We departed New York City in a bit of a rush. Despite the blue skies that bid us farewell, a Nor’easter was heading our way, and the officers and crew of the Norwegian Dawn were determined to outrun it.
But fate had other plans for us.
Night had fallen. Dinner was a memory. The waves had started to build, the wind began to pick up, and a light rain fell. It was 7:53 p.m. and the Norwegian Dawn was off the New Jersey coastline, about forty-five miles northeast of Atlantic City. Our race to beat the Nor’easter was about to be forfeited for other concerns.
The crew monitoring the Dawn’s security cameras were definitely doing their job that night. The saw something . . . or someone . . . fall from the side of the ship, from one of the passenger balconies. Replaying the tape confirmed their worst fears. A passenger was in the cold Atlantic waters—alone, without a flotation device, in rough seas, during an approaching storm.
Immediately the ship turned around. The race against nature’s fury was over. We were now sitting directly in the path of the on-coming storm as the ship began its search for Mindy Jordan. We were soon in thirty-foot seas, and time was not on her side. Coast Guard aircraft arrived shortly afterward and began a low-level search.
After several hours, four as I recall, the Dawn left the search to the Coast Guard and continued on her way. By now we were deep in the clutches of a classic Nor’easter, a storm we would never outrun for the majority of the cross-water leg of our journey. By the next day we were experiencing fifty-foot seas, high winds, and driving rain, and this continued almost to our destination.
Tragically, Mindy Jordan was never found. Initially, foul play was suspected. The cabin in which Mindy was staying with her boyfriend was sealed with bright orange tape marked “Evidence.” Agents of the FBI awaited the Dawn when she reached her port of call—Bermuda.
Fortunately, the weather broke just before we reached Bermuda. The rains stopped. The winds subsided. Blue skies peeked out from behind a broken layer of puffy, white cumulus. It would have been a near-perfect stay save for the tragedy that preceded our arrival, as you can see from the following photographs (more will follow on Friday):