Voice of Experience: Bridge Encounter Page 2

John, a friend and sailing instructor, and I cruise from our homeport of Englewood, Florida, aboard his 35-foot Pearson sloop Lokahi. Because we often use the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW), both of us are familiar with the bridges spanning the channels in this part of the world. One afternoon we were approaching the bascule bridge at Snake River Creek, near the island of Islamorada in the Keys. As
Author:
Updated:
Original:

Meanwhile, JT and Shari, like the good friends they are, had stayed with us throughout both our accident and the tow, and were anchored nearby. They dinghied over, and Shari, who is an expert rigger, went up the mast in a bosun’s chair to remove the broken spreader and then went to a lumber store to get some wood to make a temporary replacement. John and JT went below to see what had made gearshift lever fail. It didn’t take long to discover that the shift cable was broken and a replacement would be needed. With Lokahi’s propeller inoperative, JT and Shari towed us out to a spot where we could drop our anchor. Because the only good spot that remained was closer to the bridge than we would have liked, and there was also current, John decided he would use two anchors rather than one.

The next day a few phone calls located a replacement cable, and while we waited for it to arrive, John fabricated the temporary spreader and Shari went back up the mast and installed it. Just two days after we hit the bridge, our repairs were complete and we were ready to head home.

I confess, the idea of doing so made me more than a bit nervous. With the passage of time the terror that I had not felt at the time of the actual impact had somehow managed to find me. During the previous two nights, when I heard the bells of Lokahi’s ship’s clock ring—sounds that I used to find comforting—I woke up with a start thinking I was hearing the warning bells on the bridge.

Finally, after John had thoroughly tested the gearshift, we pulled up the anchors, turned away from the bridge and began heading home. We decided not to sail, because the rig still needed work. The farther we motored without a mishap the more I was convinced that all would be fine—until we ran into a thunderstorm about 13 miles from home. We were now in the Gulf of Mexico, and with the winds and seas increasing we decided to duck back into the ICW and keep going, even though it now was well after sunset.

Just before midnight we were back in our slip. As we were leaving the boat and walking up the dock, we found ourselves being pelted with rain. But that was fine, because we knew we had overcome some major difficulties and had managed to come through unscathed. The wind and rain surrounding us now served as the final exclamation points to what had been a great adventure.

Dr. Ellen Sogolow works with the Department of Homeland Security. Wonders, her own boat, is a Tanzer 7.5.

Related

Ari-video

Ari Huusela Finishes the Vendée Globe

After 116 days at sea, Ari Huusela (Stark) has crossed the line and brought a close to the 9th edition of the Vendée Globe. He is the first Finnish skipper to complete the race. In a race this difficult, making it to the finish is a victory in its own right. Though the last ...read more

NewportBoatShow

Newport International Boat Show Announces Dates

This year marks half a century for New England’s largest boat show, and the celebration will be in person. In a statement released yesterday, Nancy Piffard, Show Director of Newport Exhibition Group said, “We are excited to kick off the boat show season in-person this year… We ...read more

Screen-Shot-2021-03-03-at-9.48.03-AM

World Sailing Trust Launches Global Participation Study

Two years after its global survey on women in sailing, the World Sailing Trust is surveying the entire sport in order to assess equity, diversity and inclusion. The survey will be conducted bi-annually to monitor trends and progress. "By researching the sport, the aim is to ...read more

01A-LEAD-Finished-table

DIY: A Better Saloon Table

The original saloon table in my Down East 45 schooner was a single heavy sheet of 3/4in laminated plywood, 27in wide by 57in long. It was supported on two substantial aluminum pedestals locking into a set of large round collars screwed to the sole. There were two annoying ...read more

02b-screen-shot

Salty Dawgs Recognized by CCA

The Salty Dawg Sailing Association (SDSA) has long been the go-to organization for high value, affordable rallies, but when Covid forced the sudden closure of borders in the Caribbean, it pivoted to organizing the Homeward Bound Flotilla. Its experience organizing rallies came ...read more

FB-BHM-1024

SAIL Black History Month Series: James Forten

James Forten was born on September 2, 1766 in Philadelphia to free Black parents Thomas and Margaret Forten. Forten attended a Quaker school as a young child, then went to work with his father who was a sailmaker. His father died when he was still young, and Forten worked ...read more

sailme-app_ SAIL

5 Ways Sail.me Helps You Monetize Your Boat

Ready to earn some extra funds by renting out your boat or yacht? Sail.me is an interactive service that allows you to monetize your boat in a secure, safe, and easy way. A user-friendly app and website will help you manage reservations, add-ons, and set customized routes to ...read more

VendeePromo

2020-21 Vendée Timeline

As a spectator event, France’s Vendée Globe never disappoints, and the 2020-21 edition of the quadrennial round-the-world race was no exception. From equipment failures to climactic rescues, heartbreaking abandonments and a breathtakingly close finish, this edition, which ...read more