Sunday, December 26, 2010

We are going home for Christmas. Yeahhh. – But the road is long!!

That will be $25 to check the bag. Do you want to pay cash or use a credit card? The question may as well have been asked in Martian as I stared at the Continental gate agent with a blank look on my face. Today was my first real flight in almost a year, the puddle hopper from Georgetown in the Bahamas to Fort Lauderdale not withstanding. The look of “oh brother” on her face brought on a flush of frustration to my cheeks. She was just barely professional enough to not roll her eyes! But just barely.

Luggage should be free, I screamed, in my head. Smiling counter agents should take all the luggage presented without question and priority tag it to the final destination came the echo. And where is the concierge that would direct me to the lounge for a cup of coffee and perhaps a quick snack before boarding our flight???  Instead of verbalizing my thoughts, I meekly inquired if everybody had to pay, and she pointed to a sign behind her that indicated VIP travelers were exempted from the fees. With a furious flurry of keyboard touches, she told me that her records indicated that I was no longer a preferred frequent flyer. A very brief flicker of sympathy crossed her face followed by what I imagined to be a demonic chortle as she sentenced me to the purgatory of the waiting room.  Now I know what it means to be a fallen angel!

Since our last posting in August, Pat and I have been the closest we have been to civilization in a very long time and yet we were way off the grid in many respects. Our week in the Riverside Boatyard of Fort Pierce, to repair the damage to our rudder caused by the unfortunate squall off of Arthur’s Town, turned into a protracted stay in Vero Beach. At first it was because we were resting up from our ordeal in the boat yard, and then it was because we were pet sitting for friends, but for what ever the reason, we fell into a routine of going for morning walks and riding the free public bus to the Publix supermarket to visit the food.

Vero Beach is a very livable community. There is decent shopping, a real mall and a community theater that would rival the facilities in larger towns.  Despite the hard economic times, people still manage to smile and carry out their daily activities with an energy that belies the double digit unemployment rates of the local economy. The one blemish on what is an otherwise perfect community is the plethora of for sale signs lining the streets. And it was because of the abundance of homes for sale that our curiosity got the better of us and we began to study the real estate listings.

There is an element of serendipity in a cruiser’s life that becomes part of the way of life. Every day is a new day and every day brings new challenges and opportunities that keep things fresh. One quickly learns that there is no such thing as falling into a rut if you are a full time cruiser, after all there are no ruts on the water!  If someone had told Pat and me, a few months ago, that we would be buying real estate in Florida, we would have thought them to be verging on madness. Yet as unlikely as it may have seemed we ended up buying a little investment pied a terre in Vero Beach. So who could have predicted that one night in a less than desirable anchorage would result in a 1500 square foot condo?

After we finished the condo transaction, we closed up shop and headed back to the Bahamas via the wilds of Titusville, where we attempted to be first in line for a space shuttle launching. I think the crew of the Shuttle Discovery are really sailors because the launch date was constantly being delayed to handle maintenance issues. After a week of hanging around the word finally came through that the launch would be further delayed by at least a month and likely longer, so we took that as a sign that we were now clear to head for the Bahamas.

The pictures that are attached to the blog will chronicle our voyage across but the accomplishment worthy of mention is that Pat and I made it from Miami to Nassau in one fell swoop. In approximately 28 hours we went covered what would normally have taken us at least 2 days. Even better, I managed to survive a night passage without holding my dinner in the palm of my hands. Yee hah, I’m slowly but surely getting over the sea sickness monster. We arrived in the Bahamas in mid November and the boat is now safely entrusted to the care of Bob at Kevalli House in Georgetown until our return from Toronto via another short stay in Vero Beach to finish our reno.

Toronto is home but....I am hiding behind a column in the Fairview Shopping Center in Toronto as the waves of humanity trying to complete their last minute Christmas shopping course around me like a stream around a rock. Unlike the rock however, I am not immovable, and I am starting to hyperventilate at the thought of stepping out of the lee of the column and being washed back down the main concourse by the flood of faces. There are more people in this structure at this very moment than there are in the entire Exuma chain at anytime. If it weren’t for the joy of being with family and friends, I would gladly trade the loot from 100 Christmas stockings for the peace and quiet of the Bahamas

So it has come to pass that Pat and I are no longer feeling like novices. We are now firmly into our third year of living aboard and remembering life before cutting the dock lines is becoming a little more difficult. Of course memories of our new and old friends and fun times are much easier to pull from the cobwebs of land life, but it feels much more natural to be “on the boat” Even the relative calm of Vero Beach seems to be a little too claustrophobic after the seemingly endless living space of the boat. It is a paradox that we can feel completely at ease aboard Threepenny Opera in less than 200 square feet of living space, and yet feel crowded, even crushed in our 1500 square foot condo or the endless miles of corridors in the Fairview Mall.

The next year will bring all manner of wonders. Some events will be good, others will be challenges, but all will be enriching in their unique way. The known world is that we will return to Vero Beach after the holidays and finish the work on the kitchen and do some painting. Also we have arranged to move the contents of our storage locker from Mississauga to the new condo, so that we will have some basic furnishings in place. Our priority however is to dispense with our land duties ASAP so that we can rejoin Threepenny Opera and continue our exploration of the Bahamas and points as yet unknown. We may find ourselves in the Caribbean, and we may just hang in the Bahamas for awhile. We have the luxury of time and the freedom to use it as we see fit, so there is no urgency to formulate anything other than possible outlines of a plan.

As I type the final words of this post, I am at my sister’s kitchen table in Toronto, surrounded by the people I love and who love me. Boats, Condos and new places are wonderful, but nothing beats the glow of being content with where you are at the moment. I revel in my good fortune and wish that a little bit of it will rub off on all who have taken the time to read this far.

Have a great week! I know I will.


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This post is dedicated to our friend Milan – who tragically left us far too soon. Fair winds and following seas.


Sailorman said...

Hi guys ... Great pics. Nice to hear from you again. All the best

Barb & Alan

Carol & Helmut said...

As always, great blog, great photos.
Sorry to learn that you were in Toronto and we missed seeing you.
Send an APB next time so we can all gather at the club and buy you a drink.
Keep well.
Carol & Helmut