The Sea: The Bluebelle's Last Voyage

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Lots of people liked Julian Harvey. A handsome, curly-headed, flat-bellied man of 44, he was a familiar figure around the Florida ports where he worked as a captain and sometime seaman on chartered yachts. He was a weight lifter and a physical-fitness cultist, with a stammer that somehow seemed to enhance his charm. Moreover, he was as brave as he was likable. For 16 years Harvey had been in the Air Force. He flew in North Africa, Europe and the South Pacific during World War II. Between wars he won a special commendation for deliberately ditching planes in Virginia's James River to test evacuation procedures. In Korea, Lieut. Colonel Harvey flew 114 missions. During his long service, his decorations included an Air Medal with eight oakleaf clusters and a D.F.C. with cluster. But last week Julian Harvey was dead by his own hand. And his suicide opened the books on a strange, star-crossed life.

Cruise of a Lifetime. At first, it appeared that Harvey had committed suicide in a spasm of grief. His wife, Mary Dene, 34, a former TWA airline hostess and a bride of four months, had died just five days earlier, in the sinking of the chartered, 60-ft. ketch Bluebelle, which her husband skippered. Julian Harvey had been plucked from the sea in the yacht's dinghy with the body of René Duperrault, 7, another passenger.

On his return to Miami, Harvey told the Coast Guard investigators a tale of flaming horror aboard the Bluebelle. The graceful, 33-year-old ketch had been chartered for a week's cruise by Dr. Arthur Duperrault, 41, a wealthy Green Bay, Wis., optometrist, and his family: Wife Jean, 38; Son Brian, 14; Daughter Terry Jo, 11, and little red-haired René. Mary Harvey served as her husband's crew and ship's cook. For two days the vacationers cruised lazily among the Bahama islands. At Sandy Point on Great Abaco Island, their only port of call, they spent a pleasant weekend on the beach, and Dr. Duperrault told Roderick Finder, the British district commissioner, that it had been "a once-in-a-lifetime vacation." That night, under a mellow moon, Bluebelle set sail for Florida.

About 11 p.m., Harvey testified at a hearing, he encountered a sudden tropical squall, which snapped the mainmast before he could reef sail. Mary Harvey and Dr. Duperrault were slightly injured but not badly, as the splintered mast pierced the deck. Harvey was separated from the others by the fallen mast; then fire broke out in the fuel storage tank, spreading to the crumpled sails. Quickly, Harvey released the dinghy and a raft, ordered the others to abandon ship. Then he dived after them and swam to the drifting dinghy. He recovered René, unconscious while floating in an oversized life jacket, from the water. The five others had vanished in the sea. The next morning the child was dead, and Harvey was picked up by a passing ship.

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