The story of how an unfinished ocean crossing,
a museum, a few friends, a businessman,
a father and son, and a landscaper can make a bad situation
seem to be not all that bad.
Hauled out and on my way home I was leaving St. Michaels when I took the right turn on to southbound 322 in Easton, Maryland. I heard a noise, the kind you would hear if your ran over an aluminum can. I thought nothing of it but a minute later looking in my rear view mirror I saw bluish smoke streaming out behind SPARTINA's trailer. Uh oh.
I pulled over to see the starboard side wheel tilted at an awkward angle. I did not need to look to know that the trailer axle had broken. And only 200 miles from home.
Before checking on towing I knew I would need a place to store the trailer and boat. I texted Kristen at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum about 15 miles away. She responded instantly with the location on campus to store the boat, said she was alerting her staff of the boat's arrival and promised to keep on eye on SPARTINA herself. How kind.
Next contact was with Boat US where I have both boat insurance and roadside assistance for the trailer. And then I waited. It is not easy to find a tow truck in Easton on a Sunday morning.
So while I was waiting I started thinking, something I don't do all that often, and it occurred to me that cruising friends Michael and Sheila had their boat Kantala at a marina in Easton. Yes, these are the folks I met in Portsmouth last summer and later had a wonderfully timed chance meeting near St. Michaels last year. And yes, these are the same folks I saw off from Hampton last July as they set off across the Atlantic for England. I won't go into detail other than to say they had some steering issues that caused them to put into Nova Scotia and while waiting for parts it became too late to complete the crossing. So it had happened that a little over a week into my sail I was on Queenstown Creek and received a text from Kantala saying the were back on the Chesapeake Bay - I was still thinking they were in England - and would I like to have hotcakes for breakfast? Leaving the creek just after dawn the next morning I looked out to see Kantala rounding up to drop anchor. During our enjoyable breakfast they mentioned they were heading for Easton and would be tying up in a yard there for most of October. The boat yard, I came to realize while standing on the side of the road, was almost within walking distance from my trailer with a broken axle.
So I text Michael and Sheila, who were in Annapolis at the boat show, about the boat/trailer and Michael calls to say just get the boat/trailer to the yard and he take care of the arrangements there. I texted Kristen to tell her I had found closer accommodations and also called Boat US to change the trailer destination. Boat US told me they were having an extremely difficult time finding a tow service. I said thanks for trying, please keep trying. Then I waited some more.
That's when Paul and Dawn, long time friends who were at the Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival, saw me on the roadside and stopped to check on me. And I waited some more.
Steve and Scott, good friends who were also at the festival, also stopped by. And I waited.
Then a third participant from the festival, one I did not know, pulled over. And I waited.
Next it was a gentleman from Easton, on his way to the festival, who pulled over. I explained the situation. He gave me his business card - one from a large Washington-based real estate firm that listed his position as "Senior Director" - and said to call him if I needed help, he would be glad to keep an eye on SPARTINA for me.
Then it was a dad with his son, with a big four wheel drive truck, who stopped, saying he had driven by an hour earlier and was concerned that I was still there. By this time I had gotten word that a tow truck was on the way, and I thanked them for stopping.
Finally it was a man driving a truck with a trailer loaded down with freshly cut tree branches. Maybe a landscaper, he spoke with an accent that told me that English was not his first language. He appeared to have been working all morning, with more work to do, but stopped on the shoulder anyway. By this time I could point to the tow truck coming down the road. He was still concerned. Once the trailer was towed, how was I going to get it fixed? I assured him I had it all worked out. I could not thank him enough for his kindness, shook his hand and thanked him again.
Trailer and boat are now at the yard in Easton, two more measurements to confirm and Portsmouth Trailer will make a new axle for me. So it is all working out.
I got home in the evening and while pouring a glass of well-deserved red wine Pandora was playing a live version of a classic Bob Marley song......
don't worry about a thing
every little thing gonna be alright
And it is.