(Leave the SAMBUCA at home!)

Somehow or other, Prairie Girl and husband had not had the need to stern tie and perhaps weren’t exactly up to speed with all the requirements. As it turned out, they decided to go into Pirates Cove Marine Park on De Courcy Island, as they headed toward home after cruising the Southern Gulf Islands. Upon their arrival, it was apparent they’d found a popular destination for boaters with children. Such a great place for swimming, water sports and hiking- no wonder all the boating vacationers had picked it! The cove was jammed, as most boaters had decided to come in (at least those that didn’t hit the rock at the entrance- which happens occasionally), instead of staying anchored off the beach on the outside. Due to the high volume, many boats were rafted along the edge of the cove and most were stern tied securely for that extra peace of mind.

Well, husband wasn’t going to be satisfied with just dropping the anchor in this cove… NO SIREE… He immediately emptied the cockpit lockers searching for the extra line he knew he had (Prairie Girl refers to him as a marine hoarder, but occasionally it comes in handy that they have 3 of everything!). And then it was off in the dinghy -leaving Prairie Girl floating around near the swimming platform and many, many boats. Of course she held onto her end of the rope like her life depended upon it, as husband made his way to the cliff to seek a ring to thread the line through. Yea, right! As if…. First he had to manoeuver the dinghy over the rocks and find a place to secure it. Not an easy scenario in high tide. Next he had to climb the cliff side, looking for something to tie the rope around (the rings were all taken- of course they were!). Finally, he chose a tree growing at an angle towards the water and he encircled it and then returned. Fortunately, the rope was almost long enough to reach the stern of their boat and husband securely fastened it to the dinghy hook.

Husband smugly thought he had managed the stern tie brilliantly…and Prairie Girl agreed… a piece of cake, really! In spite of an indication of high winds in the night, Prairie Girl and husband relaxed and had a lovely barbecue and toasted the beautiful evening with a shot or two of Sambuca. After all, the night was gorgeous and they were securely stern tied. What’s that saying? “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in morning, sailors take warning!” (They obviously didn’t know that saying in their early cruising years.)


So maybe husband somewhat over-indulged in his Sambuca that night and Prairie Girl was super fatigued from her day on the water, but the two relaxed sailors slept the ‘sleep of the dead’ that night. Somehow, a gale wind had come up in the early morning and the boats in the cove were rocking and rolling (many of them toward one another-including the ON EDGE). Prairie Girl was certain that their boat was headed toward the raft- it appeared to be much closer than it had been the night before. She just wanted OUT of the cove before disaster hit! (They’d already heard of Todd Inlet’s NIGHTMARE with stern tied sailboats ending up in the trees and rocks on a crowded FIREWORKS night.) She was FREAKED OUT! Husband realized there was no talking her out of it, so the motor was started pronto and as he tried to bring the stern tied rope back in, he realized it was tangled up somewhere and wasn’t budging. So in the middle of the hurricane with Prairie Girl at the helm, traumatized by the gap closing between their boat and the swimming raft, the CAPTAIN took out his sturdy Swiss Army Knife and cut the rope. (Someone must have loved finding a brand new floating rope on the water after the storm died down.)


Husband quickly took his place at the helm and managed to get out of the cove without any collisions. Of course, if Prairie Girl thought it was crazy in the cove, she had no idea just how wild it was on the outside. So what did they do?

They headed for Silva Bay and tied up on the dock. There was room for them, but it took about 5 attempts to make it to the dock in that wind. When they looked out towards the open strait, the boats were climbing 10 foot waves and burying their noses. Most gave up, came back to the bay, and tied up, as well.

Lesson Learned: Sail prepared with the correct equipment for stern tying. AND never, never, never indulge in Sambuca shots while at anchor!

I’m sure all boaters have a stern-tie story or two, especially amongst the newbies. You really should share them with us, we all love to feel we aren’t alone in that category! Please leave your story in the COMMENTS section below. Thanks for visiting FUN HAPPENS! on TENDER TUESDAYS!





2 Responses »

    • As it turns out, Greg, this could have been the shortest retirement in history. I will pass your email along to him- he’ll love it and we’ll email soon.

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