…the weirdest shit happens!
Like that time in Rockland (just a few months ago in July ’22) when the four drunk dudes in a plastic-destroyer rowed up on us in the middle of the night, blowing my eyes out with a bright-assed strobe light, telling me to give them some gasoline…instead I (James) grabbed a large blunt object and told them to fuck off.
…or that time in Southwest Harbor when we got hit by a drifting lobster boat with me on the fender and Dena on the “What the actual fuck, dude!?”
The weirdest shit just happens sometimes on the water.
Last night for example. Here we are in Lake Sylvia, anchored at about 6:1 in tight quarters, completely surrounded by giant Catamorons…oh, my favorite. We had gales headed our way but enough protection that we didn’t expect rough water. I (Dena) would always want to be on at least 10:1 scope for high winds, but anchorages are sparse in Fort Lauderdale and this one is hella popular.
We were all settled in for the night and it was taking me (James) way too long to cook up those baby-bellas when all of the sudden we heard the tell-tale sound of people yelling at each other.
I went out on deck to discover a sailboat had dragged her anchor into the bulkhead of a very expensive McMansion and somehow managed to fend off before destroying too much of the local high-end property. They were underway, in the dark, with one running light out and starting to yell at each other.
From our boat I could tell they were a young binary couple. The woman was at the helm and the man was on the bow. They tried four…maybe five times to anchor to no avail when they were joined by a Captains Courageous in the dinghy from one of the anchored multi-million dollar Catamorons. He was dedicated to telling them where to go, meaning as far away from his boat as possible. In other words, he guided them directly on top of our anchor.
The wind hadn’t really come up yet so we knew their anchoring technique was faulty. Somewhat contentious conversation followed, with us explaining how much chain we had out and then recommending that they go to the local mooring field for a safe and quiet night.
They moved off and the Meddling Captain dinghied back to his Catamoron. James ate his burrito while I made mine and then…fuck. The kids were back and circling again!
James made an unexpected but good move and offered to let them raft with us. Better to have them secured to us than blowing down on us in the night! I put the last quarter of my burrito down on the plate and prepared to handle their lines. We had no idea what we were in for.
We put all our fenders out and told them to do the same, plus said they’d need to set up lines on the bow and stern. They circled some more and came in nice and slow only for us to discover they didn’t have any dock-lines set up. We let them go again so they could circle once more to set up dock lines. The young man (early 30’s maybe) didn’t seem to know what dock lines were. We instructed them upon their next approach and they ultimately got things arranged, or so we thought. She (Bow) did a good job on the helm and got them alongside, not too fast. We cleated their lines and added a midships line, considered and rejected multiple springs options, and slowly over the course of the conversation realized that they really did not know what they were doing.
I (James) mean,…nothing. They did not speak a word of salty nomenclature… The guy didn’t know what a cleat was so he made his bowline off on his life line! Now this was a 34ft Hunter sailboat with a full wind power and solar rig so we made the mistake of assuming way too much about these people. They knew not what they were in for when they bought that boat.
We got all settled aboard S/V S.N. Cetacea and congratulated one another on pulling off that tough maneuver in strong winds in the dark. Then they genuinely and very nicely revealed how absolutely clueless they were when it came to anchoring their vessel.
So we did the only thing we could…we gave them a crash course in anchoring. Now, this is no small feat when you really don’t have a language in common. I mean, they both spoke a network-version of English well enough but they had no idea what we were talking about. Dena did a great job drawing an anchoring process out for them–the physics of catenary and scope in plain English–and they were both bright and attentive but we really had no idea what they grasped from our impassioned descriptions of over twenty years of doing it right every single time. If only we’d had a Chapman’s aboard, we would have gifted it to them on the spot.
So we all went to sleep, Cetacea holding the two boats firmly on her CQR with 100 feet of scope and S/V Zola made fast alongside. The wind built throughout the night and James awoke at about 5 a.m. in a state of concern. Whatever it was he’d picked up on, he was right. We’d dragged the anchor about 50′ because of the extra strain of the second boat. First choice is to put out more chain, but that got us uncomfortably close to the catamoron behind us which was dangerously close to the bulkhead.
While we were paying out and then taking back in the chain, the young’uns woke and joined us on deck. The guy in the catamoron behind was up as well and urgently wanted to pull up his anchor and reset it…as soon as we got out of the way. Another couple of boats showed signs of life around the little anchorage area as folks checked their lay or reset like we needed to.
We had to kick them off. It was still pitch dark with nearly another hour before the pre-dawn light would make life a little easier, but the wind was going to have built too much by then. We could have waited, but the catamoron behind us couldn’t. I (Dena) talked over their options with them. 1) Pick up a mooring less than a mile away without needing to have any bridges opened or if those were all full 2) pass through the Las Olas bridge at night! in the dark! and check for room in the anchorage beyond.
Knowing that they didn’t have either the gear or the experience for a successful anchoring, I was hopeful they could just pick up a mooring…and then they revealed that they didn’t know what that was either or how to tie up to it! It was agonizing, giving them every bit of information we could throw at them and pointing out where they needed to go on a chart app and then just tossing their lines away and giving them a good shove.
Bow drove off briskly into the night and we have absolutely no idea what happened to them after that. We don’t really know their names and there’s no information about their boat online.
James hauled the anchor and we reset it farther toward the boats ahead of us. As we shortened scope, so did the catamoron behind us and we both reanchored. Us with our customary cool even though we still didn’t have room for the scope we prefer and them with the most vicious, hateful yelling display I’ve ever heard at what was now about 6 a.m.
Trying to go back to sleep was fruitless and when we gave up and made coffee, we realized that we had gotten behind a little buoy that’s meant to mark the edge of the official anchorage. It was tangling in our snubber, so James hauled that fucking anchor again and I adjusted the drop location to keep us farther away from the buoy.
What a night! Coffee gone, we celebrated our return to gale-wind-normalcy with, of course, tomato and mushroom eggs bennies.
Being a land lubber, I did not understand it all, but the point was made! Thanks so much for sending.
That was kind. Snugging up with another vessel was uncomfortable, I’m sure, especially people you know you can’t trust in someway.
I know the favor you did was not only for their benefit, but to minimize risk for yourselves and any other boat that crosses their path. For loners, you have such a knack for Community.
Glad you’re ok.
Long time reader, first time poster (although I met Dena when I ran into her at the Annapolis show back in 2017). It’s astounding the number of absolute newbies out there at the moment. They were lucky you were there.
Florida is an anti-cruiser clusterf*** once you get past Lake Worth. Grab the next window that comes along and get over here to the Bahamas. We’re in the Exumas now and would love to share sundowners with you. Kimberly on Pegu Club, Bristol 29.9.
Kimberly, I’m so glad you have commented! I do the same thing with the people I follow, though, so I get being a reader without commenting. Just…thanks.
I’m pretty sure that the narrative requirements of holding down a lucrative YouTube channel play into the, as you say, astounding number of newbies we see. It’s not just that folks are drawn to the life and jump aboard with all the best will and not a clue, it’s that they’ve been actually watching others celebrate the ignorance. I get that there’s not a lot of narrative tension in a well-researched and -executed sailing voyage, but isn’t that at least what we should be working toward?
Anyway, breaking our own rule against having anywhere specific to be at any specific time has kept us in the Keys until mid-March. Then we’re going to do our electric-engine conversion and…who knows?!?
Would you be amenable to us adding you to our site’s blogroll?
Common sense is a flower that doesn’t grow in everyone’s garden. And in some people too much intelligence seems to block the ability to use what common sense they might have.
It’s bemusing how often I can both like and fail to respect people.