Morning starts around 7:30 or 8:00 AM. We sip french press coffee, knuckle down to read online the New York Times and Washington Post, venting our frustrations with the ‘real’ world. It’s the least joyous time of the day as we deep dive into political chicanery, climate chaos and scholar shootings, but we do it never the less because we are committed to staying connected. Sitting on deck surrounded by sun sparkled water is not the real world; not by a long stretch of the imagination.
This morning, sitting in the shade, in shorts and tee shirt, I breath in balmy breezes, while this week’s laundry churns in the building behind me. There haven’t been many exceptional events lately here in Key West so I’m reporting stuff about sailing life you might not hear or care about. For us, it’s part of the fabric of living aboard.
I reported several weeks ago that I slipped down the companion way steps to not only dislocate my left shoulder, but also jam my “this little piggy stayed home” toe big time. The good news is that I’ve mended some, finally trading in my flip-flops for my soft boat shoes. This is major progress! Crew member, Cindy, jammed the same toe on her right foot just a week ago so she’s still bare footing it up and down the docks with the dream of returning to shoes dancing in her fantasies. John was ill last week as well – something he ate we guess and it was temporary — but we are the “recovering walking wounded”.
And so it goes, cruising life can’t escape chores and maintenance. There is nothing adventurous or exotic here, even though you might think so because we’re aboard our sail boat traveling to cool places like Key West. But, life is life, no matter where you are. There are so many things to take care of — taxes to be filed, bumps and bruises to mend, dental cleanings, hair cuts, laundry, grocery and parts shopping, house cleaning, and routine boat maintenance all must get done. Why, there’s even boat improvements like adding upgrading our VHF radio with an automatic identification system (AIS) receiver so we can see ships when sailing at night.
Instead of mowing lawns, cleaning eves, replacing the water heater, painting the house, getting the HVAC unit serviced and the like, a boat’s routine maintenance includes servicing the diesel engine, swabbing decks, polishing bright work, and keeping our boat’s other systems – plumbing, electrical power, generator engine, communications and navigation equipment — up to snuff. Read the Cheeseburger in Paradise, really? entry for blow-by-blow descriptions of such work. Here in Key West, we’re replacing a life line stanchion that was bent in the Fort Lauderdale incident, polishing the shroud (a rod that stabilizes the mast) that was scratched in the same incident, and other stuff that needs a bit of adjustment. You get the idea.
Yesterday was “Technology Chaos” day, when I learned, much to my frustration and that of my Geek Squad chat agent, that our mobile Verizon hot spot, that I use for secure connections, upgraded itself to 5G from 4G recently. Now my four-year old Lenovo laptop does not recognize the Verizon hot spot. I must use my iPhone hot spot or get a new computer. By the end of the day, I had a flat spot on my forehead from beating it against the chart table.
But it’s not all work here. Whether it’s brunch with key lime bread at Pepe’s on Caroline Street, key lime Popsicles at Mile 0, or fine dining at Antonia’s on Duval Street in Key West, being in town is jolly good fun. We’re saving kayaking through the mangroves and a sunset jet ski tour for when my grandson Ian visits at the end of the month.
On the boat or at the marina, there’s dinner at anchor after a three boat “buddy” sail and overnight at Boca Grande Cay, an informal weekly “everyone come” sundowner party in the marina’s captain’s lounge, or private painkiller gathering aboard Skip’s 47′ Vagabond sail boat.
Much of the time, when we’re out on the water, it’s just plain fun…Watch Cindy blow bubbles at Boca Grande Cay last weekend.
What is the sailing community like? Well, it’s just like your neighborhood. Some people are rich, some are struggling. Some are old, some are younger and some lie about their age. A few are plain weird or gruff, but most are interesting and engaging. It’s like any neighborhood. The longer you stay, the more you build friendships. With the cruising community, you don’t stay forever in one place, but you run across many of the same people as you sail from location to location.
Long time serious sailors have lived aboard for years and think little of “taking off” for long passages. These folks have cliff hanging “almost disaster” stories to tell. Others are less experienced, more cautious sailors who choose to stay protected in the ICW waters. These folks are great listeners to those stories. We’re somewhere in between, carefully planning our way, committing to only a year on the water, having had our own sailing challenges; however, we are becoming more adventurous the longer we sail, successfully tackling big wind, big ways and new waters.
Anyway, the laundry is done, the sun is out and it’s time to go to the pool for a few hours before dinner. Tomorrow is another day, the day I plot our path to the Bahamas. Details to follow.