The Storm

Jeremy and I have been pretty fortunate when it came to sailing. Every day we have taken Tillicum out it has been ideal weather. Our luck could not hold out forever. We have now officially sailed our first storm. What possessed two novice sailors and one experienced seaman to take to the water on day with rain and winds blowing 30 knots? Well, it started with a trip up to the manatee river to get hauled out. We managed to find a cheap boat yard that would paint our bottom coat and allow us to do some of our own work on the inside. The day started out rough right from the beginning. We got a late start leaving due to me taking too long to get supplies and engine trouble, which included snapping a belt and springing a leak in our fuel line.

The trip itself was relatively uneventful and I spent most of it below nursing a hang over and catching up with people on the phone. When we arrived I was napping on the bench. drooling away1.jpg I was woken abruptly by the sound of a commotion in the cockpit. It seems that a small boat cut us off and blocked our entry onto the lift just after the guy at the marina gave us the all clear to come in. Bill had to pull some amazing “Captain Ron-like” moves in order to turn around in this ridiculously tiny marina without damaging our boat. captian Ron.jpg Once the offending boat moved we turned around and went back in only to fine that the tide was too low to get onto lift. The men at the dock gave us a slip in the marina, told us that they would pull us on Monday, and assured us that it was all going to be okay. After the adrenaline died down we realized that going with the cheapest marina was probably a bad idea. tinymarina2.jpg It was clear from looking at the boat yard that they did not usually deal with boats of our size. The marina was small, shallow and not easy to get in/out of. The office looked like a made up barn and shed adjoined to each other. I am not even going to tell you what the bathroom/shower was like. There were neither supplies nor food to be bought in the office and the workers in the yard hung about drinking cheap beer. Nobody really apologized to us for the incident that occurred on arrival nor did anyone commend Bill on his amazing save. The worse part came later in the evening when we felt the boat bang against the floor of the marina. Before long we were completely aground and leaning at a 45 degree angle. aproblem1.jpg Satisfied that the boat was safe for the time being, we decided to go for late dinner and find a beer festival that we had been told about. The beer festival, if you could call it that, was starting to close down once we got there. It was a sad affair involving miller light and greasy food. We ended up wandering around for a long time before we found a Thai restaurant still serving food. By the time we got back the worst of the low tide was over and we went to bed. The next day we deliberated on what to do about our situation. A storm had blown in and the low tide was supposed to be worse tonight. In other words, staying in that slip was a bad idea.
After much discussion and breakfast we decided to move the boat to another Marina in the area. We knew that sailing in the current weather would be challenging, but in comparison with the alternative it was the lesser evil. Jeremy and I had known of a very nice marina close by called the Twin Dolphins. Bill suggested that we check out the place in person first in order to avoid running into the same problems. After inspection we quickly decided that we would stay at the marina after I asked “hey, is that a hot tub?” Now we just needed to figure out how the heck we were going to get out of the small marina with the way the wind was blowing.
The plan to back out the slip and head out of the marina must have changed 3 times before the attempt, but the attempt itself seemed to happen at lightening speed. Bill backed us out as Jeremy guided the boat with the dock lines. I stood on deck and protected sides of the boat from the pilings. Jeremy leapt from the dock onto the bowsprit’s pulpit as we cleared the last piling. I met him on the bow to help fend off the pilings at the entry to the marina. As we stood on the bow the boat turned sharply to face the opening and we shot out into Manatee River. Standing on the bow with water splashing up over the deck was exhilarating. Jeremy and I stood on the bow holding on for dear life as I whooped and Jeremy yelled for me to get a life jacket on. It was awesome! I agreed to go back to the cockpit to put on my life jacket and I spent the rest of the trip steering the boat through the gray, choppy waters. storm1.jpg We arrived safe and sound with Bill steering us into the Marina. All in all, in was a pretty cool experience. Billstorm1.jpg

1 comments on The Storm

  1. captain ron's picture
    captain ron
    Wed, 03/18/2009 - 05:58

    The Miramar's (I guess it was the Tillacum then!) crew went through that whole experience without a glitch! We certainly learned a few lessons about working a Tayana 37 in tight spaces...

    Green water over the bow is always a kick when you're ready for it. Yes Mom, we're all wearing our life jackets! :)