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Boating: Black Friday blues

November 30, 2011
by boatguy Ed , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Black Friday started out blacker than usual but not as black as Target at midnight. Our cell phones started ringing near 6 a.m. and a frantic voice pleaded for help. It was 'Huron Hank' aboard his 34-foot Trawler that was hard aground in the Back Bay after his anchor drug during the night.

"Can you come out and pull me off," he pleaded.

"How far up in the mangroves are you?"

"I've got branches in my cockpit and there are small crabs climbing up the sides. My wife is freaking out," said Hank. I could here Darlene and she was freaking out in the background.

'Run-aground Ralph and 'Captain Crunch' were desperate to go on the rescue. They always enjoy some other fella's trouble. Three boats joined the rescue, my center console, 'Captain Crunch's' 28-foot twin I/O and 'Cracker Bill's' 36-foot commercial fishing boat. My boat and Crunchies couldn't pull Hanks boat off a sand bar let alone out of the mangroves so the big wheel on the commercial vessel was his only hope.

We found the trawler between Salty Sam's Marina and the Hurricane Bridge in a small pass that was over-grown with mangroves but still had a flow through it. That was were the Trawler had drifted. "I thought you were on a mooring ball," I asked Hank over the cell phone. "I moved into the Back Bay to save more money," said Hank.

Hank and Darlene are in a bit of financial difficulty. Hank decided to rent his house out for the season. It's a real nice home with a pool and three-car garage. He has renters from November through April paying nearly double his house payment. Living on his trawler is a pain but it is very rewarding for the pocket book.

I took the heavy towline in close and helped tie it off. Darlene wanted off the boat so she boarded mine. "I can't do this anymore," Darlene said. "I hate living on that damned boat!"

I tried to shush here because boats can hear and understand negative comments. In a moment of weakness I once cussed out my old boat and it fell apart in just a short time so I know of what I speak. "I don't care if it's feelings are hurt, I'm going back to Ohio," said Darlene.

That's a very radical reaction to a minor problem but everyone has a their own pain threshold. Hank couldn't stop to address her overreaction because potential disaster was overtaking him as the tide rolled out but it ended up helping as the water rushed through tiny pass.

"I'm ready when you are," said 'Cracker Bill and before anyone could answer he gunned his big, single engine diesel and the trawler popped out of the trees. The branches exacted their revenge by hanging onto the Christmas lights and decorations that Darlene and Hank had painstakingly placed aboard for the upcoming parade.

Darlene screamed as yards of aluminum foil cut into tinsel and strings of Christmas lights were torn away, dangling in the trees. "It took us four days to put that up and almost a hundred dollars. I'm leaving today," she shouted at Hank.

Once Hank's boat was clear he dove over the side to check his running gear and reported that one of his prop blades was bent pretty bad. 'Cracker Bill' went on his way. Crunchie took over the towline while I hip towed (tied to the side) the trawler back to the dead end canal. We tied Hank up to Cracker Bill's dock because he was going fishing for five days but would be back by the third of December for the Christmas boat parade.

We spent the rest of the day pulling Hank's prop and shlepping it up to the prop shop only to find it closed for an extended Thanksgiving holiday. "Damned luck," said Hank.

"Is Darlene serious about leaving," I asked Hank on the way back to the canal. He said that she wanted to go to Ohio for Thanksgiving but they couldn't afford the airfare. Now she had the upper hand and he'd have to get her up to Ohio (yuck) somehow for Christmas.

"We're out of the parade for sure. I thought decorating the boat would take her mind off missing the grand kids but the damned hook didn't hold. We don't have anymore decorations so, 'C'est la Vie'!"

Late in the day on Saturday, we gathered for some College football at a waterfront restaurant. Hank joined us but Darlene declined because she was packing. "She isn't wasting any time, Boston Bob commented.

"I'd never accuse her but I almost suspect someone pulled the anchor loose," Hank said. "The way I sleep, I don't hear nothing."

Couldn't be, could it? Grandkids are a powerful force but sabotage is a 'swinging from the yardarm' punishment. I suspect that 'light sleeping Darlene' may not have sounded the alarm in a timely fashion but I can't believe she could instigate such a scenario. In any event she'll be home for Christmas.

I hope to see ya'll at the Christmas Boat Parade (Saturday of this weekend.) I hope you could get your boat in the parade and have a wonderful time. This is the best way to get into the holiday spirit, so boat or no boat, it's a fun event!

Boatguy Ed is a life-long boater and passed Commodore of the "Dead End Canal Yacht Club." Send questions and comments to or to the editor of this paper. BGE is now a volunteer on his son's TV show, Boater's Treasures!



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