It’s called the Sunshine State, and maybe it is in July and August, but here on 27th December it’s hooning it down good time. Our small armada, two boats, the Windora’s starring Phil and Linda, plus us on Grace eventually escaped Bluffton, passed through St Augustine and Titusville and dropped anchor in the Cape Canaveral vicinity.

Once again, we boat refugees were adopted into an American home for tea and medals and a full on Christmas Celebration. A collaborative effort delivered a lunch spectacular for 14 people. Dave made his infamous 4 hour gravy which proved a hit all round. Chris’s house became the focal point for four days as errands were run, boats were mended and improved and day trips were embarked on.

My day trip was to the Magic Kingdom. I believe a good two thirds of the American population descended on Disneyland on Christmas Eve. The queues and general human throng was immense and initially disconcerting. But Disney is Disney and they do their day job very well. I’d challenge even the most cynical of folks not to crack a smile as the Christmas parade goes past or the CGI Monsters Inc show interacts ingeniously with the audience. You’re never too old to go and enjoy the magic. Just maybe go on a quiet Wednesday in November, not Christmas Eve. Oh, and start saving now. Your cash will magically disappear.

Dave chose not to make the trip, instead staying to install a new alternator on the boat. For you technical bods, this hulk delivers 75 amps at tick over. If this means nothing to you, that’s cool, all you need to understand is it makes Dave very happy.

Back to the weather, it’s been darn right difficult and uncooperative as we look for a window to cross the Gulf Stream to get to the Bahamas.  And then down to the Exumas to meet friends there. But a window is promised on Monday so we are lining up to take full advantage. Meanwhile it’s still pouring, Dave is moist and I’m hiding writing this missive. (Maybe I should write something akin to War and Peace to stay out of the rain)







And lift…..then lower

There’s a bunch of protagonists. The cast’s ages range from about 50 ish to 70 ish. Although essentially they are all still 12 to 14 year old boys in their general demeanour and outlook. There’s a project afoot and they’re all definitely up for it.

There’s the main protagonist, “Na, na, you wanna do it like this”. He’s usually right but not always. The quiet considered counterpart, constantly troubleshooting sees occasional critical flaws and glitches in the plan. Valuable essential stuff. But unbridled confidence certainly helps with the momentum of the job.

There’s the “I’ll survive anything” chap who insists on standing directly under a suspended heavy object, with a cheek to cheek grin on his face. No matter how many times moving is suggested, cajoled, demanded, seconds later he’s back in exactly the same place. There’s dungarees boy, with his years of experience working around machinery. If there’s a joke to me made, he’s your man.

All in all there are about 10 characters to help lift the rotting wooden mast out of a sail boat using an outrigger on a moored fishing boat as the fixed high point.

Dave shimmies up the outrigger and fixes a strong point with pullies and lines. The wooden mast is hauled up eventually using the anchor windlass but because it’s swollen due to the rot in the mast foot, it’s not straightforward and severe jiggling, forcing and leverage is required. The pivot point is not quite right so the mast hangs severely to the stern narrowly avoiding a dip in the drink.

But out the mast comes, to be laid across a skiff and driven to the public jetty where it is transferred onto a couple of trolleys and walked the quarter mile up the main road to its ‘fixing’ place.

A few days later, a new section of fresh wood has been scarfed into the mast foot, the Bluffton Christmas Parade has happened, two birthdays have passed and the crew reassemble to put the mast back in to its natural environment.

Lessons were learnt from round one so restepping was much more straightforward with less hairy moments. All done by 10.15 in the morning.

Which explains why we’ve been in Bluffton South Carolina for around two weeks. I’ve fallen in love with the south. The oaks trees, the Spanish moss, the porches with rocking chairs and late night outdoor fires where 12 year olds can reminisce, its a lovely spot.