|Saturday - Sept. 2, 1995
It's 14:30 and we haven't started packing yet. We planned all week to go sailing this weekend because we've got a three days. (Labor day) Last night Sharon started thinking it might be too hot. We messed around and didn't make up our minds until this morning.Then we had to go shopping for supplies. We never did find any powdered eggs. The closest I came was an egg substitute that ran $1.75 for half-a-dozen. #*%@!! that! I'll just bust up some eggs into a jar and take them that way.
It will be getting dark by the time we get to the lake, but that's OK. We'll just motor out to an island, anchor off and get a good night's sleep. The lake might less busy in the morning
|Sunday - Sept. 3 1995
I'm tired. We didn't leave until 20:00 last night. First Donya had car trouble. I had to boost her off so she could take her car to get it inspected. Every place we tried was too busy to take another customer that day. We never did get it done.By 16:00 we were ready to hit the road. I hitched up the trailer and did a light check.
Our ill-fated Gulf trip had yet one more nasty surprises in store for us. Salt water ruined some of the wiring. It was 20:00 before I got it fixed. Correction! Thought I had it fixed.The tail lights worked, the break lights worked. The signal blinkers worked when the headlights were off. I didn't try them with the headlights on. I should have. There is a short somewhere and the headlights are grounding out through the signal lights. They don't work with the headlights on. In addition the right wheel on the trailer is making a funny noise.
I couldn't find anything wrong. I checked it four times during the first twenty miles.Driving in the dark I was unable to see the trailer in my mirrors. That sixty mile trip lasted about an hour and forty five minutes, yet I was more exhausted than after the four and a half hour, two hundred and sixty mile trip home. By the time we got here, rigged and launched the boat, stowed our gear and made our berths it was 01:30. We just anchored off right by the launch ramp and went to bed.We got up by 06:30 and motored out to an island. We had breakfast, then all went back to bed. It's 12:30 now. The wind is blowing and I should be sailing. I just don't feel like it. Maybe later
|11:30 - Monday -Sept. 4 1995
I never did go sailing yesterday. I was just too tired. I went swimming and got burned. I felt like crap and went to bed by 20:00. I was up by 07:00 this morning and still have no energy. The first attempt at fixing breakfast was cut short by a rain squall. I never did put up the bimini so cooking in the cockpit was not an option. The rain stopped and I tried breakfast again. Second attempt also cut short by rain. The third time was a charm.
The wind is blowing and the weather is beautiful for sailing. We all feel so lousy we're just packing up to leave. I'll regret this later
|24:10 - Wednesday - Sept. 6 1995
Got up, went to work. Finished, came home. Been doing a lot of that lately
|23:00 - Thursday - Sept. 7 1995
Its been a long day. Since Monday I've been saying that I was going to lock myself in my office and do budget. Every day there has been some surprise or disaster I couldn't ignore. I promised Sharon I'd go to the bank dinner with her tonight, but I've still got a lot to do at work and planned to go back after the dinner. It was 21:15 when we got home. I should have gone back to the paper, but I didn't. I've got to stop dragging my butt around and get with the program
|23:10 - Friday - Sept. 8 1995
I finished payroll budget for next year. Thank goodness.
The classified server is going south. If we don't get the reload program to run we're going to be in trouble next week. Steve set it running before we left. I'll take forty eight hours to complete. The Quadrangle is tomorrow and I'm going to that. I'll have to opportunity to stop in and check on the program's progress while I'm there.
|22:45 - Saturday - Sept. 9 1995
The weather was beautiful. Highs in the eighties, breezy. There wasn't a very big crowd at the quadrangle. I had a scare with the classifieds. The dump for Monday didn't look like it was any good. I was able to get it into a usable format. The reload program is still running so re-dumping was not an option. Reload should be finished in about seventeen hours
|21:30 - Sunday - Sept. 10 1995
The weather has been beautiful. When I wake up in the mornings the cool air and the sound of water in the fountain remind me of the lake. It makes me think of waking up on the boat, of climbing out of the warmth of the cabin into the cool of the cockpit. I can feel the boat gently rock while I sip coffee
Sunrises on the lake this time of year are incredible. The morning air is cooler than the water. Tendrils of mist rise up and chase each other over the surface. The occasional morning breeze will brush the water knocking aside the wraiths playing there. On the mountains surrounding the lake water has been collecting in stream beds. Residual heat in the rocks warm the water producing vapor. From the lake these rising columns of vapor look like ghostly smoke from the camp fires of Indian spirits also starting their day
There are changes taking place under the water too. All summer the sun has been heating the water at the surface of the lake. Cooler water stays at the bottom. By the end of summer the thermocline, or boundary between layers of different temperature, becomes more apparent.Once, last summer, I was diving to the bottom, at about 25 feet I saw what I thought was the bottom coming up. Putting out my hand and expecting to rebound from a solid bottom I was shocked to pass right through. I found myself in dark freezing water. A layer of silt had collected on the cooler denser water thick enough to look solid. The bottom was five feet further down under a layer of very cold water
There is a psychological difference in these layers too. It's shocking to be suddenly immersed in
cold water. You can feel yourself being swallowed by the cold. The line of frigid water moves over your body from your out-stretched hands, to your head, your chest, and finally your toes. You're suddenly alone in the cold. Your courage has been left back up there in the bright warm water. The monsters that couldn't possibly exist up there are down here just out of sight in the murk. They're watching you, waiting for the second you break for the surface. Then, as you race for the warmth and light with bursting lungs, the giant gar or toxin spawned mutant makes a mad dash, nipping at you toes as you burst into the air
As the weather cools the water at the top cools and sinks. The next layer of warm water rises and also begins to cool. The single drastic thermocline at about 25 or 30 feet breaks up into 4 or 5 less distinct layers. The top layer can be as shallow as 5 feet. By late October the water no longer welcomes you. Fish move into deeper warmer water. The silt and algae of summer dies and the water takes on a sterile clarity. The lake invites you to stay on the surface, providing wind for sailing and driftwood for fires. She has private things to do beneath the waves before she will be ready to invite you back next summer.
|22:00 - Thursday - Sept. 14 1995
Shortly after lunch today Steve and I were working on something, I don't remember what, when we were paged over the intercom. The PBX was acting up and the operator's phone wouldn't ring. If she kept her eyes on the monitor she would see incoming calls and answer them, but she wouldn't be able to do anything else for watching the screen. We checked the obvious stuff first. "Is the speaker on and is the volume turned up?""Oh yes." she says, "It's on and the volume is all the way up. It'll probably scare the hell out of us when it comes back on."
The problem occurs late in the process. Calls come in and are correctly routed, the proper information is displayed on the screen and the operator's switches all work. The stupid thing just won't ring. The malfunction must be close to the speaker. Suspecting a rheostat I twist the volume knob back and forth several times. No static, no crackle. nothing. It's starting to look like a
To find out for sure I'll need to crack the case. There's a problem though.On this model the power cord plugs into the case which then plugs into the power supply module. There is no way to get the case off with out interrupting the power to the console and causing it to reset. The process of resetting will take about 20 minutes during which time the phone system will be down. Steve and I were talking, trying to decide whether it was better to bring down the system for a half-hour or to require the operator to stare at the monitor for the rest of the afternoon. From the distressed look on her face I don't think she found either prospect very appealing.
In a half hearted attempt to find another solution I press my face against the speaker grill trying to peer in through the slits, hoping to find a loose wire that I can jostle back into place with a paper clip. Trying to be helpful the operator picks this moment to offer one more tidbit on information. "I think the pager still works," she says punching a button on her keyboard
She was right about 3 things. (1) the pager did work, (2) the volume was turned all the way up and (3) it did scare the hell out of us. With my head blasted away from the speaker grill and the ringing in my ears slowly subsiding I start to hear the words I can see Steve mouthing. "So much
for the speaker idea."
Making my way back to the keyboard I began quizzing her about some of the settings. "What do these buttons do?" I ask pointing to a series that looked suspiciously like mode settings."Nothing'' she says punching a few to demonstrate. Almost immediately her phone starts ringing at full volume.
"Oh!" she exclaims, eyes wide, "You fixed it." "No I didn't I say. "You punched the button. She looks at me as though I've said something clever or witty, then picks up the intercom and announces to the sales floor that "I've fixed it." Her supervisor comes over and asks me what had been wrong with the set. "I don't know," I tell him.
"The important thing is, you've got it working." he says.
"I didn't do anything!" I insist."
"Well thank goodness you were here to do it." he answers
Steve looks at me, shrugs his shoulders and moves off toward the elevator. I follow. We ride to our floor in silence. As the door opened Steve sticks his hands in his pockets. Stepping out the door he says, "sometimes it's easy."
|15:20 - Sunday - Oct. 1-1995
The weather is warm and sticky and there's a promise of rain, for which we would be grateful. I was talking to Philip Ball today. He hadn't heard the story of our trip to the Gulf, but he had heard about it. It seems that my dear friends have greatly enjoyed the harrowing tale of our vacation. Few attempt to tell the tale themselves but many have endorsed the adventure, sending others to hear it from the survivors very lips. The reputation of our saga grows as more and more listeners spread the word of its worth. As time goes by the few remaining souls unenlightened of our travails attend my every word with growing expectations. I fear that in a very few weeks Cesel B. DeMill himself would be unequal to the task. The story is interesting, if only to me, and I think that I shall set it down before it alights to that place where dwell memories long unvisited by mortal minds
Sorry. I do get carried away sometimes.
|15:35 - Monday - Oct. 2 1995
Recreational sailors can be divided into three basic types: Day-sailors, Cruisers and Gunk-holers.
Day-sailors are just what the name implies. These people will take out a boat during the day, but are back at the dock by night. They never sail a distance farther that can be reached in half a day so they stay in a small, well known area. Their boats are generally not equipped to be lived aboard. They never plan to weather a storm in the open and they won't carry a lot of provisions
Cruisers are at the other end of the spectrum. Cruisers live aboard their vessels. Prone to make oceanic crossings, they spend many nights out of sight of land. Their vessels hold course 24 hr's. a
day until the next port of call. These sailors provision for weeks at a time. They keep their vessels sea worthy realizing that at some point in their career they will have to ride out bad weather. Some cruisers have regular jobs and cruise only on long vacations or sabbaticals. Others adopt a life style that allows them to cruise year-around. Some will cruise for a few years, living off savings and odd jobs. Others will just stay on the water, taking odd jobs at each port until they have enough money to strike out again on the next leg of their journey
Gunk-holers fall in-between Cruisers and Day-sailors. Tied to land, they sail on vacations and weekends. They almost never spend the night out of sight of land. The name "Gunk-holer" comes from the sound an anchor makes when thrown into the water. The Gunk-holer does not make transoceanic passages. He sails along enjoying the scenery, often without a particular destination in mind. When night comes he looks for some appealing beach or cove then, "Gunk". A Gunk-holing vessel is provisioned for comfort more than endurance
|15:45 - Tuesday - Oct. 3 1995
When the first "Vacation" movie came out all of my friends hastened to let me know that I had to have been the inspiration for it. Sitting in the theater, watching Chevy Chase survive some disaster,
Sharon also remarked on the similarity. The words barely cleared her mouth when Brandon, then about 3-years-old and sitting on my lap, spilled his soft drink. Several patrons enjoyed my adventures as much as Chevy's. It's amazing how the same incident that seems so comical when it happens to someone else can be so aggravating when it happens to me
|14:05 - Wednesday - Oct. 4 1995
Most people think about their vacation all year around. First you make vague plans, trying to coordinate your schedule with your spouse's and picking a time when you can go to the place you've selected, or do what you want to do. So it was with me.I've desperately wanted to get my boat into salt water.
The idea of gunk-holing down the coast is a fantisy I've been wanting to live. Any place I pick
will have to fall within certain parameters. I'm pulling a 22 ft. boat with a Mitsubshi Mighty Max extended cab pickup. That's a lot of boat for a truck that size. I don't want to go more than 500 miles maximum, and I can't climb a mountain. A quick glance at a map shows that the only salt water thus reachable is that little bite out of Texas we like to call the Gulf of Mexico
Sharon doesn't share my enthusiam for the ocean. She wants to spend our vacation in a lake, but she's willing to go along with me. I intend for this trip to show her something. I thought that we would have such a great time that she will begin to share my salt water dreams.To say that my plans didn't work out is putting it mildly.
The trip was a disaster. She didn't gloat or say "I told you so," but she's made it clear that
she's through with ocean sailing. I don't blame her. For a few months I was convinced that
the yearning to sail on the ocean had been beaten out of me. I was so happy to be back
home that I had no desire to go to sea.
It's back. As time goes on the urge grows stronger. There are a lot of lakes to be sailed and I'll just have to be satisfyed with them for a few years. Maybe when we've had several years of sailing experience, one of us will feel differently. It might even be me.
|15:30 - Thursday - Oct. 5 1995
Every one does silly things now and then, but some of us take it to an art form. Our long planned trip to the Gulf was soon to be a reality. On the weekend our vacation began we finished with last minute purchases and packing.
Brandon had an engagement at church Sunday night he couldn't get out of so we weren't going to leave until after that. With luck and careful preparation we would be on the road by 20:00. I would drive all night and we would be on the beach Monday morning. Four people and one dog were going. We were pulling the boat so we had to take the truck. We first planned to take the truck and a car. As the time to leave drew closer, Sharon became more and more determined that she did not want us in two vehicles.
We bought a padded boat seat and mounted it in the cargo area behind the seat of the truck inside the cab. There was enough room for Brandon to sit transversally behind the seat, his back to one wall of the truck and his legs extending across to the other side. Sharon, Donya and me were in the front seat. The Bed of the truck had the usual sailing/camping stuff in it. I left a small hole up close to the cab for the dog. The boat, following behind, was heavily laden with supplies and equipment for a week of sea-side paradise
The planned departure time of 20:00 came and went. We didn't. It was 23:45 before we finally pulled out, hungry but determined get on the road.
We decided to stop and eat later. My uneasiness over the strain I was putting on the truck melted away with the miles. We reached the half way point about 03:00 the next morning. A few miles before reaching Nacogdoches my complacency disappeared with a loud bang and heavy jolt. Suddenly wide awake, after fighting drowsiness for several miles, I looked in the rear view mirror. In the blackness all I could see was a large shower of firey sparks. I later learned that the trailer had thrown a wheel. What I was seeing in the mirror was the trailer being dragged down the road on its axial. I eased the vehicles onto the side of the road. Discovering the wheel gone I grabbed a light. I was afraid that someone would hit the wheel if it were still on the road. There was no danger of that, I never saw it again. We searched for more than five hours over more than 6 miles of road, and never found that wheel.
The sparks I had seen were the U-bolts that hold the axial on being ground away. To repair them I needed new U-bolts and a new tire and rim. There was no hope of getting anything until morning. By the time we got pulled over and took stock of the situation it was 04:00. I told Sharon that we might as well go on into Nacogdoches and get a motel room.
"For 2 hours!" she said. "We're not going to spend a fortune on rooms for 2 hours!"
I put a propane lamp in the cockpit of the boat, unhitched the trailer and pulled the truck further
into the ditch. We spread a tarp in the ditch, fished the sleeping bags out of the boat and bedded down for the rest of the night on the side of the road. I awoke a few hours later to find Sharon and Brandon again beating the ditches trying to fine the errant wheel. I joined them and we spent the next 2 hours vainly searching.
Giving up on the wheel we went into town to buy the materials needed to get back on the road. It shouldn't have surprised me to discover that the U-bolts I needed weren't standard automotive parts. We met many of the local merchants who helpfully suggested another store or shop they thought might be able to help us. Our quest lasted most of the morning and took us to parts of
Nacogdoches that many long term residents are probably unacquainted with. We eventually
aquired what we needed and returned to the boat.
While I made repairs, Sharon and the kids tried again to find the original wheel. By 12:00 we were back on the road. Imagine four people who had slept in a ditch then spent 5 hours engaged in hard physical activity cramed into a space intended for two. Hungry, bleary eyed and smelly I looked at my watch. By that time I should have been blissfully sleeping on a sunny beach. A Smart person
would have turned back right then. A smart person wasn't driving the truck though. I was.
|16:00 - Friday - Oct. 6 1995
I stood on the beach, looking at the horizon and saw no land. I knew that if I were floating on the farthest point that I could see, I would still see no land on the other side of the water. This was a world with with I had no experience. There were tides and ocean currents. Marine life, weather and water conditions I had never before encountered. Fully aware of my ignorance I solicited information from virtually every person I ran across, native to that region. I managed to get a lot of advice from people who didn't know a thing about sail boats. One old man scratching his chin
finally asked, "How tall is that mast?""About 25 feet." I answered proudly.Pointing to the toll bridge spanning the channel from the bay, where I was camped, to the gulf, where I
wanted to go, he said, "There's only 16ft. of clearance there
"The mast on a 22ft. Venture
can be lowered and raised at sea, but it probably shouldn't be. Sharon retreated to the
relative safety of the cabin while the kids and I lowered the mast. When the boat is firmly
strapped to the trailer lowering the mast is a chore - in rolling seas it's an adventure. The
job was completed with damage only to dignity, and we motored under the bridge.
Entering the gulf and even larger swells we prepared to reverse the process. The kids were
placed in appropriate locations and given last minute instructions. Gauging the roll of the
swells I grabbed the mast and heaved. There is a crucial point at which the mast is high
enough to be difficult to handle, but not high enough to get support from the shroud lines.
At exactly this point a wave hit the boat. I managed to keep the mast from going
over the side, but I paid a price in the muscles in my back and arms. With the
last of my strength we raised the mast. Trembling with the strain and exhaustion I was at
last under sail in the gulf. My relief was short lived. Minutes later I was jarred by the
unsettling sensation of the keel hitting sand. Glancing at the depth sounder for the first time, I saw a line of "Es" across the display indicating that the water was too shallow to
get a reading. Looking over the side I could see sand in the trough of each wave. The surf
was running about 2 1/2 ft. Running hard aground in surf that high would be bad business.
Standing on the comings, holding the boom for support I looked for a deeper channel. For
the next quarter mile we continued bottoming out in the troughs. Eventually I got a
reading on the depth sounder. Clawing my way upwind I put 1/2 mile between us and the
beach. I was still in only 6ft. of water.
The next 2 hours were pure heaven. Sailing down the coast with a steady land breeze I noticed that once I set the sails, I didn't have to touch them until I changed course. The boat would leap from the top of one wave to the face of the next throwing salty spray over the deck. She and I were having a blast. We were the only two having fun. Brandon was bored, Donya was sea sick and Sharon was terrified.
We decided to go ashore for a while. I made course for the beach and sent Brandon to the bow to ready the anchor. Brandon took his place as we approached land. With more than 100 yd's still separating us from the beach, we again lost sounder readings. I could hardly believe the water was that shallow, but not wanting to take chances I decided to anchor until I could take stock of the situation. On my command Brandon heaved the anchor, bought new for this trip and attached to the old anchor line I had been meaning to replace. It flew in a graceful arc for 2 ft. then snapped tight as the hopeless snarl of rope reached the limit of line it would release."Dad!" Brandon called looking back at me with eyes wide."Try to get it untangled." I hollered back. We were still making for the beach and the sounder still said "EEEEEE." I held course for a few minutes more then, deciding that Brandon was going to need help with the anchor line, I turned the tiller hard over heading back toward open water.
Just as we came parallel with the beach it seemed that God reached out of heaven and gave us a mighty slap. The Keel dug firmly into the sand as a 21/2 or 3 ft wave crashed into us. A tube of water 21/2 or 3 ft. in diameter and 22 feet long weighs a couple of tons. Moving at about 10 miles-per-hour it packs a hell of a wallop.The boat was knocked on her side throwing all hands to the deck.
Just as we began to recover our footing the assault was repeated. I don't remember the exact number of cycles we went through before I was spurred to action, but eventually I realized that I
must act, or see my vessel destroyed. Sailing off the sand was out of the question.
Motoring off would have been possible but I had no faith I could lower and start the
motor while we were being so violently pitched about. There was only one course of
action left and I took it. Jumping over the side I found myself in water that was alternately
ankle or waist deep depending on what part of a wave you were in. I made my way to the
bow. Our only hope was to get her nose pointed into the oncoming breakers so her sleek
prow could cut through the waves deflecting their energy. I caught her on a crest and
pushed as she came down the following slope. I needed to swing her 90% before the
trough came and planted her in the sand. I was little more than half way when, with a
horrible thump, she was grounded waiting for the hammer blow of the next wave. Planting
my feet I stiffened myself determined to not lose ground. As the water came on she lifted
off the sand going straight up, but not an inch back. She rose higher, her deck now
towering over my head. The wave's crest arrived with an ear ringing slap against her hull.
It tried to roll her over on top of me, a danger I hadn't considered. I could hear gear
sliding across the deck as she healed over blocking out the sky. Just as I thought all was
lost, her stern dug into the sand and she held, stubbornly refusing to crush her captain. The
crest moved aft lifting her stern off the sand, but by now her nose was clear and she
jumped triumphantly into the trough, swinging the last few degrees we so desperately
needed. Physically spent I stood holding he bow as much for support as to support her.
The boat and I had not been alone in the struggle. As I jumped into the water one, or both,
of the kids had asked, "What can we do?""Clear that line," I answered.
Somehow, on that pitching, heaving deck, fighting to keep from being thrown down, they
had untangled the snarl. Now, when I desperately needed the anchor line, they had it ready
for me. Sharon too had her hands full. Fighting her terror she refused to succumb to panic.
Despite the danger of being trapped in the cabin should the boat be rolled, she went below
clearing the deck for me and the kids. Wedging herself in as best she could, she did her
best to keep lose gear from smashing around. Unable to see the oncoming waves, she had
no warning before each new shock. Alone in the cabin, her ride could not have been
comfortable. On the bow Brandon was straining to hand me the anchor. Taking it, I told
him to go off the stern and try to keep the waves from pushing us further into shallow
water. Donya stayed on the bow paying out line as I carried the anchor into deeper water.
When I was 30 yards off the bow the crest of each wave broke over my head. I've been
blessed with good lungs and I was going to need them. "Secure the line and go help your
brother," I told Donya. Taking a deep breath I went to the bottom placing the anchor by
hand. I sat on the bottom, put my feet on top of the anchor and drove the long blades
deeply into the sand. I got a firm hold on the anchor line and pulled. When the slope of the
line told me that the boat was almost directly overhead I went to the surface greedily
gulping air. The water was now deep enough that the kids were having a hard time
keeping their feet on the bottom. They were having a problem trying to keep the nose
pointed out to sea."Hold it for just a minute," I said. "Once I get the anchor set we'll be
all right." Going back to the bottom I pulled the anchor from the sand and began to crab my
way along the bottom headed for deeper water. It was easier to stay on the bottom than to
fight the pounding surf above. When the line came tight I again placed the anchor and
made for the surface. The water was now over my head even in the troughs and I lost
sight of the boat as I dropped into each valley. Lifted to the crest of a wave, I saw the
boat."OK, let go," I hollered at the kids. Donya immediately scrambled back aboard to
check on her mother. Brandon stayed at the stern ready for action if the line didn't
hold.I stayed where I was, watching the boat as I came to the top of each new wave. Her
nose stayed pointed out to sea and I knew the line was holding. Finally I dove to the
bottom for one last check on the anchor. Wave action had pushed me toward the beach,
and I had to follow the line back into deeper water until I came to the anchor. It was
holding fast. I made my way back to the boat. My family was puting things in order and we got
ready to go ashore.
|09:30 - Saturday - Oct. 7 1995
I stood at the water's edge watching my boat almost 100 yards off shore. It had taken 3 trips to get everything we wanted ashore.
The next few hours were peaceful and relaxing. Our original plan had been to stay on the beach until dark and fix dinner there. Realizing the difficulties that lay between us and the camp we decided to leave by 16:00. Returning to the boat I discoverd that I had not secured the halyards. Looking up the mast I could see the ends of the rope needed to raise the sails 20 ft. out of my reach. We would have to motor back. I was disapointed. I knew that we would not take the boat out again and now, because of my own incompetence, I was going to miss a last sail. The waves were still close to 3 ft. Running with them the boat had a tendancy to surf down the front of each wave. Eventually the wave would pass under us. As we went over the top and slid down the back the boat would lose forward speed. As the next wave came on it would look as though it was going to swamp us, but the boat would always mount the face and again accelerate forward as it surfed. This is quite safe, but can be unsetteling to someone not comfortable on the water. By the time
we reached the mouth of the bay, Sharon was exhausted from nevous tension.
We lowered the mast and motored under the bridge. I stayed further from shore this time trying to find deeper water. We saw the tent as we cleared a point 1/2 mile into the bay. Now, with our camp in sight, we again started hitting bottom.The bay is protected from the surf so we weren't being pounded, but I had to find a channel of some kind if we were going to get home. No matter what direction I chose we eventually ran aground. I finally tried to retrace of course only to find a ridge between me and the channel. The tide was going out and the water was steadley dropping. Brandon and I got out at started pushing. The keel was now dragging bottom. It took all of our strenght to keep the boat moving, but we had to get off that bar before the water went out from under us. I worried about stepping on a sting ray, but didn't say anything. Every now and again Brandon would cry out in alarm as a crab scuttled over his foot. Dripping with sweat and shaking from the effort we continued pushing. We would hit a ridge then try a new direction.
We pushed for hours, crossing and recrossing our path until we finaly jolted to a stop hard aground. The Tide had dropped me into a large but shallow depression on the top of a sand bar that was miles long and hundreds of yards wide.The boat wasn't going anywhere until the tide came up. I started walking toward the camp to see if we could get back on foot. No dice, I only got about 75 yards. There was a deep channel over the ridge. I had been warned against trying to swim this close to the pass. Several hundred square miles of water drain out through this narrow pass when the tide goes out. A man had been killed here the week before when he was washed out to sea.A boat came by and I flagged it down. The sole occupant of the boat was an old man whose weather beaten face spoke of years at sea. He looked knowingly at my boat and said." Grounded." It wasn't a question. "You'll have to wait on the tide."
"When's the next tide?" I asked.
"About 1:00 in the morning." he said. "Can I take your family to shore?"
"I'll see what they want to do." I said. I went back to the boat and we had a family meeting. We had put up the tent just to reserve a spot. Everything we had was on the boat. The refridgerator and all of our food as well as the stove and butane were here. "We'll just wait here with you," Sharon said. As I was leaving to go back and tell the old man, we saw him leave. I found out later that he was hard of hearing and had never understood that I was going to ask my family what they wanted. After a while when I hadn't returned he assumed that I had told he we would stay.
I was reaching the limits of physical endurance. Sharon setteled down in the cockpit to read. The kids were using the lowered mast as a vollyball net and were trying to dodge the crabs as they played. I went to the bow and lay down hoping to get a couple hours of sleep. I settled down using a life preserver as a pillow and the lowered jib sail as a blanket. I was just drifting off when I heard a low distant rumble. I pulled the sail over and tried to ignore it. I listened to it grow louder for several minutes.
After a time I heard Brandon say, "Mom. Is that lightning?"
"Oh my God!" I heard Sharon gasp. "Guy!"
The eastern horizen was covered with an ugly black and blue cloud. The setting sun from the west threw a little of its red and yellow light on the storm's face. Whiter clouds on the advancing edge picked up this color. The effect was of a bruised mass dripping bloody puss. It was heading right for us. The waves it would kick up would beat the grounded boat to pieces washing her and her hapless crew out to sea. I went back to the edge of the sand bar waving my arms in the air and hollering, hoping to attract attention. No one came by. The sun went down and the storm got closer. I finally gave up and went back to the boat. We sat in the boat trying to come up with a plan. After about an hour we noticed the running lights of a boat. It made a large circle around us and it soon became appearant that someone was trying to get to us. I walked to the edge of he sand bar and discovered that it was a boat of the U.S. Coast Guard.
"Sir," one of them asked. "How did you get a sailing vessel this far into the bay?"
"You must have an adjustable keel." another offered.
"Yeah." I said. "I can raise my keel and not draw much water, but for crying out loud, the sand's gotta be wet! I thought there was water in the ocean."
"Sir, you're in a bay off the Gulf," one of them explained. After some discussion I put out both anchors and the Coast Guard took us to shore. I then learned that the bay was inhabited by hammerhead sharks and that attacks in shallow water were common. The camp hostess had seen us, and realizing our danger, called the Coast Guard.
She told us to go get cleaned up then to come to her trailer. When we arrived she had fixed us a meal of chillie and corn. We finished with ice cream and iced tea. She let me use her phone to call the Coast Guard office and get tide information. The high tide I needed would be at 08:00 the next morning. She helped me arange a ride out to the boat for that time, and we went back to the tent for the night. Before climbing into the tent, we took one last look at the boat stranded in the bay.
Her beautiful white hull stood out aginst the angry black clouds in the distance behind her. We could see her reflection on the water when lightning flashed."She looks like the Minnow," said Sharon. We wearly crawled into the tent, not knowing if she would be there in the morning. During the night, as we slept the sleep of pure exhaustion, the storm turned and went out to sea.The boat was still there the next morning and I brought her in.
|13:15 - Thursday - Nov. 16 1995
Like locusts they are descending. Relatives and friends we have asked for years to come see us are on their way, right now all at the same time.
My family and I run through the house bumping into each other, panicking, and snarling at each other. There's too much to do and not enough time. The house has got to be cleaned. I mean really clean, not just the appearance of clean that we usually go for. We will have people stuffed into every nook and cranny. There is no place to hide the junk. My daughter is getting married the day after tomorrow. Today is the day the we realize there are no more days to which we can put things off. As the list of last-minute things gets longer, both time and tempers get shorter. I glance longingly out the back window at the ladder hanging on the side of the tool shed. Jokes about eloping don't seem so funny anymore.In those precious moments when I have time to think I realize that in a few days, after the noise and bustle, the quiet I've longed for will envelope the house in a strangle hold. In my heart I'll know that more than friends and relatives have left.
My daughter has been away before. When she left for college we had to get used to her absence, but we always knew that she would be coming home. There was a part of her that was still here.
There will always be a part of her here, but another part will be leaving Saturday after the
wedding. She will still "come home for a visit," but our house will no longer be the home
she lives in. From this day forward memories and important events in her life will center
around another home. Her home. A home that I'm not part of. The wedding is a joyful event. I'm looking forward to watching her grow into this phase of her life. I'm anticipating many joyful years with grandchildren. But there is also sadness.
Weddings are often compared to funerals and I'm beginning to understand why that comparison is so appropriate. Something will pass away this weekend and I will mourn its loss. The house
will be clean next week. We've thrown out a lot of junk. I just hope it won't be too empty.
|15:05 - Tuesday - Jan. 21 2003
(An e-mail from Guy Wheatley in Texarkana Texas, USA to Guy Wheatley in Exmouth England)
I think I told you the long sad story leading up to my replacing a perfectly good water pump. Some people, having wasted time and money, would have learned a lesson. I however, am made of sterner stuff! Me! Learn a lesson? Ha!
The other problem we have occasionally involves the starter. Sometimes
you hit the key, and nothing happens. The gauges will peg, and the lights
will go dim, but nothing else happens. Usually if you just wait a little
while, or if you jiggle the shift, it will eventually start.
More verbose speculation on genealogy and theology.
I’m not sure exactly how, but some way, THIS IS HUSSIEN’S FAULT!!
Wish me luck.