At dawn, I removed the potato, untied the lines, and quietly hoisted the mainsail on my plywood trimaran, Moonraker. A light offshore breeze pushed us off the dock, then I put the tiller over, sheeted in the main, and raised the jib for the short sail to Squirrel Cove.
The previous afternoon Fiona and I had tied up at the government dock in Gorge Harbor, Cortes Island. It was early June of 1971, and the cruisers had not yet come out in force. We had the large square float to ourselves. It was our first visit to Cortes, so we went ashore to explore the area. Some distance up the only road, we found a hippy run bakery with an outdoor stone oven. The scent of fresh-baked bread was enticing, and we bought two loaves. Back on board, we made long, languid afternoon love on the foredeck.
Later we cooked some kebabs on the Hibachi and relaxed with tumblers of cheap red wine. As the sun fell the sky was suffused with a deep red glow. All was right with the world.
Then a distant rumble grew louder. A large motor yacht approached the float at right angles to us. A large US flag flew off the stern. JOLLY was the name in red across the transom. The boat was a Jollycraft 50, gleaming white with a dark blue stripe. A small man in an orange floater coat and a white captain’s hat was on the flying bridge. Probably the owner of the factory, old man Jollefson. An attractive blonde lady prepared to jump onto the dock. I leaped off my boat and took the lines for her. She smiled as I cleated the bow and stern lines.
“Thanks so much. It is a long way down.”
“Glad to help.” I was still in a good mood.
The old guy glowered at me. Was it my hair and beard he didn’t like, or maybe the way his wife smiled at me? I didn’t care.
After I was back aboard my boat, he climbed down to the dock, untied and retied the lines, exactly the same way I had left them. Then he went inside the wheelhouse. I began to feel a tiny bit annoyed at the disrespect.
Five minutes later, a generator started up, and I could hear pots and pans rattling. My annoyance began to simmer. An hour later the generator was still running, and we were ready for bed. The exhaust of the generator was only a few feet from our bunk. The noise and smell of the diesel fumes was intolerable.
“I’m going to tell them to shut it down!”
“It’ll stop soon. Be patient.” Fiona said in a soft voice, gently placing her hand on my arm. I was still annoyed.
Then we heard the sound of a powerful electric organ, playing broadway show tunes. Badly. That was the last straw for me.
I jumped onto the dock and marched over to JOLLY and knocked on the hull. The organ kept playing, but eventually, the door slid back, and the old guy stuck out his head.
“Could you please shut down your generator? We are trying to sleep.”
“Humph. I’ll shut it down when I’m good and ready.”
I had six inches and maybe 50 pounds on him. I was tempted to pick him up and dump him in the drink. But I’m not really the violent type.
“You are an ill-mannered old bastard!” I raised my voice, but the wheelhouse door was slamming shut, and I doubt he heard me clearly.
I was seriously pissed and started to plot my revenge. It came to me quickly.
I went to the galley and found a large potato. I waited a few minutes in case he changed his mind. The organ droned on.
Finally, I slipped quietly onto the dock and shoved the potato into the exhaust pipe. An engine can’t run with a plugged exhaust. The generator stuttered then stalled. The organ stopped in mid-note. A minute later I saw a flashlight moving onboard Jolly, and heard muttered curses from the engine room. Then silence reigned.
I slipped into bed with Fiona. She was grinning.
“Let’s make some loud noises of our own.”