End of the Season

The winter charter season was coming to an end. Living aboard and on the anchor in the Marco River, had become our lifestyle and a pleasurable one at that.  Plans were being made for the cruise north, back to the Outer Banks.  This time it was only the Captain and myself making the trip.  There was a bit of anxiety on my part, even tho it had been just the two of us, all winter doing charters.  My mind wandered with “what if’s”, but I kept coming back to remembering how well Michael handled the boat.  The maintenance schedule had picked up as we counted down the weeks for the trip north.  During the charter season, the injectors on the diesel engine had been a problem and Michael continued to tweak them to give us a little more time before replacing them.  Then there was the issue with the fuel tank, which also was connected to the injector problem.  The tank was old and rust deposits were getting in the fuel system. With the fact that money was tight, we kept our fingers crossed that we’d get back up north before replacing anything major. Michael was very resource-full and seemed to be able to get anything to work when he needed it to.

We  offered friends and family a free cruise for any who cared to come along.  Funny, most people had schedules and couldn’t except the offer.  The middle of May was our planned time to leave.  Thunderstorms had become more frequent each day as the time got closer.  All of our friends made it out to the boat the night before we left.  We all exchanged addresses, toasted to good times and a safe voyage, with Captain Morgans Rum and Cold Beers.  The thought of leaving behind many of these people was a sad one.  We had made many good friends. The following morning we left at sunrise.  The sky was a deep dark blue with even darker patches on the horizon.  The plan was Everglades City, first stop.  As the day progressed, so did the rain and thunderstorms.

The sail to Everglades City was a touchy one.  The thunder roared, the wind blew hard and  frequent lightning hit all around us.  Then there was the rain. At times visibility was down to zero.  We just set our compass and stayed on course.  We took turns going down below to get some reprieve from the weather, while the other stayed at the wheel.  Neither of us were very eager to have hold of a stainless wheel while the lightning was all around us. Often times we’d sit, place our deck shoes on the bottom of the wheel and steer.

As we approached Everglades City, we spotted boats all along the waterway tucked into the mangroves, anchored to get out of the weather.  We continued on to the Rod and Gun Club, found one empty slip and pulled in starboard side to the dock and tied our lines to the pilings.  The Rod and Gun Club was a large Victorian Style House with the classic pillar porch with wooden floors on the front, then off to the right side was a long screened in porch with tables for the visitors to sit and relax, dine or just have drinks.  

The first thing we wanted to do was get off the boat.  We didn’t have air conditioning and down below was wet and steamy.  As we walked down the docks, the fresh smell of a hard rain and earth filled the air. We noticed a group of people sitting on the porch who raised their drinks, as if to toast us, called out to us “Ahoy, Come and join us!”.  Little did we know, this encounter would be an adventure we’d always remember.


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4 Responses to “End of the Season”

  1. frigginloon Says:

    There is nothing more rewarding than inhaling the air after rain. It’s like cookies baking in an oven, it’s a smell you never forget.

  2. Terri Says:

    Yes I just love the smell of the air after the rain..all smells clean and fresh…Great story!!!

    • wenchhandle Says:

      Thanks Terri. I love the smell of the air after a rain as well. Sometimes even a hard down pour feels like a good long cry. Real renewed feeling.

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