Raising The Ruth Ellen

adventure, fishing, Jake Winston


My novel, The Raising of the Ruth Ellen, is a sad, but true story, about two fishermen friends who were lost at sea in 1978. This gripping account of the circumstances surrounding the sinking and recovery of the F/V Ruth Ellen off the bottom of the Pacific Ocean will keep you on the edge of your seat and your heart in your mouth as Jake Winston and the U.S. Navy takes on the task of salvaging the vessel in hopes of providing the evidence of their death that will satisfy the recalcitrant insurance company to pay off on the million dollar life insurance policies.

The story is progressing well and I have lots of photos. We are shooting for a summer of 2019 publishing date.


U.S. Navy divers preparing to dive on the wreck.



HOUR 0 – 2:30 A.M.

In less than an hour, Blake’s dead reckoning, the compass and the ancient Loran indicated they were clear of the shipping lane, although the Loran was sometimes temperamental and not always reliable. Blake gambled that they were probably safe, at least for as long as it would take to get the net aboard, and head in. He throttled back to where he was just making headway and told Oslo, “Maybe losing the radar was a sign that we need to get out of here. We’ll anchor up at Sugarloaf Island until the fog lifts, then we’re going home. It’s not safe out here without the radar.”

“Yes sir, Skipper! I’m with you. Let’s get the hell out of here.”

“Oslo, start pulling the net. I’ll swing the bow around into the wind, set the auto pilot and give you a hand.”

They were totally engrossed in pulling the heavy net aboard, when they heard a noise. Something they should not have heard, if they were where they thought they were. Blake immediately stopped what he was doing and listened. Then, he stopped the winch, shushed Oslo and listened carefully. It sounded like a deep resonant whoosh, whoosh, whoosh.

Blake’s adrenalin spiked and he raced up to the bridge to get a better look, he thought, It could be a whale, another vessel, possible a sea creature or even a submarine, but whatever it is, it’s something big, powerful, close and threatening. He knew they were in big trouble.

Blake flipped on the spot light and did a three-sixty with the powerful beam. as Oslo and he strained to see what it was. At first, they saw nothing, but as a wave lifted the Ruth Ellen high in the air, they got a glimpse of a shadowy movement twenty yards off their port bow. They couldn’t make out what it was though the fog and driving rain. Blake’s pulse was racing and his mouth was dry as he silently waited to crest the next swell. When he focused the light toward where they saw movement a few seconds ago, it was gone and the mysterious sound with it.

Blake snapped at Oslo, “Cut the net loose, on the double! Then come up here and stand watch with me. We gotta get out of here, now!” he took the helm gunned the engine and turned northeast towards Sugarloaf Island.

*** END ***


adventure, FOOD, Sea Story, Travel


As I finished my third year at the University of Washington, I landed a great summer job at an exclusive adult summer camp and fishing resort in the San Juan Islands. I was the cook on the Thelma Rose, the resort’s classic vintage yacht. They offered six-day cruises to their well-heeled guests aboard this eight-stateroom vessel. Mid-way through our third cruise, Max Dumas, one of the guests, became a problem for both the crew and the seven other guests. This wealthy, middle-aged man was an unpleasant, arrogant ass, who delighted in belittling and bullying the other guests, ordering the crew around and complaining about everything, including my food. One evening, when we were anchored up off Roach Harbor, Max missed the five o’clock cocktail hour on the fantail and didn’t answer the seven o’clock dinner bell either. Everyone seemed happy to be rid of him, as they dined on Dungeness crab cocktails, Caesar salads, and freshly caught Lingcod. Halfway through dinner service, Max burst into the Captain’s mess. He was very drunk and argumentative. He took his seat, knocked over the crab cocktail, spilled his wine on the man to his left and picked a fight with a diner who asked him to, “Be quiet and behave like a gentleman!” Max was incensed by that remark and threw his wine glass at him. The skipper had enough of Max Dumas. He whispered to me, “Help me get him out of here.” As we manhandled him down the stairs, he kicked me, screamed obscenities at the guests, and grabbed a bottle of scotch off the sidebar. As we locked him in his stateroom, he threatened to kill both the skipper and myself.

About ten that night, I finished cleaning up the galley and made my way forward towards my berth. Just then, Max kicked open his stateroom door and stumbled out into the narrow passageway, brandishing a 357 Magnum. I was scared crap-less and stepped into the head, locked the door, and hoped he didn’t recognize me. I realized what a stupid move that was, trapping myself in this tiny room behind a flimsy wooden door. I was terrified when Max stopped and rattled the doorknob, I held my breath until I heard and felt a fleshy thud against the door, and it became very quiet. I waited a few minutes, hearing nothing, I forced the door open a few inches and discovered Max was passed out on the floor and sprawled up against the door, blocking my exit. I froze when I heard a groan and a string of curses; he was awake and back on his feet. Fortunately, he must have forgotten about me in his drunken stupor, I could hear him moving away, towards the stern.

When I was sure he left the cabin, I quietly made my way up to the captain’s mess and peered through the window to see what he was doing. Max was standing high up on the stern bench watching a school of a dozen killer whales that were playing harmlessly off our stern. I heard three shots, followed by a soulful animal moan and furious thrashing in the water. The gunshots woke up everybody on the boat, and lights were coming on all around the bay. I watched as the remaining school of whales, circled, dove and darted in and out around the mortally wounded female until she died. Then, they came together and plunged deep below the waves. I knew these animals were smart, fearless killers, and we had not seen the end of them. Max seemed oblivious to what was going on as he swayed back and forth waiting for another clean shot. Suddenly, the eleven remaining angry whales rose from the depths of the sea as one, striking the hull of the Thelma Rose with a premeditated jolt that sent Max, their enemy, flying overboard into their world.

The skipper flipped on the searchlights, and we raced out onto the fantail and searched the dark waters for him. We spotted Max thrashing about in the blood-tainted water near the dead whale. As the skipper tossed him a lifeline, the school shot out of the water, leaping six feet in the air and pummeled Max.

shutterstock_ocraAlthough I was horrified, I couldn’t turn away from this fascinating display of animal vengeance and retribution. I watched them toy with Max as he screamed in pain and terror. A bite here, a bite there, then they dragged him under the water and tossed him in the air, as he gasped for breath. When the big male sunk his teeth deep into his adversary’s chest and shook him like a rag doll, I turned away and said a prayer for Max Dumas.

*** THE END ***