We finally reached Desolation Sound on the 7th day. The wind was blowing, and we hoisted the sail and the brightly colored spinnaker. Each of us took turns sailing the boat. The guys kept their eyes straight ahead and got the boat up to about 6 knots. I had learned in sailing class to watch the tell tales. You want them to go straight back – that shows your sails are getting the most bang for your buck out of the wind. I quickly had the boat going over 7 knots, and the boys were in awe.
When they wanted to drive again, I told them about the tell tales, but neither of them listened, they just kept looking straight ahead and trying to “catch the wind” by steering. Neither got the boat above 6 knots the whole day. This proves my theory about the brain of a man.
Desolation Sound was worth the trip. It had utterly spectacular views of jagged, snowcapped peaks straight from a postcard. There were other brightly colored sailboats leaning into the wind, and I quickly forgot the boredom of motoring all those days. We stayed there for a while, reluctant to leave the first wind of the trip, but it was time to find a place to tie up for the night.
It started getting dusky as we crept along scanning the shoreline for a place to stop. I’m not sure why we didn’t just anchor, maybe it was too deep. Fog set in, and the trees cast spooky shadows that made me think the woods were full of Sasquatches. I was getting a creepy feeling that led to goose bumps. I was also tired and hungry, among other complaints. We saw a couple of dim lights in the distance and motored blindly toward them. We came up to a dock literally in the middle of nothing and nowhere. There were no houses – I don’t even know what the dock led to – it could have just been free standing. It was obviously private property, with only one sailboat tied to it. Esso guided the boat next to it and Eric jumped out with a rope to tie us off. “You guys wait on the boat and I’ll see if anyone is home,” Esso said. I expected a shotgun report to crackle through the silent night.
Someone came off the boat and started walking warily toward us. I jumped on the dock, figuring I could turn on the Southern accent if I needed to – desperate to get some dinner.
“What do you want?” the guy asked like some moonshiner protecting his still. I couldn’t see his face but he was about my size and I thought I could take him if I had to.
“We need to tie up for the night,” Esso said.
“This ain’t a public dock,” the man said coldly.
“Ple-ease let us tie up here tonight,” Scarlett O’Hara said (that’s me). “We’re soooo tired and hungry.”
“We’ll pay you,” Esso added, “and we’ve got beer.”
“Oh well, now, if you’ve got beer, let’s pop one open. I’ll tell the Missus we’ve got company.” He hovered while Eric fetched him a Kokanee. He tilted the bottle up and drank half of it in four fierce gulps. “Ah, that hits the spot. Bring the six pack with you.”
“Give him a minute to tell his wife,” I said, grabbing a fistful of stale pretzels. After a couple of minutes he popped back up out of his boat and yelled, “You coming?”
We walked across about 50 feet of dock to his sailboat. He turned on some lights so we could see to climb on board, and we went below. “This here’s Audrey,” he said, pointing to a smiling, curly haired, squatty little woman in a sweatsuit, “and I’m Orace.”
“That’s an interesting name,” I said.
“Oh, it’s really Horace,” Audrey said, “he just don’t say the H.”
Their boat was a floating single-wide. Seriously, I have been in trailers in East Tennessee that were decorated exactly like this one with a lot of oversized furniture that they must have taken apart to get in the door, and plenty of pink gingham and mauve prints. And there were doilies and knickknacks. A floating white trash museum, but pleasant and homey and a very welcome port in a storm, as it were.
Orace helped himself to one beer after another. I whimpered about wanting to go and start dinner, but he wouldn’t hear of it. He had company and he was going to damn well take advantage of it. Finally I said I’d go fix something and bring it back. That was welcomed by everyone, and I left Esso and Eric there as hostages. I made who knows what – probably peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with potato chips. Esso popped in to get another six-pack of beer.
“You guys drank that first one already?”
“Orace doesn’t even bother to swallow. He just pours them down like he’s putting oil in a car. And she’s pretty fond of beer, too.”
Orace had an appetite, and so did Audrey. For that matter, so did I, and the food vanished well before my growling stomach was ready to throw in the towel. I went back for more, and Esso went back for another six-pack.
They were delighted with everything we said, and wanted to know all the details of our trip. Orace told us slurry stories about being the mailman in these parts, and wintering over without seeing anybody for days at a time. He stood up most of the time, using his hands and arms to accentuate what he said. After awhile he became incoherent, which made the up to then jovial Audrey a little cranky. “You’re drunk,” she said, more than once. She’d stopped smiling.
We kept tying to leave he wouldn’t let us go. “What’s your hurry?” he’d say, and we felt compelled to continue being his audience. I realized that this party could go on all night, so I said, in my Scarlett O’Hara, “Audrey, you have been so kind to welcome us into your home and let us stay here tonight. We might have died out there in the ocean if it hadn’t been for you. I honestly don’t know what we would have done if we hadn’t found you. Thank you so much for everything.” I got up and said, “Esso and Eric, we have overstayed our welcome and you need to get up right this minute and let these wonderful people get some rest.” They sprang up like prairie dogs and grabbed Orace’s hand, gushing gratitude. Esso handed him a greenback, which must have satisfied him for the overnight mooring because he grinned and stuffed it in his pocket.
“There’s no sense in rushing off,” he said, obviously befuddled at the sudden end of his party.
“Let ‘em go, Orace. You’re drunk,” Audrey said, sealing the nail in the coffin of his good time.
“We’re leaving the beer,” Esso said. “And thanks again.”
“We’ll make breakfast for you all in the morning,” I called down from the upper step.
It was fun for a while, but I was pretty to escape the clutches of our clingy hosts. We slept soundly in the perfect quiet of that deserted dock. In the morning, we got up, dressed, made breakfast, did our usual routine at our usual speed, and there wasn’t a peep from the other boat.
“What do we do?” I asked, wondering what sailboat etiquette was in a situation like this.
Esso took another six-pack of beer and put it on the dock beside Orace and Audrey’s boat. They would have come out if they’d been awake. I really wanted to say goodbye and thanks again, but who knows how long it would take them to sleep off that much beer? We started our engine and figured that would rouse them, but still no sign of life. It was a beautiful, green, hidden cove surrounded by mountains and lush forests, with a wispy fog still hanging close to the water. I drank in the scene as we pulled away from the dock, and hoped a Sasquatch didn’t get the beer before Orace found it.