Boy, it’s great to live on a vertical learning curve! There’s so much going on at any given moment, it can be difficult sometimes to smell the roses of all that has transpired and offered lessons. But it’s important to do so, and hopefully I can learn even more by relating them here.
Once again, I found myself at Lake Guntersville, AL for this past Columbus Day weekend. The main reason for going to that area got squashed by the government shutdown, so we decided to make the best of it a little earlier. There was some work to get done on the boat – a new raw water strainer for the engine was calling us as the one in there had served long and well and was due a proper retirement. Being a sailboat, locations for stuff like that is generally an afterthought and present their own challenges. And since we were changing the strainer, we decided that new hoses were in order as well. Soooo….. it became a full afternoon’s effort. A successful one as it turned out, and herein is lesson number one: Allow enough time and prepare as well as you can, and even tho it’s never enough time and you aren’t nearly as prepared as you could be, there’s a great deal of satisfaction at the successful end of a DIY project. As an aside, when that coincides with the start of Captain’s Hour, it’s just that much better!
We decided that, since we now had a reliable source of raw water to cool the engine (and the internet hotspot was charged up and working!), we should go camping out in one of the coves along the edges of Lake Guntersville. There are zillions, it seems, and we decided to head toward the Guntersville Dam and a tributary of the Tennessee River called Honeycomb Creek. A neighbor of ours at the marina gave us some advice (imagine that! See what good a Review Website such as BoaterRated.com can be?!), and we wanted to see how much room we had going under the US 431 bridge. Turns out there’s plenty, we had some decent sailing up the river and a pleasant motor into the suggested cove along the Creek. Captain’s Hour came soon after we secured everything and made sure we were safe at anchor, and a glorious sunset over the far bank provided a perfect backdrop to a perfect evening. Lesson 2: Go for it, and if you can use any of the advice you’re given (and you’re ALLLLLways being given advice!), do so. Our trip that day was far better for the pearls of wisdom received on the dock before we went.
We awoke the following morning to a fog-bound cove, but we heard the bass boats in the distance buzzing out to their fishing holes. We checked our bearings on everything and were satisfied that we hadn’t moved at all, so we fired up the stove. There are few things finer than the smell of coffee brewing and bacon frying while swinging on an anchor in an isolated cove! Lesson? While you will likely always forget SOMEthing, don’t forget the coffee!
After breakfast we motored back the 12 or so miles back to the marina (no wind!), stopping at another marina on the way to top off the fuel tank for the winter. We’d never been to this marina by water, and the proprietor was extremely helpful directing us into the access channel to the fuel dock. Much to my delight, he brewed a fresh pot of coffee (see above!) and I thoroughly enjoyed a large cup on our way back to our home port.
The home port was crowded upon our return. There was a sailboat race that day even in the light winds, and a social pot-luck stew dinner and program planned for that evening. We puttered around the boat for a spell, I did some work and Amy went to acquire some contributions to the evening’s feast. Soon enough the business side of the Club management was concluded and it was safe for us to travel to the clubhouse for some fellowship and laughs.
The program after dinner was cobbled together by two of the more experienced cruisers in the club and the subject was the numerous anchorages that dot the shores of Lake Guntersville. How timely, we thought! George and John set up some video aids, including a mobile version of the Navionics software to a large screen that all could see. They covered numerous anchorages from the Dam (including Honeycomb Creek, where we chimed in with our previous evening’s experience) upriver past the location of the LGSC and up nearly to Scottsboro. Tons of great information, and kudos to George and John for taking the time to organize and present the program. Lesson: There’s great information all over the place, and there are lots of times you don’t know where it may come from. In that vein, the generosity of those who share the boating lifestyle seems to be very deep and nearly unshakeable. It’s a challenge to try to give back as much as has been gained over the years, but it’s one I’d like to continue to take on.
The following morning we were invited to share breakfast with another couple down the dock a ways. They have recently purchased a bigger boat and are planning to do some serious cruising. The boat is in Annapolis (one of our favorite places!) and they are looking for help from us bringing the boat from there to the Florida Panhandle, where they can spend some time on her with as little travel time as possible prior to retirement. It’s a long trip, and they are planning it with disaster avoidance a high priority. The fun part is that they are keenly aware of their lack of experience and are planning for as many contingencies as they can dream up. They are also aware that they will in no way dream them all up, so they are leaving a ton of wiggle room for the unexpected. Not at all a bad way to plan this stuff, we thought. The lesson I took from this? There are tons of folks that enjoy what we do for leisure, and some have more experience than others. There is tremendous value in those with more in sharing what they have, and just as much in those with less to soak it in – it’s always cheaper to learn from mistakes made by others!
This only gets us thru Sunday morning, and there was lots more weekend left! Some great sailing on Sunday, a spontaneous decision to spend Sunday nite an an anchorage revealed at Saturday’s program, a mashed raw water impeller, a slow drift home Monday and subsequent impeller fix, and a spectacular dinner at home Monday nite before my Tuesday morning trip back to Florida rounded out an amazing weekend. All of it reinforces what we’re doing with BoaterRated.com – we look forward to broadening the use of the platform to enable those with experiences to share with those who may not have so much. We enjoy the heck out of our fun on the water, and we look forward to sharing that fun and enjoying the fun of others. We hope you do too!