Family, Jetpacks and the Exception to the Rule

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It’s 3:15 a.m. Wednesday and we’re unable to sleep in the airport in Raleigh, North Carolina.

I’ve borrowed some paper to write this column from some very nice Southwest Airline employees. I thought my writing pad was packed with our luggage but no such luck. Yesterday we left John Wayne for Baltimore, to meet up with our son and family who live on Andrews Air Force Base beside Washington D.C. Our son is in the Air Force, and he and our daughter-in-law are expecting their second child any day. Our 3½-year-old granddaughter needs T.L.C. during this process and we’ve missed seeing them immensely. Nana, my wife Judy, needs to shop with Autumn for proper spoiling duties and the attention we’ve missed giving her.

I promised the Southwest agents, who went out of their way to obtain the writing paper and show us true Southern hospitality in adverse conditions, that the South has wonderful people and they’d love for ya all to come visit.

Baltimore was fogged in and after circling for a couple of hours we were sent to Raleigh around 1 a.m. Naturally the airport is closed and they were unable to fuel the plane until 7 a.m. even though Baltimore opened up at 3 a.m. We hope to take off at 8 a.m. Enough already!

Last Thursday, Saturday and Sunday I was skippering the 50-foot Hatteras sportfisher Sundance for two of the three brothers who are the owners. A few weeks ago I wrote about the generosity and commeradary boaters show to each other. As with everything in life there seems to be exceptions.

Around 5 p.m. Thursday we left the marina for a bay cruise with one of the owners and several business associates from out of town. The early evening was Southern California perfect summer weather and the guests were in awe of our harbor, the many boats out cruising on a weekday and our weather. After about three hours the boss wanted to go to either the Cannery or Bluewater Grill for more beverages and dinner. It was no surprise that both restaurant guest docks were full. The Bluewater Grill had an 18-foot Duffy in the 50-foot slip we could fit in, and the other side of the slip which could berth two or three Duffy’s was empty but too narrow for us to fit in. The Cannery was so full of boats one 30-foot Sea Ray was sideways with the stern tied to the dock.

The 100-foot public dock had the Duckett’s 70-foot Pilikia sportfisher tied up to the middle of the slip. The second generation I guess takes pride in sitting on their boat looking down on their patron’s spending money at their restaurant, the Bluewater Grill, which they were doing quite well.

This is the third or fourth Pilikia I’ve seen since seeing them in the middle of the Catalina Channel when we were both commercial sword fishing in the ’70s. They’re still at it but with a bigger boat.

The last Pilikia was sunk off San Clemente Island. Rumor has it the captain had a few too many toddies, fell asleep at the wheel and moved the Island towards us a few feet when it ran into the rocks and sunk. The insurance paid for a much bigger and nicer yacht. Funny how that works for some people.

Since I’d dropped off our party at the end of the dock at the Bluewater, I stood by in the middle of the channel for 20 minutes or so. As there were 30 feet to 40 feet combined on the public dock when a crew member or family member came outside to get another beer from the ice chest, I asked if they could move their boat forward 10 feet or 15 feet so I could tie up behind them. I could see him talk to some of the people on the boat and then take a look in front of their boat. About 30 feet from their boat was another Duffy side-tied to the end of the dock. The “gentleman” said he couldn’t move forward because of the Duffy. I said all I really needed was 10 feet and I’d have enough to secure our boat and overhang into the bay. He stated that’s not possible because of the Duffy. I stated I’m not an idiot to believe that the Duffy is in his way. I guess he’d had a few beers under his belt because he yelled to me, “Are you calling me an idiot?” in the demeanor as if I had, them’s fightin’ words. Oh boy, another yayhoo from another harbor “copping a ‘tude.” Own a couple of restaurants and all of a sudden you’re a big shot in Newport. I’ve seen it before, many times on the harbor.

Eventually the Duffy at the Bluewater left and I berthed in that spot for the remaining hour and a half our party spent in the restaurant.

Saturday we were a support boat for Dean O’Malley and his 26-mile JetLev world record voyage from Balboa to Avalon. What a trip! A different brother who is an owner of Primary Color printing company that owns Sundance accompanied us with some friends. There was an air show outside Avalon and two of the pilots were friends with one of our guests on the boat. One pilot flew a perfectly restored DC-3 and the other a perfectly restored 60-year-old seaplane with an “executive jet” style interior. Our guest checked in with the pilots and after the show we met up with them at a waterfront restaurant to swap stories. One of them has had a family home in Avalon for many years and was staying for the weekend. We crossed the channel back to Newport Saturday night.

When I checked the boat Sunday morning the other owner was loading up the boat with food and beverages for a birthday party for a business associate. He wondered if I could skipper that afternoon. How could I say no? Nice boat, great weather and a world class harbor to cruise. Seems like heaven to me!

Sea Ya,

Skipper Steve

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