There was an Old Man with a owl,
Who continued to bother and howl;
He sat on a rail, And imbibed bitter ale,
Which refreshed that Old Man and his owl. . WOO <Audio
A few years back I took a friend's family for a 4 day backpack/catamaran trip to the Apostle Islands on Lake Superior. The game plan was for the 5 of us to pack all of our camping gear and food onto two small catamarans and go "island hoping" each day. Camping on the Apostle Islands requires that you make and nightly confirm reservations with the National Park Service for each night you will be on any of the islands.
On our third night out, we were camping on a small island about 15 miles off shore. Shortly after daybreak a ranger started calling my name from the outside of my tent. When I got some clothes on, I went out the flap of my tent and talked to the ranger. According to the ranger, "If you guys are the folks who are sailing the two small catamarans (one was 16' and the other was an 18' Hobiecat) that are pulled up on the beach, you might want to think hard about making a run for the mainland A.S.A.P. A major storm is coming and the weather prediction is for 30-40 mile and hour winds plus 6' to 8' seas for an unknown period of days. Oh yeah, the predicted wind direction is going to be off shore, so you will have to tack the whole way back to the mainland."
The ranger went on to give us much more valuable information and we proceeded to get packed up and start sailing toward the mainland by around 7 a.m.
Sailing in the Apostle Islands means that you have to run through fairly narrow channels between the islands...where the seas plus the prevailing winds move unpredictably and change instantaneously. To add an additional degree of difficulty, many of the islands are 20' to 60' above the water surface and have little to no accessible beach area.
Long story short, the trip back to the mainland was a 12 hour white water rafting adventure! About every third wave we would fly completely out of the water and skip across the lake surface. Every tenth wave or so we would submarine into an errant wave and a 3' wave of water would sweep across the entire boat. Due to excellent prior planning we were all wearing thick wetsuits, rubber booties, neoprene hoods, foul weather gear, and had large stashes of energy bars readily available. Between the wind velocity, the speed of the boats through the water, and the high seas a crew person had to be suspended from the mast (hiking out they call it) to counterbalance the boats for the entire trip back to the mainland. We finally reached shore just as the sun was starting to set.
While we were certainly the smallest sailboats out in the storm, the smallest boats who fought their way in was actually a group of ocean kayakers. Other than the kayaks and our small catamarans, the next smaller boats were more than 30' long....and most of them were motorboats or sailboats using their auxiliary motor, rather than sails of any sort.
By warning each of the campers on the islands, the rangers made what could have been a bad situation into something which was certainly manageable. Additionally, it seemed to me as if all of the watercraft that the rangers had available to them were being used to "keep on eye" on all of the boats as they made progress toward the mainland. While we never summoned any of the rangers on the park service boats...several boats actually came by to make sure that we were doing OKAY.
As far as I am concerned, almost all of the rangers I have EVER encountered were pretty much class acts.
You May Be S l o w...But You Are Ahead Of Me!
A couple years ago, I went on a winter day hike on Humpback Mt. When I returned to my truck there was a note in an evidence bag under the wiper blade. It was from a ranger, explaining that they were closing the Blue Ridge Parkway due to a storm forecast to hit later that evening. It gave directions to the nearest unlocked gate , asked me to lock it as I left, and included some phone numbers that I could call to confirm that I had safely exited the area. We never actually met, but we did speak on the phone. Seemed like a standup guy doing his job.