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Rescue on the Open Ocean

George C. Fisher

This morning, I was enjoying my morning cup of coffee on my screen porch overlooking Cape Cod Bay. The gentle onshore September breeze created the slightest of ripples on the water. I particularly value the peace and quiet of the early morning, and like to gaze out over the water as I prepare for the challenges of the day that lie ahead. My eye caught a strange sight about a mile off shore. There was a small lobster buoy on the horizon moving with a black blob underneath. I put down my coffee and went to the telescope to get a better look.

I saw the buoy moving and the black blob close up, and it seemed really odd. I can not remember ever seeing such a sight. Then, a flipper came out of the water and the buoy stopped moving. A few minutes later another flipper appeared and I was convinced it was a baby Minke whale that had become entangled in the line from the buoy to the lobster trap below. The animal continued to struggle and seemed unable to become disengaged from the line. I realized this truly was an unusual sighting and believed it was a whale in distress.

With one eye on the buoy and whale, I called the local Coast Guard Station located a few miles away at the mouth of the Cape Cod Canal and described what I was watching. The Coast Guard said they would send a boat to investigate and would notify the whale rescue organization. About half an hour later, a small, orange inflatable boat with flashing blue lights appeared in front of my house. Just then, the phone rang and it was the captain of the inflatable boat on a cell phone seeking directions to the stranded animal. As I directed the rescue boat to the correct position, I could see the animal continuing to fight to free itself. As the boat got closer, the animal would dive underwater, hindering the rescue. About half an hour after the Coast Guard arrived, a larger vessel from the whale rescue organization appeared and quickly freed the entangled creature.

I waited a suitable amount of time and called back the Coast Guard to find out what had happened. I identified myself as the individual who reported the ensnared whale and was transferred to the captain of the rescue boat, who had just returned to the Station. He told me it was not a whale after all, but an almost extinct Leatherback Turtle, weighting over 500 pounds. According to the captain, had I not noticed the entangled turtle and called for its rescue, it most likely would have become physically exhausted and drowned. I can take pride in the fact that today I helped save one of the few remaining Leatherback Turtles in Cape Cod Bay.

You are probably asking yourself what a story about the rescue of an almost extinct turtle has to do with DRIP investing.

Like many things in life, opportunities come about when investors keep their eyes focused on the smallest images on the horizon, maintain a vigilant watch for unusual events, and then act accordingly when appropriate. For quite a while now, my portfolio of DRIP stocks has outperformed the overall market due to my vigilance of seeking, and then acting on, overlooked opportunities. Many times, potentially profitable investment opportunities are there for those who take the time to find them.

George C. Fisher is a 30-year veteran in DSP/DRIP investing. He is author of All About DRIPs and DSPs (McGraw Hill, 2001) and The StreetSmart Guide to Overlooked Stocks (McGraw Hill, 2002). Mr. Fisher is an avid dividend reinvestment advocate and utilizes the strategy with all dividend paying stocks, both at the broker and direct with the companies using their DRIP programs.