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Free Range Human, Sailor, Writer, Artist, Videographer  

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Fiddling About With A Magic Pearl

The Magic Pearl - Secret Gunkhole

In the years before being possessed by a deep draft keel sailboat we plied the skinny waters north of Ft Desoto boat ramp at the mouth of Tampa Bay in a cat-ketch Sea Pearl known as the Magic Pearl.   Magic could sail on her own down wind in less than 12 inches of water.  Once, while sailing the shallows of Mullet Key Bayou, a small dolphin made circles around us, gently nudging the rudder as if to beckon us to change course and follow.   

A typical day sail steered a course northward from the Ft Desoto ramps across Bunces Pass into the shallows until she ran aground.  At which time the crew would lay about on deck napping or watching the clouds form showers, dissipate and reform.   

It was a Zen Experience sans the Effort  

Weaving silently through the narrow passages between small mangrove islands, Magic might well have sailed into centuries past.  Our favorite destination was a larger island covered with shady Australian pines. The island had a small hook of an anchorage known only to members of the Secret Shallow Drafters Sailing Society.  (SSDSS rhymes with ssdss) On a hot summer day a Free Range Human could relax in a circle of eight Aussie pines in full view of the gulf and lie about on soft, white sand in complete sea breeze air-conditioned comfort. 

Arriving late, we left Magic in ankle deep water about 50 feet from shore, threw out a small anchor and ran bare foot across the island towards the gulf sunset.   Our Sea Pearl, a 21 foot open boat, anchored in very shallow water has little need of an anchor light.  This is worth mentioning because its occupants, so intent on racing towards the sun, had left their artificial light generating device safely stored onboard. 

 A Sailor Knows The Sun Does Not Set

Rather, the earth rises as it spins.  Naturally, the rising and spinning of the very earth he is standing upon will cause the above average sailor to loose his equilibrium while making involuntary adjustments to correct the imbalance.   The effect, according to extensive study by a well known science research foundation bar funded by SSDSS, offers a fine explanation as to why sailors are known to walk in an irregular manner, especially after sunset. 

After the earth consumed the sun, the stars also rise.  The crew turned and walked across the island, made larger thanks to the retreating tide, back to the Magic Pearl.  Sharp as they are, the crew was quick to notice that without a moon, the darkness was complete. We walked hand in hand so as not to lose one another, then realized our Magic Pearl had vanished.

There are two accounts of what happened after we stopped, barefooted, to get our bearings. One version alleges screams and running bare feet were involved. The other, not so much, either way, the conversation centered on strange sounds emanating from the blackness in the sand near our feet.  Did I mention we were of bare feet?  

The sound was of silverware clinking together with lots of clinking and lots of ware.  After listening awhile, Linda mentioned her feet were covered with creepy crawlies of the unidentified variety and that she would be departing very soon.   I asked her to bring back a flash light but I could not understand her reply.

Eventually, I found our Magic Pearl fully aground on her flat bottom with one lee board down, the anchor and rode streaked artfully across the beach.  Linda handed over a flashlight with which I scanned the beach.  The skinny light beam revealed only wet sand and sea grass.   I walked towards the gulf bravely, some would say foolishly, declared Linda.  Finding nothing remarkable, I turned off the light and stood silently in the dark of the night.   I began to hear the silverware clinking again about the time I remembered my feet were still unclothed.  

Fiddler Crabs Holding Claws - How Sweet

I Flashed the Light On

The whole beach had turned fairly brown and was moving away from me at a pretty good pace. Thousands of tens of Fiddler Crabs scrambled away with it.  It seemed the entire earth was leaving without taking me along for the ride.  I stumbled; almost fell, as I lost contact with what a typical Free Range Human would construe as reality.   I shut the light off.  Reality returned.  In the night, the earth stood still.

Shortly, I could feel the crabs fiddling, some blue grass perhaps, as they lounged on my bare feet.   They meant me no harm. I apologized for disturbing them and took my leave with their song in my heart.     

The Magic Pearl - Three Rooker Bar