Sea — February 2004
By Capt. Bill Pike
We Have the Technology
|Part 2: The specifics of the story unfolded to a rapt audience.|
Then, as if to add further oomph to the response, he jerked a haughty thumb towards the helm station, which was fitted out with some of the best navigational gadgetry money can buy. The photographer and I cast an appreciative glance. Under protective covers emblazoned with the name of a famous manufacturer were a 72-NM radar, a chartplotter with WAAS GPS sensor, a DSC-type VHF, a color depthsounder, a color fishfinder, and numerous other odds and sods. “We have the technology, as they say,” the captain smiled urbanely, “and besides, we know the area quite well.”
The photographer looked at me. I looked at the photographer. Just for grins, we explained the gameplan one more time, despite the growing impatience of our interlocutors. Then we departed the scene to rendezvous with our helicopter. It had been agreed that we’d wait on the ground at the heliport until one or both of the captains let us know via cellphone that they were in position on the bay. The sun was just starting to break free of the horizon as we drove to the heliport. Wind and seas were cooperating. Things seemed okay.
We settled in at the heliport’s office to wait. Time began to tick by slowly, then more slowly, then finally with the glacial quality characteristic of a dentist office waiting room. The photographer was the first to break down and check his watch. “Huh,” he said, giving me a questioning look from the old, overstuffed chair he was seated in. From behind a desk piled high with paperwork, the heliport’s dispatcher gave me a questioning look as well.
“They should have called by now,” I sighed, just about the time the photographer’s cellphone rang. The one-sided conversation that followed was astonishing.
“No!” said the photographer, obviously aghast. “Both boats... aground! A collision! You had a collision?”
The specifics of the story unfolded to a rapt audience. Our two captains had been navigating via “local knowledge” on the bay, one vessel leading the other, apparently at a pretty good clip. When the first one hit an oyster bar and came to a screeching halt, the second hammered the first, glanced off, and then came to rest on an oyster bar of her own. No one had been hurt, thank goodness, but SeaTow was on the scene, and the prognosis was grim. Both motoryachts would be out of commission for days. Mechanical, structural, and other damages were extensive. Simply freeing the motoryachts from the wickedly abrasive mounds they were resting on was likely to take hours. One was wholly out of the water, well out of the charted channel, and as if to add insult to injury, the tide had just recently turned. It was starting to ebb.
The photo shoot was indefinitely cancelled, of course. I managed to catch an early flight out, and the photographer drove me to the airport, a thoughtful gesture especially in light of the fact that he’d wasted a whole morning on a job that would turn little, if any, profit. When we arrived at the terminal entrance, he helped me extract my gear from the trunk of his car, then offered a friendly handshake.
“We have the technology,” he grinned, by way of putting a humorous end to a gloomy episode.
“Yeah,” I countered with a grin of my own, “but we gotta turn the damn stuff on!”
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This article originally appeared in the January 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.