Northwest

It's Not All Cocktails in the Cockpit Page 2

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“No”, I replied. “The Windex is missing—darn birds!” No evidence of the instrument was on deck, broken or otherwise. It had become another of our sacrifices to Neptune, in the way of the bottle of wine that slithered through a scupper the previous year. Ongoing offerings seemed to be what appeased this god of the sea, including the many and varied tools, the hardware, the sunglasses, cushion and cap. Do these suffice for the god’s favor?

When we arrived at Lake Worth we met our cruising friend Ann, a former single-hander who we hold in high esteem. She went aloft—go girl!—and installed our new Windex. Her partner, Jim, handled the windlass and tailed the halyard for the hoisting while we reviewed the technicalities of the installation. The fix took place on a weekday morning on calm waters. We had held our collective breath. We did not want a roaring motor boat to pass, creating a wake that would have caused Ann to work on a pendulum-swinging mast. The install completed, Ann safely lit on the deck. We exhaled in relief; another cruising experience was under our belts.

The last event transpired slowly, in small increments. The computer, necessary to produce the electronic charts we tamed mariners depend upon, as well as our onboard e-mail, was daily booting ever slower until the engine was required to give it life. Meanwhile, the refrigerator motor hum developed arrhythmia and flashed red lights, discomfiting the crew. After a few tests to check voltage and amp readings, and discussion of the situation with other cruisers, always a necessary action when electronics or mechanical systems misbehave, we contacted a refrigeration technician. His diagnosis consisted of three dreaded words: new batteries needed. Hence we sat in a South Florida marina awaiting delivery and installation of the power providers.

So, “Ten days gone, five things wrong.” Is this a fair accounting of the balances in the cruising life? It’s closer to the truth than we like to think, especially when we know there are those who believe cruising means endless sunny days of indulgence and cocktails in the cockpit.

Then what are the balances? We think of the evening when we were at anchor just off the waterway behind a little island. Quiet symphonic music issued forth from our cockpit speakers. The warm breeze felt soothing as the sun slipped below the horizon. We looked downstream to some truly gorgeous mansions with beautifully manicured lawns bordering the ICW. Yet more appealing to us from our vantage on the hook was the great blue heron standing patiently, totally focused on the water lapping the mangrove roots. This is the spot where he caught his evening’s supper. The nature we are privileged to share is precious. The quiet of early morning saw us, coffee cups in hand, watching once more as Mr. Heron made his breakfast catch. Coupled with the folk we hold dear in this fellowship of cruisers, these are some of the balances.

And so the cruising life continues.

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