Monday, May 4, 2009

"The Waterford Incident"

Just the Facts Ma’am! “The Waterford Incident”

It was a cool, fall day, a brisk breeze in the air. Sweater weather is what we called it back home in Milwaukee. I remember it as though it was yesterday. In actuality it was more than 2 years ago.

We were headed east on an early leg of this great adventure of ours. The captain and I had just completed “The Flight”, the final locks at the east end of the Erie Canal. Our destination was the free dock in Waterford, N.Y.

The canal can be a tricky temptress with her cross winds and currents. Merengue was moving smartly downstream, gliding with the current. Her mast was still lying in its’ cradle on deck making her look more like a knight with a jousting pole rather than the beautiful little sailboat that she is. I was enjoying my turn at the helm.

The captain was on the foredeck, his eyes combing the dock for a berth for the night. “There’s one”, he shouted and pointed to a spot between a big trimaran and an Endeavor 42 out of Toronto. I steered Merengue past the spot and then swung her around to portside to point her up into the current. I moved her slowly towards the open spot along the face dock being careful to judge the winds, current and her speed as I approached the small opening. Just as I was sliding her in between the two yachts the unthinkable happened. The current pushed us back slightly before we were parallel to the dock. Before I knew it Merengues’ solar panels were catching on the anchor of the Endeavor 42. We were snagged! I let out a yell to the captain that I needed his help as I lunged back toward the solar panels in an attempt to free them. If we caught hard we would rip the panels right off the davits. We would also be carried backwards in the current slamming into the Endeavor’s bow. My cry for help brought 2 heads popping up from the Endeavor and they rushed forward to protect their boat. Would we crash? Would we be sunk before we had hardly begun?............

OK, enough dramatics. I did start to snag Merengue’s solar panels on the anchor of the Endeavor 42. I did yell for Jim’s help and 2 heads did pop out of the Endeavor, Pat and Geoff of the S/V Beach House. They helped us fend off and get Merengue docked. We introduced ourselves, I apologized for the excitement and 2 ½ years later they are not only still talking to us but we’ve become friends. So we were very excited when we heard they were heading out to cruise the Caribbean. They caught up with us here in St. Martin a few weeks ago and we have enjoyed drinks and dinner on each others’ boats, trips to Phillipsburg and the carnival parade. They will also be heading to Grenada for hurricane season. Geoff dubbed our first meeting as “The Waterford Incident.”

Now, Jim tells a different, more exciting version of our first meeting. He tells everyone he was thrown below deck hitting his head on the galley stove when Wendy T-boned their boat! Hmmmm, maybe he should do the writing. He could have a career in fiction!

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