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:
Publish date:
Updated on

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.

ellenpic

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

Headsail

Ask Sail: Silencing A Rattling Headsail

Q: Our Pearson 26 has a 110-percent jib that tends to rattle very noisily at the top hank. We only bought the old boat recently, but it must have been happening for a long time, since there’s a deep groove worn inside that bronze hank. The jib has an unusually large and wide ...read more

Alerion2048x

Alerion Yachts 33, the 90 Minute Get Away

Easy to sail, luxurious, and swift; the Alerion 33 is the solution to your busy life. The intuitive, simple rig design, easy set-up, and put-away mean there’s no need to wait for crew to enjoy a weekend, a day, or an hour out sailing. Her beauty and comfort are evident in the ...read more

anchor

Know how: Ground Tackle

Your ground tackle is like a relationship—the more you care for it, the longer it will last. So, how do you enhance the relationship? First up, think of the accommodations—a damp, salt-rich, often warm environment, just the kind of thing to encourage corrosion. What can be done? ...read more

DSC_7522

Boat Review: Beneteau Oceanis 46.1

The Beneteau sailboat line has long represented a kind of continuum, both in terms of the many models the company is offering at any given moment and over time. This does not, however, in any way diminish the quality of its individual boats. Just the opposite. Case in point: the ...read more

shutterstock_1016585167

Cruising: Memories Made by People You Meet

Steve greeted my boyfriend, Phillip, and me as soon as we tied Plaintiff’s Rest, our 1985 Niagara 35, up to his dock on one of the Berry Islands in the Bahamas. He was tall, cheerful and clad in a hodge-podge of clothes one might wear to paint a house: oversized, grungy and old. ...read more

_98A7540

Cruising: Dogs Afloat

We dog owners understand the general expectations of ourselves in public places, like picking up after Fido and keeping him on a leash. There are, however, certain places where additional unspoken rules or expectations may apply—as in harbors or marinas. If you sail with your ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com Log the glass  A week ago I set out after breakfast on a 50-mile passage. The day’s forecast via the internet was for 14-18 knots. It never happened, and I spent the entire trip adjusting my genoa ...read more