Almost 40 hours in reverse gets angler home

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AUG. 27 — A 61-year-old fisherman from Oregon recently spent nearly 40 hours maneuvering his boat in reverse after his transmission seized up.

Jim Peterson was about 80 miles from Newport, Ore., this month when the transmission on his 38-foot trawler, Alice M., seized up, locking in reverse gear. Instead of waiting for a Coast Guard tow, Peterson and his deckhand, 34-year-old Jeremy Welsh, decided to motor back to their homeport of Coos Bay — in reverse.

“[The boat] can go in reverse, but the rudder isn’t made for it,” Welsh said in a news report. “You go in a direction for 15 minutes, then you’d have to stop, zigzag around and correct yourself. You couldn’t really steer while you’re driving. You’d have to position the boat in the direction you wanted. It was an ordeal.”

Experiencing fog and 4-foot seas, Peterson and Welsh successfully made it back to Coos Bay, despite narrowly avoiding a collision with a charter boat, the report says.

Back on land, Peterson and Welsh say the story of their ordeal is spreading fast. “I’ve gotten drinks bought for me in Charleston from people I don’t even know, just because I was on the boat,” Welsh says.

Jason Fell