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The Adventures of The Audrey Eleanor- Part 4

A combination of Cruise ships and live-aboards creates an interesting environment in Thomas Basin a marina in Ketchikan Alaska

Dockside

I love tying up at the docks. Anchoring out is wonderful, but being able to meet new and unusual people is always welcome after weeks of challenge and solitude. One of my favourite marinas is Thomas Basin in Ketchikan, Alaska. It has an entry that is easy to miss, as it is tucked in behind a great sea wall and the cruise ship dock. This solid wall of cruise ships makes Skagway look like a sleepy fishing port in comparison…the crowds and noise are exciting for a few days, but only just a few. Soon you begin to listen for the bell that herds the cattle back on board the cruise ship and THEN you head for town. At night-time a forty-foot high wall of ship lights flickers shadowy daylight to the docks.

On our first moorage in Ketchikan we are fortunate to borrow a temporary berth from a fisherman who is out trying his luck with his fishing nets. The Harbour Master shows up minutes after we’ve docked, gives his nod of approval and welcomes us to Ketchikan. This is our first port of entry into the U.S. after heading north from Prince Rupert, B.C. Canada.

The Captain calls customs and asks how they would like us to proceed…the customs lady is very nice, she also welcomes us and states that she is glad that we have made port, they had been expecting us two days earlier and were concerned. We had reported to customs in Prince Rupert and given them a rough ETA for Ketchikan. The infamous Dixon Entrance gave us a run for our money and our lives, so we were a little late.

It is suggested that we walk up to the pink building that houses customs and sign in, we can see it from the stern. The Potlatch Bar is at the top of the ramp; it has a laundry attached to the side of it and definitely is the centre of all social activity on the docks. If you want to check the weather, the fishing conditions, find someone who knows how to deal with a 32 consta-volt system off of an antique boat, this is the place.

The top of the ramp features an assortment of bicycles, all coloured rust in different degrees. These bikes are a definite sign of “live-a-boards” on the docks, a dirty word in some places of imagined importance. Live-aboards are people who live aboard their boats, seafaring gypsies they are. Although sadly some of them end up as harbour Queens (boats that for one reason or another never leave the docks). I would like to say in defence of that, I believe anyway of living on the ocean is better than no way of living on the ocean.

Live-a-boards are some of the most interesting people that you’ll ever meet. There are plenty of questions about boats and living aboard that are never ending to a greenhorn. These are the people that may answer your questions. They need to be approached cautiously, never presume that they want talk to you, never mind answering your obviously childish questions. After direct attempts at establishing contact I’ve learned that reverse physiology seems to be the best non-approach. Swabbing the decks is always open to comment and the makings of new friends.

Audrey’s good looks and age attract the boating community and soon repair stories and preventative ideas spring upward and the conversation begins to grow skyward. There always needs to be an inspection of each other’s boats and this should now be discussed over coffee on board of course. It’s so much fun!!

A 32 volt system always opens dialogue…things like “Oh, yeah, I remember that, my grandpa had that on his fishing boat,” this from a fifty-year old. When you are looking for parts for this antiquated system that we use aboard the AUDREY ELEANOR, they are difficult to find, but the quest may lead you to people like Only.

His name is Only; he is a draft dodger that lives on an Island close to Ketchikan, that is populated with other draft dodgers from the 60’s. They have since received amnesty, but their ideals and lifestyle have developed into a self-sufficient, ‘there is nothing wrong with things as they are’, challenge any form of authority kind of idealism that we used to see in the Yukon, it kind of felt like the good old days in Dawson City. They believe in barter and bow before the god of ‘hordism’. (Throw nothing away, ever)

Thank goodness they throw nothing away, they have 32-volt system parts for all kinds of things. Only is our man, he replaces our consta-volt and we have to repay him with rum in the Potlatch Bar.

Only also shows up to work bringing us dinner. Fresh Red Snapper filets that one of the fisherman is giving away on the dock to locals. The fisherman setting deep nets for halibut are also pulling up Red Snappers, by regulation they are required to “process” them. It isn’t unusual to see huge red snappers floating around the dock with teaspoon-sized fillets scooped out of their sides. This minimum of work in ‘processing’ deems that the silly regulation requirement has been met.

The floating dentist and his wife Jennifer pulled into the berth across from us on our last night at Thomas Basin. Their boat is home made, called the “Jenny” is about 45’ in length; she is a big bottomed girl, with a great wide beam of 15’. Wide beams are lovely things in rough seas and I have a definite soft spot for the ride and security of them. The Jenny and her crew have been cruising the coast of Alaska for 25 years. They now winter in the Southern U.S., but spent numerous years living aboard in Alaska. They raised their two daughters aboard but moved south when the girls needed higher education.

Appointments are set up in the early spring for all small coastal communities the ‘Jenny’ then spends the summer stopping at all the ports and fixing teeth. You enter their boat from a walk through on the aft deck; plants and two small trees are growing in pots that frame the doorway. The first room you enter is the dental office, complete with all of the dental equipment that you never want to see.

There is a full sized dental chair that can be curtained off from the reception area; it is exactly what you would see in a dentist office located ashore, with a little wave motion thrown in. Those of you who come into marinas under power, thinking that the “no wake” signs are meant for somebody else remember this. There could be some poor bugger in that dentist chair about to get drilled.

Jennifer invites us into their very cosy galley and saloon for tea. Their saloon is heated with the smallest wood stove that I have ever seen. The firewood must have been cut with an electric knife. It is early spring so the nights on the water are cool; the wood fire looks and smells wonderful. (Can you imagine, they burn cedar wood down there!)? The Dentist proceeds to tell us stories of rogue waves and funnel winds that would rip the house off of your boat, currents that suck you into the depths of Davey Jones’s locker etc, etc. Why in the hell would he still be on the sea?

After he works himself into a frenzy of terror he leaves us and the boat to walk the dock in an attempt to calm down. His wife Jennifer is sitting in the saloon looking like a poster wife of the 1950’s, her hair coiffed, her nail polish matches her shoes and she has on one of those frilly little aprons that my grandma used to wear on special occasions. She exclaims “Oh my, isn’t he just such a snoopy dog!” “Would you like more tea?” We are sitting with our mouths hanging open, not sure about what happened or what she means by the ‘snoopy dog’ thing.

It turns out that they had extremely bad experiences with the seas in Southeast Alaska and this is a ritual for the Dentist. Before they left the docks at Ketchikan, he exorcised his demons by visualizing and verbalizing all of the worst possibilities before they set out for the summer. I hope this drama worked for him, it left me with nightmares.

P.S. September 01, is the cut off day in the U.S. for most of the insurers of recreational boats. This is one of the reasons for the mass exodus of boats to the south, they have to be below Queen Charlotte Sound for their insurance to be valid after Sept 01, besides the weather just gets miserable. Like the Captain says “Any fool can cruise the inside passage in the summer time, it takes a serious fool to do it in the winter.” We resemble that remark.

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The Adventures of The Audrey Eleanor- Part 3

My daughter in law, Shellane on the bow of the AUDREY ELEANOR in the Lynn Canol between Skagway and Haines Alaska

The Girls on The Docks

There are few women who live on the docks. When I happened to meet these women there an instant kindred connection. Our conversations are about boating, but with a feminine twist. One of my many rants to my kids is; the more you know, the less you will learn. It is great to listen to the experiences of these ladies. The information they pass on is exceptional and has contributed in unusual ways to my life, to this day.

The curiosity of it is that the three women whom I recall most clearly were named Jenny. These were my first teachers. Jenny off of the Jenny B in Ketchikan, Alaska, was the floating dentist’s wife. Jenny from Smithers, B.C. she and her husband were retrofitting the Debby J in McLean’s shipyard, and little Jenny, the dock handywoman who went places that most men can’t.

Jenny from the Jenny B is an enigma and would be anywhere that she went. She and her husband built the boat, Jenny B from the hull up. The boat progressed in stages and as her children grew, so did the boat. They raised two daughters aboard; the girls finally went aground when they needed to attend university.   Their mother home schooled them while they floated through Alaska for all of their childhood years.

As the Dentist’s wife, she was also his receptionist. She met clients at the stern and escorted them into the dentist chair, then helped them off the boat with a smile and a Kleenex. We arrive onboard for tea; she appears in the saloon with her usual, perfectly coiffed hair, a blouse and skirt with one of those little frilly aprons that matched her shoes and nails. It is amazing,

I am ecstatic if I manage to haul the laundry topside and have clean socks. How does this woman do this? In addition to maintaining this immaculate, if unusual appearance, she cleaned and sanitized all of the dentistry equipment and had dinner on the table by six. In her world this is how it was done.

She was by no means a plastic lady. This is her style and by the goddess she can take charge of the helm, read the charts, tie her boat up or drop the anchor whenever needed.  Men rule the sea, she contributed to the feminine. She is truly a good person and a very nice lady. The fishermen went out of their way to be courteous to her; she added a wonderful softness where there is little of it.

The Jenny off of the Debbie J is a formidable lady. The first sailboat that she and her husband bought was a 35 foot something, she wasn’t sure what. They took a crash course in sailing on a weekend in Vancouver and then set out onto the briny sea. She said that it took several weeks for her to relax and realize that the great walls of seawater weren’t going to crash down and swamp them from behind. They were out in the blue water and onto 35’ swells.

They went from the 35’ mystery boat to a 65’ Robertson steel sailboat. Their kids were growing and by now they had sailed south to Mexico and through the Panama Canal, they had been at sea for a year, it was expansion time. This type of expansion is not to be confused with one ‘footitis’, which is common in boating circles. The ‘footitis’ virus (I think the strain originates in Texas) attacks people who think that they need one more foot of boat for whatever reason. Commonly the reason is either to haul more “stuff” or to keep up with the Davey Jones’s.

We have a rule on board Audrey that we now carry over into our shore lives. If you bring something aboard, you have to take something off. This makes you pay attention to what essential truly means. Does it nourish you? Keep you warm and dry or provide you with healthy diversion? (Books and music are essential by the way) How much do you really need? Stuff weighs you down, it anchors you on the hard and it sinks you at sea.

Back to the 65’ Robertson, they had engine problems outside of New York harbour and were going to have to come in under full sail. Coming into any harbour with a large boat is hard on the nerves, an unknown harbour is extremely painful, and a New York type Harbour on any day of the year is my nightmare.

Jenny said that they had to choose between their love of living at sea or paying to insure their sailboat, they chose their love. They did not insure the sailboat, they were prepared to step off of the boat and hand over their keys if they encountered a problem. Into the harbour under full sail they come! Kids are in their positions with mom and dad at the helm praying hard.

People are scrambling over each other trying to get their precious boats out of the way of this larger then should be free sailing boat. It is real exciting! Dad swings her hard to portside, there is only one space big enough to tie up, the kids drop the sails and they gently swing into the berth. Jenny said she stepped off holding the ropes, shaking in her boots, hoping that she would not throw up and praying that it didn’t show. A large crowd had gathered, with shaking hands Jenny calmly tied her up and said to the kids, “OK let’s do lunch.”

This Jenny explained to me that you never eat crab on your boat. Crab is served dockside on some kind of makeshift table with lots of good friends, wine and butter. You simply cannot get all of the small crab parts picked up and this attracts nasty critters that will cause grief in the long run. I know from personal experience that at sunrise the damned birds love to run around the top deck pecking at the crab pieces that I’ve missed. This dance floor is right above our stateroom; there is no sleep with the funky seagull going on above your head.

Little Jenny is less than five foot in height and weighs possibly 80 pounds. I would guess her age at somewhere between thirty and eighty. Some days she looked thirty and some days she looked eighty. If you were looking for a hard worker for cheap, you called Jenny.

Because of her size she could fit down into the stinky bilges and fish holds that most adult size people couldn’t get into and wouldn’t. Her boyfriend was the shiftless kind, didn’t work unless Jenny absolutely couldn’t. He was known as “Rusty” on the docks. Whenever someone approached him to do a job of any kind, his response was always, “well I’m a little rusty at that,” hence he was known as Rusty to all.

Jenny would spend the whole day down in a tight, smelly, dark old hold working with nasty chemicals and come bouncing out at the end of the day with a big smile on her face. She was a voracious gardener. Her little trailer was an oasis in an otherwise tin can wasteland. When we left McLean’s Shipyard in Prince Rupert she gave me a clump of for-get-me-knots that I transplanted into my son Bob’s yard here in Whitehorse, forgot to tell you about that Bobby. I believe that they are still there.

May was an exceptionally hot month in Prince Rupert. Jenny had been mucking out the hold of a large tugboat that originally had been scheduled to be scuttled. A new owner had stepped in just before the final countdown. This big tug was a mess. Jenny was determined to make this tugboat shine. I don’t know what she was using for cleaning agents or for paints either, but she had spent the whole morning and part of the scorching afternoon swimming in toxic brine.

At two o’clock in the middle of this heated afternoon, she came wandering down the dock not her usual perky self, “are you alright Jenny?” “Yes came the reply but I think I’m dehydrated.” The water had been shut off on the docks and of course we had chosen this day to clean our water tanks. “How does a beer sound?” The big smile is back. “That would be absolutely wonderful,” she says. She perched on the sawhorse with her beer, took a big swig and fell over backwards, unconscious.

By the time that I got off the boat and on to the dock her eyes were wide open and she was staring in wonder at the sky. “Wow, what was in that beer?” was all that she said. We drove her home.

P.S. The Debby J was being retrofitted from a fish boat into a global gypsy. The 30’ troller had a gardener engine in her that topped out at 8 knots but only burned 3 gals of fuel per hour. The Debby J and crew were headed for South America, Chile in particular. They are probably out there still, we wish them well.

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The Adventures of The Audrey Eleanor- Part 2

Relief at feeling solid ground under our feet at Kah Shakes Cove, our first stop in Alaska after broaching the Audrey Eleanor in huge seas crossing the infamous Dixon Entrance.  The Captain holds firm the Terra Firma.

Dixon Entrance

We are onboard The Audrey Eleanor; a custom-built fifty-four foot 1948 wooden yacht headed north to Alaska. After a near disaster with two multi-million dollar U.S. yachts at the Prince Rupert Yacht Club in Prince Rupert B.C. We are ready to take on Dixon Entrance. This is our first salt water crewing experience.

The shortest route out of Prince Rupert is north through Metalka Straight. We decide that we are not ready to take on the narrow, twisting Metalka with its range markers and rocks; and opt instead for the route that allows the B.C. and Alaska State Ferries safe access out of the Harbour.

We cruise serenely by the docked Alaska State ferry with sleepy passengers waving from the decks. Audrey’s unique design attracts attention wherever she goes, she is a show off. We slip past the ferry and run smack into a wall of fog.

You literally hit fog walls, banks whatever you prefer to call them.  We slid through the curtain and are in muffled world of soft greys and cool whites.  Nothing appears to be real as the fog climbs up on the bow and pulls its wall of white down behind it.  Everything disappears.  In a muffled cocoon, sounds are distorted; it is surreal and very dangerous.  Wooden ships or boats often don’t show up on radar, we are a ghost ship moving undetected through a shipping lane.

We do have radar on board our ship.  We had both assumed the other knew how to work it.  Neither of us knows how to make this ancient gadget work, the Captain is a better bet; he has used instruments when flying airplanes.   I head for the bow to stand watch or more accurately, to listen for approaching objects. What would a floating dead head sound like?

The Captain calls me back into the saloon.  He’s worried that if we hit something, or something hits us the impact would drop me into the salt chuck. Thanks to his bush pilot experience, he’s figured out the radar. Now we’ll be able to see our demise before it hits us.

A few feet further and the fog drops away as quickly as it came. We head face first into the sunshine.  This is the point in the channel where we take a starboard turn and are now in Hecate Straight. The seas begin to build.  Audrey’s displacement hull easily cuts through the chop that is bouncing other boats in the area around. I wonder how well I will handle it if it gets really bouncy…how well will Audrey handle it? We haven’t had her out of Prince Rupert Harbour and aren’t sure what she’s made of. Beautiful little Islands slip by and the people on the lighthouse wave enthusiastically as we cruise northward.

Dundas Island appears to our portside. (Am I starting to sound like I know something?) We navigate toward the Island and our anchorage at Brundigee Bay. One of the great things about traveling at this time of year is that there are virtually no other boats on the water and consequently no audiences,

You can drop and drag your anchor to your hearts content, or until hand cranking 100 feet of chain and one hundred and fifty feet of rode wears you out. My arms are still sore from doing battle with the U.S. yachts in Prince Rupert. This has to be done right if we are to get any sleep tonight…and I did mention, this is the first time we have anchored the Audrey Eleanor.

Huge orange Lions mane jellyfish attach themselves to our rode. Resembling Alien “blobs” from a bad sci-fi movie I believe that during the night they plan to slither up the rode, shanghai our ship and drop our bodies in the darkness of the bay. We sleep through the night; I do not believe that if we had drug the anchor or been eaten by Lions Mane Jellyfish I would have noticed.

We plan to get through Dixon entrance as early as possible. Winds tend to raise in the afternoon so the earlier the start, the better. I look overboard to see how far the orange aliens have made it up the rode; and oh my, is that diesel fuel rainbows that I see on the water?’ One of the fuel filters has blown a seal. An early start is no longer reality. Rick disappears into the  “Troll Hole” otherwise known as the engine compartment to deal with the busted seal.

The decision is to make breakfast and enjoy the scenery. We are really doing this!  Casting free from land, assuming total responsibility for ourselves and our boat, heading NORTH TO ALASKA! We had gotten to the point of both buying a boat and learning about a life on the high seas or to simply shut up and stay running the rivers of the Yukon. JUST DO IT – We just did it, finally!

At noon we are ready to cross the infamous Dixon Entrance. We are half an hour out of Brundigee Bay; there are bright blue skies with a light breeze tweaking the water’s surface but no Dixon demons here. What we didn’t realize is that we have started out at a full slack tide; as the tide turns, the winds tend to pick up.

The winds are now howling down all three of the enormous channels, we are headed out into Open Ocean in the direction of the Queen Charlotte Islands. The tides are running hard against us and the wind is blowing the tops off the waves.  A huge volume of water is dumping a massive deluge, pouring down on us from Alaska, British Columbia and I am sure, Japan.  We will sink, we will be drowned.

The wind is blowing hard against the waves, we have confused seas, the waves are having a nervous breakdown, pounding water is bouncing and slamming us everywhere.

The Captain has thrown his chair out of the way and he is working the helm with his whole body, feet braced wide apart for stability. I run through the boat duct taping the slamming doors shut, trying to stop the cupboards from spewing their contents all over the floors.  The noise of banging and crashing is deafening. It’s too rough to stand; I have to crawl back to the main saloon.

I see the Captain working the helm battling to take control of his ship.  The waves throw us sideways; he hangs on and with all of his might fights the wheel to take us in he opposite direction. There is nothing that I can do except to try to hold on.  I open the starboard door in the main saloon and have a death clench on the doorframe. The opening is about three feet by three feet and my thoughts at this moment are ‘if this ships going down I am not going to be trapped inside.’  I will not go down with this ship!

We are falling; Audrey hits the bottom in the trough of the wave full on her precarious beam. She shudders; the impact reverberates through her hull and feels like she is breaking apart at the seams. I have braced myself in the doorway to prepare for the impact; I am slammed against the doorframe, it takes everything I have to keep from being hurtled into the boiling black sea.

I cannot believe it! She is coming back around, I’m swung hard back against the chart table. The Captain is fighting for our lives. We begin to fall again, this time we don’t fall as far and we hit part way down on her side, the best of the worst and backward we roll.

The Captain has control. I can feel the change in Audrey. He’s in charge of our ship and he’s going to take us out. He looks at me and I yell at him “just drive this *@#! Boat; don’t you dare look at me!”

He can’t be distracted if he’s going to get us out. He said later that he was sure that I was having a heart attack. The waves are huge… my eyes are huger.  The waves are bigger than Audrey and Oh no…He’s heading further out to sea! I am going to have a heart attack! I am pleading, “please, please, don’t go out there!”

We have to head further out to sea in order to tack back.  We are in 18-foot seas and have no experience on turning a 54-foot ship around in this life-swallowing maw of an ocean.  “OH MY!’’  The Captain is now using Audrey as a giant surfboard and we are surfing the huge waves.  We are going to make it!

Our friend Don Pilsworth insisted that we take his survival suits, we have them, they are on board…in the back closet. In a very short time we went from a light breeze on sparkling blue waters, to fighting for our lives. We could not physically get to those suits, never mind put them on. It was simply too late.

Foggy Bay is considered the first good anchorage after Dixon entrance. One look at the waves breaking in the entrance to Foggy Bay and we keep going. We anchor at Kah Shakes Cove and when we finally shut down the engines… I start to cry.

P.S.  This is a popular storey with the gang at the Gold Rush Inn in Whitehorse.  Hello to all of you, save us a beer.

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 The Adventures of The Audrey Eleanor- Part 1

Taking On The Big Boys

YUKONERS FELL IN LOVE WITH A 54’ 1948 WOODEN YACHT. FROM JUNE OF 2008 UNTIL DECEMBER 2010 A WORLD WIDE FOLLOWING READ ABOUT THE ADVENTURES OF THE AUDREY ELEANOR IN THE WHITEHORSE STAR. WE ARE PROUD TO BRING THESE ADVENTURES TO YOU ONCE AGAIN.

THE Captain, Rick Cousins spent the winter retrofitting Audrey in McLean’s shipyard in Prince Rupert B.C. McLean’s shipyard is reputed to be one of the oldest working shipyards on the west coast of Canada. This a great place to be when you have an old boat. I had to return to Whitehorse, as our home there had been flooded. The three-week restoration work on the house turned into a four and a half month project from beyond belief. I don’t wish an insurance claim on anyone.

By the time the Alaska State Ferry dropped me off in the terminal at Prince Rupert, the Captain had made the most of his winter. With the help of our friend Bruce Cairns, he removed old rusted fuel tanks from the hold and built new tanks to replace them. This is not an easy thing. You have to remove these tanks through the back wall of the stateroom so the aft deck had to be modified. Rick decided to install sewage holding tanks in the back head (toilet), the foc’sle already had one. Our plan is to visit marine parks and areas with low flushing bays; you should take your poop with you when you go!

In January, days before I was forced to return to Whitehorse the temperature dropped to minus 12 Celsius in Seal Cove at Prince Rupert. Minus 12 on the black ocean is bone chilling cold. Salt water does freeze and so does toothpaste; walking on the docks and gunnels is dangerous. Falling into a bay of liquid ice will end life. There are few persons crazy enough to be out on the docks; McLean’s shipyard has shut down their operation until the weather warms up. There is no one out here to rescue a sinker in the sea; it would be difficult to drag yourself out, clawing over iced boards.

The cold makes getting into bed a serious challenge. The challenge is who can sit up the longest so as not to have to be the first one to crawl between the icy sheets. We have since learned that if power is available, an electric blanket is your best friend…it gets rid of the damp, as well as the cold.

It is now finally springtime! The Audrey Eleanor is registered in Haines, Alaska; all that is left to do is paint her serial numbers on her bow and her name and port of registration on her stern.

It’s time to cast off. Prince Rupert has been Audrey’s home for the past twelve years. We purchased her in the summer of 2003 and are finally taking her to her new home in Haines Alaska, we want her as close to Whitehorse as possible. As the raven fly’s this will be six hundred kilometers north through the famous inside passage. It will be our maiden voyage, but most certainly not Audrey’s.

Both Rick and I have extensive and varied fresh water/wilderness skills. Rick has flown bush planes, retrieved planes from lakes, built boats, and welded underwater from the Arctic to the Antarctic. I grew up on the Mackenzie River and on the coast of the Arctic Ocean. Armed with a powerful dream, the Canadian Power Squadron Navigation course and more enthusiasm than experience, we are headed “NORTH TO ALASKA”, yeah Johnny Horton!!

Rick has concentrated his energy on ensuring that his Perkins engines purr.   We hear horror stories of crossing the infamous Dixon entrance. Rick wants no hesitation in the engines in the event of a rough crossing; the man is a psychic. We are ready, the seas are calm, a few wisps of fog give depth to the majestic mountains, it’s six a.m. and we are under way. We are heading home, North to Alaska; go north the rush is on!

This is wonderful! Audrey’s stately bow slices through the sea. We traverse the shipyard maze and are cruising past the floating Esso fuel docks. Not too bad, we begin to feel cocky enough to consider docking at Cow bay and running up for a coffee to go. Docking a yacht of this size, she weighs 30 tonnes, especially without a bow thruster is intimidating the first hundred times you try it. The Prince Rupert Yacht Club is straight ahead. There are two multi-million dollar U.S. yachts tied to the north end of the dock leaving plenty of room for us to bring our bow in.

The Captain steers Audrey’s bow straight on to the dock with the intent of gently swinging and bringing her stern alongside. Suddenly the current grabs a handful of Audrey’s thirty tonnes, we have no control. We speed up and are on a bow on beam collision course with those shiny metal mini-ships. The huge steel bows of these metal demons look determined to thrust themselves through Audrey’s oak ribs and pierce her Perkins hearts. The thought of a probable lawsuit brought on by the south of the border boys pierces my heart.

I throw out our now ridiculously small bumpers and prepare for impact. The big boys we are about to impale ourselves on are confident enough in their bulk that they have no defense bumpers dangling off their sides. What’s a girl to do? Throw herself in front of her yacht of course.

I have no idea what is going through my mind. I am five feet tall with a medium build, but I must be super woman! I position myself between them and us, I WILL BE THE BUMPER! I do manage to slow us down enough so that when impact occurs it isn’t significant enough to even wake the sleeping crew. At least the lights don’t come on. Now what? I am wedged between grinding metal and petrified wood ships!

How does it feel to be the human filling in this sandwich you ask? I realize how deadly the situation is when I look up to see that the Captains face is deathly white, I am having difficulty breathing. Rick is slamming levers and manipulating the throttles trying to get us off these guys. Audrey’s thirty tonnes are slowing grinding down the steel sides of the yachts with me acting as the resistance between them and us; this is not fun anymore.

The Goddess returns and the tide turns, stops or whatever it does. Maybe the Captain figured things out and like nothing had ever happened, we gently swing back out the way we came in. I can breath, the yachts sleep on and we don’t have to sell all of our future grandchildren to satisfy a possible lawsuit.

“God hates a coward.” We will try this docking thing again. Besides now we really want that coffee. We have a new approach and Audrey gently swings into place beside the big boys on the dock as if to say “hey boys, that’s all you get.” We wobble up the ramp to Cowpuccinos in Cow Bay looking for coffee; Tequila would have been better. So what will Dixon entrance bring…if only we knew then what we know now? That will be another one of the Adventures of the Audrey Eleanor.