"What a wonder life I've had! I only wish I'd realized it sooner." Colette

Nov 2, 2016

Water Witches

BC and I are about to head on down, or diagonally up, the road. I've spent nearly a month here in Texas with an old friend who has become even more of a GOOD friend during this unseasonably warm October.  That takes time. Liquor helps. 
(Note: this photo has nothing to do with the story. I saw this masked Quasimodo at the Renaissance Fair and had never seen Carillons, or at least couldn't remember.  I thought his presentation was very interesting.)
I met Miss Vickie down in Georgetown, the Bahamas, circa 1998.  Ruff Life traveled as much as she could with Water Witch, but a trawler and a staysail sloop (try saying that three times fast) cruise under entirely different conditions, except for the Clear Skies.

During one particularly memorable voyage Ruff Life headed out from Luperon, the Dominican Republic, during the early evening; cruising along the north coast towards Samana, the popular jumping-off point for Puerto Rico.  Ruff Life had been having fuel line troubles since Florida, and the Captain was forced to suck diesel time after time, poor guy.

We were about an hour out of Luperon when the motor quit.   Ruff Life had no stabilizing sail and was a single engine, so you can imagine.  The Captain tried this and that down in the engine compartment, while I kept an eye on the rocky coastline creeping closer and closer.

For the full effect, please take a moment now to open Wagner's, Ride of the Valkyries, which should open in a separate window. You won't be sorry.

The sky was dark and the waves increased in intensity.  Water Witch circled Ruff Life over and over, following the seaman's creed not to leave a stranded vessel.  Finally, over the radio came,

"We'll tow you back to Lupereon."  Really?  A sailboat can do that?

The Captain steered from the flybridge as I staggered to the bow (without a lifeline, which we didn't own anyway); where I was to toss a line to Water Witch as she crossed our bow.

"You must be f___g joking!"  Well, when there's no alternative there's nothing to do but throw.

"Here she comes!"

DAMN!  Missed by a nautical mile.

"You throw like a GIRL!" the Captain chided as I pulled the line back in; looping it over my arm while trying to remain vertical. Water Witch circled again, appearing in between the waves, up and down, up and down.  I threw and missed, again.

"I CAN'T DO THIS!!!" I wailed through the night, but I sure as hell couldn't steer the boat and the only other soul on board was cowering inside.

Again Water Witch circled.  "OK, wait for my signal," the Captain bellowed.  I watched and waited; likely praying for help; my throwing arm at the ready while holding on to our flimsy railing with my left.  Up and down, closer and closer when suddenly I heard,

"NOW!!!" and I threw with all my might, eyes closed.

The white line unfurled across the water for what seemed like ages until a tiny, singsong Southern voice rang through the blackness,

"Got it!"

It was an easy tow in the opposite direction, and we arrived back to the anchorage around midnight, tired beyond belief. WW left early the following morning while my Captain continued to suck diesel.  We met again in Puerto Rico and had some fun times before WW headed for Venezuela.  We were originally heading there, too; but my nerves were shot by Puerto Rico, so we remained anchored in the same spot for the next decade.

Bonds like that cannot be broken by mere time and distance.  Miss Vickie and I kept in touch over the years and met only once since our time in the Caribbean.  I hadn't expected to stay more than 3 or 4 days, but days turned into weeks and I really must go.  It'll take me another week just to cross Texas.  Besides, staying in the same spot can be habit forming.  Lest you wonder about BC, she's fallen for Skipper big-time.  Leaving will be tough for her, too.

So, there's no time like the present to say thank you to Miss Vickie.  We've had a great time, and look forward to our next visit.

1 comment:

  1. Asking the reader to link to the Wagner piece was clever...and it certainly did add to the mood of your tale of adventure!


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