The vagaries of life on land had kept us from sailing since before the non-hurricane, and Fortuitous was still stripped as a result of our preparations. We arrived before our guests, put on our recently refurbished rudder, and launched the boat. We moved to the end dock, where we reattached the boom with its vang and main sheet and bent on the mainsail. Jen was ready to put the genoa back on and I released the halyard, expecting the swivel to slide gracefully down the forestay from the top of the mast where I had ridiculously stored it. Of course it didn’t.

Shaking the forestay and trying to push halyard into the mast sheave didn’t do anything. Jen suggested a Plan B of just sailing on the main, but fueled by embarrassment I wasn’t really ready to give up on Plan A. Dropping the mast now that we were on the water wasn’t going to fly, not to mention that it’s a huge hassle in general. Our boat hook was woefully short, but I remembered that the marina had a boat hook with a long length of PVC pipe attached to it…which was also short by what I estimated to be about 3 feet. I asked Bob if he would mind if I duct taped my boat hook to his, which was crazy/inspirational enough for him to break out his prized shrink wrap tape. He pulled a bizarre two-hooked gaff from his barrel of boathooks (which is a bit of consonance that I need to remember the next time I need to tell someone to shove something somewhere) and triumphantly taped it to the PVC. This produced a tool about 18 or 20 feet long with alternating lengths of aluminum, PVC, and more aluminum with a notably flexible middle section, reminiscent of Lamar’s javelin. My estimate that I was 3 feet short was as bad as the idea to store the swivel aloft, and even with a 5 foot extension, I couldn’t reach the thing from the deck. I clambered up to the cabin top on my half broken foot and hoisted the great wobbling megahook, snagging the 1 inch snap shackle in surprisingly few attempts. Tim, who had arrived mid-debacle, helped bring it down the rest of the way from the dock, and we were able to quickly rig the boat and get underway.

We had a great sail down to Toms River. We furled in the jib at the mouth of the river and lazily jibed back and forth as we cruised upstream. We got a much better look at the schooner Quintessence as she was beating out as we were heading in—she’s the schooner we saw back in July heading down the bay. As the river narrowed it was getting kind of late for dinner, so we fired up the motor and Andrea took the helm for the upwind trip back around Good Luck Point. We picked up a mooring at Martell’s and took the water taxi to the tiki bar. This was our first mooring and also our first time visiting a place on land from the water, both of which worked out just fine. As we lingered over the Oktoberfests, the sun was setting rapidly, which set us up for our next first: Sailing at night.

Though not entirely planned, sailing at night was fantastic. We made our way with the moon four days short of full, silently sailing south under mild but steady winds. We were targeting some lights that I thought were from Berkeley Island, but as we approached and ran aground, it was clear that we were on the wrong peninsula. Once again, Fortuitous proved forgiving. We raised the keel, backed off the marsh and continued the rest of the way under power.

When we arrived at Trixie’s, we found that both of our cars had been locked in behind the gates to Berkeley Island Park. Yet another first. Andrea had the park security on the way before we actually found the notes on our cars, and while we were kind of expecting a hard time, the gentleman who came to let us out was very cordial. Once the truck was free, we were able to retrieve the boat without any trouble and were on our way.

"Prepare to fend off the bridge abutment."