Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Shock and Awe: Dropping Bombs on Amber & Pope’s Excellent Adventure

Two days ago, I had a major personal breakdown. Today, Pope had one.
We headed for an anchorage at Melbourne Beach, a small town on the barrier island between the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic.

According to cruising websites, the town had a free municipal dock for motorboats and dinghies, a well-stocked supermarket, and a beautiful beach just a short walk over the isthmus. Sailboats with a deeper draft can anchor just offshore in 6 feet of water and dinghy to the dock.
Anchoring for a night is free, whereas staying in a marina costs anywhere from $1.25 to $2.00 per foot of boat plus incidentals (electricity, pumpout of holding tank, laundry, ice). We have anchored several times on this journey to save money and avoid crowds; but this was the first time we broke out the used dinghy we bought with our “good ol’ boat” (see previous blog post) in order to get ashore.
We had pumped up the inflatable rubber dinghy before the trip to check for air leaks.
We forgot to put the dinghy in the water to check for water leaks!
We arrived in Melbourne later than desired-- 4 pm, only an hour before sunset. We anchored 300 yards offshore. The wind and current were creating white caps cresting up to 10-12”.
As soon as we launched the dinghy from the boat deck, it took on water through a seam in the bottom.  I grabbed a bucket in case we had to bail water. As we dropped our body weight into the dinghy, the inflow increased. Er, I should be honest…. water poured in. I immediately paused and questioned the wisdom of going forward with the plan to buy milk, walk the beach, and return after dark with the help of headlamps. Pope immediately threw himself into the adventure.
I got hysterical. He began to row.
Most dinghies are equipped with a small outboard engine. However, while cruising, the dinghy and engine are stored separately on the big boat. Getting them both out and mounting the engine is twice as much work as rowing--any time, any place.  In wind and waves, lowering a heavy engine from a moving platform onto another moving platform and screwing it on is…(take a moment to picture this task)…risky. We didn’t take that risk.
Instead, we took the risk of rowing against wind and current in fading light…etc etc etc.
Glance quickly at the obligatory sunset-over-the-beach picture, then we'll move right to the end of the story.

Pope bought milk, I glanced quickly at the beach and snapped this shot, and we started back pronto, under the most beautiful sunset ever. Take my word for it. Pope was too busy straining at the oars and I was too busy bailing to take a picture. Under pink and blue stripes, we struggled and bailed and then tried for another 10 tense minutes to grab hold of anything at all on the heaving and weaving big boat.
Some time later, safely tucked into our v-berth, I broke loose with a torrent of tears that lasted well into the night.
Risk of drowning in the sea: 0.5%. (The water was only 6 feet deep, remember.) Risk of drowning in hysterics: 65%.
Today, I got down the log book and calculated expenditures to date. Time for Pope’s tears! Counting purchase price, repairs and renovations, operations and maintenance, food and provisions, and activities on shore, we have broken the $30,000 level. We’ve been out 48 days. That averages roughly $600 a day. For that, we could have stayed at an over-water cabana with floating pool in Bora Bora or be massaged and pampered at a Caribbean spa.
Are we having a $600/day experience? Hmmmmm.
Have you been reading my blog?


  1. Amber I am definitely reading your wonderful blog although my hair has begun to stand on end every time I log on. I am beginning to believe that you are making up all these mishaps since there is no way THAT much could go wrong THAT often. And remember, just like in baseball, there's no crying in sailing. (Well maybe a little bit, once in a while.)

  2. With time and perspective, I'll bet this sailing adventure will be worth much more to you and Pope than any $600 per day vacation in Bora Bora. Stay safe and keep writing the story!

  3. i too am reading the blog. silence when nothing need be said is eloquence of expression.