….how the unusual becomes usual.
When the kids were to return home after a fun and riotous three days with us ‘oldies-but-goodies’, the tide was out. Quite far, actually. Which is not all that unusual in the summer.
But when the tide is that low, getting on to or off of the beach is tricky at best, often treacherous and nigh on impossible at it’s worst. Always dangerously slippery, the sloping, irregular beach is covered in kelp, barnacles and algae-slime. Footing is always precarious and, at a very low tide, non-existent. There is simply no place to stand or even to get some purchase on a very low tide.
On this particular day of departure the tide was predicted to fall even further than it had already at departure time and so the current going by the front of our house was still running two or three knots. Current makes it even more difficult. When you are approaching a rocky, slimy shore in a small boat going slowly, you have less steerage and with a strong current you are virtually out of control. I am somewhat used to it but still, it is no walk in the park (more like a crab-walk in a river).
Usually when the tide and currents are like this we go around to our neighbour’s dock and depart like civilized people but getting there is a bit of a long schlep especially when you have luggage and a puppy crate to carry. The battery in my car had died a couple of days ago and so we also had a leaden car battery to get down to the boat on our island and then up the hill on the next island to get to the car.
Because of the aforementioned baggage, we opted to load from the beach despite the tidal-caused, current-exacerbated awkwardness. I went around and got the boat. The kids came with me. Sally stayed on the shore-front and awaited our arrival. She stood on the lowest step of the sea-stairs (itself covered in seaweed) in order to pass us the luggage, the battery and the dog’s kennel. That was the plan.
I came around the point and nudged the little fifteen-footer close to the intended point of transfer. Sal hung over as far as she could balancing with a heavy weight (a car battery?!) at the end of one arm and my son stretched over as far as he could to take it from her. The boat swished by the ‘transfer moment’ at three knots and he managed on the first pass to get the battery. I went around and made another pass and we got a piece of luggage.
And so it went until, after five or so passes, it was only Sally that needed to be ‘captured’ and, of course, the boat was pretty full, the dog crate was on the bow (only place of access) and we would pass the jumping-off point (literally) and be in a safe position for her leap for less than a second, maybe two. Sal leaped, landed on the small patch of deck left for her and settled into the boat as if it was the most normal thing in the world.
It is not. Not many ‘seniors’ are leaping on to moving small boat decks from slimy rocks and passing heavy things with one hand. It may be ‘normal’ around here but it is also extraordinary in most other places.
It doesn’t end there…………
Today my neighbour and I had to move a fish farm pen across the channel. His boat is powerful. It has 150 horsepower. As Sal had taken my boat to another island to pick raspberries, we went with just the one boat. We picked slack water (when the current stops as it changes from ebb to flood or vice versa). Even with lots of horsepower we didn’t want to buck the tide. But, we miscalculated. We were off by almost two hours. The tide was not slack at 11:30 like we expected but ebbing until 2:00! We felt the current as we left with the pen but, sure in our knowledge that the tide would turn, we continued.
As we approached the main channel our neighbour, R, saw our struggle and came out in his small boat to assist. He tied on and we now had 185 horsepower. We veered one way. We veered another. And all the time the pen and the two towboats were being swept up channel. We were losing the struggle with the current.
After a couple of hours of trying to make the best of it, it was pretty clear that the right thing would be to stop towing and let the tide change on its own time. It sure as hell wasn’t changing according to our information! So we dragged the pen over to the shore and I scrambled over a similar but wilder beach to our own to secure it with a long line to a tree.
We planned to go back and finish the job when Mother Nature is on our side.
The point? Well, ordinary is not always ordinary. Whether it is leaping onto moving boats, carrying heavy objects up a hill or simply your everyday, ordinary, tow-boat kinda job with a fish-farm-pen (just your every day, run-of-the-mill stuff, eh?) it can get kinda adventuresome out here.
Also kinda neat, don’t ya think?
Epilogue: Sal came back with the boat and the raspberries and so we all went out together to finish the tow when the tide had well and truly turned. Three boats this time. The first pic is of me and our neighbour R. The third, more powerful boat is tied up at the pen on the bottom pic. Job completed within an hour – just like Bruno Gerusi and Relic of the Beachcombers.
I never, in my wildest dreams, thought that I would relate so well to Relic!