The unicorn had wings.
And when a 3-year-old girl climbed aboard the inflatable toy at a beach in the town of Antirrio in southern Greece on Monday, the wind grabbed hold of both her and the flotation device before her parents could react. Within moments, she was carried out to sea, adrift and alone, clinging to the unicorn’s neck.
That was when Grigoris Karnesis, a veteran Greek ferryboat captain, spotted the child.
At first, he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. She was so small, and the toy she was floating on moving so fast, that he barely had time to think.
Mr. Karnesis, the 50-year-old captain of the Salaminomachos, raced to bring his 331-foot-long ferry alongside the toy and rescue the girl. As he drew closer, the ferry’s crew could hear her screams.
He had to steer the hulking vessel — which can hold more than 300 cars and 500 passengers — close enough to the child for someone to grab her without risking toppling the inflatable unicorn. The captain also had to keep the unicorn from getting caught up in the backwash of the ship’s engine. He cut the front engine and worked to “create a lake,” as he described it, around the ferry.
As he steered, the ramp used to load cars onto the ferry was lowered and his brother Vasilis Karnesis, the ship mechanic, scooted to the edge of the platform and snatched the girl from the sea.
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