By Stacey Cato
“He had a plan,” lifelong friend and Pass Christian native Bennie French said. “Since he said he had a plan, I felt he was safe.”
As many Pass Christian residents gathered their belongings and began to hunker down in preparation for Hurricane Nate, 61-year-old U.S. Navy Veteran Rob Adams chose to lend a helping hand to others. That choice was one the 40-year plus armed service retiree says he will never regret, but now it’s him, friends say, who needs help.
Rob, along with his beloved pet dog Sadie, lived aboard his 28-foot boat, better known as “Gulf Queen,” at the old Pass Harbor. He and Sadie had arrangements to stay ashore to weather the storm, since the city had issued a mandatory evacuation of the harbor.
“When I came to move my boat,” French said, “I actually asked him about his boat and his plans. I made sure of that. I told him ‘You and I grew up together here and we both know better than that,’ (staying aboard a boat in rough storm waters).”
Both Rob and Sadie are now displaced after their houseboat was wrecked and tossed up on a dock where he says it was anchored down at the harbor.
“He was actually trying to help someone else,” French said on Tuesday as he gazed upon the wreckage for the first time, “and it’s one of the reasons his boat was stranded in the harbor. He took one boat to a safe harbor successfully after a four-hour wait to get through the bridge that was broken at the time. He then picked up another boat to come back and move his own boat out of the harbor because he couldn’t get the engine started on his boat.
“When he came around the bend at Henderson Point, that boat broke down, and he actually had to swim ashore and get help. Unfortunately, by the time he was rescued and everything unfolded, it was just too late for him to get his own boat out.”
Rob’s abandoned ship suffered critical, but possibly repairable damage, French said. However, removing the large cabin cruiser must be done quickly and will not come cheap.
Harbor Master Willie Davis said that while he and the city can truly understand Rob’s position, the boat must be removed as it now serves as a threat to the public’s safety, and will be a heavy cost to tax-payers if Rob is unable to fund the move himself.
“Let me tell you,” French said, “the city has worked with me personally through all of this. They have been very understanding and very supportive and we’re all just scratching our heads. It’s a very difficult situation.”
French took to Facebook re-questing help for his lifelong friend and soon had an out-pouring of citizens asking how they could assist.
“My number one goal is to assure he is safe and has a comfortable place to lay his head on the pillow tonight,” French said. “In the near future, obviously he’s lost clothes and things of that nature, so we are working on that. We are making sure he has food and his bare necessities at this time.”
As far as removing the boat from the old Pass Harbor, French is working with officials and others to assure the process is done properly and in a timely fashion.
“We have a few plans in mind,” he said.
French says Rob has been staying at a hotel the past few nights, but his money has run dry.
“At this point,” French said, “because of his history in the Navy and being on the water and his age, you know, he’s beginning now to understand that living on a boat is probably not in his best interest from this point forward, so our goal is to try to generate just a little bit of money to get him on his feet and find something more permanent.”