(Backtracking) “We moved to Riviera Beach (on Nov 22nd), where we’ve been making final preparations and waiting for a weather window to the Bahamas. The day after arriving we met 2 guys, one of whom was heading our way so we agreed to hook up. Well, they came on the boat and I thought they would never leave. Doug is the one going east, and what a pig. It started off OK – he and Cap were BS’ing about old Army days, but in short order Doug showed his true colors. The other guy, Don, has turned out to be a nice guy.”Doug, in his 60's, had a very young girl from down-island as a First Mate. The more Doug drank the more comfortable he became until his sexist attitude and innuendos drove me from the cabin. He bragged about finding his companion while cruising the Caribbean, where he also met his Bahamian crew member, called Dr. Pepper.
“Although Doug’s a pain, we did learn from him. He showed Cap stuff about the motor and I copied his engine manual at Staples.”We couldn’t believe our luck in finding someone with a similar Ford Lehman motor, since Cap had nothing to use as a guide.
(Photo note: four large, heavy panels in the living room floor opened to access the engine compartment. They were supported by cross beams, and if you weren't careful re-positioning a panel it would give way and you'd fall through the floor. Cap didn’t have that problem as often as I seemed to, but he got hit in the head plenty when the boat rocked and a panel would fall. I especially hated it when he balanced his Bubba Mug on either a cross beam or another part of the floor, because more often than not the coffee-chocolate concoction would tip over. Cap was handy but clumsy.)
“The first thing Doug said coming aboard was that we needed to pack weight in the bow (to keep us from flying up in the waves) and to pack everything away. We already saw how much we could rock from just a passing power boat so it didn’t take much convincing. Cap tied down the spare propeller in the lazarette and the swim ladder was bungee'd to the back rail. I repacked canned foods. Now, after all that organizing, I can’t find a thing, but once we’re across we’ll repack – again. Soon we’ll see how well we’ve done.
“Since today’s Thanksgiving, we’re having a semi-holiday dinner: chicken, instant stuffing and mashed potatoes, green beans with Hollandaise, rolls, chocolate pudding and ice cream. Czar wandered off – he won’t get on and off the boat by himself (dock’s on the wrong side), so Cap let him stay on the dock and boom – gone. Cap went to get him and found some old guy trying to coax Czar into his car in the parking lot. He got lucky – really have to keep an eye on him.”
“Yesterday we left that slum of a marina and went out on the hook – just the other side of Peanut Island.”
I watched the digital reading: 9.2; 7.4, etc. Suddenly we were in 2 feet of water, so I screamed to Cap to STOP before we ran aground.
“At 12:30am it felt like something hit the front of the boat. Cap poked his head through the hatch and saw that something was strange about the front of the boat: we had apparently dragged into a sailboat, and their bar-b-que got caught in our bow. Our anchor had broken loose, so we got off the BBW, moved and dropped 2 anchors instead. We stayed up for 2-1/2 hours then back to sleep, hoping all was well.
“No such luck. at 5am – I had heard the creaking of the anchor pulpit; anchor’s holding OK. But then I felt a bump unlike the water hitting the hull. It seemed we hit a small pontoon (in fact a catamaran), confirmed when their lights went on."
It was embarrassing, being yelled at in the dark. Cap finally moved us a safe distance from everyone else. Once more I tossed the 40-pound anchor over the side, followed by 15 feet of chain and yards of rode, or anchor rope. Ruff Life's electric anchor winch didn't work, and because I couldn't actually drive the boat, my job was throwing the anchor, chain and rode over the side and then hauling it back up, every time we moved. Sis, familiar with sailing, gifted me a pair of weightlifting gloves in her Care Package, but even so, my hands burned as the braided cotton slide through them yet again.
At his driving station up on the flybridge, Cap called, Enough and I secured the rode by looping it Figure-8-ish several times around a metal cleat which ran through the 4" wooden Samson Post. The connecting Anchor Pulpit, also wooden, protruded over the bow of the boat, and a bracket at the end kept the anchor rode from sliding around. The Post went through the deck, attached inside a compartment in the bow.
Once tied off, Cap backed up Ruff Life to sink the prongs of the Danforth into the grassy bottom, but it hooked something that didn't budge. I stared helplessly as the Samson Post, straining against the force, exploded into a cloud of rotten splinters before my unprotected eyes. No damage to me, but the Pulpit was demolished. I screamed to Cap before lunging for the anchor rode disappearing over the side. After tying it to a side cleat we turned in once more, too exhausted to speak.
As soon as it became light, Cap, already annoyed our plans were so horribly thwarted, hollered for me to raise the anchor. He threw the engine into gear to head back to the marina. Unfortunately, I forgot to mention that before going to bed I'd hooked the back end of the dinghy to the second davit so it wouldn't swing into anybody else's boat. It sat peacefully in the water behind the boat, parallel to the swim platform.
|Sheared davit btm of pic|
No sooner had Cap increased the throttle that there was a roar like a jet engine as the dinghy became a 10-foot fiberglass scoop, flipping completely around. The force sheared the top half of one of the aluminum davits cleanly off. Cap put the boat in neutral, scrambled down and dove in to save our 8-horsepower motor, heading for the bottom. We lost other items but he was in no mood to go back down. We limped back, disgused, demoralized and dead tired; prompting the story's original question from grinning Captains, "What the hell happened? It was clear skies last night!"
“Don helped all day and he and (wife) Kelly were a great boost. We got a post from him and a perfect mahogany board from Doug (who refused a dime and) who left this morning with Dr. Pepper and Sue."
The night's events had humbled me and I was ashamed of earlier thoughts. We couldn't leave, of course.
"The pulpit has to be completely rebuilt. The boat’s totally trashed – tools everywhere, sawdust, just junk, but I don’t care. The boat’s being fixed, and I don’t have to worry about the damned anchors for a while. My hands are healing. What a night!! At least we were close to shore, so if the pulpit was going, it’s better now than in a storm. We have help and materials became available. All is OK.”
I clearly remember sitting on the couch, writing those words, absolutely numb psychologically but trying my damnedest to build up some courage. We’ll never survive this, I just knew. Kelly worked in the marina's office but came by as often as she could, repeating, Things will get better.
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