Another Falling ON the Boat Accident! (Yes, really…)

Another Falling ON the Boat Accident! (Yes, really…)

After three months, we FINALLY got the mast put back on this week! We woke up at 5:00 a.m., and finished prepping No Tan Lines (“Tanny”) for a short trip through Tampa Bay to the boat yard. As I’ve written in previous posts, not having a mast makes a sailboat pitch violently in winds just 10 knots. Nauseating pitching that makes you trip and fall (especially in the shower), makes you spill things, and makes sleeping almost impossible.

Since Murphy’s Law seems to rule my life, it was no surprise that the two most violent days on Tanny were the ones just before we were scheduled to get re-masted. Winds were kicking up to 20 to 30 knots and we hardly slept at all. Since our bed lies sideways (port to starboard), sleeping when she’s pitching left to right means your head goes up while your feet go down…and then your head goes down while your feet go up. It’s like doing sit ups in bed but you’re not flexing your abdominal muscles. One night, I
seriously pondered how to install a rope as a seat belt around the mattress.

The winds usually die down by morning but, oh no, not yesterday! We woke up at 5:00 a.m. to 19-knot winds and higher gusts. Ug! But, I was determined NOT to cancel our appointment at the boat yard. I wanted that mast back YESTERDAY! We’d been living on this roller coaster for three months for a job that was only supposed to take one. Another factor was the weather. Severe thunderstorms were supposed to be hitting at 2:00 p.m. We knew it was going to be a very rough ride but we also knew Tanny, with her big, heavy keel, could make it. Still, just to be safe, I set out the life jackets, and put our computers in the truck just before we left.

Then, we fired up the engine, and welcomed our awesome dock neighbors aboard, Bob, Bob (yes two of them), Laura, and Guy. They were going to help us get out of the slip without slamming into a piling (or our next boat neighbor), and assist us in getting into the very tight slip at the boat yard without hitting anything.

Capt. Brian Whiddon (who is also the Managing Editor of WritersWeekly and the Operations Manager at BookLocker) easily backed Tanny out of the slip without incident. I don’t know how he does that. She was pitching all over the place and he made it seem so easy! Laura said, “Well, that was too easy. No story there!”

Tampa Bay and Tanny worked together to spill our coffee, knock over things I hadn’t thought to lay down, spill Max’s entire Lego collection into the bilge (there is no floor back there because of repairs), and remind me that the latch on the school supply cabinet was broken. The cabinet door was repeatedly slamming open and shut. I scuttled below, tripped left to right across the salon like a drunken sailor, and put a heavy tool bag in front of it to keep it closed.

We entered the inlet near the Coast Guard station, and had to do circles for half an hour while a large fishing vessel was docking.

About 30 minutes later, we were at the boat yard. There’s a narrow channel and the right side is pretty shallow. It was mean low tide so Brian was watching the depth finder intently. He then turned the boat at just the right moment and, while also using the bow thruster, slid her into the slip perfectly. The boat yard wasn’t open yet so three French guys on an Irwin got out to help us with lines.

They spoke hardly any English but we understood they were making last minute compass repairs, and were going to the Panama Canal. And, they were flying a Texas flag. I was so confused!

Anyway, while we were docking, I was pulling with all my might on a line to stop Tanny from going too far forward and I tripped on the boom, which was on the port side deck. Brian had warned us all to watch out for the boom. Heck, I’d been tip-toeing over it for three months. But, down I went. My ample butt hit the outer side of the cockpit and my upper arm hit one of the large winches. It didn’t hurt right then (the adrenaline effect) but, man on man, did it hurt 10 minutes later!

An hour later, we were told that the crane they requested couldn’t make it so we would need to move Tanny to ANOTHER boat yard (that has their own crane) just down the canal. That meant backing this 52′ boat out into that narrow channel, turning right, and then docking all over again in another narrow slip. My blood pressure was getting dangerously high.

But, Brian backed her out without so much as a bump on either side, took her down the canal, and eased her into the other slip with, again, no bumps at all. Incredible! If I’d been driving, we would have been playing bumper cars with the pilings.

While we were doing that, the riggers were pushing our 65-foot mast down the street on large carts with wheels. No kidding! I wish I had a picture of THAT!

The riggers immediately got to work hooking the mast up to the crane, lifting it, positioning it over the boat, and lowering it into the mast hole. (I laugh EVERY time I say that word!)

After an hour or so of sealing and adjustments, they also put the boom on using the crane. Brian and Max pulled that boom off all by themselves in February. I have NO idea how they did that. It weighs several hundred pounds. And, by 12:30 we were off! Brian backed her out of the slip (again, no bumper car maneuvers), headed for the bay, crossed to our channel easily (with the mast in once again, she was cutting through the water like glass), and put her in our slip with, again, no bumps at all.

We went to work getting the lines tied just right, hooking up the power and the Internet, and stowing equipment. I was crawling into the cockpit, like I’ve done thousands of times, and I whacked my knee SO HARD on a winch that Brian yelled from below, “What the (bleep) was THAT?” Without any adrenaline in me at that time, it instantly hurt like crazy and I sat down to rub it, and say a few bleepity bleeps of my own. It later swelled up like a giant gumball but it’s much better now.

The riggers showed up to do some last-minute tuning while I ran out for a meeting with our C.P.A. They’d asked us to leave the slip at the boat yard early because another boat was coming in. Everybody had been rushing around because of the bad weather heading in. By the time the storms hit, Tanny was stable and comfy…and STILL!

Last night, I slept like a BABY! Tanny didn’t move all night. It was AWESOME! The next time we need the mast removed, I’m just going to buy a new boat!


Angela Hoy lives on a mountain in North Georgia. She is the publisher of, the President and CEO of and AbuzzPress, and the author of 24 books.




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