On a glorious June morning, the Gem&I with her skipper, his first mate, and feline crew member aboard set out on a return cruise back to Kent Island from St. Michaels. Just your normal, friendly, four-hour sail. But before we even had left the channel, we were in trouble again.
This time, the Miles River’s shallow waters had claimed us on our starboard side. Why? Well, skipper error: we had failed to honor the red, because we were enthusiastic to hoist the sails and start off on a nice, long tack. The boat thudded to a holt as her keel scraped the mudded river bottom below.
Trying to stay calm and reminding ourselves that it had only been less than 72 hours since our last running aground experience, Damian knew what to do. Donning his face mask and flippers, he leaped over the lifeline rail and into the water in an effort to rock the boat off a potential sandbar or push her off like he had successfully done the time before. But this time, it wasn’t as easy. The boat wouldn’t budge.
A new plan was needed. This time our anchor would be a participating member of the solution team. I lowered the anchor down to where Damian was in the water. From there, he swam it out into the deeper water to set it. Our strategy was to swim the anchor out and wench the anchor rode, dragging our grounded boat towards the anchor’s location; thus, freeing ourselves from the shallow water.
Great idea? Yes! Challenging? You betchya!
It took us three attempts and one loud shout of frustration from the skipper before our keel was freed from the bottom where it was stuck. My arms and legs were so exhausted from using the wench to pull us closer and closer, inch by inch, centimeter by centimeter, closer to that anchor. The first two times, we had not set the anchor far enough out into the deep water. But that third time, we did it! I can’t lie: there was some silent prayers going up during this hour-long-ordeal. So God had a hand in pushing our boat back into the channel.
Just as we freed ourselves, we stared out as a two masted ship, resembling one which the pirates would have sailed in the 1700s came nearer and nearer our location. What was this beautiful vessel? What was her purpose? Where was she headed?