Changing Tides


Another roller hit us head-on and pushed me back to the base of the cutter stay, which had the only working sail still hanked on and intact. I struggled forward once again, attempting to duck the two jib control sheets, which were whipping my body unmercifully like an unseen torturer. I tried to engage the furling device in order to wind up the sail, but it had become fouled and would not turn. Then I tried to roll up what was left of the sail by turning the furler manually and discovered that parts of the shredded sail were entangled in the shrouds of the mainmast, making it impossible to roll in the sail. That’s when I noticed that the staysail was starting to rip off its stay. It was our only remaining functioning sail. I had to secure it or we would be lost in the tempest without sail power. I began crawling back to the staysail when I was lifted up by a giant breaking roller which had swept across the bow and bounced me off the canvas cockpit dodger. I ricocheted off the dodger and was cast between the two lifelines on the port side and headed downward into the churning Atlantic. I grabbed the lifeline upright stanchion in a desperate attempt to keep from being dragged alongside Changing Tides’s hull and pounded by the treacherous waves. I was waist deep in the ocean. Somehow, with all my strength, I pulled myself back on board using my left hand on the lifeline stanchion and my right hand on a deck cleat. Straining with all my might and soaking wet from the waist down, I managed to roll back between the bottom lifeline and the deck. I had exited the vessel above the bottom lifeline and was entangled in it. I quickly disengaged my tether, passed it through the lifelines and reconnected it to my harness before the next wave hit. I hung on for dear life and began crawling forward to the staysail, which was beginning to come apart, popping brass grommets and tearing. I thought, I have to save this sail or we will be unable to return to New York, which still lay more than 750 miles ahead. I managed to reach the base of the staysail after being pounded by wave after wave and embraced its base like a long-lost brother. The onslaught of waves continued relentlessly and Changing Tides bounced like a bucking bronco. We were in a desperate situation. Every time I tried to tie down the bottom of the ripping sail, more waves tried to push me back toward the dodger. When I had just about given up hope, I prayed aloud. “Please, dear God, in the name of Jesus, please let me save this vessel.”

AUTHOR: Jeff Gardner
GENRE: Memoir
PUBLISHED: Mar 25, 2010

5.0 out of 5 stars A Harrowing Tale of Survival! September 7, 2013
By Dr. Scott D. Churchill
Jeff Gardner has written a concise and compelling masterpiece of autobiographical narrative with his "Changing Tides." Stephen King would be proud to have written such a saga, except for one thing: this book is not fiction, but fact! And yet it is a page-turner like the best of King's work -- "Misery" comes to mind, for its switching back and forth between different pieces of the story, deconstructed and woven into tapestry of one man's decade-long journey from Long Island to heaven to hell and back. It would be incredible source material for a Hollywood production of a psychological thriller that starts out with Jimmy Buffet on the beach and ends with Hannibal Lector -- in the form of a young psychopath and his "homeys" who corner you in your own home when you are alone and defenseless.

I am generally a slow reader, but could not put this down. It seemed that the narrative's own "changing tides" -- the ebb and flow of each sub-chapter in the life of this survivor -- kept me glued to the page. Each twist and turn in this existential drama contains its own reward; and yet one keeps coming back to what emerges as the central thread of a nightmare that is truly beyond belief. I found it unfathomable to try to imagine what it must have been like to endure what this man has endured. And the amazing thing is, what comes through, beyond the horror, is the positive outlook on life that sustained Jeff not only through his ordeal, but through the beautiful episodes of his encounters with the friends and lovers he meets along the way.

It is indeed the author's perspective on life, on his encounters with others, that is most memorable for me: far from being just an account of events as they took place, this book takes you into the psyche of its narrator, and you leave the encounter feeling like you've gained a new friend, someone who you will carry with you into your own next adventure ... or ordeal.

"Changing Tides" is a deeply moving story that will stay with you long after you finish its epilogue. "The Grateful Dead got it right: `What a long, strange trip it's been.' "

***** 5.0 OUT OF 5 STARS AMAZON REVIEWS - CHANGING TIDES IS OUR LIFE! Jeff is everyman's sailor...we dream of far away places, exotic women and adventures. But most never make the trip, Jeff did and brings us along for a beautiful adventure with his Changing Tides and his foxy deck hands...I felt I was there with him, almost! I could not put this book down.... -By  Bob Arias (Panama...Paraguay) June 6, 2010 *****


IT'S THE ULTIMATE MALE FANTASY!  Buy a sleek, sexy boat and sail away from the drudgery, the boredom and the mid-life doldrums to a world of adventure on the high seas.  And Jeff Gardner did it! Jeff bought a gorgeous fifty-one-foot cutter, designed by Robert Perry, that had clean decks and a perfect teak wood staved interior that only the Taiwanese know how to build.  He christened it Changing Tides and left his successful public relations business and troubled marriage for the cruising life in the Caribbean, partying with locals as well as social nobility like Jimmy Buffett and Caroline Kennedy.

Eight years later in Panama, having survived hurricanes on the high seas, the romance and treachery of assorted women sailing companions, a scramble for weapons as pirates seemed to surround him, and adventures most of us can only dream about, he found himself being savagely beaten to death by intruders in a twist of events he could never have imagined. THIS IS HIS TRUE STORY!