We are in New York. End of a very long day at the Natural History Museum. We stop at the Fairways to pick up some groceries and head back to the Marina.
The way leads through the Yacht Basin Café. This time of night they are closed and the chairs are stacked up on the tables. We skirt around the main café following the designated bicycle throughway. There is a family with small children walking in front of us carrying lots of shopping bags. Mmmm… fellow cruisers? Yep, they exit the café at the right point. They cross the busy jogging/cycling road and enter the marina just a little too far ahead for us to call out to them.
Frans turns to the office to check on mail. I slip into the Ladies and the children head for the dingy. Well, they are not overly enthusiastic about it, because once you reach the dingy, you have to start inflating the pontoons. They notice a dingy stuck halfway under the concrete structure of the bridge and feel terribly sorry for those poor people. They continue towards our dingy. Wait! It’s not there! Well, where is it then?
NONONONONONOOOOO!!! It cannot be! It’s OUR dingy under the concrete.
What to do?
It shouldn’t be too difficult to pop it out again? Right? Right?
It wasn’t budging an inch. The motor is pushed in underneath the concrete. Most of the jetty floats, but not this part. Our dingy must have floated in underneath at low tide. The really bad news is that the tide is still rising and pushing our dingy ever more into the water. This means that even if the motor is still okay now, it won’t be okay for long.
We borrow a rowboat from the marina to reach the dingy. It is in such an awkward position. The rowboat itself looks quite neglected and not too stable. While leaning out to push down on our dingy, Frans nearly capsizes it. It is impossible.
There is just one option left. Frans has to strip down and swim underneath the pier to assess the damage and find a possible solution.
Meanwhile, our boater family of earlier on – in true cruiser fashion – came to see if they could help us. We agreed that the Dad would take his family back to their boat and come back to see if we’ve made any progress. If we don’t get our dingy out, we have no way of reaching our own boat without help. The marina night watchman was really not very helpful at all. He lent us a boathook and gave us permission to use the dilapidated rowing boat and then retreated back into his office. Oh yes, he did offer the information that high tide was still about 4 hours away!
Sooo, no choice. Frans strips down to his denim and enters the freezing water. It really is not very deep, but VERY murky. He cannot budge the dingy, even when standing on the bottom. Next, he swims in underneath the pier. The good news is that the concrete pier is hollow and that there is a lot of free space above the motor. The bad news is that the dingy is very stuck underneath the side and Frans is not able to push the dingy out. If he pushes down on the motor, it will be submerged. (Salt water is very bad for engines).
At this point, some of us are on top of the pier, shining our cell-phone lights through the slats so that he can see more clearly. Frans reckons that the whole dingy should fit into the space underneath the pier. Therefore he pushes down on the dingy again. This time it is not necessary to bring the part with the motor out, but to just push the nose inside little by little. It works!
It seems that there is enough freeboard above the dingy for it to survive the rising tide. Or so we pray. Frans ties it in position so that it won’t drift around and he dives back underneath the concrete. Now all we need to do is wait for low tide. The tide only turns at 2:00 am.
Our good Samaritan arrives back (it is a loooong dingy ride to the boats) and he takes us all back to Shang Du for some much needed sleep. He arranges with Frans to pick him up again at 3:00 am so that they can be there when the dingy starts moving out from the pier. What an amazing guy!
Boy, am I glad that I am not the Captain – but only the wife – as the alarm goes off in the wee hours. They leave in the dingy, and end up spending about three more hours in the cold (Frans being wet from another inspection swim), before the tide is low enough to slide the dingy out. The motor starts without incident. God is so good! He protected our motor and sent us the right people at just the right time.
Looking back, I find that we have no photos of this whole incident. I think that it was just too painful to admit that we actually allowed this to happen. We DO have a photo showing the after-effects of the trauma to the dingy.
This is what our dingy looked like after its 79th street Marina experience. We had to inflate it every time before using it and we even had to keep on pumping as we put-putted to our destination.
We also have some lovely photos of the Good Samaritan Family when they visited our boat some time after the incident.