Tuesday, April 19, 2005

And the fun began

And the fun began

Caption Highliner...

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Gord decided as Caption of the ship he would have to dress the part, much to my dismay. I also find the picture rather disturbing as apparently their is no one at the wheel, he is standing there drinking and smoozing with one of the hundreds of friends over the next three years that would be aboard the boat.

Before we actually set off alone with Sarah, the inlaws took us for a cruise to show us the ropes. It was a long weekend so they thought they would have plenty of time to show us stuff we didn't already know. Now, in order to go on a boat trip, there are a lot of preparations to be made. First you have to get diesel fuel...you have to move the boat to a point in the river that a fuel truck can fill you up.


Then you get back to the dock in front of the rich inlaws homes and start hauling stuff down a huge riverbank....with a gully in between...that has a 12 inch plank over it, then down to the river bank. Now, for a three day cruise, you have to have food for six...booze for 100 (because contrary to popular belief, booze and boating go together). You can never have enough rum. You have to take mix for the rum, and ice for the rum. Okay, then next is your bedding, clothes, etc. toothbrushes...pot, pans, you name it...back down to THAT THAR boat. Up and down the hill, a hundred fucking times.

Our destination is Gimli Manitoba on Lake Winnipeg. We are now on the Red River probably 80 miles away. Just to point out the Red River is a slow going windy river that flows out into to Lake Winnipeg. It will take at least 5 hours to get the mouth of the river that flows into Lake Winnipeg, which I must tell you now, is one of the most trecherous lakes in Manitoba for boaters, as it is shallow, and when the winds come up, it gets very unstable...anywho..

We set off approximately 5:3o on Friday. It was a beautiful evening, we traveled down the river to our first stop before entering the lake, which was Lockport. By this time we had consumed vast amounts of rum..as that is the rule in boating, the darker the rum, the better you can navigate a 40 foot boat. In Lockport we have to stop, and wait for the locks to open, they open "on" the hour. As were are waiting, we have a "little" lunch...then when the Lockmaster gives you the go ahead you have to throw him your ropes, because you are going to be going down to get to the other side of the river which is much higher. But, for some reason once we started the boat up again we couldn't stop it and tried to get it in reverse to slow it down enough for the guys to catch the ropes. So, our brother in law jumped on to the landing and grabbed Gord's arms as he was standing in the boat and pulled , and they managed to get the boat to move to the side of the locks preventing from us hitting the boats in front of us. (yes that really happened) Gord, now has longer arms than most men. Finally we got the boat back into control ...and with some embarrassment we were lowered through the locks and back up with anymore incidents. Okay, now this near tragedy called for some more rum.. and off we went down the Red River, past Selkirk, to the mouth of the Red River and on our way to Lake Winnipeg, and then to Gimli. Once we were at the mouth of the Red River, going into Lake Winnipeg there is dock for boaters to tie up to ....waiting for coast guard reports to see if the lake is safe. Any huge winds can blow you off course or sink ya. We anchored there for awhile, this must have been around 11:00 PM, and talked with the other boaters. They said they didn't think they wanted to navigate Lake Winnipeg at night, because shit is bound to happen. We, on the other hand wanted to go for it, because we knew once we got to Gimli, any chance of docking at the Gimli pier would be minimal...because the town was having a festival. What most boats would do if they couldn't dock on the pier, is they would tie up with another boat beside them, but that made it difficult to get out of your boat...and would always be having to ask the next door boat owner if you could come aboard and run through their boat to get to the pier.

Okay...phewww..it's harder explaining this than I thought...and probably giving more information than you needed to know!!

So... I am going to take a little short cut here and get down to the chase.....

Because we were a little greedy (we wanted to dock on the pier) and plus we were pretty drunk, we decided to head out to sea...or lake as it was. It was only an hour trip from the mouth of the river to Gimli, how hard could that be?

About a mile into Lake Winnipeg, the winds came up...nothing more than Sarah could handle, but it was choppy. (After all this was Sarah's territory..she had been born and bred on Lake Winnipeg). Then all of a sudden the engine started to sputter..the guy's went down into the engine room to see what the clatter was about...and then the engine quit... it was very quite. All the lights went out in the cabins and we were rocking and rolling on the lake. The guys were frantically trying to get the engine started again, but that was not going to happen. Somehow water had got into the unused side tanks ...when she had sunk once before.....and once we were out to sea..Billy...all that rocking and rolling sent some of that water in the fuel tanks...and water and diesel fuel don't mix. The weather continued to get worse and the waves were getting bigger. Of course, now the bilge pumps weren't working because we didn't have any power, and because this was a leaky old boat, a bilge pump was of the essence. Water started to come in the engine room. We had a radio, and made a mayday call to the coast guard on Lake Winnipeg. The coast guard was way out in the northern part of the lake and could not help us immediately. At this point it was getting pretty hairy, the boat was being slapped by big waves and we were getting sea sick. We had a barbecue on the back deck, and when one of the waves hit, the lid popped open and tore the lid right off. We got all the containers we could find and started to bail the engine room. My job was to be on the radio with the coast guard while they were trying to find someone to come out and get us. I will never forget the scene in the galley below me....we had fruit and stuff on the table beforehand...and with all the wave action and such it had all fallen off the table fruit was floating on the floor of the kitchen..(galley).. we were fucking sinking...I panicked.....I started to run for the life jackets...and I could only find 4...there was 6 of us. I kept on trying to get everyone to put on their jackets and they ignored me, they just said get back on the radio, and we have to keep on bailing.. Finally the coast guard got a hold of boat in the Gimli Harbour about the same size as ours that was willing to come out and try to tow us in... I was jubilant...we were saved...not so quick...they asked our position...we did not know, as we had been drifting for half an hour or so. My BIL thought he could figure it out because before they had bought the boat they had taken a course and part of it was navigating by the stars...but as fate would have it...he was so terribly sea sick from the wave action he could hardly stand. But he did get on the radio with them and told them he was pretty sure he knew how far we had drifted and which way. He told them we had battery powered emergency lights equipped with the boat that shone up into the sky... so the coast guard sent these guys out and told us to put our lights on and they would see if they could find us. I was crying, I just wanted my mom....

I will finish this tomorrow...and remind me not to do this again...it is way to time consuming...:)

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