Chautauqua: Adventures. Adventure #1

Before I left St. Cloud, I bought a tent, a sleeping bag, and a bunch of other stuff because I wanted to hike the Colorado Trail. I actually did hike it for a couple weeks but it rained almost daily, my feet were bleeding from blisters and I wasn’t having much fun, so I headed back down into town and got a room at the hostel in Boulder. The next day I got a tele-marketing job and a line on an apartment. Was I starting another rut? We’d see. Certainly the dynamic of my existence had changed and that was ok by me.

Adventure #1.

I’m sitting in Penny Lane, an alternative type coffee shop catering to young hippies, freaks, rasta-farians, gutter punks, goth kids, high school students, college students, street people, old hippies, beatniks, paranoid schizo-frenics, storytellers, artists and musicians. I liked it there because I enjoyed the diversity and I didn’t stick out.
For the price of a glass of ice tea I could sit there for hours smoking cigarettes and reading, doing the crossword, or just people watching.
Any way, I’m sitting there reading the Colorado Daily, the University of Colorado’s paper, and all of a sudden, in the classified section, I see a small ad that reads, “Looking for adventure sailors.” So, I wound up meeting this retired physicist who has a 40-foot sailboat that he keeps in Ft. Lauderdale. He loves to sail on it but can’t sail it alone so he looks for people to go out there and sail with him. All I had to do was pay my airfare and a couple hundred for food and booze, dockage fees, etc.
Oh, I did buy a brand new, very nice pair of Sperry Top Siders for the trip.
Now I was ready!

Old Bill, the physicist, was in his early 70s and scrawny as hell but sharp as a tack. He’s this bandy legged little guy, all brown and wrinkled by the sun, who speaks with a heavy Polish accent even after 50 years living in the States.
He was a transport pilot in WW ll. and knows everything there is to know about navigation, sailing, weather, currents, tides, etc. He has a house up Boulder Canyon, a wife and two German Shepherds, which he refers to as “the kids.”
And he’s a fascinating guy.

So, it was me and another guy from Boulder, a twenty-six year old kid who fancied himself a real “sail bum”, and a young couple in their late twenties from Golden. But they abandoned ship when we got to Key Biscayne because it had been rough going from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami and they were seasick. Hell, we were all sea sick, especially that primadonna, the “sail bum”.
He was hanging his head over the side puking his guts out while trying to get a scopolamine patch to stick behind his ear. But he was all sweaty so the patch wouldn’t stick. It kept falling off or sliding down his neck until it was under his collar somewhere.
I was sick as hell too but at least I didn’t puke. The young couple just sat there holding each other and looking green. I asked Old Bill (the owner) about it and he said that even he always feels a little queasy at first, especially with conditions the way they were that day, but that he usually gets over it pretty fast.

We were going to go to the Bahamas, which is due east from Lauderdale, but the wind was right from that direction so we decided to just go down along the Keys as far as we could, instead.  So, after the couple jumped ship, it was just Old Bill, the “sail bum kid” and I. Which was pretty nice because there was plenty of room on that 40 footer for three guys. After we left Ft. Lauderdale, we slept on the boat every night. It was always hot and humid, so we all slept above decks. All you needed was a sleeping pad and a sheet and a pillow. It was great. At the end of the day we’d anchor off some island or key, or in some bay, and usually go swimming to cool off and get the sweat off, or we’d paddle the rubber raft to the island to explore. Then we’d have supper and talk, listen to the weather forcast for the next day, and

Sailor Dick

maybe read a bit before laying down for the night. We’d be up with the sun, have breakfast and raise sail for another day. When we had gone as far as we could in five days, we turned around and sailed back, arriving in Ft. Lauderdale ten days from when we started.
It was a really great time and I’m glad I did it. Unfortunately, I left my barely broken in Top Siders in the motel room where we stayed the night before we flew back.
I guess I’m just not a Top Sider kind of guy.


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