Step lively and grab the lifeline…

Pictures for this blog are posted a couple of days hence.

Today was exciting and maybe tomorrow you will get to see some photos and even a video. Right now there is just text but it is exciting.

Jan and I left our temporary home for the last week at Bluewater Bay. This was certainly a great place to be stuck. Pulling off the dock we learned a valuable lesson. Take in all fenders before moving off a dock with pilings, because fenders can get caught and pull a rail off your boat. I was on deck and Jan was backing her off when I saw a fender hang as the boat kept moving. I hollered and watched in horror as the high handrail along the side of the cabin flexed down but somehow it did not pull out of the boat and I was able to push the boat off the piling and free the fender. I can see a tiny dimple in that rail where it bent down but most people would never notice it.

On out into Choctawhatchee (I have been spelling this wrong) Bay where the wind got stronger with every mile and as we approached the Mid-Bay Bridge there were two to three foot waves but they were all coming straight at us which made things more manageable.

We were heading for a point off Buck Bayou around Four Mile Point. For those who know this area, Sandestin Resort is on the west side of the point and Buck Bayou is on the east side. We were going to rendezvous with an 18 foot Carolina Skiff and take on four passengers and now it seemed we were going to do this in at least two foot seas. Getting someone off of one boat and onto another is ticklish at best in calm seas but this was just plain crazy.

Jan took the helm and I went to prepare to receive passengers. I wore a lifejacket because I would have to step out on a bucking swim platform and I took our man overboard throw bag just in case someone fell in trying to jump between boats. Jan and I were in communication with headsets. I rigged a lifeline from the flybridge ladder with a big knot on the end to hand it to each person to use to pull themselves across.

Larry Taulbee was directed to approach Cbay from behind and people would step off the front of his boat and onto our swim platform. Sounds simple but not so easy to do with both boats moving. I asked them to throw me a line and they only had a string that I tried to hold but it was not long enough to tie off so it nearly pulled me off the back. This would not do so I luckily had a good line available on the stern cleat and tossed it to TJ Gray. They secured it and now we had them secure and were ready to take the first brave soul aboard. Sharon came up and timed it just right to step over. I handed her the lifeline and urged her to move quickly inside the cockpit. Then I wanted TJ so I would have him as a hand to help me. He came over and the skiff drifted and so did that tight line. I shouted for him to step over it before it swept him off. Next was Sue Distin and she did fine but did not have TJ’s long legs so the line started pushing her back and she was about to fall backwards when I caught her arm and held on until she could duck under the line.

Now only Tommy was left. But Tommy had been handling the boat and Larry had been holding the line on a cleat. They would have to change places somehow for this to work or so I thought. I did not count on Tommy Gray’s skill with boats. He is first not a small man and you would think he would be slow and heavy in his movements. Nothing could be further from the truth. He throttled that skiff forward till it almost came over our swim platform, dropped it into neutral as he sprang from the wheel and like a gazelle was across the skiff and on our swim platform before Larry even knew he had left the helm. That left Larry standing on the front of his boat holding a line and wondering as I did what had just happened as Tommy stood there grinning as if he did this every day. I hollered for Larry to let go the line and as he did I told Jan to take Cbay forward thus putting distance between the two boats.

Larry headed home and everyone made their way to the flybridge. Jan was wanting to know what happened as she only heard it through her headset. We had quite a tale to tell this day.

The rest of the day was fairly uneventful as we entered the “ditch” between Destin and PC. It is a 30 mile cut from Choctawhatchee Bay to West Bay and very narrow. The winds got into the twenties toward lunch and Tommy and TJ had a turn at the wheel. We ate a great platter of sandwiches for lunch.

Upon entering West Bay the wind was really blowing hard and waves picking up but the boat handled it well. We eventually made our way into St. Andrews Bay and under the massive Hathaway Bridge. As a child I crossed the old steel Hathaway drawbridge and watched the new highrise bridge being built as an adult.

The wind died down as we approached the bridge and was fairly calm when we reached the St. Andrews Marina. Tommy took her in and Jan and I handled the lines. This is a beautiful updated marina with floating docks and really big boats. We tied up right in front of our old traveling companion Irony, the Florida Bay Coaster, we first encountered at Bobby’s Fish Camp when their dog Buster bit me. Buster was there to greet us and I kept a careful eye on him. We somehow picked the best day of the year to arrive here. They were having a market day on the dock with a craft fair. Two bands were playing within earshot of the boat. Tonight they had the annual Christmas boat parade with gorgeous lighted vessels. We will post pictures. We watched the Alabama-Auburn game and then had a fabulous dinner on the deck at Ernie’s. The Taulbees joined us and a good time was had by all. Our friends departed for Destin and then there were two left aboard Cbay. Tomorrow will be a work day.

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