“When wisdom enters your heart, and knowledge is pleasant to your soul, discretion will preserve you; Understanding will keep you.” Proverbs 2:10-11.
Our last sailboat was an Irwin Mark IV on which we had many wonderful voyages on Fort Loudon and Watts Bar Lakes. For a family of three with the occasional niece/nephew tagging along, the 28.5 size perfectly accommodated us for the daysail or overnighter. I loved being on the boat and seized every opportunity I could to drop the lines and catch a breeze. However, my lack of discretion almost cost me the boat and possibly more.
It was a very busy Saturday and I had spent the night before on the boat alone, cleaning and preparing for my wife, son and our two goddaughters to join us for a complete day on the lake. Arising early, I decided to embark on a little “me-time” sail and maybe even anchor out before returning to retrieve them around 1300. So, I cranked the Yamaha 9.9, established an idle, tied my dinghy to the ball and walked to the bow and offed the mooring line. Humming along upstream, I noticed a minor skip in the motor but really didn’t give it much thought as I’ve had engine failure before and have been able to recover with no incident. Before moving on, I should mention the lake was full of Jet Skis, Ski boats, Bass Boats, etc… all of which I disdained as they were basically polluting MY space.
So, after 10-15 minutes of motoring I killed the engine, pulled the sails and off I went. About 20 minutes into the trip, I made a critical error in judgement and decided to forego a much needed tack in order to avoid the artificial chop created by the recreational boaters. In doing so, I chose to closely run the north shoreline…..BAD, BAD DECISION. Realizing I was quickly approaching shallow waters, I loosened the jib and prepared to tack southward knowing this would impede my progress but was a better alternative than running aground. Additionally, I was approaching an area known as Turkey Creek which had a low-lying overpass, lots of power-boaters coming from the marina and……..yep, you guessed it: Power Lines. Of course I was much too wise and knowledgeable to allow that to occur. Now remember, I’m running the North shoreline; The wind is on my nose from the Southeast; I needed to tack south which meant I needed enough wind and inertia to turn the 7500lb starboard. Here’s were it really gets fun: when I pulled the tiller port, the boat barely moved. I again adjusted and the sails and even try to force the Main but I just didn’t have enough wind to make the tack. So I turned to my trusty 9.9 and began to crank and crank and crank and crank. I later learned the fuel diaphragm in the carburetor had a small crack and wasn’t holding fuel. Okay, so no big deal, I’ll just throw the anchor. Unfortunately, not only was I too close to the shore for the anchor to set, the bottom was primarily rock. I was in a pinch as not only was the 20 foot bridge nearing my 45 foot mast but the Power Lines were going to take a crack at me first. By now, a couple fishermen on the bridge noticed I was in duress. Unfortunately, they were more interested in taking pictures of my eventual demise instead of initiating assistance. It was at that moment I realized the best course of wisdom was to seek assistance. I went to the bow and began frantically waving my arms to which a very nice family of four circled their Chaparal and hooked to me. They towed me back to my mooring and wouldn’t accept anything other than a Thank You and promise that I would pay it forward which I have done and will do anytime the opportunity presents itself.
I’m proud to say I didn’t end up on the front of the local newspaper as the primary source of responsibility for a major power outage and it was a phenomenal lesson on what not to do. From a Biblical perspective, their are so many principles I could expound upon but I’ll leave that for future posts or as a response to any who would like to hear.
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