Random acts of kindness come in many flavors

Jody Conrad | Special to the Press Gazette

If you’ve ever experienced a disaster to your home from fire or storm, you’ve probably been the recipient of random acts of kindness from both friends and strangers.

But random acts of kindness come in many flavors, tailored to fit the circumstances.

Jody and Chris Conrad say a pyrate's goodbye to their mast-less sailboat.

On Oct. 16, my husband Chris and I were on the fourth and final day of a sailing adventure when disaster struck. While miles from shore in the middle of Pensacola Bay, 20 mph winds and 4-foot seas snapped our sailboat mast, and we were forced to deal with a crisis that neither of us had ever trained for.

“By the grace of God I was able to get the sails off and the rigging removed before the boat capsized,” Chris said. “Then one of the stays from the mast wrapped around our propeller and the motor stopped. There were tense moments as I untangled the wire, then again by the grace of God, we were able to re-start it.”

This male osprey had adopted the mast of the Conrad's sailboat as its perch. The mast was recently destroyed in a boating incident, but friends of the family have replaced the mast with a new perch for osprey.

We limped slowly into the nearest safe harbor, Bayou Chico, praying the whole way that the motor would stay running. Why it did, we have no idea.

“We were both thinking less about us, and more about the loss of the mast, because an osprey had claimed our mast as his perch for the last two years, and he had just recently found a mate,” Chris said. 

We shared the story of our peril at sea with the Blackwater Pyrates, and one member knew what he had to do. With osprey mating season coming up soon, it was imperative to replace that which had been lost.

Roger Bailey, known to his pyrate friends as Barnacle Bailey, had the remnants of a sailboat mast in his possession.

“I decided that the Conrads needed a new mast at the end of their dock, so I just got busy and made them one,” Bailey said. “I called other sailing friends of mine who had pieces-parts around. (I) gathered up the materials, and then I reached out to my friend Joey Martin to help me weld it."

Friends of the Conrad family, and fellow members of the Blackwater Pyrates, help install a new osprey perch.

Bailey’s good friend, Mary McAlpin, got involved by researching ospreys and their habits, and the result was far more than just a perch. It became a move-in ready mansion for a whole family of ospreys.

“If a perch is good, a platform is better,” McAlpin said. “According to the research I did, ‘if you build it, they will come,’ ala 'Field of Dreams,'” she laughs.

Within three days of sharing their story, the new platform was made, delivered, and installed.

“We’re sad about the loss of their boat, but heartened by the giving spirit of our friends and fellow boaters,” Chris said.