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A disaster averted, now recounted

On Oct. 20, 2002, Capt. Dave Shoemaker headed out onto the Bering Sea at the helm of the 190-foot longliner Galaxy and was soon fighting for his life and those of his crew. Intended as (and priced as) a safety training DVD for the commercial marine industry, "Lessons from the Galaxy: Tragedy and Courage on the Bering Sea" ($295, John Sabella & Associates, 2010) tells the story of Shoemaker's struggles when an on-board fire threatens the lives of everyone aboard and reinforces the importance of regular safety training, no matter how much boating experience one might have.

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The one initial VHF contact made enabled Shoemaker and all but three of the crew to escape alive as Galaxy sank into the sea.

Shoemaker has been the captain of Bering Sea fishing vessels for 25 years and was awarded the Coast Guard Gold Lifesaving Medal for his efforts on Galaxy. He hopes fellow seamen and women can learn important safety lessons from his harrowing experience.

John Sabella is based in Port Townsend, Wash., and is currently working on a book version of Shoemaker's story that he hopes to release next year. For information, visit

This article originally appeared in the November 2010 issue.