Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Careening Meredith - Summing Up

We attempted to anchor in Pablo Creek, just at Jacksonville Fl to find the entrance impassable. Despite the fact it was high tide we found ourselves stuck immovably in the mud bottom of the creek.

A call to Towboat produced a lot of excuses and discussion resulting in their sending out a Bayliner driven by a scruffy faced teenager who was too young to drive a car. First thing out of the operator's mouth was "I don't know much about towing sailboats".

His lack of knowledge extended well past sailboats.

He ended up trying to pull Meredith's 5 foot draft into 3 feet of water stopping only when he himself ran aground.

Passersby kept stopping and offering to call a tow service for us. They were suitably unimpressed when told by us that Towboat was on site as we pointed to the unmarked Bayliner and its unremarkable operator.

When Towboat quit towing Meredith was in 3 feet of water with a 4 foot tide going out.

As the tide continued its inexorable decline Connie discovered the bottom of the creek on the watery side of the boat was full of concrete blocks, rebar and other construction waste.

We needed to prevent Meredith from careening on the watery side of the boat. To do this Bob, totally naked and crotch deep in cold wet stinking ooze, carried a Fortress anchor to shore connected to a halyard. Connie winched this snug to provide a guy wire to help keep poor Meredith upright.

Returning to the boat and rinsing himself in the dubious water of Pablo Creek Bob then poised his not inconsiderable bulk on the end of the main boom extended 14 feet over said stinking ooze. Connie sat as far to landward as the deck would permit.

We sat down to wait for the tide to finish its seaward progress.

Four hours later, just after low tide, poor Meredith was indeed high and dry, her keel immersed in the said same cold wet stinking ooze. Not only that but Connie, whose legs were hung over an 8 inch rise and toerail had lost all feeling in her legs and could not stand. Bob, his butt stuck over a 6 inch wide boom had long ago gone numb and was to be found sobbing uncontrollably over the permanent loss of his sex life.

About 15 minutes after low tide we discovered the combined effects of the Fortress and Bob had shifted Meredith from a 5 degree starboard tilt (to water) to a 3 degree port tilt (to land).

Quickly we reorganized the crew to the centreline so as not to dump Meredith on her port side. Quickly is relative and must factor in the fact that Connie could not stand and Bob would not stop crying.

As the tide returned it brought support for Meredith with it.

About 11:00 p.m. as Bob slept in the cockpit, Connie stripped naked and lowered herself into the that hellish bottom of ooze to retrieve the fortress anchor, reasoning that it would have to be removed before Towboat returned at 3:30 a.m. to try to tow us once more.

Connie made a bit of noise hauling up the anchor and Bob awoke to find a naked woman covered in mud standing on the deck of his boat.

A bit groggy Bob was delighted. He had not had that kind of dream for decades.

Reality returned. Cold, wet, dirty but with the mast still erect, Bob and Connie slept in their berth for the first time that day.

Towboat arrived at 3:30 a.m. with qualified help driving a boat actually designed for towing and Meredith was quickly released from her temporary prison.

We anchored just out of the channel for the remaining 3 hours of darkness and ran the two hours to St. Augustine next morning. We slept for 15 hours solid.

We still wonder if the whole thing would have been such an adventure if Meredith had careened on the watery side, her hull pierced by the construction waste, her gelcoat scraped and the sailing season at a veritable end.

No matter. This was an adventure.

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