Saturday, July 20, 2013

Dead batteries, dead bodies

It was a rough Friday at Marina Del Sol.

July 4th, Gimme Shelter had left us stranded, batteries flat-lined after only four hours at anchor. Thankfully that $169 annual membership to SeaTow finally paid off. It just took a phone call, and we had a SeaTow boat there with jumper cables.  The only bad thing about SeaTow is that both times we called there was at least an hour wait, but to be fair, tow trucks aren't very fast either.  

The Universal kicked right over, and we were back in business. The alternator was putting out a strong 14 volts, so I knew one of the three batteries was the culprit.

The weekend finally came to resolve the battery issue. I wasn't looking forward to it for three reasons, there would be no air-conditioning while I had to power off to remove the batteries, the batteries are heavy as hell, and there's a huge mess of wires to deal with.  Luckily we have been having some unseasonably cool temps due to a week of rain although the humidity has still been pretty rough.  



 On my last boat, everything was wired to the fuse panel, and then there were only the battery selector and charger cables attached to the batteries themselves. I did my best to note which wires went where. On two batteries the black and yellow wires were negative. However, the third battery had a positive yellow lead and a red ground wire. Stuff like that drives me nuts.

It took me about half an hour to document the wiring and remove the three batteries. Then I carted them over to West Marine where not one, but two of these Deep Cycle dual purpose batteries tested bad. $350 later I was once again sweating buckets as I re-sorted the wiring and hooked everything back up.  The dogs and I just sat in the boat and sweated.

Mission accomplished. It was time for a couple cold beers and the Kemah Friday night fireworks. Everyone was in great spirits. Then I walked up to the car.  You left out the part where you were dancing hysterically to Katy Perry during the fireworks. My personal favorite part of the evening :).  

"Pssst, hey! Look at all the cops," whispered Big Jim, one of the Marina Del Sol live-aboards, as I walked past his boat in the dark.

I looked up the hill and sure enough, there were eight police officers in the backyard of one of the houses.

"They pulled a body out of the pool," he continued in a hushed but urgent tone.

I then noticed the knee of the body sticking up, just visible over the edge of the hill. I frantically began texting everyone down on F dock, "THERE'S A DEAD BODY OVER HERE!" as Big Jim told the story. I'm probably paraphrasing a bit, but here's his story as best I can remember:

The guy came home and turned all the lights on, and he turned the big TV on that you can see through the window, and he was in the house for a while. Then he comes outside and he says, "Bobby!" Then he dials his phone, and he yelled "Shut up" at somebody like he dialed the wrong number, and he redials 911 and says he needs police, and within two minutes the police were here. Then he jumped in the pool and pulled out the body, and now they're walking around shining flashlights on everything.

It wasn't long before my text messages and the flashing lights started drawing the rest of the marina over to E dock. Jim kept retelling his story, but my friend Matt's boat was just a couple slips down, and it has steps all the way up the mast. Normally, I would never board someone else's boat, but we needed a better look at this situation. Being down the hill was obscuring the view of everything.  I know Matt would have understood the need.

I texted Matt a pre-apology for getting on his boat and then ascended the mast. Here's the scene that unfolded in front of me.


Two officers were standing beside the pool with the body while others were in the house and one came down to the dock to start looking for witnesses.

If the drowning victim's name was actually Bobby, it would have been Bobbi -- because the victim was definitely a fully-clothed woman.



Some of the residents of these palatial homes that border the marina have boats in the marina, but it's very rare that any of them ever mingle with those of us without homes. As I talked to one of the officers who was looking for witnesses, I realized that despite walking past this house up to a dozen times each weekend for the past four years, I have no idea who lives there or even what they look like. Their tragedy had now become our sideshow.

I also realized that the poor drowned woman could have been floating in the pool all three times I'd already walked past the house that day going back and forth to the car, but you can't actually see the pool from the bottom of the hill, so there was no way to know or help.

Once we tired of staring, we all returned to the boats, but of course, the dead body continued to be the main topic of conversation for the rest of the weekend with speculation running wild as to accidental death versus suicide versus foul play.

I've been watching the news, but I still haven't come across anything regarding the incident.

This morning as I walked back to the car thinking about how you couldn't even make up the kind of constant drama occurring in Marina Del Sol, I came across this guy floating beside E-dock.


I've never seen a jelly quite like that in the marina before, and it's the first one I've seen at all this year.

We had planned to go sailing and test the new batteries, but instead we packed it in and came home.  Next weekend will be our longest trip yet in any boat, and we are pretty excited.  Hopefully we can remember all of our sailing lessons, and it will go a little smoother than our last trip.