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Sailing Short Stories

Bruce, Cora and North Dog

Bruce Milne was a young Marine Aviator back in the 1980s. He flew CH-46 Helicopters as a Reserve Officer with the Marines. That was a time when the tail was falling off those helicopters and several crashed as a result. Bruce didnít crash and he survived his early 46-helicopter experience. While Bruce was serving his country, he decided he needed a sailboat and purchased a Com-Pac 23 from The Sailboat Company. Bruce lived on that boat at the Marine Corps Air Station, New River for about a year. The marina had showers and other facilities that Bruce needed to live on his boat and be a Marine pilot at the same time. He learned to sail and after all, sailing is like flying, the only difference being you do it on the water. He sailed well and traveled the coastal waters of North Carolina whenever he could. While he was sailing the Outer Banks of North Carolina, he anchored off the Old Folks home in Atlantic, NC. Atlantic is a small town on the banks of Core Sound. That area is known for their big mosquitoes. Core Sound is also known for itís shallow water and big wind when it blows out of the north. Bruce anchored in a pretty bay that looked like it was protected from the wind, but the bay was only three feet deep. During the night, the wind came up like it can with a change of weather and the wind- break on the north side of the bay disappeared. The windbreak was only reeds between the bay and Pamlico Sound. The waves from the Sound came in big and strong all night long and Bruce knew that he had anchored in water that was too shallow. He survived, but not by much.

Bruce decided he needed a larger boat like most sailors do as they get more sailing experience. We sold Bruce a Cape Dory 27 that we had in stock at the time and we took his 23 in trade. We also had a small marina at Sneadís Ferry and he decided to rent a slip there. He needed a slip off the base because Bruce purchased a best friend for life, a dog we called North Dog, an Alaskan Husky. Bruce and North Dog continued to sail North Carolina in his Cape Dory whenever he could. One sail to the outer-banks ended like most sailing trips over there do. He got stuck in Ocracoke with bad weather. He started back anyway and lost his engine soon as leaving Silver Lake. Big waves bounced the trash in the fuel tank until the junk clogged the filters. He decided to sail home, but the wind wasnít cooperating because it was blowing in the wrong direction. He ended up in the town of Belhaven. It was the wrong way, but it was on the mainland. He had the filters changed and the tank cleaned and he was soon on his way home. Sailing across Pamlico Sound in big winds and waves with no engine is a little like what Blackbeard did in his Queen Annís Revenge. Blackbeardsí home was Bath, NC on the Pamlico River.

On his way north on Highway 95, he stopped at a restaurant in Roanoke Rapids and met a very pretty young girl. They were married and soon after the first baby arrived, Bruce needed a larger boat. He and his wife Cora with North Dog lived on that boat until it was time to leave the Service.

Most people donít know it, but the FBI has lots of ex-Marines as agents. The FBI school is located at Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, VA. If you ever talk to an FBI agent, you probably will be talking to an ex-Marine. Of course, all Marines know that there are no ex-Marines, only Marines. You are a Marine forever.

The FBI transferred Bruce and family, including North Dog to Alaska. Bruce took up residence in Alaska and has been there ever since. He is currently retired from the FBI, has 35 dogs and has participated in the Iditarod Dog Race. Several years ago Bruce came back to The Sailboat Company for another Com-Pac 23. He picked it up and pulled it all the way back to Alaska. He only gets to sail about one month a year and he says it worth the effort. Bruce has always pushed the envelope and it appears he is still doing what he loves to do, dogs, boats and cold weather. The picture below has the 23 in the foreground and some big mountains in the background.