A Cautionary Tale, of Sorts

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Sometimes no matter how good your intentions everything goes to crap. This, to an extent, is that kind of thing. To a much greater extent, it's a "what not to do" saga.

Last week my son put an ad on Craig's List giving away a derelict 20' sailboat. We did not personally have possession of this boat, but our Sea Scout ship did. This boat was stuck in the water. It had no motor, no sails, no wiring of any sort, not even any lines. It was going to cost about $1000 to pay an expert to take the boat away, so an ad was put up stating the boat was free as scrap, stating clearly that there was nothing on the boat but lead.

sideview, derelict sailboat

A gentleman agreed to pick up the boat the next day. The story is much longer than this but, to sum up this chapter, he arrives at 4:30 pm with two friends and a huge truck with winch. They were the nicest people, and we enjoyed meeting them and hearing their stories. At 5:30 he and a friend take off with the boat, using a trolling motor to get it to the boat ramp. They seemed VERY confident and content with the situation.

Have I mentioned they're from out of town, that it gets dark at 6:30, that this boat may well have water that wasn't pumped out of it, that the boat had no lights or radio, and that the boat ramp is 5 miles away, and they really have no idea how to get there? Can you see where this might be going?

sailboat, for scrap only

About 13 hours later I receive a wake-up call, the boat has not yet arrived at the dock. It's pre-6:00 am, dark and chilly out (not up-north cold, but Florida chilly). The girl who was waiting at the ramp with the truck is now with the sheriff's office and the coast guard and the boat is missing, and she sounded, legitimately, worried. Needless to say, I didn't get any more sleep and spent the next few hours on pins and needles, praying and waiting for them to be found.

About two hours later the coast guard finds the boat and boaters, alive and well. Thank God.

derelict sailboat heading into the canal

They got stuck on a sandbar not too far out and were there all night. Thank God. Had they drifted through the night it could have taken a lot longer to find them and someone else could have hit them, as they had no port or starboard lights.

Why didn't they call for help? Why didn't they see the channel markers? Why didn't they steer away from the sandbar? I don't have the answers, but I heard, after the fact, that they had no cell phone, no flashlight, no life jackets, and just a trolling motor which probably wasn't strong enough to steer them down the river if they had to fight tides. Click here for the newspaper story, if you wish (and a picture of the boat on the sandbar).

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The moral of the tale? For the sake of those who love you be prepared and safe on the water; anything can happen at any time. For us the additional moral is to pay the expert the $1000 next time, worrying about people's lives wasn't worth saving that money. As much as we wanted to get rid of the boat for free and at the same time help someone else make a buck we should have left the job to the experts.

The fabric in the images? New ties for men, boys, and babies. I had some down time waiting for the gentleman to come get the boat so I took a few pictures. Coming very, very soon to the shop.

derelict sailboat sailing down the canal

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