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Musings On A Sunset
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Musings on A Sunset

Standing in the shade of the gumbo-limbo next to the dock you feel a slight chill as a gentle brush of the wind tickles away the sweat. A soft rustle of leaves off-sets the louder cackle of the coconut palms while the gentle lapping wake slowly works its way through the mangrove pits, almost creating a symphony that beckons for the night . Iguanas eye you hungrily waiting for bits of salad to be tossed out, even though 'Big Max' the resident alpha is on guard and just going to eat it all anyway.

Coarse lines drag in your palm, catching slightly as you release the bow while the captain cranks up the twice Yanmars. Walking back to the stern, you must always check to see if water is flowing out of the exhaust. You're in a protected bay, but there is nothing worse then sitting 2 to 3 miles out within site of everything for an hour or two waiting on a tow to come and get you. It's MUCH easier to get stranded at dock, trust me on this one.

Releasing the stern line you gently push off, just enough to clear your splash guard from the bumper boards and step onto the boat. The sun isn't directly on you burning anymore and you realize its behind the trees, the day is almost done! Two loud clicks and the transmissions on the 1934 Grand Craft engage. As you slowly drift back towards the turning basin, all the diesel soot manifests and almost physically hits you. Breathing in deeply, you know that rich metallicy smell is bad, but for some reason just feels right. Two more loud clicks and the captain makes a turn starboard and heads up the canal towards the mouth of the marina. Eying your lines, ensuring nothing is too close (that is a bunch of teak and mahogany after all), you make your way forward to write out your logs.

"All clear!" is the call as you hear several loud clicks and the screws spin up and suddenly you're on plain. Never quite get used to the rush as you feel the boat break towards port heading at 2 o'clock towards the #5 marker. This is the smoothest part of the trip - no wake, minimal wind and easy to pull your course. Look a few clicks to the starboard side of the marker, and you will see a break between Big Munson and Cook Island, line your bow up and your good to go. Lean back, close your eyes and just relax.

It's easy to get lost in the moment as wind billows through your gear and a fine briny mist engulfs you chasing away the days heat for just a moment. There is a balance with everything and this is one of those times when it's all up-side and that alone should put you on your toes ...

SPLASH!!, as a salty foam hits you snapping you back to now. The captain calling in your position should have been a warning, the loud click as the port screw was adjusted for a course change should have been another hint, or even the trim tabs with their soft whine compensating for the roll. No matter, it just brings home the fact that you cant get caught up in anything too much. You head up front toward the wheel-house because if there is a nasty part of this bay, it's the course between #5 and #3 markers. The wind normally blows from the NE and races through Coupon Bight picking up any ounce of energy it can. By the time it reaches the channel it normally has the water good and ornery, so if you're heading to high tide, like we have now, you see at least a heavy chop if not 1 to 2's with whitecaps. No real concern but it's not worth dealing with unless the dolphins are out playing; but that's a different story.

Once you get to #5 the only thing you're really focused on is getting to the island. The channel narrows here and a sand bar is close that's one of the locals favorite hang-outs. Take the sun, combine it with scantly clad pretty people, alcohol, and god knows what else and it's not a place you want to be (unless you're one of the scantly clad people, but that is definitely a different story). I've seen 200 plus boats there on a big holiday weekend so it's best to just get through there as quickly and safely as possible, especially when you're on a 40ft all wooden boat that's detailed tighter then your car. In cases like this it's best to stay on your toes and get to #3 as as soon as you can to get out of the channel.

The captain spins down as we pull closer to the dock. One of the cooler parts of this job is when you pull your lines getting ready to dock with guests on the boat. For some reason you standing on the skirt leaning outside of the boat with one foot ready to jump to the dock, while holding onto a rail in one hand and your line in the other seems to really impress them. From a personal standpoint this is where it's all at. You almost feel like you are flying and the world is at your feet.

"Damn it!!" I whisper under my breath as the starboard turn straightens out and we make our final approach to the dock. Gonna miss the sunset AGAIN! Always just out of reach - either too early or too late. Once again it comes back to balance - and maybe I've found my true calling ... chasing sunsets.


Street Talk

The world is at our feet in these ways! Remembering learning to windsurf in Goa. Whoops! Didn't learn to turn around. So I sat as you say waiting for someone to tow me back. Blessing to be at a 5 star resort renting their equipment;)

Reply
  about 5 years ago

I especially like the part about the diesel cloud, the smell and how bad you know it is but it's just somehow right. When ever I smell that diesel I'm reminded of getting up early with my dad when I was very young and going with him in his fishing boat called Apollo and going out to pick up the cray pots. How wonderful that was. Yep, the smell of the diesel, how bad yet somehow so good. I enjoyed reading this, thanks:)

Reply
  about 5 years ago

No problem. this is one of my first articles here. Kinda cool to see people still read them. Thanks!

Reply
  about 5 years ago

Like most of Heathers writings, this one brought me home...I'm pretty far from the water for a few years now..and holistically speaking...not good...I lived on Big Pine Key...1987-90..I miss it..nice writing Wayne

Reply
  about 5 years ago

The rock is a good place to be that's for sure. Come on back:) Thanks for the comment

Reply
  about 5 years ago

Very good article, I felt like I was with you Wayne. Farthest I got down your way was just south of Tampa Bay.

Reply
  about 5 years ago

Thanks man .. I really starting to enjoy this

Reply
  about 5 years ago
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