This photo is part of my Stories section in an ongoing series called Throwback Thursday, and this shot is from a marina where we use to have a slip for our sailboat back in 2004. The story behind this photo has actually taken on more significance after seeing what happened to this marina last year. McCotter’s Marina is a medium sized marina located just outside Washington, NC at the tip of the Pamilco River. We use to live a few miles up the road, father up the river, but kept our sailboat, called Jackpot, among the masts you see in this photo. Jackpot was a classic 1976 Chrysler 26′ Sailboat, a boat with a shallow draft and swing keel, something perfect for the unpredictable areas of the Pamilco River. And it seems last year was not friendly to McCotter’s Marina as this video of a huge boat fire on the marina shows, and then heavy damage done by Hurricane Irene.
If you have not spent a lot of time in a marina, it is somewhat of a magical place, just ask my friend over at Sailingbo (and check out his blog while you are over there). The constant rocking of the masts turns the entire place into a giant wind chime. The lines endlessly slap the masts with the periodic metal on metal knocking of buckles and cables. No matter how tight an owner ties his lines around his mast the sound never stops, and it something you hear even when you are away from the marina.
We didn’t get to sail out of this marina nearly as much as the time as we spent in the marina, but that’s not all that uncommon for sailboats. The Pamilco River is one CRAZY place to sail. The Pamlico is a shallow river that runs from Washington, NC down to the Outer Banks, and is known for its unpredictable changes in tides. One day the wind could blow all the water out of the upper river areas completely, and your boat would be left sitting in the mud, and the next day water would cover the marina docks while your dock lines straining to pull the boat back down to pre-flood levels.
Because of the low tides, we had to keep Jackpot’s keel raised, and one super blustery day caused Jackpot’s keel chain to snap, swinging this 800 pound cast iron keel immediately to the extended position, causing it to separate from its hull slightly. We had to move her to dry storage while she was repaired. Nothing is more sad to see than a sailboat up on blocks, but sometimes that’s what needs to be done.
McCotter’s Marina was our second of four marina’s where we housed three different sailboats over the span of 10 years or so, but the sounds of the marina never leave your mind, nor do images like the one above. There is just something so peaceful about the sun setting over the masts in a marina… until hurricane season arrives.
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