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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
ACK!!!! Don\'t try this at home folks

The following is a post someone made on the rec.boats newsgroup. This person obviously did not have a clue what he was doing, and paid NO attention to even BASIC safety issues. Please folks, I would HOPE that nobody here would try this.

Quoted, unedited.
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Background: We bought our 1977 Sea Ray SRV two weeks ago. She has a new
bilge pump and steering cables; while the steering cables were installed
we had the bellows checked and the engine compression tested (both were
fine). She has a fish finder, VHF radio, flares, running lights, PFDs,
fenders, lines, etc.

Saturday: Six hours of sleep -- I flew in from Houston the night before
-- and I was setting up my laptop to check the marine weather report.
We decided to pack for Chicago even with SCA's, but we wouldn't go out
until they were cancelled.

By the time we were ready to go out to the boat the SCA had been lifted.

First stop: St. Joseph/Benton Harbor. After cruising for 2 hours in
choppy water we were ready for a break. As we entered at 2pm, we heard
a loud horn. I looked around, wondering what I had done wrong, but then
the bridge went up. My SO laughed at my paranoia, not for the last
time.

There are public tie-ups along the St. Joseph river, next to a park, and
we had a nice macaroni/crab salad. My SO fed the ducks and made our
poor lab sit still while 20 ducks surrounded her. Finally the
excitement was too much and she took off.

Getting in and out of the boat was worse for me than the lab. The "no
wake" zone is apparently advisory along this section of the river.
Further, while I may not be afraid of heights, I do get uncomfortable
with the thought of falling. Climbing into the boat from the river bank
requires a lot of agility, and watching the bow bob up and down made me
slightly dizzy. However, I sucked it up and got on. That's when the
horn blew for the bridge.

Next stop: New Buffalo. We pulled in for gas, and while we were
embarrassingly inept, we did not cause anyone any harm. We met my GF's
brother, who's office is nearby, and tried to get the Michigan game on
the radio. Just as well we didn't. We left a little before 4pm.

We noticed that we were basically due East of Chicago, so we decided to
forge ahead straight across (we don't have a GPS, but we do have a
compass). This wasn't difficult because the lake was relatively calm,
we were going with the weather, and because we could see the John
Hancock building almost right away.

I had asked my GF to make a marina reservation the week before, but she
scoffed at me, noting that it was the off season. We found that a few
miles offshore we had cell service -- or so our phones said -- but that
they didn't work. Nextel said "restricted service" and Sprint just said
"calling...." We found Navy Pier and cruised around it. I was
exhausted, not having shared driving duties with my SO, selfish of me, I
know. She took over the driving, resentful that she didn't get to do it
out on the lake. We headed down to Burnham harbor and the it was much
calmer. I called the marina and they had no transient slips. I
refrained from mentioning that it was the off season, and instead asked
where we could go. It was about 7pm eastern, and night was approaching.

Two marinas were closed, but Diversey had a slip for us. I gave him all
my information, and after I hung up my SO asked, "how much is it?" I
didn't know.

We pounded up the coast behind a 39' Sea Ray who ended up going to the
same harbor we were, and in fact docked next to us. Getting into the
harbor was tricky because you could only do it at certain times (one way
channel -- I was glad I didn't know it), and it makes an "S" before
going under a low, fixed bridge. I followed the Sea Ray in front of me
without thinking about it and we were idling under the bridge in a badly
needed calm. I loved these docks -- they were floating and had cushions
all around. Two boats per berth, and I turned into B-58. No matter how
I tried, she wanted to dock at B-57, though. I figured we could pull
her over to the other side of the dock and I cut the engines. The boat
who had just come in, in B-59, assured us that we were in B-58, so we
tied up, plugged her in, and took our lab and ourselves to the nearest
comfort station. My SO is a big ER fan, and we were only a block from
St. Joseph hospital, so that's where we went. We saw the lights go on
in Chicago's skyline while eating our dinner. 86 Kts for the day,
according to the fish finder.

I slept on a boat for the first time since 1983. Not bad.

In the morning we enjoyed the view, took in a couple of walks, had some
bagels and checked the weather. "1 foot or less" -- yeah!

We left Chicago and decided to head East North East. The idea was to go
straight to South Haven, but without a chart or GPS or any significant
landmarks I wasn't sure this was feasible.

My GF yielded the helm outside the harbor, and we headed ENE at first.
The waves got larger and steeper and shorter, and I began to get
nervous. Apparently I'm not the most pleasant person to be around when
I'm nervous, so she sat in the back for the ride across the lake.

The waves got steeper and shorter. Every few minutes we met a wave I
could imagine my buddy surfing on, one I thought would come up to his
shoulder. We pounded back and forth -- the waves were completely
unpredictable. They sprayed the bow and windshield. I can't say they
exactly washed across the bow, but the bow was wet, dammit. The phrased
"tossed about like a cork" came to mind more than once. In fact that
thought sat down and had lunch, and started to unpack. It wasn't like
waves which come at a regular direction and frequency, it was like they
were mostly coming at me from ahead, but every now and then they'd come
abeam -- you know, just to mess with what was left of my mind. Never
aft, though, which I suppose is some blessing. The steepest, worst
waves seemed less serious if I was heading ESE, so that's the way I
headed -- plan or no plan. My GF pointed out that this would just take
longer. She was inappropriately relaxed, I thought. And appropriately
****ed at something I said. She claims we never "caught air" but there
was one time that the bottom dropped out from under us - at only 7 knots
and we fell, thud, into the trough. The bow to stern rocking wasn't
nerve racking, but our beam was rocking a good 30 degrees, at times, and
this frightened the bejezus out of me.

Oh, we're not sure how much gas we'd used -- we're not used to the gauge
and we'd only filled up twice. Last time was 5 gallons an hour, but we
spend an hour round-trip idling between our dock and the lake, so it's
hard to say how much was at idle and how much was at cruise. The gas
gauge only works if you're still for some time, and then the difference
between Full and Empty are only vague guidelines.

This crossing was more frightening and tense than my first marriage.
Fortunately it was much shorter.

About 3 hours of... excitement... I saw something to the south east. I
didn't care what it was -- I was heading for it. I had brilliantly left
our binoculars in our car. It was a barge. Eventually I saw the power
plant at Michigan City and headed into the harbor. As I got closer to
the harbor the waves settled down and I was able to plane the last few
miles. I was trying to figure out how to get gas at a crowded gas dock
on a narrow channel filled with boaters trying to get in and out of the
channel. I was tired and hungry and the gas lady says pull up here...
so I get lined up and she says oh these guys are leaving and then some
other guys are leaving and I can't get any turning room because the
channel is full of people moving around and I hit a really nice Sea Ray
at the dock next to the gas pump, scratching the back.

As I filled the tank I watched two guys going to look at the boat,
talking on cell phones, etc. etc. My hands were shaking, my blood sugar
was lower than our gas tank, and my arm was sore holding the gas hose.
I guessed 50 gallons, and we filled up with 50.6. Heck, we had 20 more
gallons -- I could have gone back to New Buffalo.

I sat in the back, basically in shock, and insisted that my GF take us
back. The water was glassy smooth and we cruised past New Buffalo and
St. Joseph. Three beers, two candy bars and some sourdough bread into
the trip from Michigan City the engine made a weird noise (I'm sitting
right on it) then sounds somehow throatier. When I smell oil burning I
entered the cabin and asked my GF to check the temp. She turned off the
engine immediately.

The water pump belt had broken and we were adrift. This wasn't bad,
because we were about 1/2 mile off shore and about 2 miles north of St.
Joseph. I called the Coast Guard, and after assessing the situation
they put out a "vessel in distress" call. After all, there was no
immediate danger (not blocking a lane, quiet wind, low waves, 66 feet of
depth, not drifting), and sooner or later we were going to make it in.
They wanted me to anchor, but I refused. I don't know how to anchor!

My faith in people took a turn for the better when a couple from St.
Joseph offered to help us almost immediately. They were in a 27'
Skipjack, and refused any payment. My GF has just learned a square
knot, and was delighted to see it work to connect the lines between our
boats. As we idled back to harbor, it occurred to us that we had
nowhere to go once we got there. We started calling marinas, but this
late on a Sunday afternoon we had no luck. The good Samaritan asked the
Coast Guard, and Sea Tow answered that they would look at us in their
dock at Pier 33. On the way back the Coast Guard kept asking us
questions, so I got to play with the radio ("Copy that", "Roger", etc.).
That was fun. They kept calling me "skipper", but I was feeling like
"***** ".

Docking a dead boat is usually difficult, but somehow we slid into the
dock better than if we were driving. My GF got us a ride home, and we
had some chips and salsa on the back of the boat waiting for either our
ride or for Sea Tow to come back.

The ride arrived, so I radioed Sea Tow, who graciously let us remain
tied up overnight (like they had much choice). Today we have to fix the
boat.
 
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