“It’s a trap!”
These were among the first words that were spoken to Marc and I when we pulled our new sailboat up to the ancient, literally condemned dock at Green Cove Springs Marina.
For the next few days, as we made our sailing travel plans and started work on the boat, the same warnings played on repeat like my favourite iTunes playlist. Song one: “It’s a trap” performed by the guy who crashed his boat into a seawall. Song two: “dear god, get out while you can.” Etc. etc. Repeat, repeat.
Turns out I have more in common with a post than just being kind of long and skinny. The ominous pleas of my fellow sailors fell on ears that were about as deaf as the posts the ground crew used to prop our boat up in the work yard. Mine.
“Just two weeks of prepping,” we said. We would fix up our beautiful sailing tub and be boldly going within the fortnight. To Panama and beyond!
Two months later…
We were still in the boat yard.
One by one we knocked things off our To Do list, but magically it just kept growing. It was like our list was a brood of over-fed tribbles. Or for those of you that are less sci-fi inclined: our list was like the mythological Hydra. You cut off one head and two grow back in its place.
In other words, the list of nightmares.
Even Marc, being a super perfectionist and analytical (emphasis on anal) man, eventually lost his enthusiasm for the seemingly never-ending boat project. Two weeks turned into three, then four, five, a month and half, two months, until finally the only way I could retain some small semblance of sanity was to completely give up on the idea of leaving.
Miss Miral found… guilty of dreaming dreams to big. Sentence… Life, to be served in Green Cove Springs Marina. Possibility of parole… doubtful, bordering on impossible.
On the plus side, Green Cove Springs wasn’t exactly a maximum security prison. The only guard was a disinterested alligator that lived in someone’s abandoned half-sunk dinghy. And even though hard labour was a part of every day life, at least my bunk mate was my wonderful boyfriend and not a 400 lb skinhead named Bubba the Shank.
Eternal gratitude for that one.
The other inmates were the best part about Green Cove. At any given time there were dozens of people from all over the world, living and working on their boats in the yard. Some had been there for years. One man (who looked suspiciously like Santa Clause – enough to make me a believer again) had been living there for two decades! Sadly his wife had drowned there and he never left.
Every Saturday night the sailors grabbed their banjos and harmonicas and whatever else they could find, and gathered on the porch of the office for a good old fashioned jam session/drinking party. On these occasions I usually went on the hunt for a fellow nerd to drunkenly obsess over Star Trek with.
On Saint Patrick’s Day, Canada was invaded by the allied forces of the U.S.A and Russia. Meaning our Canadian boat was invaded by our neighbours; a cute big-bearded Russian and an American whom I can only describe as the Han Solo of sailing. On this occasion they came bearing a special diplomatic gift.
But mostly it was work. Marc took care of the engineering and mechanical stuff. Me, I took on the deck work, starting with the bottom job. That is, scraping, sanding and painting the bottom of the boat with a special copper paint. (Perfect for me as I have a thing for mindless repetitive tasks that give me time to daydream about the zombie apocalypse)
In the evening I would go running on the nearby trails, purposely staying out after dark so that I could see the millions of fireflies dance around me.
After our one harrowing sailing experience (see previous post: Sailing to Bermuda – and How I Nearly Died at Sea) we weren’t going to take any chances with the renaming of our boat. We bought a bottle of too-expensive champagne and splashed it over the bow as we read a speech we had found online to appease the gods.
I can only assume Poseidon accepted our offering and on that day our boat was officially named Alassiel (which means Joyful in Elvish).
Another month disappeared mysteriously.
We had had enough. The boat was still far from being perfect. And yes, our Panama dreams were still far far…far away. But we had to go somewhere. Anywhere! Even if just for a few weeks.
So it was decided. We would throw off our shackles and make a break for the open water!
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