Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Wired Again

Melbourne Florida, N28 08 W80 37
December, 21, 2005
I’m finally reunited with my PC after a month getting it repaired. It feels very good to be wired again. For the past month my only access to computers was at public libraries where they limit you to 30 minutes per day. That’s not enough for me.

To catch up on recent history: we sailed back down the St. John’s river from Jacksonville to Blount Island, close to the sea. It was our intention to go outside (to sea) and sail down to Cape Canaveral. It would have been a 30-25 hour voyage. Unfortunately, the weather turned against us again. The winds were OK, but the forecast was for cold and rain. With great reluctance, I decided that it would not be prudent to go to sea. We would be short handed (I’ve come to accept that the two of us aren’t enough crew for offshore voyages), on top of that it would be cold with below freezing temperatures at night, and then it would be wet. Those things in combination made it too risky.

The backup plan was to use the Intracoastal waterway (ICW) so that’s what we did. It was cold and wet sailing on the ICW too. It took us three days to get 160 miles to Melbourne. As I listened to the weather reports during those three days, it made our decision sound better. The weather at sea worsened from the early forecasts. There were gale force winds and 12-15 foot seas.

Despite the weather, we made good time on the ICW. We finally learned to time our trips to take advantage of tidal currents, so we managed to have 1 to 2 knot currents with us almost all the time. We also had the foresail up and a stiff tailwind. With motor plus wind plus current, we were able to exceed 7 knots over the ground much of the time. That’s excellent speed.

Between the Saint John’s river and the city of Saint Augustine, the Tolmato River is lined with closely spaced houses. Most of them have a dock and a boat in their back yard. The wealth of the landowners varied from very rich to very poor. It was interesting to note that the poorest people seemed to project the image of the most warm and fun loving. On the other extreme, the homes of the richest people appeared formal and sterile. We didn’t see the people, only their backyards, so the observation is based only on the image projected by their yards.

In Saint Augustine, we anchored for the night just south of the Bridge of Lions. That bridge reminded me of one of the most ignoble and most embarrassing moments in my life. In 1985, we were living in Sweden but on vacation back in the states. We bought an old junker van to use for the vacation, and we drove from New York to Florida. We had a lot of trouble with the van during the trip. One problem was with the fuel line. It leaked. I did a temporary repair with duct tape, but the glue from the tape partially blocked the fuel line. The only way I could prevent the van from stalling at low speeds was to keep my foot full on the throttle.

One day, I crossed the Bridge of Lions in Saint Augustine. I noticed that there seemed to be a lot of people walking on the bridge. Some of them were walking on the roadway. I would have slowed or stopped for them, but the van would have stalled. Therefore, instead of stopping I leaned on the horn and made the people jump out of the way to avoid being run over as I barreled through at 40 mph. When we were nearly over the bridge I suddenly realized that the people were doing the Special Olympics. Well, I felt one inch high as I drove away, thoroughly ashamed of myself, but there was nothing I could do to undo the damage or to apologize.

Further south, as we passed Titusville Florida, we looked to the shore of the river on the west and saw what must be the world’s best lawn ornament. There was an office building near the river with a space shuttle sitting on the lawn. That sure beats a plastic pink flamingo. It even beats a plaster Virgin Mary. I think the shuttle was real. The building was next to the NASA causeway bridge and only a few miles from the NASA airstrip and the Vertical Assembly Building. Perhaps they took the shuttle to the shop for an oil change. If the shuttle on the lawn was only a model, it was a full scale model.

In Melbourne, we’re visiting with my brother Ed, and my sister in law Sally. We’ll also get to visit Dave and Jonnie Hackett. After that we’ll resume the southward trek.

Last week, I looked at the calendar and realized how unrealistic my timetable was to get to Pas Christian. I had been saying we would be in Pas Christian by New Year. That’s not even close. It will take several more weeks to get there. I guess I’m learning to live life as a retired person, or as a sailing cruiser. The days and weeks slip by, and I hardly notice. Perhaps one of these days I’ll be saying we’ll be there soon (this year, next year, the year after that, it’s all soon.) For a person who for many years, drove one project after another on hurried timetables, that’s a very big shift in attitude.

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