December 4, 2009
Green Cove Springs, FL
The best thing about Jacksonville is its Florida Times Union newspaper. Probably the best small market news and editorial content in the entire USA this newspaper's editorials take on all issues large and small and they play hardball.
Much of the rest of the town is a hot and cold sort of thing. An uncultured city it has ambition, in a 1950s American sort of way. Old Jacksonville is rotting away, traveling fast on the road to decay and dereliction. Out of the rubble soar shiny new hygienic monuments of glass, steel and concrete, especially concrete. There are some amazing highway access ramps in this city, all on display downtown. One of these disgorges its automobile effluent downtown at the base of a building "for sale". Sale is unlikely as the 20 story building has a crack big enough to catch a football in the eight lower floors. JAX is juxtaposed.
Jacksonville Landing is a marvellous free dock right downtown capable of mooring 100 boats or more. We were one of three boats. Housing about 50 restaurants none of them offer anything other than standard frozen nuclear chain food. "Wanted: Microwave Chef".
(There is a bakery on the landing, not a chain, that turns out the best peasant bread this side of that little Russian grocery on Staten Island.)
Thursday morning, hitting the tide just right at 8 a.m. Meredith left the Landing and passed through the CSX railroad bridge on the flood. Twenty Five miles of the tedious St. Johns River left us in such a state of ennui we lost the ability to speak. The Hell of the Potomac has been visited upon the South.
Leaving on the leading edge of the flood tide gave us favourable flow all the way to Green Cove Springs. We arrived at 11:00 a.m.
This was when the day started to unravel.
A mooring ball was picked up but not before we ran aground in the mooring field, a problem because we came in on high tide. Once settled we dinghied to shore to register and check out the facilities. The office was closed. The Budget Committee wanted a shower. Washrooms were out of service. Check in took another hour. We went to find the two groups of friends who keep their boat at the facility and discovered had left the day before, one pair to New England and the other to Wales. It started to rain.
We returned to Meredith in descending spirits, settled in and started to read.
A half hour later we could hear a dinghy approach. Water being such a great conductor of sound sailors are always alerted to anchors being weighed, boats departing and dinghies approaching. This dinghy came quite close and circled the boat once and then again. Then the motor slowed and quit. Interesting.
The Budget Committe perked up. Always an optimist and always looking for diversion she moved to the companionway and turtled her head out hoping to find someone wishing to "meet and greet". I stayed below. It was where I belonged in my mood.
Instead of a new sailing companion she met the owner of the boat moored 0n the ball next to Meredith. Standing on his stern he yelled "You are getting a little close aren't you." There is no question mark on this as it was not delivered in the form of a question.
The tone of the exchange was not too promising. I lowered my book and made for the companionway. Exiting I saw Meredith stern to the adjoining boat. Our boats had taken different paths when the tide changed. About 1/2 boat length separated us. Not much at anchor but we were all on mooring balls.
Until that point the decibel level of the conversation rendered individual words unintelligable. That ended.
"Well the marina knows where they put their mooring balls so I assume we are just fine" said the Budget Committee. Trouble was afoot. The tone was strained and the volume at half scream.
"They did not put them in so they don't know anything" said Mr. Petulant. "I'm not asking you to move" he continued "but I was here first".
"Bull" yells BC. "You want us to move we will damn well move. I won't spend another minute beside someone like you." With this BC jumped to the diesel panel, slammed the protective cover up and startled the Beta into operation.
"What the Hell's your problem Lady" screamed Mr. Petulant.
"Problem. It's your problem. I don't like whiny little cowards". Never ask the Budget Committee a direct question. Her Dutch genes render it impossible for her not to answer directly. "You are uptight. I could solve your problem. I have a plank on board. But we don't have a drill bit small enough for you get any friction".
With this she stormee to the bow and started uncleating one of the mooring lines. Loudly.
"That woman is crazy. What is her problem". whined Mr. Pet. The tone was still a bit aggressive but clearly he was taken aback and the volume was a horse whisper.
"I think she told you her problem". I swear I was calm when I said this and sober faced too. "She does not like whiny little cowards. She also thinks you need to get laid but this is unlikely because of your unfortunate penis size". I cannot keep from laughing. My diaphragm is quivering.
"Well You tell her..." started the petulant neighbour.
"Tell her yourself" I said as I turned to the bow and yelled "CONNIE" as loud as I felt I had to.
"WHAT!!!!!" She was so angry she was having trouble uncleating the mooring line and the foredeck was a bit of a hash. She stood up and kicked the line. She was still pissed.
"This guy wants to talk to you" I relayed. As I did so I turned and gestured to the cockpit of the boat behind us.
It was oddly empty. No one in sight. "Nevermind" I finished.
I joined the Budget Committee on the bow and we removed both mooring lines. BC swore she was calm now. I did not believe her.
Meredith drifted back a bit in the gentle tide, and the gap between her and the neighbouring boat was only about 10 feet.
Moving to the cockpit I waited until we were no more than 3 feet off the stern of the other boat. No one appeared in the other cockpit. The point having been made I put Meredith in gear and we moved to the next mooring field to pick up another ball. The Budget Committee stayed on the bow.
As we entered the next mooring field, all part of Green Cove Springs, we passed a steel boat named Anna Lee. In its cockpit, enjoying the show, was a beard with a weathered face and very bright eyes. As we passed him I said "I guess now we know who keeps Anna Lee company". The beard was old enough to know the song.
"Yup" he replied. "I spend a lot of time with her." He smiled. "Otherwise she gets sort of ... interesting". A pause. His smile broadened. "I like interesting women".
Me too, bearded guy, me too.