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Date: 5 August 2014. Three Miles Out (Thursday's Child)


The Gulf Coast south of the Big Bend tends to be long stretches of desolation.  You can well imagine yourself the only human on earth -- or at least in the region. I rather like it, but then again I'm a fan of Jean Auel's Earth Children* series. Afloat I can almost picture the world in the days of pre-history.

* Jean Auel wrote a series of books that struck a particular fancy with me. Beginning with Clan of the Cave Bear, each is a stand-alone story. Still I'd advise reading the set in order to truly savor the saga. As a matter of fact, this was the first book set I bought for my Kindle -- Jean Auel's Earth's Children series is that good!

As I was saying... I left Steinhatchee in the rain but soon enough it cleared up. Visibility was good, the NOAA weather forecast called for one to two foot seas and that's what I was seeing. Turning south I was running a course of about 160 degrees approximately three miles from the coast.

Off Pepperfish Keys I spotted a sailboat heading toward me. How exciting!

Company at last and yes, I did hail the boat on the radio. Alas, no answer to my calls on VHF Channel 16.  Sometimes there's a reason and sometimes not but still it would have been nice to say hello to another cruiser.

Just left of center at the horizon is the boat. Yes, it can be mighty lonesome out here. 

I took a couple of pictures and again tried hailing the boat on the VHF.  Few of us have pictures of our boat underway -- after all, we're inside and so I was going to offer to take a nice picture for them. Alas, no response on Channel 16.

I moved in a bit closer to the Three Mile Limit line and met the WestSail32 near the Red Star.

As I came closer I eye-balled them with my binoculars. That's when I noticed a boy on deck waving -- and not one of those "hi, how 'ya doing?" waves either!  This was both arms in motion as in "help please" so I motored over close.

In the meantime Thursday's Child, a Westsail32 with Bear and Drew aboard anchored and I pulled along side in their lee. Their engine had failed and without power they could not restart the Perkins-108. It was easy enough for me to raft up to their starboard side. Bear had plenty of fenders.

He even gave me three -- two small ones for Algae and a larger one for Seaweed. I'd given one of my big ones away in January, then lost a second one. Oops. Out here buying fenders doesn't work with my budget. Though I have found a few (and passed them along) this was a real treat for me: to be on the receiving end is nice as can be.

Bear's son Drew is quite the deck hand. He came aboard and visited while I ran a power cord from my boat to the WetSnail32.* In the meantime his dad (Bear) was in the holy place, aka engine room/bilge.  Drew and I watched a DVD while Bear worked on his Thursday's Child. Popcorn was involved too.

*WetSnail is a semi-true nickname for the Westsail32.  They are big, beamy, heavy boats and stable too. However, they do tend to have a wet helm and don't go as fast as the sleeker, lighter weight Clorox bottles.  Westsail's have circumnavigated and are well-regarded.  Many have teak decks.

I also sent over my Third Edition copy of Calder's Mechanical and Electrical Manual so Bear could see if it had any ideas for him. In the meantime I shut down my refrigerator so all the power from my solar panels could be used to recharge the batteries on Thursday's Child.

He was pulling 20 amps an hour initially for his battery charger, then ten and finally down to two amps. Incoming I was seeing in the low teens (13 amps) so there wasn't much of a take down on my status though I did watch carefully, and when the sun started down I "pulled the plug" and shut down my inverter that had been providing power to Thursday's Child.

While watching the movie with Drew I guessed that cooking would probably not be the first thing on Bear's mind after spending hours in the holy space so I fixed a clam specialty (alas, without shrimp) for us. Nothing fancy -- and Barry (aka Bear) made Drew's favorite garlic bread.


Leftovers were not an issue, and Drew is correct: that was some amazing garlic bread his dad made.

Alas, the engine on Thursday's Child did not start -- not even with a fully charged battery bank. About dusk I untied and drifted back from the fellows to anchor.  We'd intended to get back together in the morning so I could retrieve my spare anchor light I'd let them borrow but that didn't happen. Winds and waves had picked up and getting close was not possible.

Over the VHF we made arrangements for Bear to ship the portable anchor light to my daughter's house. I'd passed along a boat card so he had my information. And we parted -- he for points north and I was heading south.

That is life on the water. You meet folks, give them a hand if possible and then pass along to the next stop. It's nice to be able to help though I did wish so much that the power would have enabled Thursday's Child's engine (a Perkins 108) to work again.

I'd lost a bit of my weather window but the forecast was for 1-2' seas in the upcoming three days so I felt confident that the decision to help was a wise one. I should have known better. [I am glad I tried to help and would do the same again -- but the NOAA weather forecaster can kiss my transom.]

Have you ever run into someone in the middle of nowhere who needed assistance?
What did they need and were you able to help?


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