Monday, November 28, 2016, a day that will live in infamy.
Ridge and I headed out from our anchorage at Rodriguez Key a little after 7:00 a.m. The wind had picked up considerably during the night and it was blowing about 20 knots when it was time to pull the anchor up (my job, and one that I do fabulously, btw (hella better than Ridge)). Once the anchor was up we headed around the island toward our final destination in Key Largo, Florida. This is where we would haul out and keep our boat for the next seven weeks. The trip from Rodriguez Key to Key Largo should have taken about 30-4o minutes I would imagine. We got the anchor up smoothly considering we were getting blown all over the place, but again, that was my job ;). Once we rounded the Northern tip of Rodriguez Key we called the Boat Yard to get better instructions on how to come in the channel to tie up, as there is very little water there and we had to hit it right at high tide. We spoke to the owner who gave us a brief synopsis and told us to look for three galvanized pipes sticking out of the water, and to keep those pipes 5-8 feet to our starboard. We were then told to call the Boat Yard and one of the employees on staff would give us more instruction. We called the Boat Yard and the owner again answered, I apologized and told him I thought I called the proper number, but obviously not, and he then gave me the correct number to call. I quickly jotted down the phone number he gave me, as we were about 10 minutes out at this point. As I went to redial the number that had just been given to me, I realized it was the same number that I had JUST called. Instead of calling it again, I went to their website to get the office number—same number. We called again and once again got the owner, Sam. He informed us that the manager hadn’t undone the night lines and calls were getting forwarded to his cell phone. He asked where we were then—A this point maybe five minutes out, and we were just passing the first galvanized pipe. He then advised us that we should be in the clear then and to come right in to the concrete dock ahead. Right about this time, Ridge starts yelling that the depth has dropped below 5 feet, 4.5, 4.3, he slows the engines wayyy down, and I am relaying this to the owner–he tells us there is 5.5 feet of water where we are and we should be okay. I tell Ridge and almost immediately, we realize we are stuck. We have run aground. I tell the owner and he says he will be there in 15 minutes to sort it out. By the time I had hung up with the owner, Ridge had already begun Operation Break Free, and had been throwing us in reverse with zero movement. It is also at this moment that I realize we are more than 5-8 feet from the galvanized pipes. After a lot of profanity and head shaking, Ridge comes up with a plan. Ridge decides to put the stern anchor out. Ridge walks the stern anchor out until he can no longer touch the bottom and buries it there. His plan was to attach the end of the anchor line to the wench and try and wench ourselves backwards into deeper water. We would put it in reverse and at the same time wench the line. Side note: Ridge did this after checking underneath the boat and confirming that it was just the keel sitting on the bottom, not the props/sail drives. We do not Budge! At this point the owner had called once again to check on us and told us he would be out to help. Also, at this point it is past high tide and we pretty much think that we are going to be stuck here for 12 hours until the next high tide. At the next high tide it would be too dark to come in the channel, and we would likely have to go back to Rodriguez Key once freed and do this all over again the next day… A few minutes later the owner zipped out to us in a little Boston Whaler and asked that we throw him a bowline. His plan was to pull us starboard, into the channel. We threw him a line, and Ridge and I both looked at each other and said “there is no effing way this is going to work”. After one try and no success, and the owner almost getting the bow line stuck in his prop, things looked bleak. He went for a third try and the line came loose from his boat entirely. After re-adjusting the bowline and what I imagine was the last try, he pulled more aft and starboard this time and we started to move! It is at exactly this moment that Ridge sees that the stern anchor line is still around the wench and that force could potentially rip the wench off the boat. He is able to get it off and throws the line at me. I am having to slowly release some of the line so that it won’t get caught in our prop. Sam, yells to us to attach a fender to the remaining line, let go of it, and he will go back and get it for us. When he says this, I see how little line is actually left to go out and I also have no fender close by at all. Ridge sees the panic in my face and runs and grabs a fender and throws it to me to tie to the line that is now almost gone. It was like a movie, all we were missing was the dramatic music. The line was about to slip through my hands and I had only seconds to tie a fender to it. I tied a knot, and let go and the line was out of my hands. Also, side note, all this line had been feeding out of an old laundry basket—that’s just what we had used to store it in as it was a ton of line. Well, I knocked that over as the line went out and it floated out to sea. The line and anchor are now gone—attached to a floating mark that Sam would retrieve– next challenge, we are still in 20 knots of breeze and have to tie up to a concrete dock. Ridge asks me to move two fenders to the port side, we could have really used that one I just set adrift in the ocean… I frantically untie one from the starboard side and move it to port and rearrange another one from the port side. I am feeling pretty awesome…I am a boater now. I do shit. Important, helpful shit. We had to do everything super fast and it looks like we did it! As we come into the dock, I threw a stern line to the employee at the Boat Yard, and then a bow line. At about this time Ridge tells me that one of the fenders I “attached” isn’t attached at all and is just hanging, pinned between our boat and the concrete dock (so honestly…still kind of doing its job of keeping us off the dock…). At right about this time Sam pulls up on the Whaler and says that he picked up our fender, but it wasn’t tied to the anchor line. Ridge looked at me and if looks could kill… #dead. Sam left his boat for us to use to take out after we got settled to try and find the anchor. I knew that if I didn’t spot that anchor first or at all (but mainly before Ridge) and claim some sort of victory that I was going to be getting sassy comments for a long time (and we have a 24 hour flight coming up soooo…had to make it happen). I will rewind a bit before I get to the anchor hunt, but the haul and block went smoothly so nothing fun to share there, super helpful and super nice employees. Ridge and I decided to go grab a bite to eat before we went out to search for the anchor (we both hadn’t eaten a single morsel all day and that was not helping our situation). After lunch, we borrowed the Boston Whaler and after Ridge figured out how to operate it, we headed out to the channel (well, close to it) to try and find it. Ridge seemed to think it was further out than I, and turns out…I WAS RIGHT– I spotted it right where I thought it would be (I guess this was because I kind of dropped it there myself), but in any event—we found it, followed the line right to the anchor (all 200ish feet of it). After some serious digging, Ridge was able to free the anchor and pull it up. This felt like a big win for me but lets just see what Ridge says in his version of the events. I guess its only fair that we have a case of the Mondays like everyone else once in a while. Its hard to complain about a lot when you are literally living the dream, but seriously…all of this happened before 9:00 a.m.