Best Laid Plans
We were up early again in order to motor over to the marina that we were planning to have pull our boat when we returned to Texas. The plan was to make final arrangements for the haul out later in the day. First, however, my cousin Mark Haley, his wife, and their daughter were scheduled to arrive around 9-10 AM and we were going to get a day sail in with them.
We anchored just offshore from the marina and I took the dinghy and motored in to meet the yard manager. As I pulled up to the dock, I was thinking, “what a nice clean little out of the way marina!” The old salt who helped me ashore set me straight by pointing at the marina I was actually looking for, just to the north. The rusted hulk of a crane and derelict boats were an immediate cause for concern.
Once tied up at the correct dock, I walked up to the marina office and found the manager behind a desk piled high with what I imagine were unpaid bills and court summons. From the first words, I knew I was in trouble. Not only was the entire marina in dangerous disrepair, but he had also seriously misquoted me over the telephone — to the tune of a 150% premium to pull and store the boat for a month. While he and I were screaming at each other, my cousin walked in to the office, looking for me. I’m sorry that he saw me at my worst! Mark’s arrival was a perfect excuse to disengage from a fruitless argument and we headed for the dock. As we walked through the yard, the owner came running up behind us and demanded $20 for tying my dinghy to his dock! In retrospect, I’m sure that he thought that he had me in a bind and could charge what ever he wanted. The bastard!! Calm…I will remain calm…
With Mark and family aboard, we pulled anchor and headed out to the John Pennekamp dive site. Once everyone was settled and with Mark at the helm, I stepped into the cabin and started calling every marina I could find in the area. You see, we had airline reservations the next day to head back to Texas and with no place to leave the boat we were in trouble! In between calls, I kept stepping back out into the cockpit, trying to make sure everyone was having a great time, and acting as calm as possible. All in all, we had a great afternoon with our cousins!
Success! I was able to find a marina that had a slip for us to leave the boat in for a month. Just one problem: the marina was 35 miles away on the west side of Tavernier Key. In order to get over to the west side, we had to sail all the way down to Snake River Bridge, the only Bascule Bridge in the area. We dropped off Mark at 5:00 pm and headed south in a building breeze. It was invigorating sailing south to the Snake River Bridge. Well, ok, it was a little scary, frankly, but we made it safely to the marina and safety by 1:00 AM.