Saved From the Sea -- Sort of
For the first time I take advantage of the swim platform, dangling my feet into the bathtub-warm water. A family of porpoise frolic nearby. The views here are breathtaking, and we find ourselves staring in awe at the mighty splendor spreading in every direction. Too bad we didn't choose to stop here.
The boys from Bohicket Marina are on their way with a five-gallon can of fuel, but for now I'm happy to sit and ponder the trouble with gas gauges.
Ours insists there's still a quarter of a tank when, in truth, it's empty. The fuel gauges on most small boats are woefully inaccurate. One problem is that tanks often taper toward the bottom, which makes the sender's internal float (which is designed for a rectangular tank) think there's a lot more left. Or the float just gets hung up or out of whack from all the bouncing.
"We should have noticed," I lecture Bill, "that the gauge was off back in St. Augustine." But it's my fault. Even though my instincts were right to top off above the one-quarter mark, I should have been monitoring fuel consumption along the way.
The gas arrives, and we're underway again. For laughs I let Bill navigate; the boy must learn. An hour later, we're aground. Standing next to the jet on the mud flat, I see what happened. Bill cut a corner. He missed a buoy and went to one out of sequence. Which led to a brief tutorial on the art of "counting markers." It's simple: As you pass them, keep track of the numbers. They're in order. If you pass "16" and you're heading for "20," you're in trouble.
We're underway yet again, bouncing off things and enjoying the Yamaha's resilience for the next two days, when Bill begins to talk about a strange phenomenon.
He's learning a hard lesson. That there's a point near the end of any pilgrimage when time seems to step up a notch and pass all too quickly. The inevitable return to normal existence accelerates like a bullet train and the mind refocuses and adjusts to the imminent banality of everyday life -- the price for daring to go away in the first place. But right here, right now, lost among the beautiful curving rivers of the Inside Passage, time stands still, if only for a moment. The only cure is to do it again.