Tuesday, January 5, 2016


Kintala has been sitting at her anchor for several weeks. There are a half dozen other boats scattered around, also riding to their anchors. It is a big anchorage so the boats are not all that close together. Still, there is no missing the fact that it is an anchorage.

It is a breezy day, winds solid in the low teens with gusts above 20. It is also overcast and gray with cool temperatures and rain closing in. It has rained a lot since we have been here. There are friends here with us now, friends we may not see again for a long time. Soon we will be heading north for a week's visit with Daughter Middle and Grand Kids Five. With them will be Son-in-Law and his folks, who are good friends that we miss as well. All in all good reasons to have been in Stuart for lo these many days.

Still, I must admit to being a bit restless. This is not my favorite anchorage. The water isn't very clear. The weather has been less than stellar. Last night was yet another where much sleep was lost to blowing winds causing the boat to slew around and pull hard on the anchor snubber, which provokes loud moans of protest that echo through the v-berth. There is very little wildlife; a stray dolphin once in a while and a few birds is about it. There are train noises and bridge noises and sirens, power boat wakes, jet ski antics and, today, a crazed fisherman.

As mentioned, Kintala's deck monkey has been feeling a bit confined. So early this afternoon, trying to fend off a growing boredom coupled with a bit of a headache due to too little sleep and too much motion, I settled onto the settee and popped a newly acquired CD of ALIEN into the Dell's drive. Just as crewman Cane was sitting down to his last meal a loud “clunk” shuddered through Kintala's hull and past my ear buds. (The Admiral, also boat bound, does not care for ALIEN.)

"What the hell was that?”

It didn't sound particularly destructive so I hit the “pause” button before scurrying up the companionway. And there, drifting inches from our port bow, was the pontoon boat that had just bounced off of us. In its bow (Front?) stood the only occupant, fishing pole still in hand. What the hell?

"Sorry, I am trying to land this fish.”

Trying to land a fish? The wind is blowing to 20 knots and this wanker drifted through an obvious anchorage and whacked into a 42 foot sailboat because he was trying to land a fish? If the fool hadn't been standing just feet from me, still wrestling with his line, I would not have believed anyone claiming to be that stupid.

"I didn't do any damage.”

This he offered now drifting away from our stern on a course directly at the boat anchored down wind of us. He would have made it two for two if Deb had not pointed it out to him. Me? I was still muttering something along the lines of, “You bounced your 'tuner boat off my anchored hull in 20 knots worth of wind while trying to catch a fish?”

Now I wouldn't want to disparage all fishermen. My Grandfather was an avid fisherman. So was my Father-in-Law, who was also one of my favorite people as well as being a Dean at Pittsburgh University's school of Electrical Engineering. So I know, as a rule, fisherman have an IQ much higher than that of the wet, wiggling things they are trying to catch. But today the exception that makes the rule was out, unsupervised, blundering around the St. Lucie river, and clearly off his meds. (Or on the sauce, not sure which.)

Pole still in hand he fired up his outboard and moved just far enough across the wind to miss the second boat. Then he shut down and went back to his Santiago-like tussle with his marlin-like fish. In his misfiring mind he must have thought he had a catch worthy of Hemingway on his line, right? One would have to be an epic kind of crazy to bounce off of anchored boats just to land a six inch perch. By this time I had shaken out of my daze. Deb jotted down the boats registration number just in case we need to track down an insurance company, then watched through binoculars as he drifted clear of the anchorage and out into the channel standing, once again, at the bow. Boats went by him, port and starboard, completely unheeded.

It is my experience that most displays of pure idiocy (not counting Presidential elections) are short-lived. This guy though, was clearly in a class of crazy all of his own. After bouncing off of us and just missing a second anchored boat, it took nearly another 20 minutes of drifting through a busy channel for his catch of a lifetime to spit his hook and swim away. (Or maybe a shark ate it.) Then, amazingly, he motored back toward Kintala.

"Sorry about that,” he said as he got closer. “The fish took a turn on me. Shit happens.”

The fish took a turn? Shit happens? What? Am I supposed to think the fish pulled his boat into mine? That it was, you know, just one of those things that could happen to anyone. What color is the sky in the world this guy inhabits, and how did I get dragged into it? But it got even better when I asked for his name and phone number.

I am Dr... phone number...

Doctor? This lunatic is a Doctor? I ended up just staring at him, defeated. Before me was a mountain of inanity so massive as to be beyond my verbal climbing abilities. Clearly, nothing I could say would ever penetrate a skull so thick. Sixty plus years I have walked the planet, spared, fought with, insulted, been insulted by, and traded barbs with knaves, fools, imbeciles, and rouges, only to be rendered speechless by a Doctor who crashed his 'tuner into me because he was trying to land lunch. I may never recover.

I went below and returned to the much more rational universe of a nearly naked Ripley crawling into a spacesuit to blow an acid dripping alien out an airlock.


NewAcornCottage said...

You need to know that when you finally get “out here” living on the hook for months at a time, thousands of miles away from home and all its conveniences, these kinds of things (and worse) will happen to you. Many anchorages will be rolly not only from swells but from local fishing boats, tour boats, dive boats and jet skis; the wind will often blow like stink all night long; it will rain a lot and there will be thunder and lightning (and you may get hit); other boats will anchor right on top of you; the mola seller and the lobster seller and the veggie boat and the mooring ball boat will ALL crash into your hull; vendors will knock on your hull and probably peek in your portholes; you will be forced to come alongside rebar-infested fuel docks and customs docks. If you can’t come to grips with all that, perhaps you shouldn’t go cruising.

However, if you can learn to deal with that, you will be rewarded with breathtaking sunrises and sunsets, magical night passages, dolphins and whales cavorting beside your boat, great snorkeling, amazing new foods and cultures, chance meetings with helpful and friendly locals, hilarious adventures, and the sense of accomplishment that comes with knowing you did this…in a small boat…all by yourselves!

I’m not saying cruising is easy or always pleasant, but until you adopt a more positive and open attitude towards cruising and other boaters (including powerboats) your posts will be centered around negative experiences like this. This is why I no longer read your blog, but DH still does and brought this one to my attention.

Who knows, the next boat that bumps into you could be your new best friend if you’d only look at the incident as an opportunity for growth rather than another excuse to post negativity.

Laura Fortune
SV Thistle

TJ said...

I'm sorry you didn't like my little story but that is the nice thing about reading. You can just put the book down or not click on the blog if it isn't to your taste. We have been cruising the east coast and the northern Islands for a couple of years now. With three daughters and nine grand kids it isn't likely we are going to be thousands of miles away from them. Being a world ranging cruiser has its allure, but grand kids grow up too fast. Yet, though I be only a lowly “coastal cruiser”, we have experienced most of what you have described. Still, let me think...

...a guy completely ignores the fact that the wind is blowing to 20 knots, drifts aimlessly through an anchorage while trying to catch a fish, bounces off of one boat (which just happened to be mine), takes a bee line on a second boat still trying to catch a fish, drifts through a busy channel while, let me say this again, drifting aimlessly with no one at the helm while he tries to catch a fish.

And this is my new best friend?

Tell you what, he can be your new best friend. I can even provide you with a name and phone number. I realize that everyone does dumb things. Anyone who has followed this blog is well aware that I am no exception, and I have always tried to be at least as honest about the dumb things that I do as I am about the dumb things I watch others doing. Sometimes they make for funny stories and sometimes they make for other kinds of stories.

Others, by the way, told me they got a chuckle from my tale. And really, “a mountain of inanity so massive as to be beyond my verbal climbing abilities”? I'm not sure if I should be flattered or offended that someone might think that is normal dinner conversation for me. So, before you go (if you haven't gone already) let me share this...

noun; a fictitious or true narrative or story, especially one that is imaginatively recounted.

NewAcornCottage said...

Oooooooohh, I get it now. This post was supposed to be funny. I thought your blog was a cruising blog with honest stories of what you're doing, where you've been, and your adventures along the way, but I guess not.

Yes, the fisherman was irresponsible in his boat handling, but to say he was "off his meds" or "on the sauce" and to use terms such as "misfiring mind, pure idiocy, class of crazy all his own, this lunatic, and a skull so thick" wasn't funny to me. I found it insulting, and I think there are better ways to create humor than using insults.

Over and Out and Back to 16,
Laura Fortune

ps: The part about him being my new best friend though - now THAT was funny!

TJ said...

Well, you guess wrongly, but that's okay. We have never been dishonest on this blog; and sometimes I am honestly insulted and angered by what other people do.

Sometimes I try to couch honesty in humor, which is a dicey writing task given that people no more agree on what is funny than they do on most other things. Some people are thin skinned, some people are gruff, some are very carefully politically correct, and some not. The main point was that “the man was irresponsible in his boat handling”. But writing a story that goes, “My movie watching was interrupted today when we were bumped into by a man who was irresponsible in his boat handling,” isn't much fun, nor does it make for a story that some might find a bit funny and others a bit insulting.

One the other hand, writing a story that blends ALIEN with THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA, which refers to Santiago, Ripley, Hemingway, and the shark, while making fun of (or insulting – if that is your take) a hapless lunkhead bouncing his boat off of other boats to catch a fish, is a lot more entertaining. And not only for the writer, (in this case me) but also for the reader (in this case you.) In fact, my story “entertained” you so much that you have seen fit to comment on it twice. And while I am sorry you missed my intended “over the top” description of the doltish Doctor and his fish obsession, you did catch the “irresponsible boat handling”, will likely remember the story for a while, and have taken the time to reach out to me with your criticisms. Something for which I am, honestly, grateful.

ps: I'm glad you caught my “best friend” jest.

Unknown said...

After reading the back and forth of these comments, I felt that I needed to read the “Fortunes’” blog. I believe I am about half way through it now, having starting at the beginning. I see many similarities in the situations you both share, though the “Fortunes” seemed to have started with a larger “fortune” than the “Retirees” did. I will say that having both of the partners of the “Retirees” post puts your blog as one of the most enjoyable reads that is still updating… I must confess that I still check weekly for the “Verandas” to post again. The “Fortunes” read has turned into a slow grind as I have found it difficult to connect to them as the writing style feels, to me, a bit bland. However, from what I have read, and surmising a bit between the lines… The “Captain” who is the blog writer’s husband, should be canonized as a saint.

Unknown said...

keep telling the truth, TJ, and don't worry about making your comments sound nice for anyone but yourself and your family.

I read your blog because you aren't sanitizing the experience and you aren't finding every person is a "New Friend." Keep on writing exactly as you have been.

Unknown said...

TJ- just keep on keepin' it real. The majority of cruising blogs sugarcoat the hell out of the experience, a sea of Pollyannas who see only friends but never idiots (like your fisherman) through their rose colored but polarized Raybans, they're never homesick or frustrated with their situation, they never miss air conditioning or ice cubes on demand or binge watching Netflix, and they love laundromat and communal showers. This just makes me feel bad about my own reality and I stop reading those blogs just as soon as it becomes evident that they are creating a PR brochure for their wonderful blessed lives for us to admire. Sometimes this life just sucks and one must suck it up as you have done. That kind of honesty is admirable so don't stop.

Judy Ray
s/V Pie in the Sky

Ps- I thought your description was hilarious but at the end of the day that dude deserves to be dressed down as a reckless moron he is, Dr or not. I'd love to give him a tongue lashing myself.