Thank you Ranger Boats
Last Friday June 24, 2011 I launched my 2005 223 Cayman with my twelve year old and his friend for an evening of fishing the Ortega River bridge in Jacksonville. We emptied our crab trap for bait where the St. Johns was oil glass calm. By the time we launched and headed south under the Fuller Warren bridged (I-95) , we noted that the river was white capping under a fast moving evening storm. We thought we could make it to the Ortega river where it is somewhat protected as planned when it started lightning about half mile ahead of us. So, we turned around and headed back to the boat launch at River City Brewery under the Acosta bridge for those who are familiar with the area and got in some serious trouble. We were running against a fast moving current with a trailing sea due to the wind I would estimate at around 20 to 30 knots. To complicate matters further, there is a concrete seawall which made the conditions extremely unorganized. My first thought was to stay on the power with the engine trimmed up to help the bow reach the top of the back of the waves in front of us. The risk was that I would bury the bow at a higher rate of speed than I thought we would be able to survive. I then backed off the throttle and tried to ride the back of the waves kind of sitting in the trough when we were pushed from behind by a trailing wave and buried the bow into the back of the wave in front of us which is what I was trying at all costs to avoid. In what seemed like slow motion, we completely filled the cockpit with water as I was hammering my Mercury 250 Optimax into reverse. As soon as my bow surface again, I then hammered the Optimax full throttle in hopes of saving the boat. The bow was sticking straight up in the air, waves were coming over the stern, the Optimax was about 50% submerged and it seemed we were hanging in suspended animation. The boys were bailing, the bilge pump was shooting a three foot stream of water and the self bailing cockpit was working overtime getting rid water. I honestly thought I had lost the boat. However, after about a minute, I began to notice improvement as the Optimax continued to groan and the water level began to drop I knew as long as the Optimax would hang in there we had chance. Finally, all the water was out of the boat the engine sounded familiar again and we negotiated about another hairy mile in order to get back to the ramp. I have to thank an anonymous boater who was ahead of us for keeping an eye on us loitering just under the Acosta Bridge until we make it safely. It was comforting knowing at least someone was aware of what was happening to us in the event the very worst came to pass. To who ever you are on behalf of myself and my crew I say thank you. The next day fishing the intercoastal, my son and I along with the father of the boy who was with us the day before commented on all the boats we encountered as not able to survive our harrowing experience. I am thankful I bought a Ranger and I am thankful I have a 250 HP Optimax without which I don't think we would have survived our friday evening of fishing. Buy quality boats and do not under power them.
Tanks Ranger (pun intended)