Yesterday started out well enough, a hot shower
, a real toilet, some good coffee and a cig. I did some piddling on the boat, just some new toggle switches, and pulled the hoses off the manual lift
pump, as Rocketman was on the way with the new re-threaded lift
pump to put on.
The idea of going into this somewhat murky green water to check the prop for barnacules was foremost on my mind. I wasnt looking forward to doing that. I have scuba'd before, (I am NASDS open water certified) but scuba'd in places with almost gin clear water, even a few lakes in arkansas I have dived the viz is 30 to 40 feet. This wasnt gonna be one of those situations, and it made me feel uncomfortable.
John (Rocketman) called me on the phone
, and I dingy'd over to the dock to pick him up. We got the new lift pump on, and after a couple of trys and tweaking, the motor
fired off just fine. Ran the motor for a time and made sure all was copacetic. Now was the time I knew I would be getting wet. As we dingy'd back to the dock, the talk was of going under my boat. I think John knew I felt uncomfortable about it, and he offered to make the dive. No, I said, summoning my what bravado I had, its my responsibility and I need to see the bottom of my boat.
We got to John's boat, and he handed me a wet suit and booties, I went below and put it on, all the while growing more and more uncomfortable with the idea. I got the suit on, it was a little big for me, but it kinda fit. John had gathered the equipment
I would need. A suction cup, an abrasive pad, and gloves. We wrapped the bc to the tank, hooked up the regulator
. We put everything in the dingy, mask, fins, weightbelt, etc and headed back to my boat. I donned the gear
with some effort and tried to appear nonchalant. John handed me the fins, and they were a little too big for my feet, and I put them on. Sitting there on the edge of the achillies, knowing that very soon, I would be in the murky green water, I was thinking of how I could forego this whole mess, and graciously back out of the situation, but could not think of a thing. Finalily, as I threw myself backwards off the dingy and into the water, the last think in my mind before I hit the water was, why in the (explitive) did I ever buy this sailboat. The water was so cold, and magnified my fear, it took my breath away. I must of sucked half the air out of my tank as I wildly flapped my arms and kicked with my feet for the surface, as I did not want to sink to the bottom some unknown feet below me. I grabbed the side of the dingy and for a moment felt safe. John was there looking at me, apparently unmoved at what he just witnessed. Ok, I thought, I am in the water, step one accomplished. Now it was time to go check the prop. After a little procrastination, and discussion as to the coldness of the water with John, I filled the bc with more air so I would not sink. John commented that he thinks I lost
one of his flippers. I reached down with my free hand and felt my feet, yup, sure enough, one was missing. I stretched out my other leg and pointed my fippered foot towards the dingy and asked john to take this one. I looked around, thinking I would see the other floating nearby, no such luck. Dont they float I asked John, he said nope. It had been some 20 years since I last made a dive, and I couldnt remember if a fin would float or not. Now I am feelin bad about the lost
fin, on top of being in this cold murky green ass water.
After apologizing profusely, it was time to get to the business of checking my prop for barnacules. I sorta breaststroked over to the back of my boat, and grabbed onto the rudder
. I hung to it for a time, still immensely uncomfortable about going under the water. There is a feeling of safeness when one can see all around them clearly, but that quickly departs when your head
goes beneath the water, or in my case, my face.
I slowly deflated the BC and sunk myself down to the prop. The prop didnt look all that bad. I saw a thin layer of brown growth, and maybe 3 or 4 small barnacles
attached. I checked for any string or rope
wrap on the shaft, and there was none. Ok, I thought, mission accomplished, I saw the prop and it was fine, good now I can go up into the daylight and report this to John.
I inflated the bc and rose to the top, told John what I saw. I think he asked if I cleared the barnacles
off, but I dont remember my reply, though I remember fishing
for the knife attached to the BC, and couldnt get to it, so John reached down and pulled it out for me and handed it back to me open. Well **** I thought, now I have to go back and scrape off them few barnacles, oh well, Im already wet and I know my way to the prop now, so back I went. I scrapped off the prop all the foreign object, ran my hand along and around the blades to make sure I didnt miss anything, and went back to the dingy. How did the keel
look asked John, it looked fine I said, though I only saw a couple of feet of it, from where I was at the prop cleaning
. No I didnt actually go beneath the boat, nor did the idea of it compell me to do so. What I saw, I reasoned was a good indication of what the rest of the keel
looked like. That reasoning also provided me a way out of more of this in the water stuff.
I got back to the dingy, and hung to it. I heard John say, " I think you lost that fin over here in this area. Its probably right down there on the bottom somewhere." HUH?!! I thought to myself. He is suggesting I go to the bottom to retrive the fin? Well, ok I guess, it would be the right thing to do....even though I cant see more than 2 feet away from my face...I will go take a look.
Now this is from my perspective....I let some air out of the BC and started to sink, I stretched out and started kicking and was looking down towards the bottom, couldnt see anything further than my arms length. I felt I had submerged a few feet, and still couldnt see anything. So, it was like OK, I cant see the fin and back to the surface I went. Now...what probably really happened, now that I think about it was, I didnt go any deeper than a few inches, kicking only pushed me further away from the dingy, not down.
When my head was out of the water, I reported to John, nope I cant see it, then quickly added ( to cover my whimping out), just take me to any dive shop ya want, and I will buy you a any new pair of flippers ya want, no matter the cost! John said, nah dont worry about it they werent that expensive, but I knew he was just being kind, as is his nature as I have discovered over the past couple of days. I really feel awful about losing his fin, an will make up for his lost, but still I feel, even more degraded for being a first class pussy, but not so much as I will attempt to go to the bottom of this bay to find his fin. There are somethings in life that will carry in ones thoughts a long time, and feeling bad for the lost of a persons property, because of my own chickenshitness, this memory will last a long time.
John helped me back into the dingy, and we headed back to the dock and his boat. we put away the scuba
stuff, then went back to my boat to take it out for a little sailing. We cleared the Capri
Pass, and last marker. We hoisted the main with some difficulity, reason being, my boat has some quirks, John's unfamialirty with the quirks, I know the quirks but have really practiced working them out in a timely manner, but shortly on we were good to go.
The main was up as best we go get it, we rolled out the genoa
. The wind was fair out of the southeast, and we were on a southwest tack. John at the helm
moved the boat for the best position, and off we went. I was sitting on the port cockpit
bench, I could feel the boat start to heel starboard, and heel more, then more, and things below on the table started to slide. Ever been a frontseat passenger in a car, and the driver coming up to a redlight with a car in front of him, and you start pressing your feet on the floorboard of the car in like a braking motion? well that was me, in the passenger seat of this boat. Though my efforts, pressing my feet against the starboard bench did not lessen the heeling action I was feeling. The boat was layed over pretty good, what was a few momnets ago on the table in the salon
, was now on the floor. I think I would of felt more at ease being at the bottom of the bay looking for the lost flipper at this point. I looked back at John at the helm
, and with his big wide grin, said, THIS IS SAILING! Holy Crap! I thought, we gonna flip over... The starboard toe rail wasnt far above the water from my perspective, we was heeled over more than any thing I had experienced this whole trip, or in my whole life. Now I have thrown my harley into some very tight curves, and drug my pegs on the asphalt quite a few times. I have even been leaned over on my harley enough to scrape my highway pegs, which sit a little higher on the bike, but it pales in comparison to this "sailing" thing we were doing in John's announcement. Even the storm I went through coming out of St Marks my first night out, the boat leaned over a few time, then went upright again quickly, but this was prolonged leaning. Dont worry John said, we cant flip over, and that put me a little more at ease. After a few minutes of being heeled like we were, I got sorta used to it and it wasnt bad really.
John explained to me ( as I remember it ), that a boat of my keel configuration, will heel over only so far, before the rudder
comes out of the water, and basically looses steerage, and the boat will automatically right itself and gets into the wind instead of off the wind, before the rudder catches enough water again for steerage....something like that. I understand the concept
, even if I didnt expalin it correctly as I heard John's explaination. I had heard the term, "washing the decks" from Captain
Fred while I was in Crystal River, as in his younger days as a boy growing up with sailboats on the Massachusett coast, did alot of deckwashing on old wooden boats. I believe, my boat will "deckwash" long before the rudder looses steerage, an experience I have no desire to be involved with.
We sailed around abit yesterday, and John made some instructive comments and advice about my boat and the mainsail
. Then we headed back to the docks. We got back and we sorta straighten up my boat, and called it a day. It was a full day, and I was tired. John opened the bar on his boat, and we sat and chatted on into the late evening. I dingy'd back to my boat, and straighten up the mess from the "heeling", checked my emails, and threw myself into the vberth and fell into a deep sleep. Best sleep I have had in a while. Nothing throughout the night woke me from that deep sleep. Really feel bad about that lost flipper..............