evening fell, we decided to take the dinghy to a marina cafe we’d frequented in the past where we hoped to enjoy some
good live music and adult beverages. To our dismay, we found parking meters at the public access dock, along with a sign that
stated ‘These Docks Intended for Boats Over 30 Feet in Length’. Reasoning that the phrase ‘Intended
for’ was not the same as ‘Restricted to’, we went ahead and tied up our 10’ Dinky Duck
and paid the $2 parking fee. I perused the menu while Don questioned the waitress about the possibility of a band when we
came to the realization that the relaxed seaside tavern had changed into a stuffy, overpriced bistro.
Just as Don and I
concluded staying would prove too costly for our appetite, another dinghy pulled up behind ours. “Let’s save him
the parking fee, give him our ticket and go someplace else!” Don darted over to the dock and ensued in a very long conversation
with the disembarking family. We all met up at the entrance of the restaurant, where I was introduced to Leighia and Cameron
and their children - the crew of Tranquility. There - among thousands of boaters, we’d run into our new neighbors! They
expressed their gratitude for our generosity, and proposed meeting up sometime before leaving the anchorage.
the next day with the masses at the boat show, drooling over a multitude of marine gadgets and expensive yachts. Among the
crowd we encountered many old dock mates as well as our new acquaintances, Leighia and Cameron. The more we talked to them,
the more Don and I felt these two were kindred spirits. Owners of a cruising business, Trans Marine Pro, Leighia and Cameron specialized in renewable energy resources. Leighia extended an invitation to a potluck dinner they were
hosting on Tranquility Sunday evening. We were both anxious to see Cameron’s onboard machine shop, and so happily accepted.
Sunday morning wind began to wane as the sun brightened the sky. When evening approached, we gathered up our contribution
to the evening’s fare and dinghied over to Tranquility to join the others. The salon was filled with lots of interesting
people, delicious food and spirited dialogue. Before long, the conversation turned to the plight of Gravity Storm, who
had left the basin earlier. We discussed the poor holding, debated the effectiveness of different types of anchors, and boasted
about our big Bruces. Like Re Metau, Tranquility has hanging on a Bruce anchor, albeit much heavier. In the end,
we all agreed that it could have happen to any of us, and were silently grateful that fate hadn’t chosen any of us.
returning to Clearwater, we received an invitation from old Bradenton dock mates and friends Ted and Linda, to join them at
the Dolphin Cruising Club Christmas party. All the attendees were sailors, and the event was held on the top floor of a premier
location in St. Pete overlooking the bay, promising to be a fabulous place to watch the holiday boat parade. We were delighted
to attend. Ted introduced us to some of the guests seated at our table, then accompanied us to the balcony to watch the spectacle
of lights floating around the Vinoy basin below. Tranquility was still moored to the south, where Don and I had anchored the
week before. As we gazed down into the bay, Ted began sharing a traumatic anchor dragging experience that happened to
one of the guests at our table, Gary, in that very cove.
Don and I confirmed that we’d found poor holding there
ourselves, and began sharing the event we’d witnessed. When we mentioned ‘Gravity Storm’, Ted laughed
at the irony. He clarified that the incompetent skipper we encountered in Bradenton bought Gary’s first boat and never
changed the name. Like many boat owners, Gary retained the name for his new boat, and we were in fact talking about him! We
were anxious to return to our table and solicit Gary for his firsthand account. Given the warmth of the night, I was
fairly certain the various state of undress caused most of us, Don and I included, to hesitate from going up on deck.
Gary confirmed this as a fact, noting that his bare body and his barely conscious state had him in quite the quandary.
We all laughed, having had the same experience. When dealing with an impending disaster on deck in a hurried half stupor,
one tends to function like a two year old just learning how to dress. Since fellow boaters arrived to provide assistance,
Gary opted to struggle into some pants.
Luckily, the seawall was eroded underneath, so the hull was spared. Only some lifeline stanchions were damaged. With
his wife Sharon at the helm, Gary hauled the useless hook up and had her motor back and forth while he collected his thoughts
and his pride. “Were we the laughing stock of the basin?” I assured Sharon that everyone at the potluck understood
it could happen to anyone. “It was the strangest thing! The anchor just bounced across the bottom. It never turned
and took hold.” When he told us it was his 35lb Bruce that let loose, the same type of anchor that held both Re
Metau and Tranquility, my heart skipped a beat.
Having survived with little damage, they were able to laugh about the
whole episode. But then Gary stated “I’m still mad about the parking fine I got for tying up my dinghy at
the public docks!”