"I don't want to tell anybody what to do, but we ought to get back on that schooner," said Dussel.
They rigged lines on the Rum Runner from stay to stay and mast to mast. Waves crashed above their heads. By 3 p.m. Sunday all four men had returned to the schooner, where they sat on the lee side of the cabin, under a canvas, with their arms wrapped around the boom. The wind was so hard now that it blew them along the deck and forced them to scramble back to their scant shelter.
"I want to see dawn tomorrow. That's really what I want," Murray told them.
Durr found himself in what he called a "microworld." He worried about small holes in the canvas, wind on his neck, his grip on the boom, the positions of the others, the cramping of his muscles. He was unable to concentrate on anything outside his immediate presence. "You're on your own if you fall overboard," shouted Dussel to the group. "We can't come out to save you." But Durr was thinking that he wasn't worried about death or drowning—only about their clutches on the cabin and what would happen if his father-in-law's heart began to falter.
They dropped the life raft off the stern, lashed to the schooner so anyone washed overboard would have a chance for it. The wind and sea forced them to keep their chins against the roof of the cabin. The wind climbed into a gale. The tide thundered up. Peeping through holes in the canvas, the men could see the swamped dinghy vanishing.
It began to get very dark. Water was all around them, in their noses, eyes, ears, mouths. They buried their faces in the life vests and breathed when the wind would slack off for a moment. The wind made a high-pitched whistle. Salt bombarded their faces. At 10 p.m. Sunday night, Hurricane Camille—the most violent storm to encounter the U.S. mainland in this century—was colliding with the coast at Bay St. Louis, Miss., only a few miles from where the stricken Rum Runner lay.
As it moved ashore, Camille began to rearrange the landscape. As with every terrible storm, improbably whimsical events occurred.
The 63-foot ketch that had fled to the Broadwater Beach Marina for haven had succeeded so well that it was now on top of the marina's restaurant. The freighter the Rum Runner had briefly followed found itself beached on the highway, like a monster washed up from the depths, gleaming in the rain. The 23-foot tides carried a shrimp boat splintering into the second floor-of a home in Biloxi. The brick gates at Jefferson Davis' home, Beauvoir, were crushed. The Bienville statue at Biloxi twisted under the wind. A Presbyterian church in Biloxi was blown to rubble, except for its bell tower. Tugboats and other craft tumbled through the woods far inland.
The winds of Hurricane Camille ripped away the gauges at a reading of 200 mph. Water uprooted a cemetery, and unearthed corpses roamed the coast where once they had lived. Near Pass Christian three trunks of carbines, helmets, bulletproof vests and foreign pistols wrapped in 1961 newspapers were plucked from a secret stash and flung across the land. The brick station of the Mississippi Highway Patrol in Biloxi was destroyed as if by an explosion. The carpet in the lobby of the Broadwater Beach Hotel was flung into a tree limb.
Shops in the Vieux Carré had run out of bread and rice as the skies darkened and the rain blew in with the revised, official forecast. On Sunday afternoon windows and doors were boarded shut and furniture was piled up as barricades. There was a dance in a Greek bar on Decatur Street, and a woman played the guitar by candlelight in a bar on Ursuline Street. The residents of the Quarter thought the storm was a rather pleasant interlude—this was now Sunday night and there were no tourists.