How To Make Friends at a Marina

May 11, 2014 (Mother’s Day!):

There are two ways, either 1) cook up a savory dinner on the community grill, open a box of wine and invite everyone to share it, or 2) play the best loud music, open a box of wine, and invite everyone to share it.  It’s doesn’t take much really.

Our second day at the Port St. Joe Marina, we headed back to the Piggly Wiggly to provision up.  Since we’re the roughneck, backpack-sporting cruiser type, I’m sure we do come across as ominous thieves.  Or, Phillip does at least, because the Piggly Wiggle backpack Nazi confiscated his backpack–again–the minute we walked through the door.


Why do I document these things you might ask.  Because I find them hilarious.

Another hilarious quality of the Pig–the full spectrum, scope and line of official “Larry the Cable Guy” processed products.  Let’s see, you’ve got your …

Larry the Cable Guy Hamburger Dinner (just add burger!).


Larry the Cable Guy Cheesy Tuna Dinner (when you want the other white meat).


Larry the Cable Guy Beer Bread (“just add beer & butter”).


A full array of Larry the Cable Guy Seasonings.


And, let us not forget, the variety of Larry the Cable Guy “Tater Chips” (TM)–Barbeque Rib and “Pass the Dang Ketchup.”


Mmmm-Mmmm good!

After an appetizing stroll through the Wiggly market, we headed back over to our favorite lunch spot in PSJ–Peppers Mexican Grill–home of the “Clean Plate Club,” where Phillip and I filled up to the gills last time on their $12 burrito that comes with an endless supply of chips and salsa.  This time we opted for the monstrous taco salad and carne tacos, complete (as always) with an endless supply of hot, homemade chips and salsa.

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De-lish!  But, also super filling.  We had to walk about two miles just to feel normal again.  Port St. Joe is certainly not a bad place to do it though, with plenty of picturesque, scenic walking trails and coves.

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You are here.

We perused the docks,


met the infamous PSJ local, Larry, who gave us the infamous “If you’re bumping into things … ” line (a real character),

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got invited to tour some pretty sweet new boats–a 2013 Seaward Unlimited–

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and checked out the marina grill situation to scope out our prospects for dinner.

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We decided the grill was a-go, so we hauled all of our fixins and a box of wine over to the grill to set up shop and cook up a fine pork tenderloin with roasted broccoli for dinner.

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But, when you get a slab of meat like this going on the community grill at a marina full of hungry old salts, I’ll tell you what happens …

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you start making friends.  Real fast.


“Mmmm … what ya’ll cooking up there?”  They seemed to come from everywhere.  All walks of life.  All different kinds of boats and cruising backgrounds.  I had to make several trips back to the boat to get more wine and food and we ended up piece-mealing the pork out and sharing with everyone.  We had a great time mixing with the locals, though.  And, I have to say, the older the couple, the more hilarious they seemed to be.  I spent most of the evening chatting with this one couple, I can’t quite recall their names–something like Edna and Burt–who’d been cruising together for something like 20 years.  Edna would say of Burt, “Awww, hell.  I don’t think he can tell the difference between my boobs and my stern at this point.”  But, then she’d lean over to me and whisper, “to be fair, there ain’t much difference, but, I’m never fair to Burt!”  I loved those old coons.

Phillip and I thought we were the real showmen of the marina.  Cooking up a fine feast, feeding everyone and sharing tall tales from our mis-adventures as the sun set on the friendly folk of the marina.

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But, we were amateurs.  Earlier that day a fleet of trawlers had pulled in, the leader of the pack, s/v Island Time, having docked right behind us, stern to stern.


We could hear their rockin’ 70s classics blaring out eight boats back as we packed up our fixins at the grill and started making our way back to our boat.  Having shut the community dinner down around 9:00 p.m., we had every intention to go straight back to the boat for a good night’s rest as we planned to get up early the next morning and head out from Port St. Joe to make the 24-hour run home to Pensacola.  But, it soon became clear that was not going to happen.  “You are a dancing queen!” thumped through the cabin of our boat, and Phillip and I joked that it was now the s/v Plaintiff’s UN-Rest.

A raspy female voice broke through the music and laughter, shouting at us through our companionway.  “We’re not going to get any quieter, so y’all just better come join us!”  It was our last night in Port St. Joe, our last night to be docked in foreign waters, and our last night on the trip.  Our last night!  And, we were planning to rest?  “Screw it,” we said, grabbed a half-full box of wine, two glasses and headed over.  And, these folks …  If I thought Edna and Burt were entertaining, the Island Time crew blew them right the heck out of the water.  They danced and sang, danced and sang, belting out every lyric to every song that poured out of the speakers.  They had an awesome mixtape station going, too–the BEST kind of oldies–like Lying Eyes (Eagles), Dancing Queen (ABBA), I’d Really Love to See You Tonight (Mix), Baby Come Back (Player), Sail On (Commodores), I Can’t Go For That (Hall & Oates), I Can’t Tell You Why (Eagles), I Wanna Know What Love Is (Foreigner), It Must Have Been Love (Roxie), Total Eclipse of the Heart (Bonnie Tyler).  You see what I mean?  The good damn stuff!

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If you can’t beat ’em (or sleep through it!), might as well join ’em.  There’s the Plaintiff’s Rest there!


And, they kept passing around this microphone, with a long dangling cord, that should have been plugged into something (probably a Singalodeon from the 80’s),


but it wasn’t.  They just wadded up the cord, wire-tied it and sang into it any way, at the top of their lungs.  One of the gals told us “It’s a wireless!” with a “Get it?” smile and nod.

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Those “oldies but goodies” sure showed us how to friggin party.  I can only hope I’m half as a bad-ass as they are at that age, pulling my massive trawler up to the marina, breaking out the “wireless mic” and inviting everybody in the damn place over to a fully-stocked open bar and a full-out oldies dance party.  I snuck some from our cockpit when I went back for another box of wine.  You can see Phillip sitting on their boat, cracking up at the sight of it.


But, it only makes you want to go over, step aboard and find yourself the full breadth of it–on their boat, surrounded by incredible, fun-loving folks who could give a damn about what anyone else thought.  They gave us yet another wildly-entertaining Keys Trip tale to tell and made our last night truly unforgettable.  Thank you Island Time!  

Sing it with me now–“You are a Dancing Queen!  Young and sweet, only se-ven-teeeeen!”

April 17-23, 2013 – The Crossing: Chapter Four – Good, Quality People

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.

Paul: Okay.

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.

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? ( 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:


Real classy.

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.

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He wowed us all with his self-proclaimed (although I think it’s worthy) “world-famous” one-handed drum roll. Check it: 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:

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“Now all of this crap …

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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.



The sun was peeking through the clouds, we had some strong, but steady, northeast winds, and we could see Bottom Line in the distance.


That was, until, the squalls began . . .