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Date Posted: - Friday - 04/ 4/08 - 8:51am
Author: Ardian
Subject: How did I become a sailor

How did I become a sailor . May 2003
Well , boating is something that I always did like and since kid I liked to make little boats out of the sheets of my school books and going home wet. Later on as a teen I tried a few times rowboats in a little lake and that was all my experience with boats. Once I was working in smb home where I sow some sailboat pictures and asked the guy how much smth like that cost ? His answer was :- A used one you can buy for less than $ 1 000 000 . So I said why so much ? He said because everything is so expensive for the boats . ( I didn’t know that he was talking for that kind of boat that was a 65 footer world oceans racing) So my dream was gone . Later on I was thinking for a summer toy . So I was looking for a motorcycle on web-sites . Motorcycling was my thing but that was my problem too, since in Europe we speed extremely much I didn’t like the idea of max 65 mph so some money that I had saved I decided to buy a small sailboat that accidentally I found on E-bay for $3000 . A Catalina 27’ . So one day me and my buddy A went down to Solomon Island to see the boat . We meet the owner and he showed us the boat , she was dirty but OK for handy guys like us. Had a 9.9 hp, 4 stroke Johnson electric starter that did run good. The next day we went pay the money and got the title. A few days later once we found the slip and paid for we decided to take the boat from there to Washington Sailing Marina in D.C. So to make it more interesting I called some friends of mine from Boston , Ma that decided to come with us to make the trip from Solomon’s to D.C. On Saturday morning they were there 3 guys V , R and G so together make 5 of us , plus the driver of the van to take us there. We left D.C. around 8 am and on the way to Solomon’s we were making the plan for the trip. We had a laptop with a program for streets and GPS, no charts. So by looking at the map we assumed that would be smth less then 100 mil and guessing that the speed of the boat was at list 10 mph within 10 hours we were supposed to get to D.C. and have some time to hit the clubs in the evening. None of us knew that is going to take 3 days. So on the way to Solomon Island we stop to buy food and beers for the trip and at about 10 am we get at the place .
The boat was there . We looked at her for a while and started cleaning the greens on the top of her. It did rain for a couple of days before and when I opened it , inside there was about 5-6 inches of water. Ok lets take it out I said . So everybody start taking water out with cups , bottles and anything we found there that could help. Some minutes later we rich the bottom and there was a wood board , we pull that up and there was still water, we kept taking it out and there at some point we saw the bilge pump and some wires coming out that , we followed and they lead us to a switch , we turn the switch and the water like magic was sucked out . Damn ! If we knew wouldn’t spent 30 min with cups hand to hand to take the water out. But , who cares , now we have a dry boat . We put the food beers and some clothes inside and got ready to go. G knew more than the rest so he was the one to pull the rope to turn the motor on and be the skipper since he had been sometimes with smb to go fishing. We said good bye to our driver while the five of us headed to a marina across the pond to fill the tanks open a champagne bottle . Lot of fun .
But as soon as we got to the other side for fuel G that wasn’t aware of what was the plan decided to live and go back to Boston . I’m tired of driving all night he said I want to sleep and go to clubs get some girls not be on the boat till who knows when . So he jump out on the fuel dock and left .He had called the other guy ( the driver ) to take him to the airport while we was washing as fast as we could because that was for fueling only. We got fuel , and ice ( two big blocks of ice ) . That will last longer the dock guy said. So we felt ready to go and that’s what we did. We left .
It was a beautiful May day, sunny, we were very happy .We had filled two tanks with gas and both tanks were full but some strange noise coming out of the boat was disturbing me. It was a continuous noise coming out of one of the devices on the outside of the cabin. I asked the guys to do something about the noise and they said it was coming from the inside of this thing as they were pointing at it. “Cut the wires or do something“ I said. So they kicked it with wrenches, knives whatever they could to break it and finally they did. It turned out later on when I learned, that that thing was the depth meter to tell us that we had reach a shallow area and that the depth meter was worth $200.00. We were gone about 3 hours and then we stopped and were swimming. Afterward we came back to the boat and we ate. We turned the motor on again and kept going, but not to far because the motor died at the connection between the Patuxent river and the Chesapeake Bay. Later on we found out that we should have cleaned the fuel tanks before refilling them. So we checked the fuel lines and opened the engine to check out the spark plugs and kept on pulling the rope and it broke cause we did not know where the switch was to turn on the engine. The engine still kept silent. We looked for another piece of rope and we found different types to use them for starter. At that time the wind was coming from the south-east and had us decide to go back where we came from. You have to remember that we did not know much about sailing and by the time we put the main sail up, the wind was coming from behind. So I told them to loosen this rope (main sheet) so that the wind would hit the sail. One of the guy was concerned that the wind would not hit properly the sail and the boat would heel and capsize. I said I saw it already on TV and that the sail would follow the wind…The other two guys got scared and jumped on me and not let me do it. From that point to the marina, the wind was from behind and the sail was straight with the hull. We were going 1 mph and in the mean time we are still trying to start the engine, while forgetting to hold the tiller. Every one was putting their two cents, check this, check that and while I was pulling the rope, I did not see R behind me and I hit him with my elbow on his mouth. All I heard was a moaning and could not understand a word. Later during that evening his lip had swollen…At some point and time we got close to the marina, but not paying attention to the tiller and found ourselves aground. The night was falling and we are still debating on finding a solution. Meanwhile some speed boats were coming by cursing at us, cause they could not see us. From afar a guy standing on his porch was yelling “turn on the light”. Even if we knew had light, we had no idea were the switch was and we firmly believed the battery was already dead anyway. Our solution to this problem was to use the Sony camera and each time we would a hear a boat coming we would flash the camera to let them know we were around. A while later a little motor boat was cruising by and we asked the guy if he could pull us. He did not agree but offered to call the towboat for us. ½ hour later the towboat comes by and told us that it would cost $300.00 to take to the marina which was 200 yards away and we had to inescapably agree. So he towed us at a speed of 10 miles an hour and we were all excited to see how fast our boat could go knowing that so far we only reached 5 miles an hour. He took us the Harbor Island Marina and talked to the dock master and he said we can leave the boat there for the night. The tow guy took the time to explain to us the benefits of membership to Boat US, so we called them up and registered that same moment. We left the marina and walked to the nearest hotel to book a room take a shower and come back because across from the marina was a bar. We had drinks there until closing. We found out we became hungry, and decided to go back to the boat to eat. We went to the boat forgetting we left all the keys at the hotel. Once at the boat, we used the danforth anchor to break the lock to get in and get the food. Once we ate we trashed the rest of the food thinking that the next day we would get more fresh food. So we left, went to the hotel and slept in queen size beds (2 persons a bed). Early in the morning, I got up with A and went to the West Marina to buy tools and missing equipment. We waited there until they opened at 9 drinking coffee outside. We went in and spent $3000.00 on various things including a Mercury 9.9 hp, solar panels, batteries, tool case and flash lights , fishing equipment etc... We had no car to drag that back and they offered to deliver all that to the Marina. We mounted the motor as much as we knew about motor mounting and every thing was working fine. We connected it to the new 3 gallon gas tank. The West Marine people asked to carefully mix the fuels for the first 3 hours with some extra oil to warm up the engine. Everything was ready at the point and as soon as we started the engine, V and R showed up yelling and overwhelmed with joy, but still holding their heads from the previous hangover. They jumped on the boat screaming “Let’s go…Let’s go”…So “We go” said the captain. A couple of hours later ashore, we jumped in the water and swam for fun. We came back on board to eat something and then remember we forgot to buy food!!!! Nearby were crab cages signs floating. We pulled one the cages and happily discovered it had crabs inside and 2 fish. We emptied the whole thing at the bow of the boat. The crabs are crawling all over the place and we all are chasing them. We turn on the “Princess” alcohol stove and with all the dirty dishes proceed to fix some lunch. The first round of food went well, but when starting the second one the stove died. We assumed we ran out of alcohol and did not know if we had any spares. We did have gas though and wanted to switch to gas, but could not find were to fill the gas. So we gave up and kept going without food with the excuse that beer was liquid food and we had plenty of that. The only problem, R was taking antibiotics at that time and we all felt sorry for him.

At point lookout V was steering the boat and got to close ashore ending up grounding us again. Since we had our newly acquired membership we called the tow boat and they told us they would be there in about 1 hour. While we were waiting, I told them that the boat did not look like it was stuck deep in the ground, maybe a couple of inches and that maybe we just needed to jump out of the boat to have it lift a bit. R was the first on to be sacrificed. He put the life jacket on and jumped in the water. He jumped and instead of diving right through, he ended up standing in about 3 feet of water. Now that I knew the depth, everyone jumped in the water and start pushing the boat. I told them “time out” took the anchor and swam about 100 feet with it, let it go, came back on the boat and pulled on the rope from the bow of the boat. That was not really working and I thought to use the winch. I tied the rope around it and was using it while the guys were still pushing the boat from the right side (starboard). We got unstuck but could still see the marks on the guys hands on the side of the boat from all the dirt that accumulated.

We all got back on board, we left and a boat was coming toward us. That was the towboat and asked us if we had seen any boats stuck there. We said it was us. To be sure, the towboat check on the name of the captain, Adrian, checked that everything was OK with us, wished us fair wind and left. At that point we were singing and there was a magnificent view ahead of us. We were tired and decided to go inside the cabin to rest. A big problem was waiting for us inside. The uncooked fish had collected millions of flies. It was about 3 o’clock, we were all sunburned. The problem was becoming serious: flies inside…sun outside. We decided to throw the fish and the rest of the crab overboard and proceeding with cleaning the cabin with whatever we could find.
After that A was the skipper and kept going. Since we did not know anything about depth, we stay in the middle of the river where we believed was the deepest point. At night fall around midnight, the lights were on, we knew by now how to make them work, V and R were inside when we saw bridge in front of us. That was Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge (rt 301). There we were “ugh…ugh… we are stuck!”. I took charge of the tiller and ask them to go to each corner of the boat. The idea was to go very slowly toward the bridge and check if the mast would touch the bridge or not. We had no sense of the bridge height nor the mast height. I would go very close and turn around fast. The water was very choppy and made the maneuver very difficult, but I would turn quickly around as soon as I got closer and we discussed aloud if we could make it through or not. enough would be the Aqualand Marina to dock the boat and go in search of food at the gas station nearby. I remembered that Marina, because I was once looking for an address sometimes before. We got to the entrance of the marina, tied the boat there, walked across the Marina. Nobody was around as we were calling “anybody here” We made it to the gate that was locked with chains, but that did not stop us to go to the gas station…we jumped the fence and walked for about 15 min. We get to the gas station, but it was closed…it was around 1 o’clock then.
Inside the gas station we saw the clerk, we called him and told him we were hungry. He looked at us strangely as we were all dirty, unshaved, smelly…He said “come in, we are closed, but I will feed you” He offered us some food that he had prepared for himself. We ate it and enjoyed it as much as the sandwiches wrapped in plastic paper. Afterward we bought food, sodas, water, energy drink such as red bull to take with us, swearing not to make this mistake again. We left carrying plastic bags to walk back for about 15 min. He offered to give us a ride in his minivan back to the Marina. When we got back to the gate, he asked us if we had the keys to the gate. In Chorus we said “No we will jump the fence…same way we came out” He laugh and left us there.

We get back on the boat, store the food, push the boat get back in the river. I was on the tiller and everyone had fallen asleep. I was holding the tiller between my legs and holding myself on the boom. I kept staying there until morning helped to stay awake by the water that was splashing me because the wind was getting strong coming from the front. In the morning as I looked across at some point I saw enormous high voltage power lines and called on the guys to come out. A came out first, followed by R. We were now discussing what we going to do about this new problem. We decided to pull over into the left hand side marina somewhere near Quantico, VA to ask someone if we can make it through the power lines. I asked R to go to the bow of the boat and hold the boat as it approaches the dock. Unfortunately he slipped and was holding to the railing as we were getting closer to the pier. I put the engine on reverse, but since our way of installing the motor was not the best way of doing it, the motor came up spinning like a helicopter and making a lot of bubbles. I could not slow the boat down. R managed to get up on his own as the boat hit the pier breaking one of the board and everyone woke up. Even V woke up! We finally get there and acted like we were looking for gas so that we did not sound to ignorant and met a old guy and a girl. They said the lines were at about 200 feet height. We got some gas and went back to the boat. We left from there it was around 9 in the morning. We left from there, the sun was coming up and we could feel the heat again. We are by then soaking our t-shirt in the cooler and putting them back on …strange feeling…sizzling…cooling… Around 1 o’clock, we made it to the Washington Sailing Marina. We tied the boat. A friend of ours comes and pick us up and we are heading towards the city at 50 miles/hour scared as we only have been going 5 mph for the past 3 days…


To be continued ...

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[> If you want to learn more about , you'll need to wait -- Ardian "Taygeta" M31 (If you want to learn ...), - Friday - 04/ 4/08 - 9:00am

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