I would like to say we woke Saturday morning to the peaceful sounds of birds and water gently lapping the hull, but that’s just not how it happened. Phillip and I had the pleasure of waking to his Dad hovering over us in the V-berth snapping photos at 6:00 a.m. like the paparazzi proclaiming, “Awww … your first night in the little bed. How was it?” Was? … We’re still kind of sleeping in it. So …
He had the best of intentions, but we were really waking up to a photo shoot at the crack of dawn. Thankfully, Phillip knew just how to handle him:
Phillip: Yeah, Dad, it’s great back here. Let me show you. Take that door, there. Yeah, unlatch it.
Paul (with excitement): Oh, neat. Here?
Phillip: Yep, right there. Now pull it toward you.
Paul: Like this?
Phillip (with patience): Mmm-hmmm. Just like that. Now step back behind it.
Phillip: Keep pulling it until it shuts.
Paul (muffled from the other side of the door): Oh, I see what you’re doing …
Phillip: Yep. We’ll see you in a bit Dad.
I swear I could hear Paul’s shoulders slump like he was the last kid picked in P.E. class. (Which by the way – never happened to me – you never get picked last with a name like this):
But, Paul did the right thing waking us up. Whether we were going to head out that day or stay and ready the boat for the passage, we had a lot to do. We got up, made some coffee and enjoyed the sunrise while we checked the weather.
Around that time, we ran into a fellow docked there in Clearwater who, like us, had just bought a boat down in Punta Gorda and was sailing it back to Pensacola. His was a 32-foot Seaward Unlimited. A beautiful boat:
The Bottom Line. And, it just so happened Phillip knew one of his crew. They were former neighbors in Pensacola. So we chatted them up and talked about our plans for crossing the Gulf. They were interested in buddying up and making the passage together. Having another boat make a passage with you (especially one like this) is always a good idea. So, we agreed to stay and wait out the worst of the storm in Clearwater on Saturday and head out with them first thing Sunday morning to cross the Gulf.
We started readying the boat for the expected 20 knot winds and 4-6 foot seas. Phillip got Jack, the former owner, on the phone and asked him about the storm sail (a smaller sail that is used in heavy winds) and the dinghy, which was held up by davits on the back of the boat with the outboard engine attached to it. Jack told us how to rig the storm sail and told us he had strapped the outboard securely to the dinghy so we shouldn’t have a problem with it. We decided to spend the afternoon rigging up the storm sail.
Although it was the right thing to do, it was a futile endeavor because just as we were pulling the halyard to connect the storm sail, the line snapped and the sail fell in a loose heap on the deck. The halyard for the storm sail (which is a fancy way of saying, the rope) was so old and dry-rotted that it just broke right in two. So, we decided to forego the storm sail and just secure everything else as best we could for rough seas.
After a day of hard labor, we made our first sit-down gourmet dinner in the galley. Remember the shrimp feta pasta I told you about? (http://havewindwilltravel.com/2013/06/04/april-17-23-2013-the-crossing-chapter-two-sailors-delight/). And, when I say “we” made it, I actually mean Phillip,
and I’m just taking full credit because that’s the kind of person I am. But, it was a grand meal, laden with heavy glasses of wine and tall tales at sea.
Full of liquid courage, we decided to hit the town and see what good quality people were roaming the streets of Clearwater. And, let me just tell you, my friends, the streets were littered with performers and peddlers of every kind of “ware” (and “wear”) you could imagine. Words will never do it justice. No, only a cheesy, finely-narrated slideshow will do.
There was a man on stilts making balloon animals (at least I think it was a man):
And please take note of the classy clientele in this photo, because unlike others, these ladies at least dressed for the occasion:
There was a woman getting an ass tattoo right there in the open:
And I normally wouldn’t say anything if Thelma here wanted to ink herself in front of a crowd. More power to you! That is IF she were getting something cool tattooed on. But no. This chick was getting some rainbow kittens permanently impressed on her derriere. Like, fifth grade, Lisa Frank, Trapper-Keeper kittens:
There were just crazy people everywhere. Some were talking to themselves. Some were imitating the statues:
I’d watch out for this one. I’m pretty sure she’s beyond help.
Some were apparently even dropping their panties.
Yep. It was a wild night in Clearwater. But, the finale performance for the night was a really cool one. This guy sets up a couple five-gallon drums and beats the hell out of them.
He wowed us all with his self-proclaimed (although I think it’s worthy) “world-famous” one-handed drum roll. Check it: http://youtu.be/a3IsqXpztnA. Phillip was definitely impressed:
Even Mitch was mesmerized.
Although I’m not sure you can see him in that pic. He looks just like another character we all know and love who likes to blend into the crowd:
Minus the hat I guess. Otherwise … a spittin’ image.
In all, we had a great time checking out the town and watching all the “crazies” that came out FOR the show but who, in actuality, WERE the show. We got back to the boat around 9:30 p.m. and crashed. We woke the next morning all business. The boat was buttoned down and ready. All we needed was a good breakfast before we got under sail. We hit up the local greasy spoon for one last rendezvous with our sail groupies and, unexpectedly, one last crazy! Our waitress. What a sight?!? This woman (again, I presume she was a woman) weighed about 89.4 pounds soaking wet and looked like a pile of toothpicks glued together. There were all kinds of tacky t-shirts and things hanging on the wall and she repeatedly told us:
“Now all of this crap …
is for sale!”
And, for her, “sale” had two syllables, and a “y.” I, naturally, bought a tacky t-shirt to memorialize the occasion. Who wouldn’t? Phillip and I now lovingly call it my “big boobs shirt” because it’s graced with their infamous logo:
Phillip and I checked the sea state one more time,
then it was back to the boat and time to get under way. We checked in with the Bottom Line guys and they were ready to pull out too. We picked a haling channel to go to if we needed to talk via radio, decided our next stop would be Apalachicola, an approximate 28-hour passage (138 nautical miles) from Clearwater, and set off. We had a great morning sail.
That was, until, the squalls began . . .