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The Too Long Farewell

Travelogue - April 22, 2010
Old man rhythm is in my shoes
No use t' sittin' and a' singin' the blues
So be my guest, you've got nothin' to lose
Won't you let me take you on a sea cruise?

Oo-ee, oo-ee baby
Oo-ee, oo-ee baby
Oo-ee, oo-ee baby
Won't ya let me take you on a sea cruise?

- Frankie Ford


This is unusual: We are staying, while others are leaving! It feels odd; I don't think I like it. Lately it seems as though every day we meet somebody new, then the next day bid them farewell.

This is the longest we've stayed in any one place with Sea Gator. Rick really likes it here, and I've settled in OK. But we all agree, it's time to get some water moving under this keel.

Tug Five Sisters During the past week I've said goodbye to many nice folks ashore. Rick and I waved adieu to Little Mick and JustAVacation and Bullship and Jenna Star. Having shared a nasty storm with those folks - the storm resulting in a runaway boat aground off the channel - we felt just a bit adrift all by ourselves, so to speak.

On Tuesday Beverly and I enjoyed our last lunch together before she heads north to Wisconsin. Rick didn't join us: he was aboard Sea Gator watching the salvage of said runaway boat, Mystical Dreamer.

Beaufort Wind Scale

It WAS a heck of a storm, by the way. According to Chapman:

The Beaufort Wind Scale was devised in 1805 by Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort of the British Royal Navy. The original Beaufort Scale was based on the effect of various wind speeds on the amount of canvas that a full-rigged frigate of the period could carry. The scale has since been modified and modernized.

For example, the new scale cross-references the wind speed to the appearance of the waves and water-to-foam-to-air ratio. According to Sir Beaufort the storm we experienced is rated a 10 ("Storm") on a scale that goes to 12 ("Hurricane"). I'm still slightly amazed at the whole thing. Anywho, back to the result of the storm.

Salvage Operation

As told by Rick:

Well, Mystical Dreamer was fairly upright already from the tide though still obviously aground. You could see the remains of the piling and dock she'd been lying against since Sunday's storm - that is one heavy boat [above, right].

Then I saw the Five Sisters tug come in, accompanied by Booba [FMB harbormaster] on his pumpout boat, and they were joined by another, smaller, assist boat with big pads on its bow for pushing.

Tug pulling Mystical Dreamer Apparently someone had tied some restraining lines between Mystical Dreamer and the dock [thank you, Booba] so they put someone aboard who removed those dock lines and secured a tow line. They did all this probably a half hour before high tide.

Then they started pulling [left].

They pulled ferociously. You could see the angle of Mystical Dreamer's mast tilting as they started pulling. Then they paused to shorten the tow line - maybe to get more benefit of the prop wash to help her float. The tug really gunned his engines for awhile, and I wondered what was going on with the bottom when that happened!

Another thing I wondered, is why they didn't pull directly from her stern, sliding her back on her keel? Instead they pulled her laterally. Later, Frank would explain that laying a deep-keeled boat on her side reduces her draft in the water... ah-ha! Anyway, eventually she rotated in place [below, right] and after almost a half hour of pulling they floated her off [below, left].

Prop wash And Booba announced over his hailer, "Hallelujia"!

Then Booba and the assist boat accompanied the tow to a new mooring ball, and just then all the boats in the Bay spun in unison - the tide had crested and was just heading out. Good timing.

Meanwhile, they were still towing stern-first [below, right], so the assist boat tied to the bow of the tow so he could secure the mooring line. They towed just past the ball, and he reached out from his low boat and secured her to the mooring.

The tow crew all watched Mystical Dreamer swing with the tide, they retrieved their man, and then they motored off.

Mystical Dreamer under tow After placing our lunch orders at Nervous Nellie's, Beverly and I had walked out on the fishing pier to see if we could observe the process down the Bay. We glimpsed Mystical Dreamer's mast standing upright, and we saw the tugboat and her massive prop wash (above, right) which was hugely visible even from a half-mile distant.

Well, all's well that ends well. Fortunately no one was injured except the poor crushed dock, and he can be fixed.

Rick had a long conversation with Booba the following day. Booba confirmed the need for better maintenance and better oversight in the field, as that wasn't the first or even the second runaway this season: Tessa had broken loose as a result of the mooring's hardware failure. Earlier, Sloop to Nuts had sawed through her mooring line because her sailors had tied her incorrectly.

Toward the new mooring The amazing coincidence between those situations was that Booba was out and about, working in the mooring field at the time. He responded to a hail from other boaters and was able to get his line on the runaways and bring them to safety before they hit anything or anyone else.

During last Sunday's thunderstorm Booba was safe and dry at home, just poised to pop open his first beer of the day, when he was called out in the storm. Imagine, he had to both stay dry and get wet, at the same time! Such are the trials and tribulations of the responsible employee.

Life Goes On

George and Nancy We watched for Jenna Star's people to come home so that we could invite them over for an evening. But before we could get our act together, here they came to knock on Sea Gator's hull and invite us to their boat. I said "I have dry crackers, what about you?" Nancy said she'd made brownies. Whoa! I said "We'll come to your place."

The brownies were awesome - the green grapes Rick and I brought were a nice addition - and we enjoyed our visit with Nancy and George. We learned that they had taken possession of Jenna Star (named for their former boxer) in Seattle and immediately cruised the inside passage and coastal Alaska up to Juneau. What an adventure, and what beautiful photos they had of their trip.

The next day we feted them aboard Sea Gator (crisp bread sticks and strawberries with cream cheese dip - I'm holding up my end!). We hope to see them either at the boat yard or in Marathon next year.

Laundry - Always an Adventure

Friday after aerobics Bump Head and I motored in to shore. We stopped to visit Calypso along the way and didn't hit anything, woo hoo.

The hills are aliiiive... Well. I had put all our clothes into two washers and fetched the key to one of two shower suites from the office. I opened the locked door - with the key, mind you - and a man's voice called out from the inner sanctum, "Sorry, I thought I locked it."


I hollered, "You did, but I have the key." I shut the door and strolled around a bit. I couldn't leave, otherwise I'd have to just walk in on him again to determine whether he had gone...

A nice couple came along to rest between dryer loads and I told the story of the supposedly-naked man. The lady quipped, "Maybe it's one of the services they provide." Ha! We all chuckled but I would have thought a peep show costs more than the $13 they charge here per day.

When the man finally emerged we all pretended not to stare, but I'd paid my thirteen bucks, so... Well, what can I say? He was no Cincinnati fireman.

I shampooed and scrubbed in the TOTAL privacy of my LOCKED shower suite. Back in the laundry room I shoveled clothes into dryers while the nice lady folded shirts. We talked about the storm last Sunday - they had weathered it safely in the Cayo Costa anchorage (not even in the back pocket y'all; she said there were more boats back in there than in the bay) - and a quiet man folding his laundry told us that his jib sail had come loose during the blow...

Ah-ha! I said to him, "You're on Larabeck, right? We watched you try to secure your sail and we were scared for you. What a job." He told us how he'd done it, and on a whim I invited him to join me and Rick, and Frank and Pam of Blackfoot, at The Big Game that evening for happy hour.

Which invitation was an inspired move. And so we met Michael.

Mysterious Creatures of the Not Very Deep

I'm so disappointed I didn't bring my camera to The Big Game that evening, but you'll have to take my word for it that a good time was had by all.

Sooty Sea Hare Pam and I had a great discussion ranging from cooking to landscapes to exercise. Pam spotted the world's strangest sea creature near the dinghy dock: he/she/it had the eye-stalks of a snail, the flapping wings of a ray, the rounded back of a spider's egg sack, the mottled colors of a reptile, the inky predator-evasion response of a squid. We got some kids to scoop him up in Bump Head's bailing bucket so we could get a good look at him.

He proved to be - I never would have guessed - the Sooty Sea Hare (Aplysia brasiliana). He wasn't very friendly, in fact he filled the container with purple escape ink. Maybe he should be rechristened the "Snooty" Sea Hare - ha ha! And "he/she/it" is an accurate description as they are hermaphrodites.

How many engineers does it take to drink beer?

Meanwhile Rick and Frank and Michael turned out to be three engineers together, so they failed to notice that Pam and I had gone away to examine sea creatures down at the dock. But Rick filled me in later, and I wouldn't have guessed this either: Larabeck stands for the home towns of Michael and his wife: Lübeck, Germany and (wait for it) Laramie, Wyoming!

Rainy dinghy ride Which home town was least expected in that context? It was a draw.

Cruisin' in the Rain

We brought our beach umbrella in Bump Head and made a nice afternoon of it. The journey through the anchorage that lies behind the mooring field was interesting - it's a sheltered place but there are some dead boats in there that used to be nice, what's going on?

We meandered through Hurricane Bay and circumnavigated San Carlos Island, taking side trips to explore some of the canals. Then back home just before it rained again.

Last Evening at the Moorings

When the sailboat Liat settled in next to us, we recognized her from Burnt Store Marina where we stop for fuel each year. She was notable because her hailing port is Breckenridge, Colorado. And when Rick saw that Gene was having trouble with his dinghy and Char was waving cheerfully from the cockpit, he Bump Headed on over.

Char, Gene, Michael, Julie, Jim, Rick Later, Rick rendezvoused with me in town for lunch and told me about the nice folks he'd met, and then he casually said, "And there they are" strolling by. And so I got to meet Char and Gene and a fine time was had by all.

The next evening we hosted Char and Gene from Liat, Michael from Larabeck, and Jim and Julie from Calypso aboard Sea Gator. No, everybody didn't line up like that the entire time, just for the photo op.

During a free wheeling discussion about the Coast Guard Michael commented, "I have nothing bad to say about them, they saved my dinghy when it was stolen." We all said "That was YOU?"

Of course, everybody knew the story of the boat theft and that the same thief stole Tessa Lori's digital camera, and that the perp had been caught red-handed when the dinghy's motor died and left him adrift in the middle of the Bay. Heh heh heh, we all snickered. "There was water in the gas," Michael explained, "I guess I didn't protect the vent." And we all snickered some more. That'll teach 'em to steal dinghies.

Rick and Gene Liat's people had yet to decide whether they would head to the Islands; if they don't we'll see them in Punta Gorda in a couple weeks. Calypso's Julie is going to New Zealand to ski, but the boat is staying and we hope to see them next year.

If all goes well Larabeck's Michael and Sharon will commence her voyage across the sea to Panama, through the canal; will enjoy a nice visit at the Galapagos followed by a three week blue-water sail to French Polynesia where they will dally until the weather turns and then winter among the lovely sailing grounds of New Zealand. WOW!

Follow their adventures at

Outta Here

Thursday morning, April 22. I told Rick, "this boat has a prop - let's USE it!" It was SO exciting to go through Sea Gator's pre-cruise checklist.

Goldie Two months is a long time for us to remain stationery. Same for Little Mick and they had spent all winter here - I remember how thrilled Mickey was when they fired up Little Mick's engines and embarked to the nearby fuel dock and back. Well, I felt the same thrill; even though it would be a little longer than across the Bay, but still a short trip for us - four hours.

We had a leisurely morning, as we were aiming for a rising tide at our next destination. So Rick got to visit briefly when Gene dinghied over, above right. And Goldie got to stroll the decks and poke her face in the galley portlight as I washed the breakfast dishes, left.

Then we fired up the engine and slipped our mooring, as easy as taking off a hat.

Michael came out on Larabeck's bow to wave. And we waved goodbye to Char and Gene, relaxing with coffee in their cockpit. We waved to Booba, below right, cruising by on his pump-out boat - Dude! - and to Jeff standing near Amigo's mast and admiring the sunlight on the water.

Booba Adios, everybody! Woo hoo!

We headed northwest, under the Sanibel bridge and into the ICW. We were bound for Pelican Bay on the first short leg on our eventual journey home.

Take care, everybody. Keep those boats hull-side down, lock those dinghies, and watch out for treacherous slush.

Thanks for listening.

Pat, Rick and Goldie

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