About a decade ago, while running another boating magazine with a business partner, I took stock of my boating adventures and developed a list of some silly mistakes I’d made along the way. I’m slightly embarrassed to admit it, but this is a topic that always seems ripe for the picking.
While I write this column from the flying bridge of Arawak—our project boat that has been the subject of this column previously—I’ve found a little peace away from all the phones and e-mail to review my notes and logs from 2015. Perhaps I am plotting a hopeful course toward absolution here, but I want to update you on a few of my more recent boating sins. Please learn from my follies!
I drive my wife bonkers when we’re planning anything from a home project to a weeklong cruise. I have the undesirable habit of laying out the plan in my head and, if it doesn’t go exactly as planned, I’m way too quick to say we throw in the towel. She’s onto to my silly ticks, of course, and offers a roll of the eyes while instantly becoming stone deaf, ignoring my yammering. The main contributing factor to my problem is I’m constantly trying to do too much at work, and then looking at instantly transitioning to some ambitious outing on the boat. A night on the water becomes a full steak dinner on the grill, a stop along the way for a swim, while then being transported by hot-air balloon to a fabulous watering hole while trolling for fish, which I’ll sear over cocktails. You get the picture. I’m slowly learning that if we just get to the boat on a Friday evening with a bucket of chicken and relax at the mooring, that’s still a darn nice evening.
Wind and Buckets
If any of you saw a crazy man chasing an airborne bucket full of teak oil around a boat behind the Hilton Lauderdale Marina last spring as it bounced off pilings and various appendages, that would have been yours truly. One gust of wind launched that baby from the cabin top, to the bow pulpit, back to the windshield, to an amidships piling before dumping the remaining oil on my chest. Lesson learned. Get a heavier pail, or better yet, don’t let go!
Beware of the Under-Inflated Tender
Okay, I was kind of responsible for this incident, yet remarkably was the only one of our crew still in the tender after the craziest 30 seconds I’ve experienced in a dinghy since watching my Dad’s friend turtle a little glass pram outside of the Crab Claw in St. Michaels, Maryland. You see, while leaving Compass Point Marina in St. Thomas, to head out to Arawak, my friends, Chris and Jay, and I, were, well, let’s just say we were overserved. And there’s a pretty good chance I may have inadvertently caused Chris to do a flawless forward flip off the dock (while seated) onto the bow of our inflatable. The lack of air in the tubes offered him no support, causing him to slip like an eel into the thick water of the Red Hook Lagoon. In an effort to help his buddy, Jay reached forward and executed a graceful, turn-and-slither move that dumped him into the water with Chris. The whole episode was in slow motion. I remained paralyzed in the center of the tender, knowing any sudden movement would result in me swimming with my friends. The lesson? When you wonder aloud if your tender is leaking air, hang around and answer that question before heading out to the bar.
Beware of the Cavalier Navigator
When I’m not cruising my home waters, I’m a darn prudent navigator using a log, paper charts, back-up, and the whole belt-and-suspenders approach. However, I have to check myself to ensure I don’t become too cocky the closer I get to home. Although I don’t live in the Virgin Islands, they’ve certainly become my home away from home and I’ve gotten to the point where I can navigate by sight. As a result, my normal nav prep recently eroded from my typical predeparture routine. Well, that’s all well and good when you can see! So in this serious squall where we couldn’t even see our bow. During the height of the storm, to find out where I’d stashed the charts. My desire to get off the dock—to fulfill my aforementioned unrealistic expectations—had put us in this situation.
“You know, we’re doing exactly the opposite of what I preach to our readers,” I said to my wife. Another roll of her eyes. Oh well, I’m chomping at the bit to get back out on the water. We’re bringing Arawak to the Palm Beach Boat Show next week. If you see us, come over and say hello. I promise, it’s safe. Kind of. See you on the water.