When we first arrived at the marina we would call home several years ago; management clustered the liveaboards at the end of the furthest least appealing dock. In the sailing community, liveaboards can carry a reputation as …undesirable.
We met our neighbors with some trepidation. Mr. Fandango lived on a late 90’s model power cruiser and ran a small construction firm. He worked hard hours and was always game for a good laugh.
Our other neighbor, a former writer for Rolling Stone lived on a small blue boat that was the incarnation of an equatorial developing nation with a negative GDP. The boat never moved from its slip and grew an oyster reef that we actively fished. Mr. Rolling Stone kept a cockpit full of pots, pans, cooking utensils, rice cooker with steaming feature and assorted plastic bags. On the bow rested a red snow shovel for all season convenience.
There was, of course, the stay aboard folks like Col. Bill, whose most memorable line included the words “I was a real killer before I had too much rank.”
This was our first liveaboard community, and it was great.
A few others came and went during this time. That is they mostly arrived single and departed during the winter when the first opportunity of a short-lived romance complete with wifi, hot showers, a microwave and laundry facilities presented itself.
Our first boat, the Hunter 35.5 became the gathering place on cold Sunday’s for the remaining winter bachelors. They would arrive with red-rimmed bleary eyes around 0900, just as the scent of Alison’s pancakes filled the marina basin. Breakfast lasted for hours, where we solved the world’s problems and discussed broken stuff. After breakfast, we would disband into clusters of two or three to retrieve tools or parts to communally fix what needed attention. Hot water heaters, thru-hull fittings, diesel engines…, the list goes on. Those Sunday’s included valuable lessons.
One lesson was to not look like a liveaboard. That’s harder than what it sounds like. We live in little spaces, and it’s easy to set “things” on the deck or to cluster the cockpit. One pot or pan that needs to be cleaned turns into a few rusting bicycles, plants and a bag of trash. Our rule was that we should always be able to disconnect and go in 45 minutes. This rule has been a challenge to keep, but it keeps us simple and humble.
Many of our Sunday discussions revolved around the classic what if situation. There are enough transients moving through the marina that we hear tales of piracy, the disaster at sea, contaminated water, devious customs agents, big ships, storms, breaking gear or the fabled perfect sail under the full moon. The classic line for that story is “…it was like living in a watercolor painting…”
I should have paid more attention to the piracy stories. The stories never occurred in far-off tropical paradises overrun with communist guerillas and narco-terrorist. It was always in Virginia.
A few years passed and the first community of liveaboards disbanded. Some off to the repo auction block and others to the Florida Keys. One found love, marriage and a menagerie of rescue animals where another left his boat to rot in the sun.
A few summers ago, we were anchored in a secluded, peaceful cove when two weather-beaten leather faced men made clear their intentions to board us and all of those Sunday what if sessions were suddenly a reality.
End Part I
Part I Bad People and Bad Intentions