DAMN, glad he told me. I wished Chester was still around. He always made me feel better, acted like my Dad, kind and never impatient. Thankfully Don would be along to hold our hands, just as Chester had a month earlier.
At the last minute a regatta of sorts in another marina announced over the radio they’d also be leaving. The prediction was 2'-4' seas with a slight chop. Sailboats are able to take advantage of the wind and tack their way to their destination; while Ruff Life chugged along on a relatively straight course, vulnerable to seas from any direction.
Cap said that at 7 knots it should take us about 8 hours to reach the Bahamas. We'd be having breakfast in West End. I was hoping to spot the once-in-a-lifetime planetary show announced in the news, and with a clear sky, far from city lights, my chances seemed pretty good. From the Chicago Tribune, Dec. 1, 1997:
"Appearing after dusk through Dec. 8, the planets will be lined up from west to east, beginning with Pluto and followed by Mercury, Mars, Venus, Neptune, Uranus, Jupiter and Saturn, with a crescent moon alongside."
"Grab the lines from Kelly," when she untied us.
"Are you alright?"
"I opened the side door to check on the boys. In the darkness I saw a huge, round shadow just off the flybridge. First thing I thought of was the planetary lineup."
"What is that…the moon?" I yelled upwards.
"Cap was coming to check on us and grabbed the mast to help stand up when a 2-foot piece came off right in his arms. It was rotten, and whitewashed like the rest of the boat. Needless to say the mast fell down, almost on Don's head, and they had to tie it down with rope. I asked (several times) if we were turning back but they said no." Cap said the wood literally disintegrated.
Ruff Life was being battered from all sides, and we'd lost contact with the rest of the fleet. I gripped the frame of the couch to keep from rolling off while Czar cowered in a corner.
Ruff Life rocked from side to side then SMASH, bow up in the air against a wave and BOOM, dropped unceremoniously back to sea, over and over, with no end in sight. I was drenched in sweat because the front window was closed against the storm which wasn't supposed to happen. After half an hour everything ached, so I dashed for a stiff foam cushion, threw it on the floor and sat with my back pushing against the fridge. That worked well for awhile, until I craved a cigarette.
"He checked to see if I was OK, shocked that no bones seemed to be broken, but he had to leave because he was green around the gills. Czar and I stayed below the whole time. At least I didn't have to worry about the fridge falling anymore. I was so demoralized, watching everything we own getting trashed. Czar finally lay down on the settee and I spent the rest of the trip on the floor, propped up against the ice maker. Poor guys - I couldn't get them a thing - not even to drink.""I thought this was supposed to be fun!" I yelled after Cap. Don, no doubt hoping for some sustenance a couple hours later, came down to ask if I wanted the fridge uprighted. I couldn't reach the sink for fresh water, and I had to jump over it to get down to the bathroom, which wasn't easy. Men are so lucky.
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