January 28, 2016   Joe Cline

anchorWe asked readers to send 48° North their funniest, sorriest, most pathetic, but true, anchoring stories. The majority of the stories were harrowing anchoring experiences, usually on a lee shore in the middle of the night, with half naked people running around, pushing off, pulling in, with chaotic organization. Many times the situations were the fault of unexpected weather and many times it was the fault of a miscalculation by the skipper, but in the end, all were fine and no boats lost. On the lighter side, we had people reveal some embarrassing, but humorous episodes.

Our Night of “Golden” Memories                

By Phil LeVine

We arrived at Stage Harbor at about 2 P.M. and all boats anchored successfully and the anchors held. I should note that there was “scuttlebutt” the prior evening that the harbor was only good for five boats but when we arrived, it was low tide and the harbor was apparently sufficient for all eleven boats. We had a cocktail party at about five P.M. and returned to our boat for dinner. Because we were at anchor, we decided not to have many cocktails at the group function and none with dinner. We also decided that since it was such a nice evening, the weather being perfect, and since the anchor was holding well, we would not do anchor watch but would, instead, sleep in the cockpit and assume we would wake up periodically to check on the boat. Every summer, my close friend from high school, Steve, and I go on a two and a half week sail trip on the East Coast. For the last five years we have gone on a flotilla sail with the Catalina Association in New England. This years trip, up the Maine coast from Falmouth Massachusetts, was planned by Steve and a seasoned Maine sailor. Nightly stops at marinas with moorings or dockage were booked far in advance of the trip. Two nights were planned at anchor in recognized anchorages.

Our first anchorage was on the fifth night of the cruise, July 8, 2002, in Stage Harbor, Maine. The harbor is about five hundred yards across with a narrow entrance at the North end. The portion of the harbor adjacent to the ocean has a rock barrier which at high tide was approximately ten feet above sea level. That day we had eleven boats in the flotilla. Most were Catalina 30’s but there were other yachts ranging from 28 to 34 feet and one trawler, our shepherd boat. Most of the skippers had twenty or more years of extensive sailing and cruising experience as did Steve. Most of the boats had been on prior group cruises. The weather report was 30 percent chance of showers and thundershowers. That was the report throughout the trip and we only had three evenings or nights with storms. At 2 A.M., Steve and I woke up. It was very dark without a sliver of moon or a glimmer of stars. The wind had shifted and was beginning to blow intensely. We also noticed that our boat was positioned differently. Boats now seemed “willy nilly”. The only boat we could see next to us was within a few feet of our boat. We realized we were sailing up on our anchor. To add to the confusion, most of the other boats were not visible (except for their anchor lights). None of them appeared except as ghosts in the pit of the darkness which surrounded us. At about this time, the squall, very high winds, heavy with rain, and bang came the thunder and flashes of lightning. Steve yelled, “Put on your foul weather gear and get the engine going”. At the same time, the boat nearest us crossed our bow. The situation immediately became chaotic, many of the skippers now awakened and went on the decks of their vessels. They realized their boats were in danger, everyone was taking independent action. Steve went on deck and attempted to haul up the anchor. As he did so, he saw the other boat immediately in front of us and we were about to ram her port stem quarter. Steve went to the pulpit to fend them off and yelling to me “hard reverse”, I concentrated on my task. I heard  someone saying “Man overboard. Don’t let him drown”. Boats were everywhere. People were screaming, the wind was blowing 35 knots and the rain had increased. It was cascading over our decks into the pitching seas. I put the boat in neutral but we were still moving astern at a slow speed. The next thing I heard was a little voice at the starboard quarter saying “ Throw me a line”. It was Steve who had gone overboard. He had tried to push the boat off, jumped on that boat to fend us off and had jumped from that boat to our pulpit but couldn’t hold on. That was when he found himself in the water with only his foul weather coat on. The skipper of the other boat had seen Steve go overboard and he was the one who yelled. I threw my friend a line and he grabbed it and was able to get to the swim ladder and climb aboard. I should have thrown him a flotation device first then a line. It was not until I heard his voice that I knew he was the man overboard. He said that with the boat moving away from him and the foul weather pulling him down, he used his last ounce of strength to get to where he could yell to me. The lee shore was only about thirty yards from our boat and the sea was not that rough but he decided to swim to the boat. He told me that he was yelling for help all along but I couldn’t hear him because of the storm, the engine and the chaos around me. (All I could think of for days afterward was how could I tell his kids that he had drowned if that was the ultimate result not to mention how guilty I would have felt.)

As he got aboard, the engine stalled. At once we realized, when he hauled up the anchor, some of the rode had fallen off the deck and had fouled the propeller. By then we were drifting toward the lee shore with no engine and no anchor out. Steve threw out a little Danforth and it appeared to hold. All our instruments quit so we had no idea of water depth and the tide was going out fast. I had brought a portable fish finder and I got into the dingy and set it up but it did not work either. (The next day, I tested the fish finder and found the batteries were dead although they were new and had not been used except for testing purposes.) We finally made up a lead line and found we had about ten feet of water and were holding. Steve decided to dive under the boat to untangle the anchor rode from the prop. After three attempts, he realized he could not get the line off. He came back on the boat to think. Remembering that he had dive gear aboard, he asked me to help him get the gear and put it on. With a knife he went under the boat but was unable to cut the line off. He then remembered that I had brought a West Marine multi-tool with a saw blade. I got it and he cut off the line and the engine started. After he got aboard, he just shook for about a half-hour because of the exposure. We decided to just motor around the harbor until daylight. Several other squalls hit but they produced only rain. Luckily there was no loss of life and no property damage. I should mention that I had brought a rechargeable one million candlepower light for Steve to replace his old light that plugs into the cigarette lighter. The rechargeable light lasted about twenty minutes and when it was dead, it was dead. We plugged in the old light and it worked until we didn’t need it any more. Lights were needed to keep the shore and rocks in view and to accomplish the tasks I noted above.

Throughout the trip, we both had worn our auto inflatable PFDs whenever the boat was under way. When the emergency hit we put on foul weather gear and tended to the problem. The PFDs should have been on deck along with our harnesses and tethers. The first thing we should have done was put the PFDs on. On a calm night one would not sleep with a PFD but it should be nearby and put on first. Actually, we probably should have done anchor watches and the man on watch should have had his PFD and harness on with a tether. In the past we had done anchor watches. When we had done overnight sails in the past the man on watch wore a harness and tether. Had Steve put on a PFD and a tether when on the foredeck raising the anchor, he would not have been in such danger. When an anchor is raised in such a situation, be sure all the rode goes in the chain locker. Finally, we learned you just can’t depend on your electronics. When one thing went wrong, everything went wrong and the old standbys were what worked. The rest of the trip was wonderful-sunny days, fair winds, great sailing, good food and drink and great companions.

Yep,  I Meant to Do That

“Oh gads, I can’t believe I’m considering telling this story.”

by J. Foster Fanning

Why am I hove-to here at my keyboard thinking of this misadventure that my entire sail club knows only too well? And entertaining even an inkling that I might submit it for publication, is… well… beyond me. This is a tale that may best remain buried in the murky depths of memory bay. Yet here it is with renewed buoyancy, the words falling onto these pages like loose chain slipping through a hawser pipe.

This story, if it must be told, starts like many other good tales, with a sailboat race. The annual regatta of the Lake Roosevelt, Rickey Point Sail Club. Twas a midsummer’s day with the breeze blowing fair. A southerly had set up with 12 to 16 knots of wind pushing small wavelets before it. We had fifteen or so boats in the heat and everyone was pretty excited at the prospect of a good race. The course was a windward/leeward affair, four miles into the teeth of the wind, round the buoy at French Rock Islands and make a downhill run back north to fetch the club dock.

I was particularly looking forward to this race with my Lyle Hess designed 27 footer, the largest and heaviest vessel in this make-up of the fleet. In previous races, with less wind, the smaller boats (San Juan 23s, MacGregor 26s, a Catalina 25 and the like) had all out run my heavier, deeper keeled vessel. This breeze held promise of a different outcome to the race.

There’s the starting gun and we’re off! Fifteen sailing sloops jostling for position as we cross the starting line at the committee boat. The breeze had that tangy taste of increasing as Osprey beat to the middle of the fleet. Some of the smaller vessels had tucked away a reef just in case. Osprey, my boat, is in her element as I tack for the mid line of this 150 mile long lake to get the most undisturbed breeze. Close hauled, really rocking with occasional spray coming over the decks and hitting the dodger.

Now this is sailing!

Okay, a bit of the truth must probably be told here. Osprey’s crew are not racers; not in any serious sense of the word. She was carrying all her water and fuel. Her 24# storm anchor was still in the hold with her 18# lunch hook on the bow and several kedge anchors in the deck lockers. Osprey was provisioned for extended weekend cruising and well; we hadn’t bothered to take anything off her as the plan was to head out for a couple days after the race party & BBQ.

By mid-lake the wind waves had grown to over three feet, Osprey was heeled hard and really shouldering into the troughs. It was a blast! Gaps had opened in the fleet and the vessels that had opted for our deeper-water-more-wind-larger-wave tack were all astern. Yep, things seemed well in the world except for a slight nagging feeling on the tiller that Osprey wasn’t quite into her ‘sweet spot.’ Now I’ve sailed this vessel for over 6,000 miles in all kinds of conditions. I’ve seen her scoop water into the foot of her genoa; bury her rails in gurgling foam, heck we’ve even been knocked down together in the Straits of Juan de Fuca. I’ve always said, “She sails better than her skipper does.” But something was not quite in the groove here.

By the time we had tacked off the four miles and reached the buoy almost all the little water skimmer boats had caught up with and passed us. Yeah, the wind had gone a bit fluky, big gusts and short lulls and I still couldn’t find her groove. “That’s okay,” I told Cathy, my sometimes sailing partner (now first mate) “we’ll pop the chute on the downwind run and that’s her fastest means of sail.”

And “pop” the chute we did; from it’s head down to it’s mid-belly. We ripped a $390 hole in that red, black and yellow beauty as the fleet left us behind.

I was fighting off a case of the growlies when we finally fetched the point into the protected bay of the club dock. All the smaller vessels and their crews were rafted up at the dock and I could see the bright plastic cups holding prized, locally brewed Lost Falls Ale, which I so desperately needed to soothe my aching ego. We were within 50’ of sailing to the dock and in easy hail of the group when all of a sudden Osprey lost all her steerage.

“What the *%$@#?” I thought as visions of a slow-motion ramming right into the middle of the fleet raced into my mind; then we stopped. Just stopped. All sails flapping and we’re halted dead in the water. Then it hit me. Yep, you probably already guessed it half a dozen paragraphs ago.

“Hey Vice Commodore,” someone called from the dock and all the club members turned to look at me at the helm. Yep, I’m the Vice Commodore. “Something’s hanging from your bow.”

I had no choice. I stood proudly in the cockpit, took off my cap, clicked my bare heels together and formally addressed the gathered crowd, all of them within an easy shout. “There’s no room at the dock,” I called out. “I’m anchoring here!”

That’s right, the anchor-retaining pin had slipped out in the beat to windward and the 18# lunch hook fell off the bow dragging 60 feet of 5/16s with it. The splice eye had fouled in the ring and stopped the 200 feet of rode from deploying. I had raced my vessel nearly eight miles with the anchor hanging free – all of it in fortunately deep water.

And to this day, they’ve not let me live it down. “Now why in this ocean blue world did I tell this story? Oh gads…”

J. Foster Fanning now sails the S2C, Aquila and his beloved Lyle Hess designed Osprey (complete with new anchor-retaining pin) is for sale. He is still the Vice Commodore for the Rickey Point Sail Club of Lake Roosevelt…

For Want of a Shackle…


How to Anchor in the Middle of the Atlantic

by Barbara Molin

We are in the middle of the Atlantic between Bermuda and the Azores.  Well, not exactly, only about 110 nm west of Flores Island, but still a long way from land. The depth of the ocean at this point is about 15,000 feet. It is July 18, 2004; the wind has been slowly increasing for the past two days and is now blowing about 20-25 knots from the NE (just where we want to go) with seas good 8-10 feet. We’re motoring into the waves using the excuse of having to charge the batteries to make some slowly won miles.

It’s been a long voyage from George Town in the Exumas, Bahamas first to Bermuda and now heading for the Azores on the way to the Mediterranean. Long and slow with a relatively untried 32-foot East Orient, Eidos – my dream boat.

James is not happy. He didn’t plan on this trip taking so long, he didn’t even know about this trip until about two weeks before we left and we’ve been having problems right from the start.  He is an ex, so that is a whole story in itself. But I digress…

First, the water we took on in George Town had floaties in it, so we had to filter it quart by quart, for the 10 days it took us to reach Bermuda.

We had to hand steer then too, since the wind vane was meeting us in Bermuda for tax and duty reasons.

Then, the drifter halyard chafed on the forestay, the sail fell into the ocean and had to be rescued before it wrapped itself around the keel. With the halyard up the mast and me unwilling to follow it there, this makes for even a slower trip with only a 130 jib as our next light air sail. The winds aren’t co-operating and we are struggling to average about 3 knots. If we could walk on water, we’d get there faster!

And now, finally the wind increases, but it’s on the nose. Figures. And it is strong enough for us to start worrying about the untested (although relatively recently replaced) rigging. We try to heave-to and find that we are drifting west at almost a knot. That won’t do. We try sailing under the main with a third reef in, partially rolled up jib and the staysail and we are going southeast. So we motor in the middle of the Atlantic. Not for long. Just to charge the batteries. With the engine, and only the main to stabilize the boat’s motion we can manage approximately 106 magnetic – almost in the direction we want to go, although only at about 2.5-3 knots. Better than nothing, and perhaps when we finish charging the batteries the wind will ease and shift…  Wishful thinking.

It is rough. I am down below wedged in the quarter berth trying to get some rest while James is up top on watch scanning the shrunken horizon for traffic. Every half an hour, I put out a Securite call to all ships in the area with our position and a request for weather information. We never receive a reply, which relieves our anxiety a bit in one way since we’re not likely to get run down, but on the other hand if we were in real trouble and needed help there is no one out here. Oh, did I tell you we don’t have an SSB radio? Well, we don’t.

I just manage to almost drift off to sleep when I hear a loud grating noise that makes me jump out of my skin.

“What was that!!?” I call out to James.

He doesn’t know, but puts the engine in neutral and asks me to check the shaft. He thinks it might be the transmission. Perhaps we had snagged something on the prop… The noise stops and since everything seems all right and the bilge water is at its usual level, he carefully puts it back into forward. All seems well.

But is it? Now I can’t sleep worrying about it. There has to be a reason for that horrible noise. What could have caused it? James comes down below and I take over.  It is still a dark and stormy night and I’m not in the mood to check the fore deck. Could it be the anchor?   

Finally daylight arrives and I peer forward. It is difficult to see over the dinghy lashed to the fore deck, but if I stand up on the coaming and stretch up as high as I dare… It is the anchor. Or rather it isn’t there any more. My best anchor, the 25 lb CQR and 85 feet of chain with about 200 feet of rode is no more. I feel sick to my stomach.

In Bahamas, James suggested that I shackle the anchor to the bow roller. I only had a pin through the shaft attaching it to the roller and it just slipped my mind about the shackle… Now, what slipped my mind has caused the anchor to slip into the deep blue. 15,000 feet of deep blue.

When James wakes up, I tell him the news and he politely reminds me that he told me this would happen back in the Bahamas. I clip my tether to the jack line and head forward. It’s not as bad as I thought. The rode is still hanging over the short bowsprit. Straight down. I unsuccessfully duck a wave and it soaks me to the skin. But the news is good; the anchor is still attached to the boat. The anchor had obviously jumped the bow roller and the chain ripped up a plywood bulkhead dividing the two chain lockers on the way out, but there is hope.

James doesn’t think so. He warns me that with the waves pounding the bow up and down and the anchor and chain bouncing underneath us, we could have some damage. He thinks that there is a good chance the bowsprit will break and then the forestay will follow and so will the mast. Besides he has no intention of hauling 200 feet of rode, 85 feet of chain and 25 lb CQR from the depths. I have no windlass. He votes for cutting the rode and deep-sixing the whole thing. I refuse to give up. There has to be a way. Besides, that is my main anchor and what will I do when we get to the Azores and need to drop the hook? My secondary anchor has only 30 feet of light chain.

I tie a clove hitch from a long line to the rode as low as I dare while hanging over the bow which I lead through the fairlead to the starboard bow cleat and then cut the rode to relieve the strain on the bow sprit, the fore stay and the mast. The other end of the new line I lead to the cockpit winch and start cranking. With a two-speed winch it lifts at about an inch every rotation of the handle. This is not going to work. James thinks it is my fault (which it is) and refuses to help. He is fed up with me, the boat and the whole trip. And for a good reason. I keep cranking. He finally realizes that it’ll take me several months of hard work to haul the whole thing up, so he agrees to help.

But to make things easier, I move the anchor aft, using the same system of relieving the pressure by tying a clove hitch on the rode and then freeing the rode from the bow cleat, so that at all times the rode is lashed to the boat since obviously there is no way I could hold the whole thing myself. Now the anchor rode is perpendicular to the cockpit winch with only one way to go – up instead of up at the bow and then along the side deck.

I am determined and start cranking again. Not much better. I need a man or a block and tackle. But I think of the block and tackle or come to think of it, even just the main halyard a couple of weeks later when safely anchored in Portugal. So, James grumbling and swearing starts winching. I breathe a sigh of relief and tail with as much force as I can muster. The rode comes up very slowly, but it does come up.

Meanwhile we are getting tossed by the waves. It is grey and dismal all around and who knows if there is anyone else out there; I haven’t made a radio call for several hours now.

When we get to the chain, I cringe as it chews up the coaming outboard of the winch as well as the winches’ drums on both sides (we now are using both winches for safety), but at least the anchor is coming up. I notice that James is not straining as much, so there is progressively less weight to lift. Finally when I see the CQR clear the surface I holler happily.  We are exhausted but we won. The rode, chain and anchor are piled in the cockpit. We are too tired to do anything about it and it’s still too risky to be moving it back to the bow. It’ll have to stay there for the reminder of the passage.

The wind continues for another day but a couple of days later, as we near Flores Island we stow the rode and anchor in calm weather and with land in view in preparation for our arrival.

Oh, and one more thing I forgot to mention. While we were hauling in the anchor, the boat was basically at the mercy of the wind and the waves. When we finally decided to turn the engine back on to get moving, it ground to a halt and we found out that our floating man-overboard line that we always trailed behind the boat in case one of us fell in, wrapped itself around the rudder and the prop. I guess the waves caused the stern to lift out of the water at some point when we were busy hauling the anchor.

When we found out about this little inconvenience, I laughed. Well, what else can you do at that point but laugh, right?

“At least nobody saw that…right?”

This story took place a few summers ago,

on our 27′ Catalina.

by Kevin “C.B.” Midkiff

My wife and I decided to invite a few friends down to the boat for a Saturday afternoon sail, some cocktails followed by a nice relaxing evening anchored out in front of the Seattle waterfront listening to the Indigo Girls at one of the “Summer Nights at the Pier concerts.”

Things started out fine, everyone we invited accepted. And on the afternoon of the party we shoved off right on time from our slip at Shilshole Marina and motored out into Shilshole Bay. We raised the sails, killed the engine and set a course for Elliott Bay. Somewhere along the way my wife finds a relatively private moment to voice her concerns about what my plan was for anchoring. This was actually a valid concern, considering the fact that in the two years we had owned the boat, (our first boat) we had never anchored before. She also pointed out that we did not have a working depth sounder on board either. There may have also been something about me being an idiot…but it was windy that day and I probably just misunderstood her.

Fast forward just a bit. We just finished dropping all sails and firing up the engine. One of my buddies digs the anchor and rode out of their storage spots and with the help of my wife, gets it all rigged up and ready. While all this is going on, I’m looking for the perfect anchoring spot. Which, at this point in my anchoring career consist of the spot on the water with the fewest boats near it. There are no such spots of course, but undaunted I pick a area nicely triangulated by two large and expensive powerboats and a sweet 40-foot sailboat. OK this is it, this is as good as spot as any. How hard can this be? I wondered. Just drop the anchor over the bow and back down onto it until the boat stops. The wind picks up a little. I yell to my wife on the bow to drop the anchor. She does, the wind picks up a little more and the anchor keeps dropping, all the rode has played out and is now at the bitter end, which is made fast to the Sampson post on the bow… You didn’t really think this was gonna be a “We forgot to tie the anchor off” anchoring story did you? Come on, give me a little more credit than that.

Back to the story, having never anchored before my wife yells back to me, “I think it’s on the bottom?”  Which I think sounds about like the sort of thing one would say at this point in time. So I do what all the books about anchoring tell me I should do, I put the engine in reverse and wait to stop moving backwards……and wait…..and wait…..oh crap! We‘re not stopping and that big shiny (expensive) power yacht is getting REALLY close. Ever so lovingly to my wife I say, “What did YOU do wrong?” Granted saying this in front of 6 of our closet friends, 15-20 people on neighboring boats, and oh yeah, 500 or so concert goers, who are watching our antics while waiting for the concert to start, may or may not have been the smartest thing to do. But now was not the time to worry about that. I had a boat to anchor.

My buddy hauls the anchor up, I reposition the boat and we try again. With the same results, only this time I do the hauling and dropping and my wife is manning he helm.

On the fourth or fifth try, my wife has a brilliant idea, why doesn’t someone yell over to one of the other boats anchored nearby and ask them what the depth is. Genius, shear genius, why didn’t I think of that?…oh wait…I can. I acted like I didn’t hear her and yell over to one of the other boats anchored nearby and ask them what the depth is. She knows I’m full of it, but for the sake of our friend’s comfort, she lets it slide….or did I actually pull it off? One of the other boats must have been having some sort of trouble also, because I faintly hear over the wind someone’s wife on another boat calling her husband an idiot. Sound really does travel on water. But I digress; we get four different responses from three different boats on what the depth is that range from 45 feet to 98 feet. Thank you!

By this time I’m sensing some distress coming from the guests onboard…what do to….what to do? I know now how the rest of the great nautical heroes through out the ages must have felt in similar situations, alone at the helm in the heat of battle or in some uncharted corner of the world in the middle of a storm. How would Lord Nelson handle this I thought, what would Captain Cook do. Capt’n Ron HELP ME!!!!

I made a command decision. I announced we would motor in closer to the piers. The water would be shallower and therefore easier to get the anchor on the bottom. The Captain has spoken!

We motor in, drop the anchor and backed down……we stopped moving! Yep, the CAPTAIN has spoken!!  A great feeling of relief washes over me…and I hear one person up on the pier clapping. I look up and it’s a friend who’s at the concert. COOL! I’m awesome. I gloat for a bit…to myself.  After all, I planned this to happen.

After a few minutes me and some of the crew decide (and by decide I mean we dared each other) to dive in for a nice refreshing swim….this lasted about 6 seconds and we all climb back aboard. The crew did so via the swim ladder. I, being the captain decided that it would be best if I climbed in via the stern, using the outboard as a sort of ladder, instead of waiting to use the official swim ladder. After all, should I die of hypothermia, who would get the boat and all aboard her home? So up and over the stern I went.

Just as we get dried off and warmed up, a power boat is going through the same pathetic attempts at anchoring that we went through earlier. So I did what anyone in my position would do, I judged him….and none to silently either. We mocked him and toasted his ineptitude, not so he could hear mind you, but just loud enough to grab the attention of Neptune. It was a about this time that his anchor grabbed a hold of my anchor line and pulled my anchor free. I deserved it….I know that now.

He promptly dropped my anchor as he motored off at a high rate of speed. And I could swear that I felt my anchor grab the bottom. I know I felt it, we were not moving at all. After all, the anchor was in the exact same spot as before. Of course it would hold,  the Captain has SPOKEN! And Neptune and my wife laughed, not loudly, but they did laugh.

“Is the pier getting closer?” My wife said.

“What?, No!?” Said I. “Enjoy the evening and quit worrying so much” I offered.

Oh crap!! WE ARE DRAGGING ANCHOR! The Captain is Screaming.

The pier is now within fifty feet of the stern of the boat. I can almost look straight up in to the nostrils of a few hundred concert goers watching the events play out like so many NASCAR fans waiting for a crash. We bolt in to action, I run forward and start hauling the anchor up like a man possessed. My wife fires up the engine and slams it in to forward. We are now broadside to the wharf, 30 feet away and getting closer!!

“Turn the FREAKIN tiller” I scream. I look back and she is. It is hard over to starboard and we are still going forward and to starboard towards the pilings.

With a look of shear terror in her eyes, my wife yells to me? “Why is the boat not turning”

The wharf is now about 20 feet way. I’m looking up at the underside of it. A sight no man on a sailboat should ever see. The pilings are opening up, they actually look like giant teeth. I feel like Luke in the garbage compactor on the Death Star…”R2D2…Were can he BEEEEEE!!”

R2D2 is not gonna help me. I run back to the cockpit, my friends have long since disappeared below. I now have less than 20 feet before we slam into the wharf. I have a flash of insight, everything slows down, I feel like Neo in bullet time in the Matrix. THUMP, THUMP, THUMP, I can feel my heart pounding in my ears. I look towards the bow and my wife standing at the starboard shrouds ready to fend off (god I hope she doesn’t try that). I look down into the cabin, my friends staring wide eyed back at me. I look up at the crowd….they want me to fail. I know it.

One hand on the tiller, hard over to starboard, the other hand reaching down, lifting the engine well cover. A quick flick of the eyes tells me that the engine has been pivoted so it is forcing the boat to turn to starboard no matter what the rudder is doing. Now how could that have happened??…….OOoohh yeah…No time….bullet time only last so long. I yank the engine over the other way, bending the outboard’s little tiller in the process. The boat spins hard to port, just like it should. And we brush by the wharf with less than 15 feet to spare and out to sea….or at least out into the nice openness of Elliot Bay. Time returns to normal, the wharf shrinks away, R2D2 got the compactor shut down and the opening band begins to play…..

Let’s never speak of this again!