Riotous waves pummel José Arias. In the frantic scramble to abandon ship, he zipped his survival suit only to his throat and now the freezing Atlantic is seeping in, stealing his body’s heat.
The cold hammers him, a fist inside his head.
Seesawing across the ocean, he cannot tell east from west, up from down. At the top of a wave the night sky spins open, then slides away. Buckets of stars spill into the sea.
"Sálvame, por favor. Sálvame."
Save me. Please save me, he prays to Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Jose Arias, the only survivor of the Lady Mary, was asleep below decks when the scalloper began sinking. Before leaving land, he did something that would play a role in his survival.(Andre Malok/Star-Ledger)
In the chilly, early morning hours of March 24, 2009, 57-year-old José Arias fights for his life, floating in the water 66 miles from Cape May. The nearest lights are from another fishing vessel, which does not see him, anchored less than a half-mile away. A little farther out, a mammoth container ship steams toward Philadelphia.
Although Arias does not know it yet, all six of his friends and fellow fishermen are dead, and the red-hulled scalloper, the Lady Mary, is resting, right-side up, on the sandy bottom of the Atlantic. The mystery of what sank her, which continues to haunt the maritime world, has just begun.
For months, what happened to the 71-foot Lady Mary baffled the Coast Guard, marine experts, fishermen, divers and heartbroken loved ones — all of whom wanted to know how a sound and stable boat with an experienced crew could disappear from the ocean’s surface in a matter of minutes and leave so few clues behind.
This story is about a tragedy no one lived to tell — except Arias, the only crewman plucked from the ocean alive, but who was asleep below decks when the sea suddenly began to swallow the boat. But from the tormented memories of its sole survivor, hundreds of pages of Coast Guard documents, the analyses of more than a dozen marine experts and the Lady Mary’s own ghostly remains, a picture has slowly emerged.
No single event doomed the six fishermen, rather a cascade of circumstances set in motion years earlier by a slip in penmanship on a vessel safety form, compounded by a clerical error. Darkness, deteriorating weather, a tired crew and an open hatch contributed to the vessel’s vulnerability. Then, a floating behemoth 10 times the size of the little scalloper came plowing through the fishing ground at nearly full throttle.
The men of the Lady Mary were like thousands of others who earn their living from fishing, toiling in a Wild West sort of world, in hazardous, ever-changing conditions with scant safeguards and few legal protections.
On today’s oceans, endangered whales have more protection than fishermen, though scores are killed each year.
And when fishermen die at sea, their deaths often remain unexplained, their bodies never found and their lives soon forgotten by the public.
As one mariner said, "There are no skid marks on the ocean."
‘SEE YOU WHEN I GET BACK’
On the morning of Wednesday, March 18, 2009, a week before the Lady Mary disappeared, José Arias lingered on the dock of Cold Spring Fish & Supply in Cape May. Arias, like most commercial fishermen, lived frugally. He shared a spartan one-bedroom apartment in Wildwood with another fisherman and used a bicycle to get around town. A trip to the area known as the Elephant Trunk, the richest scallop grounds on the East Coast, meant he and the other six men aboard the Lady Mary might pocket $10,000 to $15,000 each — more for the captain — for a week to 10 days at sea.
The federal government strictly regulates commercial fishing, placing limits on the number of trips and the size of the catch. So at the beginning of each season, usually around March 1, fishermen are eager to get back to work.
Waiting for the rest of the crew to arrive at the dock that Wednesday morning, Arias noticed an 8-foot-long wooden plank leaning against the ice machine, not far from where the scallops are weighed and packed for shipment. Perfect, he thought to himself. He would use the wood to fix one of the bins in the boat’s fish hold. Arias picked up the plank and carried it onboard, placing it on the bow, or front, of the ship, next to the life raft.
According to the vessel tracking system operated by the National Marine Fisheries Service, the Lady Mary cast off shortly after 10 a.m. Among the seven men were two brothers, Capt. Royal "Bobo" Smith Jr., 41, and Tim "Timbo" Smith, 39, the only children of 64-year-old Royal "Fuzzy" Smith Sr., who co-owned the boat with son Tim. One of Fuzzy’s brothers, Tarzon, (nicknamed Bernie) 59, was also aboard, as was a cousin, Frankie Credle, 56. The other two members of the crew were 23-year-old novice Jorge Ramos and Frank Reyes, 42.
From left: Timothy "Timbo" Smith,Royal "Fuzzy" Smith and Roy "Bobo Smith Jr., gather at a family reunion in Virgina Beach in November 2008. Fuzzy, who lost his two sons in the accident, co-owned the Lady Mary with Tim.
Pointing the boat east, Bobo picked up his cell phone and called Stacy Greene, his 39-year-old girlfriend and the mother of two of his three biological children.
A teller at Crest Savings Bank in Wildwood, Stacy couldn’t answer, but she knew Bobo would leave a slew of messages.
"Babe, we’re leaving. We’re pulling away from the dock," he said after Stacy’s voice-mail message played.
A few minutes later, according to phone records, he called again. The boat had probably cleared the lighthouse by then. Soon it would be out of range.
"Babe, got the outriggers out. See you when I get back, okay?"
When they were fishing, and well out of sight of cell-phone towers, Bobo often called Stacy on the satellite phone. Because they worked virtually around-the-clock, he sometimes dialed her at crazy hours, ringing her at 2 a.m. to ask what she was doing.
"What do you think I’m doing?" she’d say in mock anger.
Jorge Ramos, the youngest crew member aboard the Lady Mary.
Tarzon "Bernie" Smith, brother of Fuzzy Smith.
Over the next six days, Bobo called Stacy on the satellite phone 10 times, not always reaching her. He called Fuzzy twice on Saturday, March 21. The first time was just after 2 in the afternoon, to tell him the crew was catching a good load of scallops and things were going well.
"Go bag ’em up, and don’t be guessing how much you got," Fuzzy told Bobo.
He never liked to hear from his sons when they were out fishing, he just wanted them to get the job done and come home.
He worried about them, especially when they were on the same boat. Usually they took two boats and kept an eye on each other. When one of them called Fuzzy in the middle of a fishing trip, he always thought something was wrong.
At 10:37 that night, Bobo called his father back to tell him they had 200 bags of scallops — big ones, he told his father — and would probably be heading back on Tuesday, the 24th.
Three minutes later, Bobo called Stacy. The couple had broken up so many times over the years, often because of his drinking, but when he moved back into the house in Whitesboro in June of 2008, he quit and told her he wanted to be a real father to his kids.
Frankie Credle was one of Fuzzy Smith's cousins and the fourth family member to lose his life that day. Like Tim, Bobo and Bernie Smith, Frankie Credle was an experienced captain.
In an undated photo, Frank Reyes hold his newborn. Reyes preferred working as a cook, but fishing was a way to earn good money quickly(photos courtesy of family and friends of the crew)
The next eight months were blissful, according to Stacy. Bobo fixed breakfast for the children, attended every one of 8-year-old Jeremiah’s basketball games — in fact, every one of his practices — and on weekends drove the kids to the Family Dollar Store in Rio Grande to buy them presents.
Of course, that was when he was just back from a fishing trip and had money in his pockets. When he did have cash, he spent it freely, usually on the kids, but sometimes on complete strangers.
The previous November, when they were all driving down to Virginia Beach for a big family reunion, Bobo spotted a homeless man wandering on the side of the road. He pulled over, handed him all the food they’d just picked up at KFC and gave him $10 in cash.
"Here you go, man," he said. "I hope you can make it."
When fishing season opened in March 2009, Bobo was broke again. Just before leaving on the first trip of the year, he stopped by Adele’s Jeweled Treasures in Cape May and, according to store receipts, pawned the gold chain he always wore around his neck for $200.
Like Bobo, younger brother Tim was utterly and completely a fisherman. He even married a fisherman’s daughter. Carinna often went down to the boat before a trip, clean sheets in her arms, and made her husband’s bed.
She also liked to pack Tim’s duffel and sneaked "sea letters" — love notes, really — into the pockets of his clothes. Each day, when Tim dressed, was like Christmas morning, and he tucked the little presents into his shaving kit for safekeeping.
"Tell (the Realtor) I’ll have the money for the house when I come back in," he told Carinna right before leaving that Wednesday morning.
He was going to use his share from the trip to make a down payment on a new home.
On the same block in Whitesboro on which Tim and Carinna lived, 37-year-old Jeannette Rodriguez was reluctant to see Frank Reyes leave on his first fishing trip of the year. The two had been together 20 years and although they’d never married, they had three children. Jeannette and Frank met at a Christmas Eve party in Wildwood. She was 18 and had just arrived from Puerto Rico. He was five years older, and conscious of the age difference, so he allowed their relationship to develop slowly over the months. Eventually, they moved in together.
Reyes, 42, was a cook at the Lobster House in Cape May and loved his job, but during the slow winter months the restaurant cut back on staff. Fishing was one way to fill the gap financially.
"Don’t go," she would say to him. "It’s so dangerous."
And sometimes he wouldn’t. Reyes never wanted his family to worry about him. So when he did go out, he never called his parents back in Puerto Rico and he always left before the kids were up. Personally he didn’t much care for fishing, but he had no fear of the water. In fact he loved it. Nearly every weekend in the warm weather he would go swimming off Sunset Beach, at the western edge of Lower Township. Early in the season the water was always too cold for Jeannette and the kids, but not for Frank.
"Only God would separate us," he would tell Jeannette before leaving on a fishing trip, "so you have to trust me."
On the morning of March 18 she drove him to the dock and kissed him goodbye.
"I’m going to be home Monday morning," he said. "Take care of the kids."
On the first two days of fishing, the crew had little luck and kept moving, until they were at the outer edge of the Elephant Trunk, named for the shape of the sea’s floor in that area. That’s when they hit the mother lode, dredging up shells with plump scallops the size of half-dollars inside.
Greg Karch harvests scallops on the Kathy Ann out of Barnegat Light in May. Like Karch, the crew of the Lady Mary worked around the clock, dredging and cutting scallops. A trip to the rich scallop grond known as the Elephant Trunk can earn a crew member as much as $15,000.(Andre Malok/Star-Ledger)
On Monday, March 23, Arias got up early, ate a breakfast of ribs and bacon, then spent the next 18 hours in the cut room, separating scallop meat from their shells. Two-hundred bushels later, he finally ducked into the forepeak bunk room, below the galley in the bow of the ship, and slipped into bed, exhausted. It was just after midnight.
The other six men continued to work: Capt. Bobo kept watch in the wheelhouse; Tim, Bernie, Frankie Credle, Frank Reyes, and Jorge Ramos were all either on deck dredging or in the cut room shucking.
The boat was about 60 to 70 miles east by southeast of Cape May and carrying close to a full load: 18,000 pounds of scallops packed neatly into 50-pound muslin bags. One more shift, and the Lady Mary would probably head for home.
The boat was well-equipped for long voyages and included up-to-date navigational and safety equipment, including a covered life raft and an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon, or EPIRB, which automatically emits a distress signal when it’s submerged in water.
Staggering their shifts, two men usually slept while everyone else worked. Arias and Timbo were scheduled to knock off at the same time, but Tim didn’t turn in right away. At some point after midnight he smoked a little marijuana, probably with Bobo, according to a toxicology report, before finally heading to bed.
Ramos was supposed to wake Tim and José at 6 a.m. when it was his turn to rest, but Arias wouldn’t have been surprised if Bobo told the others to take a break, too, then just let the boat drift for a few hours. It was getting difficult to work anyway. The seas were building and the wind was up.
In his bunk bed, Arias pulled a blanket up around his shoulders. He was used to the labored grunts of the engine and the high whine of the winches as they lowered and lifted the dredge, and though his hands and arms ached and the smell of fish and diesel fumes still oozed from the clothes he’d tossed in the corner, he fell asleep quickly.
One-hundred-and-twenty miles to the north, the container ship Cap Beatrice was steaming from Antwerp, Belgium, toward the Port of Philadelphia at nearly 20 knots. Owned by the Reederei Thomas Schulte company in Hamburg, Germany, the Cap Beatrice was sailing under a Liberian flag and was leased by the Hamburg Sud shipping company, the 16th largest in the world. Since launching in 2007, her route was usually a 70-day round-trip to various ports between Australia and the United States.
For some reason in mid-March 2009, the Cap Beatrice had made a detour to Europe, perhaps for repairs, and on the 24th was headed to the United States, presumably to resume her loop to Australia and back.
Capt. Vasyl Stenderchuk, a 55-year-old Ukrainian, was in charge of the 728-foot-long ship, and spent most of his days in the wheelhouse, some seven stories above the deck. Radar, along with a sophisticated Automatic Identification System and other navigation tools, keep the officer on watch apprised of other ships in the area.
AIS, however, can only detect ships carrying the same system and virtually no fishing vessels carry the expensive equipment.
In the deteriorating weather, the 40,000-ton Cap Beatrice was headed straight for one of the most crowded fishing grounds on the East Coast of the United States.
Arias slept soundly, even as the Lady Mary rolled and pitched with the waves. The wind continued to scoop up barrels of water and sling them over the gunnels. Heavy cables slapped against the deck and hull, and the sound of metal grinding was enough to wake the deepest sleeper.
Fishermen, however, get used to the movement and noise of a boat — or they don’t stay fishermen for long.
At 5:10 a.m., the Lady Mary automatically reported her position to the fisheries service for the last time. The next electronic signal she sent was from her EPIRB hitting the water at 5:40 a.m.
The only other information that is known for certain is that a phone call was placed from the Lady Mary at 5:17 a.m.
What else happened between 5 and 6 Tuesday morning, March 24, 2009, has been reconstructed from vessel tracking reports, information from weather buoys, and interviews not only with José Arias, but with marine experts, other fishermen out there that night, as well as Fuzzy Smith, the co-owner of the Lady Mary, who knew the boat, the crew and the routine aboard the scalloper better than anyone.
AWAKENING TO TERROR
Around 5 a.m. something happened to the Lady Mary. Arias wasn’t sure what, but he jerked awake. The boat had shuddered, lurched hard to the left, and nearly catapulted him from his middle bunk.
"Come on, José, the boat’s sinking!" Timbo shouted as he dropped from his upper berth on the other side of the room. In emergencies, the crew is drilled to go to the wheelhouse on the upper deck. Arias and Smith were in the bow of the ship, the farthest point from the bridge.
They scrambled out of the bunk room and up the steps into the galley. The water was ankle-high as they sloshed across the kitchen to the port-side passageway. Moving slowly down the narrow hall, they braced themselves against the wall. The freezing water was now up to their knees. Through the cut room and out the double doors they finally emerged onto the deck. The Lady Mary was now leaning harder to port and a third of the stern was awash.
Frankie Credle, dressed only in black boxer shorts, banged a piece of pipe against the metal steps and yelled something up to Bobo in the wheelhouse, but Arias, who speaks little English, did not understand what he was saying.
At 5:17 a.m., about 80 miles away the phone rang in Stacy Greene’s house. She was sound asleep, but her mother, Janet, a light sleeper, answered. The voice on the other end sounded like Bobo, but all she heard was, "Hey!" and then static.
"Hello? Roy?" she said, calling Bobo by his given name. When there was no answer, she hung up.
Reception from a boat that far out could be sporadic, and satellite calls from the Lady Mary were often dropped. Janet knew he’d phone again later, when he was closer to home, and went back to sleep.
Inside the wheelhouse, Bobo frantically tried to steer the Lady Mary. The engines were throttled up but it seemed to Arias as if the boat was somehow stuck and not moving. Outside the wheelhouse, on the upper deck, Frank Reyes clutched the starboard railing with both hands, frozen in fear.
"José, José, Qué vamos hacer?"
What are we going to do? he pleaded.
The two men, both Spanish speakers, were friends. Neither drank or smoked, which was unusual in the world of fishermen. Arias enjoyed spending time with Reyes and his partner, Jeannette Rodriguez, at their home in Whitesboro and eating the dinners Reyes loved to cook: spaghetti, turkey and gravy, mashed potatoes, rice and beans. Afterward, the two men would trade stories about their hometowns. Reyes grew up in suburban Hatillo, Puerto Rico, just two blocks from the ocean; Arias was raised in the rural state of Chiapas, Mexico, one of the country’s poorest regions.
Aboard the Kathryn Marie, several miles from the Lady Mary, Capt. Antonio Alvernaz was shucking scallops and keeping an ear out for the ship’s radio. Around 5:15 a.m. it crackled to life.
That was all Alvernaz heard — one word, in a panicked voice.
He rushed back into the wheelhouse, hoping to hear the person identify himself or give the name or location of his boat. Instead, the next voice on Channel 12 was that of Capt. José Neves, aboard the Paul & Michelle, a few miles west of the Lady Mary.
"Come back with that more clearly," Neves radioed. "Come back with the name of your boat and position."
"I couldn’t make out a thing," Neves radioed next, to anyone listening.
"It sounded like a mayday," Alvernaz responded.
Neither man could be sure, and with no name or location, there was no point in calling the Coast Guard. Both went back to work. Mayday hoaxes were a common occurrence, and Neves and Alvernaz didn’t think about the aborted call until eight or nine hours later.
Six miles due west of the Lady Mary, Jim Taylor, on the Elise G., also heard a frantic voice over the radio, but couldn’t make out what was said.
Taylor, 34, was first mate on the Elise G. and was keeping watch at the time. While the captain slept, the rest of the crew was dredging and cutting. For awhile Taylor had been watching a large ship on the radar — a container or cargo ship, he thought — as it crossed straight through the fishing grounds.
Only two vessels were within a mile of the Lady Mary, according to Coast Guard and Marine Fisheries records: The 728-foot container ship Cap Beatrice, and the 69-foot scalloper Alexandria Dawn, which was "laying-to" — using her dredge as an anchor — and so was not moving.
Other than the Cap Beatrice, the only other large merchant ships in the area were the Energy Enterprise and the APL Arabia, but they were 20 to 30 miles north of the Lady Mary, moving in opposite directions.
As Taylor hauled back on the dredge, he noticed to the east a huge ship suddenly turn on its deck lights.
"Like a Christmas tree, or a football stadium," Taylor said. "It was the first time I’ve ever seen that."
Anatoly Parayev, who later served as captain of the Cap Beatrice, said there is only one time he will turn on a ship’s deck lights in the middle of the ocean — when overtaking a fishing boat.
"To scare them off," he said. "To warn them."
On the massive, window-encased bridge of the Cap Beatrice, there are three satellite phones, a large-screen radar system with a maximum distance of 55 miles, and two pairs of high-powered binoculars. Seeing other large ships, either electronically or with the naked eye, is no problem, but keeping an eye on smaller vessels is another matter entirely. With its deck stacked with metal containers and the wheelhouse set back 590 feet from the bow, according to Parayev, the person on watch is blind to everything on the surface of the water inside a quarter-mile from the ship.
Taylor, aboard the Elise G., has been fishing since he was 18 years old. To him, it appeared the container or cargo ship had slowed considerably, perhaps even stopped. Not far from the ship, he noticed the green mast-light of a fishing boat flickering in the dark. Normally, just below the green light, is a white light, part of a signal system that indicates to vessels in the vicinity that the boat is a fishing trawler and is underway. Taylor observed neither a white signal, nor the fishing boat’s bright deck lights, which are usually turned on whether the vessel is dredging or not.
On the bridge of the Cap Beatrice, the AIS tracking system stopped transmitting the ship’s position shortly after 5 a.m. By law, virtually all deep-draft vessels (ships of 300 tons or more) are required to continually report their location when transiting international waters, except where the ship’s security is endangered. In these rare cases the nearest vessel-tracking service must be notified. Traffic monitoring is required by international law, mostly as a way for large ships to avoid hitting each other. AIS is a line-of-sight signal, and reception on land depends in large part on the height of the antenna.
That night there were no interruptions in the AIS transmissions from either the APL Arabia or the Energy Enterprise, according to the Coast Guard, although both were farther from shore than the Cap Beatrice.
ONBOARD THE LADY MARY
In the wheelhouse of the Lady Mary, Arias and the two Smith brothers pulled survival suits, also called immersion suits, out from under the captain’s bunk. The vessel was now listing 45 degrees to port. In a few minutes she would be submerged.
Arias knew he had to get to the highest point on the boat. He left the bridge and pulled himself up to the starboard railing. There, leaning against the outside wall of the wheelhouse, he put one foot into his immersion suit, then the other. His friend Reyes was just a few feet away, still gripping the railing, a look of desperation in his eyes. On the side of the wheelhouse, Arias grabbed a life ring off its hook and handed it to Reyes.
"Agárralo," he shouted into the wind, "Te va salvar la vida."
Hold onto it. It will save your life.
The Lady Mary dipped and swerved, skidding down one wave, then hurtling up another. The boat tipped hard again to port. Suddenly the 30-foot starboard outrigger swung up out of the water and jammed itself behind its cradle, high on the mast.
ABOUT THIS STORY
Reporting began in January after the U.S. Coast Guard finished its investigative hearings.
For the next seven months, Amy Ellis Nutt made dozens of trips, to Cape May, Philadelphia, Atlantic City and North Carolina. Those interviewed included: the co-owner of the Lady Mary; the boat’s sole survivor; family members and friends of the six men who died in the sinking; scallop fishermen, especially those working within six miles of the Lady Mary the night she disappeared; the divers who explored the sunken wreck; officials from the Coast Guard and the rescue crew who saved José Arias; and the dock manager for Hamburg Sud, the shipping company that leases the container ship Cap Beatrice.
Some 800 pages of testimony from Coast Guard hearings were reviewed, navigation and vessel tracking records studied, and nearly two dozen marine experts interviewed, a number of whom had specific training in shipwreck forensics. Two sources with direct access to the investigation also provided documents the Coast Guard refused to make public because it has not yet released its report.
In addition to evidence from the sinking of the Lady Mary, The Star-Ledger also combed through more than 2,500 Coast Guard incident reports from 2002 through 2007.
In May, Nutt took two trips aboard the working New Jersey scalloper Kathy Ann. One of those trips was in conditions nearly identical to those encountered by the Lady Mary in the early morning hours of March 24, 2009. Immersion suits similar to those used by Arias and two other crew members were tested twice in the chilly water off Cape May to understand how they function when they are worn both properly and improperly.
The Star-Ledger twice visited the Packer Avenue terminal in Philadelphia when the Cap Beatrice was in port. The first time, Hamburg Sud allowed Nutt onto the ship, where they interviewed the captain and some of the crew, none of whom was working on the Cap Beatrice in March 2009. On a visit by The Star-Ledger three months later, Hamburg Sud allowed photos and video to be taken of the Cap Beatrice from the dock, but would not grant permission to board and declined to make available Vasyl Stenderchuk, the captain in charge of the ship in March 2009, or any of the crew for interviews.
Numerous attempts were made to speak with the European head of Reederei Thomas Schulte, the owner of the Cap Beatrice, but phone and e-mail requests for interviews, including those e-mailed in German, were refused.
The water had risen to Arias’ waist. There was no time left, and no sign of Frankie Credle or Bernie or Jorge. Tim and Bobo had left the bridge, too, both in their survival suits. There was nothing more Arias could do for Reyes. He looked at his friend one last time, and let go.
A plunge into cold water, with the face unprotected, can set off a lethal series of physiological events. First, the shock of the frigid temperature causes a person to involuntarily gasp, which blocks the flow of air into the lungs. Drowning, more than anything else, is a kind of quick suffocation, and in frigid water the reflex to inhale can kill even the strongest of men in minutes.
Arias slid into the water on his back. He tried to move away from the Lady Mary as quickly as possible, using his arms like paddles and making sure to keep his face out of the water.
A few yards from the sinking ship, a voice cracked through the wind and waves. Someone was yelling, but Arias couldn’t see him or understand what he was saying.
"Quién es? Dónde está?"
Who’s there? Where are you?
No one answered. The bright deck lights of the Lady Mary blinked out. The engine sputtered to a stop. She was sinking quickly now.
Taylor, at the wheel of the Elise G., looked out the window to the east. It was, he recalled, five or 10 minutes since he’d spotted the container ship with its deck all lit up. The lights were off now, and the green light of the fishing trawler was nowhere to be seen. Taylor figured the boat was obscured from view behind the container and turned his attention back to dredging.
When the sea started to crest the wheelhouse, the only part of the Lady Mary still visible to Arias was the long arm of the starboard outrigger, pointing heavenward.
AN INCREDIBLE TWIST OF FATE
Rolling over the waves, his survival suit slowly filling with water, Arias hears nothing — no voice, no engine — only the wind thrashing wildly at the waves and the sound of his own heavy breathing.
Bobbing and weaving in the mountainous seas, he spots a piece of debris floating toward him and can’t believe his eyes — it’s the 8-foot-long board he picked up off the dock before the Lady Mary left port. After placing it on the bow of the boat, he’d never had time to use it to make repairs.
Now, reaching out, he lifts his arms wearily across the plank, then lets the waves take him where they will.
José Arias, a slender, middle-aged fisherman, a grandfather with graying temples, is alone in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
And dawn is still another hour away.