It hit us both at once, at the end of a week of intensive tourism. Not homesickness exactly, although I was longing to walk along Main Street and listen to the USNA band play a concert at City Dock again. I wanted to drink a margarita at Mexican Café before they closed their Bay Ridge location, and have my stylist Ron work his magic on my sun-frazzled hair.
More than missing Annapolis, though, I think we were missing the idea of staying in one place for an extended time. I wanted to go to sleep in the same place I woke up, instead of the next anchorage, 20, 30, 50 miles up the waterway. I wanted a car again. I wanted to go to the same grocery store every week so I knew where the mixed nuts were. I wanted to use my library card to pick out books that I wanted to read and not catch-as-catch-can at some marina or laundromat book swap. Dan said he felt the same way … I just want to stay putfor a while.
So we’re motoring up Middle Sound on a beautiful mild spring day, homeward bound. In two weeks at this rate, maybe a little more, we’ll be back in the Chesapeake. We get near to a bridge that only opens every half hour, and put the engine into neutral, drifting while we wait. The hour comes, the bridge begins to swing, Dan shifts into gear … and nothing happens! Umm, nothing except for a grinding noise that can’t be good news. “TowBoat U.S., TowBoat U.S., this is sailing vessel Cinderella …”
Well, the short of it is, we were towed right back to where we started from that morning, the Seapath marina at Wrightsville Beach. Dan had the presence of mind to turn on the GPS to track our return route, rightly assuming the towboat driver would have local knowledge of the shoals to avoid when we (finally) were able to leave. Indeed he did – Tom Morgan, the driver, had been doing this for ten years, and found deep water where on our outbound trip we had seen only shoals. He had also been a liveaboard before a new baby made him seek larger (and more toddler-proof) lodging, and we chatted pleasantly enough on the trip back, erasing the miles we had just covered.
“Ahoy! Is this a Cinderella story?” The voice coming from the dock later that afternoon belonged to Josh Roberts, of Specialized Mechanical Services. Professional and extremely competent, he was the marine mechanic who Tom used for his personal boat. “Yeah,” I replied, “and we’re hoping you can turn our pumpkin back into a coach! Welcome aboard!” I had visions of haulouts and cranes in our future as we described the symptoms of our failure to him. I also had visions of our IRS refund, which was about to have the shortest residence time ever in our checking account before going out the door again. Josh quickly isolated the problem to our V-drive – serious, but not disastrous (no crane! no haulout!) and carried it off to his shop for a more complete diagnosis. Meanwhile, we got our “stay put” wish but not in the way we intended – we were going to be here for several more days.
Back at the dock, courtesy of TowBoat U.S. and Tom Morgan
Josh Roberts removing our damaged V-drive. We later learned it was completely destroyed