Sunday, February 10, 2008
Fascinating People and Dinghy Butt
It's been a while since I posted an update, for two reasons. First, we haven't been traveling much, so there haven't been any groundings or scary adventures. Second, we have been busy meeting many interesting people.
We left Ft. Pierce last Monday, after a whirlwind of sightseeing and socializing with the Thompsons. An uneventful four-hour cruise brought us to Palm Beach, where we planned to visit with my brother, Allen and his wife, Dorie.
First, however, we needed to make contact with Cam, our marine electrician. Phil had been communicating with Cam by e-mail and we were eager to meet him. Cam specializes in marine applications of renewable energy. In other words, he could make our auxiliary power more effective.
Our boat is powered by a bank of batteries, aided by solar panels and a wind generator. When we are traveling, the two diesel engines keep the batteries charged. But when we are at anchor for more than a day or two, the batteries drain quickly. We had felt for some time that the four solar panels and the wind generator weren't providing much help.
Cam had given us the latitude and longitude of his anchorage on Lake Worth, where he lives on a boat with his wife Lee, and their two children, six-year-old Maya and four-year-old Fynn. Using our GPS system, we quickly located their boat among the 100 or so boats anchored at Lake Worth.
Cam and his family dinghied over to our boat. The children don't have television on their boat, so I tuned our TV to children's programming and they were mesmerized. With a snack of crackers and juice, they were soon talking of moving onto our boat.
While Phil and Cam talked about electronics, Lee talked about the challenges of raising children on a boat. Maya and Fynn are now in public school, but Lee is considering home-schooling them on the boat. I told her that all the cruising children I had met so far who were home-schooled seemed exceptional, both academically and socially. I'm not sure why.
Phil and Cam arranged that Cam will begin work on our boat next Wednesday (Feb. 13th). That gave us several days to spend visiting with Allen and Dorie. We moved to a marina near their home on Wednesday and spent the next few days enjoying many dinners with them and their friends.
My brother is a retired political science professor and his wife taught high school English in Kokomo. They spend winters in Palm Beach Gardens and have cultivated a fascinating group of friends here. We enjoy several dinner parties with interesting guests.
After a few days, we left the marina and found an anchorage that is also close to my brother's home. It's in a quiet, protected area with about 50 other boats. Best of all, a large grocery is just a dinghy ride and a short walk away.
Speaking of dinghy rides, the more we use the dinghy, the easier it gets for me. At this anchorage, the dinghy dock is a five-minute ride from the boat. There is a small beach and some posts where we can secure the boat.
There was a gentle rain the other evening when we dinghied ashore for a dinner party. I had heard the term "dinghy butt" before, but had never experienced it until that ride in the rain. The seat of my slacks soaked up a good portion of the rain. Spray from your wake can also cause a good case of dinghy butt. I think I'll take along a towel to sit on next time.
We have met cruisers from two other boats since we anchored here. First was a fellow named Jim, on a 47-foot schooner that he built himself. We ran into him on the way to the grocery the other day. He said it took him, his ex-wife and three girlfriends to finish the boat. (I don't think they all worked on it at the same time!) Jim has been cruising for 27 years. He said he raised his daughter on the boat, home schooling her. She graduated from Notre Dame last year.
The next day, as we were walking to West Marine (the boater's favorite store), we met Rick and Mary from Block Island, Rhode Island. They had just finished sailing their 37-foot boat around the world! It took them six years. On the way back from the store, we stopped for a beer at a local pub and got lots of good tips on cruising, plus some wonderful stories.
After our electrical work is done, we may have to go out into the Atlantic for part of our passage south. That should produce some scary stories. Stay tuned.
The pictures above include one of our solar panels, the wind generator, a view of the other boats in our anchorage and the Palm Beach skyline, our dinghy and my latest horticulture experiment, a pot of geraniums.