Last weekend was the Des Moines Yacht Club annual trek to Fox Island for a big raft out. We joined the club in 1982 and the raft out had been going on long before that. It is always the same weekend as the Fox Island Yacht Club Commodore’s Ball. The first boat to arrive at Fox Island determines the raft location, but basically there is a spot between Tanglewood Island and Fox Island that is ‘our spot’. As boats arrive, about every 4th boat a front anchor goes out and about every 6-8 boats and stern anchor goes out to stabilize the raft from winds and currents. It doesn’t always work so good, so there is usually at least one or more anchor drills over the weekend. With a raft out, the only way to get to boats to visit each other is by crossing swim steps or by dinghy. As the weekend progresses and the beverages flow, there is often a chance of someone ending up in the water and earning a Duck. (Note: NO ducks this weekend! Very unusual! ) On Saturday night, our Commodore and various other people who have signed up head off in a boat to the Fox Is Commodore’s Ball while the rest of us stay to party on our raft.
Years ago the Commodore’s Ball was held at a great building on Tanglewood Island. Here is a great web site that gives the history of Tanglewood’s lighthouse and building: http://www.foxisland.net/tanglewood_island.htm. The Dr. Schultz mentioned was the father of our friend, Bob Schultz and his wife Barbara, who still reside on Fox Island. Our raft location is usually right off their home. Unfortunately, the building on Tanglewood is in disrepair. Plus the Fox Is YC built a great clubhouse so the Ball is now there instead of Tanglewood.
This year we left for the cruise on Thursday and spent that night on the city dock in Gig Harbor. Theresa stopped by after work and we took her to dinner at the Tides Tavern. Gotta say, we were slightly disappointed. Their prices are higher and the quality was not up to par. We rated our dinners at a C+ or B-. But we had a good time with Theresa. The Boondocker and Double Eagle also spent the night in Gig.
Friday mid-day we headed down to Fox Island to join the rapidly growing raft. I think we were about boat #9 when we arrived. By Friday night we had a total of 16 boats, and by the end of the weekend we had a total of 23 boats come to the cruise. A couple of those were only there for a little while but that counts! The weather on Saturday was pretty interesting. We had wind, rain, sun, wind, rain sun… The raft would swing wildly in the wind and currents, but anchors held and all was well. Early Saturday evening there was a wonderful double rainbow.
There are a couple of big traditions on this cruise. One is that while the Commodore is at the Ball his/her boat is transformed in one way or another. Sometimes it is re-decorating the boat, sometimes it is physically moving the boat, sometimes it is fun booby traps on the boat. When the Commodore gets back around midnight in the pitch dark a surprise is always waiting, though. This year our Commodore was treated pretty kindly. Not too sure the significance of flamingos but it looked cute. I kinda thought that the flamingos sitting on top of the fenders looked like something out of Dr. Strangelove – ready to shoot off into space.
Another great tradition is the Sunday morning Dinghy Bar. Bloody Mary’s, Screwdrivers and pastries are delivered to the boats. This year we were happy to see George Hiatt and Darrel Miller with the Sunday morning treats.
The final tradition of the cruise is the infamous un-rafting. Usually a boat or two in the middle of the raft want to leave first, so we start doing line drills and anchor drills. This year 5 boats from the middle left at the same time so we ended up with 2 separate rafts. The gap was so large we just left it at two rafts and used dinghies or kayaks to get back and forth. As the group continued to depart, we had one bow anchor issue when Lattitude Adjustment’s anchor got caught in another boat’s anchor, but that got sorted out. Then the most fun was when our stern anchor (with Boondocker’s line) got stuck on something. 2 1/2 hours later and lots of shouting and maneuvering we got it up. It was stuck on an old line to an old herring pen. Thanks to Fansea Nansea pulling one way and Randy, Jeff, Todd, Darrel and Gar on the back of our boat pulling we were finally able to get free. The whole experience was sooooo exhausting that we decided to go back to Gig Harbor Sunday night and recover! Boondocker and Fansea Nansea recovered with us there. After a leisurely morning in Gig, we meandered home – a successful end to a great cruise.