Friday, October 10, 2008

Lost at sea with the Neutrinos

A guy by the name of John Carter found our old Dragon raft and is restoring it on Long Island. He wrote me this morning asking once again for stories. Life on "Dragonfly's Banquet" wasn't exactly a pleasure cruise, but I did finally write a story for him, and here it is...

( the only remaining photo I have, on a sunnier day)

Tim and I built a raft in Provincetown, over the winter and while living in it. Every day when the tide goes out, (the tides are huge there), the raft would be grounded for a few hours, so we would work on the raft until we were knee deep in water, when we would be forced back on board.
It's late March and Papa Neutrino ( who looks like a cross between Santa Claus and and an old hobo) comes sailing up in his raft with his family, and says "Come on, were going to sail to Truro."
Sounds like a fine idea. It's a beautiful March day, we haven't taken the raft anywhere yet, and Truro is only a short distance away. It seems like a good test on our newly built sailing raft.
We agree to follow the Neutrinos raft, and away we go. But we are going in the wrong direction, away from Truro. We think, "Maybe he is going to tact or something, he must know what he is doing", as we do not. We don't have a radio on the raft, so we have no way to communicate.
Out we go, we are heading out to sea. We get close to the horn of P-town and realize that yes, indeed, he is taking us out to sea and night is falling. We want to turn back, but our raft only goes in one direction, we discover, with the wind. We are screwed.
We are close to the Neutrino's raft now and Papa yells, "Come on you chicken shits, were going to cross the Atlantic!"
Well, night is here, we have no way to turn around. The Neutrinos certainly aren't up for discussion, and clearly aren't interested in helping us either. We are forced to follow them.
Though Tim and I have no plans to cross the Atlantic, we have to stay close to the Neutrinos. They have a radio.
Well, lo and behold a storm hits, no shit. It's pitch black out and a fucking storm hits. Later on we learned that winds hit 80 MPH off P-town that night.
The waves are 8 to 10 feet, and I get sea sick so you can guess what I'm up to. We have two dogs on our little raft, the Neutrinos have two dogs, a couple of cats, and two 12 year old girls on theirs.
First our rutter breaks, then our mast. Water is sloshing into the cabin as deep as two feet, then washing back out with the next wave. "Oh, shit, were sunk, this is it", I'm thinking. The only light we can see is a spot light on the Neutrino's raft, and our eyes are riveted as not to loose sight of their raft in this storm. I am not particularly enjoying this adventure, unlike old Papa Neutrino who is busy recreating a scene from "Moby Dick" on his raft. As the wind rips us apart, and the huge waves toss us in and out of site of our only life-line, the Neutrino's raft, I see in glorious techni-color, old-man Papa Neutrino, standing on top of his raft, ( a feat in itself), screaming into the storm, "COME ON, IS THAT ALL YOU'VE GOT? BRING IT ON! THIS IS NOTHING!!!"
We somehow manage to tie a long rope to the Neutrino's raft, and somehow we make it through the night.

We spend the next 3 days floating out to sea and fighting. Remember, it's March, not a pleasant time of year on the ocean off Cape Cod. We don't know where we are, as land was no where in sight. You may remember that the Neutrino's have a radio, so you can guess what we are fighting about.
We are running out of water, running of food. My dogs, Hector and Lilly, are in misery.
The Neutrinos do not want to call the Coast Guard because they have used and abused them too many times.
It was only a few months before, on Christmas Eve, when their raft capsized in Provincetown, due to heavy snow. We were all at the Town Hall, where the town was gathered for a celebration, when someone came rushing in and yelled, "That junk raft has capsized!" Everyone ran down to the ocean, and sure enough, "The son of Town Hall" ( for that was indeed the name of the Neutrino's raft) was laying on it's side half sunk in the ocean, and in a snow storm no less.
The dogs and cats had to be rescued. Then all the belongings. We spent Christmas Eve in the middle of that snow storm in that half-sunk pitch black raft, our arms submerged in freezing water, trying to save important documents and videos of prior raft adventures.
For the next week or so, the Neutrino family lived on the snowy shores of Provincetown. Papa Neutrino playing his soggy piano, while their dogs played in the sand, and the girls attempted to cook campfire style. The whole scene looked like something out of Robinson Cursoe.
This wasn't the only time the Neutrinos went tits up. They have a history of this, but back to our story at hand.
Here we are, floating somewhere off Cape Cod in March. Day three of arguing. We are down to about a half a gallon of water total. Between our two rafts we have 7 people, 4 dogs, and 2 cats. "Papa" finally decides it is time to forget about his Atlantic crossing for now. He does eventually cross the Atlantic in his ram-shackled "Son of Town Hall", but that's another story.

We end up taking the motors off the Town Hall and putting them on our raft. We had a small amount of fuel between us, and we hope this can get us to shore, where-ever that is. Papa, Tim, the two girls and I motor off in what turns out to be the right direction, while Betsy and Eric remain out at sea, on a sea anchor.
We manage to get to the mouth of the harbor of what turns out to be Gloucester before we run out of gas. We paddle the rest of the way. Here we come, Gloucester, a crazy Dragon raft full of a bedraggled host of characters and dogs, paddling to your shores. The Coast Guard greets us, and we notify them of a raft about 30 miles off shore in distress.
We spend the next month or so floating near Gloucester, waiting for spring to come.


bisbohemian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bisbohemian said...

Life is an adventure... of course, all advantures are not good ones!

(Of course, any advanture that you live through - with no criminal record, or hospital bill, or...??? - is a good one!)

El-Change-O! said...

Well, this was certainly an adventure. Good, bad, or ugly... there you have it.

chew-mee said...

Palin abused power, probe finds
Sarah Palin abused her power as governor for personal ends, a report by the Alaskan state legislature concludes..............Oh my belly full from all the popcorn and fun reading tonight!

El-Change-O! said...

Yum, popcorn and Palin!

Anonymous said...

Oh my God!!! why did I not hear THAT story before? Just as well,I guess.I do have some wonderous pictures,some from newspapers and some from Provencetown------Oh God, I think that I'm seasick.--------Jackie-O

Jesse said...

Looks like Palin is going, "tits up!"

Flying Mermaid said...

Got dayum! I've heard reference to this tale so many times -- good to finally get it all

love23 said...

Gretchen, that is a marvelous addition to the parts of that story I have heard. Once again, you should consider writing a book about your numerous adventures, way beyond what most
humans have experienced. You need to share your color with words, not just your amazing painting skills. (I have so missed your blog!)