Shark River

Walking into a place like the Rod and Gun Club was like walking back in time. It was a gorgeous place with golden oak varnished stain on the walls, ceilings and floors. The sound of people walking around made the floors creak and squeak. While getting familiar with the surroundings, the woman at the counter greeted us with a smile, and asked if we  had reservations. Michael responded with his usual humor “Not yet, it depends on how much we have for lunch“,  she giggled a little and pointed us in the direction of the screened in porch. This was a porch that gave you the feeling of being at your grandmother’s house. It had such a warm and comfortable feeling.  The furniture was white wicker with overstuffed chairs. What a lovely place to spend a stormy afternoon.

Along the front side of the porch were three tables pushed close together with a crowd of people that no one would have ever paired together, well maybe one or two of them. There seemed to be a leader in the crowd who stood up and motioned for us to join them. He introduced himself as Aruba Jim, an old salt to say the least with dirty blonde hair and skin that had seen a lot of sun.  He turned to point at his sailboat and said “This is our last voyage on the Aurban Queen, we just sold her.  Going to move to Montana and start a chicken ranch “.  Then he introduced the other passengers on his boat who consisted of three women, his wife she was tall with long, blond, curly hair who was almost as salty as her husband Jim. Then there was Miss Boston. She was a middle aged, attractive, but stuffy, red head  no doubt from Boston. The third woman was young with long, black dread locks whose name was Lucia, from France. At that point another gengtleman introduced himself, as a single handed sailor, on a 32 foot sailboat,  with the name of Gin, from Alabama.  Gin was a bit polished, middle aged, salt and pepper hair and a short beard. He was a handsome man who seem to have his eye on Miss Boston. The other fella at the table was introduced as Tom. Tom also was a single handed sailor in his early 20’s.  He had a dark tan and short brown hair and also was traveling on a 28 foot sailboat.  

The weather had chased all these sailors into the nearest harbor to spend the afternoon sitting, drinking and waiting for a break in the weather.  We had a great time listening, laughing  and telling each other stories.  Later that afternoon, we moved out into the swimming pool area and took a dip.  It was then that Jim’s wife announced that Miss Lucia didn’t like to wear clothes and for us to not be embarrassed should she appear undressed. Michael and I just laughed, thinking that she was just razing her Frenchy friend.

The weather never seemed to lift.  We were “stuck” in Everglades City for three days, until we could no longer sit and wait.  Luckily it cleared enough for us to go and all three boats decided to make a break for it.  Aruba Jim was from Marathon, Florida and over the course of the last few days, he reveled to Michael that he had a mechanical failure and wanted to know if we could tow them back to Marathon.  We had not yet solidified our itinerary home at the point.  We had tossed around the idea of going over to the Bahamas before we turned north to head back to the Outer Banks, so making a stop over to Marathon wasn’t a problem.  The Aruban Queen was in the 40′ range, built in the early 1900’s,  an old girl at that.  It was sad to see the couple sailing their boat for the last time.

We headed out into the gulf of Mexico that afternoon with the Aruban Queen in tow. Following behind was  Gins boat, then Toms.   The skies were filled with huge white billows of clouds that seemed to climb hundreds of feet up into the sky.  As we cleared the channel and out into the Gulf there was a wonderful southwest wind, so we pulled out our sails to pick up some speed.  The Aruban Queen put up her sails as well, they untied the tow line and all four of the boats took turns in the lead, heading for Shark River.  It was just a matter of time before the clouds would burst with moisture.  Off in the distance, on the horizon, the sky was dark blue and we spotted a couple of water spouts.  I just prayed that the weather would hold off until we were in a safe anchorage. Later in the day a rainbow appear directly across the inlet where we were turning off. I truely thought it was  put there just for me.

Shark River was a small river tucked into the wilderness of the Everglades.  We followed up the river far enough to not be affected by any weather, dropped our anchors and tied our lines onto the boat next to us. It was a clever idea. Our plan was to all raft up for the night.  Each of the boats were low on provisions so we all decided to have a pot luck dinner on the decks.  Dinner was a mix of various foods along with some cold beers and a half of bottle of Captain Morgans Rum left from several nights ago in Marco.

Gin and Michael both pulled out their guitars while Jim pulled out his yukalaylee.  I remember laughing until I cried. Don’t remember ever seeing anyone play the yukalaylee except for Tiny Tim and that was when I was little.   But boy could Jim make it sing.

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