My wife and I decorated and entered our HB in the Christmas Parade this past weekend. The last 2 years, we wanted to join the fun, but we had other obligations instead. We put of 3 trees and lined the entire upper railing with lights. We put up 6 lighted snowflakes, and 2 large candy canes on the back as well.
Parade started at 6:30, so we left the dock around 4:30. I checked the weather before I awoke the generator from its winter slumber and once satisfied, I fired it right up with no troubles. Backed the boat out of the slip and headed toward the main channel. Once we exited our marina’s cove, it was evident that the wind forecast was very wrong, as usual! We chugged head-on into the wind all the way down river toward the damn in the dark night. Thankfully, I layered up with 2 shirts, a fleece pull-over, a heavy ski jacket, jeans, ski pants, and ski socks. Chugging along at 10MPH, the head wind gusts were so strong it would almost knock you over!
Navigating wasn’t much of an issue. I flicked on the search light every couple of minutes to check for channel markers. Since the lake is down to winter pool, you definitely need to watch your buoys. I went downstairs for a moment to check on things and asked my friend to steer the ship for a moment. When I returned to the helm 4 minutes later, he had taken us wayyy off course and I lost my bearing. He said he saw a giant rock ledge directly in front of us and steered clear of it. I grabbed the spotlight to see this rock ledge, but it turned out to be a giant flock of geese sleeping on the water! They wouldn’t move until you got right up on them! Lastly, when we finally got close to Elm Hill Marina, I felt I had a straight shot into the entrance from the channel. Moving along at full steam, I saw a shadow in the water and immediately slammed the boat into reverse and brought the boat to a stop. My wife ran upstairs to see what was wrong. I flipped on the spotlight again and there stood a hazard marker dead in front of me, another at 9 o’clock port and another at 3 o’clock starboard and my depth sounder read only 7 feet! At summer pool, this hazard doesn’t exist.
As we waited for the parade to begin, I checked the weather forecast again. What was forecasted to only be 8mph winds was revised to 14mph sustained with 18mph gusts! Thankfully, the wind would die down before we headed home late that evening.
When the parade began and we were hopeful we’d win the best decorated boat award, until we saw the other boats in the competition. I was the only HB in the competition. I’ll hand it to the cruisers, they did a great job with their decorations with such little space to work with. Next year, we’re going to need a whole lot more lights.
Well, when it was time to head home, the wind conditions didn’t improve at all, though it was now pushing us back home instead of giving us a headwind. This reduced our travel time drastically. I worried the whole way back what the wind conditions were at my slip. As long as the winds were blowing from the North or the West, I’d be OK. As I made my way around my marina a spied the flags on my neighbors’ boats, the flags were just hanging lifeless – prayers answered!
Docked the boat without even bumping the dock and rewinterized the generator and was asleep by 11:30. It’s always nice to take the boat out of the slip. It’s even better when you return unscathed!