Saturday, April 6, 2013

Slippery slope

"Okay Bob, give me about 15 minutes, and I will have the transducer installed. I will leave the wire tied up in the transom to the motor harness in a plastic bag. When you get the boat back to your house I will stop by and pull the transducer wire forward, and install the rest of the gear." "Thanks Bill, but I have been thinking. Since you're already here, could you get the GPS installed? I have been out of boating for a while, and I don't think I could find my way home without it." I look at my watch. This was supposed to be a quick give and go on a busy full schedule day.

That's when I heard the loud pop of a small vortex to the ether opening, and felt the first tug on my soul. I look at Bob, and I know he is right, so I say "Okay Bob, if the yard will give you the time I'll stick the gear in. Then I gotta go."

Two hours later, the job is done. A combo chart plotter and sounder is up and running. "Let's get the boat splashed Bob, and I'll give you a quick overview." Thirty minutes later I stare at my watch, and say, "You're good to go Bob." Bob sits quietly for a moment, and then says, "Would you mind if we took a short practice trip in the intercoastal? I'm really not very clear on some of this stuff. I haven't boated for several years. It would make me feel a little better about this."

Damn, the vortex just got a little larger, and my soul is now slowly seeping into the ether. "Gee Bob, I don't know if I have the time." Bob stares at me like a lost puppy. I make a couple of quick calls to stave off anxious clients, and tell Bob, "Lets go."

It's a nice but windy day. Down the canal we go, and Bob is already in a dither. "The exit markers are private aids Bob, and they aren't on the chart. Just look, and you can see them right in front of you." "What side of the red markers am I supposed to be on Bill?" "Bob, remember red right return? Since we are exiting the channel you want the red markers on the left side." "Thanks Bill."

We enter the intercoastal and Bob tries to pass a red marker on the left side. Whoa Bob, what are you doing?" "Well you told me to keep the red markers on the left." That was in the canal Bob. In the intercoastal going north they are on your right side." "Well that seems confusing, but okay Bill. Where is the next marker?" "You have to look at the chart Bob. It's the flashing green up ahead. Do you see it?" Bob squints through the windshield, and finally sees it. This goes on for about 45 minutes before we get back to the dock. I get off the boat and head back to the truck. I can see Bob just sitting in his new boat looking concerned. I walk back to the dock, and ask Bob, "Is there a problem?" "Bill, my dock is about 25 miles away and I have to go into Tampa bay to get to it. I don't think I can do this without your help. Would you please go with me?"

The vortex is now huge. and I'm being pulled in. My soul will be doomed to forever exist in some gray nautical netherworld. "Let's go Bob, keep the red markers on your right. Bob you have to either speed up, or slow down. You can't see anything when the bow is 30 degrees up. Where are you going Bob? You are way out of the channel. The water is thin here. Slow down Bob, that's a huge wake. Why are you passing that boat on the right? No Bob, that sail boat absolutely has right-away. Bob turn hard to the right now!"

Two long hours later we arrive, but it was to late for me, and I was finally sucked into the vortex. Hmm, it's gray here alright, but it's so nice and quiet. In fact it's better here than there. I think I will just take a quiet nap for a while. Later I will try to find a way out before happy hour starts. I will go back and do some additional training with Bob, but I'm leaving when I hear that first small vortex pop into existence.

The Spiral Math gif was created by Wikipedia user Nevit.


  1. And there it is, the case for mandatory and comprehensive boater training and licensing, even if that smacks of socialism to many Americans. Your personal time-suck aside, Bill, this guy's a ignorant menace (and he knows it, too) and shouldn't be eroding the shoreline without hours of further instruction it's not your responsibility to give.

    While we're at it, never loan Stevie Wonder your car keys, either.

    1. As an American, Bob has every right to be an uninformed, ignorant boater. Tonight, there is a SeaTow captain's family going hungry all because Bill helped Bob.

      Call me a skeptic, but I don't believe "comprehensive" boater training would do much for someone like Bob.

    2. Perhaps not, but for all the "not Bobs" out there, a spot of training might allow the more prudent sailor to avoid the "Bobs".

      Something something joke about Bobbing in the water....

  2. Hope you were billing Bob by the hour!

  3. OMG I can't believe anyone would ask that without setting it up in advance.

  4. Bill, I've been meaning to ask you, Can I borrow some money? (or does the vortex thing only work in person?)


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