Sea — February 2002
By Capt. Bill Pike
Take a Boat Ride
|Feeling just a tad off? Try going back to the basics!|
For years now I've been expecting to ultimately evolve into this wise old guy with a handle on just about every subject under the sun, from Jungian psychology to theoretical thrust formulas for propellers, a scenario that frankly seemed pretty likely when I was a kid and full of you-know-what and vinegar.
But, dang it. Instead, I've turned into this goofy 54-year-old sea dog living in the wilds of Northern Florida amid an ever-widening array of fishboats, rowboats, canoes, and inflatables. And I'll be dipped in gray water if I'm not vaguely baffled by just about everything I come across these days.
Of course, bafflement ain't all bad. Among other things, it facilitates the periodic total abandonment of common sense, with nary a twinge of Puritan work ethic guilt. For example, a couple of nights ago, because of some lengthy festivities in nearby Sopchoppy, I returned to my waterside abode, Mullet Mansion, way late. Although midnight was hunkering only heartbeats away, I stood transfixed on the deck that runs the length of the house on the water side, listening to an incoming tide swirling among the pilings that support the dock and boathouse. The moon was full, brighter than a spotlight, and the Milky Way stretched across the sky from horizon to zenith, tangling its millions of worlds with the ragged tops of the huge longleaf pines that stand nearby.
I decided to take a ride in my offshore boat, the Scrumpy Vixen. Why not? My wife was sleeping soundly in an apartment a few thousand miles away in New York City, where she was dealing with a temporary business project. Moreover, I'd just recently serviced the Scrump's engine--it was ready to go. The fuel tank was topped off. The GPS/chartplotter was meticulously programmed with a route that led, circuitously but safely, to the mouth of the river, the Gulf of Mexico, and back. And, what with a few weeks of recent business travel behind me, I'd almost forgotten how much fun conning a boat on a moonlit night can be.
The engine cranked immediately, as if the Scrump was just as excited about an impromptu midnight ramble as I was. Even the river was encouraging. While I tossed off bow, stern, and spring lines, the tide gently eased the Scrump astern and out of the slip, so about all I had to do upon entering the wheelhouse was clutch into reverse, pull completely free, drift down on the current a bit, shift ahead, crank the wheel, and throttle up to displacement speed. The breeze in the channel, coming through the side windows, was sweet and soft with just a hint of wood smoke. I dimmed the lights from the dashboard and GPS overhead, which suffused everything in a cozy amber glow.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.