Who Am I?

My photo
A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?

06 June 2007

Blowhard (Not Me, The Wind)

Today: Bad day. Wind was a-blowin'! Howling incessantly. It was like being out on an oil platform again. Twenty knots, steady, if it was one knot, maybe twenty-five by the streaks on the water. This makes getting around by boat a little difficult. To wit: You get wet.

Outside in open water, these huge breakers were rolling up onto the reef. Looked like a Hawaiian surfer's paradise. Inside the reef, we still had three-foot waves, which doesn't sound like much, but our speedboats ride low in the water. Even more so when they're loaded with workers wanting to go home. (We give all our workers a free boat ride to and from work every day.)

The above pic is looking out from my deck, across a small lagoon to the reef and beyond. I know it's hard to tell, but there are some BIG waves out there.

In the afternoon I called over and told my lead man at the job site that because it was so rough I would be making two trips to Savannah Bight, taking half on each trip. Needless to say, when when I showed up at the dock every one of those jokers jumped in the boat. I shut the engine off and said, "Tie me up!" (meaning the boat, not me personally). "We're gonna have a little lesson in what the word 'half' means." Grudgingly and grumblingly, half (or so) got out. Carefully (I am not all that experienced a boater, mind you), I nudged the boat out into the maelstrom. Yes, maelstrom.

I started off going slow; didn't work; waves crashed over us. I sped up a bit; no better. Then, in what must have been the worst display of so-called logic ever, I sped up even more. Water sheeted in over the gunwales (whatever they are). I tried heading into the wind/waves...directly crosswind...various combinations thereof. No use. It was like something from a Discovery Channel documentary or The Weather Channel's "Storm Stories." We got soaked. Even worse, whenever a wave came in from one side, the guys would move to the opposite side, making the boat lean precipitously.

On top of all this, my lucky baseball cap flew off in the wind. It's happened twice before. Each time it floated and I was able to retrieve it. This time it apparently went right to the bottom. I circled back, but it was no use. Damn. Good-bye, fond cap. Like I said, bad day.

Tomorrow, if the wind hasn't eased off a little, I'm wearing my bathing suit.


Hal Johnson said...

Bob, it sounds like that transition from helicopter pilot to boat skipper can get a little dicey.

Bob Barbanes said...

Man, you got that right! I do not remember the last time I was scared in an aircraft. Part of being a good pilot is knowing that the outcome of any manuever is never in doubt. I've spent a lifetime working on that. I am comfortable and competent in whatever I'm flying.

But I've been scared a couple of times in boats! And I'm not ashamed to admit that, either. I'm not a very good swimmer. Nor can I vouch for the swimming ability of the (up to) fourteen or fifteen other guys that are frequently in our small crew-change boats. When the wind is up and the water is rough and they stand up and start shifting around, and the boat feels like it's going to capsize with each passing swell...man, I get a lump in my throat the size of Kansas. It's because I do not feel completely in control, as I do in an aircraft. And I am, you know, a major control freak.

So yes, the transition to boat skipper is strange.

But what is life without new challenges? I say to myself, "I can learn this." And then I try to make myself believe it.

As I type this (6:00 a.m.), there is a window straight ahead with a view that looks out over the bay that separates our cay from Guanaja. There are whitecaps all over the place, meaning the wind has not died down overnight.

It's gonna be another fun crew-change. I'm not even going to wear a baseball cap, lucky or otherwise.

David said...

You'll sort it all out. I have faith.