Monday, June 22, 2009

James Island near disaster

Here are the amphibian photos from Moran State Park.

Sure looks like a Columbia spotted frog to me.
The newt!

Blain gets reeaalllllly excited about slimy critters.


We pulled ourselves reluctantly from the resort and amphibs, and decided to see a couple of state parks. Spencer Spit was nothing special and really stunk from the lagoon, but James Island is really a jewel. The dock, however, was placed by a civil engineer from Hades.

The current eddies around in the bay and Mo tried unsuccessfully to dock a couple of times before Blain tried unsuccessfully to dock a couple of times. Each time we'd near the dock and slowed so as not to ram it, we'd swing perpendicular to the dock. Aside from jumping off the bow, there wasn't much we could do.

On a final attempt, Blain swung into the beach with the rocks looming above and lurking way too close below. Just as he was making the final surge for the dock, he hit the throttle and the transmission rattled uglily to a stop and the engine died. Mo diagnosed the problem instantly as the dingy towline wrapped around the propeller.

Motorless and now caught in the current pushing us towards angular boulders just 30 feet away, we made several decisions much more quickly than we would have thought possible. Blain lowered the anchor and it seemed to have caught. Mo grabbed lines and bumpers. Blain jumped into the dingy with a knife to cut the prop free.

After one freezing grab with a bare arm, he decided against the icy plunge into 46 degF water and rowed towards the dock, desparately tying knots in the three ropes we had on hand at the same time. Of course one of the speedily tied knots slipped and he had to lurch back on the oars to grab the line before it sank. Wisely, Mo armed herself with the boathook, ready to fend off the rocks. Blain finally neared the dock and was able to pull the stern close. Mo passed a line from the bow, and we were able to pull up anchor and ease the boat to the dock.

Here's the GPS tracklog of the adventure. Note the rocks on the right.

We unwrapped the prop shaft with the help of the other docked boat captain, and checked the engine and transmission.
This truly a herculean effort netted us a spot at a secluded dock in a gorgeous nook nestled in a quiet little passage. This is what we had hoped for when we dreamt up this trip. We decide to stay two days and might try three.


  1. Hey Sailors!
    Hope your journey is going well!! Also hope the coons havent taken the milk for your cereal. Wish you guys the best.
    Fair winds and following seas
    Aaron(from james island... you visited our campsite and had amazing marshmallows with my buddy frank and I)

  2. Hi Aaron, It was fun sharing a fire with you two. Good luck on the sailing career. It looks to be a good run, no matter how you go. Look us up if you ever wind up on the Greenpeace boat. We might just join you.

  3. Really enjoy living vicariously through you guys on such an amazing trip. The Rockies are gorgeous right now, but we could sure use some time on the water! I know when we do bring the kids up there, Hanna's going to go crazy over the whales.