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, June 16, 2009


So we do get water hooked up right away and I go turn on the heater. While I wait, I start dinner; chicken, mashed potatoes and carrots. Jake and Nancy have left to drop Bob off at home and then pick up Jake’s car at the Pet Resort. Before he left, Bob gave me a big hug and said he had really enjoyed getting to know me and hoped I'd had a good time in Florida. I tell him that this trip and the snorkeling trip he took me on were the highlights and thank him for taking me out on the water. He thanks me for rescuing him from falling in the water earlier today. He says he totally over-reacted but he was really afraid that he might get run over by the houseboat. I tell him he had a risk of getting crushed between the hull and the dock, the way things were going. He blanches and says he hadn't thought of that.

When Jake and Nancy get back, dinner is pretty much ready and so we eat. Then I get my much longed for shower and I finish off with a cool water rinse. It feels fabulous but the trouble with doing that is, the heat hits you that much harder when you towel off. But it is worth it.

There is a gorgeous sunset and I grab my camera and take some shots of it. It's one of the nicest since getting here and it's like a going away present for me from Florida.

I dry my hair and then try to figure out how to get the blow dryer and the rest of my stuff into my bags. They are literally bursting at the seams but I manage to find just enough space. I put the blow dryer in my carry-on. I decide to haul the heaviest suitcase out to the car. I have been a bit worried about lugging it from the boat to the dock but they are butting up against each other almost level and it’s a piece of cake. Lifting it into the backseat of the car isn’t quite so easy but I get it in and slam the door. One down, one to go.

I get dressed in the outfit I will wear to go home and then sit in the main salon and think I will watch some TV with Jake but he is sitting there watching the Direct TV logo bounce around a black screen. Apparently the dish is not pointing in the right direction, now that we have moved, and so he can’t pick up the signal. I can’t believe he is sitting there, out of habit I guess, watching a logo. He is drunk and so in a mood to regale me with stories again. Some I have heard already but I just let him talk. He has a good laugh over poor Bob hanging onto the side of the boat; he has brought it up at least 8 times throughout dinner and the evening. He asks me a strange question. “As a WOMAN, what was going through your mind when I told you the cleat was at your feet and you saw it?” “The one I picked up, you mean?” “Yeah.” “I thought, he can’t mean this but it’s the only one I can see.” He shakes his head. “What a blond moment.” he declares. “Umm, I hope you realize I wasn’t serious. It was meant for comedy relief.” He doesn’t say anything.

Eventually he heads off to get some sleep and I stay up and read. At about 1a.m. Nancy gets up to see why the light is on. I guess it is bothering her so I turn it off and watch the electrical storm over the everglades for a bit and then go to my room. It’s looking very bare now. There is just my purse, my straw hat, and my backpack. I lie down on the bed and read for a bit and then turn off the light and nap. I doze in and out of consciousness, listening to the wind howl and rock the boat, until 3 a.m. when I get up and put some makeup on for the first time in two weeks. It’s not hot inside and just nice and warm outside and I will be in a climate controlled atmosphere for the rest of the day so I figure it won’t slide of my face in 15 minutes like it has been doing. Once that is done, I try to wake Jake, who moved into the salon and is dead to the world on the couch. I can’t rouse him. This is the guy who told me last night that he ‘just has to talk to himself about what time to get up when he lies down and that’s it, he wakes right on time.’ Ya, right. I decide to haul my remaining suitcase out to the car and when I go to the back deck, the boat has shifted in the wind and now the small cement dock is to the far port-side of the stern. Fortunately I can still step off ok because it has become wedged hard between the boat and the land. The wind has whipped the water into a foamy chop all around the back deck and the water splashes over the carpet. I roll my pants up to my knees and wrangle the bag off the boat and onto land. I try to watch for poisonous frogs and any other critters that like to come out in the dark. It's hard to see much but there is a powerful light on the neighbouring property about a hundred feet away and so it isn't pitch black out. I don't see anything moving. This suitcase is much easier to get into the car. I go back for my backpack and once that is in, I have to try to wake Jake again.

I loom over him and poke his shoulder, “JAKE!” I say loudly. His breathing changes. This is progress. I repeat the process and his breathing quiets. I repeat one last time and he wakes up with a laugh, of all things. “Hehehe… I was right out of it there.” he says. “It’s time to get up, we need to get going.” I say. It is now 3:35 and I wanted to leave at 3:30, as in - driving away. Nancy has heard us and gets up to make Jake a cup of tea to take in his thermos cup. By the time we are in the car and pulling out, it’s 3:45. Jake say’s it takes an hour and a half to get to Fort Lauderdale Airport. My flight leaves at 6:30 and I want to be there no later than 5:00. He says I don’t need to be there ‘till 5:30. That is shaving it too close for me, thus my wanting to leave at 3:30. Looks like we have split the difference.

He moseys on at a leisurely pace, going 40 in a 55. At this rate it will take two hours to get there and I start to worry. He picks up the pace a bit but the whole way there he keeps dropping way below the speed limit and then, eventually, getting back up just to drop back down almost right away. I am on pins when the clock reads 5:30 and there is no airport in sight. Not even a sign on the freeway saying the airport is ahead.

Eventually those signs start to appear and the road divides repeatedly and more than once I have to call out, “You need to be in that lane there!” Or “You have to exit here.” “Where?” “There, coming up on the right. Now. NOW!” I can finally see the airport on our right and the exit for it is clearly marked as right ahead. The two far right lanes both exit and he is in the left one, which also leads to a second exit. He misses the exit we need and now we are headed onto a different highway, despite my calling out, “You need to go right. You need to BE OVER THERE. Great, you missed it.” He gets annoyed. “Maybe you should drive.” “No, I just want to get to the airport and we are short on time.” It is now 5:40. He, once again, takes this opportunity to say, “I don’t know how you think you could go sailing. You can’t handle a bit of a problem without panicking.” I want to tell him to sod off but I say nothing. He takes the next exit and now we are on a normal street. He turns right at the first light and it’s a private road leading into some sort of work-yard with a big security gate. He pulls a U turn and when we get back to the light I see a sign that says to turn left for the airport. I tell him to turn left and, thankfully, he does. I keep my eyes peeled for more signs for the airport and eventually, with me telling him when to turn, we get there. He asks me which terminal I am going to and I have just seen the sign that lists them and they are color-coded. I quickly pull out my E-ticket but there is nothing on it about what terminal. Jake has just seen a sign for Continental Airlines and so follows the yellow signs. I tell him to get in the far right lane for departures but he stays where he is and we go down a level to arrivals. It is now almost 5:54 and I am really worried. He stops at the Continental sign and I jump out to go find a cart for my bags. When I get inside, the place is deserted except for a big guy in an orange shirt waking towards where I am. I see the baggage carts but they cost $4 in coins and I don’t have any change. I practically accost the poor fellow and beg him to help me. I tell him that the person who drove me missed the exit for departures and I need to get up there as soon as possible. He asks where I am flying to, I tell him and he knows my flight number. I tell him I don’t have the change for the carts. He asks me where my bags are and I tell him they are outside still. I walk to the doors and he comes with me. When we get out there, Jake has literally dumped my bags all over the sidewalk. They are upside down, on end, and my backpack, which contains my laptop, is lying on its side. I don’t think of it right then as all I am concerned with is getting to the check-in desk but later I wonder if he tossed my bags and if my computer will be ok. Gladly, when I get on my flight in Houston, I get it out and turn it on and its working fine. Jake is getting back in his car and I am sure would have just driven off and left them there, but he sees me and asks, “Do you have everything now?” I say that I do. He gets in the car and drives of without so much as a good-bye. I was planning to give him something for gas and tolls. Oh well.

The big guy takes both of my large bags and lifts them. I tell him they have wheels and he drags them inside and to the elevator. I follow behind pulling my backpack, which is also on wheels. When we get to the check-in the line-up isn’t too long and I am relieved to see it. The fellow drops my bags right in front of the desks. I thank him profusely and press $2 into his hand. He doesn’t want to take it but I insist and tell him I wish it were more, as he has been a hero, but it's all the small bills I have. He takes it and leaves and I wait my turn to check in.

I am soon called up to the ticket desk and then the agent promptly walks away and leaves me standing there. I look down and realize that I need to check myself in on the computer that is there. It takes two tries as it won't read my passport but it finally works. Once that is over and I pay for just one overweight bag, even though the other was one pound over but she let it go, I head back downstairs to security. I hate this part. I have to go through the line with the thing that puffs air at you and I don’t like that either. It always makes me jump when it goes off. Then when I go through the metal detector, I set it off. I forgot I had my cell phone in my pocket. I take it out and go through again. All is good. Well, not so fast. They are looking at the x-ray of my backpack and see something they don’t like. They call a guy over and he asks whose bag it is. I say it’s mine and he takes it and me over to a table to go through it. He opens it up, removes a couple of things, pokes around at what is left and then puts it all back together. That was easy.

When I get to my gate, which is close to security for once, they are already boarding and have just called my row. I walk right up and, once my pass is checked, right onto the plane. That is a first for me. Usually I am there 2 to 3 hours before boarding. I hate being stressed out with last minute rushing and so never, ever check in less than 3 hours before my flight, and more often 4. I really wanted to buy a bottle of water as I am parched but there was no time. When I get settled into my seat, I am in the back of the plane, second to last row. The drink tray starts right at the front. The couple beside me sip, somewhat smugly it seems to me, on the lattes and waters that they had time to buy before boarding. Ah, well. I am on my way HOME and other than a dry throat, I couldn’t be happier.

I am leaving Florida without seeing Key West or going to Disney World, the only two places I would think to go if I was going to take a vacation here. It seems a shame but, one day, I will come back and do both. With some or all of my kids.

I didn’t get to learn how to sail, or dive either. My whole purpose for coming never happened. But it wasn’t a waste of time. I got to spend time with my cousin who I hadn’t seen for 18 years. I have a fantastic tan and feel very rested. I got to go snorkeling and see everything in perfect clarity, thanks to my prescription mask. I saw dolphins in the wild and experienced the thrill of one swimming with our boat. I made a new friend. And best of all, I had time to think about what is really important to me in this short life and, as I always knew, it’s my kids. Even though I was feeling like my job was done and they didn’t need me anymore, I now know I couldn’t leave them for more than a few months at a time. They mean the world to me and my world without them in it isn’t much of a life. I can't wait to see them.

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