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Log Entry

Guest story: Just another day on the water!

I don’t have the literary prose of my friends Holly and Brad; nor the good looks of our Captain Mark, but I’ll throw out a recent tale of events and break this string of nepotistic posts!! I was near the end of a crazy string of deliveries having moved 14 Hinckleys in about 22 days. It was a frenetic pace, but one I thrive on; returning home as late as 11:00 PM one night only to hop in a boat at 6:00 AM the next morning, off to who knows where (I guess I should know as the captain😉). This run of deliveries included some night runs and many departures where you couldn’t see more than 50’ in the fog. The more you run in these conditions, the more comfortable you are with these types of departures, which are often necessary to keep all things on schedule.

I had just completed a delivery to Essex, CT, and was taking few days of refuge at my Girlfriend’s in Larchmont, NY. The call came from one of the Hinckley Service Managers in Maine (who usually have a good idea of my whereabouts) asking can you grab a Picnic Boat in Marblehead and run it up to Sorrento, ME? “Absolutely” is always the answer because I love yachting, and because I was running a little low on self-abuse. Figuring out how to get to Marblehead was a bigger issue than the trip itself as I was trying to line all this up on July 2nd for a July 4th departure. I’m not a “train” person by nature, so dealing with that mess was more taxing than anything. Planes or rental cars are second nature to me, but I feel like I’m in a foreign country when you mention traveling by train. That’s just me! But with a three-hour train ride and an Uber from Boston, I was in like Flynn. When I make a plan, it usually goes well, and long story short, I arrived at Eastern Yacht Club just about when I figured I would.

I hadn’t packed for the weather, which turned out to be torrential downpours and howling winds. I hunkered behind the launch driver as we found my ride at the mouth of the harbor in what can only be described as less than desirable seas. How I got aboard without these two boats colliding is still a mystery, but here I was for the night as any thought of moving in the harbor meant going on the foredeck, and that wasn’t happening. Dry yes, comfortable no!! There were no boats in front of me, so I was the first line of defense to the onslaught of rollers and waves. There were times it was, in fact, difficult to stand. I did all the pre-checks I could and familiarized myself as best I could for an early departure. I made the best of the situation, hunkered down, and watched some Ted Lasso to lighten the situation. What else do you do?

hinckley picnic boat

At one point I thought it best to see if I could get eyes on the mooring pennant. I knew I would sleep a little better knowing its current condition as it was getting a solid workout. Too much rain/condensation on the windshield ruled seeing out the windshield very well. The wind and the seas were at odds so the boat wasn’t true to the wind. If I could look out the port pilothouse window I could hopefully get a good look from 15’ away without getting the full onslaught of rain. I opened the power window just enough to get my head out, got out my trusted hi-beam flashlight, and Bob’s your uncle, I’m getting a good look and staying somewhat dry. Remember now how I said at times it was difficult to stand. Well, the boat took a major lurch and so did I, and in gaining my balance my hand landed on the actuator switch for the power window. You can see where this is going.

No, I didn’t get stuck there but it was one of those “Holy Shit, that could have been really, really bad” moments. I quickly pulled my head in as I heard the familiar window closing noise, bending back my ears on the way. Man, that was close. I could only imagine standing there all night waiting to flag some lobsterman down at 5:00 AM in the morning looking like a drowned rat with my head stuck out the window. The next morning (July 4th), the winds had clocked around to the NW as expected which took the waves down but not the big ass swells. You know when I don a life jacket to go forward that times are less than desirable. Undone finally and underway to Gloucester, where my plan was to stop long enough to secure everything in sight, but mainly the dinghy and outboard hanging off the swim platform. I lashed the dinghy down, used a little Yankee ingenuity to secure the outboard, fixed a running light, found a generous cup of local coffee and I was off.

peter gets clever

I knew it wasn’t going to be a fun ride, but my plan was to stay within 10-15 miles of the coast and rule out anything more offshore. Basically, hug the coast but stay well enough offshore that I could cut some corners as I went. All went well, but my planned 7-8 hour trip turned into 13 hours as I was limited to 17-19 knots for anything faster caused me to become airborne off the swells. It was strange how the only boats out there were me and two offshore fishermen I passed along the way. You all missed a great day out there!! Most people would have been very uncomfortable in these seas (like, “get me the hell off this boat now”) but I wasn’t flustered at all as I know what these boats are capable of, and there isn’t another boat I’d rather have been on. The boat wasn’t bothered by any of this in the least bit as long as I kept the hull in the water, and that meant the aforementioned speed in these seas.

where in the world

No trip is without other incidents, and yes the autopilot decided to go on vacation after cutting through Fox Island Thoroughfare. That was well into the trip and it was missed the rest of the way. Coming into Frenchman’s Bay off Acadia National Park was wooly even for me. The big-ass rollers were now being funneled into the narrowing bay and the water had to go somewhere and it always goes up in the form of waves. The waves were now big even in my mind and my biggest fear was some sort of engine/mechanical failure. In this situation, I stayed as far off Acadia National Park as I could but that was only by a mile or so.

This was the Maine coast in epic form; monstrous crashing waves upon the jagged coast, foam and spray flying about, you get the picture. I would have had 5 -10 minutes to figure out how to stay alive (forget the boat) if there was any type of failure as that’s how long it would have taken for me to be a part of the waves crashing onshore.

All went well and there is no harrowing rescue to tell, sorry about that! I guess the moral of the story is: go to sea in a boat you know well and trust and be confident in your capabilities! Oh, and I Love Yachting!!!

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1 comentário

Brad D. Cole
Brad D. Cole
31 de jul. de 2021

Great story and excellent advice, Peter. Thank you for sharing it. I'm not sure I would have gotten as far as the mooring.

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