Around the Waterfront: new trick for salty dog, Hoeppner gets first-ever tow back to port

The adventures of Fred Hoeppner and his insights about sailing in the San Juans are published periodically by the Journal in Hoeppner
The adventures of Fred Hoeppner and his insights about sailing in the San Juans are published periodically by the Journal in Hoeppner's column, 'Around the Waterfront'.
— image credit: Journal file photo

Well, it finally happened. I got towed home.

Been pulling off grounded boats and towing in others with White Boat, my 17-foot outboard for many years. This time, I needed the tow. 

John Bailey’s wife, Ann, was visiting and thought she saw Martha, the 70-foot schooner we sailed in several weeks ago, proceeding up Mosquito Pass. We thought, hey, let’s go catch her and have a gam.

As we raced down the pier to get aboard White Boat, I was a bit worried that she might not start as I have had some starting problems with an old battery. Sure enough, the battery was dead.  

No worries, mate, I jumped the battery and off we went at 20 knots in full pursuit.  

Then — after about five minutes — she suddenly stopped. Restarted with some difficulty and took off again for about two minutes when she stopped again.

This time no start; even  with the jump box it was obvious that the engine was not going to start, so we started to paddle with the one oar I had on board (I think now that I had a fuel line blockage). 

White Boat has a flat planning-hull with no keel so with just two strokes with the oar on one side she spins 30-degrees off course. The current which was ebbing was slowly carrying us back to Mitchell Bay. But, it was obvious that the current was also going to take us to Victoria unless we came up with a better option than paddling.

At this point, Thor came to our rescue (remember us saluting the compass on New Year’s Day?) in the form of Carl Riley in Tenio, out of Mitchell Bay. We hailed him with the “request for tow” signal – a coil of line held aloft.

He responded immediately like a good sailor and towed us to our home berth.

Thanks again Carl. Humble pie.


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