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Last year, Connelly Phelps “C.P.” Parker Jr. lost his boat and nearly his life when he ventured out into the ocean to rescue a drowning man off the coast near his home in the Cherry Grove section of North Myrtle Beach, S.C.
This year, Parker, a superintendent with Blue Sky Building of Shallotte, was awarded a national Carnegie Hero Medal for his brave Aug. 14, 2010, rescue of 59-year-old Rick Bennett of Charlotte. Bennett was being swept out to sea while trying to swim with friends across Hog Inlet.
During the rescue, Parker’s small fishing boat capsized and he, too, went into the ocean. He managed to reach in and trigger the boat’s anchor, stabilizing the craft so he could hold onto it. He also managed to secure an unconscious Bennett onto a watercraft driven by a woman who had ridden out to assist in the rescue. The woman drove Bennett back toward emergency personnel waiting onshore, where he was eventually aided, resuscitated and transported to the hospital.
Since that dramatic day more than a year ago, Parker vowed to replace his boat but had never actually done so. This past summer, he crossed fishing off his list, stating he’d been too busy working anyway. But he still harbored hope he and his 11-year-old daughter, Cameron, would be back onboard angling for fish by next summer.
Thanks to Ash resident Doug Stanaland that hope just got a boost.
After reading about Parker’s rescue, Stanaland, a home financier, fisherman, clammer and oyster-er, called the Beacon and said he would like to give Parker his 25-year-old boat, which is bigger than the one Parker had but it is in need of a few repairs.
Last week, Parker arrived at Stanaland’s house out in western Brunswick County to take him up on his generous offer of the 23-foot Winner 2280 Cuddy Sport, with a top-of-the-line, oil-injected 225 V6 Yamaha engine and aluminum float-on trailer included.
“It’s got potential of being a nice boat; it’s been setting out for a while,” Stanaland said as he and Parker went over the motorized fixer-upper waiting for Parker to pull it home to South Carolina from Stanaland’s yard.
Stanaland said he read the article and felt for Parker “from the standpoint that he was trying to do something for the other guy and lost his own boat.”
Stanaland had been toying with the idea of donating the boat to charity “because I never use it. When I bought it, I thought I was going to use it all the time. That’s the deal.”
The rest of the deal is Parker says it’s a bigger, more deluxe boat than the 14-foot jon boat he had. “I could’ve put my boat inside of [this one].”
“It has full canvas, and it has a walkaround cuddy cabin,” Stanaland said, describing the boat’s amenities. “She’ll run about 30 to 40 [mph].”
She—the boat currently bearing the name “Miss Morgan” that was already named when Stanaland bought it used—has a built-in 100-gallon gas tank, ship-to-shore radio, depth finder and other equipment, most of which likely needs repair, he said.
Parker hopes to do the majority of repair work himself.
“Everything I can do, I will,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it.”
Parker, contacted by Stanaland with his offer just a couple of weeks ago, said it was “kind of hard to believe it was happening, to be honest. It’s unbelievably nice.”
He said his wife, Tami, and Cameron have been asking him every day, “When are you going to get it? When are you going to get it?”
“Put a sponge in one hand and a bucket in the other,” Stanaland quipped. “Tell ’em to come and help you clean it up.”
The other good news, Stanaland said, is Parker has promised Stanaland he can use his old boat a couple of times a year once Parker gets it fixed up.
“I’ll get more use out of it by giving it to him,” Stanaland said.
Laura Lewis is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.