November 15, 2012 by Last Star blog
Georgia On My Mind….
Most are familiar with the song “Georgia On My Mind” sung by Ray Charles and many more (my favorite is Willie Nelson’s version). Well it is safe to say that Georgia will be on our mind for many months to come. The story below is 2-3 days in the making and as we sit here in Fernadina Beach FL it is hard to look back into Georgia and see a silver lining…..more like dark ominous storm clouds.
So last entry from me was us setting up in Tom’s Creek and buttoning up due to the no-see-ums eating us up. We put the last lime to rest and were enjoying some snacks and a margarita when another boat from Maryland putted by us and apologized for the “intrusion” and set up in the same creek about 700-800 feet away from us. No intrusion at all really. As we settled into Tom’s Creek we had about 8 feet under the anchor and the wind had died in the marshes so we expected a quiet night. After happy-hour Patricia and I had dinner and were settling in to watch “Wheel of Fortune” (favorite show for old-people and retirees as we can yell at the TV and say things like “that Vanna White; what has she done with her hair and it looks like she’s put on 2 lbs”). As we were watching the show a “sudden squall” came out of nowhere (is there any other kind of squall?) and we could hear the wind whistling in the rigging. So out I go to investigate. I pop out into pitch blackness and am trying to see out of the plastic enclosure that is our solarium. There is no moon, it’s overcast and I can barely make out the transition from the water to the marshes. ?????? uhhh that ain’t right I’m thinking. I try and peer into the darkness? Confusion, I look for our neighbor from Maryland, “what is he doing there?” I holler at Patricia to turn on the instrumentation, there’s now 30′ under the keel, the anchor that was set for 7 feet is probably skipping along the bottom like a can kicked down the street–shit I know it is skipping. The side of the creek that we were on at anchor is now the far side and the back of the boat is now pressed against the back of the creek and the boat is to my horror sliding along the creek being pushed by the rising tide and the damn wind that manifested itself in the bowels of Satan! I look again closely at our neighbor–at this point I will call him our “next door neighbor”. Now the GPS is on, the instrumentation is on as well and both are being reflected in the eisenglass and I can’t see crap. Now bear in mind eisenglass was a cheap substitute for real glass that originated in the eastern block countries–or so I’ve been told. So to call it glass implies that you can see readily through it–not so. And our side panels spend much time rolled up so when unrolled they are a bit wavy and distorted. With the darkness, the reflected lights in the plastic and the imperfections in the vinyl/eisenglass I am screwed. I holler to Patricia (OK maybe squeal like a little girl) to set the switches to start the engine. This is NOT your father’s Oldsmobile you don’t just “turn the key”. The fuel pump circuit breaker must be thrown, the battery switch that isolates the 880 cranking amp starter battery must be brought back into the circuit. While I wait the 2-3 seconds for Patricia to do this (feels like an eternity) I squeal some more. VaRooooommmm goes the diesel, in goes the transmission, throttle up, Patricia out from below, she’s fighting to get out of the plastic prison we created to keep out the no-see-ums, she’s going for the anchor. I’m at the wheel and 28,000 lbs of sliding fiberglass is just not responding as there is yet any water moving over the rudder. At this point neighbor is coming out of his boat as his “spidey sense” tells him something is amiss with the clowns up the creek he passed earlier. You see sailors at night have the most amazing hearing, and if a gnat farts in the vicinity of your boat you hear it. If a butterfly lands on the boom you hear it, if a fish touches your keel you hear it so this guy knew that trouble was near. As I struggle with the non-responsive boat I throw in the towel and elect to go outside to minimize pending damage from inevitable collision. The next few seconds were a bit surreal, slow-motion kind of stuff. Joe (neighbor’s name, met him the next day) is out with a bright light and he is arcing that thing through the dark like Darth Vader’s light saber; maybe he thought he could cut our offending vessel in half? Well as I finally pop out the of the vinyl prison on the crashing side I get my hands on his bow-pulpit and push like hell. His boat is smaller and I just fend it off like a flea; I remember seeing his anchor chain caught in the glow of the light that Joe has put on me as the saving Angel from on high and I think maybe I hear harps–that could be me still screaming? But magically his boat just glides aside. I push some more and send it to the back of my boat. Now my boat is still caught in Beelzebub’s zephyr and tries to rape Joe’s boat but my zodiac hanging off the rear is happy to just graze his Bimini and such and terrorize his wife who has made a sudden appearance to have her world turned upside down.
Well the fun doesn’t end here, we are now past Joe’s boat but still being swept along by the wind and tide. Oh it is still dark, we are totally rattled and MUST stop the boat (Jane…stop this crazy thing!!!!). Patricia and I have a very calm and logical conversation at this point about what must be done next and in what order (not really, more like a very bad episode of Jerry Springer with 4 mom’s, one dad, and a Transvestite for example) but we do get the boat stopped. OK, evening ruined. Boat(s) possibly ruined. We holler at Joe and he says best thing is to sort it out on the Radio in the morning. He’s right, it is too dark to see and the weather is going south. Now I have a 45 lb CQR and it is a beast and up to the task of holding Last Star but my faith is totally rattled. Truth be told there were circumstances in the creek that I could have handled better when setting and not understanding the tides in Georgia exacerbated by the new moon–lesson learned. Just understand that we did not get much sleep that night.
The next morning I raise Joe on the radio, I paddle over in our dinghy and we chat and he examines his boat from my dinghy and indicates that in fact there is no damage to his vessel. We examine the bow-sprit and anchors, the side where we slid down etc and it all looks fine!? He’s very understanding about the previous night’s disaster, says things like “those things happen”, maybe it happened to him? But after 10 minutes I’m on my way back to the Last Star and this is a done deal–incredible! How did two 20K lbs beast bumping into one another not create a disaster. Maybe it was my super-human adrenaline charged effort as I was squealing like a Girl Scout that did the trick. OK, back to the boat, raise dinghy (as the no-see-ums are eating me alive) and lets get out of this damn creek and on our way. As I’m walking towards the front of the boat and I see two zip-ties lying on the deck…? Odd. Oh! Glance towards my sailboard and I see the explanation for the ease in which I fended off the other boat. My sailboard did the brunt of the work on the first pass.
I pushed only after the energy (ironic huh) was dissipated. I’m now hunting for a new board with about 110-115 liters of flotation, used they go for about 250 dollars. That kind of money will not buy you much on a boat and our deductible is $500 so I guess I got off easy on this one.
Now this was just day one of the misadventures in Georgia, stay tuned for more nightmares.