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Saturday, August 7, 2010

The next morning...

I've got banking issues... as in a depleted checking account, few dollars in my wallet, an almost empty gas tank and an extended list of things that I need to do before I can set sail...

For whatever reason, I've had a problem funding my checking account and I'm bothered by it all to say the least.

It's early in the morning and I'm seated at Marina's computer with printer problems. I've got the marina manager attempting to assist me print off a wire transfer form when suddenly I'm feeling the presence of someone hovering over my shoulder.

I look up and there before me is Jacobo, the emaciated sailor with his skin sagging down all over the place, now peering down at my screen and inquiring, "What are you doing?... are you busy?" After a moment of hesitation, I turn and look straight at him and in my most professional and dispassionate tone of voice inform him, "I am attempting to resolve a personal matter"... as in get the f*ck out of my face, go away, this does not concern you and don't ask any favors of me.

Jacobo does seem to take a hint but not before informing me, "I need for you to drive me to the liquor store..." before ambling off back to his boat. I then turn to the marina manager, and blurt out, "I am not his caretaker". Upon which the manager responds "I see that all the time, you need to nip that in the bud"... which I emphatically do.

No... there was no subsequent drive to the liquor store, or the hardware store or the grocery store... nor did I find the time to empty the rain water out of his damned dinghy and hell no was I going to kill a day hauling his scrawny ass off to the VA Hospital.

Not that anyone really cares, but dinner last night was a can Campbell's ham and bean soup along with two slices of bread.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Damned... too much drama... time to set sail.

Goodness... this place is starting to wear on me. There's just too much damned drama going on around here. It's been a good twenty-some years since I last cruised aboard my Morgan 35' throughout the Florida Keys and the Bahamas. Somehow I had forgotten all about all the personal bullsh*t that goes along with it.

I'm ready to haul ass on out of here and start experiencing the cruising lifestyle for what it should be. I had some dude engage me in a one-sided conversation the other evening and proceed to tell me all about his disputes with the City Marina. After awhile, all I could think about was that "I don't really give a rat's ass". Later in his extended one-sided dialogue he chides me for being tide up at the marina and not out on a "hook" in the river. Somehow the caricature of a river-rat floating on an inner tube down the Brazos River in Texas came to mind.

Another too-much-drama incident involved a large gray heavy-duty plastic garbage bin chained up to the wall just in front of the slip where S/V Blondie-Dog happens to be tied up to. On two consecutive late Saturday evenings, a sailing vessel pulls in after hours to avoid dockage fees and ties off onto the docks. Soon thereafter four somewhat young guys can be seen trekking past along the sea-wall and on over to the local taverns.

Well the first Saturday evening after the local bars had shut down at two in the morning, all four dudes come staggering back down the piers hollering obscenities and kicking dockside gear all over the place including the large grey trash can in front of my boat. Moments later a loud splash can be heard and all the trash that had been neatly tidied up in plastic bags can now be found floating alongside my boat.

I of course am awakened out of a sound sleep and poke my head out of the hatch above the V-berth... (not unlike an office cubicle-mole)... to see what the hell is going on but I think better of a confrontation and settle back down below. Well the same scene repeats itself the following Saturday evening and now I'm hacked... its been another week and the trash still hadn't been picked-up for whatever reason and once again can be seen floating alongside my boat in the river.

I'm incensed about the smelly trash not having been picked up and of the damned horse-flies hovering around the trash-can and bothered about not having purchased a VHF radio that I had planned on purchasing earlier in the day so that I could report their collective asses as they motored on down the river.

I did nevertheless shout out to them as they were pulling away from the docks, "Hey asshol*s... you will be reported first thing in the morning!". Admittedly, this certainly was a chickensh*t response made once again avoid a confrontation. I did indeed report the incident to the Marina the next morning. The dudes haven't been back since and my big regret is that I did not have the presence of mind to record the name of the vessel when she tied up that second Saturday evening.

There is more drama to report but I can't take anymore of this bullsh*t either.

Not that any anyone "le importa tres carajos"... but lunch/dinner earlier today was some genuine comfort food... and I'm not talking about another greasy burger with soggy fries or even a chicken-fried steak with instant mashed potatoes and over-boiled brocolli with fake cheese either. I'm talking about some delectable "Lechon asado" along with a huge mound of "arroz con gandules" with a side order of "tostones" and a salad to boot!

I happened to be wandering down Cleveland Avenue in Fort Myers looking for a place to get a bite to eat when I happened to spot a place. I swerve over two lanes and shortly thereafter find myself seated in a small, austere, yet air-conditioned eatery. I have arrived at "El Pilon" restaurant. Soon thereafter I place my lunch order and somewhat impatiently wait for my food to arrive as I see one delectable plate of food after another get placed on adjacent tables.

My lunch order finally arrives and I'm not dissapointed in the least. Damned that was good eating! My only reqret was that I didn't take a moment to take a picture of my plate of food when it arrived... nevermind that I have yet to figure out how to download pictures from my cell phone to my computer.

Up on the walls were scenes of Puerto Rico from back in the day and a Puertorican flag as well. What the proprietaries and other patrons probably wondered was "what the hell is that "gringo" doing in here"... not realizing that I, having lived on the island for an extended period of time and having played in a multitude of chess tournaments throughout the island probably knew more and had seen more of the island than they'd ever seen or would ever see.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Captain "Jacobo"

There aren't many of us sailors here at the City Marina... nevertheless for better or worse, I have established a relationship of sorts with a fellow mariner. By all accounts he is in his mid-seventies but could easily pass for someone in his late eighties... How he managed to sail down from Maryland all by himself is beyond my comprehension.

Jacobo is frail beyond his years, hard of hearing, and somewhat of an old grumpy neurotic. He has no muscle tone to speak of and his weathered skin sags all over the place. I suppose this is what happens to chain smokers when they get old. I'm not certain whether he ever eats much of anything but he routinely offers to mix up a Bloody-Mary for me every morning whenever he sees me striding either to or from my car. It's an offer that he knows that I will politely yet resolutely decline but nevertheless an opportunity for him to hit me up for yet another favor so it seems.

We often meet up at a local tavern for happy-hour in the evenings along with another wanna-be boater. Together we talk boating and what not. Somehow I've got to keep reminding myself that I am not his caretaker, nor am I his chauffeur to be driving his scrawny ass around places. Sorry... don't mean to be an A-hole about it but I see a pattern developing along here somewhere.

I spent a couple of hours today figuring out how to program Captain Jacobo's GPS... GPS, as in Handheld Global Positioning, not that any cell-phone savvy, pimply-faced adolescent couldn't figure out. Somehow while at the tavern yesterday evening I got snookered into agreeing to programming the thing and getting it to work. Well I had made a promise to "look into it", so the handheld was waiting for me first thing the next morning. I didn't mind... I even learned a few damned things along the way.

After a simple google search I found and proceeded to download the GARMIN GPS76 operators manual and read through it. I also found a website with GPS coordinates submitted by other boaters which I then proceeded to load into the handheld.

Later at the bar that evening, I show Jacobo how to operate the GPS as well as how to load way-points and what-not. He was pleased I suppose, but didn't deliver on his promise to buy me a few beers for my efforts.

Boater Wanna-Be soon thereafter shows up and inquires of Jacobo whether he had brought his GPS handheld along because he was lost. Jacobo looks over at me and proceeds to derisively dismiss the question with a "he was just messing around with the thing"... He might as well have stated "He's just f*rting around with the thing." This all after I had spent the previous thirty minutes or so methodically explaining how to operate the thing and having him perform the various operations himself. I later find myself doing a slow-delayed burn.

Next on my agenda for tomorrow is to haul his dinghy out of the water and who knows what else...

Memo to self: Park car elsewhere... disengage to some extent... haul ass on out of here.

Oh Gasp! I'm Inadvertently becoming a Vegan...

For dinner earlier this evening, not that anyone gives a "Fiddler's Fart", as often expressed by acclaimed author Frank McCourt in his writings, were two small boiled red potatoes, along with steamed carrots, green beans, yellow squash, and a small plum tomato...

Drizzled atop of it all was some olive oil and my favorite... Kraft, Sun-Dried Tomato Vinagrette and all seasoned with some salt and freshly ground pepper in my mortar & pestle.

Somehow missing in the menu is meat... as in MEAT... as in I'm a carnivore and I need to eat meat and that is how my kind evolved and I haven't really eaten unless I've had a slab of medium-rare MEAT placed in front of me for a meal.

But it is too damned hot to be cooking meat onboard the boat... and there is no refrigeration onboard either for that matter. Besides, I'm still somewhat tentative about my temperamental alcohol stove. I can never really tell when she'll put out a nice intense and gratifying amount of heat or whether she'll flame out with total disinterest.

The scary part of it all is that I rather enjoyed my vegan dinner.

Monday, August 2, 2010

I love the smell of Starbucks in the morning...

I love the smell of Starbucks in the morning... smells like coffee.

Bash Starbucks all you want but I happen to like the wide expansive tables, the cushy sofa chairs, the air-conditioning, the free Wi-Fi, the electrical outlets, the relaxing music and of course the coffee.

I never bother with the foo-foo coffees. I like my coffee hot, sweet, and black... just like I imagine to like my women. Ooopps, I didn't mean to say that. Nevertheless, its the usual tall, bold coffee for me with three packets of raw sugar. Yes, raw is indeed good.

Yesterday was spent shaking out my anchor rodes, chains, and spare sails. I've got enough line to tie off a couple of cruise ships and barges. I made it a point to crawl down beneath the lazarette in the cockpit and pull out a bunch of surplus miscellaneous outboard gasoline tubing and crap. I certainly don't want any of that gear getting intertwined with my anchor rode at the least opportune moment.

Memo to self: Purchase some canvas and mesh bags as well as some large milk crates for the anchor rode.

The previous owner wasn't kidding when he commented that he had blown out his 110 jib off the coast of North Carolina at some point. After hauling that jib off the boat and spreading it out onto the pavement, I found it to be beyond repair to say the least. It was torn in multiple places. Perhaps I can construct a wind-scoop out of some of the remaining canvas at some point.

Thinking about the previous owner brings to mind a personal experience of his while docked at a marina somewhere in the Chesapeake. He had gotten up around four in the morning to relieve his bladder and check his dock lines when he heard what he thought was a feint cry for help. He called out to his wife who was down below sleeping to ask if it was she who had said something. Once again he hears a feint cry for help off in the distance and he proceeds to call out, "who's asking for help?"

With yet another plea for help he sprints down a number of piers at the secluded and dark marina and finds a would-be fisherman clinging onto one of the pylons for dear life... now hypothermic and exhausted and too weak to pull himself up out of the water. He had evidently slipped off the dock while attempting to get an early start on his fishing.

Yes Brian, there is indeed someone out there that will forever feel indebted to you for saving his life.

Not that anybody gives a rat's ass, but dinner last night was a package of Ramen Chicken noodles mixed in along with a tin of Tuna in oil. It was surprisingly tasty and satisfying.