Posts Tagged ‘snow birds’

Sailing South for the Winter Part II

11/04/2009

Part II

The following day, we  each took our turns at the wheel. But there was lots of free time on our hands.  I like to be doing something most of the time, so I would clean anything I could.  We  also took turns at cooking the meals.  Everyone else had either a gadget to mess with or a book to read.  I could never slow down enough in the past to read so I didn’t even bring a book.  Then the issue came up of Felicia.  She was only able to pull one of her shifts and was down sick the rest of the time.  When she felt a bit better she would come up on deck, with blanket and pillow, and lay down on one side of the cockpit which would force four of us to sit on one side.  At this point Michael decided that we would continue on all night all the way to Jacksonville, FL..  Michael and I took the 2 am to 6 am shift.  I took the first two hours and Michael took the next.  Everyone else had retreated to their cabins for the night, so I grabbed my pillow and blanket and layed down beside him.  There were lots of stars out that night.  It was so very dark.  The wind was on the port quarter and we were sailing at a good clip.  All you could hear was the sound of  splashing on the side of the boat as we made way thru the water. I was almost a sleep when out of the blue Michael yells “Oh my God, What is that?” I jumped up (out of my skin) looked in the direction he was looking, behind the boat, and there were two tubular shaped figures coming up very fast.  He thought they were torpedoes.  He explained later that we were passing Kings Island where the U.S. has a big submarine base.  We were also 20 miles off the coast which is where the subs like to come to the surface and he was watching for them.  With all this going through his mind in the middle of the black ocean, torpedoes seemed logical.   But as they got closer, we realized they were dolphin approaching the boat at a high rate of speed and the phosphorous  was lighting them up as they went along.  So they glowed.  It was wild looking. The excitement was enough to keep him awake until the end of the shift.  I knotted off until the sun was in my eyes and noticed the humidity had risen substantially.

As I sat up and looked around the sun was extremely bright, and the strong scent of salt was in the air.  Over to our port side was a huge ocean liner headed in the opposite direction. The difference in size between our boat, the Flying Dutchman, and the ocean liner was immense.  It took my breath away.  I thought “If he hit us, he’d never know it”.  We were approaching Jacksonville, Florida Inlet .  The ocean liner was one of many huge vessels moving up and down the inlet that morning.  As we approached Florida, our quiet stretches of sailing would be few and far between.  The term “snow birds” started to make sence to me.  Florida had a “hum” to it.  There were people, and every kind of boat you could imagine on the water.  This seemed to be the dividing line from cold weather to warm, each had a price.  Navigating on the Intercostal Waterway (ICW) was similar to I95 or I75 on a Sunday afternoon.  Up till now, Michael would be doing maintenance on the lines or the engine or studying the charts down below.  Now, he stayed close by and kept the charts up top.  With all of the commotion of life going on, he had to stay on his toes at all times.

A couple of days passed, now it is Thanksgiving Day.  Thinking that it was a family holiday, there may not be as many boats on the water.  Our location is still the ICW and we were approaching Juno Beach, Fl.  The waterways characteristics started to change from here south.  It had the appearance of a suburban neighborhood.  Houses were lined along the waterway with canals that fed into it like fingers or streets that fed into a main road.  The smell of turkey dinners permeated the air.  We hadn’t planned for a turkey dinner that day and hot dogs were on the menu.  Needless to say I was salivating for homemade bread, baked turkey, dressing, green beans, cranberry salad and pecan pie.  I failed to mention earlier, spending time on the water had a way of keeping me hungry.  I spent lots of time thinking of “what would be good right now”.  Especially when I had no way of getting it.  This frame of mind drove Michael crazy.  He barked at me once “keep your thoughts to yourself”.  As the day wore on, the number of boats on the water increased.  The wake from the “fast boats” churned the water up and had the “fishbowl” effect.  It was very uncomfortable with the constant up and down motion of the boat.  If anyone was drinking anything, they had to keep it in their hand, otherwise it would be knocked over.

To date each of us were still taking our turn on the wheel, all except Falicia.  She had stayed in the parallel position most of the way .  She seemed mostly tired all the time.  It put Michael in an awkward position, due to the fact that “her spot” was intended to be a “paying position”.  And she had not payed her way nor was she able to work.  After discussing the sensitive topic with her husband Bruce, Michael realized they had no intention of paying and expected meals as well. As the boat approached Fort Lauderdale, it was determined that the boat needed some maintenance work.  We docked at a Marriot where Michael gave Bruce and Falicia the proverbial “boot”.   It was then that Michael announced the alternator wasn’t working and needed replaced. He was a good mechanic and needed someone to pick up the part while he worked on the boat.   I volunteered and headed down the docks, thru the Marriott and out to the street where there were several taxi cabs sitting waiting for business.   The first one that approached me was a tall young dirty blond guy.  He opened my door for me, ran around and got back in the car, turned and asked me where I was headed.  I told him the Napa and he started driving.  It was then that I noticed the naked Barbi Doll leg hanging from a chain on his rear view mirror.  All I could think of was “Oh God, If I get to where I’m going and back to the boat, it will be a wonder.”  He tried to drum up conversation, but I was a little “weirded”  out to talk.  Fort Lauderdale turned out to be an interesting/wide open town.  We passed several strip clubs along the way and the people were very interesting.  Thankfully, I got the part I needed and was back on the boat safely.  Michael fixed the problems and we were off and sailing again.

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