Thursday, July 02, 2015

Adventures in Boating (Note: Kids Complicate Things)

Do not be fooled, these cutie pies can take a situation from bad to worse in no time.
We'd just had a teary farewell with the crew of s/v Necesse in Christmas Cove, USVI and made our way to Soper's Hole, Tortola. The small craft advisory, heavy winds and sporadic squalls that pushed back our departure date the previous day could hold us back no longer. We had business to tend to in Road Town, and time was of the essence. We headed out. Despite the strong winds (20-27 knots) the sail was uneventful, if not a little wet, and the girls happily slumbered in their berths the entire 2.5 hour trip, which made the passage that much easier.

Soper's Hole is not an ideal place to anchor. It's relatively deep (30+ feet) and very crowded. Despite this, we've found a "secret spot". We dropped anchor in our usual place tucked up in the bay near a marina, and Scott and I did the ole "divide and conquer" routine to get what we needed done as efficiently as possible. It was decided that Isla and I would head into Road Town (a 30 minute trip by car) and Scott would take the twins on a hike. He dropped off Isla and I on shore, and we began the process of hitchhiking. Within minutes we had a ride-share that, for $20, promised to take us where we were going as well as pick us up at 5pm.

With Isla strapped to me in her Tula Toddler Carrier , I zipped around Road Town from agency to agency, getting what we needed to get and delivering what we needed to deliver, finishing up by 4:30 pm. With a half hour to kill, Isla and I ventured to one of our favorite take-out places, Roti Queen, and got three vegetarian rotis ($5 a piece) to bring back to the boat for dinner. We also sprang for a small slice of carrot cake to nibble on while we watched Bollywood music videos on the screen above the counter and waited for our ride.

5:00pm came and went. We waited. And waited. And waited.

When it became clear our ride was not coming, I headed to the main road and flagged down a taxi. A minor snafu in the plan, but no big deal, as these types of hiccups are par for the course down here. We're used to it.

Scott and I had been communicating via text throughout the afternoon. He was returning to the boat to start the babies' dinner and would pick up Isla and I at the ferry dock in ten or fifteen minutes. All was well.

When Isla and I arrived at the dock, I looked over at our boat across the way. It appeared to be swooping in half moons. It was gusty, for sure. But something didn't look right at all...My stomach sank. Wait a minute...was it...could it be...moving!?! I tried to focus on Asante as I quickly handed the driver her fare and got Isla out of the car. Yes, the boat was definitely moving. Dragging? No. Moving. The engine was on, the tell tale spurt of water from the stern told me that. But...why? I could vaguely make out Scott at the helm as the boat continued to swinging widely, making swift movements and turns with the engine in full gear.

My heart began to race. Armed with the knowledge that a) Scott was alone with the babies b) it was well past their dinnertime and c) he was clearly struggling - I knew the situation on board was not ideal. Not by a long shot.

I watched nervously as I fumbled for our hand held VHF.

"Asante, Asante...this is Asante mobile" I called.
"This is Asante, go 09" Scott replied, quickly.
"Zero Nine" I repeated as I changed channels.
"What's happening Scott?" I asked, helplessly.
"Need to move" he snapped. I could hear the babies screaming loudly in the background.
"Yes, but why" I asked.
"Big Catamaran" he replied, as if in code "way too close" he finished with a snap.

Clearly, he couldn't elaborate but taking stock of the area I could see that a very large catamaran on the end of a t-dock had arrived while we were all out and we were clearly too close to it.

I held Isla on my lap and sat down on the dock. We helplessly watched and waited.

It was also about this time that I looked down at my bag and realized that I had left our rotis in the cab. Overwhelmed with the situation on what had already begun as a pretty crappy day, I started to cry. How the hell did I forget our dinner in the cab? "What a waste!" I cursed out loud.

"Mama, what's wrong" Isla asked, touching my face with her hand.
"Oh honey, it's okay," I wiped my eyes, "Mommy just left our roti's in the taxi and now we won't be able to have them for dinner". Realizing how ridiculous an example it was for her to see me cry over a few rotis, I gathered my emotions and smiled, "It's no big deal, honey, we can always get some more".

"Yeah" she echoed, "...we can always get some more".

We both went silent and looked back at the boat which by now had the anchor up and seemed to be doing a touch and go a the nearby dock. A blonde hopped aboard.

"Oh, good", I thought out loud, "I think Emily hopped on to help him".

"I like Emily" Isla chimed in.

Point for having friends all over the place in these islands. Emily is our age and lives here in Soper's Hole on her boat with her husband. She'd just arrived from a day charter when they noticed a boat struggling and realized it was ours. Right place, right time.

I could hear the babies screams from across the bay. A mama hearing her babies cry and being unable to get to them is a certain type of torture. I could only imagine the scene in the cockpit. Babies wailing in unison do absolutely nothing to help stressful boat situations, FYI.

"Scott, how's it going" I called on the radio when it appeared that he and Emily had the situation under control.

His voice was much more relaxed now, which instantly eased my worry, "We're fine. Emily's here, we're going to grab a private mooring that no one is on right now." The sense of accomplishment was clear in his voice. Everything was okay.

I sighed and felt all the tension escape my shoulders.

They secured the boat and Emily watched the girls while Scott picked up Isla and I. All was back to normal, the evening proceeded as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened.

Because if there is one thing that babies and boats will do for you, it's teach you to decompress super quickly after the s*** hits the fan. It's just another day, another spike in blood pressure, and another crisis averted.


Unknown said...

Great story and writing Brittany!

Anonymous said...

In complete agreement with D. Lee above. While I certainly do NOT love what you had to go through, this post is another example of why I DO love your blog/fb posts -- your life is so different from mine, but your writing gives me a window into your world, and I can feel all you're feeling. And of course, anyone can relate so well to the anguish of that last little straw that oversets us when we are edging near panic mode already; I actually cried out, "Noooo, not the rotis!" (And this is the first set of rotis I've ever encountered, lol.) So glad you're all okay, and that Asante is fine. And since it's equally fascinating to read about your calm, happy times, I'm wishing you nothing but those for the remainder of your sailing "season"!
~ P. Plunkett

Rachael said...

Wow, this post had me on edge the entire time. I also totally understand the upset over leaving the food in the taxi!!
I think your blog is fantastic!

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