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copyright 2007 Rebecca Peck

Pure unadulterated joy ran through her being as she watched the sun rise, a glowing orb ascending from the water.  Her heart raced at the thought of a new day dawning.  What was it about this day that made her radiate with bliss?  It was the last day of The Sailing Vacation From Hell !!!!! Oh yes, dear readers, I was dancing with happiness that morning, because I knew I would be getting off of this stinkin’ boat by the end of the day!  All we had to do was navigate out of our little cove, hit the open waters, and sail back to Windley Key.  Simple enough, eh?  Ha!  You should know by now that nothing is ever simple when Moby Dickhead is the captain.

After acquiescing to my wishes last night and actually following the chart when we entered Jewfish Cove the night before, this morning Moby Dickhead decides that he is infinitely smarter than the mapmakers.  He is not going to go the long way, he’s just going to sail across that expanse of shallow water and head right out to sea.  I once again point to the tiny numbers that tell us there isn’t enough water for the boat, and he just shrugs me off.

“We can make it, I know we can,” he says.

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you,” I reply.

Well, things go rather smoothly – for all of a minute.  Yep, one minute we’re moving, the next we’re not.  We are firmly stuck in the soft, mucky mire that is the bottom of Jewfish Cove.

Lesson #9:  In many instances, dolphins and most other life forms are smarter than men.

“Well, expert captain, any ideas?” I ask.

“Oh, we’ll just wait for high tide to float us off,” he says, a dead serious expression on his face.

“I hate to tell you this,” I say, “but according to the radio this morning, high tide was an hour ago.  Any more brilliant ideas?”

“I know!’ he exclaims.  “There’s a flag in the drawer down there, let’s run that up the mast.  Maybe some other boat will see it and stop to help!”

I go below and get the flag; he runs it up the mast.  We sit.  We wait.  A motorboat goes speeding by.  We sit some more.  A sailboat sails by.  More sitting.  More waiting.  More boats going by.  After about an hour of this, Moby Dickhead decides on another course of action.  He is going to swim out in front of the boat with the anchor and line, drop it, swim back to the boat, and use one of the winches to pull the boat along the line.  Amazingly enough, it works.  Of course, he has to repeat this procedure about ten times, but we are finally free of Jewfish Cove once and for all.  The bottom of the boat is also finally free of all that nice new paint.

As we sail along on the way to Windley Key, we notice a few speedboats racing across the ocean up ahead of us.  As we get closer, we notice a few more.  All of a sudden, they are blasting across the water in front of us, mere inches from our bow.  It is then that we notice the lovely ESPN helicopter hovering over our heads.  Yep, we have sailed smack dab into the middle of a speedboat race, and we are wreaking havoc on the course.  Speedboats are racing across our stern and bow, trying to avoid us as we putter along.  I am sure if you go to the ESPN archives, you can view some lovely footage of us.

Finally, finally, we manage to get off the course and are heading down a canal back to the marina.  We pull in and tie up, and the nice couple comes out to meet us.  Do they ask us how our trip was?  Hell, no!  The first thing they want to know is why the quarantine flag is flying on the mast.  Moby lies and tells them he thought it was the diving flag.  Of course, it’s stuck up there and we can’t get it down.  He also wants to leave without telling them he lost the anchor and the boat hook. 

“Don’t you think they’ll notice there’s only one anchor left, you idiot?” I ask.

“I guess you’re right,” he says.

He heads to the office to tell them, and before we leave they manage to find a used anchor that will only cost us 125 bucks.  OUCH!  He never mentioned the boat hook.

We get back in the rental car that’s been parked for a week (a colossal waste of money), and find a motel for the night.  Moby wants to drive back to Miami the next day, sightsee, and take me out to dinner for my birthday.  We end up driving all over the Miami area, mostly in parts you don’t want to be in after dark, because Moby can’t make up his mind about the restaurant.  We finally end up eating at a restaurant at a mall, and then he asks me to pay the bill because he has no money.

Finally, Lesson #10: Never, ever go on a sailing vacation, especially on your birthday. 

Epilogue:  For several weeks after the end of our vacation, Moby Dickhead was constantly wondering when he was going to get his $500 security deposit back from the nice couple at the marina.  An envelope came about a month after we got home.  It was a bill.  It seems we had caused damage in excess of the paltry $500 that he had given them. Surprise, surprise.  And yes, there was a $23 line item for a boat hook. I hope all of you have enjoyed my story, and yes, every word is true.  How could I make something like this up?

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 copyright 2007 Rebecca Peck

The rays of the morning sun warm her skin as the steady drone of the engine lulls her to sleep.  She dreams of warm tropical nights and icy pina coladas.  A smile flits across her sleeping face as she imagines herself dipping her toes in the warm gulf waters, and listening to the birds squawking overhead.  The birds, however, circle closer and closer, the squawking getting louder and louder.  She starts to run, unsuccessfully trying to elude the harsh squawking of the birds.  Finally, she drops to her knees in the sand, desperately trying to blot out the ear-splitting sound.  Is it a scene from a tropical remake of “The Birds”?  By now you should realize it’s just Day Seven of The Sailing Vacation From Hell!   

Yes, morning dawned bright and sunny as we continued to make our way southward through Big Spanish Channel, headed toward the ocean side of the Keys.  I thought it was going to be a relatively calm day, so I headed to the front of the boat to enjoy the sunshine and take a little nap.  I hadn’t been asleep for more than five minutes when I was jolted awake by an ear-splitting noise.

“What the hell is that?” I yell to Moby Dickhead.

“The boat is overheating, I need to shut the engine down,” he yells back over the din of the alarm.

“The filter’s probably clogged,” I say.   “There’s a lot of grass in this channel.”

Moby Dickhead looks at me as if I have two heads.

“What do you mean, the filter’s clogged?” he asks.

“Don’t you remember when the nice lady at the marina told us about the filter getting clogged and showing us how to…never mind,” I say as I head below deck.

Lesson # 8:  Yep.  You guessed it.  It’s the one about men following instructions.

Moby Dickhead follows me down the ladder, and we take off the cover to the engine area.  I point out the filter, he pulls it out, and yep, it’s chock full of sea grass.  Following my instructions, he cleans it out, puts it back in, and off we go again.  Of course, we have to repeat this process several times, but we finally make it to the ocean side of the Keys. 

We sail along for a few hours, miraculously avoiding lobster pots, submerged piles, and fish with big teeth.  As the sun starts to get lower in the west, we pull out the chart to select a suitable spot to anchor for the night. We settle on Jewfish Cove, a cozy looking spot not too far from where we’re at.  As we lower the sails, Moby Dickhead informs me that he’s just going to cut across the open expanse of water to the left of us to get into the cove.

“We can’t,”  I inform him, “there’s not enough water.  It’s only 2-3 feet deep.”

“Bull shit,” he says. “There’s plenty of water there.”

“That’s not what the chart says, and we are not cutting through there!”  I say tersely.  I shoot him a look that would stop an elephant dead in its tracks.  He realizes there’s no point in arguing, so we take the long way around, just like the chart says.  And so ends Day Seven.

 

 copyright 2007 Rebecca Peck

“There is absolutely no way in HELL I am going with you.  I would sooner jump off of this boat and swim through these sharp-toothed –fish laden waters than sail out there with you!  Are you out of your fucking mind?” 

 Is it a scene from the latest action thriller?  Hell no, it’s just the rest of Day Six from The Sailing Vacation From Hell!   Yes, you read that right, Day Six was so chock full of fun I had to do it in two posts. 

Moby Dickhead couldn’t leave well enough alone after he lost the anchor bright and early in the morning; he had to screw up the rest of the day too!  After weighing anchor (the spare one) and sailing along for about an hour, I spot Moby Dickhead eyeing the charts once again.  Knowing full well that this can only lead to more loss of equipment,  money, and possibly life, I ask him what he’s up to.

“Oh, I was just looking at the chart.  I don’t think we should take Big Spanish Channel back to the oceanside,” he says.

“Isn’t that the last channel we can get through?”  I ask.  “We don’t have any other gulfside charts that go further east.”

“Oh, we don’t need a chart,” Moby Dickhead replies confidently.

(Insert first three sentences of story here).  Yes, that’s me, finally having the expletive-hurling breakdown this wonderfully calm and relaxing vacation has induced.

“DID YOU NOT LISTEN TO ONE FUCKING WORD THE BOAT PEOPLE TOLD YOU?” I yell at him.  “Obviously not, because you’ve done everything that they told you not to do.  Let’s recap.  Ran the boat at night, got stuck on a rock, now the bilge pump runs all the time.  Full sail in a storm, boat hook washed overboard.  Boat in gear while anchored, anchor line run over, anchor lost at sea.  The only rule you haven’t broken yet is sailing without a chart.  There is no way in hell I am going along with that.  We could be stuck out in the middle of nowhere for days!”

Moby Dickhead looks at me, shrugs, and says, “I guess we’ll just go through Big Spanish Channel.”

So we keep on sailing. To Big Spanish Channel.  With the chart.  The sky is blue, things are relatively calm, and even the dolphins come alongside and race with the boat, frolicking beside us in the warm blue water.  We spot the markers for the channel, take down the sails, and turn on the motor so we can maneuver into the waterway.  The lovely sound of keel grinding on sand suddenly cuts through the still, peaceful air.

“What the hell’s going on,” yells Moby Dickhead, “I thought this was deep enough for our boat?”

“That’s what it says on the chart,” I reply.

Then I notice some fine print on the chart: “Channels may shift due to shoaling” or some damn thing.  We spend a frustrating hour, moving forward and then reversing, trying to find the damn entrance to this channel.  All the while, the dolphins are just a few yards away, playing and frolicking in the water.  Then it hits me.

“Dolphins are pretty big, don’t you think they’d need more than a few feet of water to play and jump around like that?” I ask.

“Who gives a fuck about the damn dolphins?!?!’ screams Moby Dickhead.  “We need to find the damn channel entrance!”

“They’re playing in the damn channel, you idiot!  Steer the boat over there, that’s where we need to be!” I reply.

Lesson #8:  In many instances, dolphins are smarter than men.

Needless to say, the dolphins were in the right place at the right time, and we slowly made our way into Big Spanish Channel.  So ends Day Six, finally!

Did I ever tell you that I love dolphins?