|>>|| No. 12578
On February 12, 1983 the ship Marine Electric was carrying a load of coal from Norfolk, Virginia to a power station in Somerset, Massachusetts. The worst storm in forty years blew up that night and the ship sank at about four o'clock in the morning on February 13. The ship's chief mate, 59-year-old Robert M. "Bob" Cusick, was trapped under the deckhouse as the ship went down. His snorkeling experience helped him avoid panic and swim to the surface, but he had to spend the night alone, up to his neck in water, clinging to a partially deflated lifeboat, and in water barely above freezing and air much colder. Huge waves washed over him, and each time he was not sure that he would ever reach the surface again to breathe. Battling hypothermia, he was tempted to allow himself to fall unconscious and let go of the lifeboat. Just then he remembered the concluding stanzas of "The Mary Ellen Carter".
He started to sing it and soon was alternately shouting out "Rise again, rise again" and holding his breath as the waves washed over him. At seven o'clock that morning a Coast Guard helicopter spotted him and pulled him to safety. Only three men of the thirty-three who had been aboard survived the wreck. After his ordeal, Cusick wrote a letter to Stan Rogers telling him what had happened and how the song helped save his life. In response, Cusick was invited to attend what turned out to be the second-to-last concert Rogers ever performed. Cusick told his story in the documentary about Rogers, One Warm Line.