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anonymous happenings
04/14/2010, can't say where

I have put this one off for a long time. It's touchy to write about the problems, shortcomings and total screw-up's of others. Much easier to poke fun at myself. Not just because we have so much subject matter to choose from when laughing at our own escapades, but because I am reticent to embarrass anyone else. Who knows when the aggrieved party might read the blog? (Ok, we're probably alright there) However, I have decided to give this one a go. Because it's just so good. So here are the rules. No naming of the true location, so as not to indicate who it may be. The name of the participants and boat name will be changed. The rest is too true.

We had planted our anchor in the area between the two islands where we had read we should think about placing a second anchor. It wasn't needed, as we had been swinging for over 24 hours with no problems. The water was crystal clear, and we were alone in the anchorage. Al and I had agreed to wait for a friend to show up in a day or so. They had wanted to stay and see a little of Nassau before joining us. We had been enjoying the time alone, swimming to the islands, videoing the local wildlife, and snorkeling.
We saw the two trawlers (that's not too much is it?) pull into the anchorage and make their way towards our location. There was plenty of room on the other side of the area, but we know how that goes, don't we?

They were buddy boats, and motored past us towards a sandbar that extended all the way across the anchorage. It was very visible, the water was only about six inches at high tide and the entire area was white, not the blue associated with water. Anyway, the fist one (we'll call it "Big Brother") dropped anchor a barely respectable distance from our bow. We watched as the second boat (we'll call it "Nirvana") motored past and kept going right onto the sandbar. The guy came out of the pilothouse and went up front to see what had stopped his forward progress. His big brother, I mean the guy on Big Brother, started yelling stuff at him. He backed off, and came back towards us and dropped his hook almost on top of ours. Great. As I was getting ready to go over and ask him to move, Big brother deploys a second anchor in the correct fashion. Had to, as Nirvana had anchored so close to him that they would surely bang together when the current shifted. So Nirvana, after conferring in back and forth yells with Big Brother, deploys his second anchor. Straight down on top of the first. I'm not going over there. No point. Al swam our second anchor out as far behind us as he could, to keep us from swinging down on Nirvana. Problem solved.

As the afternoon wore on, both boats got into Nirvana's dingy and went ashore. Later, we saw them or rather HEARD them coming back, yelling and paddling; the now defunct engine raised in the air. They were larger folks and it was a large dink, large engine too; we could see them struggling to row it against the current. If not for the yelling, cussing, and name-calling going on in the dink, we would have offered to help. The drama reached its crescendo as they dropped off their passengers on Big Brother and rowed the 4 feet over to Nirvana.

All was quiet for a time, until I asked Al if we were on fire. Something was burning, an acrid smell that wafted right down into the salon. We sprang topside. Nirvana was burning. The smoke was pouring out of the rear door. Wait, that smell.... "Someone is burning some blackened fish." False alarm. Gad, the smell burned in our noses. Hot oil, strong spices and burnt food. Just in time for our dinner. We put off dinner for a few hours to let the air clear

Nirvana must have sorted out the engine problem, because they went tootling off to see the iguanas (oops) a short time later. On their way back, they swung by our boat to say hello. Actually, he was a writer who had a book published and he wanted to sell us a copy. I asked what it was about and he recounted seeing a movie, thought it was good enough to copy into a book, only better. His wife nodded enthusiastically at this. He mentions the movie and I remember it tanked. Weak plot. Politely I decline. He had 40 copies of said book he was going to try to unload while in the Bahamas. His agent thought it was a good idea. Good luck, at $45. Hardcover.
He started talking about the many bridges on the ICW and told us a little trick he had for getting under the one near his house. He calls on the radio to the tender; "Hey, ya wanna see some tits?' and no lie, his wife raises her blouse to show us what happens next. They're both laughing. Al and I share the look. These are not our kind of people. I find myself glad I gave the book a pass. Thankfully they leave us to wonder how we got so lucky to be sharing this anchorage with them, and when will they leave for another. We are waiting on friends, remember?

The next morning I see big Brother pull his anchors and head out. Nirvana pulls one, and finds that the secondary has wrapped three or four times around it while swinging through the night. That tends to happen when they are dropped right on top of each other. Down goes the first. Up comes the second. Not. Down goes the second. Up comes the first. Now they are both at the bow, looking at the twisted anchors, boat still in forward, until one of them remembers and goes to put the boat in neutral. They narrowly avoid running into the island. Now ole dude decides to pull out the chain from the chain locker. "This should be good." I tell Al. He wants to know why. I tell him that the chain is more than likely bolted firmly to the bulkhead far at the bottom of the chain locker. We make bets and watch.

Big Brother is nowhere to be seen by now, but they are hailing Nirvana over and over. The calls go ignored by our intrepid boaters. We can hear their radio from our cockpit. There must be close to 300-400 feet of chain he pulls out of that locker. He works hard for around 20 minutes. It looks heavy. He piles it on the front deck. He pulls, reaches the end and "Clank!-clank!" He gives the windlass a swift kick and starts hopping around holding his hurt foot. We can hear the cussing from our cockpit "You owe me a real hamburger, in a real restaurant.' I high-five Al, as the guy starts throwing the chain back into the locker. Now all he had to do was nudge the boat in reverse around the anchor to unwind the wraps, but he can't figure that out. If it wasn't for all the cussing, we would have offered to help. Really. It's very entertaining watching him try to manhandle the secondary around the primary chain. He was totally covered in sweat around an hour later, when he finally managed to get underway.

So, in reading back through this, I can see where MAYBE the guy on Nirvana MIGHT be able to recognize himself in this story. But I have faithfully recounted it exactly as it occurred. Oh and as a postscript to all of this, the burger was delicious!

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how I wish upon a star
04/09/2010

Sailblogs member Michael Turney aboard s/v Nelleke shot this wonderful footage, which I edited and put to music. I feel the loss of the manned space program deeply, and regret that future generations of children will no longer aspire to be astronauts and go into space. Remember the shuttle launches with pride. This is what we have achieved.
click here to see Discovery lift off for the last time

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My opinion, for what it's worth
02/25/2010

Well, I just have to put my two cents in on this. On Wednesday, Tilikum, a 30 year old killer whale at SeaWorld, Orlando, attacked and killed Dawn Brancheau, a leading trainer there.
The details of the attack have been all over the news, so I won't repeat it hear. We need to remember that Dawn's family is still trying to come to grips with their loss. It is not my intention to add anything to the heaviness in their hearts.
This Orca had just been part of the noon show, and the fatal attack took place just afterward. Tilikum had been involved in two prior fatal attacks, one in 1991, the second in 1999. Now, if Tilikum was a 30 year old human, we would call him a serial killer. But Tilikum is a killer whale, the largest member of the dolphin family. The head of Sealand's animal care and training facility, where Tilikum resided at the time of the 1991 attack in which Tilikum killed his trainer, said Wednesday that Tilikum was a well-behaved, balanced animal. Wow. This was after this "well-behaved animal" had killed three human beings. Wow. When did we start putting animals ahead of human lives?
I'd be one of the first people to say we should never mistreat animals. This isn't about that. But we are talking about massive, wild animals that are captured and held in captivity, trained to do shows for profit, studied for science and understanding of their species and then bred for their offspring, so that the whole cycle can begin again.
Yes, I will agree that the data that we have gathered about these Orcas would not have been discovered if we had not captured some and studied them. But lets be honest and look at the bottom line here. The main reason we keep and display and breed these Orcas is cash. Lots of cash. These facilities have paid a great deal of money to obtain Tilikum and his brethren. They have invested a lot of money in training him. Tilikum has bred numerous times, making his value as a stud animal very high. The profit from future generations of Orcas sired has been enormous. Then there are the parks. Thousands pay to see these shows and animals on a daily basis. Yes, SeaWorld, Sealand, Marine World, they all make billions of dollars because of these animals.
And that, people is why they will keep Tilikum, and all of the killer whales at their facilities, performing and breeding and bringing in the cash. All while making their excuses as to why sometimes these large wild animals kill humans. Should we stop the practice of interaction with Orcas? Should we outlaw keeping, training and showing these animals? Should we force Sealand, SeaWorld, MarineLand, and other facilities to stop their practices and release the Orcas? Should we boycott or refuse to visit the parks?
I don't know. Really, I don't know the answer. I don't know what is in the best interest of the animals. I acknowledge the loss of jobs and the great negative effect on the economy if these facilities were to close. I realize that most people would never have a chance to see and observe them if these places were gone. I know we would lose a great opportunity to study these creatures if we did not have these facilities to do so. There is always a balance scale to large complicated issues and this is a complex issue in regard to all the factors I have just stated.
But we need to remember that this isn't the issue on the table. What's on the table is that this Orca has killed three people. This Orca is a serial killer who will get off scot free because he is valuable, both as an entertainer, and as a breeder. Money talks and here it says that three human beings are worth less than one KILLER, killer whale.
I do know that I take issue with that.

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If the boat's a rockin'!
02/12/2010, a tutorial. Learn from it....

Cruisers are such a great bunch of folks. We met so many boaters on the way to the Exumas that I began to lose track of them all. We were anchoring in and around these new friends each afternoon. That's a lot of first impressions. Naturally, we didn't want them to think we didn't know what we were doing, even if that was true.
Most of the other boats traveled quicker than us. Heck, you could have WALKED to the Bahamas faster than our boat motored. So each day, it was a new bunch for us to see and wave to in the anchorages. It was an exciting, somewhat stressful time for us, and we worked hard at our anchoring techniques to leave a good impression.
One of our first anchoring attempts was in the Mile Hammock anchorage at Camp Lejune, NC. We were ok at anchoring, but not anything to brag on. Further, the anchorage was reported to have iffy holding. And it was crowded when we got there.
Neither Al nor I could agree where we should drop the hook, so as to not drag onto someone else. So we argued over it. We had headsets so we weren't yelling or anything like that, but I'm sure everyone at anchor could tell that we were having a disagreement.
We must have moved that hook around the lagoon five times, all the while in a quiet, heated discussion. "Here's the best spot. "No, there's not enough swing room.' 'Well, where do you want to go?' 'Make up your mind!" At long last we were set for the afternoon, hook down, no other boaters screaming at us to move because we were too close.
Now you have to understand that our efforts were complete overkill. There wasn't a breath of wind stirring in that lagoon from the time we arrived till the time we left the next morning. We could have shoved the boathook in the mud and tied off to that and been all right. We didn't realize that since we were still learning.
Naturally, after all that fussing, we each needed to cool off separately. I worked on some videos down below for a while. Al watched the Marines training on shore. Near sunset, Al came below and we, well, Made Up. The boats were packed into the lagoon by this time. Al said he had counted around 26. I was still worried that we had portrayed a bad impression of ourselves over the anchoring fiasco.
We knew a few of these boats, met a few more, and over the next two months, several reminded us that we had shared this particular anchorage. I always said "Wow! Sure! I can't believe you remembered us!" and wondered if they had been aware of the argument Al and I had been having over the anchoring. It would have been very embarrassing to me to know that we were remembered as "The couple that argued." Hopefully, they remembered us as "the couple with the yellow canvas." Thankfully, they never mentioned it, one way or the other.
Then we met Linda and Dwayne in Staniel Cay. They too had been there in that lagoon, on that millpond still evening. Dwayne mentioned that near sunset, nearly everyone had come up on the decks and into cockpits to watch the sunset. He said that, because of the lack of wind, all the boats were still and quiet, not even a ripple on the water, except for one. A little smile played at the corners of his mouth as he recalled that there was no one in the cockpit on this one boat, but the mast was gently rocking, forward and backward, forward and backward.
Realization hit me like a muddy boathook, and I didn't have to wonder long, as he related how all the cruisers had witnessed the little extra entertainment at sunset that evening. Not one of the cruisers remembered that we had argued, because they had all remembered us as "the couple with the rocking mast!"

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Bahamas photos
02/01/2010, a montage of our cruise


bahamas Cruise 09/10
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That would fix 'em
02/01/2010

We cruisers need a STUPID gun. No, not a stupid gun; nothing that kills or maims, A STUPID gun.
Let me explain. Cruising the ICW, we were able to determine that there are a lot of boaters who have no idea what they are supposed to do when behind the helm. They are stupid. Mostly (sorry to anyone who may take this as a generalization, it's not.) local power boaters, mostly, but not always, smaller craft, these individuals speed through anchorages. They pass by at high speeds with only inches to spare between your hull and theirs. They cut between your boat and a channel marker at a high rate of speed, then cut back into the center of the channel right in front of you, and slow to an idle. They set their boat on a collision course with yours, and when you correct for it, they change course to put themselves back on a collision course with you. They are fishing or drag netting in the middle of narrow channels leaving you nowhere to navigate. Very unnerving to say the least.
It would be helpful, for all of us , to know exactly who these stupid boaters are, so that we can be alert to their antics in advance of any STUPID moves they might undertake in our vicinity. Think of it as a public service.
What I propose is a STUPID gun. It would have to have a homing device, so you could lock onto the offenders hull and then shoot, knowing the projectile would indeed end up on the correct target. It would deliver a florescent orange splat, the size of a dinner plate, with a big black S (for STUPID) in the center. There it would sit, like 3M/5200 (a powerful adhesive, for those of you who don't know "boatspeak"), unable to be removed by any means, as a warning for the rest of us. It would let us all know to watch out for this turkey. (sorry if this offends any turkeys reading this, no offence meant)
Now when you see a boat marked with one splat, you know to be alert. When you see seven or eight splats, get ready for certain trouble. Of course, we don't want to label these STUPID boaters for life, who knows, with everyone knowing they are STUPID, some of them might change their ways. I'm all for second chances. So, after seven days, the splat would fall off, and harmlessly decompose into fish food or something that won't be harmful for the environment. After all, we're all green.
Some STUPID boaters, seeing the splat, might be so embarrassed that they wouldn't even leave the marina until the splats fell off, thus saving the rest of us, for a time, from their STUPIDITY. Of course, it could also raise some issues for those of us who don't play fair.
Imagine your dock neighbor has a bunch of splats on his hull, and you know he picked them up last Saturday on the water. You also know he's been too humiliated to take the boat out with them on and is waiting till next Sunday to go back out on the water to ply his STUPIDNESS on the rest of us once more. Late Friday night, you sneak up to his boat, and SPLAT, SPLAT, SPLAT, SPLAT! That takes care of business for another week.
That would be cheating. That would be a whole 'nother gun.

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