And That's What Happy Hours Are All About
10 December 2010 | Vero Beach, FL
Beth / wow - a warm one today!
The drizzle slowed to a few drops; the temperature warmed up marginally; cruisers arrived with plates and bottles under the overhang at the marina's north picnic area and the regular Thursday night happy hour at Vero Beach City Marina happened.
It is one of the rituals of cruising that I have come to treasure. There are often surprises; there are frequently new friendships (or at the very least new acquaintances) to be made; there is always food to share. It is a time to hear stories - and sometimes music, to discover shared experiences, to tell tales of our own. They happen in marinas, on beaches, in cockpits. They can be spontaneous or planned.
We were at Miracle Mile this afternoon and almost missed the bus back but the driver saw us running across the Publix parking lot and waited for us. We should have known then that it would be a great night!
We arrived at the dinghy dock, placed our tray of cheese, sausage and homemade cornbread on the table, sampled some delicious meatballs and deviled eggs and crackers and dip and wandered over to chat with Stu (Georgia E - another Bayfield 36). Jim had been talking routes to the Bahamas with Stu and Tony - his sailing mate - at the coffee shop in the afternoon and after consulting the charts, he wanted to continue the conversation.
As is the way with cruisers, we met another fellow involved in the conversation, exchanged boat cards, and as I looked at it, I exclaimed, "Look at the name!" It was Bissell! Russ Bissell and Pat Burkhardt (Consort) hail from New York State now, but Russ's ancestors came from Connecticut - the same place from which Jim's ancestors emigrated. We laughed that Jim's forebears (among many others) are called Loyalists because they came to Ontario, Canada at the time of the American Revolution. Russ's family stayed there so perhaps the loyalist part depends on one's point of view! The Americans call those who left "Tories". At any rate, we are sure there must be a family connection somewhere back a few generations because both of them have Connecticut roots and know of the Huguenot heritage before that. How magical is that - to discover "cousins" at a boaters happy hour?
Russ and Pat introduced Jim to Bob and Connie (Meredith) and they chatted about their happy sailing experiences in Cuba last year, and our hopes to go there this year. I'll have to get details from Jim later. Meanwhile, I was engaged in my own conversation with Stu (Georgia E). It was exciting to talk with him about his experiences on this "first trip" down the coast and over to the Bahamas (although the man has had lots of experience sailing in the Caribbean as well as racing in Lake Ontario.) We sometimes forget about all those "first times" - first time down the ICW, first time into endless numbers of harbours and anchorages and marinas, first time across the Gulf Stream, checking into the Bahamas, first time on the banks. While they are times of excitement, they are also times of anxiety and learning. Every single day brings something new and that can be as exhausting as it is pleasurable.
When he remarked, "I've been reading your blog for three years now", it was a wonderful reminder of why I write. I write for family and friends - to let them know where we are and what we are doing. I write for Jim and me too - this is our narrative log for our own reference. But I also write for two other groups of people - those who will take this trip one day and who want to know some of the things we've discovered, and those who will never take this particular journey, but who travel with us and share it through this blog and the others they read (and it is a rare person who follows only one blog!)
It is easy for me to forget about these groups when we are revisiting a place about which I've written before, or when the days are long and we aren't doing what we planned, or when we are grumpy, or when there seems nothing new to say except that we got fuel or ate dinner or cleaned the cockpit. While I'm pretty certain readers don't hang on every word with a breathless "What did they do today?" or tune in with the regularity of soap opera fans, it was a good nudge for me. People read these blogs. Make them interesting!
Because that is the true magic of last night. There is ALWAYS something interesting - like Lorraine collecting signatures on quilt squares the other night on Passages, or like the sharing of weather info sites or the finding of "cousins". There are interesting people and boats and places and events. There are interesting relationships and stories. There are interesting things to learn and to teach and we ALL have them - no matter where we are. And sometimes we even have the opportunity to write about them!
Thank goodness for happy hours!!