Morehead City NC gave us a chance to meet new people. However, not all people who are on the docks are boaters.
When we arrived in Morehead City we checked in with Portside Marine. Portside had some storm damage to their docks and were directing transients to the city docks. We waited for a couple of hours to let the current from the tide slow down. Even after our wait we still had a strong current as we approached the docks. Add to that winds ranging from 20 to 30 knots and we were having a difficult time getting into a slip. While we attempted to enter our slip many people came out to help. One had a handheld radio and was telling me how I should attempt the docking. Once into the slip and tied the person with the radio introduced himself as “Captain Dean” of Tow Boat U.S. Later “Captain Dean” said he didn’t work for Tow Boat U.S. and wasn’t really a captain, but he had worked for them and helped on boats before and his mother had finished the “Great Loop” a couple of years ago and was writing a book about her experience. (Huh?)
The Next day Dean, sans the captain, was back on the docks admiring the boats and asking if we needed anything and wanting to get on board to see the boat. (warning signs were going up). Then later he was back again saying he was going to the store and did anyone want to ride along. Cynthia needed a few items but feeling uncomfortable declined the ride. However myself and a fellow Looper, Bob from El Nido, took him up on the ride. It went south from there. Now he needed gas money and he told stories of being a “gypsy cab driver”. Needless to say it was not a pleasant ride. Lots of dead ends, he didn’t know the area and just poor driving skills. Bob and I were glad to be back to the boats and away from Dean. Dean was back the next day, other boaters were uncomfortable also, so I called the marina and explained what was happening down at the City docks. We were assured that the problem would be taken care of and from that time on there was an obvious police presence in the area, and we didn’t see Dean around the docks anymore.
The next day while sitting on the Sun Deck, we call it the Libido Deck, I noticed a sailboat that was moored in the channel behind us. It just didn’t look right. While other moored boats were turning with the wind and current this boat seemed sluggish and looked to be lower in the water than the rest. I called Cynthia to get her opinion of the situation and before she came out to look her comments were, “You mean that sailboat right behind us? It looks like it’s sinking.”
Well, what do we do now? I’ve already called the Marina in regards to suspicious persons, now do I call on a boat I or we “think” is sinking.
Cynthia made the decision for me. She called the police to let them know what was going on. Dispatch asked a number of questions, “Any one on the boat?” “Not that we have seen.””Is there fuel on the boat or in the water?” “Don’t know if there is fuel on the boat but we don’t see any sign of it in the water.” “Is it your boat?” “NO” “Do you know who owns the boat?” “We are transients and we just noticed the boat wasn’t right. We are only here waiting for the weather to change and wanted to let someone know that there could be a situation here.”
Dispatch said they would send someone to check it out. Soon we noticed two officers on the fishing pier checking the boat with binoculars. Cynthia went out to explain what we had seen and when she went out she saw not only the police officers, but, Fire/Rescue, and EMTs all with lights flashing. (OH MY GOD! WHAT HAVE WE DONE!)
Again, more questions which we had no answers. Then more police and real Sea Tow personnel on the dock bringing in a Sea Tow boat to inspect the boat.
This brought everyone else out on the docks to see what was happening, and Cynthia and my self wondering if we had made a colossal error in saying anything.
After a few minutes a Sea Tow boat was dispatched and pulled along side the suspect sailboat. Moving slowly the operator boarded the boat and was inspecting the craft and pulling hatch covers. A Fire/Rescue boat eased along side and I heard the Sea Tow employee say, “It’s full of water.” As soon as I heard him say that I was off looking for Cynthia to let her know what I had heard. Now, we don’t wish problems on people but we felt exonerated with the actions now taking place on board the sailboat. Pumps were started and water was being flushed from the inside.
Later that day Cynthia received a call from the local Police thanking her for being observant and stopping what could have been a potentially hazardous situation if the boat had been allowed to sink completely.
Later that evening over snacks and beverages on the Libido Deck we all gathered with other weathered in boaters to discuss the issues of boats left on moorings and possibly abandoned.
What happened to the boat? It was registered to someone in Pennsylvania and the local authorities were trying to reach them. At the time of our leaving the area the boat was still at anchor but riding high.
Just another couple of days on the Loop. Looks like we may have a weather window and we will be trying to travel tomorrow. Winds 10-15kts with waves 1-2′ out of the east. A beam sea but we will poke our nose out and see if we can make another 60 miles up the Chesapeake Bay.