Posted by: adventuressetravels | June 28, 2010

Always a Puzzle

Always a Puzzle

The last few minutes of waiting are always the longest.  I couldn’t sit still.   It didn’t help that we kept pushing our departure back.   7 had become 8, which had quickly slipped into 9.  Before we knew it, it was 9:15.  Leaving at 7 had turned into leaving at 10.  We’d just missed the bridge.  It wouldn’t open again for another hour.  It was okay, I told myself; we still had a few things we could do on the boat.

Following Captain X and B around the boat I tried to focus on taking information in, rather than the antsiness and frustration.  “When are we leaving!?” I wanted to scream.  We just had to get out of there early; we just had to leave.  X didn’t want to start out too late and I was terrified we were going to push the expedition back another day.  As beautiful as the marina was, I just couldn’t stay on dry land another day.

 My frustration must have showed, and the Captain asked me if I knew how to coil the ropes correctly.  Soon B was teaching me.   I was occupied; my hands busy tying knots, coil ropes, and where to store them.  Before we knew it an hour had passed and we were pulling away from the dock.  I could feel the excitement welling up inside myself.

I stood on a bench serving as lookout as we pulled out into the Intercoastal Waterway and headed for the massive bridge.  Rush hour was over; time for the monstrosity to open and let the boats pass.  The bridge wasn’t opening.  Why wasn’t it opening?  Suddenly I saw a woman on a platform slightly beneath the bridge waving her arms and shouting.

“CHANNEL NINE!” she bellowed.

“She says to turn the VHF radio to channel 9.”

“Oh, I guess we have to ask her to raise the bridge.  We didn’t have to do that last time.” X grumbled, but turned to channel 9 and made his request.

Like the jaws of some sort of prehistoric monster the bridge slowly opened.  Something that large splitting in the middle and raising towards the sky… It seemed impossible, but apparently this happened many times a day.  When both halves stood erect, gaping towards the sky we turned on the motor.  I marveled at the mechanics as we motored between the towering halves. 

Twenty feet clear of the bridge we stopped.  “I think the propeller may be fouled,” Captain X said, in a flat voice.  I wasn’t sure what that meant, but from his tone it couldn’t be good.  Did this mean we couldn’t go?  Did we have to go back and hire someone to clean it?  We were just starting our trip!  How could something have already gone wrong!

“Are you going to go down and clean it off?”  He asked me.  I looked from him to the dark water and back.  Was he kidding?

“It is the deckhand’s job…”

“Um… I err…” I fumbled for the words.  I wanted to be helpful, but it was my first day out.  I needed a little more experience for this, didn’t I?  Thankfully B broke in with an alternative.

“Try reversing the engines.  Maybe something is caught on there and we can shake it off.”  It was no use, no matter which way we tried to move the boat, the jittering was still there I wasn’t accustomed to the boat movement and even I could feel the little rattle.  One side just felt different from the other. Someone would have to go down and see what was going on.  Luckily for me B volunteered.  I had to go to my cabin though… he didn’t have any “skivvies.”

I retreated to my cabin thankful I wasn’t the one in the water; that I wasn’t the one trying to figure out what was wrong.

An hour later, hands in ribbons from his battle with the barnacles, B knocked on my door. The propeller was clear now.  We were ready to go.

We were ready.  The boat on the other hand was not quite so obliging.  When we tried to pull the anchor up it caught.  Something else?  I couldn’t believe it!  The men tried one thing after another.  Was the chain snagged on anything? No.  Were the breakers on?  The motor was clearly working so obviously.  They looked at every possibility.  Finally they found it.  There was one switch which had to be turned on.  Somehow it had gotten switched off in all the action. 

It was just lucky that the failsafe had worked and the motor had shut itself off.  Otherwise we could be looking at a burned out motor and a whole new mess.  Now we were ready to go.

Pulling away, I marveled at how many things we had needed to overcome just to get out of the marina. Was this normal?

Oh yes.  Sometimes things were more complicated than others but there was always some puzzle to solve when you were sailing, B told me.  Every day is a new challenge.  That’s what made it fun!

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