My First Overnight Sailing Adventure

It was 1992 give or take a year, I had just hauled a 22 foot Kells back from New England. There it had a wild history of Block Island parties and once enduring 24 hours at sea in a storm so bad the owner at the time, a Coast Guard big shot and his daughter spent it hiding in the cabin.

During my initial cleaning out I found trinkets and leftovers from up and down the Atlantic Coast. Years later when I sold her she still had a book of Block Island matches in the drawer.

I trailered her to Port Huron every weekend where I would tie up overnight behind my friends, the Haley’s two boats. The boys, John and Mike jumped on board every chance they got to go sail the tub around the bottom of lake Huron.

Eventually I got the bugs out of the boat and enough confidence to take off on my first overnighter. I hadn't sailed since I was a teenager but it was all coming back to me quickly. John was game for the expedition and the plans were laid out over drinks at the Tracks Lounge.

We packed a cooler with food and another with beer. It was a very slow boat and would require more beer than most….

Saturday morning found us motoring under the Bluewater Bridge (there was only one back then) that crosses from the US to Canada and out into the lake. We had a good but light wind and the sails took hold and started the slow trek North. We were in no hurry and had no problem spending the day on the lake.

Our destination was Lexington. It's a small town about twenty miles up the shore line. The marina is close to “the” stop light and the two bar/restaurants in town. We made our way slowly up the coast. Lexington seemed like a huge adventure at the time. I now sail up there for lunch and return before dark in my larger faster boat …

It was getting close to sundown by the time we made it up there in the light winds. I was a proud man as I motored past the break walls with my big ass 3x5 ft pirate flag flapping loud and proud off my backstay.

Pirate flags have not always been chic like they are now. They were considered tacky and I took a lot of grief for it. People just didn't like the sight of it. I was the only boat flying the big black flag.

Yes, I flew the skull and crossbones before it was cool!!

We pulled up along the gas dock where an older gentleman came out of the small office and called out “where are you going?”.

I was handling the lines and John was on the tiller and outboard fighting the crosswind as we pulled up along side of the harbor house. Suddenly a big gust of wind caught us by surprise and the old Kells swung over towards the dock.

John gunned the motor to try and get under the bow before it hit the dock. He did a great job although we hit the dock pretty hard… Hard enough to shake the dock and cause the old guy to stumble a little. With out missing a beat I boldly announce “right here sir!” as I stepped off lines in hand. He eyed us and the boat for a moment before pointing at the pirate flag. "What is that?".

It’s a flag I fly for fun I replied. Well he said, "we don’t take kindly to pirate flags in this marina and I don’t allow them here". I apologized and agreed to take it down out of respect. Oh no he said, "you will take your boat out of this harbor and then remove it and enter this marina properly"… hmmm.

So we fired up the motor and turned the boat around and left the harbor as requested, dropped the flag and swung around to do it all over again like scolded little school children. We came back into the harbor to see the old bastard shutting down the office lights and locking up. He was in his car and gone before we got back to the dock to register…

So we picked an open dock in front of the bathrooms, tied up and proudly raised the pirate flag back up! We then bummed the bathroom code off of a passing boater and got cleaned up for a night on the town. A free dock for the night…Oh please don’t throw me in the briar patch!

We climbed the steep hill up to the little town. It has since grown into a little city plying for the tourist dollars. We hit the first bar pumped up with testosterone after our adventures of the day.

We had a good dinner and started the festivities. We were the life of the party in that dead little town. The aging locals just sat wishing we would leave them to their quiet life of staring blankly at the wall behind the bar every night.

Once we would wear out our welcome at one bar we would hobble across the street to the other bar and start all over again. We kept this up for the whole night, bouncing back and forth, flirting with the barmaids and laughing a bit too loud. Every time we invited the two girls working at one of the bars to come party on the boat they just rolled their eyes.

Eventually we ran out of time or money and headed back for the boat. The walk home downhill was a lot faster than the huff-n-puff climb up the hill.

We drank one or two last beers while rearranging the boat to make room to sleep. John was taking the big bed and I was taking the couch. For a little boat the dinette converted into one big ass bed. That's a good thing because I'm a big ass man… But John is bigger so he drew the big bed and I took the narrower couch. Even on that narrow couch I was out in no time. John’s famous snoring didn’t even bother me I was so tired.

Come morning he asked me if I heard anyone knocking on the boat in the night? I asked why and he told me he heard two girls laughing and banging on the boat yelling they were ready for that beer! I asked why he didn’t wake me up and he said he thought he must be dreaming so he rolled over and went back to sleep!! The girls showed up and we slept through it!…

We now have a standing rule. If he ever has another dream about girls coming to party with us, he is to wake me up for a second opinion!

We drug our hung-over butts up the hill for a cheap breakfast at the local hole in the wall before chugging out of the harbor waving at the harbor master with my flag flying proudly off the back.