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Swing Set

Dec 30, 201209:10 AM

Swing Set: Cruising Full Time

A Hostile Environment

(page 3 of 3)

Now, a story: Many years ago at my job at the beer factory, there was a short, squat German fella by the name of Norm Noctwein. His nickname was "the Knocker." He was caustic, sarcastic and hated everyone, or so he wanted everyone to think he did. I liked him.

The Knocker told me a story about the time he bought his first house. He went over to one of his neighbors for the first time and told him he was going to paint his house, and what color would his neighbor want him to paint it? The neighbor laughed and told Norm that he could paint it any color he wanted, "just don't paint it purple," he said. The Knocker went out and bought the paint and carefully painted his house the loudest shade of purple that he could find at the paint store. His neighbor never talked to him again.

I don't know how this relates to our situation here, but I've always wanted to tell that story, so I did.

Not too long before this sunset picture was taken, another neighbor pulled up to the folks behind us in the sailboat. He did give a reluctant wave as he motored past. He and the male prairie dog had a long conversation, all the while staring at us, but never saying a word to us. The recent arrival had a boat on our port side and was tethered to a mooring ball with a line over 50 feet long. He wound up tying his runabout to another 25-foot line behind his 50-foot sailboat, and yet another 15-foot line behind that holding his dinghy, insuring for himself quite a lot of buffer around his small flotilla as the wind blew it in circles. Meanwhile, another small cruiser came in, and the couple waved as they came past. I was starting to feel better about the situation, there being some other folks in our vicinity that were at least congenial.

While we were enjoying our second, or third, Busch Light, (on sale, don't knock it) a larger "cruiser" (for lack of a better word) came barreling in right up to us. The captain started admonishing us for "anchoring in a mooring field" and continued to lambaste us until he started in on the couple who had anchored behind us in the small cruiser. The couple in the cruiser pulled up anchor and motored away to avoid a confrontation, and that set me off.

The fella doing the complaining was still muttering half to himself, and still obviously in our direction, when I asked him what prompted him to come over and complain to us. He said he didn't need any reason, that he lived there and could do what he wanted. Well, the way I see it, we now lived here too, and I wasn't about take any crap from him and I let him know in very certain terms what I thought about him and the unlikely prospect of us running into his sorry excuse for a motor vessel.

I was seething as the sun vanished from our view and Rosie started dinner. We had a delicious sirloin steak smothered in onions and brown gravy. We had gnocchi for the first time, having found them on sale at Publix in Marathon. We rounded out the meal with a small salad. The whole time, Rosie tried to put her best face forward in light of our situation, which was that we were surrounded by other boaters that considered us to be "in their territory." We didn't feel safe anymore about leaving the boat alone for a second, and had the prospect in front of us of being at anchor, with just a slice of a dive knife on one of our anchor lines away from peril. Nearby slips at the marinas were not only full for the most part, but we weren't going to pay the outrageous rates others were willing to pay just to stay on our own boat.

As I was checking weather one last time for the night and Rosie was doing dishes, she began to cry. Rosie is not a "crier." I'm a crier, but not her. When I asked her what was the matter, she said, "This has been our dream for almost three years, and these people who don't even know us have ruined it."

We put on a movie, and before it was over, the wind had kicked up and blew in from the north as predicted. We had a fitful sleep in the salon, keeping watch as much as possible, with some help from an anchor watch app on the iPhone. Neither one of us slept very well, with the wind howling as bad as we've ever had at night, and all things being on our minds as to what we were to do if we got through the night.

At daybreak, the moon was still showing full to the west as I got up to get this off my chest. We had breakfast and are now going to formulate a plan. There are whitecaps in this harbor, and pulling up our auxiliary anchor may prove to be too difficult to achieve this morning. Plus, we still don't know where we'll go if we can get out of here. There isn't much point in staying if we can't feel safe about leaving the boat to go ashore. The shine on our dream has been dulled somewhat so far, but we will press on.

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