February 10, 2009

The cruising life

“WHAT’S IT LIKE to go cruising?”

The question came from a new friend we’d made in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We were on an extended voyage.

Go north on Hendrick’s Isle, I told her, to where the sign says “Royal Retreat,” and in front of the yachts moored in the canal you’ll see the tiki hut beside the swimming pool. That hut is our town hall, our pub, our meeting place, our parliament.

From the tiki, it’s only a few steps to any of our five cruising boats. The hut’s open sides let in cooling breezes and its palm-frond roof keeps out most of Florida’s summer downpours.

“But what do you do there?” my friend asked.

What we’re mostly doing in the tiki hut this week is scientific research.

“Really?” She sounded impressed.

Yes, our mighty brain power is finely focused, I explained. We have this crab that lives in the sand just outside the hut. One day, at breakfast time, Bob from the Prout catamaran discovered that it eats Cheerios, so for the past three days we’ve been engaged in a quest to establish whether crustaceans can also exist on Quaker Oats, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, and Almond Delights.
Captain Crunch, so named because of the difficulty he experiences berthing his Morgan 42, proposed that we test Twinkies as well, but parliament voted him down. I mean, it’s a proven fact that Twinkies is not breakfast food, although Ozzie from the Kookaburra 35 said it might be all right to test Twinkies after 12 noon. The consensus, however, was that including Twinkies would only muddy our research, invalidate our conclusion, and probably thwart publication of our scientific paper . . .

“Crabs? Corn Flakes? Twinkies?” My friend was as astonished as she was skeptical. “Is that what cruising’s all about?”

Not entirely, I said, it’s also about boats, and new friends, and anarchy, and the freedom to discuss crabs as much as you want, if and when you want.

Today’s Thought
If you wish to study ships, you must also study the men who sail them. —T. C. Lethbridge

Sign outside a tanning parlor:
“We leave no stern untoned.”

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