It Can’t Get Worse and Then It Did and Did and Did

I thought the worse thing of the day was the almost $1K Fuel Bill

I stopped at Cedar Point to fuel up and paid over $6 for 162 gallons of diesel. Last year the same fuel stop was $3.19 per gallon. Fortunately WhimSea sips fuel and that fuel will last a good part of the summer. The first day on the water is always a challenge for a big trip This year I had a lot of new stuff to learn with all new electronics and autopilot. Before I left I was most apprehensive that the autopilot would work but it performed well. Still a few familiarization kinks but I can work through it. I didn’t expect drama from the new Davits but that’s what happened.

Dinghy Draggy

This photo was taken on the way to Vermilion in pretty calm seas but the dinghy was too low and was dragging. I think the 800 pounds of water and 1100 pounds of fuel changed the dynamics on the boat after takeoff. Decision after consultation was to dramatically shorten the straps and raise the motor. Vermilion is on a river and the current was really flowing from recent rains and docking was a challenge but I got in. Getting in the dinghy was a different story and the river’s current moved the dinghy just as I was stepping in and I splashed. Problem 1 – I was wearing the life jacket suspenders that inflate (I can now say violently inflate) when they hit water. Problem 2 – My Cell Phone and wallet decided to take a swim to the bottom to the rushing river. Problem 3 – The ladder I was sure was long enough to get back on the boat, wasn’t. So this event presented several lessons learnt or relearnt. Lesson 1 – Don’t have all your credit cards in one place. Lesson 2 – Always assume if you are near a boat you will end up in water and use a dry pouch. Lesson 3 – Test the ladder before you take off on a 1500 mile boat trip. So I had a bit of lost pride and had to put my tail between my legs and head back to home port to regroup. But that’s not the really bad part.

The next day I headed back to Port Clinton. The dinghy was riding higher above the water but the seas were a lot rougher. I did a check and things were bouncing but seemed OK. Boy was I wrong. The next check showed a Davit line failure. The dinghy was only held at one side and things were swinging and bumping in the waves. I could not get the bolts loose and had to resort to cutting the webbing to free the dinghy. My next plan was to tow the dinghy. I couldn’t reach the aluminum eye without falling out of the boat so I attached it to the seemingly strong handle.

Dinghy in tow

This seemed to be going ok, until it wasn’t. After I passed Mouse Island I looked back and there was no dinghy to be seen. I turned around and started a man overboard type drill to search for the dinghy. At this point I made my first call to the Coast Guard it went something like this: Securite Securite Securite this is Motor Vessel WhimSea. I have an unmanned dinghy that us floating west of Mouse Island. I managed to snag the dinghy with the boat hook and put one line through an eyelet. Let me just say having crew on board would have made this a much faster process, if I got close to the dinghy by the time I got from the Pilot House I wasn’t close enough. Before I could get a second line the eyelet popped and the dinghy took off. I thought it couldn’t get worse but then it did. The dinghy was not only drifting very close to the island but I was in the path of the Miller Ferry. So another solo dinghy rodeo ensued. I finally attached a rope around the steering column and two eyelets and decided on a hip tow at 3kts. It was a long, very slow, very rolling ride to Port Clinton but the dinghy made it back, totally beaten up, but back.

To be honest I arrived at the dock demoralized, with my pride and confidence in shreds and pegging zero on the resilience chart. This afternoon I was selling the boat and heading back to Florida to float calmly in the pool. This evening after beating myself up about mistakes made I’m a bit more rational. I’m glad to have to wait here a few days to get new credit cards before my next adventure on the high seas.

To end on a positive note, I went in to the Verizon store with no money, no credit cards, and no drivers license and walked out with a new phone and watch. What a Country!

9 thoughts on “It Can’t Get Worse and Then It Did and Did and Did

  1. Wow, Barb. You are definitely resilient and must truly love your boat and the water to endure all of that drama. I’m stressed just reading and imagining all of it! I think floating in the pool sounds more me. In any event, I wish you smooth sailing ahead in every sense of the word and be safe!!


  2. Barb,

    OMG!! Wow! To go through all of that by yourself! It would have taken me a couple of days (at least) to get back up from that. You are not be defeated! Great that you were able to get a phone right away!!!



  3. there’s a book in there somewhere. i’m sure every captain has had bad days. you just have to get through them and move on, knowing the good days are right behind. and i for one would like to hear you retell that story over a nice bottle of wine. May the seas be calm and the wind be at your back


  4. HOLY MOLY! SO glad you are okay. I’ve been in a ferry path in a kayak before and thinking, “shit the rule is the bigger boat has right of way!” fastest paddling we’ve ever done.

    You are amazing …to do all that on your own! can’t imagine. Kathie



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