Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sometimes It's Just Luck

Sometimes you’re lucky; sometimes you’re good. Sometimes lucky trumps good. We were at Little Pee Dee State Park. We had taken a walk through the Beaver Pool Nature Trail and had nearly beaten ourselves simple while smacking yellow biting flies. I found my best tool was a large bandanna tied around my head and hanging down my neck. I have a hat made like that, and have found it to be one of my greatest paddling tools, even better than a big straw hat. It has a long skirt, for want of a better word, that goes all the way around the hat, even covering the temples, and hangs down onto my shoulders. It has proven great for sun protection, which was its anticipated function, but has been just as great for bugs. This walk, however, had been impromptu, and I had come without the hat, so was making do. As we finished the walk through the woods, I saw a fresh, delicate thistle blossom. I set the camera for a close macro shot, and knelt down within inches of the thistle. Just then a butterfly flew into my field of vision, flitted around and about the blossom as I took pictures. It totally ignored my presence as though I didn’t exist. It was the perfect addition to the picture that I couldn’t have possibly planned. And it was just luck.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Savannah, Pt. 7 & Last

The last three pictures are from Savannah’s City Market. It was the hub of business in the city. Everything was bought and sold there. However, like the cotton warehouses, it has now become a tourism mecca, from surrey, wagon, carriage and trolley rides about the historic district, to streetside cafes and restaurants, places where you can buy symbols of the South’s past, like parasols, to galleries for art and custom jewelry.

If you enjoy something a little more romantic than a trolley, try the
horse and carriages.

The streetside cafes.  It was unusually hot for so early in the year, so the
cafes kept fine misters going in front of fans to cool customers.

If you would like to feel like Scarlett O'Hara (remember the good ol' days
when this caption would apply only to the ladies), there is lace and even a fancy
parasol to complete the ensemble.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Heat and Destruction

A sunrise on a nicer day at sea.

The heat has been all but unbearable since we returned. We’ve been hitting 106 to 109, and yesterday hit 110. If the heat wasn’t enough, the 25-35 mph wind turns it into a blast furnace.  We tried to work on the RV trailer, but it was so hot inside that the air conditioner kept tripping the breaker, even with the thermostat set at 90. To keep the sun from destroying the rubber roof and everything else, we finally decided to empty the last two-months’ worth of supplies, and just return the trailer to the storage shed. We’ll bring it back and do the thorough cleaning it needs when the temperature drops to a reasonable level.

For those not from this area, I need to try putting heat here in perspective. I vividly remember pouring a molten lead keel for a boat when it was 110, and it felt no where near as hot as here the last couple days. On that occasion, I had to tie a bandanna around my neck and forehead to keep my sweat from dribbling from my nose and chin and into the molten lead. The instantaneous vaporization of the sweat to steam would cause a lead-splattering explosion. It was a surprise when I checked the thermometer and found I had been doing the hottest job on what would for the Mid-Atlantic area probably be the hottest day of the year. Yesterday, I was surprised when I looked and found the mercury wasn’t between 115 and 120. Wind chill is calculated on temperature and wind speed. Heat index ignores wind and uses a formula with temperature and humidity. When a dry wind of 110 is hitting you at up to 35 mph, plants desiccate and the skin burns---in the shade.

After dropping the trailer off, we decided to go down to Canton Lake to see the damage that resulted from the tornado that occurred while we were gone. The devastation can only be defined as being complete. One cannot be other than amazed that no one was killed in the storm. Everyone in the campground had run for the shower and restroom facilities where they clung to each other as the building was torn apart. Only a couple walls of the building remained, and yet everyone survived. Trees were twisted, snapped, wrung off at the ground, with pieces carried miles across the lake to the opposite shore. There are piles of steel made up of camper and RV trailer chassis, while others are still wrapped around tree trunks so tightly they cannot be removed to the piles. One area is reserved for collected refrigerators, washers, dryers and other appliances. Beds, couches, and cushions fill both roll-off dumpsters and ravines along the shoreline. Concrete picnic tables are pulled out of the ground or pulled apart. Piles of re-rod and concrete represent where buildings once stood. To both save building materials as well as clean up the debris, cinderblocks, wall, flowerbed, and walkway pavers have been collected into neatly stacked squares of like materials. Sometimes the distinction between what was saved and what was destroyed was mind-boggling. A spare tire and wheel that had been bolted to the rear bumper of a camper was ripped off by shearing all the steel bolts, carried in the air across the lake before being dropped into the woods. The vinyl spare tire cover that was held to the tire by only an elastic band, remained in place and was undamaged.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Savannah, Pt. 6

As you saw in the Factors' Walk, in the public squares, and in the courtyards, as here, there seems to be as much wrought iron in Savannah as in New Orleans.  There is one home that even had a miniaturized reproduction built around the home of the fences, posts, and gates of Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park.  History, art, and architecture all combine in a sensory storm that sweeps the entire city and can't help but amaze even those who never imagined themselves students of architecture.  There are sweeping staircases that approach the home's raised front porch so women could ascend one side while the men climbed the opposite side.  Why?  At that time it was considered unseemly for a gentleman to see a lady's ankles as he followed her up the steps.  There was the elevated balcony from which Lafayette addressed the people of the city with a lengthy speech.  He spoke English, but like any Frenchman, he elected to address them in French.  Not understanding a word, they didn't know whether to applaud or protest when he finished, so they merely nodded and walked away.  Many people still don't know that at one time you could order anything from a Sears catalog, including entire houses, which would arrive with every stick of lumber, nail, screw, and directions.  One beautiful two-story home in the historical section of the city had all the windows installed upside-down.  The sills are at the top, and the ornately sculptured trim pieces at the bottom.  Personal flair, or an inability to follow directions? 

When we delivered boats up and down the coast and back and forth across the ocean, our travels took us by Savannah and Charleston more times than I could count.  This was the first time we had a chance to see the city.  I'd recommend it highly.  From a practical point, I'd recommend spring, maybe even early spring.  The narrow streets and close city plat design leave little room for air movement except on the riverfront and city squares.  If it's hot, it gets really hot.  In any event, you don't want to miss it.


Friday, June 24, 2011

End Notes

Now that we're home, we can share some of the pictures that AT&T made
impossible before.  Jean can attract friends anywhere.  This one came out to
meet her at Little Pee Dee State Park, Dillon, S.C.

Since our physical ailments played a part in our story, I should comment on those. Jean’s left hand continued to bother her more and more in spite of wearing a hand and wrist brace. It got to the point of being unbearable, so she visited a doctor in Lewes, DE, who diagnosed it as tendonitis. An anti-inflammatory was prescribed, and while it helped, it has not solved the problem, so she is now visiting the doctor here at home. When I went to the doctor about my right shoulder, I was told that I may have a bit of a tear in the rotator cuff, but there’s no way of determining that with any finality one way or the other. An x-ray will not show soft tissue damage, and the insurance company will not authorize an MRI unless I have first failed a physical therapy regiment, and of course physical therapy was impossible while traveling. I also received an anti-inflammatory, which seems to help, but again the pain returns if I stress it. After the 18-mile paddle a couple days ago, it was sore when I finished, and all that night, but it seemed much recovered by the next morning. I asked the doctor how I should approach the paddling once I finish the anti-inflammatory prescription, and was told I should then go and paddle until I definitely tear something. It all comes down to trying to work with old gear, or old body parts.
This was the beaver pond at Little Pee Dee.  We found no beaver, but drove a five-foot
snake away from its hole.  It does show the water lillies in bloom.

We arrived home last night at 9 pm and crashed. Today was a bit of a slow recovery day. The heat of 106 degrees yesterday was grueling, and Jean was glad to get the birds home alive. It’s almost as hot again today, and we’re looking at triple digits all this week.
Things that are used daily don’t all of a sudden like being ignored, so we returned from our two-month tour to find some things rebelling. The back door to the house wouldn’t open, the flapper on one toilet tank dried out and won’t seal, and the coffee pot made half a pot this morning and died. That hurt worst of all.
Once we get the trailer emptied and cleaned, it will be back to planning some more trips.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Warriors' Path

I-81 bridges cross Patrick Henry Lake

Monday evening we were in Warriors' Path State Park, just inside the eastern state line of Tennessee, at exit 59.  This trip brought us down through some of the area ravaged by this season’s tornadoes.  The damage was widespread and extensive, from destroyed houses, some where rebuilding has begun, house and business roofs covered with the familiar blue tarps, hillsides with twisted off trees, blown out highway and commercial signs, and so on.  When we

arrived at the campsite, while looking for a spot for the night, we found a camper that had been cut in two by a tree.  Its owner was in the camper at the time, but was uninjured.   He is trying to make do at present by still living in the forward half of the camper, and it was only about a 20-footer to begin with.

Patrick Henry Lake, at Warriors’ Path State Park, was formed by damming the south fork of the Holston River.  There is a dam at either end, and the lake measures close to ten miles from one dam to the other.  It is in a deep ravine with sheer walls of rock, some running 200 ft. in height.  The water is clear, and a beautiful color of green.  I was on the lake for seven hours, and covered 18.2 miles while circumnavigating along the shoreline.  I met six other paddlers, two canoes, two SOT’s, and two kayaks, and had the chance to speak with four of the paddlers.  The lake is home to a wide array of wildlife.  I saw two deer, which stood watching me watch them, many heron, kingfishers, bitterns, brown ducks, Canada geese, and one lone swan.  One pair of Canada geese had three goslings, and another had two.  While they must have lost several to hawks, turtles, and fish, those remaining are now large enough to improve their chances for survival.  On one grass-covered hillside, I counted 48 Canada geese with one lonely white domestic goose crashing the party.  As for ducklings, it would be no exaggeration to say that if I didn’t see a hundred, it was darn close. 
These folks did a beautiful job with this boathouse.  The kayaks and canoes are racked behind the house.  The stairs go up and up.  I suppose there's a residence up there somewhere, but I never saw it.

I had one interesting experience that caused me to move a bit further away from the sheer cliffs.  There was suddenly a loud series of crashes and the sound of splintering trees.  I had a short “What the ----” moment, but then realized what was happening.  One of those huge boulders clinging high to the cliff face had suddenly decided to cling somewhere much lower.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Western Village

We spent the three days at Western Village in Carlyle, PA.  It’s just a few miles from our daughter’s place, so it was convenient as well as being a very nice campground.  We’ve pretty much exhausted our paddling opportunities until we get home and start doing some more research.  There just isn’t time on the road to search out guides, maps, etc. for further trips.   One of the first things we need to do is clear out a huge inventory of marine hardware and equipment.  This is mostly for larger boats, and some is sailboat specific, but if anyone is looking to save on marine gear, e.mail me and I’ll send you a complete list.  There’s virtually everything you would need to build a boat, let alone maintain one, from teak and cherry wood, a new diesel engine, water pump, lights, stainless steel sinks, trailer parts, you name it.  

We had a Father’s Day pancake breakfast while we were there, and afterwards a local chainsaw carving artist, Tony Grimes, did an all-day demonstration.  He carved an owl, several bears, eagles, hanging wizard masks, a cowboy hat hanging on a cactus, and others.  It was amazing to see him visualize an object in a piece of tree trunk, and then just make it appear.  We had seen one of his larger pieces on the way into the campground.  A homeowner wanted to remove a tree from his yard, and asked Tony if he could make anything out of it.  Tony apparently told him if he cut the trunk thus and so, he could carve a large eagle out of it, and so he did.  Jean fell for the owl, so as soon as I can get it sealed and polyurethaned, it will make a nice addition to the patio.  I have Tony’s contact information if anyone would like to reach him.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Savannah, Pt. 5

This fountain on the waterfront commemorates the birth of steamships here.  On May 22, 1819, the steamship SS Savannah departed the Savannah wharf to become the first steamship to cross the Atlantic, arriving in Liverpool in 27 days.  President James Monroe had toured the ship and taken an excursion on her roughly two weeks before in anticipation of the historic event.  She was 98 feet on deck, had a 25-foot beam, and 13-foot draft, and her two side paddle-wheels were powered by a 90-hp. steam boiler.  She still used sail on the open sea, but the ability to maneuver unaided under her own power in channels and rivers would mark the beginning of the death of the Age of Sail by the end of the century.  The first steamship to actually commence commercial trade was the SS John Randolph, also launched and sailed from Savannah on July 9, 1834.
This is the street running between the warehouses and the wharf.  It would have been a hub of activity in its day, and I guess still is if you count the tourism business.  This is a rare shot.  It is usually wall-to-wall people.  I have several more pictures from Savannah, but I'll share them when we get home and I don't have to deplete the air card more than necessary.  I still haven't heard from AT&T.  Color me surprised!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Savannah, Pt. 4

Happy Father's Day, guys.
The shipping is much more modern, but Savannah is still an active seaport.
Savannah was the export center for cotton to the world.  Huge buildings line the waterfront that were at one time the cotton warehouses.  If ships coming in from other ports around the world were coming in without imported cargo, they would arrive in ballast.  This means the empty holds of the square-riggers would be filled with rock, quarry stone, fired brick, or any such material from Europe and elsewhere to keep the ships stable enough to carry their thousands of square feet of sail.  This would be removed before loading the cotton, and it would be used for local construction from streets, retaining walls, warehouses, and so on.  You can look at a wall and see it transform from one material to another, depending upon the type of ballast stone being carried in the inbound ships.  A good example of this is the Factor’s Walk.

Wagons would carry the bales of cotton down to the wharf for loading, and the factors, or representatives of foreign buyers, would line up on the iron walkways above the wagons, and record the lot numbers of bales they wished to bid on depending on how clean or free of seed it was.  We later had lunch at the Cotton Exchange Tavern, one of many current businesses that use the old cotton warehouses.  Even here you can clearly see the use of brick and ballast stone, and the iron pintles on which the huge warehouse doors were hinged.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Savannah, Pt. 3

Lafayette Square
There are about 15 beautiful public squares throughout the city.

This is the Andrew Low house.  Andrew Low emigrated from Scotland and became involved in the cotton business.  His success led to him becoming the wealthiest man in Savannah.  He had his home built across from Lafayette Square.  Henry Makepeace Thackeray was a guest in the home twice while on lecture tours in the States, and Gen. Robert E. Lee was a family friend who stayed there often.  In 1886, William Mackay Low inherited his father’s estates in England and America, and six months later married Juliette Gordon, known as Daisy.  Juliette Gordon Low was the founder of the Girl Scouts.  The home remained in the family until Juliette Low passed away in one of the bedrooms from breast cancer in 1927.  A year later it was acquired by a historical organization that has maintained it since.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Basic White-water Training

Old cotton warehouses along the Savannah River have been turned over to the shoppes and restaurants.  I'll continue to add some pictures from Savannah as we go along.

I’ve always been a flat water paddler, but knew I needed basic whitewater skills to deal with a number of rivers and water trails I may be interested in.  After a search of the American Canoe Assoc. instructor directory, I contacted quite a few, but only found one ready to help me when our schedules suited.  I arrived in his area this week, which is also near where my daughter and grandkids live.  Today I was able to take advantage of the opportunity for personal instruction from Vernon Graham, from near Boiling Springs, PA.  We used three whitewater boats, Vernon in one as instructor, Howard Davis in a second as support, and myself in the third.  We used Yellow Breeches, a local Class I+ stream.  We put in next to a covered wooden bridge at Messiah College, but the bridge was torn apart for renovation, so not up to a picture. I had never used a round-bottomed whitewater boat with a lot of rocker before, nor spent a lot of time paddling on my knees.  It was quite tippy for a while, but I started to get settled in.  We worked on identifying water features, such as strainers, overhanging banks, rocks, trees, and other obstructions, how to set up to make various approaches for rapids and bends, ferrying, and cutting in and out of eddies.  I had two problems.
My legs went totally dead.  I had no feeling or use of anything below the knees.  By the time we stopped for a break, I found myself unable to get out of the boat without help.  Part of this is not being experienced with this technique, and part is my age.  My legs don’t like me kneeling on a flat floor, let alone strapped across a saddle in a moving, confining boat.  The circulation returned to the legs during our snack break, and then we headed on down river.  Vern presented more and more challenges as we progressed, and I was beginning to think, “Man, I’m going to get to go home in dry clothes.”  The last section was a series of steps, or dammed segments with openings at staggered locations across the stream.  The assignment was to shoot one opening, cut into the eddy, ferry across until upstream of the next opening, spin and run it, and so on.  I was feeling pretty good, and we were within a hundred yards of our take out and our vehicles.  I leaned upstream, when I should have been leaning downstream, and there wasn’t even time to be surprised.  I went from upright to upside down before I knew what was happening.  I held onto the canoe, but Howard had to retrieve my paddle, which had made its escape.  My legs were dead again, so I had a problem controlling myself in the water without the benefit of my legs.  Yellow Breeches is shallow, and my then moss-green trousers proved that I had polished most of the rocks in the river bottom with my knees and butt before I got things under control, and managed to get the boat to the shore where Vern helped me bail and dump the water sloshing between the floatation bags.  By the time we had the boat ready, my circulation returned again, and I climbed back in for the last little run and cut into the eddy along the shore.   
It was a great new experience, and Vern is a skilled instructor who is able to patiently critique and inform.  After corresponding with him by phone and e.mail for months, it was great to finally meet Vern and Howard and spend the time with them.  

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Savannah, Pt. 2

We started at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.  The congregation was formed out of the French fleeing the French Revolution in the late 1700’s.  The church was built in 1873, and later became the cathedral.  It burned in 1898, but was reopened in 1900.
                                   Cathedral of St. John the Baptist taken from Lafayette Square.

We stopped by an AT&T store in Carlyle, PA, to see if they could recommend an avenue for getting attention to our problem.  I told the representative there that I couldn’t get past the first line of call takers.  They wouldn’t let me talk with a supervisor, and just seemed to stonewall me.  He said, “Yes, we use that same protocol here in the store,” but he did connect me with AT&T Customer Service again.  They said they had talked with me, and I had said I had no idea why the investigation had been initiated, and the case was closed.  I explained that no one had spoken with me, and I had specifically carried my phone with me every minute waiting to hear from them.  If they had called, I would have either had a missed call on my phone, which I didn’t, or would have answered the call.  They reopened the case, are referring it to the Intensive Care Unit (yup, their words, not mine), and that I should now allow them a minimum of 72 hours to respond.

Monday, June 13, 2011

AT&T Zero-G Service

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while, but we’ve run afoul of AT&T.  We even had one friend call because of the lapse, just so she could make sure we were okay.  It started with about five days when we couldn’t get service at all, either phone or air card.  That, of course, isn’t new.  We frequently found little or no service along much of the Gulf and East Coast as we traveled.  Then when we reached Savannah, we got service, but had lost half a month’s air time, so I called AT&T.  I explained that we had paid for one month’s service while unable to get any AT&T service, and paid for ten days of the next month without service, but were in an area where we had Wi-Fi.  We then started getting between nothing and 2G.  We had been told we had 2G service at home, and we never had any faster service until we reached Savannah.  It would take twenty minutes to download four pictures.  At the end of the month, we had 3.8 GB left, which meant we had used 1.2 GB in 20 days.  The billing period started over while we were between Crooked River and Savannah, and in four days, checking the same sites as always, using the laptop the same way as always, we had dropped to 2.67GB, meaning while using 1.2 GB in 20 days, we had now somehow gone through roughly 2.3, nearly half the month’s access, in four days.  I called AT&T, because they always say I’m one of their valued customers, and said this was impossible, and wanted to find out what could have happened.  They suggested I had been downloading movies (no), or videos (no), or a lot of music (no), but would initiate an URGENT INVESTIGATION, and would be back to me with the results in 24 to 73 hours.  That period expired Thursday of last week without a word.  So, I tried to curtail use until the problem was resolved, but obviously AT&T isn’t interested in resolving the problem.

We had a great day in Savannah.  We started at the Savannah Visitor’s Center where we booked a sightseeing tour with Old Town Trolley Tours.  In our younger days, we’d simply get a map and walk all over town.  If you’re in decent shape, the historic section of the city is not so large that you can’t do that, but otherwise, the Old Town Trolley does a nice job.  The all-day pass provides you with a tour guide to give you all the history and interesting stories, unlimited access on and off the trolley as many times as needed, pick-up every 20-minutes from each of its fifteen trolley stops, and free all-day parking.  For someone who has all my life shunned such package tours, I have to admit it was a pretty convenient deal.  I can say four things about Savannah---the people are friendly and helpful, the history is fascinating, the culture and food are great, and the parks and architecture are just too gorgeous to absorb enough in less than two or three days to enable you to come away with an adequate appreciation.  No pictures here, until we can see what happens with written text. 
Cheers, jim and jean

Friday, June 3, 2011

A Day in Savannah, Pt. 1

When I was researching the Georgia coast, I talked with Danny Grissette of Altamaha Coastal Tours.  In addition to picking his brain about camping pull-out spots, I asked if he had any size 12 paddling booties.
He referred me to Savannah Canoe & Kayak, saying that while he didn’t have what I needed, the folks in Savannah most likely would.  On the way out of Savannah after our day of touring, we stopped at

Savannah Canoe & Kayak, and had the chance to meet Nigel and Kristin Law.  They run tours, provide instruction from beginner through American Canoe Assoc. instructor training, including safety and rescue classes, and have a nice shop with a very complete inventory that meets the needs of a loyal local clientele.  They are a friendly and enthusiastic couple that obviously enjoy what they do, and besides a nice visit, we did indeed find a nice pair of Stohlquist paddling shoes, a paddle float, and a Nalgene water bottle.  You can find them at or 912-341-9502.  Oh, I almost forgot.  On their list of “Frequently Asked Questions,” the answer to the one about whether Kristin has any sisters is apparently a ‘No’.

Tomorrow will be a travel day, but we'll get the large amount of material from our Savannah visit posted over the next couple days.  Cheers, jim

Thursday, June 2, 2011

If It's Not One Thing, It's Another, Part 2

So, we’re going smoothly up I-95 headed for Savannah.  I stopped to take advantage of the last of such gas prices we are likely to see---$3.51/gallon---at a Flying J.  We got back on the interstate, and the next time I looked at the gauges, just a few minutes later, there’s an engine malfunction warning light staring back at me.  When I registered at Skidaway State Park at Savannah, I asked for recommendations for a good garage, and also get the number for the Dodge dealer.   I couldn’t reach the recommended mechanic, so I called the Dodge dealer and headed there.  The light is now out, after $390.85 for fuel emission sensors.  Of course $250 of that is for labor, and another $20 for writing the work order.  I REALLY would have liked reaching the independent mechanic, but we’re back in good order.

Leaving Crooked River

Crooked River State Park, near St. Mary’s, GA, was our home for two weeks.  Here are just a few final memories of our time here.  I had brought home two pictures of gopher tortoises from Kingsley Plantation.  They are the only tortoise east of the Mississippi, and an endangered species.  While Jean enjoyed the pictures, she felt slighted that she hadn’t seen one herself, so always eager to please, yesterday I produced two, just for her.  This one was walking down the side of the road, and a couple hours later, we watched as one crossed a road.

We walked the semper virens trail (ever living).  I described the Indian oyster shell middens earlier, and the calcium from the decomposing shell alters the soil to allow the growth of trees and shrubs that otherwise would not be found in Georgia.  We saw grape vines as large as a man’s arm, trees that have obviously lived here hundreds of years, and cedars along the salt marsh that have made such heroic efforts to find good soil and water that here they produced a wooden wall of webbed root. 
Jean found a large butterfly that has endured the hardships of life until you wonder how much further its damaged wings will be able to carry it.
The nearby U.S. Navy submarine base at Kings Bay has only this display available to the public.  It is the sail from the George Bancroft, commissioned 1966 and decommissioned in 1993.  The hull is cement,or more likely ferro-cement, but the sail is that which actually came from the vessel itself.
There are numerous wildflowers that produce beautiful splashes of color, such as these wild phlox.
With a large forest canopy overhead, even the hot afternoon sun couldn’t prevent a cooling shade and breeze as we pulled up a chair and enjoyed the marshes and waters of the Crooked River low-country.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Moment's Inattention

If there’s one thing that can be said about being on the water, it is that anything can happen, and without notice.  We most like to think about the quiet (sans Cigarette boats and Sea-Doos), the beauty, the closeness with nature, the fun and relaxation, but if we fail for a moment to remember that we are in an alien environment, things can turn sour very quickly.  Here is an example I’ve recently encountered.

To orient the chart for you, the river at 2 o’clock in the picture is the Brickhill River, the one at 11 o’clock is Cumberland Dividings, better known here as part of the Intracoastal Waterway.  The one at 9 o’clock is Crooked River.  I was coming down Brickhill River with the intention of heading southwest across the ICW and into the Crooked River.  As I was coming out the mouth of the Brickhill, I saw a sailboat, about 35-feet and of appearance similar to a Beneteau, heading south in the ICW.  I was headed for beacon “62A” as my first mark to clear the shoals  on the western shore and the inside of the bend before turning for the Crooked River.  I figured the sailboat would also be heading for the same mark, and that we would pass close to one another near the beacon.  That was no problem, as I’d simply swing to starboard (right) and paddle across his stern.  The operator first attracted my attention because of the way he was driving his boat.  The engine was wide open, well above cruising RPM, and straining.  The boat was riding a 1.5 to 2 knot fair current, and would have had a combined speed of at least 8 knots with the current.  I kept watching him and waiting for him to close with me, but he never seemed to get closer.  I began to realize he was much too far to the west side of the channel, and suddenly, he went from 8 knots to zero in a nanosecond.  The boat stood on its bow, the mast angled far forward, the helmsman was thrown forward and doubled over the steering wheel, and when the boat recoiled back, the person sitting forward in the cockpit was thrown aft.  Unlike the idea of running aground on a gradually rising bottom, many of the current-carved shoals create vertical mud and oyster shell walls.  He had just found one.  Unlike hitting a rock wall, the mud would have yielded a bit, but only a little.  I couldn’t imagine he hadn’t done damage to the keel or its bonding to the hull.  He sat as if stunned for a while, then backed away and just meandered about a couple minutes as if unsure what to do next.  Then he started to head up the Brickhill, which I assumed would be to anchor and dive to check the hull, but then he came back out and headed north again from where he had come.  There’s a sarcastic and very old saying, “A collision at sea can ruin your whole day.”  He had just ruined his whole day---or month.
Ah, but then there’s the question of beacon “60”.  Was it there?  I don’t remember seeing it until it was towed into the ramp at the state park.  It was on a new piling, but had been snapped off right at the bottom by a hard impact.  It’s not uncommon for barges to remove buoys and markers from channel turns such as this one, especially at night.  Even if “60” was gone, there were enough visual cues to the location of the channel if he had been watching the chart.  The channel clearly hugs the east shore, the channel is narrow and he would have passed close to the greens, which were there, and “62A” was there, and only a very short distance from “60”, indicating a channel well to the east of where he was.  It’s important to consider all the evidence and not rely too heavily on any one thing.  Before being too hard on him, however, we have to remember that there, with a moment’s inattention, we could find ourselves.  Anything can happen on the water.