I drove over to the Gifford Street boat ramp to see how the weather looked. It was too windy out for me to have lazy sail in Clarks Cove, so I figured that New Bedford harbor would make a better choice.
The ramp here is in need of repair but the dock is in okay shape. About 500 feet from the dock, there was a large set of barges to support the dredging going on for the new terminal to support the windfarms. The dredging is to make the area deeper and it is done by dropping a huge metal scoop bigger than any boat I own into the water and pulling up the muck from the bottom and dropping it into a barge. Just think of the level of sediment floating around... Oh, I forgot to mention that other parts of New Bedford Harbor are being cleaned up for PCB's, so that's floating around too. I have heard that when they scoop up dirt (further upriver near the old Aerovox Plant) it is filled with whole and parts of capacitors that are identifiable with the naked eye.
So back to my city's only boat ramp inside of our formidable Hurricane Barrier system...
Trying to avoid getting water on your feet and legs while launching a boat is nearly impossible when you are by yourself. But to my surprise the ramp has a huge pothole underwater at the end closest to the dock. The wheel of the trailer fell into it once I backed the boat down the ramp. I took the boat off the trailer to lighten it up and hoped I would just pull right out but to my dismay, I was stuck, with my tires spinning and the trailer stuck in the ocean because of a what a patch of cement could have prevented. I waded in to about my crotch and picked the trailer up, out of the hidden pothole, and walked it a few feet to the side to give it a clear way out. If i was not strong and young, I would have been screwed and calling AAA.
I sailed around, got the lay of the land again, enjoying the fact that I would not have to sail (or get towed) through the barrier again. And look at who I run into... Ben, the guy who was taking photos of me when I was getting a tow back out to sea when I got stuck inside the Barrier. We chatted and sailed around for a bit.
I then got a phone call from a person who is the "Harbor Agent". Yeah, I'm on a boat and the boating wing of the local government is calling after 5pm on a Friday to chat. Basically, the the guy is calling to tell me that he wrote me a $50 ticket because my boat ramp parking pass (although properly purchased and displayed) had been laminated and was merely being displayed in my window and not attached to my window. At this point in the conversation, I realized that this was the same telephone voice that had told me they were not going to come and deal with the abhorrent parking situation at the other boat ramp the day of the Azorean Boat Race. So that day he had not wanted to lift a finger to properly run a boat ramp parking lot, but now that it is a random Friday evening, in off season September, when there are only two vehicles with trailers in th whole lot, It time for him to write some tickets.
I explained that I got permission to laminate it by the person who was at the office the day it was issued to me. I had explained to her that the nature of Sailtember might require me to switch to a heavier duty vehicle like a pickup truck and I wanted to make sure to go over that with them before I even handed over the money. After this explanation, like magic, the "Harbor Agent" told me to tear up the ticket and he would do the same to his copy. Great. Let's celebrate!
Hold on a second... Who has the authority to issue a legal ticket and then under their own discretion, defacto revoke it themselves? I could have paid the guy off, explained that I was the brother of someone important, or any other illegal/bribery/extortion themed thing to have gotten out of this ticket and "Oh, just rip up your half of it and I'll do the same" is supposed to fly? Thanks buddy, I'm keeping the ticket. I have a feeling this won't be our last run in. Maybe, foresight should have me laminate it too.
Ok, I know this is supposed to be a sailing blog, and not a run-ins-with-the-authorities-at-boat-ramps blog, but it certainly feels like that's what I'm doing sometimes.
On my way back in, I waved hello to a fellow sailor who I will keep unnamed. Just after getting past him, I got to noticed that the barge configuration had moved to be right in front of the boat ramp approach. This forced me to do 10 tacks in 300 feet under the wind shadow of a floating bulldozer. What fun!
So filthy water, ass hole enforcement and massive moving obstacles... Welcome to sailing in New Bedford Harbor.
This was then seconded to me by my new buddy that I had just said hello too. He had made his way in and while loading up, I conveyed my Sailtember story and my run in with what he described was actually the "Horror Agent". He said that everyone who is boating out of NB has had at least one run in with the guy and he is rude and very nitpicky, often times creating rules on the spot. He personally has had three horror stories. More on this later, I'm sure.
Once we were done chatting a I suddenly got a call from Devin in Mattapoisett. He wanted to know how far I was because he (thought) he had sent me a text telling me to be there at 7:15 and it was now 7:15. I have everything to go sailing many different boats in all sorts of conditions, already sitting in my car, so all I had to do was hightail it over there, New Job in tow, and 20 minutes later I was at the Mattapoisett Boatyard dock, putting on warm clothes as fast as I could.
It was the same cast as last night, and the moon was super bright. We went for a sail for about 3 hours and it was a great night.
I got home around 12:30am. If we had only stayed out for another hour, I probably could have considered it my sail for Saturday too, but it didn't occur to me and that might be cheating anyway...