Friday, August 27, 2010

The Grand Finale!

Our sailing trip this summer started with problems, ended with problems, and for some reason, beautiful, peaceful, and lovely St. Michael's, Maryland played a starring role each time.

Come to think of it, two years ago St. Michael's was the scene of a very nasty confrontation between our sturdy Knotty Cat and a slutty french catamaran who dared to anchor within smacking distance of us, and even though our girl was victorious, I don't want to think about that right now.

After anchoring, we took Wilbur ashore and had a wonderful (since Wilbur was permitted on the restaurant's outside dock)(yet horribly expensive) dinner at The Crab Claw.

Hans is happy to have survived two months on a boat with me.

I'm happy that we finally found a restaurant that allowed dogs (even if it was outside).

(BTW, I made my dress from a length of silk I bought in Paris a few years ago and I was thrilled that the heat broke so I could wear it!)

When we left the next morning we saw tons of these boats. They were preparing for a race and even though there was virtually no wind they were still moving along as they are so light and have tons of exposed sail.

Even more of them.

Some heeling action, and right after I put down my binoculars Hans informed me that one of them had dumped!

I would have liked to see it (just because) but I felt very sorry for the crew because even though it wasn't a dangerous situation, there were tons of jelly fish in the water, and there's no way a lot of stinging wasn't going on.

As I mentioned previously, there was very little wind that day so Hans thought our final sail should involve the gennaker.

Being the lazy soul that I am; I didn't. And maybe the day will come when Hans listens to me.

In the end, getting the gennaker up turned into a bigger job than it should have, and when Captain Hans yelled back to me where I stood at the helm, to rev up the engines, I did.
Maybe one (or both) of us should have given some thought to the fact that our Knotty Cat had been at a virtual standstill for quite some time and our dinghy might want to cozy up to us (thus allowing its painter to slide under our boat).

By the time we limped into Kent Narrows on one engine Hans had been in the jelly fish infested water twice. The first time was to free our dinghy's painter from The Knotty Cat's rudder (oops!), and very soon after that to rescue our dinghy when we realized the painter had been cut by the starboard propeller. From the sound of the awful thumping noises issuing from said propeller, a huge chunk of painter was obviously hanging on, and we made the rest of the trip with only our port engine.

Luckily for Hans, I believe the jelly fish were so astonished at seeing him jump into the water two times that they were too stunned to sting!

We just had to shake our heads and laugh that last day on board when we realized we'd pretty much gone full circle. Our water pump was giving us problems yet once again and believe me when I say that little stinker will be ripped out and replaced before we set foot aboard the Knotty Cat again.

For now our girl is on the hard and anxiously awaiting the installation of solar panels, and rumor has it her stuffing boxes will be - well - they'll be restuffed (she leaks on her port side and it makes her blush so please keep this just between us!).

Some time at the end of October we're going to sail her to Florida where she'll bask in the sun until we get back there in January in order to take her to the Bahamas.

But keep checking in as I blog about, "Living Aboard with Pets", "Provisioning for the Liveaboard", "How to Beat the Heat While Living on Your Boat", "What to Wear (or not wear) While Living on a Boat", and "How to Stay Sane (it's called alcohol!) While Living (existing?) on a Boat".

Y'all come back now, hear?

Friday, August 20, 2010

A pretty smart pitty!

When we decided to move onto our boat, a dog was the last thing we thought would accompany us.

I'm sure Wilbur didn't anticipate moving onto a boat either, and so became yet one more poor, exploited pit bull. At least that's what he told anyone who took the time to listen to him.

"Oh what the heck!" we said, "All you need to train a dog to go potty on a boat is a piece of AstroTurf." So off to Petco I went where I bought a very expensive item called The Potty Patch. PETS LOVE IT!! screamed the print across the front and their proof; plastered on the front of the box, a huge picture of a smug looking little ankle biter going tinkle all over their bright green product.
God, were we naive.

In the stern and right beside the captains seat, our boat afforded the perfect location for The Potty Patch, since if Wilbur ever deigned to use it, his waste could be very easily disposed of by sliding The Patch overboard for a good rinsing. But even though I saturated The Potty Patch with some sort of chemical that was supposed to make dogs want to go potty on it, Wilbur completely ignored The Patch , and we were forced to take him to shore where sometimes he pooped, and sometimes he didn't.

Our first week on the boat was trying, to say the least. In addition to nasty weather, dead batteries, and a faulty water pump, Wilbur, instead of pooping on shore, had an attack of explosive diarrhea in his crate.

Note: I was very disappointed to find that dragging dirty laundry behind a boat does not get it clean as promised in the many sailing articles I'd read!

Finally, well aware that I was suffering from a horrendous case of PMS and hoping to avoid what was sure to be a nasty mutiny, Hans asked if perhaps he should pee on The Potty Patch in hope that Wilbur would catch on. Believe me, he didn't need to ask me twice.

Wilbur was riveted with interest as he watched Hans and to our absolute shock proceeded to immediately go piddle on The Potty Patch.

I kid you not!

And winning an Academy Award can't even begin to compare with the elation we felt the day Wilbur finally pooped on his Potty Patch, an act that took a while longer for him to accomplish since for some reason Hans drew the line at demonstrating that particular bodily function.

Tons of cheers and biscuits ensued and then there was no stopping him; Wilbur became a peeing and pooping machine. There were times Wilbur would run to the back of the boat, we'd yank out The Potty Patch, and after barely squeezing out a couple of drops of pee, he'd be in the companionway begging for his biscuit.

Not a stupid dog.

But the icing on the cake (so to speak) was the day Hans and I 'missed the boat' (pun intended) and Wilbur ended up taking matters into his own paws.

I was in the galley whipping up another gourmet delight (hoping the eggs hadn't gone bad and wondering where the hell I'd put the powdered milk) and Hans was busy at the helm studying the chart plotter when I looked up and saw a very poopy Potty Patch lying in a rumpled mess beside the captains seat.

That's when we realized that Wilbur, tired of waiting for us, had gone back to the stern and with his teeth, pulled The Potty Patch from where it was hanging, tossed it onto the stern, and used it.

It reminded me of a story I once heard about a toddler who would hand its mother a clean diaper in order to get changed!

When later on he performed this feat a second time we knew we weren't nuts and that it wasn't just a dream.

In the end it only took Wilbur a week to catch on and after talking to other sailors we now realize how lucky we are. One man told us they had to take their dog ashore every morning and night for ten years! Another said his dog will pee on board but not poop, and we became the envy of the salty dog community!

Now that we're back on land we're trying to keep up The Potty Patch practice for our next trip and have installed it on our deck where Wilbur has faithfully kept up with the program.

But here's the kicker!

The other night I looked outside to see Wilbur having a massive struggle with The Patch. Using his paws and nose, he was pushing and shoving it toward the edge of the deck where half of it was already over the side. I ran out to stop him and Oh my God, he'd gone poop on The Patch and tired of waiting for me to clean it up, he was trying to dispose of it by tossing it over the side just like he'd watched us do it on the boat!

Next week he's taking his PSAT's and we're hoping for a full scholarship to Harvard.

Yes, we took a picture!

Like I've said before, with no TV, and limited internet access you'd be amazed at what you'll do for entertainment.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Cobb Island

Because of its location in the Potomac, and the fact that it had a very nice market within dinghy and walking distance, Cobb Island, Maryland became a bit of a home away from home for us this summer, and we ended up anchoring there on three separate occasions.

The first time we showed up and anchored, I felt a bit like the main attraction at a freak show. For such a small town there was a surprising amount of traffic in the channel, and each and every boat slowed down to a crawl while the occupants stared at us with open mouths. After I checked to make sure I was adequately clothed (it was so hot, there were days when we wore next to nothing), we just didn't get it. The staring continued during our next two visits but by then we were used to it.

We finally decided it was because we were the only sailboat that ever anchored there. Everyone else had stink pots (very loud motor boats), tattoos, and cigarettes hanging out of the sides of their mouths (even in their cockpits where the smell of gasoline hung very heavy in the air), and if they didn't have slips, they tied up long enough to enjoy a visit at the Drift Away Bar and Grill (we ate lunch there one day and they have really great food) before motoring on.

During our second and third anchorages, a trawler (its name won't be disclosed here!) anchored beside us and even though to my absolute horror the captain and his mate spent quite a bit of their time sitting around 'in the buff' (I know this for a fact because I have binoculars you know!) they still didn't get the attention Hans and I did.
And believe me it wasn't a pretty sight!

But imagine how the stares increased when we finally broke out the red neck awning (purchased at WalMart a couple of years ago)! What took us so long to use it is beyond me but for the rest of the trip that awning was strung up on a regular basis and literally saved us from being fried like eggs on a sidewalk.

Life on Cobb Island is slow and we spent our days reading, drinking beer, staring at people staring at us, and watching Billie Joe McAllister jump off the Tallahatchie Bridge.
"That's not the Tallahatchie Bridge." Hans informed me (in his sensible voice) after I excitedly informed him of what I'd witnessed.

I told him to look for himself just as a couple of additional bodies hurtled over the railing and into the water.

Apparently during sizzling hot summers, a favorite past time for Cobb Island youths is to jump off the bridge. If I weren't such a coward at heart and not afraid of heights, jelly fish, or water of unknown depths, I would have gladly joined them if it meant keeping cool.

(This is a crappy picture but it's the bridge and those little dots in the water towards the bottom, are the kids)

It was during our third anchorage at Cobb Island that the Knotty Cat decided to test our sanity. Hans thought something didn't seem to be quite right after dropping the anchor because we weren't swinging properly into the wind, but after putting her in reverse a couple of times she held fast. The next day we thought our bearings were a bit off, but what the hell did we know anyway?

That's when I realized we were a lot closer to the 'no wake zone buoy' than we should be.

"We're a lot closer to the no wake zone buoy than we should be." I announced.

"No we're not."

"Yes we are."

"No we're not."

"Then why is the no wake zone buoy about to be rammed up our boat's ass?" I asked as our stern plowed into it.

"Oh shit! We're dragging!" Hans had to admit.

We fired up the engines and re-anchored thus giving the locals something more to stare at, but at least we held firm this time.

And finally, Cobb Island is where I witnessed the infamous cormorant fight.

Hans had gone ashore and Wilbur and I were left to fend for ourselves. I was watching the morbid battle with my binoculars when I realized a passing motor boat consisting of an entire family of Dad, Mom, and kids was staring at me. Embarrassed at being caught with my binoculars I tried explaining myself by frantically pointing toward the gruesome fight. Dad laughed and shouted to me, "They're fornicatin'!" and I shouted back, "No they're not! They're fighting over a snake!" Only then did the bored family come to life and they all leaned over the side in excitement in order to see the battle, leading me to believe that fornicating is a pretty dull routine on Cobb Island.

I gotta tell you, this trip was way better than reality TV.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Wild Life

While things may have been wild on our boat, I'm talking about the wild life we met while sailing this summer.

Ospreys in the Chesapeake are a given and while I'm not bored with them, I'm used to them. It had been years since I'd seen pelicans and I was thrilled to finally spot some when we got a bit south into the Patuxant and Potomac Rivers. We didn't see a lot of them but just enough to make me happy.

It was in Oxford that I watched an adult swan beat the snot out of a baby swan. Having read The Ugly Duckling as a child I was appalled, and felt quite cheated.

I thought herons were rare but I saw so many of them during our trip that after awhile I quit grabbing the binoculars every time I heard one of their signature screams. And anyway, they sound just like Wilbur.

A couple of pods of dolphins zipped past us but never close enough to photograph, and seagulls were a dime a dozen.

Ducks are always fun and while one group loved the left over flour tortillas I tossed to them, another group completely turned their bills up at them. I found it a bit odd though that there seem to be a lot of female duck gangs out there. There always seems to be a female duck ring leader and I got the impression that there was a Mr. Duck out there who'd 'done her wrong' and she and her posse were out on a mission to find him and give him what for!
Possibly the most disturbing animal activity I witnessed during our trip was when two cormorants had a huge fight over a snake. Honest to God, it was beyond disgusting and I actually jumped up and down in the cockpit and screamed.

I heard a commotion and grabbed my trusty binoculars just in time to see a cormorant trying to suck down a snake like a strand of spaghetti. Another cormorant tried in vain to steal it and a little game of 'keep away' took place. Cormorant # 1 kept trying to suck down the snake. Cormorant # 2 tried to steal it and #1 would jerk away all the while tossing its head around while attempting to disentangle the snake from its bill. Just when it seemed like the snake was a goner, it would erupt from #1's gullet and writhe crazily about. Finally to the snake's and #2's dismay, the snake finally disappeared from sight and I had to have a beer.

Jelly fish were a huge problem and they ran absolutely amok this summer. If it weren't for them Wilbur would have been able to swim a lot more and we all would have therefore benefited from the exercise. At each anchorage I would peer, ever hopefully into the water, and damn! all of a sudden there they'd be; tons of amoeba like creatures, undulating as they passed under our boat with the tide.

But my favorite creature by far was the blue crab. I had no idea how friendly they were! I know they scuttle sideways when running along the beach but I'd never seen one swim.
We had just docked at Tangier Island when I saw something in the water slide on past the boat. What on earth? Then another one. They were crabs, and they were swimming upright all the while happily waving their claws at us as they whizzed on by.

I've never felt so welcome!

Wilbur loves blue crabs too and here he is with his Crabby Cake.

I now have to wonder what kind of creatures we'll encounter this winter when we sail on down to Florida. I believe I've heard about these things called alligators.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Herrington Harbor South...

... better known as: Hans and Laura's Bermuda Triangle.

Okay, a slight exaggeration I admit, but you tell me.

One evening at the beginning of our journey we knew a storm was brewing and possible anchorages were going to be few and far between.

Enter Herrington Harbor South.

The only space they had was at the fuel dock at $2.oo per foot plus $5.oo for electric, and even though we had to pony up $80.00, we were expected to vacate the premises by 8 AM the next morning.

Not 3 PM.

Not even noon.

8 AM!!!

Even though it was now evening and the pool was closed and we would miss out on all the amenities that $80.00 is supposed to buy, we jumped on it.

I did enjoy their air conditioned bath house and took full advantage of the laundry, but when the predicted storm blew through just as Hans and I were trying to enjoy a beer at the outside bar, everything headed south.

Lightning flashed, thunder boomed, and winds ripped through the outdoor bar area toppling tables, and smashing dishes and glasses willy nilly!!
I (with newly washed and dried hair!) ran like an idiot to our boat as all the hatches were wide open and Wilbur was unfairly crated just below one of them.
After closing the hatches (in driving rain and jagged flashes of lightning) I rejoined a very dry Hans in the enclosed bar.
I tried to keep the water that was dripping off my hair and clothes away from my food, and stewed about the whole sailing experience.

Fast forward to the last leg of our journey.

We're on our way home and hey!!! wouldn't it be nice to visit Harrington Harbor South on a better note.

You bet!

Let's get there before noon!

Let's use the pool!

Let's make sure we're not at the fuel dock!

We arrive at 6:05 PM, it's 5 minutes past closing time, and the slip we were told to take is for a boat with 50 amps and we draw 30.

The poor guy that finally shows up to help us is completely illiterate about all things electric and uses thirty words when one word would do!

He and Hans then spend way too much time talking over each other while I fume down below knowing full well I'll never get to use that damn swimming pool.

The first splitter (that supposedly filters 50 amps down to 30) doesn't work.

Hans heads to the pool and on my way to the laundry room (my job) I'm unfortunate enough to meet the 'talker' as he heads to our boat with yet one more splitter and he needs my ear and my assistance.

The second splitter also doesn't work, and Wilbur, who hears familiar voices, joins in our disappointment by screaming hysterically from where he's crated in his berth.

Upon returning from the pool where he had a refreshing swim, Hans consults with the inexperienced talker and it's determined that we need to move to another slip.

Considering how difficult it was to get into the one we're in, I'm not overly happy and Hans has the nerve to ask if I had a nice shower.

"What shower?" I scream. "I haven't even started our effing (only I used the real word) laundry for Christ's sake!

Hans is puzzled and gives me a hurt look.

Needless to say the laundry and my shower wait until a new place for us can be found, it's now well past eight o'clock at night, and the pool is closed.

The new slip is iffy (but way better than the fuel dock where much to my fury Mr. Manywords offered to put us!) but we manage to get in and then the electric still doesn't work. The talker brilliantly asks, "Should I try the other 30 amp outlet?" and I want to ask him if he has a death wish!

The other 30 amp outlet works and I'm thankful that I don't have to murder anyone.

Wilbur continues to scream, Hans heads to the bar where I've told him I'm in no mood for an appetizer and am in need of a full meal, and I veer off towards the laundry and shower room. At this point I don't bother washing my hair as it will take too long but at least I shower off some sweat and get two loads of laundry started. I pop the laundry into the dryer and hope my food isn't getting cold when I finally arrive at the bar.

Hans hasn't even ordered yet (he got hung up on business calls) and I wonder how someone with low blood pressure (me) could possibly have a stroke.
By the time I suck down a beer our food arrives and I finally begin to feel slightly human.

I manage to snag a few minutes at the pool the next morning (after getting some supplies at the market) and I even wash my hair.

We're then off and running (sailing) to our next destination, just in time to run into a horrendous storm.

With that in mind I think you'll understand why I don't really feel a need to visit Herrington Harbor South again.

Even Wilbur is exasperated!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tangier Island

Hans has traveled all over the world for more than two decades.

Since meeting Hans six years ago, I too have done some extensive traveling.

But we are both in agreement that Tangier Island, located in good old Virginia, here in the USA, is perhaps one of the most interesting places we've ever had the luck to chance upon.

A while ago I posted this picture of Wilbur reading 'Isle of Dogs'.
The book (by Patricia Cornwell) portrays a very unflattering depiction of the people of Tangiers.

After visiting the island ourselves we have to tell you she was harshly unfair.

But the book is still hysterically funny and very much worth reading. Actually it made me want to visit the island just that much more and hey! that's gotta be good for business!

I guess you can tell you're in the south when you see the Confederate flag proudly aloft.

Hans (with the 'safari' hat I got him for his birthday) in front of the infamous Hilda Crocket's Chesapeake House that was mentioned in the book.

And Spanky's Place.
It was too much fun to actually find that the businesses portrayed in the book actually exist.

Tangier Island is about one and a half miles wide and 2 miles long and has a population of around 65o people.
The only way on and off the island is by boat or plane. Here is one of the ferries.

Transportation on the island is mainly golf carts, bicycles, and scooters. There are only a handful of cars.
And one helicopter. A doctor and his wife moved to the island a few years ago and he has a helicopter pad in his yard.

Tangier Island's economy depends primarily upon crabs. The watermen are up long before sunrise in search of that odd creature that walks sideways and swims upright all the while waving their claws at you in a frantic, hello it's nice to meet you but I have places to go!, kind of way!

Not only do the boats sport women's names, most have both first and middle names.

It reminded me of the old Petticoat Junction TV show (yes, I'm that old!) with Betty Jo, Billy Jo, Bobby Jo, etc...

Once through the narrow channel (with mighty strong currents!) you enter the town and it's just like an alley. An alley of water instead of pavement.

Docks full of crab traps line both sides of the alley.

Our Chesapeake/Potomac Cruising Guide was a huge help to us during this trip; supplying us with information on shoals, hidden pilings, warnings of strong currents or difficult to find markers etc...

I didn't even realize at the time that the boat pictured here is the one that's used in the cruising guide on the Tangier page!

See what this waterman is doing with his shirt? Because of the heat, I did this more times than I can count.

And it still didn't help!

Just through the channel is the only marina on the island.
The cruising guide mentions that Mr. Parks, the owner, will be glad to help you tie up but if he's not there just go ahead and do it yourself.

See that big boat? They offered to have their boat moved to the side of the building so we could tie up in that front spot. The outgoing tide was very strong and getting into a slip would have been challenging so we took them up on their offer.

Hans had called Mr. Parks the day before to make sure he could accommodate us as anchoring isn't recommended in these waters.

What a conversation.

Hans: Is this Parks Marina?

Mr.Parks: Yaassss.

Hans: Do you have any slips available tomorrow?

Mr.Parks: Yaasss.

Hans: How much will it cost?

Mr.Parks: How big a boat?

Hans: 35 feet long with a 15 foot beam.

Mr.Parks: That be 30 dollars plus 5 for electric.

Hans: Do you want to give me a slip number in case you're not there when we show up?

Mr.Parks: I'll call you on the radio tomorrow around two o'clock.

Hans: Ok, my name is Hans and we're on the Knotty Cat.

Mr.Parks: Oh, I won't remember your name so I'm gonna call you George. So when you hear someone calling George tomorrow, you'll know it's you.

We ended up getting there around noon so we never did get to hear Mr. Parks calling George. But when we cruised into town there he was on the dock and when he saw us he shouted, "Is that you George? You're early!" And even though he still had on his church clothes he helped us tie up.

Tangier is full of cats and thirty one of them belong to Mr. Parks. Actually they belong to Mr. Parks' wife.

This particular tiger cat was very bold and insolent, and let Wilbur and I know that it wouldn't have any problems kicking some Pit Bull ass, so we kept away from it.

Big cats, little cats, baby cats.

I'm so mad that I didn't get a picture of the black and white cat who stomped past us carrying a huge crab in its mouth.


Yes a speed limit sign! With radar no less!

Isle of Dogs mentions painting white stripes on the pavement so that helicopters could monitor speeders on the island (pure satire) so I'm wondering if the Radar sign is a joke.

I didn't ask because I was told it's not a good idea to mention the book to the islanders!

The island has a lot of churches and cemeteries. The Pruitts, Crockets, and Parks' fill most of them.

Mr. Parks from the marina is 80 years old and was born on the island.

This is in someones yard.

Hans and Wilbur waited patiently at the Tangier Museum while I walked around inside. It's very nice and modern and full of history. Tangier has been in National Geographic several times and their restaurants have won a lot of awards.
Celebrities galore have visited the island and Paul Newman wanted to film Message in a Bottle there. The town council voted it down 6-0. The reasons they listed were, blasphemy, and sex. He was on the island when they gave him the verdict and while they felt badly about disappointing him, they stuck to their guns.

These garbage cans are all over the island. The doctor with the helicopter had them made by some Pennsylvania Amish and then donated them to the town.

A variety of shacks line crab alley. Some are in good shape and some aren't.

This is the remains of one shack.

We came in one side of the island and exited out the other on our way back north.

Tangier Island has everything you could need.

School: grades 1-12.

Community Building with full basketball court.

Long sandy beach that I never got to see. It was way across the island and it was too stinking hot to walk there.

Huge landing strip for airplanes.

Post office, market, restaurants, churches, a brand new medical building (very expensive at 2 million dollars according to Mr. Parks whose daughter is a PA there).

However, they don't have a vet and you can't purchase alcohol anywhere on the island. Years ago a bootlegger punched the mayor and it's been forbidden ever since. We were very anxious when we heard about the alcohol ban and when we finished our tour (via Mr. Parks golf cart, and you should have seen us! Three adults and a pit bull all crammed together. But it was fun!) we frantically counted our cans of beer! Luck was with us and we had enough to get us through our stay!
This was by far my favorite stop during our trip and as we waved and shouted our goodbyes to Mr. Parks, I assured him we'd be back next year (after checking our beer supply!!).

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Mayday! Mayday!

Well, not quite a Mayday, but I did have to call the Coast Guard.

On our radio.

I kid you not!

It happened after our guests departed from their weekend visit aboard The Knotty Cat.

Clockwise from top left: Bob, Hans, John, and Sean.

Hans was motoring them to shore in the dinghy so they could high-tail it back home after one very hot and overly Wilburish sail with us.

They say they had a good time(?).

We were in the St. Mary's area and since storms were predicted for the evening we decided to stay put as we were in a pretty secure anchorage.

Here is Hans checking out the ominous line of weather as it was approaching.

Wilbur checked it out as well.

Luckily this storm passed right over us and we only had a bit of rain. We weren't so lucky come ONE AM because that's when all hell broke loose.

It only took one whistling whoosh of wind to rush through our cabin and Hans and I were above board in a heart beat. We had the engines running and electronics powered up just as a huge thunder and lightning storm hit.

Before it was over we had dragged a couple of hundred feet on our anchor and watched everything within a few feet of us disappear in a haze of pounding rain and wind.

I can only liken it to being above the clouds while in flight; we were that blind to our surroundings.
Since we dragged parallel to the shore and weren't in danger of running aground (or into another boat) we didn't have to power the boat over the anchor and just let it reset itself.

And like most summer storms it was over rather quickly.

What storm?

A few days later we had forecasts of horrendous storms and possible wind gusts of 50 to 60 knots. We were docked at Harrington Harbor South (a place that's become a bad luck symbol to us but that's another story) and wanted to get to St. Michael's so we set out anyway.

We found ourselves motoring along with practically no wind and pretty flat waters but since the Weather Channel wouldn't shut the hell up about the storms I wouldn't let Hans put up any sails.

And then it hit.

"13 knots." Hans announced calmly, then, "20 knots! 25 knots! 35 knots! Oh My God 42 knots!" Only now he was shouting, and I was watching a sloop that for some odd reason had both its main and jib up. We then stared in horror as the sloop heeled sharply and tried to head into the wind. The jib flapped madly as the crew tried to furl it and then their main sail ripped to shreds.

Just like that.

To add insult to injury they ran aground and after trying unsuccessfully to radio them I finally called the Coast Guard.

We were in no position to help them and it was all Hans could do to stay in the channel.

Of course it was only after I gave the Coast Guard the exact location of the 'boat in distress' , along with our boat name and our phone number (for future torment I'm sure!) that we noticed they'd managed to free themselves and start to motor towards land.

I wonder how one explains to the little woman that a few thousand dollars will be needed to replace the main sail. Hmmmm.