We’ve not spent much time just tooling ‘round in the boat. We go once a week to pump out and otherwise stay in our slip diligently working on the inside to get it what I deem “livable.” In other words, I’d like a floor in every room (not subfloor). I’d like enough storage to empty all the boxes (gosh! All those boxes!). Living in a marina like this one allows for us to get that stuff done without bothering anyone. EVERYONE is, to some degree, working on their boats.
Also, when we do go to pump out we are lucky enough to be around all these seasoned pros that help me grab and tie up the boat back in the slip. Still and all, I get nervous and worried every time the beast’s engines turn over. Sure I know I just need to practice and I haven’t ruined anything yet. Plus, my part of this whole thing is pretty minimal. But my personality doesn’t allow for any intelligent thought processes when my emotions take over. Not to be gross, but without fail, when those engines turn over my bowels constrict processing my food at an alarming rate. Then I gotta go! Seems like an elaborate anti-constipation remedy to me but what are you gonna do?
Such was the case when Rick came to me excited that a group was heading out Friday night to drop anchor and spend the night. He saw the look of terror in my eyes and said, “We have to do it some time. Might as well be tonight. It’ll be fun!” We had only anchored out once, years ago with a much smaller boat and it didn’t go as planned. We were to sail up the Intracoastal Waterway to sightsee. We planned to be gone a few weeks. Our first night we stopped in a fairly busy place. There were no coves, so we found a spot out of the way and dropped anchor, which meant tossing the anchor out and driving in the opposite direction until it caught. We had finished eating and went below to get ready for bed. Rick realized we were moving. The anchor hadn’t held. (Years later after reading an entire book on anchoring, Rick realized we had the wrong anchor for our location.) So he tells me to “pull the anchor up” while he starts the engine. So I’m yanking on the rope but the anchor is too heavy. Meanwhile, I look up and see a HUGE party boat bearing down on us. We had drifted into the channel. Rick is having trouble getting the engine to start. Panic ensues and I envision us being plowed down by drunken idiots (of course, really, who is the idiot here?). Right here is where you need to cue the heaven and angel music in your head, because the Coast Guard showed up, radioed the party boat to stop, and tied us to their boat for towing to the state park marina.
So you can see why I had some trepidation. I agreed to go though, since we would have others around if something went wrong, we had to learn, and we had a winch for the anchor (which was my job) making it simple to drop and retrieve. Rick double checked with one of the guys about our anchor and he agreed it was the perfect one for the bottom of the lake.
We started out around 7 p.m.
Rick pulled out of the marina to follow Ed and I headed down below to take care of business (refer to paragraph two). It was not to be however, because I had to get onto the swim platform and make sure the rope we were using to pull our dingy did not get caught in the props while winding our way out of the cove. The trip was absolutely gorgeous! We did note that the depth finder was inoperable on the fly bridge. Rick had been crawling around under there and probably bumped some wires. We hadn’t thought to set it for an alarm to go off at a certain depth, so my job became to stand at the bottom of the fly bridge stairs and shout out the depth from the inside station. We also had Ed watching out for us and he radioed back a few times. We followed directly in his path and made it without incident. Now to drop anchor. I made my way forward, whispering to myself, “left/lower, right/raise, left/lower, right raise.” On Rick’s okay I stepped on the left side and began lowering the anchor. More and more and more. We double checked the resistance and felt good about it.
We used the dingy to ferry Brian’s dingy (which had a sail but no engine) to shore to join a beach party already in progress. We didn’t go ashore for several reasons. First, there were tremendous amounts of bugs flying in my eyes and mouth as we moved low through the water. Then, right before we reached land I saw a 2-3 foot SOMETHING slip into the water. Eeek! Lastly, I am by nature anti-social, so the last thing I wanted to do was make small talk with folks I don’t know and will never see again. Rick said he was worried about leaving the boat empty with the generator on (which he probably was, at least a little bit) and we headed back. Sissy that I am, I went inside to escape the bugs while Rick tied up the dingy, double checking his knots.
We spent the night sitting on the bow of the boat (no bugs!) watching the stars. When we finally went to bed all we heard was the gentle lapping of the water against the boat. I slept fairly well but Rick got up a few times and probably only got a few hours. (I’m not the only worry-wart in the family.)
Eventually, morning came. As we sat in the aft deck drinking out coffee and tea, Rick decided to check on the dingy. GONE. I didn’t believe him. GONE! It had come loose from the rope and floated away or someone took it (as a prank??). Great. We hadn’t added it to the insurance yet—it was that new. Rick grabbed the binoculars and started scanning. I rolled my eyes and said, “You aren’t going to find it—it’s long gone.” I thought to myself that it was already in the Mississippi River. (I am prone to hyperbole.) But he found it!
It was nose into the shore. It was early morning so I didn’t think we should wake Ed and/or Brian for help. It was safe and stuck on the shore. But Rick saw some fishermen and was obsessed with tracking their movements. They were going to take it—he was sure of it. We tried calling Ed—no cell signal. We tried to radio him—he didn’t have it on. We tried radioing Brian—his wasn’t on either. But his girlfriend, Kerry, was up and sitting out. Rick called to her to turn on the radio. She roused Brian and he put his sail in his dingy and started heading to Ed’s boat so we’d have a dingy with a motor. Meanwhile, the fisherman was nabbing the dingy. We were sure we’d lose it to this fisherman, but by the time Ed was coherent, it was obvious the fisherman was headed our way, our dingy in tow. He wasn’t stealing it—he was returning it. We were the only dumbasses in the area without a dingy, so he assumed it was ours. Phfew! Tragedy diverted.
What did we learn on this excursion? Well, first of all, the dingy was snugged up to the boat so close that as it bumped during the night (and we thought it was the sound of waves), it must have undone the knot. So leave a longer leader. That knot was the only one that Rick didn’t check (nor did he tie in the first place). So we also learned to double check all the knots or better yet get a clip. Finally, and most importantly, we learned that boat people are good people.
Oh, and everything is going to be alright. We returned on our own to the marina, successfully tying up to pump out and got into our slip safely. Feelin’ good about that!
*Disclaimer: We didn’t actually pay $3,000 for the dingy–we bought it used. But to replace it would have been around that amount.