Rescue of little cabin cruiser

This is the second part of a story about four stalwart sea adventurers from Warren who became stranded in the Indian River Bay in Delaware when their little cabin cruiser wouldn’t start.

The only light we could see in that pitch darkness was coming from the drawbridge in the distance that carried the road over the bay’s inlet just before it flowed into the Atlantic.

If our boat would slip its anchor when the tide turned, we would rapidly drift out to sea on the outgoing tide, if we didn’t smash into the pilings that supported the drawbridge first. That meant that there must be a vigilant watch all night. If we went all the way out to sea, we could be out there a long, long time before anybody even missed us — or even longer!

Mom and dad told Ron and me to try to get some sleep in the bunks in the bow while they stood watch to make sure the anchor stayed firm. We were sitting ducks if a boat came along in the boating channel and ran into our darkened boat. We had no flares, either.

That dreary, rainy morning finally came — which brings us to dad standing on the bow. Maybe it dawned on him that he was terribly out of shape. He had been a lifeguard at Warren’s YMCA 20 years before. Now he had put on weight, and he was an inveterate smoker. His chances of making it that one hundred or so yards to shore in that swift tidal current to get us help were slim to none. We all implored him to come back in. Dad worked his way back to the cabin on the narrow walkway, dried off, and got dressed. Mom was visibly relieved.

Now, it was time for plan B. The plan we all hatched was to wait until the tide would run toward the drawbridge and the ocean. It would pass by the channel to the yacht basin. Even though we had not seen any boats coming or going from the yacht basin because of the terrible weather, we felt that when the weather lifted, certainly a boat or two would appear.

The tide finally turned around 10 a.m. and started running out. As quickly as possible I pulled up anchor, and we were on our way! Upon dad’s command, I dropped the anchor and made it fast just before we reached the yacht basin channel. There we sat.

After waiting for what seemed forever, a small fishing dory putt-putted its way out of the basin channel with three guys in rain slickers aboard. We yelled and waved and whistled. We even waved a flag that we had found aboard.

One man looked up! He saw us!

They pulled up alongside, and quickly understood our problem. They promptly left us to return to the yacht basin to get us a freshly-charged battery and a wrench to install it in place of the dead one. They returned in about an hour with the charged up battery, and the engine coughed to life!

They didn’t stay long enough for us to say how grateful we were for their help. Their mission was to fish, and they seemed not to want to bother or waste time hearing our gratitude or to exchange addresses.

We soon returned to the yacht basin nearly 24 hours after we had left it. Dad less than deftly backed the boat into its slip with the help of Ron and me.

Ron and I returned the battery to the gas pump area. The same kid that had given us a jump the day before said, “I just knew it was you guys who were stranded out there when those other guys came back in to get a battery!”

We dragged ourselves into the car that had sat waiting for us all night and headed back to town. It was awfully quiet. We stopped at a little diner. I had never tasted any meal either before or since that was as good as the crab cakes we were served!

Mumford, of Warren, can be reached at columns@tribtoday.com


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