Navigating Human Behavior
Rather than shortening his boat's anchor rode or re-anchoring his sloop, a solo sailor requested assistance from TowboatUS to move his sloop, Isle Escapee, away from mine. Given our two vessels' locations, this decision seemed unnecessary and odd to me.
But it wasn't until 2 hours later that morning that his reaction was even more puzzling and peculiar. It was then I deduced his I intentions were less than honest.
During the early morning hours of April 3, 2016 at Peck Lake near Hobe Sound, Florida a northerly cold front (75° can be cool) had altered not only the air temperature, wind velocity and wind direction, but also Mystique's anchored position 100 yards and 180°.
When I awoke again around 5:00 am, I discovered Mystique had dragged its anchor southward with the aid of stiff 20+ knot winds. While my catamaran was never in any danger of running into any other vessel (only three boats anchored nearby), I still hung five fenders from her starboard lifeline just in case the wind, waves or waterway "a-wakers" changed her drift.
About 10-15 feet east of Mystique's new position, Isle Escape, a 35' mono-hull, was closest as seen from the photo above, but not in any danger of collision. But that is not how the other skipper viewed our positions 12 miles south of Stuart, Florida on Peck Lake north of Hobe Sound, Florida.
I can hear the clamor, "Why not simply start your own engine and re-anchor away from the other boat?"
After Isle Escape's lone seafarer popped up on deck and identified himself initially as a Canadian, I indicated to him that I could not move my Mystique because she had starboard engine trouble. I also informed him I was expecting a mechanic to arrive later that day to fix my engine starter. He then deemed it necessary to share his mechanical and anchor expertise. Without any clue to my knowledge, he launched a short diatribe on the advantages of his 100 feet of rode anchor chain in our shared 7 feet of water. After listening respectfully, I returned to my daily boat chores. Even though I did not feel either of our vessels were in danger, I nevertheless placed 5 fenders on the starboard side in the unlikelihood that waves, weather or tidal current might alter our two positions. I did this mostly to appease my new neighbor.
In the whole scheme of life, no two foreign sailors ever cross tacks completely comprehending each other. How could they? Each of us plots our own course, carries and carts our own personal cargo - faults, fantasies, foibles, and fears. Most salts rely on nautical expertise, seamanship and/or aquatic instincts to guide them. But common sense is rarely common.
After about two hours, my accidental neighbor decided unbeknownst to me to make an emergency call to Towboat US. After which he suddenly whistled over to me to grab my attention and announced he envisioned his boat's keel and rudder were now somehow in immediate danger of my anchor chain. He inquired about my insurance and then proceeded to make some judgements and assessments about my finances which led us into a rather "heated" exchange.
Mere moments later TowboatUS appeared and asked how they could assist us. I told the would-be-rescuer the other "gentleman" had made the call and directed his attention to Isle Escape. After I told my nervous neighbor I was unwilling to pay for a tow, I mentioned that moving was his choice and call; not mine. TowboatUS quickly assessed our situation and saw they were not needed and motored off southward on "another emergency" call.
I then asked if my Canadian cohort planned on moving Isle Escape which seemed the most logical strategy if he were uncomfortable with our anchoring situation. He said "he was", but then returned to reading a book in his boat's cockpit. This seemed rather odd to me as he had moments earlier expressed concern about our boats colliding. And he had radioed TowboatUS for what? If he was trying worried, he would just shorten his 100 feet of scope he had earlier bragged about. Or, if he was so uncomfortable, make preparations to raise anchor and motor away from me. Apparently, neither of these seemed practical to him.
About 10 minutes later another suddenly TowboatUS appeared alongside...this time from the northern intracoastal waterway. Then it began to dawn on me why my northern neighbor had called for their help the twice...he too was stranded. Maybe too embarrassed to admit his situation, he thought it could cover it up by asking for outside help. At first, I thought he had engine problems because he directed TowboatUS to push his boat forward while he raised his anchor by hand. Ah, he had never shared that his windlass did not work as well.
But then after a short tow Isle Escape and Towboat parted ways for a short time as the Canadian turned towards the waterway channel and moved slowly northward. I was perplexed he wasn't re-anchoring and confused he had called for another Towboat. And as I watched the two boats disappear northward, I eventually noticed Towboat rejoined Isle Escape and then towed her out of sight. So, my ex-neighbor also had engine trouble, but hadn't admitted anything to me.
It all felt as if the Canadian had been dishonest with me. Not only had he not told me his boat was disabled, he had attempted to take advantage of our circumstances. It appeared to me he had attempted to use me and my insurance to cover his problems under a guise that I had put his boat in harm's way. In reality, it seemed as if I escaped his Isle Escape problem.
Most sailors understand a tad about navigating human behavioral. My experience has revealed most are honest and sincere. And that most have enough experience to make semi-wise decisions and reach reasonable, respectful conclusions. Humans all need these skills to face, survive or escape tight situations. But each occasion is unique unto itself. No matter what happens on land or on the water our maturity matters. Of course, maturity means different things to different people.
Note: the wood carving of the old sailor seemed somehow appropriate for this blog post....It can be found ashore near Port Salerno fisherman docks.