On the morning of May 29th, Old Geezer left Wright Basin and moved north along the Blackwater River, off the charts, and mysteriously, off GPS coverage. But our intrepid Potter and Potterer pressed on, exploring false channels. Dan was surprised to find white beaches way up in the fresh water, but find them he did. Anchoring for the night, he found some suspenseful moments, too.
Just off the river in a wide spot, ‘Geezer was settled in for the night. About 1 a.m. a boat blasted out of the night, and passed close aboard, rocking the Potter with its wake. It turned and made another pass, running without lights, and, though ‘Geezer was showing an anchor light, rocked her smartly again.
Once past, the powerboat, its engine running rough, turned back toward ‘Geezer, who’s crew was now at battle stations. When the intruder went silent close aboard, Dan prepared to repell boarders. Fortunately, the interloper went away and did not return.
Morning found our dashing defenders is less water than before, and with an anchor which did not want to come up. But anchor, chain, and rode all made it back aboard, and EF-1 turned south, more or less. It turns out that there are many channels upriver, and getting where you want to go can be tricky without local knowledge.
Squinting at the sun and using a compass, our friends got back toward Milton, which seemed to be the jet ski and bass boat capital of the world. Dan met the operator of the 100 year old railroad bridge, who sympathized, but was not anxious to swing the bridge when he realized Dan had the mast down.
What the bridge operator had not witnessed was Dan’s high speed mast stepping dance, choreographed between stinkpot wakes. Timing this routine is critical, and not as much fun as it sounds.
The operator told Dan about a place below the bridge where he could tie up securely to get the mast back up without dancing and dodging, and ‘Geezer was soon on her way. They resumed getting bottom samples as they got out into Blackwater Bay and on toward Pensacola.
The combat rudder does not enjoy a following sea, and with winds around ten knots, an attentive helm was required. Soon enough, Dan hove to and reefed, and the working jib and reefed main proved a more comfortable combination.
Conditions were interesting, and ‘Geezer surfed under the bridge and into a different world. The water was nearly flat, with less wind and more heat. The friendly folks at Palafox Marina welcomed him back.
After topping off his fuel supply and cleaning up, Dan hiked about 40 minutes to Old Town, for supper, where the good folks at Outback provided him with a cooler and ice to take back to the boat.
Dan was relaxing aboard when a southern belle smiled and waved. "Baby, I love that boat!", she said. Alas, she pointed out that she was staying aboard a nearby yacht with her husband.
As we spoke, Dan was on a park bench in the shade, looking down on ‘Geezer. I got the impression that he will not go far today.
But he has plans for tommorrow.—Steve Haines