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Misguided Angels

Twisted souls who help out, even when help’s not wanted.

Truth to tell, I’m still suffering from a pesky old resentment. It originated several years ago at a marina in South Carolina when a stubborn youngster who was trying to be helpful snatched one of Betty Jane’s bow lines, and despite protestations from yours truly who was standing on Betty’s flying bridge, heedlessly hauled her down the dock like he was boneyard-bound with The Old Gray Mare.

Maybe the kid was tired and grumpy that evening—I know I was. And certainly, his efforts might have proved helpful had he not choked up on the line so much that he pulled more from the side than from ahead, thus causing Betty’s gorgeous bow to screech along the frowzy dock instead of her brawny quarterguards and rubrails. In any case, the screeching got so bad it raised the hair on the back of my neck and soon prompted me to forcefully remark:

“Stop, damn it!”

Luckily, the damage was slight. It consisted of black marks mostly, although I still wonder if the kid’s bullheadedness wasn’t somehow responsible for the cracked clamshell-type vent cover I later discovered on Betty’s starboard side. And I’d be willing to forget about the whole darn thing if folks didn’t remind me of it periodically by doing equally doofy stuff.

Take what happened this past spring, for example. Shortly after rounding up in front of the North Florida slip Betty calls home, preparatory to backing down, I noticed a couple of codgers strolling the dock with vulture-like miens. “I may not want or need their help,” I told myself with inexplicable foresight, “but man, am I gonna get it!” And sure enough, as Betty began chugging astern, they swooped in, picked up her two stern lines, and began to wait.

Now my wife BJ and I have a routine. Once Betty’s fully positioned in her slip, I depart the flying bridge for the main deck where together we deal with each of our mooring lines, one at a time. Certainly, the process is slow, but it entails no confusion and no stress.

“Put this heah line on thet cleat over theah, honey,” I heard one of the guys tell BJ as I came down the bridge ladder. “Then figger-eight ‘er a few times.”

Chaos soon reigned on Betty’s deck. And frankly, I’m not sure whether it was the debate I got into with one of the codgers over which spring line to address first that put an end to it, BJ’s spirited rejection of the “figger-eight ‘er a few times” concept, or the fact that I was ultimately prompted to forcefully remark:

“We got it now, guys—thanks!”

At any rate, the pair stalked off in an apparent huff. Which was unfortunate, I suppose, but useful.

This article originally appeared in the December 2009 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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