Ian wondered aloud the other day when our project would stop being stressful, and start being enjoyable. Not anytime soon, apparently.
In any case, wasn’t the point of the exercise, at least partly, to generate stress? What is excitement if it isn’t stress?
There was stress/excitement in abundance today, when we took control of Carina, as opposed to simply owning her. She was moored at the dock outside the vendors, Tom and Tracy’s, house in Treasure Island, and we faced the daunting prospect of casting off and getting under way with them watching the spectacle. In the event, Ian spent so long fiddling with the navigational gadgetry and putting off the evil moment, that they gave up and went out for lunch, but we didn’t find that out till later. We thought they were simply lurking behind the blinds.
We had considered postponing, because the weather forecast wasn’t that favourable – winds of 20knots, but moderating in the afternoon. If it had been any worse, we wouldn’t have gone. Being narrowboaters of some years’ experience, we’re used to boats being carried by the wind, but this was rather different. The manoeuvre consisted of reversing the boat, then going forwards down the channel. But surrounding the dock were several other boats belonging to Tom and Tracy’s neighbours, large poles sticking out of the water and some shallow water.
Although Carina obligingly drifted out away from the two poles she’d been moored to, as Ian reversed, the wind blew us at speed towards the other boats and poles. A hair-raising few minutes passed until we finally got free, the outboard dinghy on the back missing one of the poles by an inch.
Another source of stress was the depth of the water – in many parts of Tampa Bay it’s very shallow, and our depth gauge, remarkably similar to a dental apex locator, beeped with alarming frequency. But we managed to avoid the horrors of running aground, only to encounter stronger winds and more swell, reminding me of an epic journey in 1974 in our Enterprise dinghy in Hongkong, when Ian thought it was a good idea to sail in heavy seas round the south side of Hongkong Island from Stanley Sailing Club to Little Saiwan, a traumatic experience which is embedded in my memory.
However, we arrived safely at the marina at St Pete, with boat and dignity intact, and were met by Norm from the brokers we had bought the boat from, who had very kindly not only given us a lift to Tom and Tracy’s in the morning, but came down to the marina later to help us dock.
On the canals in England, we often encountered what are known as ‘gongoozlers’, onlookers who gaze on as the boaters tackle the locks. I haven’t yet learned the equivalent American term, but there were some waiting as we docked. Admiringly, they enquired how old the boat was, and how many years we had had her. On being told that we bought her last week, and this was our maiden voyage, they were rapturous not only of Carina’s beauty but also Ian’s boat handling skills. I do have to admit he’d made quite a neat job of it.
Here’s a quick guided tour.