What a Beautiful Day
Hey, Where's my boat?
A day at the 2005 Lake Powell Messabout
I'm sure I've done many double takes in my life though I can only really remember one before this, and it was a doozie. The double takes you don't remember are quick little events that your mind has unconsciously initiated to verify what or what has not been seen. The kind of double take I'm talking about is a long duration event. You glance or maybe even purposefully look at something, but what ever you see is just not right in some way or another. So you intentionally look away, not believing what you saw, or not comprehending it, and then look back to verify what you saw, hoping to see something that makes sense. This happened to my while I was flying an armed ultralight aircraft. I had reached to engage the major weapons system, as it were, and found that the armament was not there. That can't be! So I looked away, gave it about a second or two, enough time for reality to change and return the armament to its proper place. Upon looking back I found that indeed I was missing the major weapons system in its entirety. Not good, but that really is another story for another time. The double take this is about concerns my boat. My BRAND NEW ALL OUT FULL BORE RACING SAILBOAT. It's not there. Again that can't be, so I look away. When I look back amongst the handful of boats that are there, I can surely see that it is gone.
I had only recently completed this magnificent craft (if I must say so myself) and had christened and launched it just the day before. Other than a severe weather helm, and a little green water coming over the bow now and then when pushed hard it sailed beautifully. The bad weather helm most certainly slows her down, but it also means that she tacks on a dime! No kidding she barely gives you time to get from one gunwale to another if you throw the rudder over hard. She will raise hell during a tacking duel!
During her sea trials, or I suppose more accurately her Lake trials, she passed her self rescue test, a requirement for this class of racing boat, with flying colors. She did ship some water upon reboarding, but not so much as to cause controllability problems, or resist concerted effort by the crew to bail her out. You might say she is a little overcanvased, seeings that from what I understand you cannot reef a Lateen sail, but hey, anyone can sail in ideal conditions. So she's a fine craft all in all. I sailed her quite a bit on the day of her launch, and she was such an obvious high performance boat that only a couple of the boats in our little group came out and tried to take her to task. At the end of a long day of sailing it was back to the beach, and on with the evening activities. Good food, and the fine companionship of my fellow boaters and perhaps some wine in a box, made for a grand evening.
The next day dawned bright and beautiful. After taking care of my personal business, and commiserating with the other captains and crews, the wind picked up enough for me to get the urge to take her out and put her through her paces.
Thing is she's not there! I mean really NOT THERE, MISSING, ABSENT, DECAMPED, AWOL, LACKING, VANISHED. I did look away, a couple of times at least, and gave it ample time to get back to where it was supposed to be. You know just in case it was a trick of the eye. Hell, I even went to the other side of the little bay we were in just to look for it from a different angle. Nope most certainly she is GONE. Now the mind can process massive amounts of information in a surprisingly short period of time. At that time mine must have been processing ENOURMOUS amounts cause I stood there for a quite a while trying to ascertain where she had gone.
I came up with some plausible reasons for the missing boat. The primary reason was that I had failed to pull her on shore far enough and during the night a wind change blew her out into Lake Powell. This scenario fit under Occam's razor. An axiom that more or less that the simplest solution to a problem is the most likely solution. A distant second was the possibility that I was a victim of a practical joke. The third was that a jealous fellow racing boat captain somehow heard of the FANTASTIC performance of this boat, and in the night crept into the camp, stole the boat, took her to deep water and scuttled her, thereby eliminating a powerful contender. And the forth reason. The only failsafe reason for anything that happens. Aliens took her. I talked to one of my fellow boaters, Randy S. and he said that after breakfast he would be glad to take me out in his boat and search for her. In the mean time, I went on foot to the adjacent coves to see if perhaps the second possibility was true, and someone was playing me.
Now you may accuse me of being a paranoid, but as the saying goes "Just because you are paranoid, does not mean they are not out to get you". As difficult as it is to believe, I have been the victim of this kind of hijinks in the past. Now some folks may consider me one of the "loud and aggressive persons" that Max Ehrmann in ‘Desiderata' suggests you avoid, but I assure you that I fall well within the norm for aggressiveness, and the loud part is just good lung development, combined of course with an ability to project my voice. A skill learned in a very large army helicopter hanger where I found out that If I pitched my voice in a certain way, I could match a harmonic frequency of the hanger, causing normal speech impossible to understand and halting all operations taking place in said hanger. An interesting side note is that once that state of harmony is achieved, it is practically impossible to locate or identify the person making the noise. Kinda fun if you are bored. But getting back to the subject at hand, since some people have misunderstood my true "go kindly upon the earth" personality. They have on occasion, possibly under the misguidance of others treated me to their kindly attempts at humor. Since this is only the second time I have met with most of the fine folks who attended this 2nd annual Lake Powell Messabout in boats (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LakePowellMessabout), I felt reasonably assured that I was not the victim of a hoax. Thing is, that due to a very minor character flaw, I was unable to reasonably exclude that possibility. So ever so slightly saddened and troubled I was whence Randy and I began the search.
There is a test that I learned about somewhere in my formal or informal schooling. It is the "Test of Ridiculousness" or the "The Test for Ridiculousness" or sometimes "What the #*@&". The basic tenet of this test is that upon consideration of any solution to any problem, first ask yourself is this solution ridiculous. For example, if you multiply 24x3 and your answer is 6,583,647.8, it is obvious that this answer fails the test for ridiculousness. You cannot multiply two positive whole numbers and come up with an answer that is not an integer. The .8 gives it away. In any case when examining a situation to determine if perhaps a prank is being played, that test can come in handy. After 4 hours of motoring about, searching miles of coastline on either side of our anchorage, it became apparent that this was probably not a joke. The amount of effort it would have taken to move the boat this far from camp would have exceeded by a power of ten the pleasure gotten from watching that @$$hole look for his boat. My faith in the goodness of human nature was justified and restored. Honest I was looking for a boat that had blown away the whole time.
Fortunately about the time that Randy was beginning to show the merest signs of regret for the sailing time lost in this quest for the wayward boat, a Lake Powell Park Ranger boat came within hailing distance. The captain of that boat upon hearing my sad tale of woe and lost boats bid me to join him and continue the search in his vessel. Which was by the way powered by two, TWO HUNDRED HORSPOWER Honda outboards. I quickly took him up on his offer bidding Randy thank you, adieu and safe voyage.
Hardly had I boarded when the Ranger unleashed the ponies, and soon we traveling across the lake searching for my boat at such a velocity to make a visual search all but impossible. Ah, but what I ride. In the course of the search the Ranger, spotting a seeming regulation violator on a personal watercraft. Holy Moly could that boat turn. Seems he did warn me to hang on when I boarded. No I didn't lose my footing, I just thought I spotted a penny and quickly got down on the deck to see. After issuing an warning to the malcreants on the PWC, the Ranger radioed base and asked if the dispatcher would make some calls to the local marina's inquiring about the missing boat. Only a few minutes passed when the dispatcher returned our call stating that indeed the boat had been found and was currently tied up to the dock and Bullfrog marina! HURRAH. In a very few minutes (Two, TWO HUNDRED HORSEPOWER Honda outboards) and we were at the marina, And there she was, in exactly the condition I had left her in except with some additional tow lines and tied up to a dock more than 4 miles as the crow flies away. I straightaway went to the Marina office inquired about the status of my vessel. They responded that she had been found adrift in the lake, and someone, unknown had brought her to the marina and tied her up to a large floating tire mooring near the entrance to the marina. One of there personnel had retrieved her to her present location tied to a dock deep within the labyrinth of the marina.
I cautiously inquired as to the fees that I may owe for the services that the marina rendered. They informed me that the usual fee would come to about Two Hundred Dollars. They waived the fee, obviously because they thought the reward of just seeing such a fine craft, let alone to be allowed the privilege of towing it into the marina and tying it to their dock was worth far more than the proposed fees. Luckily, I don't think that they heard me when I blurted out that for $200 they could keep the damn boat. Upon hearing of the waiver I thanked them profusely and beat a hasty retreat.
What was Lost is now Found!!!! Upon close inspection no damage was revealed, in fact I was now the proud owner of an additional 30 feet of line composed of varying length, size and material sections of sheet, cordage, line, hawser, etc. warped, tied or merely tangled together to form a tow rope. Bonus! Even the high dollar ultra light weight double ended graphite kayak paddle that I bought when I thought I'd be a white water kayaker (A thought by the way, that ended when I found my self upside down in the Snake River during spring run-off. A tale of woe whose moral is that a KILLER Eskimo role in the heated indoor city pool does not directly translate to a killer Eskimo role in 300,000cfm mountain river fed by the spring snow melt) was still there.
Once bailing was finished, did I mention she takes water over the bow in big waves?, I rigged the sail dropped the leeboard and sailed out of the marina toward open water. The fortunate part was that it only took two or three hundred tacks to get out of the marina. Good thing that she tacks well, cause it's tough to beat into the wind out of the maze of docks that make up Bullfrog Marina.
By now the afternoon picked up, and the seas were running 2 to three feet and she had a bone in her teeth as we beat upwind from Bullfrog to the campsite. It was a pleasant sail filled with the things that make sailing worth while. The Sun, the wind, the beautiful blue water, the constant bailing. Did I also mention that she takes a little water if pushed enough that the gunwales go below the water line? Not that she is a wet boat or anything.
There was one interesting event that occurred on the way back, involving the ferry "Charles Hall', the car ferry that plys Halls Crossing. Seems that being a sailboat, as opposed to a powered craft, being the overtaken vessel, as opposed to being the overtaking vessel, AND being on the starboard tack, is not enough to ensure right of way in federal waters. Not to worry, far be it from me to interfere with peaceful commerce. Did I mention how quickly she tacks. I did raise the protest flag after the "Charles Hall" did not yield to my craft regardless of rules of the sea.
The final turn around the point and a downhill run with the wind to our safe anchorage, the one with the big rock in the middle, and the voyage of the lost boat was over. I proud sailor I was returning from this adventure to the hails and cheers of the awaiting throng, or at least the two or three folks that
weren't out sailing and such. For showing such pluck courage, fortitude, perseverance and seamanship, I was awarded by unanimous consent a 12 inch spike with which to drive into the bedrock to secure my fine craft from any further adventures without
The vessel in question is the infamous "Sittin" Duck. She is a Puddle Duck Racer, hull number56. Puddle Duck Racers are a one design racing sailboat with a Portsmouth Handicap ratingof 140.0. Everything you might want to know about Puddle Duck Racers can be found at http://www.pdracer.com/. Photos of "Sittin" and her construction can be found at http://buckwheat-anderson.com/bcanderson/Boatz/PDRacer/PDRacer.html
If you give me money, I'll try to spend it.