And the DUMB ASS award goes to…

…Captain Rusty of course! Certainly you do not think if it had gone to the Admiral that I would have called it that do you? Yes friends, in the game of running aground I have won the best two out of three for the undisputed championship. But before I tell you why we are calling our favorite diver Scott Cummings, let me first tell you the harrowing tale of our narrow escape from Stuart this very morning.

We begin our story early this morning around 0730. During breakfast we perused the weather info only to discover that a wind advisory was in effect for the entire trip we had planned for today. In summary it said winds building in the morning with gusts up to 35 mph and continuing throughout the day. Perfect weather for staying tied to a dock but Cbay was ready to go and go we did. First we recruited three men and a woman to assist in trying to get away from the dock.

As Larry Munson, great broadcaster of the Georgia Bulldog games used to say, “Now get the picture”. We were tied alongside a long dock on our starboard side. In front of us quite close was a large sportsfisher and directly behind us was a short section of dock jutting out about six feet and behind that was a large and quite expensive sailboat. Naturally these predicted wind gusts were already there and blowing us directly against the dock. Now how do you unparallel park a boat from between two others and not hit anything? The answer is you don’t. So you prepare as if you are going to hit and pray there is no damage.

We put out extra fenders all along the starboard side and positioned everyone to push. The Admiral was at the wheel and I was on the swim platform with a boat pole. Then the excitement began.

On my signal everyone on the dock shoved and I pushed the back as far as possible with the boat pole and shouted for Jan to start backing up. All seemed to be working until she hesitated because she could not see and put the throttles in neutral. Once momentum ceased wind took over and we were going sideways into the sailboat. The boat pole was practically bending when I realized there was no stopping it!

We slid into the sailboat flat side to side. Now remember all those extra fenders I had put out before we started? They did their job and there was no crunching noise but now we were up against the sailboat and the wind would not let up. So all our dock crew scrambled onto the sailboat. Luckily the poor owner was not aboard or he might have had a heart attack. Once again we tried the strategy of shoving it off and this time we did not have a boat directly in front so Jan pulled it straight out with me yelling not to let up this time but give it the gun and keep moving. Still the wind pushed us but we just got by the sports fisherman in time and were plowing water.

So now we are out of the marina and someone is shouting that a line is in the water. Shades of Fairhope, AL if we wrap a prop under these conditions all is lost. I run up the side and see the line snaking back and under the boat! This has disaster written all over it. As I grab the line and pull I expect it to be snatched out of my hand by a spinning prop but up came the line with the braid I had put in it to keep the dock neat. The braiding had shortened a 30 foot line to about 8 feet and saved us.

As we weave out of the marina at a quick pace to keep from being pushed sideways we are finally able to get out into the river. There are two bridges right there. One is a highway bridge and the other a railroad trestle. Both have to open for us to get through and you might know at that instant I heard a train horn. Oh no!

We quickly turned the other way into the wind and current to move away and wait. The bridge master said it might be awhile so we moved off several hundred yards and began to circle when a sailboat moved in on us. Jan said to let him worry we were here first and bigger so we ignored him and he learned to keep out of our way. When the long train finally cleared and the bridge opened we shot through and saw two huge cruisers coming the other way. Since we were already under the bridge I figured we had the right of way and since there was not room for those big boats and us in this narrow space, they would have to wait and they did. Sometimes a guy with a big expensive boat does not want to take a chance on some smaller boat scratching him up. Besides we had that sailboat and another smaller cruiser running up our tailpipe and we could not have stopped if we wanted to. How is that for getting the blood flowing after breakfast?

So I guess you still want to know why I won the award. Well here goes.

When we reached the St. Lucie Bay I decided to test the reconditioned port prop and run up to planing speed. That we did and it performed just fine. We continued at 22mph across the bay to the next bridge and then eased down and began the winding trip back to the ICW. Maybe old people lose focus easier or something but the next thing I know there is a grinding sound as I ran across a sandbar! I shifted to neutral as we were only at idle speed and we eased across and back into deeper water. You could see the sand we had churned up behind us.

Once again at low speed there was no discernible vibration so maybe we were OK. NOT! When we reached the ICW there was a brief opportunity to run up the engines and it did not take an expert to know that I had won the DUMB ASS Award for sure.

Now there was no use in turning back to Stuart. We had barely gotten out of there alive the first time and we could never get back in that spot with a shoehorn. So we just pushed on up to Vero Beach and started calling our diver Scott Cummings. B.O.A.T. Some time later our good friend Tommy Gray texted to ask how the propeller repair went and I texted back which one? When he found out what I had done he suggested we go ahead and contact the Guiness Book of World Records people so they could open a file and begin an official count. Who knows, this could make us famous.

Since I began writing this things have come together nicely. It always pays to be nice to folks. Scott Cummings had hit it off well with us and we with him so naturally I called him. To make a long story even longer, he was kind enough to arrange for a local diver to help us out and he will be here at 0800 Saturday and the props will be back in Lantana by lunch. Looks like we are settled into Vero Beach for a few more days. I want to thank Tommy Gray for making me laugh today and for bringing me out of my depression over what I had done. I was already worried that the grandchildren would have to go without Christmas to pay for all this.

After we arrived here two dolphins and a baby one were playing right behind the boat and a pelican was trying to steal the fish they caught. The dolphins would sneak up under the pelican and push it up in the air. This went on for an hour with us trying to get a decent picture.