Chasing Fate

Christine Verdier

© Copyright 2020 by Christine Verdier

Photo by Yu Kato on Unsplash
                                   Photo by Yu Kato on Unsplash

My boyfriend and I had been dating for about a year and a half and as luck would have it he owned a yacht. We enjoyed many afternoon boat rides and since the boat was docked in Key West for a year, we spent lots of time exploring that wonderful town along with hanging out on the boat with friends, listening to music, watching sunsets and drinking wine. One evening he asked if I wanted to go to Fort Jefferson, in the Dry Tortugas on an overnight adventure and I immediately said yes. You think I would be more nervous considering I had zero First Mate experience and he would be needing my help with navigating, handling the lines and various other boat related tasks.

Fort Jefferson is located 70 miles from Key West in the Dry Tortugas (a national park of islands in the Gulf of Mexico). This unfinished fortress was built to serve the military by protecting the Florida coastline. During the Civil War the federal government used it as a prison. It is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

We provisioned the boat with water, food, and wine for our adventure and set out for our 4+ hour tour. It was a lovely sunny day and an enjoyable ride with few waves and some lucky dolphin sightings. We were very relaxed, thoroughly enjoying each otherís company and our journey. You would be surprised how fast the time goes by when you are living in the moment.

As we got closer to the approach, there were a few ways to enter the serene area where we planned to anchor for the night. Luckily the giant danger signs in the channel, that we ignored, didnít cause any damage to our boat as we kept on going straight towards the land.

We found a nice spot to anchor our boat in a beautiful quiet area near the Fort and a few other boats. Next on the agenda was to explore the majestic Fort and all of its history. Swimming/wading was the only way to get there so we put on our bathing suits and headed over. 

The structure was impressive and we were enjoying wandering around the place. After about an hour, my boyfriend mentioned that he wanted to check on our boat, so we walked back around the other side and looked around. Our boat was gone! We frantically ran up and down the dock to get a better view of the waterways. In the distance we saw our boat gloriously floating out to sea and could not believe the trusty anchor did not hold. 

Remember, this was all new to me, so I waited for instructions on how I could help. At this point it was past closing time and the place was a ghost town. There were no workers in sight and no one was visibly on their boats. My boyfriend asked me to walk around to see if I could find a park ranger or anyone to help us. 

In the meantime he started swimming out to the far away yacht with no life jacket. Later he told me, as he was making very little headway, that he started second guessing his decision about swimming in deep, possibly shark infested waters, maybe also full of jellyfish and barracudas. I started panicking a little when finally a guy in a kayak asked me what was wrong and I told him what happened. He immediately headed over to my boyfriend, picked him up and took him to our boat while I searched around for the park ranger. 

My boyfriend and the nice kayak guy made it safely to the boat and my boyfriend decided he needed to find out what the deal was with the anchor. So, with no mask, he dove down in the water to see what was going on. Unfortunately the anchor rope was wrapped around the props. For whatever reason, we did not have a sharp knife or any sharp tool on board so he dove back down with a butter knife and worked away at that pesky rope. After many gulps of air from above, he finally got the rope unraveled. In the meantime, there was a park ranger hidden in one of the offices, after all, who saw the commotion and asked me what was going on. I got in his little boat and we headed out to our yacht. 

Everything was fine but we did not have a proper anchor so the only choice was to take the 4 hour + boat ride back to Key West. Thank goodness for navigation and auto pilot. The greatest part about the trip home was the orange-red moon we witnessed; it was a total lunar eclipse and for some reason we didnít know it was happening that night. What a beautiful surprise that lasted for a couple of hours. The strange part is that I felt a little seasick, so could not leave my seat to get my camera so unfortunately all I have are the memories. Ironically, I have never been seasick since. As we were getting closer to our destination, my boyfriend started preparing me for the fact that we may not have enough fuel to get back. Also it was pitch black outside and even though we had navigation we had to use our eyes as well to make sure we stayed in the channel on the way into our marina. I was in charge of finding the red and green markers which I had recently learned about on another boat outing. We basically skated in on fumes so avoided a huge hassle. Many thanks to my boyfriend for filling up the tanks to the brim with diesel before we went on the trip. 

You are definitely not a boater if you havenít run into some kind of problem on long boat trips. There are plenty more stories, especially since we have now been together for 17 years. With the bad always comes some good. Boating is always an adventure and we have been blessed to have experienced many of them together.

I am an aspiring food/travel blogger in the process of setting up a blog/business to help locals and travelers find cool/interesting things to do in Miami while helping restaurants stay in business. I have lived on a boat (as a second home) for the past 17 years with my boyfriend and am an avid traveler.

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