The Whole Picture is Nothing But a Compilation of Details.

Saturday, October 20, 2012



Before even leaving the dock in Jacksonville, Florida, she has engine problems. This is far better than having engine trouble underway. Which is still perfectly possible.

"She" is a 42' Formosa ketch called Balboa Clipper. She's been on the hard for three years and now the owner/captain wants her by his side in Belize, where he's built an ecolodge near the Guatemalan border. I have been recruited to help bring her south. By, and with a non-sailer.

I confirm early on that I'm recruited neither as captain nor galley girl. Instead, as it turns out, I'm one of only two sailors on board. With that, I'm in. I have yet to meet the captain (sailor number two), and lay eyes on the vessel but am beyond thrilled for an opportunity to sail and complete another leg and +/- 600 nautical miles of the circumnavigation I started in 1991 by sailing from Sweden to the West Indies.

Shy on vacation days, I am meeting them in Ft. Lauderdale, a floating city about twenty road miles north of Miami, which suits me fine. Sailing the east coast of Florida has never been on my list of things to do and the captain has arranged for me to stay with his friends on the river until Balboa Clipper arrives, by ways of wind or diesel. They have a 49' Hinckley tied up in their backyard. Sounds promising. Told they do charters, I check out their webiste You should too.

Elbow to elbow on the commuter line. I can feel the unfriendly looks "why the hell is she on the RUSH HOUR direct train to Boston with a backpack?!" I smile and think to myself "I have to go to work too...  I just have a different voyage planned for the end of my day. HA!"

Spirit airlines brings me to Ft. Lauderdale for $138. Not a bad flight at all but they are stingy with their carry-on policy. I shouldn't have brought the sleeping bag. It costs me a smile and $40 (vs. $47) to bring it in the cabin.  Better than having it put in the hold and be forever lost. I don't have a return flight booked.

So it seems like I'll have two days here in sunny Florida until the boat gets here. Florida is not my favorite state even though the east coast is livelier than the west coast. The latter, where I spent eight months at school is referred to as God's waiting room due to all retirees who move there for the weather, kind to their ailing bodies. Their presence is very apparent. Here on the east coast it's bikinis, mega yachts, plastic surgery and stilettos.

On top of engine problems delaying departure by two days, the first update from aboard includes "two out of the four guys on the boat threw up for the first twenty-four hours at sea". Yuck. Glad I wasn't on board for any of that.

The most common boat problems are engines and crew.

But this and countless tales of the misadventures of Captain Chris make me wonder if I'll ever make it to Mexico, especially since we will be heading into a strong opposing current. Realistically, he'll want me on board for the crossing, especially now that his talent on board has demonstrated their weaknesses. But time and tide wait for no one.

Plan E (yes, there's A, B, C and D) would be to simply mosey on up the coast back to Boston. Planes, trains or automobiles. I have friends in TX, NC, NYC, CT, and RI I'd like to see...

With a backpack, passport, and a sleeping bag, anything is possible.

This trip is far from over.