Saturday, July 14, 2007

Murphy’s Law, and then Some!

Our recent vacation was truly a Murphy’s Law experience. What ever can go wrong will go wrong certainly applied. However before you weep for us let me say we really did have a good although short vacation. I am a firm believer in the old adage “don’t cry over spilt milk” and when adversity does strike formulate an action plan and deal with it the best way possible and move on.

This trip was planned as a six day fishing vacation. The lower Chesapeake Bay is an awesome place for inshore fishing. Many different species of fish are available in great numbers. In short it is virtually impossible to fish here without catching something.

Murphy first visited me as I was hooking our truck up to our boat trailer Friday evening. I backed up close to the hitch, set the parking brake and jumped out to check my alignment. Whoa! The truck drifted back! Contact! One bent license plate but otherwise no harm. A check of the truck brakes revealed that the left rear brake was not adjusting properly. With a few minutes of work I corrected it and connected it to the trailer. Checking the connection and the trailer lights revealed no other problems.

2:30 AM, time to roll. As the truck warmed up I did a walk around of the rig. The smell of burning plastic hung in the air near the rear of the boat! What now? The rear light bar is smoking and is no longer lit! Well it’s required by law but it is time to go. Our friends who are accompanying us will be expecting us on time and besides I do not have a replacement at hand so a quick snip with the wire cutters and a little electrical tape over the hot wire and we hit the road. As we pulled onto the road my wife reminded me that problems comes is threes and wondered what would be the next shoe to drop.

The 325 mile trip to Kiptopeke State Park went well and we were on the water by noon. Murphy’s next visit though was not long in coming. After baking in the 100 deg. heat the girls decided to give up fishing and enjoy the sights and shopping in air-conditioned comfort while the boys fished for the remainder of the trip. While putting the transom straps on the boat following fishing I heard a loud crunching noise. The strap had broken! Well now, that’s not too bad and besides we have had our three now, the remainder of this trip will go well. RIGHT!!!

Sunday and Monday went well. Great fishing, good food, with a little sight-seeing thrown in but Murphy was already planning his come back.

Tuesday I launched out of Cape Charles Va. and ran out about three miles to a popular flounder fishing area near buoy 36A. When the current began running hard flounder started hitting fast. Wow! This is the best fishing we have encountered so far. We were fishing a ledge that dropped from 30’ to 80’ depth and the flounder were holding between 35’ & 40’. A short drift over this depth range accompanied by a short run back was the tactic that was putting fish in the boat. As I attempted to start the boat for the umpteenth time, CLICK, CLICK, CLICK only the sound of the solenoid throwing the starter bendix in could be heard. The starter would not run! Time to get the tools out, remove the battery connections, clean, replace try again, CLICK. Now we have to get serious! More checking, more cleaning, switch batteries, the starter turns the engine over but no luck, it still won’t start. This boat is dead! Now is the time for the ultimate back up plan, Tow Boat U.S.! (Boat U.S. is the boaters equivalent to AAA) A call to the national dispatch center put me in contact with a local operator. We were told his Captain was making a boat delivery and would call us soon with an estimated time of arival. An hour passed with no call so I called this Captain. Not good! This was the first he had heard of us! He informed me he would be on his current tow for another hour and a half and that he would try to locate another tow boat. Soon he called back telling us he was successful and this operator would call in a few minutes. Shortly our cell rang with the good news that they would be underway in fifteen minutes and would call back with an eta as soon as they entered the bay. Forty five minutes passed with no call, a call to the cell number he provided went direct to voice mail as did the next call ten minutes later. Two and a half hours have now passed since the initial call and I am beginning to become concerned. We have been drifting as the water is too deep to anchor and now there are no other boats in sight. A call to the dispatch center voicing my concern finally straightens the situation out. We learned from our rescuer that the duty captain was having cell phone problems. With it being a slow day he had decided to drive into Norfolk and get it fixed thus the delay as an off-duty captain had to be found. The ride back to Cape Charles was rough! Our tow boat captain did a great job but being towed is a rough ride when being pulled through the waves. Checking out the boat onshore provided no more clues to our dilemma and as the objective of the trip was fishing the decision to return home was made, but remember troubles do come in threes and we are up to four! Does that mean there are two more to go? Yep! It sure does!

On the way home we stop at a filling station in Cambridge Md. With the pay before pumping, I give the cashier a $50 and return to pump number seven. The pump kicks off at 23 cents! Back in the store I find a man trying to pump diesel talking to the cashier in an exasperated tone, a lady from the deli accompanies him to the pump. I explain my 23 cents worth and the cashier refunds my $49.77. “But I still need to fill up”, I explain. She gets the manager. The manager asked me to move to pump 9; while informing me that they are having problems with some pumps. Have you every tried to maneuver a truck with 25’ of boat and trailer around a busy filling station? It ain’t no cake walk! I quickly decided to find another station. Upon returning to my truck our friend who was following behind met me at the truck door saying “you are not going to like what I have to tell you”! “Your license plate for the boat trailer is gone”! A glance revealed that the plastic bracket had broken.

OK six problems! Enough! I give up! Just let me get home! One more and we will have to go for 9! No! No! Just let us get home! And with that our problems and our vacation ended. The remaining 150 miles rolled by, the sun shone then the rain fell and all was good in our world! A VERY Memorable Vacation!

Ps. The boat problem proved to have begun with one of our batteries failing which in turn fried the ignition system. Now she sits on the trailer in our driveway and “purrs like a kitten”.


Bill said...

I heard someone say once that “Murphy was an optimist”. Seems to apply here! Glad you made it home safe & dry. :)

photowannabe said...

Whew...That was some vacation Salty. For all of your "murphy" troubles I'm glad you were safe and made it home, albeit with your wallet lighter.
Great storytelling .

Doug said...

Great story, like they say truth is stranger than fiction.

Kekiinani said...

Oh my gosh!!! Glad to hear that you all made it home safely and that boat is purring now a days on dry land.. Hope you get a chance to go out fishing again to test it out!!! :) :) Thanks for sharing your vacation.. :) :)

Anonymous said...

Whew, what a vacation. Glad you got some good fishing in anyway! Great story and besides you got a picture not everyone gets to take.

Thanks for sharing, remind me not to take a vacation with you and Murphy.

Kate said...

Verry interesting story. I think I could have kept my cool EXCEPT on the water waiting for a tow. Pretty scary!