Saturday, September 3, 2016

Hard Luck No More

I got lucky! Loyal readers, for three years you have been hearing about the black cloud that hovers over me on sailing escapades and mis-adventures.

I believe the tide has turned. (Literally AND figuratively.) In the last few days, luck has dealt me--well, not a full house, but at least two aces. I am sitting on a sailboat, smiling.

My saga began at 8:20 am Wednesday. After a peaceful week canning peaches at an Islesboro farm, Dylan, the itinerant farm hand, picked up Pope and me in his 14-foot dory. With our luggage stacked high and dry in the prow, we headed east--away from green beans and chutney toward a bareboat charter with old friends.
A half-mile out, engine quits. Dylan checks the gas line. Forward a few yards. Again, sputters to a halt. Tinkers with the choke. Restart. Cough. Forward. Stop.

Discouraged and (undoubtedly) concerned about our safety, Dylan circled the boat around. He peered intently at me. I may be wrong, but I thought I saw a glimmer of tear in his eye. Maybe his concern was really for his $100 fee.
"I'm sorry; I guess it's too risky," he said. Then he paused. "If it were just me, I'd go for it."

For a split-second I debated the likelihood of getting help if the engine stopped for good in the middle of the bay. 

"Go for it," I replied. It wasn't like we had other good options. A ferry to the mainland on the wrong side of the bay, a once-a-day bus to the head of the bay, and a private taxi for 70 miles down the eastern shore--a risky and much more expensive option. With Dylan, it was 7 miles straight across the bay.

Well guess what: we made it across! In fits and starts, but we made it -- the first of my lucky breaks. I was smiling as we disembarked at Buck's Harbor.
At the dock, we spotted an old, run-down 42-foot ketch at the dock. The decks were cracked and warped. "After our good fortune today, wouldn't it be ironic if that were our boat!" we chuckled.
Alas, it was. Our other crew members arrived--Dave, Joanne, Mark, and Larry, by car and plane from Colorado. Together we peered down the companionway at dirty walls, stained cushions, and peeling floorboards. Uh oh. This was not the norm for a $6,000 charter!
Joanne and I examined the dirty sleeping bags (missing: the freshly laundered sheets and towels we expected) and swiped shelves and galley with Lysol wipes. Dave and Pope focused on more important issues: No shore power? Underpowered battery charger? Broken stove? Dinghy with no oarlocks? And the deal breaker...NO holding tank?!
After an uneasy night onboard, the crew convened on deck to examine our options: Back out and ask for a refund--a long shot. Look for another charter, at our expense. Last resort: AirBnB and ferries to the islands. We opted for the long shot. 

Dave and Pope marched to the marine office to try to break the contract, armed with "Mis-representation!" "Contract null and void!"

My luck was about to change--for the second time in two days! The confrontation was over in five minutes. The marina owner, aware of the boat's condition, offered: "What do you want? Different boat?" 

Different boat?? Different boat!! YES! We landed a sleek, beautiful Titan 37--small for our crew of six, but lovingly cared for and appearing to be in excellent shape.
Hallelujah! We were happy to be leaving on a beautiful boat. The marina was happy to see us leaving on a beautiful boat--or just happy to see us leaving.
We sailed off into the sunset, literally, dropping the anchor in a quiet cove as the sky was just beginning to pale to pink and blue.
All smiles at last, we celebrated the first of what we hope will be many happy hours. Tomorrow: another lucky day?

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