“I’ll be back in a few minutes, honey,” I said to Captain Joe, my nautical soulmate, stepping off the 37-foot Vida Bella in Oak Harbor, Washington.
It was a beautiful summer day with perfect conditions for boating in the scenic San Juan Islands north of Puget Sound.
The captain was fresh off of his commercial salmon operation up in Bristol Bay, Alaska (the boat I had never gone on because I’m not a crewmate and wouldn’t know what to do with thousands of sockeyes piled up to my knees).
Now, we were ready to relax on his cruiser before friends and family started arriving for some summertime pleasure boating.
Little did I know I was about to become, unexpectedly, VERY popular around the Oak Harbor Marina.
I swear, stuff just happens to me everywhere I go, so file this one under the bulging folder called: Roni’s everyday life as Lucy Ricardo.
First off, marina time is wonderful, I really love it. So beautiful, so peaceful, very easy living and everyone pretty much smiles all the time.
Why, they even provide proper courtesy restrooms way out on F-Dock where we usually stay when we visit. After all, it’s a 1/4-mile walk each way from F-Dock clear up to the harbormaster’s office and the yacht club where the main restrooms and showers are.
And yes, pretty much all the boats have their own tiny “head” facilities, but … well … you KNOW.
Anyhow, so early one morning, in my pajamas and flip-flops, I made the trek to the “Waterloo,” as they call it.
But when I opened my door to come back outside, I was amazed to find that the “facilities” were actually UNDERWAY!
Peeking out, I saw my three favorite dockworkers that were now manning what I’d never noticed was, in effect, a mini-barge. Not a stationary loo. A barge!
They turned, saw me, and their shocked expressions exploded into laughter. I couldn’t help but join them.
The skipper shouted, “What? Have we got a passenger?”
And the crew replied, “Stowaway, sir. She was so quiet! We never heard a thing.”
I felt my color rising and I just busted up giggling.
“Well,” I said from my spot in the unisex cubicle, “I guess this is probably not the first time you guys have had an accidental voyager aboard.”
The guys replied with gusto, “Uh, actually, we’re pretty sure this IS the first time this has ever happened!”
They were moving the Waterloo over to the marina dump station to get a fresh start before the weekend’s hydroplane races began. So, I just stayed in my spot and didn’t make any further trouble.
We docked, tied up from the side, and the skipper decided against my offer to go ashore by climbing up a weatherworn ladder to the main dock.
Instead, he ferried me back to the Vida Bella on a little pilot boat.
Imagine Capt. Joe’s surprise to see me arriving back from the loo by boat!
We all parted with laughter and waving hands.
Pretty soon, the story of my impromptu “Waterloo Cruise” was making the rounds of the F-Dockers. And it was my own Joe laughing his socks off as he told the tale.
I just laughed with them because, after all, it was a totally normal adventure for me, your own “I Love Lucy” reincarnated.
And from then on, every time I saw the dock guys, we all cracked up and smiled. On our last day, hauling the Vida Bella out for the winter, I made the guys cookies and signed the bags, “From Roni/Lucy with love!”