Fed up with looking at the bayou through the window, at Wilber sitting at the dock not being used, putting inconsequential rationals ahead of actually, god forbid, having fun. I stepped the mast and drifted with gentle, half hearted paddle strokes out into the protected waters of our little piece of paradise called Roberts Bayou.
The wind was hardly there, just enough to sail with but coming directly in the channel through which I needed to go…right on the nose, and short tacking in this little Polynesian style cat was not feasible. Oh, I tried because I’m stubborn like that, and each time I would end up back where I started or over in the weed banks. The stink boaters getting drunk on the beach here at Pirates Cove were, I should imagine, having a wonderful commentary amongst themselves about this primitive looking boat getting stuck in the reeds.
Perhaps I should put a fifty horse on the back and just drive out? It seems to be the trend nowadays, putting on way too much horsepower for whats really needed. An example is the pontoon boats, they have always been slow, stable, picnic style boats where you just potter along at a sedate pace, to a nice sheltered lagoon… quiet, peaceful and simply hang out. Now we’re seeing the same pontoons with a 95 Hp Yamaha hanging off each pontoon and screaming around with 30 foot rooster tails!
We’re not in Kansas anymore.
Hell, a sports fishing center console came in the other day and on the back was five…FIVE!…450Hp race prepped engines…it’s a FISHING BOAT FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!
Anyway, I decided to get my little groove on and go for a sail around Arnica Bay. Casey was recuperating after her hip replacement, my brain was feeling a lot like the scrambled eggs I burnt in the pan that morning and I really needed to just hurry up and slow down.
The image below is from a while ago but it illustrates the feeling very well.
So I did. I got Wilber prepped, and worked my way over to exit the channel. I cheated of course, with the wind coming directly into the channel I was having a hard time making way. A friend of mine was going out for jaunt in his Carolina skiff and seeing the love affair I was having with the reeds on the far bank he offered to tow me out through the channel and into clear water. I may rag on stink boats but I also appreciate their convenience sometimes…and this was a sometime.
He tossed me a line and, with my head hung low, I got towed into the open water of Arnica Bay.
I felt dirty.
When the boating traffic is low in these bayous and bays, the waterways become a serene, delightful piece of paradise. Closing your eyes for a while and listening, the water comes alive as it sings along the hull, bird calls drift out from the trees lining the banks, and the occasional fish slapping the surface chasing food, one could be forgiven for fantasizing about a time before the white fella came and changed everything.
Wilber has a funny way of traveling. He’s a very shallow draft boat with a slightly ve’ed keel which does not give great lateral resistance to sail with. At the bow the keel has a fine forefoot which is where the main lateral resistance is made and it does get better with load and speed, but running light like this a lot is lost to leeway. So we have three vectors to deal with, direction of wind, direction of travel and the actual angle of the boat. At times we tend to crab sideways a lot before speed picks up the hulls grip the water a little better, but even then there is always a slight sideways aspect to the boat.
It used to annoy me a great deal but now it’s just part of the adventure, kind of not being late because you’re not running on a schedule.
Dolphins often glide up to the silent hulls and hang out for while, sometimes even cruising just out of arms reach and between the hulls as they watch this funny little craft scooting along. I once had a baby dolphin come in with its mum, it was only about a meter long (that’s about three feet), it was kind of like an aquatic puppy the way it cavorted around its mum and Wilber’s hulls. These very special moments make me smile. You see, of the tens of millions of people that live along the U.S. coastline, I’m probably the only one, that at that very moment, was being trusted by a dolphin mummy in allowing her little baby to be this close to and playing around a human.
During the summer weekends, power boats scream around the place full throttle, big engines, loud music. The cacophony going on under the surface must be insane. I can only imagine what the Mum is saying to junior when its quiet like this, “See darling , this is what the world used to be like before those big noisy things started coming around, and this little boat here was all we knew. Treasure these moments little one, for you know that creature sitting up there on this boat surely is”.
The slight breeze was enough to send me sailing a couple of miles along the shoreline and forget a little of the turmoil that has been surrounding Casey and I since she smashed her hip in Costa Rica. It was a healing balm for the soul and a reminder of what the world should be like, and will be again after Casey recovers. Sometimes the road ahead seems long, tough and very daunting, but keeping an eye on our dreams and being able to touch a little of that dreams reality can help to smooth out the image of that road, and make it a little less daunting.
Your article reminded me of my first boat. My father bought me that old Hell’s Bay boat. I don’t have my father with me anymore, but this boat still has a part of my heart. Thank you for bringing these memories and emotions back to me.
Thanks for the nice note. It has a special vibe that takes me straight to the beach. I also hope that Casey is doing well now.