*UPDATE*: Our Very Scary, No Good, Very Bad Day!
Thursdays are our “date night”. We refer to them as “Date Days” because our date nights take place during the day. Generally, Date Day consists of me and Scott going fishing. We love our date days. The peace and quiet…the ability to finish a sentence without interruption…not having to dig into the cooler every 10 minutes for a child who is “starving”. It’s our little taste of heaven on earth.
Yesterday however, it all went south.
The day started at 5:00am. Those of you who know me, know that I am not an early riser. Anything before 7-ish is too early, in my opinion. But I knew we had a reason for getting up so early, and I tried to keep my grouchiness in check. We (read: Scott) loaded up the boat, and we stopped at the 7-11 to fuel up and buy drinks. Then it was off to the Yacht Club to launch the boat. There wasn’t a living soul there, and I actually enjoyed not having every tourist on the beach scrutinizing our boat launching. LOL The moon was full (which should have been our first sign that this wasn’t going to be good), and the water was so calm it looked like glass.
As we headed out, it was just so beautiful and peaceful. The sun was starting to come up, and there were only one or two boats in the distance. After about 45 minutes, we ended up at the bait-fish hole, and I started casting the net (my first time ever!). I was overjoyed when my first cast yielded several bait fish. I cast the net about 7-8 times and pulled up bait fish every time. Our live-well was full and we were ready to fish.
I’d like to say that we caught some good fish, but the sad truth was, we caught two catfish. That’s it. Of course, we knew the fishing was going to be rough because they had been feeding all night by the light of the full moon. We expected that.
What we didn’t expect was the storm rolling in. The weather report said rain in the afternoon. It was 9:30am and the storm clouds were building big time. Since Scott and I had taken our Skiff out (our 16ft. fishing boat) neither one of us felt comfortable enough in the Skiff to ride the storm out. Couple in the fact that this storm had some lightning with it…we knew our day was cut short.
So we headed back to the Yacht Club to call it a day.
As we drove through the “miserable mile” (a stretch of water where you can’t leave a wake due to manatees), we knew this storm was going to be a big one. There were at least 30 boats all heading in the same direction as we were. Think rush-hour traffic.
We were cruising along, the storm barreling down on all of us, when…the engine died. I mean, completely, totally, died. So we hooked up the trolling motor and decided to try and coast back the boat ramp using that. Well, that didn’t work so well either. The batteries for the trolling motor were dying. We were stuck. We were literally about 2 miles from the ramp.
Since the storm was so nasty, no other boaters were stopping to see if we needed help. Everyone was going as fast as they legally could for shelter. The waves were getting worse, the lightning was getting loud, the wind was picking up, and the rain started coming down. At one point Scott asked me if I wanted to put on my life jacket. It was really getting bad. I even tried to push our way back to shore with a push-pole. Not an easy thing to do when the waves are so rough and the water so deep. Scott tried everything he could think of to get us back to shore….ANY shore.
Finally, the danger of us being stranded in the middle of the Caloosahatchee in this kind of storm, in our little boat, was sinking in for us (no pun intended). We had to call for help. So we called Sea Tow to come and rescue us. Which, they gladly did…to the tune of $300. From start to finish it took less than 30 minutes for them to get us back to the ramp. We were so close!!
Scott and I felt sick about having to spend $300 for a tow back to the ramp. Had we been members of Sea Tow, it would have been a free tow. Membership was $149/year. How’s that for poor planning? Of course, had we been members, the engine would have probably never died. That’s the kind of luck we have.
Even during the storm though, we recognized God’s blessing in this. Yes, we had to spend a lot of money that we couldn’t afford. Yes, we were unable to catch any fish. Yes, we were unprepared for the storm. But now we know that there is a serious problem with the boat (which we kind of already knew based on previous trips, but we weren’t sure). We were blessed to have been stranded close to civilization (rather than where we were fishing).
When we came home, the relief on my kids’ faces made it worth the price of rescue. The storm had been bad here as well, and they were worried about us. I would gladly pay that money again. But I hope we never have to.
So if the thought of spending $300 for a tow doesn’t make your stomach queasy, get this:
The problem with the boat engine was a simple fix. Some little gizmo with gears on it (something to do with the starter) didn’t pop up when the key was turned. Apparently, everyone who owns a boat knows about this problem. It’s a common issue due to the salt water. All we would have had to do was pop the cover off the motor and pulled this gizmo up so it would engage with the motor, and we would have been back at the dock in no time.
Once again though, God is good! Because of what happened, Scott and some of his friends are devising a plan so that no one will have to pay a $300 tow again. I can’t give you too many details, but let’s just say that it’s a BIG idea. Also, we found out from our friends that we can always count on them to get us out of a boating jam. Everyone has offered to be an emergency contact for us should we ever need them. THAT is what friendship is all about!