The Motor Vessel "Once Around"

The Motor Vessel "Once Around"
The Motor Vessel "Once Around" in the Florida Keys

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Something Special

Sid and Evelyn are some of our newest Canadian friends, looping on Something Special, their 40 foot Mainship.  We met them in Cape May, NJ, a day after they  purchased the boat, and again six weeks or so later after they outfitted it and started the loop from their home port of Midland, Ontario.
Evelyn is always very together.  I think the rest of the Looper wives should have a betting pool on when she’ll give up on her perfect hairdo and faultless makeup.  It usually takes a month or two, but Evelyn is still hanging in there.  (My first mate formerly never wore a hat, always claiming she looked terrible in one.  Now, a hat is common for her, especially on travel days.  Likewise, she wears makeup only on days that don't end in a "Y", unless of course we have an important engagement, like dinner at the White House or something).  In stark contrast to Evelyn's careful daily grooming, Sid, says he isn't shaving or cutting his beard for the entire year on the loop.  When he says that, Evelyn just shudders.

Sid "Vicious" and the lovely Evelyn.

To say that Sid is “a little unconventional” might be an understatement.  For example, when I mentioned that I could not see his Looper flag where he had it mounted on a stanchion (below his top rail), he went out and bought a flag pole.  No, not exactly one you would find at West Marine…not Sid.  He finds a wooden toy rifle at a street vendors tent and zip ties it to the stanchion.  It works, much to his fastidious first mate’s chagrin.
I just can't make this stuff up...
The other day on our cruise down to Muskegon, we and Moonstruck listened on our VHF radios as a fisherman read someone the riot act.  “HEY-YOU DAMN NEAR RAN OVER MY LINES!  WHATS THE MATTER, YOU BLIND OR WHAT!”  No response, but although Something Special was 5 miles behind us, we both suspected immediately (and later confirmed) that he was talking to Sid.  Just a wild guess…
Later, we heard Sid’s hail a “freighter”, which turned out, as the startled captain replied, “…not a freighter, I’m a tow boat (tug) pushing a load of concrete to Grand Haven…WHY?”  Apparently Sid was just curious.  You don’t hear many recreational boats calling commercial captains just to chat…but, that’s Sid.
A few weeks ago several of us Loopers were travelling together between Mackinaw City and Bay Harbor Lakes.  Jolly Tolly led, followed by Once Around, Moonstruck and then Something Special.  It was a very rough trip as we were being hit by west winds and 2- 4’ seas on our starboard beam.  We were really rocking and rolling for a while.
Arriving at Bay Harbor Lake and glad to be in a safe harbor, I followed Jolly Tolly in and listened to the VHF as Ron, followed by myself, then Doug, all got our slip assignments from the marina and proceeded to our designated slips.  As we were all tying off within ear shot of one another, we heard Sid on Something Special in a confused conversation on the radio with the harbormaster at Bay Harbor.
We heard the harbormaster say, “Something Special, you’ll be in slip 15, that’s around the north side of dock A as you approach, about halfway down the runway, right side, starboard tie”.
“OK,” Sid replied, “But, I’m not too clear which is dock A.”
“The most northern dock”, came the reply.
“Uh, when you say north…I’m not sure what you mean.”
“I mean, north”, an amused voice replied, “Just follow Moonstruck in.”
“I don’t see Moonstruck”, Sid stated.
By this time the rest of us had raised our heads and were looking around for Something Special.  Where the heck was he?  We had been so busy with our own doings that we’d lost him.  Doug said he had thought Sid was right behind where...
“But, I’m looking at two docks running left to right that form an ‘H’…where do I go?”
“Well, first thing you do is come down to the east end of the lake to this marina…you sound like you are describing the yacht club at the other end.”
“Oh…right, be there in a minute”.
Shortly afterwards, “Bay Harbor, this is Something Special.  Which dock?”
As Something Special finally pulled in, Sid’s first mate, Evelyn, looked at us and just rolled her eyes and shook her head as she handed the lines off to the dockhands.
To Sid, it was just another landing.
The next day, Jolly Tolly left early as they had to get some repair work done further south.  We had heard it was difficult to get slips in Harbor Springs, and they did not take reservations, so Doug and I rented a car to tour the area.  Sid, unconcerned about not having reservations there, took off on Something Special for Harbor Springs (only a few miles away) just as we left to go there by car.  When we arrived there, our first stop was at the harbormaster’s office to see if we could get space for Moonstruck and Once Around for the weekend.  The best he could do was a waiting list, which didn’t really activate until you showed up with your boat!  So, Sid's plan to just show up early proved to be the right move in this case.
So, that is the series of coincidences that caused Doug and me to be in the Harbor Springs harbor office and hear this radio exchange:
“Harbor Springs Marina, Harbor Springs Marina, Harbor Springs Marina, this is Something Special, a 40 foot trawler, can we get a slip for the night?”
Something Special, this is Harbor Springs Marina, let’s see...yes, you are in luck, I can put you in G-9”, give me a call when you get close.”
Doug and I turned to the window and then to each other with a grin, as we saw that Sid had already cruised right past the marina and was headed for yet another yacht club.
“I am here now, and I don’t see a G dock.", Sid answers back.
The harbormaster sees Something Special idling around aimlessly in the yacht club next door, and says, “Sir, you have gone too far, you need to reverse course and come back to our marina, it’s just to the west of you.”
Doug gets that mischievous Wisconsin grin on his face and mumbles to the harbormaster, “You might find he has a little trouble with that whole north-south-east-west-thing”.
“What!” cries the stunned harbor master, “Is this guy a friend of yours…do you know him?”
“Yup”, comes the deadpan Wisconsin reply.
“Well, what is he doing out there?  He’s made three circles in the harbor already!”
“Uh-huh”, Doug managed to mutter, as we now struggle to stifle our giggling. 
The frustrated harbormaster tries again, “Something Special, do you see the Grand Banks on the end of the dock?  If so, go to the east of him and turn to port”.
“So...when you say east…”
Doug and I are on the floor!
We manage to pick ourselves up and stumble outside just as Judy and Carrie approached the office.  They had been on the docks watching the whole thing develop.  "Snap to it you two goofballs...", our Admirals commanded, “...and, what the heck is Sid up to out there?”  We cannot contain ourselves, and scatter out of there before we have to face Evelyn.
The other night in Pentwater at dinner with Pam and Billy from Godspeed, I told that whole story with Doug as my witness…and Sid and Evelyn listening on.  Sid took it well, but Evelyn had the quote of the night as she leaned over and whispered to Carrie, “His whole family is famous for being directionally challenged”.  Really?
I once asked Sid where the name Something Special came from.  Usually boat owners have a unique little story they love to tell about the origin of their boat’s name.  Sid said simply, "Why, that's the name that came with the boat, eh."  Perfect!
Sid, you and the boat really are Something Special. 

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