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Old 29-12-2008, 15:30   #1
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Member’s Short Stories about Boating

Reading thru the Blogs of many of our members I enjoy some great writing about their evolution into all things nautical and the wonderful lessons we all learn.

For those of us who don’t keep a blog but have written a bit and those who would like to share something especially meaningful from their blog…this thread is to invite you all to share your favorite short stories amongst a most receptive audience.

I will start with my musing.

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Old 29-12-2008, 15:38   #2
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The Captain closed his eyes

The Captain closed his eyes, as the sleek hull side-shifted at the top of the crest. Bellying down the curve of a wave, he felt the hint of redirection where the underlying swell asserted itself as they continued their journey downward into the waiting trough. Then the familiar sense of constrained inertia as the buoyant caress of solid water heralded that quiet moment of balance before they rose to meet the next wave.

No matter how many oceans or how many craft he had sailed on before, each wave felt different, yet part of a pattern that he had spent a lifetime trying to discern. Was this his measure of time far more poignant than any watch, or simply a rhythm of life that all sailors experienced?

He opened his eyes on the rise always to meet the next group of crests, judging which one or two might interact, combine, negate, advance or hinder his passage. It was a dance he knew well.

Reflecting back to his first command, he smiled, remembering how different a journey that one had been…….. Twelve years old, newly emigrated from Scotland into the vast wilderness of the northern Canadian woodlands, where the family would rejoin his lumberjack father. The Great Slave Lake, at that time, more magical than Loch Ness, awaited his summer’s exploration.

He saw his craft four days later, abandoned and sunken up one of the many small creeks that drained the forest into the lake. It had been there for some time, probably stranded after a spring flood, left to rot and gather debris from subsequent seasons. A wooden built clinker rowboat about 18 ft long, looking solid, heavy and abused.

First thing he noticed was that the level of water inside the craft was higher than the surrounding waters in the creek. Instinctively he knew that was a good thing and a salvage plan began to formulate. The plan was simple, spend the rest of the day cleaning and bailing out the boat by hand, returning next day from the campsite with some rope and an axe. Drag and float the boat approximately 2 miles down to the beach, clearing away any fallen logs or debris in the way. No problem!

His brother, two and a half years older, was his best and only friend in this strange land. He listened first with amusement then anger, because he knew his young sibling would try to do it alone. Finally with reluctant agreement, he joined in, because he had promised his mother to look after this determined young captain. ****!

As planned, she floated that first day and didn’t she sit pretty in the water! His brother begrudgingly agreed, despite the two of them being intimately introduced to the swarms of large mosquitoes and a new breed of carnivorous horse flies, unknown in Scotland. Those things took chunks! By the end of Day Two, they had made good progress, covering about half the distance to the lake. Sometimes dragging the craft over fallen logs, other times, re-sinking so as to slip under the obstruction. Marching home to the tune of “Ye take the high road and I’ll take the low road.” spirits were high. The goal was almost in sight and both were having fun.

By the end of Day Four only about another 100 yards had been covered, as the undergrowth became thicker and the creek developed many sandbanks, forcing them to dig small channels with a borrowed shovel. Raspberry bushes opened them up and the swarming insects finished them off. By Day Six, they could go no further as the creek turned into a shallow delta covered with debris. The young captain could not help but feel guilty as his brother worked stoically, never saying a harsh word. Then help in the form of the tough men from the logging camp came. In the absence of their father, they had been watching these two young Scottish lads, learn the reality of the Canadian bushland. Cynical humour had turned to admiration and in about one hour six men had carried and dragged the craft to the lakeside beach.

Day Seven, glorious launch day, good conditions. With some borrowed canoe paddles and lifejackets the lads ventured about 100 yards away from shore and turned upwind into the light chop. At first the small amount of water was manageable but then the seams bled from everywhere and she filled quickly. Years of sand and mud caulking being washed out.

They sank! His Brother laughed and said a few words about his young sibling’s intelligence and legitimacy. At the time, the irony of an older brother making those legitimacy claims escaped the young captain. He was thinking about how much he had to learn.

The Doppler Log increased its rate of ticking on the sophisticated bridge, as the wind veered more astern and the 900 ton Superyacht began to surf. A check of the latest 500mb chart showed that the Low would dip behind them as expected, but a Family of Lows were now forming and would probably sweep ahead. The Captain closed his eyes he still had a lot to learn.

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Old 29-12-2008, 18:47   #3
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The season had started out pretty normal, the trip south was non eventful. We were headed to a dock loaned to us in downtown Ft. Lauderdale on the New River. We had never been up the river and should not have done it at the end of a 30 hr run. But after having the B-Jesus scared out of us coming up the river, we made it to the dock.
After a few days at the beautiful location, it was time to shove off for the trip across the Gulf Stream. The weather window was narrow and we had gotten a later start than I wanted due to bridge malfunctions, but we pushed on.
Three hours of no wind and both engines doing their best, the starboard engine started starving for fuel. I knew we had good fuel and new filters, as I had changed everything while in Ft. Lauderdale. I checked everything I knew to check but the engine would run for about five minutes then die. So with Diane at the helm, I continued to try and find the problem. For three hours I laid on top of the engine with an outboard motor squeeze bulb, that I installed inline, in my hand. Every time it would start to die I would pump the bulb and the engine would rev back up.
Finally I concluded I was sucking air from some where. So I let the engine die and started to check for leaks. After taking everything apart I FINALLY found that the cut off valve was leaking through the cut off lever. I removed the cut off from the system and all was well. But it had cost us valuable time!
The front started to catch us as we cleared the North end of Bimini, in total darkness!! The plan was to tuck in close to have a bit of protection as the wind clocked and started to come out of the west. Then ease around to the south end in the morning and anchor in Nixon’s Harbor to wait out the front!
After two days I figured it was time to head out. I assumed the winds would lie down as the day progressed. The plan was to anchor at Mackie Shoal for the night. The wind did not lie down, but did continue to clock.
The seas on the Bank had , had a chance to build up. And it was a very uncomfortable night!! So as soon as the sun started to break I pulled the hook and we were headed for Bullocks Harbor. The seas were on the beam and 5-7 feet so needless to say it was not a nice trip. Rather a bit of a white knuckler to be honest. But after a long day we arrived and anchored outside Bullocks.
The next day we cleared customs and re-anchored again. We had noticed one of the dogs not feeling well but assumed it was a bit of sea sickness. So we continued on around the north end. As soon as we rounded the north end we realized the seas were 10-15 footers right on the nose. I had no choice but to beat into it the five miles till we could tuck in behind Great Stirrup.
We stayed there for three days waiting for the seas to lie down. And finally they did! But the dog just continued to get worst. We headed south but to our extreme sadness we lost our beloved dog the next day, and had to bury her on Soldier Cay.
Needless to say the trip had turned for the worst. We were grieving terribly but had to move on for the safety of boat and crew. We continued on and tried to enjoy the Berrys but there was just too much sadness to enjoy the beauty.
We finally made it to Rose Island outside of Nassau for the first quiet anchorage since Florida and we truly needed it. The next day we pushed on to Allans Cay to see the iguanas. While there we decided we could sneak down to the isolated south end and finally let the other dog to have some beach time.

Well Matilda was the daughter of Isa, who had died. She had always been very submissive. So I figured it would be safe, and actually feared the lizards may scare her. We pulled the dingy up on the beach, and to our surprise, when an iguana ambled down to see us, Matilda thought we were being attacked and immediately grabbed the lizard and started swinging it over her head! I thought damn Kudjo had risen. We hurriedly got them broke up and hauled ass back to the boat.
It was again to shove off and head for Georgetown. We stopped at Wardwick Wells and points south.
The rest of the trip was some what uneventful and the cruising season turned around for us and we managed to enjoy the rest of the trip!!!!!!!!! Even including having an octopus get suck up in the head. But that’s another story. We had endured the loss of a loved family member, bad weather, and mechancal failure, but still the sailing attitude had won out, and it became another story to re-tell!!!!!!!!
Denny and Diane
Lagoon 37
"The only way to get a good crew is to marry one." -Eric Hiscock
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Old 29-12-2008, 21:53   #4
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Great story Denny and only goes to prove that the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray….. as soon as you cast off.

I remember one night losing a cat overboard (she loved to catch the flying fish that landed on deck). Despite the sadness, she went doing the thing she loved best.... and on reflection, I hope I am as lucky
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Old 30-12-2008, 03:22   #5
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Great thread Pelagic, thanks for starting it and I enjoyed your musings. I especially liked your line "and a new breed of carnivorous horse flies". We were attacked by these beasties the other night and they really know how to rip into your flesh.
All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangereous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. T.E. Lawrence
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Old 30-12-2008, 04:19   #6
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Thanks Wotname

For a young lad from Scotland who had never come across any biting insect bigger than what we called “midges”… it was a nasty surprise!
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Old 29-03-2009, 08:23   #7
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Hauling the Boat

Hauling the Boat
Ansley W. Sawyer

Our boat, Pacem, was to be hauled out for the season on the Friday before Columbus Day and I needed to get her ready. I needed to take off the sails and booms, disconnect mast wiring, change the engine oil and filter, and winterize the engine and the water and head systems. I took Thursday and Friday off from work and left Wednesday after lunch to get to the boat to start the end of the season work.
When I got aboard at about three the sun was shining and there was a southwest wind blowing about ten to fifteen knots. It was cool, as an October day on Penobscot Bay is likely to be but it was one of those beautiful fall days that say to you that this is not the time to take your boat apart. I could not resist one more sail. I set the mizzen, main, and jib and sailed across the bay alone. I was alone with Pacem and we were alone in the bay. There was not another boat out until I saw the North Haven ferry coming back toward Rockland.
All serious sailors know of the wonderful feeling that we get when we are sailing. Whether you are a cruiser or a racer you know the feeling of the wind in your face, the peace of the sea and you know the special feeling that you get just moving upon the water using only the forces of nature. This day I felt all of that and also a feeling of escape and mischief knowing that I was sailing when I was supposed to be taking the boat apart. Glee may be a decent description but you know it was more than that.
The wind started to slacken as I headed into the Fox Island thorofare and we were running in toward North Haven against the outgoing tide. There were no pleasure boats on moorings along the thorofare and most of the dock floats and ramps had been removed. Soon Pacem and I were only doing a couple of knots and the sun was getting low in the west. I went below for a jacket and a libation to warm me up and turn on the navigation lights as Sinbad the autopilot steered. As we slowly sailed past downtown North Haven the sun set behind me and dead ahead the full moon was rising straight up the thorofare. The moon was a huge orange ball that slowly came out of the water and lit up a path for us directly ahead. The effect of the diffraction of the atmosphere can be understood intellectually but emotionally the size and the color of the rising moon was overwhelming.
My past feeling of glee turned to awe as I sailed along a moonlit course, with the sun setting behind me and the moon showing the way. I felt very alone and very much one with the world and I was reluctant to end this with the inevitable dousing of the sails. It was a clear night and of course it was getting colder so I started taking down sails past North Haven and figured that I would go into Perry’s Creek for the night.
Perry’s Creek has a four foot spot at the entrance and after I got the engine started and was heading in I thought to myself that it would be just about right for me to be out all by myself, with no other boats around, at night, and to run aground and get stuck. So very slowly and very carefully I worked my way into the creek and picked up the first mooring that I came to. I shut down the engine and was cleaning up the deck when I noticed, in the moonlight, a long string of dock floats attached to a mooring nearby. I looked at the length of the string and thought that when the tide turned in the middle of the night and the floats turned around that they might hit Pacem. I thought that I should probably move but I decided that the chance of getting into trouble moving around the narrow creek at low tide was probably greater than the problem that I might have with the string of floats.
I went below as it got colder, closed the hatches, lit the stove, had dinner, and went to bed. The next morning the floats and Pacem were facing the other direction and they had moved with out the slightest bump. I sailed back to Rockland that day to begin the delayed process of taking the boat apart for the winter. As I took the rigging apart, I reflected on the beautiful experience that I had and thought that the world is a beautiful place if we just take the time to experience it. The next time you have the opportunity to slack off and sail by yourself rather than working, take the chance and goof off.
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Old 29-03-2009, 12:51   #8
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Originally Posted by AnsleyS View Post
. The next time you have the opportunity to slack off and sail by yourself rather than working, take the chance and goof off.
Sound advice wish I'd taken it today, it was a beautiful day with a pleasant (but cold breeze). Instead of sailing I did some gardening.
Cheers Jamie
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Old 29-03-2009, 14:43   #9
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Great idea for a thread topic, Pelagic!

A big part of cruising is exploring ashore, which we did with a vengeance while cruising the eastern Caribbean. We sailed as far south as Grenada. This is my wife Lynne's account of a shoreside "adventure" there. It is all the more remarkable because we were there only four months after Hurricane Ivan had devastated the island. But in spite of the hardships, we encountered only optimism amongst the locals, such as exhibited by Marlin, the main character in this story...

From Lynne's Journal:
Today was the day we were kidnapped by a bus driver. We had spent yesterday touring the northern part of the island, a full day of driving and visiting several sites of interest. Today was to have been a simple trip to the local produce store to get some fruits and vegetables. We had been encouraged by the liveaboards in the Hog Island anchorage to use the local bus system rather than taxis. So off we went with Rick and Julie Palm of Altair to the closest bus stop in Lower Woburn, a town in the next bay east of us.

The first part was easy—we waved down the route number 5 bus, a van crammed with locals, and squeezed our way in. The bus stops many times to drop off and pick up riders, and to deliver packages to people waiting at the side of the road. Our problem was that we got confused where to thump on the roof of the van to signal where we wanted to get off, and we missed our destination, which we were none too sure of to begin with. We ended up in St. George’s instead, but the driver gave us directions to a second produce shop nearby. Not daunted, we opted to take another bus (route number 1) from there to the large grocery store in Spiceland Mall, which we managed successfully. The driver recognized us. He had driven us from St. George’s to Spiceland a couple of days ago, charging the “special” taxi rate of $10 EC instead of the “bus” rate of $1.50 EC because he drove a quarter mile “off route” to the Mall.

Backpack filled with provisions, we walked back to the bus stop, looking for another number 1 bus back to St. George’s so we could catch a number 5 bus to Lower Woburn. This meant going five miles in the wrong direction to catch the Woburn bus. We flag down the next number 1 bus, and get on. Our driver is Marlin. There is one other passenger, plus the obligatory teenage helper. We ask Marlin to drop us at the best place to catch the number 5 bus to Lower Woburn. Before we know it, Marlin is in total control. First he convinces us with good logic to pay him just a little bit extra and he will take us to Lower Woburn, eliminating the need to change buses. Then he explains that he owns a restaurant with a miniature sized miniature golf course, and since its lunch time, we end up doing lunch. Before we can eat, however, Marlin pumps Rick and Hudson for advice on a malfunctioning water pump he has for his saltwater aquarium, in which he hopes to harbor lobsters for his customers. We must also hear about the concept of this golf course. He calls it “golf-pool”. Players use the concrete and cinder block walls around the 20’ x30’ course to carom golf balls around obstacles and into the holes, a combination of golf and billiards. He’s convinced that it will be a bit hit with the restaurant patrons.

The lunch menu is limited—he explains that he’s just building it back after the hurricane. We enjoy chicken rotis and fried chicken served by Linda, a gal with a broad smile. Marlin’s golf course is in poor condition due to Ivan. He is convinced that new grass will fix it up, and that he can get some at the local golf course. He announces that we need to see what his course will look like, so we go careening off in some unknown direction—we have no idea—twisting and rattling around the narrow, potholed roads, seeing vistas of parts of the island we haven’t traveled before.

Finally we reach the Grenada Golf Course and get to inspect their greens. The greens are indeed nice, for the most part, and it is now apparent that Marlin intends to swipe some of their grass. His assistant had boarded the bus with a machete when we left the restaurant. Now we know why--to harvest grass! Hudson convinces Marlin that we can’t afford to stop and get out because our groceries are getting warm. The ploy works, and we’re off again at breakneck speed, with Marlin talking a mile a minute about his ideas and plans. Eventually we end up back at the dinghy in Lower Woburn. Marlin shoves advertising fliers into our hands. Live bands, stand-up comics, karaoke, and golf-pool. I wonder if he kidnaps lunch patrons every day.
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Old 13-04-2009, 21:25   #10
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It was not a picture perfect sailing day. The wind was favorable, but not ideal. The seas were mellow, but choppy. We meandered along at an average pace. But something had changed.

When we left Annapolis we weren’t ready, but who really ever is? What we lacked in sea miles, we more than made up for in youthful enthusiasm. But somewhere, on some passage, alone on watch, in the wee hours, it hit me. This is our house. All of our stuff in the whole world is in this fiberglass tub. Everything, including my husband and my dog. If we were to flip, or hit something, or break something we wouldn’t even have a clean change of clothes let alone a roof over our heads. What the hell were we thinking?!

Somewhere off the coast of Cuba the alchemy of perspective overwhelmed me as walls of water enveloped us, then lifted us high enough to reach up and touch the menacing grey sky. Then suddenly the watery walls crowded in around us once again. Each minute seemed like an eternity. Behind us were uninhabited islands, in front of us unknown foreign ports. “What ifs” pecked at my brain, the wind taunted me with its wailing, and the sea bullied me from behind. I started to over analyze every creak, thud, and groan that came from the boat. Should I check on that, is that a normal sound, was that inside or on deck?

But then I stopped hearing things and started to listen. She was talking to me, reassuring me. Telling me everything would be just fine. Her words soothed me and I was able to tune out the elements.

“Remember?” she whispered. “Remember when we first met?”

I remembered. We were young and blinded by passion. When we stepped aboard it was love at first sight. We rushed in headfirst the way new lovers do. And she seduced us with her good looks and fast talk. Our first time out was a wild ride. It was blowing 30 knots, it was November. We were off-shore, screaming up the Gulf Stream. We had no business being out there in those conditions, but she charmed us into thinking all late season, off-shore passages went that smoothly. The first months aboard were full of discovery and plans and talk of things to come. But like any long term relationship, we fell into a routine. And the routine turned to a rut. Day after day, week after week, we grew to know each others sounds and movements, and rather than appreciate each other, we learned to tune each other out. We started taking each other for granted. We didn’t know where this relationship was going.

Until one clear autumn day when the light was golden and the air was crisp, a decision was made. We would run away together in a year. The next time that flock of geese makes their journey south, we’re going with them.

Preparations were made. We both prettied up and got in shape, and tried to make sure we’d be at our best when the time came.

The first few weeks were rough. Things broke, mistakes were made, blame was cast all around. I cursed the skies and resented the sea and wondered why I trusted our fates to her. But as the air warmed and the sun stayed out longer and the water cleared, we all settled down. The change of scenery breathed life into our old routine and adventure beckoned. We hosted new friends. We braved off the beaten path. We silently savored sunsets together in unknown waters.

And many miles later in the quiet of a dawn watch on this not-so-perfect passage between here and there I realized we were in synch. No more struggling to understand each other. No more testing how much the other could handle. No more awkward silences. The boat and I were finally a team.

(by Schoonerdog's wife)
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Old 14-04-2009, 02:02   #11
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Great story to remind us of how a love affair with our boat can turn into comfortable spooning.

It made me smile and want to pat her bottom... (ie..the boats)… Thanks!
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Old 22-04-2009, 15:12   #12
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I can remember the capt. of a tug I worked on trying to sink Manhattan by hitting a cement water bulkhead. Threw my skinny young ass 30 ft. to a bulkhead. You never saw anyone faster tha me, getting out of the lower engine room. That God the engineer had seen it coming and put her full astern. Manhattan may have sunk.

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