Friday November 25, 2011
Not that I would ever be one to line up outside of a store at 4 am for Black Friday prices, Matt still had errands for me to run when I expected to be sitting at home all day watching movies in bed and maybe getting a little work done on the dodger. He had purchased a spinnaker pole to use on the trip and the gentleman he aquired it from was going to be at a marina just up the road from ours today and I would need to go pick it up while he had the unfortunate task of working through the holiday weekend. For the non sailors out there, a spinnaker pole is a long aluminum pole that many boats use to attach to one end of the spinnaker while the other end attaches to lines on the mast to keep the giant sail in the air. Since our boat has an asymetrical spinnaker it isn’t necessary (and I may have just given a completely bogus explanation since we’ve never used one) but we thought it would be good to have in days of really light wind. It would force the spinnaker sail or even our genoa (large head sail) to stay fully open and catch any wind that may hit instead of just flapping in the lack of wind. The size pole we’re looking for is normally $1500 new and the one we found was in great condition for only $300.
After having a quick lunch with Matt in town I hopped in my car and zipped out to Muskegon. The place I was heading to was Great Lakes Marina, somewhere I’d driven by 100 times but had never actually been to. When I pulled in the entrance the big white gates infront of me were closed and locked. Calling the phone number I had been given for Al, the seller, I reached his wife. She explained the gates I was currently parked by could not be openedand I’d have to use a different entrance just up the road. That entrance also had a gate that was locked but could be opened with a passcode. I was given the code and hung up with Ruth letting her know I’d be around in just a minute.
Realizing there was no place to turn myself around I backed fully into the main road. Good thing it was the off season or I could have been waiting an hour for an opening. Pulling into the correct entrance I felt like a country club member as I punched in the code and the gates opened in front of me. Parking behind Al and Ruth’s truck I jumped out it was much cooler by the water than in Grand Rapids. As I pulled on a jacket Al wedged himself out from where he had just been working under his boat and after introductions jumped under his boat cover to work on getting the pole for me. Sliding it blindly through a hole in the cover Ruth and I stood up on tip toe until it was low enough to reach our hands and we gently got it on the ground. Looking it over it appeared to be in great shape and I handed the money to Ruth while Al strapped it on my roof rack. I assured him it didn’t need to be too tight as I was only going up the road to drop it off at my own boat, but with wind gusts near the water jumping up near 25 knots he didn’t want to take any chances. I thanked them again and prepared for my one mile journey up the road. (After meeting me and finding out I was married Ruth asked if Matt and I were newlyweds. Do I really look that young?)
Since I had chugged about 30 oz of Coke during my lunch with Matt and my drive to Muskegon my bladder could handle no more and I pulled right up to the restrooms when arriving at Torrensen’s. Getting back into my car I looked in my rearview mirror to the row our boat is in and saw a black Ford pickup. Nemesis’ truck. I wasn’t 100% positive so I decided on using a trick of driving to the mooring balls near the edge of the water, trying to glance down the row to get a closer look of who the vehicle belonged to. That didn’t help me too much so I took a ‘walk’ down an adjacent dock to get a view of his boat and see if there was work going on there. I didn’t want to appear as if I was staring or get too close and let him realize I was there, but it definitley looked as if there were people on his boat and a blue tarp was going up. Since I obviously looked out of place standing on an empty dock at the end of November I quickly made my way out of sight. Trying to get one more glance I walked through a row of boats but could not get close enough to see his. My heart was pounding knowing he was there, the last thing I wanted was a confrontation about how dirty he might still think his boat is because of us and not have Matt around to defend me. I would have no idea what to tell him if he started asking about his boat or how it got cleaned off or what we would do for him if it still wasn’t up to his expectations.
Since I didn’t trust the spinnaker pole to make the 30 mile journey home on the expressway I had no option but to wait out Nemesis until he left. I figured I’d head down to the lakeshore for a walk. Pulling into a parking spot I grabbed my mittens and zipped my spring jacket up to my neck. The waves were rolling in force and the wind was gusting vigorously. Walking through the sand to the beginning of the boardwalk I could seethe waves crashing over it which ruled out going any more than a quarter of the way down it. There was one brave soul who was kite surfing in the breakers and I stood to watch him for a few minutes before retreating back to the warmth of my car. Driving past the marina again the truck was still there and I wondered what else I could do to wast time. Most normal people would find a hidden parking spot and suft the web on their phone for the next hour but I was still in the dark ages in that area without internet on my phone. I figured the car could make it a few miles to the main drag of Norton Shores and I could look for entertainment there. After finding there were no craft stores in which I could buy decent yarn for the two scarves my brother just requested I make for Christmas I settled on a spiced coffee and a Vanity Fair to read while I sat and waited.
My plan at this point was to park in the empty lot across the street from our marina and keep watch until I saw his truck leave. I would have to be the worst person ever to take on a stake-out as I would in no way be hidden and it would be quite obvious what I was doing. When I got to my not-so-secluded spot it was only quarter to four in the afternoon, but with the sun already starting to go down it felt like it should be 7:00. Flipping open my magazine I looked up and did not see any cars let at the marina. I knew this would happen. As soon as I spend my money on something to keep myself busy I would no longer need it. Slowly creeping into the marina I pulled into my row half expecting that Nemesis would be hiding in the shadows ready to pounce out at me. When I realized I was alone I went about pulling out the ladder and getting the pole ready to drag up. Climbing onto my boat to unzip the cover I looked over to his boat and saw there was no cover on there. I could have sworn that when I was on the dock trying to spy I was looking in the right direction and saw a dark blue cover going on his boat. Was I not even looking at the right boat? Was he never there at all?
Once I had our spinnaker pole stowed safely under our cover I took another look at his boat. I could have sworn I had seen him there that day. sure enough there was a bungee cord running from his mast to the bow preparing for a cover. Climbing down the ladder I walked around his boat and saw fresh footsteps in the gravel. Now the question was, why did he have the cover on his boat an hour ago but not when he left? Was he in the middle of putting it on when he got a closer look at his fiberglass and realized it would need cleaning again? Or worse. What if he was fine and dandy, all set to put the cover on and leave it alone for the winter when he saw me show up, notice he was there, and leave right away. What if it was because of me that he thought there was cause for concern and is going to have th boat inspected? What if I just completly F’d everything up??!! I began texting Matt like crazy letting him know what I saw. He tried comforting me saying that maybe Nemesis forgot tools or necessary parts and would finish the job tomorrow. One can only hope.
* When the cover finally did go on his boat a few months later it was not blue but tan. I to this day have no idea if it was him out there that weekend.