Friday, April 8, 2011

A Boating Adventure Captured from Shore

I'm sitting in my lawn chair next to Otto, our motorhome, reading. Now and then I look up to watch the waves curling toward shore at Padre Island National Seashore. It's really, really windy with lots and lots of waves.

Actually, I'm looking up a lot, because I don't like the book. It's a real crime story, "The Innocent Man," written by John Grisham, who usually writes fiction. I like his fiction better.

So, I'm looking up a lot, out of boredom, out to sea, watching the waves. And suddenly I see something I've never seen in the three winters I've spent here. A sailboat. And in this wind?

It looks odd, like it's spinning, or something. So I drop my book and grab my binoculars.

Yup. It's a boat. And it's spinning. Not wildly, but it's dosey-doeing with the waves. And its main sail is flapping, not billowing, and it looks like another sail is dragging in the water.

What do I do? This boat is in trouble. Holler help?

I run to the camp host (a boater); he's not home. I remember campers from Colorado Springs, Lin and Andy, who kayak a lot. So I run to their motorhome, where I find them inside, writing in their journals.

When I say "There's a sailboat in trouble," they leap out of their motorhome and, as if rehearsed, assume different roles.

Lin grabs a marine VHF radio and tunes to Channel 16, the international distress channel, while Andy snaps up his binoculars to assess the damage.

There's no cry for help, Lin says, holding the transister-sized radio over her head and bobbing around, hoping for good reception. Andy climbs on top of his picnic table and focuses in on the boat.

He says the sailor's lost his jib (the big sail I saw flapping), but he's fashioned a much smaller sail behind it (probably the one I saw floating in the water earlier). And he's righted the boat to sail evenly.

We watch as the boat continues north and applaud the sailor's skill. He's got things under control. No need to call the Coast Guard. Crisis averted.

Excitement over. So I head back to Otto and see that awful non-ficiton book, its pages still flapping in the wind.

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