A gamble in Atlantic City

Sima
11/09/2007, Atlantic City

 

Another windless day brought us into Atlantic city. Neither of us had been there and we could see for a long time in the horizon the skyscrapers lining the skyline. We got in before dark and instead of taking our reserved slip at the Trump marina, we decided to check out an anchorage that Paul had heard about, just past Rum point. We planned our approach and came into the entrance to the little inlet without much trouble. The little body of water was alarmingly shallow and if it were completely up to me, I would have turned back and taken the slip. But Paul is a bit more adventurous and has an ability to judge where the deeper water might be so we kept driving around the shallow spots looking for our anchorage. We finally decided on a 10 ft clearing and dropped the hook. As the sun came down, the lights of Atlantic City came on; it is like a little Vegas on the ocean. Quite a sight!

In the morning we weighed anchor bright and early as the tide was rising to make sure that we could get out at high tide, at 7 am. High tide would give us the most cushion in this shallow marshy spot where we spent the night. As I inched the boat forward, Paul hauled up the anchor. (Our windlass is not working for some reason, added to the list of things to fix – Paul makes for a good human windlass though.) I drove us out of the inlet into the channel. There were a couple of green markers that I kept to starboard as one ought to. There was another stick that I kept to starboard since it did not have a color one way or another and I mistakenly assumed that it too would have been green had it had a color on it. Before long the water under our keel started getting more and more shallow. I panicked at 1ft and asked Paul to take over. At that point, we were already in the marsh and soon were aground. Shit! We tried to get ourselves out of it by using our engine,reversing and going in forward, as if digging a car out of snow, but we kept on getting stuck deeper and deeper. As the tide was going out, we knew that our situation would get worse with time, so we called Boat US towing service to our assistance. The tow boat was on his way and would get to us within an hour. I felt terrible, especially after we noticed the little red reflector on that unmarked pole. I should have kept that to port and would have gotten out safely. Doy doy doy!
Willy the tow boat guy showed up in 45 minutes to help us out. He tied two lines on our bow and started pulling. Impressive how a tiny little boat can have so much power! Since we were dug in, he couldn’t pull us traight off our hole. He instead kept making a sidewayas figure of eight in front of our boat, getting the mud in the bottom and effectively dredging a bigger hole around our keel. After a half hour that felt like a lifetime, we were out into the channel of Atlantic city on our way out again.
Before we got out and the sea become more active, Paul went to the bow to put away the anchor chain that had been laying on deck. Well things on a boat goes wrong in groups, never alone. So the waves started crashing on our bow as soon as we cleared the breakwaters and a big wave took our chain down with it. Paul was struggling to hold on for life and also get the chain back on deck as I was trying to keep the boat away from the rocks and the shoals. Whew! Another 30 minutes of high stress! But Paul managed to get all our anchor rode back on deck and under control in the locker and came back to the cockpit all in one piece. That called for both of us to lay back and catch our breath while Simbad the autopilot takes over for a little while.

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