This is just as an exercise in writing about an imaginary trip.
I thought I would take you on an imaginary trip on “The South Carolina”, a 150' yacht. We will meet Don at the Downtown Airport; from there he will fly us in his helecopter to Beaufort, South Carolina. We will meet some friends at “Tuesdays” a waterfront resturant and jazz club owned by my friend Frank Cone. The whole marina has been bought out by some investors from New York. They have signed contracts with architects and builders to renovate the marina and surrounding shops. For now the whole area looks a little rough. There are still a few shrimp boats docked, but they will be moving soon. We will have breakfast with Frank and his wife Leanne before loading our bags on board. There will be several others joining us for this cruise down the Intracoastal Waterway. Once everyone is aboard we will be heading out for a week long cruise from Port Royal Marina to a marina located at Boynton Beach to visit a few days with my brother, Jimmy and his wife Anne. Jimmy will take the rest of us to the airport to fly back to Beaufort. The boat will remain at the marina in Boynton Beach for the winter. It will give me a place to stay when I come down for visits. During this trip we can learn about each other in an environment where we will experience non-verbal expressions and see each other in several different social settings.
You will be introduced to Captain Jefferies and his lovely wife Sally who will be our hostess while on the boat. She also fixes and serves all the meals. Sally never turns down help from anyone who would be interested in helping. You will meet Sean and Kathy , Steve and Debbie who will be on the trip with us. The boat has five staterooms plus quarters for the Captain and his wife. So you will have your own stateroom for the trip. Each stateroom has its own bath and coffee maker. There is a window in each room. So if anyone wishes to take a nap or just get off to themselves for a while they have this option. On any trip that last more than a day, being able to have a little privacy is very important. There is also a built-in music system in each room that offers radio and a C D player. C D’s are in each room that gives a variety of music to choose from. The choices range from easy listening to reggae. No rap allowed. There is plenty of Jimmy Buffet or Bob Marley and the Whalers plus others.
By the time everyone has arrived and Captain Jefferies is ready to cast off the lines from the dock it will be close to mid-day. The meetings have all been very brief to this point because everyone was getting set up in their rooms and changing into boat clothes; shorts, blouse and bare feet. Sally has set up for a light lunch of chunky chicken salad with lots of cubed apple, grapes and pecans on the very top deck. There we can enjoy the breeze and the view as we head out of Port Royal Sound into the Atlantic Ocean. Now we have about a five hour cruise to visit, just relax and enjoy the day.
The first leg of our trip will take us to St. Simons Island just out from Brunswick, Georgia. Captain Jefferies says we should be docking around 5:30. We will have dinner ashore at the Fish Market Grill. On the second day we will dock for the evening in Jacksonville, Florida. There we will be met for dinner by Darryl and Beth who are in Jacksonville for a conference of some sort. They may visit the boat after dinner for a while, but will not be going on this trip. You would have met Marion and Brenda on this trip, but they were in Texas visiting their daughter Angie at Fort Hood and couldn’t make.
Now we can get to know each member of the group a little better over lunch after Steve blesses the food. Captain Jefferies goes about five miles out to sea before turning right and paralleling the coast line. Once he has achieved his heading he sets the auto-pilot and makes his rounds to make sure all lines and bumpers are properly secured. Before returning to the pilot house he makes a quick check in the engine room just for grins.
Sean is a very up beat guy and laughs a lot. He is a physician’s assistant and good at what he does. Sean is a people person and fun to be around. His wife Kathy is an anesthetist. She is a bit hyper and you may find yourself needing to get away from her after a while. All in all however she is interesting to engage in conversation.
Steve is a pastor. He is a delightful person and easy to be around. He has a dry wit that spices up any conversation. His wife Debbie is a beautiful blond with lots of homespun wit. She shoots holes in the idea that all blonds are dumb. She is an office manager for a firm in Shelby, North Carolina. Debbie is anything but dumb. She is a riot to talk with. She and Steve still have a great relationship even after over thirty-eight years of marriage. It is a pleasure to watch them interact with each other. Debbie once told him he was just a redneck from Sugar Tit, South Carolina. Steve said, “But I have a college degree.” Debbie said, “So! That just means you are an educated redneck from Sugar Tit.”
After lunch and some “get to know” conversation everyone gradually drifts off in various directions and explores the boat. Sooner or later we all come back together at the pilot house. Here we can learn about the operation of the boat from Captain Jefferies. He is a real laid back guy and loves teaching about the boat. He is quick to let anyone interested steer if they would like to. That is except when he is bringing her into a marina. Then he is all business. Captain Jefferies has been certified for more than twenty-six years and has plenty of experience handling boats up to 200 plus feet. He delivers yachts on the side for a manufacturing company out of Germany.
The pilot house has a beautiful view of the surroundings in front of the boat. The instrument panel has three monitor screens. The biggest of the screens shows a chart and the exact location of the boat at all times. The same screen also displays the depth, the speed through the water and the speed across the bottom. Another screen shows a weather radar that keeps Lane informed about all weather conditions within a one hundred mile radius of the boat. This allows him plenty of time to make any changes to avoid bad weather should that issue arise. Lane is very sensitive to passengers and usually heads for a safe port when bad weather threatens. If it is just he and Sally on board moving the boat they will sometimes continue unless the sea conditions are simply too dangerous.
By 3:30 most of us have settled on the lower fantail for a scrabble game. Sally serves some ice cream treats and takes time to visit and get to know her guest. As hostess on the boat she always sees everyone as her guest. She is a delightful hostess and shows great concern for each individuals comfort. Sally is a tiny woman with long red hair that hangs down to the middle of her back. She and the Captain both are well tanned. They were college sweethearts and have been married for thirty years. They have three daughters who are all married and live in various parts of the country. Their oldest daughter Jackie is an OBGYN in Oklahoma. The middle daughter Francine is an attorney with a law firm in New York and the youngest Katie is working on her masters degree at Washington Lee University in Virginia. Notice the initials of the girls…JFK. They knew the Kennedys personally. Sally was glad when she could spend more time on boats with her husband.
As we get closer to our port at St Simons Island Lane takes the boat into the Intercostal Water Way. We all go top side so we see the scenery. Little coves off to the side offer some neat anchorages for boats that prefer to anchor out rather than dock at a marina. These coves are also great havens from storms. As we continue down the water way toward our stop for the night we pass some beautiful estates along the way. Another common sight are the many processing plants for seafood and the boats that supply the crabs, shrimp or what ever they may specialize in.
The beautiful cumulus clouds begin to build announcing the possibility of an afternoon shower. Captain Jefferies doesn’t feel there is any threat of much more than some fall rain without the severity of lightning or heavy winds.
Off to one side of the boat there is a small school of porpoise breaching the surface before disappearing again beneath the brown waters of the canal or “ditch” as it is sometimes called.
Lizzy takes a turn at the wheel under close supervision from Captain. Sean and Kathy have gone back to the top deck. Steve, Debbie and I have gone inside for some lemonade in the main saloon area of the boat where it is air conditioned. We are only about an hour from docking at St. Simons for the night. The water way opens into a large bay and Lane takes back the controls. We all come into the pilot house. Captain Jefferies calmly gives us some idea what is about to take place as we dock. He ask that one of the men take a line at the front and someone else take a line at the stern to cleat the boat to the dock once he has come to a complete stop.
After docking everyone goes to their stateroom for a shower and to dress for the evening. Dress is certainly not formal, but a little less casual than shorts. There is no set schedule. Eventually everyone is gathered on the lower fantail and we head out for shopping and dinner in the village surrounding the marina.
The dock master and his crew fuel up “The South Carolina” and re-locate her in a slip for the night. Captain Jefferies and Sally remain on the boat until she is secured at her overnight birth. They join us later at the Fish Market Grill near by for dinner. The meal is exquisite and the conversation is made up of who saw what along the water way. After the meal we all walk around the village and explore what shops might still be open. Finally we return to the boat and visit on the top deck where the view of the stars is spectacular. Around 11:00 o’clock everyone is glad to get to bed for a good nights sleep. Most heads are filled with anticipation of what the next day holds.
The next morning we are greeted by the smell of coffee and frying bacon to kick off the day in the main lounge.
Sally, Kathy and Liz have prepared a fabulous breakfast complete with fruit and orange juice. Eventually everyone has revived and come out from their staterooms and we all have breakfast together, before untying from the docks. By 10:30 Captain Jefferies has us heading south again for our next port of call in Jacksonville, Florida. There we will rendezvous with Darryl and Beth for dinner. It will be a fairly short cruise to Jacksonville where we will have plenty of time to rent bikes and see the city. There will even be time for the beach for those who would like to get some sun and sand. Showers sure do feel good after the sticky salt air of the beach.
We all return to the boat for a shower and to again dress for dinner. We meet Darryl and Beth at the Top Side Café’ located atop of the thirty-story Marriott Hotel. The view of the city is spectacular from the balcony that completely circles the building. Darryl is Director of Human Resources at a plant in Florence, South Carolina and he is also pastor of a small Church. Beth teaches the seventh grade in the public school system. They are a fun couple to be around. Darryl was my pastor for three years. I knew Beth before she married Darryl. We worked together on a team that cooked for the Spanish Ministry at First Baptist Church of Sumter.
Each day holds new adventures and the opportunity to meet new people. The boat is like a hotel that is able to move from location to location along some wonderful waterfront sights. Any boat trip gives memories that will last for ever. When boarding a boat there seems to be a magic transformation from the rat race of everyday living to a much slower pace. Living on a boat is not something that can be described it is something that must be experienced to understand why people get hooked so easily.