Trip Start Dec 01, 2007
35Trip End May 31, 2008
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Inside the house we found comfortable rattan chairs and bead board siding. Quite charming. On the tour we learned that the island had been owned by an early Florida magnate who pioneered a chemical company. The most interesting part was when the ranger showed us pieces of wood after which the island is named. This stuff was amazing. It was so dense and heavy it almost seemed impossible to understand how such a small piece of wood could be so dense and heavy. It was counter intuitive.
Later he lead our group of about 10 around a nature trail where we saw more unusual trees found. This is where we saw one of the most amazing sights. He showed us a tree of the wood we had seen on the inside. It was 1000 years old and was only 7' high and its branches no more than 6" in diameter. This was really amazing but made sense based on how dense the wood is.
Then it was back to the boat where I decided it was time for a swim. Our water temp gauge showed the water temp to be 77 degrees. Normally I dont try water much under 85, but it felt warm and was pretty clear. We could easily see the bottom under the boat.
Even tough we have over 5,000 miles under the keel, we have never swam off the boat. We did not have a boarding ladder but had picked up a small, two step ladder with a rope on it. We had though we could simply hang this over the stern cleat. So by 1400, I am ready to go for a swim. I position the swim ladder and make a graceful (?) entry into the water. Sue is getting ready to get in too.
My first instinct is to check the ladder and make sure its going to work. I tie it on to the clips and try to get a step to climb back in the boat. Oooops.... it slips down under the boat......hmmm......this is not too easy. I try again and it slips under the boat as soon as I put my weight on it. Now what? I figure this ladder is not an answer so I simply grab the dinghy line which extends off our stern cleat. Ill simply pull myself up....right? No way, it too high and I can't make it. By now the current Im feeling is getting stronger and Im wondering how I am going to get back in. I try to climb in the dinghy which is tied next to the boat...no go. I can't get up that high. Sue is starting to look concerned. She offers to help pull me up, but I know that wont work.
I'm surely not panicked, but I am looking for ideas. The I look up and see the answer! The boom winch on the boat deck. We store the dinghy up there and we use the electric winch system to lift the dink in and out of the water. I get Sue to lower the stainless steel lift line, hook it on the rope ladder with my rear on it and up I come. Not elegant, but I'm safely back on the boat. After nearly an hour in the water, Sue and I conclude we need a real boarding ladder and a way to get someone out of the water in an emergency.
Such is the way we learn on our boat. I was surely in no danger, but had the water been cold, a storm come in or less than friendly fish been in the area this could have been different. I did wrench the devil out of my back and 6 days later as I write this, Im still hurting. Lessons learned. As I have said, most of boating safely is about avoiding the stupid mistake. This was a stupid mistake, but my only penalty was a sore back. Other mistakes can have a much higher price.