The lights of
the cruise ship were fading into the distance, so we donned our ‘Marriage Saving’ Mariner 500 Headset Communicators, and I stationed myself at the bow of the boat with the hopes that I could distinguish the tangible obstacles from the phantoms
that materialized before my straining eyes. Our spotlight came equipped with a short 6’ cord, and
the only outlets we had for its 12v plug were located in the cockpit. Don stayed at the helm, steering
and sweeping the beam across the night, evaporating the ghosts in my imagination and confirming the existence of very real,
very solid marker posts.
The communication that was going on between our headphones revealed that our nerves were frayed,
our bellies were empty, and our bodies were chilled and tired. We’d zigzagged in and out of the channel
as far south as we cared to, then headed north hoping to find respite in some illusive depths. Hours had
passed and it began to feel like we were going to spend the entire night cruising up and down the channel. Focusing
all my creative powers, I silently began a mantra to the universe – visualizing a kind boater coming along side and
guiding us to good anchorage. Then POOF - just like a genie in a Boston Whaler - the Coast Guard appeared.
– we are coming along side. Where are you coming from and where are you headed?”
just left Tarpon Springs to move south for a bit.”
“But you’re headed north now.”
guys are so literal. Don spent a fair amount of time clarifying that Clearwater was south of Tarpon Springs,
but our dock on Pasadees Key was north of the Clearwater Pass where we’d entered the bay. Apparently
our overly embellished answers heightened our security threat level.
“Permission to board?”
These boys were so polite. I knew this statement was not really a request but no matter.
I was so delighted by the universe’s efficient response to my mantra that I was ready to invite them all to stay
for dinner if they would just tell us where it was deep enough to drop our hook.
The captain of the CG vessel pulled alongside while two young officers effortlessly stepped onto Re Metau. I
enthusiastically took them to the warmth below to gather up the information they would surly request. Don
continued to goose the engine to keep us in motion while chatting with the captain about every mundane topic under the moon.
I kept thinking ‘Why doesn’t he just ask this guy where deep water is? So like a man
to refuse to ask for directions!’
“I have a 6’ draft and have to keep the boat moving in order to
stay in the channel and not run aground.”
“Do whatever is necessary to maintain control of your vessel.”
the captain asked the right question - why we’d been meandering up and down the Intracoastal for the past 3 hours.
“There’s good water right over there. Follow me!” Within moments
Don was setting the anchor and we were both settling ourselves into relaxed mode. I calmly and confidently
provided the Coast Guard with everything they requested and we received a clean boarding report. I didn’t
even have to bribe them with dinner. By 11:00 pm we were warm, fed and ready for bed. By
midnight’s low tide our keel was sitting on the bottom of the bay.
Thus go the highs and lows of life afloat.
I wouldn’t trade any one for the other. We love this breathtaking, roller-coaster