(June 1983, Canada) This one is for the ladies. I was the Commanding Officer of a 75-foot Navy Diving Tender, YST 10. Our mission was to train future naval officers to navigate the Strait of Georgia, northwest of Vancouver. It was a lovely June afternoon, with clear blue skies and gentle breezes.
A trainee spotted a flicker of fire on the horizon, where there should have been nothing but water. We immediately turned toward the fire, and turned up the radio to listen for distress calls. As we approached, the flicker turned into a small pillar of fire.
Then came the distress call.
Two businessmen had decided to give their wives the vacation of a lifetime, and they rented a sailboat. Their plan was to explore the Marine Sanctuary and watch for whales.
The previous day, they had sailed from Vancouver into a stiff breeze. Both ladies got very seasick and demanded an end to the dream vacation. But by noon the second day, the ladies had recovered, and decided that the vacation might be as wonderful as their husbands had planned.
They created a Baked Alaska to surprise, and perhaps to show forgiveness to, their husbands. Unfortunately they decided to light the Baked Alaska on the ladder to the cockpit, right under the mainsail! The flicker that turned into a pillar of flames was the sail catching fire.
They were rescued by helicopter.
We tried to salvage the yacht, but it burned and sank.
Darwin adds: I am designating this an At-Risk Survivor, instead of a Personal Account, because the source is trustworthy--a lieutenant in the Canadian Navy--and it is plausible. If anyone can confirm this story, please Contact Darwin!
DarwinAwards.com © 1994 - 2020
Submitted by: Lieutenant David Swan of the Canadian Navy
Confirmation of this story:
LCDR Mike Stevens says, "Dave Swan is definitely a real naval officer, possibly retired now, since I couldn't find anyone that knows him personally and we are a small Navy. One man said he'd heard the story before. The vessel YST 10 has been YDT (Yard Diving Tender) 10 for many years. In the 90's I was in charge of a group of tenders including YDT 10. Sorry but I couldn't find any direct supporting evidence for this story, but none of what is claimed is unreasonable so there is no reason to doubt its veracity."
Cate Stubblefield, Attorney at Law, says, "I'm friends with the people in The Baked Alaska incident, and it deserves to go in the Darwin Awards. They are a bit... mentally scarred, one might say. The likelihood of one of the ladies EVER getting on a boat again are very, very slim."
Marc Heller: "Baked Alaska may be a myth. None of the recipes I've seen involve flaming. It's just baked meringue over ice cream, on a base of cake.
Kristen: Marc is correct about the cake base, ice cream, and meringue, but incorrect about the absence of no fire. A flame comes into play when you brown the meringue tips. Martha Stewart uses a propane torch, but most people just stick it under the broiler.
Brad Whittaker says, "To flame a Baked Alaska you pour heated brandy over the meringue and light it. I have seen recipes that call for placing half an eggshell in the top before you pour the heated brandy. This will burn until all the alcohol is gone."
Alex: "Anyone who's been on a cruise knows that the waiters often bring out flaming Baked Alaska. They pour drinking alcohol over it and light it. When they turn out the lights and twenty waiters come out, each carrying a flaming dish, it's quite impressive. Maybe that's what the wives were trying to emulate."
Kevin: "Many people put a cherry or Amaretto liquor on it, and then light it on fire. The alcohol burns off, but the flame browns the meringue and leaves a nice flavor. It's popular at weddings. The flame can be quite large when first lit."
Chris Kelley: Sailcloth is rather heavy, usually wet, or at least damp. For it to go up in flames from something as minor as the flame off a Baked Alaska sounds far fetched at best.
Dae Won: "I was on the stinking boat when it went down. I was on the toilet and i heard a loud bang. I heard people yell "Get off of the boat!" Needless to say, I didnt get to finish and was questioned by the life savers. I explained and got a big laugh out of it. I didnt think it was funny!"
Grady Clarkson says, "To confirm the dangers of a Baked Alaska flame, I report an event that occurred to close friends of mine almost 40 years ago. In those days, Birmingham, Alabama was devoid of interesting restaurants. Then The Luau opened. My college chums, blessed with more income than I, decided to make an evening of it at the new eatery. They told me they had a marvelous dinner, and chose a Baked Alaska for dessert. The meringue-covered dish was borne to the table in the outstretched arms of one waiter, while another toted a bottle of brandy and a lighter. At the table, the liquor was poured over the meringue. Perhaps because he was unsure, the waiter then poured another splash, and then a third. When he lit the the lighter, the explosion of the alcohol so frightened the bearing waiter that he screamed and threw the flaming concoction into the air -- bright conflagrations of meringue arcing everywhere. A desert to be remembered! And, indeed, dangerous in the wrong hands.AT-RISK SURVIVORS HAVE MISADVENTURES THAT STOP SHORT OF THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE. NEVERTHELESS WE SALUTE THE SPIRIT OF THEIR COLOSSAL BLUNDERS WITH AN HONORABLE MENTION. BETTER LUCK NEXT TIME!