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The Boat That Rambled On
t had been a long, hot West Palm Beach summer, and I had with great finesse gotten myself into all sorts of mischief. There was the Pearson P40 that I had cleaned up for sale after her owner passed away, a job no one in the anchorage had seemed to want. With an old and undersized anchor, after every good blow she would no longer be where she was supposed to be. I spent the better part of one memorable afternoon attempting to untangle her nylon rode from that of a little daysailer named Spirit, an exercise that culminated with me attaching a buoy to the anchor line as I cut it free and deployed the secondary. There was the little Catalina 25 that I attempted to deliver south three times after it had been sold to an unsuspecting powerboater who thought he was going to sail it down to Miami in an afternoon’s time. The first delivery attempt ended when the steering went out. The second one ended when the motor overheated.
By John Herlig
The third ground to a halt when the new owner’s outboard came unhooked and the delivery captain came unhinged. There was no fourth attempt. And then there was Ramble On. Ramble On had puttered into the basin one weekend afternoon, an Ericson 32-3 with a glistening navy blue hull and the requisite 20-somethings aboard who seemed deliriously happy to be pursuing their dream afloat. From the cockpit of Ave del Mar, my friend Chris and I watched the boat settle in and tie off on the town dock. I chuckled at the bold, Zeppelin-inspired moniker. Chris shot a raised eyebrow my way. “Why the laugh?” “It’s not right,” I said, pointing at the Ericson’s hull. “I was taught to never name a boat something that I wouldn’t want it to do—and I sure wouldn’t want my boat to ramble on without me.” Chris nodded in solemn agreement. We soon dismissed the subject but kept a sharp eye ##Ave Del Mar at anchor in West Palm.
68 March 2021 SpinSheet.com
on the vessel. We had, after all, appointed ourselves the harbormasters of the basin. For a few days those 20-somethings came and went, but with every passing day “boat time” seemed to wane as “away time” grew, and soon enough the pretty little blue sloop was left to sit at anchor unsupervised more often than not. It had been a busy season for trouble in the basin. We had an abandoned trimaran whose owner had come to blows with Customs and Border Patrol; he was currently nowhere to be found and his shock-yellow boat had an itch to travel whether he was aboard or not. A Keys-bound boat from Maryland came in with a loose stuffing box, a bilge full of water, and a lovable character at the helm who couldn’t seem to find the dock while motoring his dinghy around the basin. He would zoom this way and that in the dark, never low on confidence, eventually coming to rest at the dock’s edge as if by accident. Things were just a mess. So, it was less than novel one late evening when I looked up from my book and saw Ramble On drifting slowly past Ave’s cockpit. Perspective at anchor in the dark can be a tough thing. For a good while I wasn’t sure if it was my boat or the other that had rambled. I called Chris on the radio. “Can you see Ramble On? Is she moving? Or is it me?” Chris peered in to the darkness. It was clear that the joy of maintaining an anchor watch for other people’s boats was wearing thin on him. “My guess would be that