Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Idiots on the Water (and for once, I don't mean us!)

I've been thinking about it and have come to the realization that traversing the Intracoastal via boat is a lot like driving your RV off the Interstate and taking a back road instead.

Gone are the wide open spaces in which to sail and all of a sudden you're motoring along in single file among a variety of other boats you might otherwise never see, along a very narrow strip of water, leaving no room for error.

Given the close proximity of your fellow travelers, you really need to make an effort at being polite, and after applying your deodorant for the day you should also respect each other's space.

This brings me to AquaMan.

I have a feeling that years from now many a sailor will reminisce about the legendary autumn of 2010 when AquaMan wreaked all kinds of havoc while roaring down the Intracoastal and leaving many a damaged vessel in his wake (and I mean that literally!).

My first hint that something odd was afoot came one morning from a few random radio transmissions. And I have to tell you right now that travelling along the Intracoastal really isn't very relaxing. When we were out in the Chesapeake and Potomac this summer we hardly ever had to listen to our VHF and instead, enjoyed a variety of radio stations. But in the Intracoastal you constantly have to listen for the captains of boats who want to overtake you, and also get updates on what's ahead of you.

Anyway, I started hearing some odd chatter on the radio. "Hey! Cruiser who just passed marker twenty, this is a no wake zone!" Then a diesel dock shouted out the same concern. One woman came across loud and clear with, "Hey Dirt Bag! What's wrong with you? Slow down! I hope you never need help from anyone because you'll never get it." This marauder of the water was finally identified and I hoped that AquaMan (whom I envisioned wearing a blue Anti Super Hero costume) was heading away from us and not toward us.

But then I heard a captain warn, "Attention everyone in the vicinity of fixed bridge Such and Such, AquaMan just went past me and refuses to comply with the no wake rule." We had just passed a fixed bridge and I got that Uh-Oh feeling and when I looked behind Hans I saw a huge Cruiser bearing down on us. I watched the captain of the monohull who'd made the broadcast try to steer into the huge wake that AquaMan had created and his mast whipped back and forth like a metronome.

"Holy crap! He's not slowing down!" I shouted and watched in horror as AquaMan roared straight for our stern. I grabbed our air horn and while standing on a seat in the cockpit I gave it five short blasts. AquaMan didn't slow down so I blasted it five more times. By now he was just off our starboard side and I added huge, slow down gestures with my arms and since I was wearing my foul weather gear I probably looked like a giant Tweety Bird flapping hysterically around the cockpit. I was so pissed off by then that when he finally roared past us at about 20 knots of speed, I turned the air horn on him full blast.

My ears were ringing but AquaMan and his Boy Wonder never even glanced at us giving us the impression that they were either completely deaf or just totally rude. They didn't even have the decency to wear blue Anti Super Hero costumes either!

I jumped down off the cockpit seat, hurried down below, and spread eagled myself all over the galley in an attempt to keep everything (including my computer) from flying all over the place when the resulting wake hit us.

The Coast Guard had been informed of AquaMan's behavior and radioed everyone that they needed to know the type of boat and registration number if possible and that a picture would be of great help. I'm just mad that my camera battery was dead because I could have gotten a really good video! Shortly thereafter AquaMan's registration number was broadcast for anyone who might need to file an insurance claim.

We didn't suffer any damage and I was finally able to locate my coffee cup in the garbage can where it had been tossed during the wake.

Here I am at the helm with my trusty binoculars as I keep a sharp look out for markers and future trouble makers.

I almost look like I know what I'm doing.


  1. Makes you wonder what some people are thinking! Hopefully he was busted by the Coast Guard.

  2. Cheryl, I can't even imagine what he was thinking, and there is no possible way he had any boating knowledge whatsoever. After all the hubbub died down one woman got on the radio and defended him by saying he probably didn't mean any harm. That's like saying the drunk who gets behind the wheel of the car and hits the highway is an ok guy! Just wait until the insurance companies start filing claims against him!

  3. So scary! As someone who knows nothing about boats, this is so interesting to hear. You should have your own reality TV show.