My Favorite Valentine Story

I can’t believe I haven’t written about this. The year was 2007 and we were on our way to Daytona Beach, cruising in our Grand Banks 36 trawler, a great little two-person power boat for long hauls. We’d started the trip earlier that month in Stuart, Florida, and planned to be out about seven months as we made our way up the coast to the Chesapeake.

As we approached Daytona on the Intracoastal Waterway, we realized it was the weekend of the Daytona 500. Boats of all sizes would be in the marina we were headed for, so we decided we would anchor for the night. But the lure of the big boats drew us and we picked up the binoculars, amazed at the size of some of the yachts going into the harbor.

That’s when we ran aground. Hard aground on a sandbar. My entry in the log said “pay attention.” We hadn’t of course, so after several tries to break free, we realized we’d broken something. We hailed Boat US tow service and made arrangements for a tow the next day.

I had planned a nice dinner aboard anyway, knowing it was Valentine’s Day, so we ate our dinner, pulled out a bottle of wine from the storage locker, and contemplated what our rubber-necking was going to cost. And then I remembered I’d forgotten dessert.

“What’s for dessert?” Capt. Mark knew I didn’t often have dessert, but it was Valentine’s Day. I quickly raided my chocolate stash. “Junior Mints,” I replied. “Jimmy Buffet’s favorite.”

We each ate a box of Junior Mints, those nice chocolate covered treats, while we sat up in the fly bridge afterward with a glass of port. We could see all the way to the marina, noting a party was underway. I think we could even hear the music.

No dancing on the deck for us. We were still upset we hadn’t paid proper attention to the chart as we cruised along.

The next day we were towed into a very busy harbor with enormous yachts, some owned by the racing syndicates. Squeezing between tied boats on both sides of the fairway, we had about six inches on each side in one instance. We finally got to our side-tie next to a walkway. Our neighbor was Wheels, a yacht owned by Ricky Hendrix.

We didn’t get to leave too soon. We’d bent our steering quadrant. A nasty repair. When we left, we followed all the NASCAR boats out of the harbor, with lots of stories to tell including a rather expensive, embarrassing, Valentine’s Day tale. You see, while we were watching the onshore activity there were people watching us struggle to get off that sandbar.

On that trip, we never ran aground again.

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