I had the most unbelievable day today, like an episode (or whole season) of Baywatch.
We have had a really hard week at camp. The kids weren’t horrible, a few were annoying, but no major behavior issues like we’ve encountered in past weeks. We just kept running into all kinds of snags.
This morning, we wanted to launch immediately and get going, but the director had promised all the parents that we wouldn’t leave before 10:30. We were mad, but came up with a plan so the parents could see their kids sail and we could still have our race… Then it took until after 11 to get four boats in the water, so we just started our race from the dock.
One boat had our three little girls in it. We called it “girl boat” all week. As soon as we pushed them off the dock they started spinning in circles, completely out of control with 30 parents watching… One of them had picked up a frog on the way down and they were taking Prince Charming for the ride of his life.
While we were yelling at the girls to put the frog down and get their boat under control, our chaos cruiser (bad boys) got their shroud hung up on a channel marker and we had to pull them off with the power boat right in front of all the parents.
All four boats evened up and the race started getting really exciting. We don’t coach during the race, just watch and cheer, but we did remind all 4 boats to stay clear of a giant sand bar. All of the boys avoided it, the girls ran aground. The race was super close and exciting though, and we knew the girls weren’t going anywhere… So we left them to follow the boys to the finish. They finished seconds apart, it was awesome! We told them to pull their boats up on the beach and wait while we went back for the girls.
Of course, they were hysterical by then; screaming and crying that we had deserted them and they thought they were going to DIE on that sandbar (they were never out of our sight). But it’s ok, they had a plan. Kelly had a knife in her pocket, so they were just going to eat Jane, the 8 year old.
We told them they had to get their centerboard up. They couldn’t get the lines out of the cleats. We yelled to try harder. They cried more. So we went to pull the boat up beside them to help… It was stuck in gear! We couldn’t stop! We kept circling trying to coach them through the steps. They were becoming increasingly more distraught, so we decided that I’d jump from the moving coach boat into the sailboat to help them, then he’d come around again and I’d jump back into the moving boat.
I made the jump, got the girls off the sandbar, then their rudder came up and had to be fixed from the water… So I jumped in, fixed it, then had to pull myself back up into the boat. The girls were amazed that I could lift my full body weight. When I asked them why they ran aground, they told me they got distracted playing with the frog! Arthur came around to pick me up, but the girls freaked out, so I agreed to sail the rest of the way with them and Arthur went back to check on the boys.
The girls were hungry, hot, and cranky. With 4 of us in a boat designed for two people, we weren’t going anywhere fast. So I decided to ooch (propel the boat by shifting the weight in it) it. In smaller flatter boats, ooching is no problem, 420’s are very V shaped, it takes an enormous amount of strength and coordination to pull this off. You basically have to body slam your full weight into the the sides, alternating smoothly and rhythmically over and over again. They couldn’t help. I had to do it all myself.
We ran into 2 of our campers from last week on the beach. They were jet skiing with their parents. Arthur turned our motor off to try and fix the boat, but he couldn’t fix it. And it will only start from neutral. We had paddles in the boat, but that would be an extremely long trip back. We said good bye to the kids from last week and kept working on the motor. By the time we realized it wouldn’t be coming back on, they were about a mile down the beach… So I ran to catch them! They said they’d come back for us in 30 minutes.
I ran back to our group to have the kids to hurry up and eat so they’d be ready to go. When it came time to relaunch the boats, one was filled to the brim with water… They had sailed it all the way to the beach with no plug! I bailed out that boat. We got all four launched and sailing, then had to paddle our boat out to the people who were going to tow us back.
They dropped us at the dock, and we figured we’d just sit there and wait for the kids to get back. We could see all four boats and they were making progress. It certainly wasn’t ideal, but it wasn’t that bad either. We were not super concerned.
That’s when the camp director and yacht club manager came running out “where are your kids? Why are you laughing? OMG! OMG! OMG!” They kind of flipped out and went all nuts, which frightened the little kids, who all started crying!
The camp director, Mindy, ran out into the public dock screaming “it’s an emergency! I need help!” Then she told me get on these people’s HUGE boat. The kid driving was like 16 and he looked afraid to dock. Mindy was still going apeshit, freaking out… So I jumped from the dock into the moving boat.
This poor kid looked scared to death. He was like “what am I supposed to do?” So I told him, we could tow the 4 boats or he could trail them and I’d coach them in. He went sheet white and said “PLEASE coach them in!” So I sat up in the bow of this stranger’s boat and coached the kids back in. Then the boy driving was like “now what?” So I told him I’d jump into one of the sail boats that way he wouldn’t have to dock and he goes, “but we left in such a hurry, we forgot my dad!” I guess, as we sped off, the dad had come down the dock and said to Mindy “My son doesn’t know how to drive that boat!”
The 420’s are big, like 16 feet, and they are kept on trailers. One of the members left us her truck for the summer, but normally we just have the kids pull the trailers in and out by hand. We haven’t used the truck once all summer. Today, we started to pull the boats and a bad lightening storm rolled in, making it too dangerous to get them out of the water. By the time the storm let up enough, all the kids had gone home and there was no way we could pull the trailers up the hill with just the three of us. We had to use the truck.
We went to attach the hitch… And the truck was gone! The owner had come to borrow it, leaving in its place her smart car! That wasn’t gonna work! We had to call her to come back. We got the first 2 boats out of the water. Then Mindy didn’t come back. We started to walk back to the club when we saw the truck, but the manager was driving instead. Mindy had thrown her back out and someone had found her laying on the ground crying and ran inside for help.
We got the 3rd boat out of the water. Arthur’s dad came to help.
As we were cranking the 4th boat onto the trailer, the bow line broke! The 4th trailer is old and not the same as the other 3. It didn’t fit on the ball! We decided to jam it on as best we could, and just use the chains.
Guess what!? We got to the top of the hill, and the damn thing was stuck!
Maybe if we drive really fast over the potholes we can bump it off. No
Maybe if jump on it. No
Maybe if we drive backwards. No
Maybe if we take the pin out of the hitch, all hold the trailer, and have the manager drive the truck forward the hitch will fall off. No- we just got dragged across the gravel parking lot.
Maybe if we stack up some cinder blocks and create a lever with a board from the dumpster. No
Maybe if Teenie sticks her little fingers in there. No
Maybe if we stick our makeshift lever in that little crack were Teenie just wiggled her fingers into. That worked!
Then we had to get the wheel back down, so I said, “here, I can lift the boat, you swing it down.” My new nickname is the Incredible Hulk, because I can lift well over my own body weight.
We pulled all of the trailers into their spots by hand and derigged all of the boats by ourselves. Camp is supposed to end at 3. We didn’t leave until 6.
The amazing thing is we were ok. Our kids were ok. Everyone left happy. And no one ate little Jane with a pocketknife.
I asked the Bishopzin if they’d feed me dinner!