Sunday, July 8, 2012

Never In a Million Years: Buoy Time

I have been casually meandering for a few days and stopped at Eagle Island for a couple of nights. Last night at 2000hrs the sun was still high, the weather was so beautiful, I had finished dinner and the galley was clean. I was checking things out in the cockpit and about to get in my helm seat and wait out the sunset over the Olympic Mountains. I glanced into the water on the port side and saw something in the water. What on earth is this, I thought? I looked closer and there under water is the buoy that I am very securely attached to. The tide was almost high and for some reason the buoy chain is not allowing the buoy to freely float upwards with the tide. I went forward to pull on my buoy line and was unable to budge it. I pay out some more line to release the tension.

This is a first for me.

This is the weirdest picture: I am taking a picture of the buoy under water but you are seeing the wonderfully, clear reflection of Shatoosh and me with a nice sunglow in the mirror, clear water.

Now my $75.00 SS snap shackle is underwater. Who would ever have thought the buoy would sink? Not me. I rowed over to my buoy neighbors to discuss the problem. We had been conversing off and on, so wanted them to know of my situation. High tide would be about 10 pm and the next low would be at 0400 hrs this morning, but it would not be a minus tide but a 4 footer. A small motor boat appeared, offering help, but at this point I asked to check if the buoy on the east side was open. He returned stating it was. My neighbors suggested that I unhook my buoy line from Shatoosh's cleat and tie a fender/float to it. They would retrieve it in the morning for me. That was a wonderful idea, so I untied the line, coiled it in a small coil. and threw the fender over board. Off we went to the other side of the island and buoyed up with another line.
I decided that I should get up at 0530 hrs and check the buoy myself, as with the short tide, waiting too long could present the same problem; it would be under water again.

I arose at 0400 and checked my depthsounder. The moon was still out but it was too dark, so waited until about 0515 to depart in Pashmina. It was cold, so I fleeced up good and rowed around the point. The buoy was floating and my line and fender were good to retrieve. My neighbors were still asleep.the tide now flooding and as I rounded the point the flooding current was too much,and I got caught in a mini whirlpool, sending me into a spin. I turned Pashmina and rowed hard to shore. Landing her on the beach, I got out and with bow and stern line in hand, I walked her down past the flooding point into calmer waters, where I reboarded her and rowed us safely to Shatoosh. My hands were freezing cold, but after a few minutes in the warm cabin, down bedroll and a mug of hot coffee, I felt satisfied to have handled another adventure in  Puget's Sound. I wait til 0800 hrs to call my wonderful neighbors. They had checked the buoy and had seen that I had taken my line off. At the time of the call, the buoy was now underwater again.
Sunrise  8 July 2012

Follow up since last night: My buoy neighbors are traveling in an old Cruise A Home boat named C-Q.

Carl and Judy are the owners and they have friends with them. They really love relaxing in the flybridge, reading, sunning, talking and napping all under large umbrellas. But they really sprang into action since I told them my buoy had sunk. This morning Carl notified the Coast Guard regarding the buoy at high tide is a navigational hazard. The Washington State Park Rangers were headed from Jarrel's Cove to Eagle Island to do some park maintainence in their Almar Aluminum landing craft, Sole. They overheard the radio call and put a line and fender out while they were working on shore. later they pulled the buoy up on the deck and dragged it in several directions, finally freeing it up. By the time, I was leaving at 1400 hrs, the work was all done and a new boater was safely tied to the floating buoy. Now, that is fast responses. Thanks to the Jarrell Cove Park Rangers, the US Coast Guard and to the laid back crew of the C-Q. Good work.

Boating really is about problem solving and it is wonderful with modern technology it is easier than ever to phone someone, go on the internet and get an answer, take a picture and send it off or the old fashion way, row over to your neighbor and ask what their experience is with this problem. Boaters are most willing to lend a helping hand. C-Q, I hope our wakes cross again this summer. It was really nice meeting all of you.