I was searching through some old files on my computer when I came across a journal that I kept during one of my crazier adventures: agreeing to fly from Boston down to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to help take a used, 40-foot sailboat on a *shakedown cruise from the Bahia Mar Marina in Lauderdale to Fort Walton Beach, Florida. A journey of 700 miles across the Gulf of Mexico. With my ex-fiance. During the height of the hurricane season.
What could possibly go wrong?
I should also probably point out that a) I’m not a sailor, and b) I’m not a very good swimmer. In fact, I’m scared of the water, to be honest.
So why, why, why? Three reasons: 1) I had just taken my post-merger severance package from Corporate America, so had some free time; 2) I was thinking about becoming a travel writer (What a great opportunity!); and, 3) I was a big Travis McGee fan. He kept a houseboat at Bahia Mar. Yes, I know, he wasn’t real. But still….
Between the time that I ordered my tickets and caught my flight, Hurricanes Bonnie and Charley had come and gone. Fortunately, as I flew through the air heading south towards the great unknown, the Atlantic had calmed down.
At 11 pm that evening, as I lay sleeping in my gently rocking bunk at Bahia Mar, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued Advisory Number One for Tropical Depression Six, forming in the East Atlantic Ocean, west of the Lesser Antilles.
To Be Continued….
* Nautical term for a shakedown cruise: A limited sea excursion for the purpose of testing all the working equipment of a ship before putting the vessel in service.