After a week and a half of epic island hopping in the Bahamas, we’re now sailing in American waters for the first and only time on our circumnavigation. “Sailing” isn’t really the proper word because the purpose of our detour to Fort Lauderdale is to do our last round of serious boat work before sailing off into the abyss. Once we leave Florida, the availability of services will go down, and the length of the passages will go up, so this is a logical place to get things finalized. In addition to replacing the sails, upgrading the generator, and replacing our destroyed autopilot, we’re also going through every system with a fine tooth comb, loading up on spare parts, and taking care of the deferred maintenance we’ve been putting off for the past couple of months. We know more about the inner workings of sailboats than we every cared to know, but attention to these details is critical to this type of sailing.
Luckily we’re in good hands here working with two true experts, Martin and Pete, who are not only fixing things with amazing efficiency, but also giving us a pretty good lesson in boat maintenance. This is all a big confidence booster which we’ve desperately needed ever since Tunger (“the Legend”) left us back in Greece.
Being back in the United States after nine months of fumbling around in other countries actually feels pretty refreshing. Things are clean, civilized, and easy. It’s easy to take these things for granted if you don’t step outside your comfort zone every now and again. But in life there is no such thing as a free lunch, and we’ve noticed a pretty direct relationship between how “civilized” a place is and how many rules it has. We may have gotten a little too accustomed to the lax regulations in southern Europe and the Caribbean where pretty much anything goes. We weren’t thinking about the gigantic Florida Penal Code when we went putting up the river in our dinghy to explore a little bit this afternoon. We definitely weren’t thinking about the law in Florida that requires even 2 horsepower dinghies to be registered…. a bizarre concept in every other country we’ve been to. We also weren’t thinking about the rules requiring us to have life vests and whistles aboard all motorized crafts. But Officer Waters of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department’s Marine Unit was thinking about all these things. You can imagine how stupid we felt as he went down his list, first asking for our registration docs, then for our life vests, then for our whistles. Luckily for us, Officer Waters was in a good mood this afternoon, so he let us go with a written warning and a deserved “shame on you”. And so that was our first and last American dinghy excursion… we’ll have to check Google Earth later to see what’s further up the river because we have a feeling the next citation won’t be of the warning variety.
We’ll be here for about another 10 days finishing things up on the boat before heading south towards more lawless / less civilized places, for better or worse. Our website is now back online after a labor intensive rebuilding process, so things on the blog will now return to normal… thanks for your patience!