S.V. Aloha

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Working is overrated…. just move onto the boat…

The common response to “I’m just here on vacation till Monday, gotta go back to work” the past week.

As I said previously, the compromise with B was, if he would come up to Orlando and spend time with my family, I would spend a week on the boat with him. Honestly I think it was a win-win for me. Having my cake and eating it too 🙂

A 5 hour drive with someone to talk to was so much better than a 14 hour drive straight through. Although he was forced to listen to my playlist of country music, he didn’t complain. We made it to the marina around 11:30pm and dinghyed out to what would be considered home for the next week.

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A 1983 Catalina 30, complete with kitchen and separate bathroom (which he installed a showerhead himself). In all honesty, the space from that ladder to the bathroom wall is probably about the size of the bathroom in my apartment… it takes a little adjusting. Talk about living on top of someone. I will say, out of all the boats I’ve toured with B, his is my favorite. It’s the cleanest (he’s a little bit of a neat freak) and has the most open floor plan.

I’ve also grown accustomed to the only accessory accepted for boat life…

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Tuesday provided both of us a new experience with getting to know each other…. Grocery Shopping. With not much easily accessible storage space, I had to refrain from loading up on junk food. He’s a much healthier eater than I am, but we were able to agree on fruit…. and 4 cases of gatorade.

After loading all the groceries into the boat, it was finally time to test my sea-sickness tolerance with a sail. The wind and seas were favorable, and after we jump started the motor we had a fairly easy sail. Minus the time when he told me to hold the wheel and the wind changed blowing the jib back across the boat…. A potentially dangerous situation that luckily didn’t result in any ripped sails. He still let me steer after that.

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We cut the motor half way out towards Sombrero Key Light and continued on only wind power. We thought about jumping on a mooring ball among the reef to dive a little but then realized we both wanted showers before one of the other boater’s farewell parties. It was a potluck, but we both had cravings for fast food, and nothing to contribute so we ended up at Burger King for dinner.

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Apparently its customary to pour a shot for Posiedon to ensure safe passage among the seas. Pete, the owner of this all steel vessel, is headed to Guatemala to start his world tour, which will take him 5 years to complete. One of my favorite things about Pete’s boat is that the countertop is actually the original mahogany from Elvis’ Chris-Craft! Talk about a piece of history.

Due to the fact that I drove down to the marina, we decided it would be easy to get some of the errands done that were on the list. I mean, who doesn’t like to be spoiled by air conditioning on a hot and humid day. So much better than a sea breeze at that point… at least your ass stops sweating for a few minutes. B took me to one of his local hangouts, the Steak & Lobster for lunch. Apparently he comes here a lot, it has complimentary wifi and the staff all know him. The bartender places a water (no ice) in front of him as soon as he sits down at the bar. A lazy day leads us back to the boat and a neighbor fighting with his anchor line. Apparently its caught on a submerged engine of some sort and B dinghys to the rescue

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He’s been teasing me most of the afternoon about having fish for dinner, but doesn’t tell me where. We finally end up at one of his buddies’ girlfriend’s boat for fresh Mahi, beans & rice, and fun conversation. I’m also introduced to one of my new favorite beers – Not Your Father’s Root Beer.

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We tried sailing out again Thursday, this time with a second set of snorkel gear in tow. Back out to Sombrero Key Light we went and joined the group of dive boats around the reef. I forgot how much the swells rock a boat in shallow water, so the only fix was to jump in! I was in heaven. I hadn’t been diving since 2010 in Punta Cana when I got my PADI Open Water Dive Certification. After swimming around and playing with the fish while B attempted to work and scrape the bottom of the boat, I’ve decided I need to get back into diving. I kept circling the boat, following the schools of fish and got very excited when a stingray crossed my path. At one point I look up to see B’s fins jumping into the dinghy and I quickly realize why. There is a rather large Barracuda hanging out directly beneath the rudder. He jumps out, I try to swim as close as possible without pressing my luck. I kind of like all my fingers staying attached, the thing was the size of my leg.

He’s apparently swallowed a bit too much sea water and we start heading back. We had forgotten to eat lunch so into dinner at one of the dockside restaurants near the mouth of the harbor we went. As we dinghy back to the boat, we meet one of the women from the farwell party. We begin chatting cordially, and she informs us about a new boater who is stranded outside the harbor. Apparently she’s been there for 2 days without food, and needs a tow to get to her to her mooring ball.

B looks at me, mind you its 10pm by now, and asks if its ok if we go out to find her. I convince him to wait till the morning, Hillary has brought this new boater some food, and she’s probably already asleep. He gets up bright and early the next morning and heads out in search of the damsel in distress. About an hour later, here comes the tow boat passing by with B waving galliantly like a knight in shining armour.

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I’d been enjoying my quiet morning, writing in my journal and watching a thunderstorm roll through as I watch them sail by. And another hour passes before my phone rings asking if I’m hungry for breakfast. The new boater’s name is Zea, although we find out immediately that her nickname is Missy. We run a couple errands with her, picking up her dinghy motor, grabbing a battery and some other odds and ends to keep her project list full, and then head to the Stuffed Pig for an awesome biscuits and gravy brunch.

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We celebrated the 4th of July from the hammock strung across the front of the boat. The wind perfectly positioned us to watch the fireworks as they soared above the mangroves while supplying a steady, calming, breeze. It’s easy to fall asleep in a hammock like that.

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I’d been wanting to visit Key West since my last holiday. Just another place on my bucket list, so he humored me and we drove out. After a small snafu that made us turn around, and then start the journey over, we passed by Mile Marker 0 and headed straight for the Buoy that marks the Southernmost point in the Continental US.

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We then wandered our way up to the Key West Lighthouse and Keeper’s Quarters Museum for a little history lesson.

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We thought about visiting the Hemingway House as well, but decided against it in favor of just wandering around together. Very reminiscent of our first date. We asked one of the locals where to find a decent smoothie and crawled back into the car to Marathon.

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It had finally come to the day we were both dreading… The day I had to load back into the car to come home. B kept trying to stretch the day out, we started in the marina so I could jump on my conference call while he did laundry. Then it was time for lunch at Burdines, a stop a the hardware store (walking around the entire store after he’d already grabbed the parts he needed) and an impromptu purchase of a cowboy hat. I luckily split the drive into 2 days so I didn’t have a repeat 16 hour trip home. Grandma was super gracious to allow me access to her trailer in Leesburg, FL, only about 6.5 hours from Marathon and then another 8.5 hours to New Orleans.

I’m not sure when the next time is I’ll get to visit again, work is picking up pretty rapidly. Although I do love the time spent on the boat and being able to completely unplug for a while. Hopefully he’ll decide to stop in NOLA for a few days to save me from another ass numbingly dull 14 hour drive all by my lonesome.

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