October 10, 2013 – To See a She-Man About a Boat

Now, I don’t really consider a dinghy a “boat.”  I mean, I guess it’s a watercraft.  It floats and carries people.  You can paddle or motor around in it.


Okay, I get it.  But, if our sailboat and the dinghy were tied up together in a slip, and someone said, “Hey, nice boat!,” I wouldn’t say, “Thanks, she’s a 2001 six-seater Caribe with matching oars.”  I would, assume, like the rest of the world I would hope, that he’s talking about the sailboat.  The real boat.  (And, I will tell you, I was going to include a fun little Webster’s or similar dictionary quote here to prove my imminent brilliance, but every definition I found started with “A small boat that … ” — Bullocks!).

Apparently, the boys in blue are equally correct in their definition of a “boat.”  After a nail-biting ten minutes in NYC, Detective Whazzisname from the Pensacola Police Department finally called us back and told us they had been trying to track Phillip down back in Pensacola on behalf of the Fort Walton Police.  Turns out it was the Fort Walton guys that wanted to talk to Phillip “about his boat.”  A very important piece of information Sergeant So-and-So could have told us that wouldn’t have left us imagining Plaintiff’s Rest smashed into a pile of paint and epoxy at our dock back in Pensacola.  But, apparently, he wasn’t at liberty to disclose such vital information.  Phillip started to suspect then that it could be about the dinghy, although I was a little skeptical.  I mean we cut her off in the middle of the Gulf …

I believe you all remember the “harrowing debacle.”  When we had to literally hack the dinghy off the stern during The Crossing to save the boat:

“Afterward, we all fell into a heap in the cockpit, drenched and shaken, but feeling more alive in that moment than we had the entire trip.  I doubt Mitch could even comprehend nausea at that moment.  Our bodies were feasting on adrenaline.  We sat there, our chests heaving in unison it seemed, gathering our thoughts and wondering if what just happened had really happened.  Phillip shined a light out into the sea as it to confirm our collective inquiry and there it was.  The dinghy.  About 50 yards away from the boat, lines floating around her like spindly fingers reaching back for the boat.  She was truly out there, detached from the boat and floating away.  We had really done it.  Cut her off.  The damn dinghy.”

Now, what do you think happened to that dinghy?  I imagined it floated along, finally free as a blue-jay, frolicking with the dolphins and dorados.  Much like the wide-eyed cat in the psychedelic cat food commercial batting at little fish-shaped pieces of meat leaping about, as happy as happy can be.


Like when the family pet passes and you tell the little ones “No, honey, Brisco didn’t die, he’s living on a great big farm, chasing squirrels all day.”  I envision it that way because that’s not the image I was left with when we sawed the dinghy off and watched her float away from the boat over big, murky waves, existing only in the single beam of our flashlight — until we clicked it off and turned our backs on her.  And then what?

Then our dinghy floated herself all the way to Fort Walton Beach that’s what.  Her journey had to look something like this:

FL coast

I’m starting to think our dinghy looked less like the doe-eyed, frolicking kitten in the cat food commercial and more like this:

cat in water

Cut me off of the boat will they?  I’ll get those heifers!

Our dinghy wasn’t having it!  She wasn’t going to let us leave her out there to drift aimlessly in the ocean.  The cat came back!  And, as fate would have it.  Having floated freely across the entire Gulf, the minute she touched dry land, she ended up here:



Apparently she didn’t think to grab her papers before we cut her loose.  Them’s the breaks!

Someone had apparently found her in the woods and brought her in to the station.  Thankfully, we had registered the dinghy in Phillip’s name before setting off on The Crossing so they were able to track her back to us.  But, they sure weren’t in a hurry.  We learned the dinghy had been sitting there, staring sadly through a chain link fence, waiting for us to come get her, since July.  July!?  Yes, three months, sitting in a parking lot, out in the sun.  But at least she’d made it back.

Phillip met with a stocky Fort Walton lady-officer of about this size and stature:


I heart you Melissa McCarthy.

She unlocked the gate and let us have a look at her.  She had some nautical miles on her, but it was definitely our dinghy.


The outboard was nowhere to be found, but I’m sure that thing was toast well before she reached the shore.  I remember when it crashed into the water from the davits, oil and gas flowing out of it like lava.  I doubt it was salvageable.  As we hoisted her into the trailer and strapped her in, I started to wonder what stories our dinghy could tell us about her adventure.


Perhaps she floated past Robert Redford in an ailing life raft, or an Indian boy and his tiger, adrift at sea.  Or maybe she hallucinated the entire time and did bat at leaping, neon goldfish.  We’ll never know.  But, I couldn’t believe she had come back to us.  All that way.  The damn dinghy.

October 4, 2013 – The Heat is Hot!

For those of you who don’t know.  “The heat” is the cops, the po-po, the 5-Oh.  In our case, the Pensacola Police Department.


And, they were on us.  It all happened during our trip to the Big City.  That’s right.  Chatahoochee, FL.  Jeepers, what a town!  I’m kidding.  The real big city.  NYC.


I had never been and, yes, I imitated the Pace Picante commercial repeatedly in the weeks before the trip and actually exclaimed “Jeepers!” several times while I was there—at least three times after we saw The Book of Mormon.


That show was super nifty.   Check it out.  An incredibly entertaining and insanely accurate ‘poke’ at religion.  I highly recommend it.  I also recommend, if you find yourself in that bubbling metropolis of humanity, that you buy a greasy foodcart product – a hotdog, some empanadas or any kind of poultry on a stick (it doesn’t matter which, as I believe they all originate from the same non-mammal meat product), sit on a bench and just watch the people.  An equally entertaining and insanely accurate ‘poke’ at people.  Here are some highlights:

Bar hag roaming through Times Square:


Wanda was right, this sharp shooter belt buckle really does make me look skinny.

 Jersey Shore trainer at Bryant Park.


“Ummm-huh.  Just like that Becky.  Hold that position for me.”

 Band of brothers at the bar:


Dude, I’m serious.  It goes from this hand to the other. 

The real Toy Story:


“You’re right Spidey, Buzz does smell like plastic.”

Oh, we seemed to come across this excitable blonde – at the Bull:


I mean, really?  It’s just a bronze bull.  And that “grab life by the horns thing” had totally been overdone.

We also found her at the top of 30 Rock (beautiful view!)


The city, not the blonde (although Phillip took a real liking to her):



Oh, but we did come across a real-life excitable blond at the airport:


Please tell me you recognize her immediately (as Phillip did not).  No?  Let me give you a hint:


The one and only – Hayden Panetiere.  Her and Beyonce’s long-lost cousin rocked that flick!  I totally accosted her at the airport.  Super celeb sighting in my book.  But, enough about that great big city — back to the boat.

So, we had been planning this trip to NYC for a couple of months and, as it just so happens, that damn Tropical Storm Karen was set to roll in just as we were set to leave.  Seriously.  This was the predicted path:

photo (18) 

The one weekend we had planned to travel, not by boat, and the jilted wench set her sights directly on our slip it seemed.  The storm really put a damper on our pre-travel excitement.  The night before we left, we spent the entire evening tying and re-routing extra lines (we even latched her to city property!), fastening extra chafe guards, taking down the dodger (to reduce wind surface) and strapping and re-strapping the sail covers, so they wouldn’t blow off.



We used pieces of firehose some sailing buddies have given us as chafe guards for the dock lines:



With the boat as secure as we could get her, we refreshed the storm tracker every five minutes during the flight and kept checking with folks back in Pensacola to see how the storm was progressing on the home-front.   Bottom-Job Brandon and our broker-friend Kevin had offered to go by the dock on occasion to check on the old Rest.  Initially, we were getting good reports.  Winds of 25-30 mph only and no storm surge yet.  But the storm was predicted to hit on Saturday night, October 5th, and it was only Wednesday.

That Friday afternoon, Phillip and I were making our way to the FlatIron building—a wine, a beer and two incredibly succulent Shake Shack burgers under our belt:


When Phillip checked his phone and noticed two messages from the office and one from a neighbor back home.  Odd.  He decided he better see what was going on, so we parked it on a bench near the infamous building while he returned the calls.



His neighbor told him a Pensacola police officer had stopped by looking for him, but he would not “disclose his business.”  Odd-er.  At the office, Phillip’s receptionist reported that a cop (presumably the same—a distant cousin to the Captain Mulrooney who accosted me at the Home Depot in Daphne I’m sure) had come by the firm, asking to speak with “Mr. Warren” but again declining to reveal why he had such a pressing need to speak with the Captain.  Thankfully Phillip’s receptionist is inquisitive and scrappy and wouldn’t let the cop leave without coughing up a calling card.   Phillip joked that it was a good thing he’d left town, because apparently the “heat was hot” in Pensacola!  They were on his six!

Back in NYC, Phillip punched in the detective’s number and spoke with a raspy, chain-smoking bloke, Sergeant So-and-So, who told him the detective was out of pocket at the moment, but that he and the Detective had gone to his house and office that day trying to talk to him about his boat.

About his boat. 

And that was “all he could disclose.”  Disclose!  I was so sick of hearing that word.  As if when a cop has something to say, it no longer becomes “tell” it magically transforms into the utterly important “disclose.”  Ooohhh.  But, we did learn it was “about the boat.”  A sickening thought when we had a tropical storm rolling in we were half-a-continent away.  I imagined the boat had come undone, knocked half the dock out and had ended up speared through the million dollar catamaran in the next slip over.  A sickening thought let me assure you.  Phillip thought they were calling about the lines we had tied to the city rails, thinking they were going to—or worse, they already had—untied them to preserve city property during the storm, which meant the boat would be free to rock and sway violently and crash into the seawall most likely, which was no better than my vision.  We wandered around the park in New York listlessly, toes nudged in the ground, staring sternly at Phillip’s phone and thinking the worst while we were waiting for Detective Whazzisname to call us back.  I cannot disclose to you how worried we were.