A Travellerspoint blog

Still in Marathon #3

sunny 0 °F

The ad rem logbook quote for this blog entry is: Make voyages! Attempt them .... there's nothing else, Tennessee Williams.

Who says boating cannot be fun? Just motor to the dinghy dock. (This is the emptiest I've ever seen it.) Dinghy_Dock.jpgIn the City Marina there are spots for about 200 boats and all but about five or six are in the harbor on mooring balls. So, every time people want to get mail, take a shower, go out to eat, etc. they have to motor to the dingy dock, and there the fun begins. It is the adult equivalent of a kid going to the carnival and driving bumper cars. What could be better? The way is narrow, no one yields, ever; every one is in a hurry so smash-em-up happens and no one minds. The marina has a rule that dinghies have to travel at idle speed in the channel approaching the dingy mooring area, that means in the event about walking speed, 3 to 4 MPH. Boats carom off those already moored; crash into those trying to get out while they are trying to get in; if there's no space just bulldoze your way through and push between two other boats to get to the dock. Best of all, no one cares because no harm, no foul. The dinghies all have 16-in. air filled rubber tubes so they cannot do any damage to each other; if you "ram" a moored dingy, just ricochet and proceed until you hit another. There are no notes under the wipers with addresses and insurance policy numbers. It's all very civilized, a lot of fun and, occasionally, an interesting way to meet new people. However, don't ever bump another boat in the mooring field; those rules are very different.

Along the way and in the harbor we have met and seen many Canadian boats flying the red and white maple leaf; many also fly a pennant which, I assume, signifies Quebec since there are white fleur-de-lis on a blue field. These two are right behind us Canadian_Flags.jpgand there are six or seven more in our immediate mooring area; maybe we’re in a segregated Canadian ghetto. The folks have all been uniformly nice, although some were weak in English, French Quebec again. Regardless, it's hard not to admire their enterprise; whichever way they arrived in Marathon, it's a long trek from Canada. Although, we did meet one Canadian couple in St. Augustine that admitted to keeping their boat in Savannah, GA.

In the harbor all of the boats co-exist with all of the birds, and there are lots of birds: gulls, pelicans, cormorants, the odd duck and many others. There is no interaction between the birds and humans except for the occasional splatter of bird poop on the poop deck. The birds seem oblivious to the boats and people and there does not seem to have been any "learning" where the birds congregate for food as they might near shrimp boats or fish cleaning stations. For the past several mid-mornings there have been many birds, almost certainly more than 1,000, that soar and glide over about 1/2-mile of mangrove swamp. They break into loose groups, sometimes only a couple of hundred or more, recombine and then break up again. (This picture shows about a fraction of 1%) P1240086.jpgWhen they catch a thermal, the mass of the birds circling from low to high provides a sharp definition to the size and shape of the column of warm air. And then, they're gone. This had been fascinating to me so, one morning, I took out the binoculars to try to identify the birds. They have to be common, carrion eating buzzards. It just so unusual to see so many at once. Road kill might attract five or ten; it should take a beached whale to get this much attention. I probably won't enjoy the show as much again.

There is a strange tradition in the Keys that involves sundown; not drinking sundowners, that's to be expected during a good, or any, sunset. This is a noisy one that requires blowing conch horns at the appropriate time except that everyone seems to want to start early. By the time the sun actually sets all save the most leather-lunged have ceased their exertions and, probably, gone back to drinking. What inquiring minds want to know is how can there be so many of these obnoxious horns when harvesting conch in the Keys and, also, the Bahamas is prohibited and why would anyone want to do this anyway? And, by the way, the horns are really, really loud with a low frequency sound that carries very well across water.

We've been learning more about the dew point than I think is absolutely necessary, since I thought that I already knew enough about it. When we first got the boat it didn't seem possible that condensation at and below the water line could put much water into the bilge of the boat. We'd lift a floor board to see water and think that the boat's taking on water and we're going to sink right here at the dock; we never did. I hadn't thought this would be an issue in FL where the surface water temperatures are so much higher than in NC; wrong again! When we do our bilge inspection it's not unusual to pump out a gallon or two. What's new, or at least not previously noticed, are the inside surfaces of the boat. While things topside get dripping wet, on the inside they also pick up moisture, hard surfaces as well as cloth. I don't know a word to describe between dry and damp, but that's what happens until the sun heats up with a little breeze. It feels a lot like living in a sponge: a pervasive, not quite comfortable, sense of moisture all around.

Today is Sunday and the wind generator installation starts tomorrow morning. So, the great emptying began. The deck is covered with stuff Topsaide.jpgand we look a little like a derelict boat. When I started emptying the rear cabin, it's under Carol's purview, it struck me that she is a much more contemporary person than am I. Her storage methodology is based on chaos theory where chaos always triumphs and, therefore, order and discernable pattern are futile and pointless; there's just space and stuff to occupy the space. I learned the word shipshape in 1967 when I reported for duty on the USS Alacrity, MSO-520, to the deck force under the immediate tutelage of a 250-lb. black, cigar chewing, 2d class Boson’s Mate, named Nails (all absolutely true), who did not much like skinny, white college guys with smart mouths, always and ever a failing of mine. I immediately figured out two things: one, that Nails had a particular vision of the world on our ship and that his definition of shipshape was good enough for me and that although I really did not enjoy chipping, painting and cleaning haze gray, then the ubiquitous color of the United States Navy, I would do it effectively and quietly to Nails' vision; second, that I needed to get off the deck force as soon as possible, which I did, but it was not nearly soon enough for me. Anyway, it seems like the distance between 1967/Nails/shipshape and 2009/chaos theory/storage is a chasm that cannot be bridged, easily or ever, despite our 41 years of marriage.

Denise, when she's not snowed in at the house, has been most supportive of us while we're out playing. When we're at a place where we can get mail, she sorts through the growing pile of mail at the house and forwards stuff to us. In almost every package is a small treasure: an Economist magazine or two. Whether on the train, at my desk or in a comfortable chair at the house, my morning routine for decades has included three things: a news periodical, very strong Darjeeling tea and granola. The boat has been the first interruption of that pattern. It is wonderful to reenter the world of information and ideas, even if it's a brief sojourn. Carol has also learned a new trick: she goes to the nearby public library and "begs" old copies of the Wall Street Journal to which I have subscribed for +/- 25 years. Old in this case is about 48-hours, the boating equivalent of CNN Headline News. Grubbing from the library is not quite the same as wearing every piece of your clothing on your body and pushing the rest of your possessions about in a stolen K-Mart shopping basket with a broken wheel, but it's getting really close. Like the Temptations sang: Ain't Too Proud to Beg. All the papers read about the same anyway, regardless of origin.

At one point I tried to explain the boats in the mooring aligning to the wind. This picture shows the concept.Boats_in_a_Row.jpg

Posted by sailziveli 03:30

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