Monday, July 9, 2012

We Have You Surrounded

Oh, Fairlee Creek. You never cease to amaze me. We have seen our fair share of drifting boats, beached sailboats, beached powerboats, water gun fights and upside down sailboats, but this weekend may have topped them all.

Doug and I and two friends ventured to Fairlee Creek (Mears Great Oak Landing) this past weekend for their Saturday fireworks display. As usual, we got there early and set our anchors. Has anyone else noticed that having both a bow and a stern anchor seems to be the norm now? I'm fine with it. It should make everyone more secure in their spot.

The marina had bouys out marking a safety distance for the evening display:
Everything started off nice and calm. We swam, we visited Jellyfish Joel's for frozen concoctions, and we watched the Creek quickly fill up with boats. There was also a smart businessman offering ice, ice cream, and trash collection:
We were next to a boat that was having a good time with their slide and advertising a wet t-shirt contest.

Unfortunately, for many people, the fun stopped around 7pm. Here is a quick rundown of the events with my best estimation of time. Pictures can be found at the bottom of the list of events.
  • 7pm - The boat next to us (Bodacious) breaks free from both of its anchors. No one on the boat seems to notice.
  • Bodacious starts drifting in the current towards a raft-up of 6-7 boats. The people on those boats notice the issue and start yelling over to the captain to catch his attention.
  • The captain of the Bodacious attempts evasive action but it is too late.
  • Crunch! Anchor lines are cut and there is a tangle of boats. Unkind words are exchanged between people on all boats involved. We learned later that the captain of Bodacious claimed to have more boating experience than anyone else there. We all make mistakes, but if you have so much experience why did this happen?
  • DNR and the Coast Guard show up to supervise the detangling.
  • 8-8:30pm - All boats are detangled. It appears that there is minimal damage to all boats involved. Bodacious sets up anchor again in their original spot. The Natural Resource Police pull up to Bodacious and the captain gets off to talk to them.
  • 9:15pm - The fireworks start.
  • In the middle of the fireworks display, Bodacious pulls up their anchor. Everyone assumes they are going to leave the area. Instead, they hang out in the channel for the rest of the show. Again, we assume they will leave as soon as the entry/exit to Fairlee Creek is reopened after the fireworks.
  • 9:30pm - The fireworks end and Bodacious returns to their anchorage spot. No one is happy to see them return. I'm starting to get nervous because I'm not sure I can sleep with this boat next to us. Our anchors seem secure and it is much too late to try to reset.
  • Another boat pulls up to Bodacious to take passengers to shore. This is when it gets interesting.
  • Three Coast Guard boats immediately surround Bodacious. "We have you surrounded!" They instruct everyone on the "taxi" boat to get back onto Bodacious.
  • 10pm - Three Coast Guardmen board Bodacious and do a full count of passengers and search of the boat.
  • 10:30pm - Three more Coast Guardmen board Bodacious. One of them has a large rifle.
  • 11pm - All Coast Guard leave Bodacious. Passengers start disembarking in groups
  • 12 midnight - Only four people are left on Bodacious. They pull up anchor and move further back into the creek.
Starting to drift.
Crunch #1.
In the clear?
Coming in for another hit.
Crunch #2.
Crunch #3. The people on the water had joined the party from another boat and decided it was time to leave.
The captain is on the Natural Resources Police boat, however, the NRP boat is still in gear and almost causes Bodacious to hit another boat.
Doug takes the zodiac to help the raft-up reset their anchors.
So, here are my questions: Was the captain ticketed for something? I really hope so. I know that we all make mistakes but when you cause a car accident you receive a ticket. Why did the Coast Guard wait until after the fireworks (at least an hour after the incident) to board the boat? Were they waiting for back-up? Or did they finally board for another reason?

After all the drama, we were able to enjoy the rest of the evening and returned to Baltimore on Sunday. As an added bonus, the sunset and the fireworks were absolutely amazing! The fireworks were huge and were going off right over us. Great show Fairlee!

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