12 November 2007 | Fort Lauderdale
So it turns out I'm staying two doors down from the Porn Megaplex. Er, perhaps some background is in order.
Hideko and I had a one year plan to get prepared to live on a yacht and cruise around the world. I think we, especially Hideko, did a good job of executing that plan. It involved the entire ASA program except Celestial Navigation and Passage-making, although I did take the Celestial course. We also completed the IYT Master of Yachts Coastal course.
While the ASA classes were good for recreational boating I felt that the IYT program was much more in line with the needs of someone living aboard. There's a big difference between living on a boat and recreating on a boat. If you are recreating and the weather's bad you tie the boat up and go home or sail the boat back to the charter base or what have you. If you live on the boat and the weather is bad you suck it up and deal with the situation. It is important to be prepared to deal with said situation.
The Master of Yachts Coastal program required real on the water time, night sailing a radio rating and involved a lot of elements I found quite valuable in the class room and practical portion off the course. So as we refined our plan we decided that the IYT Master of Yachts Offshore would be a good rating to have prior to crossing an ocean but after we had a years worth of sailing in the Caribbean under our belts.
I needed to go to Florida for business sometime in November. A few days before we left for Trinidad I began looking into course availability for the Off Shore program in Florida. As I pulled the thread the sweater unraveled and the next thing I knew Hideko and I were discussing whether I should go to Fort Lauderdale to complete the course in a few days or not. We knew there would be a lot of down time in Trinidad while we had various projects completed. Everyone is coming back to Trinidad to get their boats out of the yards for cruising season and all of the shops that should have had various tasks completed three months ago on those boats are scrambling.
In the end we decided that this might be the last chance to complete the final step in our preparations plan. Hideko said go and although I have a hard time being away from my family for a day or two, much less three weeks, I decided that the knowledge and the license were worth the unhappiness in the long run.
The round trip from Port of Spain to Fort Lauderdale was only $500 US and a snap on Expedia. My final task was finding a hotel close to the school because the class was 17 solid days in a three week period with one night in the pool playing with life rafts and 5 days at sea. Fort Lauderdale was packed. I tried several hotels and had no luck. I inquired at the school and they informed me that there were crew quarters that I could stay in. Huh, Crew Quarters, who knew? I called the first one on the list and boom, I was set, and at a rate of $50 a night!
An alarm should have gone off in my head at this point, but no. I arrived at the airport and the crew quarters folks even picked me up. I was very up beat. Then the rules were explained, no parties after hours, no entering the girls part of the house, garbage goes over here, never go in the front door, and on. My vision of a quaint suburban abode with three or four folks relaxing by the pool studying for the 200 ton masters license was deflating. As we arrived at the house the stark reality seized me by the shoulders and gave me a good shake.
The house is, well, ratty. Not that there are rats, well, none that I have seen. What I mean is that the walls are scuffed with no base boards, the carpets are of a condition that inspires you to avoid direct skin contact, the upstairs sports a drop ceiling like a cheap office building, the sheets don't match and have holes in them, you have to provide your own towel (which is probably a blessing), I could go on but you get the idea.
It has been entertaining to some degree. There are little notes everywhere telling you the dos and don'ts. While the experience has been somewhat humbling, which is never bad, I do miss having a desk to study at, my one real gripe. It is very close to everything and I have been able to walk, right past the Porn Megaplex, to the school and there are plenty of restaurants close by. That said, the bottom line is that unless you are under 29 and enjoy staying in a house with 15 other young adults, I would skip the crew quarters and check into the Embassy Suites (I tried to yesterday but they are full up). I enjoyed Animal House the movie, I also liked being able to turn it off and go to sleep if I wanted to.