Pulling away from the dock in Fort Lauderdale Tuesday morning, had me giddy as the first day we left Michigan. Curious, and nervous, but this time there was no fear, and only comfort in our forward motion. All though I pulled into the channel, and went on the wrong side of the green channel marker, we managed not to run aground and brushed off the salt as the men in a nearby boat had “of course a woman is driving”, written all over their faces.
I love the sound of our 11hp diesel. I love how it feels under my feet. I love that both of us are so in tune to every noise that it makes, we immediately react if something changes. I love that it’s appropriately purring again, and knock on wood… that it is running better than it has in a long while. I also love that I am not embarrassed to say that the sound of our healthy diesel, is often more comforting to me than the wind blowing in our sails. I openly admit our motoring to sailing ratio is slightly ass backwards, but I am okay with it. Everybody has their own system. Well so do we. We never said we were die-hard sailors. We are just two chicks on a boat, and fortunately our boat has two options.
Katie and I spent the day regaining our sea-legs. Six months on land created wobbly appendages, and unbalanced foot placements. The bruises are back, skin is broken, toes are stubbed, and if I had any fingernails with room for dirt, they would be filled. It didn’t take us long to get back into our roles, or our characters per-se. Shortly we became these women whom we become as we captain and co-captain. Katie gets out all the guide books and charts. With the books come high lighters and note-pads. Before I can see the next channel marker, she has written in detail the name of each bridge, what time they open, and the distance in-between each one. If you didn’t know this girl, you would assume she was a straight A book worm throughout school.
I zone out. Prop myself in a chair in-between a winch and the cabin top, within perfect distance to steer with the tiller extension. I quietly sit and drive without realizing 4 or 6 hours just went by. Katie give me the stats, and I adjust the throttle to appropriately time the bridge openings. Nine of them in-between Lauderdale and Miami. By late afternoon we pull into Coconut Grove, South Miami. We spent a week here last spring, waiting on weather to cross to the Bahamas. We drift up on our spot, the same one we dropped the hook last year. Like conservative pros, we anchored together nearly in silence for there first time since last summer.
This trip… this journey… this weird weird path we have been traveling…I must say is not about the scenery, or where we end up at the end of the day. It has completely revolved around the people we have met, and relationships we have formed. If not for this, we would have barely made it out of Michigan. Sean Moss, stranger turned friend, just became one of those people. Sean, born and raised on a sailboat in Coconut Grove, was sitting aboard his 26 foot Pierson as he watched two chicks anchor right next to him. Intrigued as he was, he rowed over to introduce himself. He was very curious. Insisted on knowing what is was that motivates us. Growing up in America’s boating mecca, he was quick to state he had never seen two women our age doing what we are. He asked all the right questions. Being a die-hard sailor himself, he dissected the fact that we are not as confident as we could or should be in the sailing department. I don’t even know how it ended up happening, but at some point, it was decided that Sean was going to be our third crew member the following day. He would row back out at 6:30 am, and head 50 miles south with us to Key Largo.
It is not often Katie and I care to have yet another body on our small boat. It is stressful enough with two bodies and a full size dog. We have our own system, our own decision making process, not to mention our own language. Throwing another human in the mix, is questionable. But for some reason, neither of us hesitated. We had a good feeling about this character, and we were right. So don’t forget, it is all about the people you meet along the way. For they are the ones, who make the story a story.