Today in 1991, the luxury cruise ship Oceanos sank while traveling around the coast of South Africa.

Fortunately everyone who was on that ship survived.

Surprisingly, the people who made sure everyone made it to safety were the ship’s musicians.

The Oceanos was hosting a wedding party – or it was trying to.

The weather was so rainy and windy that the ship had to keep returning to harbor.

The captain kept trying to get the wedding party and their guests to sea, even if the weather hadn’t really improved.

Two of the musicians on the ship were a married couple themselves, guitarist Moss Hills and bassist Tracy Hills.

It was a rough ride, swaying back and forth along with the ship and their equipment.

The serving staff was having trouble too.

They knew how to make adjustments as the ship moved, but there was so much movement even they couldn’t avoid dropping serving trays.

At dinnertime, the storm got so bad that Tracy Hills decided to pack an emergency bag… right around the time the lights went out.

The captain had reportedly insisted the ship was stable and not taking on water, but that wasn’t true: the ship was starting to sink.

By some accounts, crew members including senior officers abandoned the ship instead of staying to organize an evacuation.

Most of the passengers were in the main lounge ahead of a scheduled performance.

So Moss and Tracy Hills and a handful of other staff – mostly entertainers – had to figure out how to get everybody off the Oceanos and keep them calm until then.

They lowered a few lifeboats until it was no longer safe to keep trying.

Then they reached out through radio to ask coastal authorites for help.

Those authorities asked Moss Hills for his rank, and he said, “I’m not a rank. I’m a guitarist.”

Eventually five helicopters arrived to help shuttle passengers off the sinking Oceanos.

It took hours, but all of the nearly 600 people onboard the ship made it off safely.

Moss and Tracy Hills were the last to leave the ship.

And they ended up winning praise all over the world for their bravery and quick thinking in a crisis.

The sinking didn’t stop them from working on ships.

Tracy Hills eventually moved into another line of work a number of years later, but Moss Hills became a cruise director.

I mean, if anything goes wrong, you know he’d know what to do.

Today in 1914, the birthday of Hubert Blaine Wolfe­schlegel­stein­hausen­berger­dorff Sr.

His full name was 747 characters long, an all-time record.

It’s said that he once wrote to a news organization to complain that they’d left an E out of his name.

The guitarist who saved hundreds of people on a sinking cruise liner (BBC)

What’s In A Name? 666 Letters, Plus 26 Given Names (The Free Lance-Star via Google News Archive)

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Photo by Peter J. Fitzpatrick, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikicommons