Daily Archives: March 25, 2013

The view from the side deck

Izzy’s penultimate night aboard Escape Velocity. Our hearts are heavy.



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Stop dragging my boat around

Our company continues, with Drew and Ericka aboard for a week, and a surprise visit by another Pittsburgh friend Mike, who used to live right around the corner and was part of our Christmas dinners several years in a row. We picked Mike up at the Raw Bar and had lunch before the very windy run back to Escape Velocity. There was a front moving through and we had 15-25 knots with gusts approaching 30 all day. As we were coming down the last canal toward Lake Sylvia my phone rang, which it never does, and I saw that it was Lisa from True Colors. I figured she was calling about our sundowner date that evening and decided to return the call when we got back to the boat where it’s quieter.

As we came under the canal bridge we saw there was someone on the bow of our boat, and there was a powerboat dangerously close to our bow, fishing their anchor up. It was Marty on our boat and we realized we had moved.

We pulled the dinghy up and struggled to hold her in the wind. “What happened?” we asked Marty.

“You dragged.”

We scrambled on board as Marty got in his dinghy and motored over to the powerboat. It looked to us like their anchor was fouled in ours and I ran up the side deck to see what was happening. The wind gusted and blew the brim of my hat down over my face and I ran full force into the port shroud, the heavy wire that holds up the mast. I was thrown backward and I could hear Lisa from the deck of True Colors yelling “Are you ok?”

“No!” I yelled back. I saw stars. After a few seconds I got my bearings back and ran to the bow. There was a young girl fiddling with the anchor on the powerboat. “Are you hooked?” I shouted to her. She just looked at me with no understanding of what was going on.

Meanwhile, Jack started the engines. We powered away from the two boats we had dragged too close to, then went out on the side deck together to discuss where to re-anchor. It was Sunday, and the lake was packed. There was very little swinging room and the wind was gusty and flukey. We picked a spot and while Jack manned the anchor windlass I powered us up to the anchor, then held us in the right spot while we dropped the anchor down again.

All the while we had Drew, Ericka and Mike standing back in horror at the sudden activity. Then Drew went on the bow to assist Jack while Ericka and Mike rolled up the sunshades so I could see out the side decks, then spotted for me as I kept the boat where we wanted it.

Eventually we were comfortable with our position and certain we were hooked well, and with the proper scope. Jack and I couldn’t understand what had happened, since we’ve been anchored in the same spot for a couple of weeks and well hooked. Jack thinks the powerboat snagged our anchor and dislodged it. Marty says it looked to him like we dragged onto the powerboat, although they were upwind of us. In any case, the young man in the powerboat offered to tow us where we wanted to be, and generally looked sheepish. A little later the police came through on their regular rounds and the powerboat hightailed it out of there as if they were afraid of being stopped.

After all the excitement we managed to have a brief visit with Mike.


The wind was predicted to continue until about 7 pm so to be sure we were safe, Jack and Drew took Mike back to the Raw Bar while Ericka and I stayed aboard to make sure we didn’t drag again. When Jack and Drew got back we had a nice sundowner aboard True Colors.


Back on Escape Velocity we had a family Sunday dinner like the old days, then Jack and I settled in to watch 60 Minutes and The Amazing Race. By the time The Good Wife came on Drew and Ericka retired to their cabin. Jack noticed that we’d swung 90 degrees from where we’d been, and we both remarked on how loud True Colors’ generator was. Jack went out to the cockpit, then immediately ducked his head inside and said, “Marce, we’re moving.”

I ran outside to find True Colors right at our stern. I could have touched it. In fact, Jack did. As I started the engines, Jack reached out and gave True Colors a shove and the two boats slowly moved away from each other. Then we noticed the man on the boat behind True Colors was on deck flashing a light trying to get someone’s attention.

When they heard the engines start, Drew and Ericka came out to help. Jack and I were totally calm, not least because the wind had completely died down and we weren’t in danger of hitting anyone. Also, the day boats had all left the anchorage leaving plenty of room for us to pick a better spot to re-anchor. Ericka rolled up the dodger so I could see and hear Jack. Drew fished out the portable spotlight and flashlights and went out on deck to help Jack. Jack and I conferred on deck again about where to drop the hook and we had the anchor up and moved in short order.

We had not dragged, but rather in the tight quarters we had to deal with for the earlier re-anchoring we had probably put out a bit too much chain so that when the tide and wind changed and everyone was pointing every which way – something that happens a couple times a day here in the lake — we got out of phase with the boats closest to us and swung too close to True Colors.

When we got buttoned up and shut the engines down, we all looked at each other and laughed. We agreed none of us would be sleeping much that night. In fact every one of us jumped at the least little sound and went outside to check our position, only to find the was someone else also checking. Ericka said she doesn’t know how we ever sleep on board.

In fact, this was incredibly unusual. We dragged once in the Hudson River in a storm, but had plenty of room and didn’t have to re-anchor until morning when the conditions had improved. And we dragged once in the ICW at Cape Canaveral when we were hit with an unpredicted squall from the wrong direction. But we had never dragged after being securely anchored for so long.

So Drew and Ericka got to experience the true nature of cruising: 99% boredom and 1% panic.


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