Terry Blevins is traveling the Intracoastal Waterway with her husband Charlie and dog, Bella, on their 34-foot tugboat, Rainshadow.

Intracoastal waterway

Terry and her husband purchased their American Tug 34 in 2012 , naming it Rainshadow in hopes that it would bring them luck with weather. (The back side of a mountain in a rain shadow receives little rain because the mountain blocks the weather systems that produce the rain.)


June 17, 2013.

We woke up bright and early at 6 a.m. Bella needed a walk, so Charlie took Bella out and I cut up some strawberries for our Honey Nut Cheerios breakfast. We had set the coffee pot the night before, so it was brewing already.

After breakfast, we left the dock and headed back north to make the turn toward the south into Deep Creek. We needed to be at the Deep Creek locks by 8:30 a.m. opening. The chart books say there is anchorage and tie-up at the docks. So we figured if we got there a little early, we would be OK. On the way, we passed six large Beneteau sailboats heading north. They were docking near the mouth of Deep Creek. We quickly reached the locks, which were closed.

After calling in to the dockmaster, we waited for instruction. First the dockmaster told us we would pull in on the starboard side and to have a long line on the bow and stern. He recommended fenders. While Charlie maintained position, I put the lines and fenders on. In about 10 minutes he called back and said he had six sailboats from the Beneteau Boat Club coming into the lock also. He needed to load them in from the starboard side, which would push us to the front of the lock. He said when the water rushes in, the boat will rise 8 to 10 feet, and it could be quite a ride the closer to the front of the lock you are.

He asked if we would prefer to be to port. We agreed, and I changed the lines and fenders to port side. I was a little worried how I was going to handle the lines and throw them up 8 to 10 feet and around a piling inside the lock. But the dockmaster, Robert, made it easy. As Charlie pulled Rainshadow up to the port side, Robert had a long boat hook. He took the line from my hands and easily placed it around the piling. I was told to hold the line at the bow, and Charlie would hold the line in the stern. While we were waiting for the sailboat club, we secured the lines.

Soon we saw the sailboats arrive. One sailboat went up front on starboard, and three went behind that one. Then, all of a sudden, a fifth came barreling up between us and another sailboat. The dockmaster yelled to Charlie, “Captain, defend your ship!” Charlie ran over to the starboard side of Rainshadow, ready for disaster — but the sailboat put on the bow thrusters and expertly averted a collision.

The dockmaster said he was never so glad to see bow thrusters.

Read more about Terry's adventures on her blog, Rainshadow Voyages.