Thursday, December 18, 2014

Out of hibernation and into the light

The blotchy anaemic uncooked sausage legs have made an appearance. They crawled out of hibernaton and into the light, and eagerly stretched out in the baking warm rays of the sun, begging for a hint of a toasty hue.  Gone are the fur lined tights, purple bobbly woolen hat and bright red mittens. The layers of coats are slumped over in defeat at the back of a closet. 

We’ve turned a corner, reached a milestone, emerged from the encroaching icy grasp of winter, and popped up in the sunshine of southern Florida.
It may seem, in our 5 month tour of the east coast of the USA, that it’s all about the weather. And in a way, it is.
That, and chicken wings (we’ve become expert connosieurs!) and speed boats and hick towns and bridges and grocery shopping and fuel docks, and boat repairs and engine troubles and friendly people and car rentals and climate change.
I’ve never been as cold. I’ve never been so happy to see clear water. I’ve never seen so many mansions. Or so many trailer parks! The ICW is an adventure. One that we will only attempt in warmer weather again.

But now the season is coming to a climax. It’s Christmas! And around here you can’t forget that. Mansions are lit up to the hilt, palm trees glowing, giant Santas and Snoopys and Hello Kittys bob around in the glow of the lights, waving at the passers by. Holiday booze cruises blaring Christmas cheer, trawl the inland waters at night. Local radio stations have gone ’all Christmas’ for the next 2 weeks. There are only so many festive songs… and then they play them over again. And again. And if I hear another mention of chestnuts or Frosty the snowman I might shoot someone.

The end of this season brings an end to our legacy of engine troubles, sorted out (hopefully for good) at a haul out in St Augustine. The overheating starboard engine has had a makeover. I could have had full plastic surgery for the same price! I’ve had my fill of boat yard life for a while. No toilet or fridge onboard, public showers with slimy corners and stranger’s hairs. Um, no thanks. For a while anyway.
Pulling Shiloh against a strong current into a slip for hauling

The engine, mid job. Yikes!!
The season brings an end to our east coast journey. After the Keys in early 2015 we may try our luck up the gulf coast with it’s clearer waters and calmer seas.
We’ll have a new and improved dinghy after today, proving that in America, the squeaky boater gets the replacement, or something like that. Here you can return anything. You can sue people, you can exercise your rights. But you must also obey the rules. So we carry 2 bulky obsolete life jackets, a whistle, light and radio in our dinghy. Because that’s the rule. And the ICW is crawling with border patrol vessels, whose favourite job is to harass pleasure boaters. For our own safety, of course. Cuz you might drown in the 6 foot deep waters…
But we have felt safe and protected and the constant presence of Tow Boat US vessels has kept worries of going ‘aground’ at bay. 

We have loved this crazy coast. Would we do it again? Maybe by road. But southern Florida. I think so. In the past two days since our emergence into clear blue waters, I’ve seen a baby sting ray do acrobatics three feet out of the water, a family of four huge manatees do a private show for us, a turtle pop his little head up to say hi, and we were able to tell if our anchor was holding – because we could see it!!! So yes, we are liking this area.

We are peons of course, among the mega mega yachts and the matching mansions lining the shores, but we can dream and drool and carry on.
Florida Keys, with your swimmable reefs and 40 mile distance from the Bahamas, we are coming your way! Watch out. Roll on holiday season 2014/15!!!