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Dog Gone Sailing
Becky & Kevin... Sailing with the Danny Dog!
By Kevin & Becky Stilley
E-Book (available as PDF files)
About the Author
Becky and Kevin were ready for an adventure. With their dog, Danny, they packed their Ford Escape and left their mountain cabin for a home on the water. Follow along as they learn to sail. Share their experiences and feelings as they head northward from North Carolina, up to the Chesapeake Bay, southward to the Bahamas and end their trip on Florida’s Gulf Coast. “Dog Gone Sailing” is not just a story about sailing; it is the heartfelt chronicle of the voyage of a lifetime. Whether you are a sailor or a land-lubber, you will laugh, find yourself on the edge of your seat, and maybe even shed a few tears along the way.
MOORING BALLS! Mooring balls are neat little floating devices made of hard plastic and vary in circumference. Some are the size of a soccer ball while others reach larger than exercise ball size. The mooring balls in Yorktown are about 3 feet in diameter. Mooring balls have a chain and some big weight at the end. An old engine cylinder blocks work well as I under-stand. The theory is you ‘easily’ pull alongside the ball, use your boat hook to grab the loop from the top of the ball, string a rope through it and affix both ends back to the cleat on the boat. I did manage to hook it on the 2nd pass-by, promptly got the boat hook stuck, and it was pulled from my hands as we went by. The captain was bound and determined not to lose ANOTHER boat hook. I didn't lose the first one by the way, I just forgot it at Deaton’s and I know where it is! We made another pass and I rescued the boat hook. The captain ordered me to tie a ‘lifeline’ to the boat hook for the next attempt. During the next attempt I nailed the line. It was about a one inch rope covered and fouled with barnacles, seaweed, crabs and various crustaceans. Thus the one inch line was 5-6 inches in circumference and heavier than hell! I'm not certain anyone had used this particular mooring ball for a number of years! I did have on gloves, having read the book that said you may encounter barnacles, and successfully got a line around it. I explained to Kevin that we needed to get to the end of the barnacle-encrusted foul fish-smelling rope where the actual ‘loop’ was so we could properly string the line but the sucker was so heavy I couldn't do it alone. Yes, it seemed heavier than the 60 lb anchor, or I was just exhausted, one of the two! Note how the anchor just keeps getting heavier and heavier! It’s like a fish story! The Captain powered down the engine, came up front, grabbed the slimy mooring line, and while crabs were crawling up his arm I attached our line through the loop. Success! We had a well-deserved beer and decided to dinghy Danny in for a pee and a poop. The dinghy is on davits and we were attempting to lower it with Danny inside, successfully done now many times, but something seemed stuck. Kevin pulled, and I pulled, then Kevin got inside the dinghy, bounced up and down, figuring it would go down the last 6 inches into the water and pull free. It did, only because the winch for the motor was still securely attached and the swing arm holding the motor bent in half. Kevin thinks it's about a $200 item. Ching, Ching! I know he was irritated when I laughed... ya gotta laugh, right? Are we ready for another beer now? It ain't over yet! After we returned from our beach visit, we noticed the crusty line was so heavy and laden the boat wasn't flowing properly into the wind or current and the mooring ball was running alongside of Maribelle and beating against her hull to boot. The Cap decided to start the engine and back up to stretch out the mooring line. We both thought it was a good idea until the mooring ball wedged itself under the hull and wouldn’t come out! Being worried the mooring ball chain might get caught in the prop or prop shaft the Captain shut down the engine. He proceeded below deck for a few minutes and came back up to the cockpit donned in his swim trunks, flippers, mask and snorkel. With boat hook in hand, the tether securely affixed, he made the plunge. (Visions of the Little Mermaid's dad "King Triton" - insert here please). In the process of attempting to un-wedge the ball I could see blood streaming through Kevin’s T-shirt and I started to freak-out from above. Should I tell him he's bleeding through his t-shirt? I wasn't too worried, we weren’t in shark-infested waters, so I decided not to cause panic and I’d just tend to his injuries later. Then, I realized it was bottom paint from when he had rubbed up against the boat bottom’s red protective anti-fouling coating. We didn't have any luck un-wedging the ball and it was getting dark. We decided we weren't going anywhere so we went to bed. “We'll worry about it tomorrow, Scarlet!”
Kevin & Becky Stilley met on the internet and were married in 2000. They melded their families and have three grown children between them. Becky has a 31 year-old son, Scott, and a 26 year-old daughter, Lauren. Kevin's daughter Tina is also 26. The new siblings have become close and often choose to spend time together even without the old folks! The couple is anxiously awaiting the arrival of their third grandchild in July 2012. Kevin and Becky live in a remote mountain community, at 9300 feet in altitude, in a beautiful cabin built by Kevin. The rustic log home is only accessible by snowmobile for four to five months of the year.
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