We have splashdown

Riding the marina launch to the recently splashed Karen Marie, I peered through the mooring field trying to get a glimpse of her. My tip-toes found relief quickly when her profile came into view. Her bowed sheer line seemed to smile at me and I smiled looking at the mast, standing vertically for the first time.

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Though I had spent months aboard her on land, tending to her brightwork and many cosmetic needs I felt as if I were aboard a totally different boat. Gently rocking back and forth had thrown off my muscle memory as I stumbled aboard and made my way into to the cabin. I would find a flashlight and frantically check her bilge and stuffing box. Seeing both bone dry I breathed a sigh of relief. Cracking open a cold beer I sat with my feet dangling off her stern.

Watching darkness descend on the Newport skyline as the final fiery rays of the day retreating over Jamestown was a sight I have ogled many times before, though it had been a long time (and I mean a real long time) since I admired it from a mooring. It was a moment that was sweeter than the lime in Corona.  Image

I’m glad no one else was out on the water that night, because a man sitting alone on his boat with a goofy grin is sure to give the wrong impression.

Ruined Plans

Before my mast broke apart before my very eyes, I had a plan in mind as to how the day would go. After an afternoon of sailing, my girlfriend and I would run to shore, pick up a few last minute items then spend our first night aboard. We’d watch the sunset sink over the harbor with a glass of champagne…yup, it was going to be perfect.

Alas, Murphy and his law were aboard with us that day. After tying up to our designated mooring we hopped in the marina launch and went ashore. Leaving my damaged vessel, the operator informed me that the last shuttle back out to her would be at six o’clock sharp. Looking at my watch and knowing I had to drive to 40 minutes each way to bring the original owner home, I knew I would be cutting it close to make it back in time for the last launch. Very close.

Driving shall we say, efficiently, I left Scott in at his home and returned to my apartment. I would have to gather everything we needed for our night aboard and be back on the road in 10 minutes. Frantically, I threw peanut butter pretzels, a pillow, champagne and a toothbrush onto a blanket, wrapped it up took off for the door. Watching me pack “the essentials” must have terrified Karen, but she played along.

With the sun sinking fast, I drove, again efficiently, over the Pell Bridge to Jamestown, glancing from the clock to the sinking sun the entire way. In spite of everything that had gone wrong during the day, I was determined to make it.

Skidding into the marina, I got out of my car and ran down to the launch with boat cushions under each arm and a pretzel filled blanket in my hand, while Karen trailed behind, I’m sure contemplating the logic of spending the night in a confined space with someone who was using a blanket for luggage.

The launch operator looked at me like I was a lunatic, which was fair enough and took us out to the boat. Before dropping us off, the operator asked, “you know this is the last shuttle right? Are you sure you want to stay out here all night?”

The sun was just about to set. I looked back at him, “I was staying.”

Still all wound up, I went down bellow to find a bottle opener for the champagne. As I fumbled around the drawers looking for it, the last rays of light penetrated the starboard port lights.

“Forget the champagne!”

I ran topside dragging Karen with me and we sat down, just in time… to have completely missed the sunset.

I wish I could say I took a deep breath, and said something insightful about how despite everything it was still great to be out on the water. No such luck.

I drowned my sorrows in stale peanut butter-filled pretzels, wondering what the hell had I gotten myself into.