I wanted to shake up my life and go sailing (or learn on the job, so-to-speak) so headed to Florida to crew on a catamaran. This is about how it went or, rather, didn't - and my life since. Hopefully it will lead to a catamaran on the clear aqua blue waters of the Caribbean Sea, watching the sunset, a coconut rum and coke in hand. You must START AT THE BEGINNING of the blog, April 2009, to get the whole story...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Friday night we go out for dinner again, all you can eat Fish Fry at Sharkey's. We sit at the bar upstairs and when our food comes the fish is delicious. I am almost done eating when Nancy casually mentions that the fish is Mahi Mahi. Dolphin. I love dolphins and never wanted to eat Mahi Mahi because of that and the look of dismay on my face conveys what I am thinking. Nancy tries to reassure me that it is a different kind of dolphin than you can swim with. I am not really reassured.

After dinner we head over to a local hang out called The Big Chill. Loud rock and roll oldies blare from speakers and the place is packed with people heading into mid-life or already well into it. It is mostly singles, from the look of it, and it is fascinating to watch women, who have had too much to drink, throw themselves at the bemused and willing guys. I feel like a fish out of water and am glad we don't stay too long. It is raining so everyone is crowded under the covered bar area. It's a shame because out on the dock there are rattan couches with big fat cushions but they are soaked through. The rain lets up a bit and I walk over to the rail that overlooks the water which is flood lit with lights down on the seabed about 5 feet down. There are Tarpon and even a Stingray swimming circles around the lights, as well as lots of other smaller fish and I spend quite a bit of time watching them with Nancy.

Saturday morning dawns and Nancy and Jake are nowhere in sight. They have left for the day already but have left me the truck and so I go out and get some groceries and then I get stuck into cleaning the kitchen. As Nancy is working seven days a week, things just aren't getting done around the houseboat and I told her I will do some cleaning. I start with the fridge because I don't want to put the groceries away until it's clean so I take everything out and throw away a lot of stuff that is well past its expiry date. Then I get onto the stove, counter tops and cabinets. It takes the better part of 5 hours and with the heat and humidity I am too exhausted to do any more cleaning once I am satisfied with the kitchen. I plop down on the couch with a drink and Katie crawls over from her place on the opposite end onto my lap.

I decide it is far too warm inside and go sit out on the back deck, Katie following close behind. This dog is the sweetest dog I think I have ever known. She jumps up on the chair I have my feet propped up on because I don't want the heat of her on my knee, and promptly falls asleep. I just sit there enjoying the view of the water and the mangroves. There are at least twenty sailboats moored out in the bay and as I look them over I see that there is one turned over on it`s side. Two more have their masts laying down and sticking out over the bow. I realize that those boats are abandoned. I have read about this on the internet; how, due to the recession, people can no longer afford to pay to keep their boats at a marina or even moored so they disable them, grind off the registration numbers and then abandon them either at the side of the road or out on the water. Later I mention this to Jake and he tells me that not long ago there were dozens of them and the county came and removed them all. How sad. I can think of several people who would love to have a boat and can't afford to buy one. Me included. And here, perfectly good boats are left to the elements.

When Jake and Nancy return for the day, I have made curried chicken breasts, roasted potatoes, corn on the cob and a salad. Jake doesn't eat very much but Nancy and I enjoy the food. Once we clean up from dinner, I hook my computer up to their TV and we watch 'Taken'. Good movie but it is the third time I have seen it and I am so worn out I can't keep my eyes open for most of it.

The next afternoon we head to Sharkey's because Jake told me this morning that they have wireless internet there. So he goes inside to the bar and I sit outside in the outdoor bar that isn't staffed so is empty at the moment, and get on the internet. I update my blog and check my emails and facebook; that takes about two hours. Then, while my computer downloads the episodes of Lost, The Tudors, and Survivor that I have missed, I go sit in the outdoor patio and order a late lunch. I take my time over the meal and read my book. The sun is out and so are the boaters. The deck is on a canal and boaters go back and forth all day at a slow pace either coming or going on a day out on the water. It feels like I am on vacation and I am really loving it. About two hours later, Jake comes out of the bar and asks me if I am ready to go. I am and we head off to pick up Nancy and go for our regular afternoon visit to the property to feed the animals, let the dogs run, and have a drink on the pontoon boat.

Nancy is more tired and hot than usual and I suggest that when we get home we change into swim suits and head over to the Holiday Inn pool for a swim. They had both mentioned earlier that the hotel's management allow the locals to come and use the pool. She thinks that is a great idea.

Once at the pool, Jake heads straight to the Tiki bar at poolside and we get into the warm water. We swim lazy laps while talking and the water works it's magic on our overheated, tired bodies. After an hour or so, we drive back to the houseboat and Nancy makes a meal of stuff from the freezer. Onion rings, potato skins, spring rolls. I am not very hungry so just pick at a couple of things. We head off to bed early as the heat has really taken its toll on us today. It was mid 90's all day. No idea what the humidity was but it had to be significant.

Monday I start working at the Pet Resort. The plan is for Nancy to leave to be there at 8 as usual and then I will go in at 9, stay till noon or 1 and then come back at 4. I arrive at 9 and set about tidying the office a bit. Nancy shows me the appointment books; one for grooming, one for boarding, and a sheet for day care. I learn how to work the till, and then sit and go through the price list. The phone rings and I start for real.

Nancy keeps the little dogs in for boarding or day care in the office area so I have 4 or 5 dogs at my feet, including Katie. Any time I pet one of the other dogs she comes waddling over, annoyed that anyone but she is getting my attention.

A couple visiting from Europe arrive with 6 puppies they found in a plastic bag at the side of the road, just across the bridge. Nancy goes out to look at them and then calls a rescue society here in Key Largo. She brings the puppies inside and puts them in a crate. When Elliot, the hired yard help, finds out he goes ballistic. He berates Nancy for bringing them into the facility when the health of the puppies is unknown. He has a valid point but the way he goes about making it shocks me. He is yelling at her and repeating himself over and over. It goes on for at least 20 minutes. I can't believe that an employee thinks it is OK to talk to his employer this way. I want to step in and tell him he has made his point and now he needs to shut up. But I can't do that on my first day here so I just sit there and feel sorry for Nancy.

Someone from the society comes and takes the puppies to the vet. Turns out one of the puppies has a fractured leg, and they all have some sort of communicable disease. They are brought back to Nancy while I am gone to the store, and apparently Elliot goes ballistic again to both Nancy and the society volunteer. They quarantine the dogs in a crate but Elliot is not satisfied and won't be until the dogs are off the property. He spends the rest of the day stomping about the yard barely doing his job and won`t talk to anyone.

I stay until 2, leaving for an hour at one point to go buy some water and something for lunch. I forgot I need to pack my own lunch... the movie industry has spoiled me. At 2 I go back to the houseboat and relax, watch some of Survivor on my laptop and then head back to the Pet Resort to get Nancy and go to the property. I arrive at 4:30 on the dot and Nancy is at the gate outside. I hop out of the truck to help her with the dogs and food etc. and she tells me I was supposed to be there at 4. I thought it was 4:30 and now Jake is on his way from the property to pick her up. I feel terrible. Jake arrives and I walk over to his car to apologize. He laughs and says he just knew I would be there when he drove up. He turns around and heads back to the property.

We take Nancy's three dogs in the cab of the truck and put the puppies in the back (there is a canopy) and when we get to the property we set up a fence that we brought from the Pet Resort and put the puppies inside. The one with the purple cast on it's leg goes straight into the crate and lies down. It is still dopey from anesthetic. The other 5 are medicated, one by one and then fed and watered. Once everyone is fed and happy, including the goat, we head over to the pontoon boat and collapse into chairs. This is hard work!

Earlier, at the shop, I had been on my computer and checked a website that a woman on Tortola has that tracks weather as well as she blogs about life there. In her blog she mentions that there is a weather system moving to Cuba and then lower Florida that will have high winds and about 6 inches of rain by Friday. I mentioned it to Nancy and so she had Elliot prepare the yard for rain by bringing in some things and tarping others. Jake scoffs at the idea of it raining today as it is hot and sunny. As we are sitting on the pontoon boat we see clouds moving in fast and suddenly it starts to POUR... literally a deluge. Nancy and I run to get the puppies and dogs out of the rain. Jake runs to his car and sits inside. We each grab two puppies and take them to a camperized bus that is on the property. It's a heap but it is dry inside and we set up the fence in there and plop the puppies two by two inside. Just one trip and I am soaked to the skin and my hair is plastered to my head. I look like I just stepped out of the shower. Water is running off my arms. I can hardly believe it. Once the puppies are inside we turn our attention to the dogs. Suddenly I feel stinging all over my feet. I look down and there are tiny ants all over my feet and lower legs. I yelp out and Nancy takes one look and says, "Those are fire ants! Go hose your feet off right now." I run over to the hose and start hosing as fast as I can but not before I get bitten, or stung, about 20 times. It hurts like heck and I learn why they are called FIRE ants. I jump into the cab of the truck and rub my legs with a paper towel and make sure there aren't any left on my feet or that one hasn't gone up the hem of my capris. I am moaning about how it hurts when Nancy gets in the cab and she calls me a baby. It HURTS!!!

We get back to the houseboat, we have brought the puppy in the cast with us. Nancy goes about getting it settled in the shower stall for the night. I go change out of my sopping wet clothes and start dinner. I make a chicken stir fry, and when Nancy comes in to help I ask her to get the rice started. She opens the rubbermaid container and the rice is full of weevils. Same with the bag of rice. Jake pulls out a jar of sushi rice and this is bug free. We cook it up and, despite not having all the usual ingredients I use to make stir fry, it tastes delicious.

While we are cleaning up from dinner, the wind really starts to howl and there is lightening on the horizon on three sides of us. The rain is coming down like you only see in movies. As the wind gets stronger I tell Jake that if the houseboat was in the water, this wouldn't bother me but as we are up on stilts, I ask if he is worried it might get blown over. He says he would love that if it happened because then he could collect the insurance for it and build his house. Great. I don't want to wake in the night being tossed out of bed with the boat flying around. I tell him this and he laughs at me. Nancy looks out the window and says this is a lesser version of when they have a hurricane. That is what the website said that I had read earlier... that it was a small hurricane. Jeepers. I wasn`t expecting to experience this just yet. Hurricane season isn't supposed to start until June.

I head off to bed and watch the rest of Survivor and then The Tudors to take my mind of the weather. Once I don't have anything else to watch I switch off my light and watch the lightening show through my open window until I drop off to sleep. The wind dies down at some point in the night, although the lightening never stopped, and the boat stays put. Thankfully.

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