The Ghostly Mayday

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I’m in the Coast Guard and was stationed in Oregon for about three and a half years. During these years, I saw some pretty horrible things. A boat that went down right before my eyes, a man who breathed his very last, and a child who had lost his life when his schizophrenic mother threw him off a bridge, to name a few. Most of these things are unfortunately pretty average in your day-to-day life as a Guardsman, but there has always been something about the sea that has held some form of mystery or another.

November of 2014 we were contacted by our sister station that there was a boat going down and that they had contacted the sector (where all the search and rescue calls got vetted through the command center) that we needed to launch one of our SAR (search and rescue) boats. They already had a helicopter en route. We quickly loaded up and found ourselves at a breaking bar, the waves easily reaching 12′ high with consistent white caps. We pressed on, our vessel able to take the nasty weather and ferried on. Now we could hear the Fishing Vessel Artemis on channel 16, the international hailing and distress channel, (if you’re ever in a pickle and need to get a hold of the Coast Guard), begging for someone to come and help them. We got their information, how big they were, how much they were carrying…And of course, what the rate was of water entering the hull. Unfortunately, as we neared the F/V, all communication went dead. The helicopter called us up on our encrypted channel and said that there was no fishing vessel to be seen in that location. They had just up and disappeared. They requested that we search the area for any debris to make sure it wasn’t a faux distress call and so we did, finding a sheen of oil and a couple of bit and baubles that read “Artemis” on it. It was obvious that the ship had indeed met a watery end. But where were the men on board? We searched and searched for over 36 hours, looking for any signs of the men, but at the end of the day, there was no bodies to be found, living or deceased.

With heavy  hearts, we called off all efforts and went back to operations normal, getting ready for the upcoming holiday season. This is when stuff started getting pretty freaky. About a week after the search, me and my best friend Kevin (who also happened to be my boss) were sitting in the communications room, shooting the shit. It was pretty late at night, maybe 2000 (8 PM to you non-military folks) and we weren’t expecting any other traffic to come over the radio that night. As he opened his mouth to respond to a joke I had just said, the radio’s circuitry lit up red, signifying a call was coming over channel 16.

“Mayday, mayday, someone help!” A distant voice called over the radio, even though it didn’t sound like a voice that would be of this world. It was hollow and sounded far away, like someone was shouting into a tin mug while falling down a well. A shiver shot up my spine as I leaned forward and responded to the distress call.

“Unit in distress, this is Coast Guard Station Marble Bay, what is your position and nature of distress, over?” I returned the call as the radio started going absolutely bananas. All of our radios started to light up as static poured through the speakers. Kevin and I raced around, trying to turn the radios down and the static finally faded into nothing. A deathly silence filled the room as we both looked over at one another, wondering what the fuck had just happened.

“Check the lines of bearing,” Kevin instructed as I pulled up our interactive map and watched as the two red lines crossed over one another, revealing a small spot on the chart to indicate where the call had come from, “No fucking way…” He said slowly, shaking his head. It was the exact same position as where the Artemis had gone down.

We  called the sector to make sure that they had heard the call as well, but they said that it was all quiet on their end and they hadn’t heard any calls for help. We wrote it off as a faux call, but I, to this day, almost three years later, believe that this voice was from the lost crew of the Artemis, calling out for help one last time before their souls were lost forever to the briny depths of the sea.

*EDIT* There is no Station Marble Bay in the Coast Guard, but this is to protect the identities of people who are still at the station and who still protect the waterways of Oregon.

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