Sunday, October 24, 2010

Potential Crisis: AVERTED!

I have already said it and thanked the Universe for it - Scott and I have been pretty dang lucky this trip.

What could have happened today is proof positive of this luck.  And a good lesson to be reminded of...

We were motoring down the Erie Canal, just as calm and peacefully as ever.  We had just crossed “Cross Lake” and were entering (what we thought was) the canal from the other side.  I was reading, Scott was at the helm.

“Oh look, we have an early waver!” Scott said, “A nice older lady in blue”.

Wavers, refer to the people along the canal that, obviously, wave to us.  Not everyone is a waver we have learned.  We’re not sure why - but some people just don’t wave back - aside from making the initial waver feel like an idiot, it seems pretty rude.  But we continue to do this.  Naturally, we are always happy to meet people on the banks that actually wave to us first.  Hence "early waver".  

I look up from my book, and sure enough there is a nice lady in blue...waving both her arms...over her head...frantically.  And yelling something.  Huh.  Pretty zealous this one, I thought.

“I think she’s trying to tell us something” Scott said.  

Ya think?

Scott slowed the engine and I turned down the stereo.

Hmmm...looks as though we've run aground, but we have not!  
We couldn’t make it out, but it sounded like she was telling us to...turn around?  That we would ‘hit’?  Scott throttled back some more.

She now had both her hands cupped around her mouth acting as a megaphone, “You missed the turn, TURN AROUND, you will RUN AGROUND”.

We looked at each other like “Huh” and then looked at our chartplotter.  We were thoroughly confused.  Everything looked fine on the plotter.

This can never be a paperless world.
Not wanting to risk running aground or ‘hitting’ whatever it was that we would hit, we turned around.

“Do you think she was just crazy or something?” Scott asked.

“Maybe?" I thought, "But I think we should call the next lock operator and ask him, maybe he can tell us something...” I suggested.

While Scott called the lock operator, I checked the paper charts we had. (Phew)

The lock operator, though very kind, offered little clarification other than “Was it woman or a kid?” after Scott told him of the waving person on the bank.  Apparently kids are real tricksters around here?  Who knows.

Then we saw it, right there on the paper chart.  The “State Ditch Cut” that was NOT on our chartplotter.  That was where we needed to go.  We had missed the (non-descript, unmarked) turn about a quarter mile back.

Had we continued on our merry way, and had that lovely woman in blue not come out to 'wave' at us, we would have run aground in 3 feet of water.  While running aground in our boat wouldn’t be the end of the world, it would be a real pain in the ‘A' and definitely cost us some time.

Bullet:  Dodged.

Thank you wonderful lady in blue for coming out of your home to wave at us - you were, by far, the best, most friendliest waver yet!

Lesson(s) learned:  
1) ALWAYS have paper charts.  Yes, even if you are on a relatively straightforward waterway that seems fool proof.
2) Wavers might not just be "waving" hello, they might be warning you of something.  Waving with two hands over head is indication of urgency (and the international "distress" signal), so pay attention.


Brittany (& Scott)


vytas sunshine daydream said...

Ha, thanks for the memories. We were once saved by an "early waver," but I don't think it was where you guys were. I do remember Cross Lake now though, which is one of the hundreds of places to which we've been and that are slowly seeping out of our memory. We were west-bound on our way home (East-bound we did Lake Ontario and the Oswego Canal to Erie) and we anchored for the night in the SW corner of Cross Lake. And I do remember the sharp left hand turn we had to make into the "ditch." If you haven't run aground yet, don't worry... you will. Wait til you get to the ICW ;)
S/V Sunshine Daydream

Mid-Life Cruising! said...

Good lesson! Sounds like there are a lot of such places to be aware of. Glad it worked out. You must have given the gods a lot of spirits at some point and kept them happy! =)

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