10/12/2010/12:59 pm, Vero Beach, FL
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!!
09/12/2010/10:29 am, Vero Beach, FL
We've been doing a little socializing, a little organizing, a little exercising in the last few days. It's all about leading a balanced life, you know?!
Karin and Ed (Passages) invited us to join them for a cockpit Happy Hour with Hal and Penny (Volantis), Phil, Lorraine and Katie (Changes) and Ann (Bees Knees) and we had a grand time. It was so much fun to spend time with these old friends whom we met in Fernandina Beach in chilly December last year, and to meet a whole group of new folks too.
Nancy and Jim (Solitaire) invited us to dinner and a sleepover on Tuesday night. It was wonderful to see their beautiful new home, to meet their NS neighbours, Barbara and Richard, and to enjoy their warm hospitality. We went to the CLOD (Cruisers Living on Dirt) breakfast with them on Wednesday morning, and met many of the local cruising crowd who live in Vero. Some still cruise; some are land based but keep up their connections.
Back at the marina, we met up with Valerie and Graham (Bonnie Lass), Bruce (Zingara) and Eric (Further) and look forward to spending some time with all of them. Tonight is the cruisers gathering so if it doesn't rain, we'll be there to enjoy music and food and conversation. It rained a bit last night, but it's just overcast today. Although it has warmed up some, there were a whole lot of bodies happy to get their bottoms on warm seats on the bus to town this morning!
I spliced the hook onto our new snubber line - glad to see that I haven't totally forgotten the splicing skills Ralph taught me back at TYC! Jim has been working at getting our external antenna set up so we have a better wifi connection if it is ever available. He says he will never ever deal with Sea Tech Communications again since they never return e-mails or phone calls. Extremely frustrating!
I took the picture above outside a school on one of our walks. Interesting!
We have booked our flights home and will fly out of Orlando on Dec 14th, returning on Dec 29th. With any luck, the stars will align, the gods will smile, the weather will be favourable and we'll sail on out of here bound for the south and east!
06/12/2010/2:59 pm, Vero Beach, FL
Back on our way again; back to Vero Beach; back to familiar faces. We have come all of 271 miles since we started out. Not much progress if miles are what we are counting; lots of events if we are counting days worth of experiences.
I had a good trip back to Nova Scotia with a chance to check in on all the family except the Ottawa crowd. Jim made good use of his time in Melbourne - changing the water filter, checking all lines, replacing worn fittings and bits and pieces that needed attention, and spending quite a few hours on conference calls and what I have come to call "work-work", i.e. "remunerative work"!
We ate at El Ambio Cubano - a fabulous little Cuban restaurant in Melbourne after he picked me up at the airport (Orlando) on Saturday. The sign says, "Cuban food, Cuban coffee, Cuban energy" and it delivered on all three! It's just a short walk from the marina too. On Sunday morning, we pulled out of our slip and headed down the ICW once more. It rained off and on, but by three o'clock the sun had come out and we were rafted to another boat on mooring #10 at Vero Beach Marina. Our neighbours are Phil, Lorraine and Katie on Changes from Cleveland Ohio - and nice neighbours they are too.
Jim and I took a little tour around the harbour when we went to register, and found many familiar boats, and some with good friends aboard. Karin and Ed (Passages), Cindy and Jeff (Salty Dog) and even Peter and Gail (Jabiru V). We haven't seen these two since the spring of 2008 so it was a real treat to find them here. Solitaire was tied up at the dock although Nancy and Jim were at their "land home". Once the sun went down, it was time to snuggle down in the cabin for a pasta dinner and our books. The temperature changes dramatically depending on whether the sun is out.
This morning (Monday) it was 10 C (approx 46 F) so we lit our little fireplace to take off the morning chill. With coffee and granola to fortify us, we headed ashore to walk to the beach. I was happy to have a fleecy on, but we did warm up as we travelled. I think many cruisers are taking the bus to town or hanging out in the warm laundry room or lounge because of the crowded dock. This pic shows the great crowd of dinghies aka "cruiser's family cars". Please notice our nice new AB dinghy in the foreground! Nancy and Jim arrived to do some work on Solitaire and kindly gave us a lift to the library for internet (there is none here at the marina this year - we heard that Yacht Spots closed up shop so there are probably several marinas without service).
Because the weather outlook is no good for a crossing until the end of the week, and then only a maybe, we are starting to resign ourselves to the idea of leaving Madcap in Florida until after Christmas. It is such a disappointment, but we keep telling ourselves that it's OK. We are not on a schedule! It's sure hard to shake that strong desire to be across the Gulf Stream and into Bahamian waters though!