail up and find out.

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