Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Close Call on the Rio Dulce River

Some times in life your number is up.

Sunday evening was just such a time, but luckily it wasn't our FINAL number.

Centered in photo, Memory Rose lies stern in, to our new home at Catamaran's Marina on the Rio Dulce River.

We joined Dave McCampbell for an evening ride to Bruno's restaurant a mile up river for a rib dinner. Darkness had already set in before we left Catamaran's Hotel, restaurant, marina, our new base. Dave drove well as always and the three of us kept watch for speeding boats-most of which have no running lights, while I twirled a high powered LED flashlight at arms length above my head to alert anyone as to our presence. We had a good fix we thought, on all boats around, but out of the dark(and it was an overcast evening, no stars or moonlight) Dorothy screamed as she noticed a boat(called a launcha here-long, skinny, high bow and usually traveling fast-with big engines) appeared right before us. I turned from looking off the Starboard bow to looking directly in front and all I saw was the bow of a launcha high above us, maybe 6 feet away from our bow on a nearly direct head on collision course.

Launcha's are the typical powerboat on the river..kind of the River Taxi or Pick-Up.

That is the last I saw, but remember hearing the boats hit, the engine of the other boat slow then speed up, then slow down again. I must have attempted to duck to Dorothy's side of the boat(starboard) but still was partially run over I think. I next heard Dorothy again as I saw her half out of the boat, into the water, away from the impact. I grabbed her left arm and was retrieving her back into the boat just as quickly as Dave was grabbing her other arm and we spun her around and although drenched from her quick immersion, she was back aboard. We were all in shock. I stood up to see where the other boat was, and illuminated him with my flashlight. Instantly he turned his bow away from us, hit his throttle and sped away, heading south on the river. He had no lights on.

Another launch, that had been riding a 150 yards off to our right, carrying passengers/workers, sped over to help. We were not injured and Dave's inflatable dingy was still afloat although it's front section had been damaged by the impact, the front tube torn and the fiberglass/hypalon connection shattered. We floated adequately however due to the port and starboard tubes being intact and inflated.

Surveying the damage in daylight, it appears the portside hard chine of the launcha hit the forward tube of Dave's boat cutting the tube and damaging the fiberglass to hypalon cloth joint. If it were 2' closer, it would have been a direct impact with the launch going straight over us right down the middle from front to back. Undoubtedly, it probably would have produced 1-3 fatalities in our boat.

I am still amazed we walked away from this. At the restaurant, a few minutes later, we knocked on the hull of another CSY Pilothouse-Tempest, and Gracie quickly got Dorothy aboard, dried and changed into a nice dress. Off we went for dinner still in shock. It's life, but there within minutes, it is clear how life can be changed. Good people can be there to help and not so good can be there to take it all away. An instant in life anywhere.

We counted our blessings, understanding there was not anything we could have done to have done it better or safer. Gracie's clothes will be returned this morning. Dave's boat is ashore and drying out for repairs. My back suffered no more than I could have hoped for and I feel nearly back to normal now.

Earlier that day, on our Sunday morning call to my Dad, before he and our friend Ruth went to church; I asked him to say a prayer for us...not a normal request from me.

Guess he did.


Patti said...

Holy Moly! So glad you guys missed that one. Just another adventure?? Ha! At least you're not dealing with all the BS back here in the states. When you get back you'll be "required" to speak Spanish, double your taxes AND insurance, and forget about Free Speech! Enjoy it. When you find Paradis.... Stay. Patti

Ron said...

Wait 'til you hear about the ride on the Chicken Bus to Honduras!