Warning! Short story posted below. I wrote this tongue and cheek story for a now defunct boating magazine for Halloween. It has a “viable solution”for what to do with old boating flares.....
The Boat Zombies of Degnen Bay.
Close friends survive dangerous situations. The three of us, Joe, Keith and Katie were out cruising the Gulf Islands of Canada one fine August day and pulled into a wonderful protected bay just off Gabriola Passage, Degnen Bay. Evening was approaching and we planned to anchor here for the night. We lowered our Rocna anchor and quickly obtained a solid set for the night.
Our goal was to row ashore to take the short 1/2 mile walk to the United Church on South Road to view the amazing petroglyphs in the woods behind the Church before nightfall. The unmarked trail back to the site was quiet and serene. Moss hung from the trees and the lighting dimmed the further into the woods we walked. The first petroglyph we came upon was a Sisiutl style Sea Wolf/ Serpent wonderfully done in the sandstone. Several other 'glyphs' were very esoteric shapes that we had not seen anywhere else. The petroglyphs and surrounding forest evoked many odd feelings from reverence to mystical as we carefully walked around making sure we did not step on any of the images carved in the stone. As we walked back we talked about the images and what they could possibly represent. We had one more petroglyph to find, the Orca in Degnen Bay, so we headed back to our dinghy.
Rowing around the bay revealed a beautiful and tranquil setting with many layers of green amidst a variety of unusual rock formations. We found the Orca on a slab of sandstone near the head of the bay and it looked like it had a human skeletal figure inside of the Orca body. A very rusty iron eye bolt was imbedded in the rock near it and it seemed to grab our dinghy line and not want to let it go. Our slow tour of the pastoral harbor revealed 93 empty boats and not one living soul in sight. Several of these appeared to be derelict vessels with the Eagles song, "Hotel California", playing from their broken windows and misshapen hulls.
We were sitting up on the Flybridge enjoying the start of a beautiful sunset when our conversation turned to the lack of people aboard any of the boats in this tranquil bay. Conversation drifted to some of the strange images we saw earlier in the evening and we wondered what events led to the creation of these remarkable petroglyphs.
The sunset went from shades of red to dark blues when we turned on our anchor light. This seemed to signal the derelict vessels which suddenly began silently gliding through the water towards us, leaving no wakes and making no sounds. The rusty stains from the nails in their wooden hulls gave them the appearance of dripping blood. Slowly, 5 of these menacing boats circled us in the fading light. The only trace of their movement was the streams of phosphorescence they left if their wake-less paths. They circled closer and closer while grotesque figures of crazed Zombies peered from the broken windows. We shined our spotlights on the circling vessels and the screams began. Time to leave! Quickly Joe and Katie scurried to the bow of our Willard and prepared to hoist the anchor and make our escape. Keith had the engine started and the winch was whining as the chain rattled into the locker. We forged our way forward as the sturdy Willard rammed its way through the Zombie gauntlet. Joe and Katie were fighting off the Zombies with boat hooks and outdated flares. The flares quickly set fire to the derelict vessels amid the screams of the sinking zombies. As we left the bay the flames were reflected in the otherwise quiet waters of this peaceful place. Outside the bay in Gabriola Passage, the current was running fast as it pushed us out into the passage and safety. So, next time you choose to anchor in one of those small peaceful coves, keep a sharp eye on the derelicts, as everything is not as it may seem.
Side note; two days later we passed Degnen Bay on the way to Ladysmith Harbor and noticed several vultures circling over the quiet anchorage...
So, next time you choose to anchor in one of those small peaceful coves, keep a sharp eye on the derelicts, as everything may not be as it seems.
One good thing came out of this experience, we finally found a legitimate use for those outdated flares we all carry.
Happy Halloween and Safe Cruising.
1974 Grand Banks 36-427
Vashon Island, WA