Part II: The Floating Repair Shop
At last, the S/Y Balboa Clipper arrives Ft. Lauderdale. She comes in on the high tide that let her float off the sand bar where the crew sort of parked, unconventionally and involuntarily at 4:00 am. She's pretty, a 41' Formosa ketch, meaning that she has two masts, the main mast and aft (rear) of the main mast, the shorter mizzen mast. Below deck, she's pristine; cozy, warm, woodwork gleaming with thick coats of varnish. On deck is tied a windsurfing board, an inflatable kayak, a fiberglass dingy, related oars, six jerrycans with diesel fuel and a little more than the usual clutter of anchors and lines. Captain Adventure, as I learn is his nickname (which coincidentally matches mine), points out that despite the clutter, there are really only two lines that are unusual: One is a preventer, keeping the mainsail boom from knocking the crew overboard when heading downwind under sail. The other puts tension on the port (left) shroud, as the turnbuckle cannot be tightened any more, "for some reason", he says with a smile. As a point of interest, I'd like to add that the shrouds serve an integral role in keeping the mast from falling out of the sky.
After a weather update and a round or two of the mandatory sea stories, Captain Adventure grabs a box of waffle mix and exclaims "Waffles at Kelly's!" We follow him to the neighbor's house two doors down, who's intent on winning the neighborhood Halloween decorating contest and is busy adding skeletons, cob webs and a séance circle in the front yard when we arrive but welcomes us warmly just the same. We bond over beers, chocolate chip waffles and coffee, in that order, whilst formulating a plan for our departure. One disembarking crew member quickly made it clear, by his actions, that he was not going to help, but instead arrange for his return home. But as every boat that comes in to port, we need to make repairs and buy parts, food, water and fuel, so the rest of us divide the tasks and go to work. As a final project, started at 9:00 pm under a starry sky, Captain gets hoisted up the mast to repair the masthead light, a mission that ends after two and a half hours with the casing slipping out of his hands, bouncing off the deck and into the canal with the unmistakable "PLOP", followed by "shit" exclaimed from the masthead. Little did I know that this was the first of what became a steady stream of mishaps, surprising us at first, becoming more expected as the trip continued, under the least of favorable conditions:
With hurricane Sandy on our tails.