December 18, 2003
We've warned about the dangers of Tarpit Harbour before. Tarpit Harbour is a mythical port where cruisers become mired by convenience, comfort and camaraderie. A brief stopover stretches into weeks, months, maybe even years. A pattern of delay is established, inertia sets in. It's just too damn hard to leave. Each voyager has his or her personal list of Tarpit Harbours. Odysseus, one of the greatest cruisers of all time, got stuck in a number of Tarpit Harbours on his way home from Troy; the most significant being the island of Ogygia, where the charming nymph Calypso kept him contentedly captive for seven long years.
Like the famous Greek wanderer, we've had our share of Tarpit Harbours. Our March 20, 2003 entry described one of them, George Town in the Bahamas. Stateside, Vero Beach in Florida is where we seem to linger the longest. When we finally left Vero on Tuesday, we had been there just shy of seven weeks; not quite the seven years Odysseus spent in Ogygia, but still far longer than we had planned. Most of that time we were rafted on a mooring next to "Tardis", a Tartan 38 sailboat crewed by Rich and Chris Pierce and their Australian terrier Barclay.
Rich was incredulous when we announced we were leaving. "You know, Vero is a very nice place, but after a while it gets a bit stale," he admitted. His father lives in Vero, so they were going to stay until the end of the holidays. And then there was the new dodger and bimini they were having custom made, a work still in progress. "We'll catch up to you in the Bahamas," he said wistfully.
We were sympathetic. When we first arrived in Vero at the end of October, Eileen was scheduled to perform at a number of boating events in central Florida. By the time the last gig was over, it was past the middle of November and Thanksgiving was approaching. David's stepmom lives in Vero and a big family gathering was planned. There was no escaping our family obligations and, incidentally, we like roast turkey a lot.
In the interim, we decided to have a couple of things delivered to us: a shipment of CDs and our backlogged mail. We should have known better. There was a problem at the CD duplicating plant and a miscommunication or two between the plant and the recording studio; before we knew it the delivery date had slipped by a couple of weeks. As it turned out, the delay with the CDs was okay because our mail didn't arrive on time either. In fact, it didn't arrive at all. Using the tracking number we obtained from Canada Post, we discovered that our package was delivered right on schedule -- unfortunately, to Peterborough, Ontario instead of Vero Beach, Florida (it's a long story and we'll spare you the gruesome details).
"Well," said David, "that solves THAT problem. Too bad we won't be getting our mail, but at least we know where it is. We're out of here!"
He uttered those fateful words last Thursday evening. Eileen had just checked our e-mail and received confirmation that her brother and his wife were meeting us in Green Turtle Cay on January 2nd. Then the computer screen went blank. Eileen moaned, "I don't believe this is happening; Dennis and Darcy are arriving in the Bahamas in three weeks and here we are in Florida with a dead computer." David tried to put things in a positive light. "Better that the stupid thing breaks here where we can do something about it rather than when we're in terra incognita." But of course he was overlooking an important point. If the computer had delayed its demise until our planned arrival in the Bahamas, we would simply make do without it, just like we're making do without our wayward mail. Being in Tarpit Harbour, however, we had one more reason not to leave.
Over the next 24 hours, Eileen burned up the computer's call centre phone lines. After much pleading, cajoling, and threatening, she convinced the company's representatives that their very corporate survival depended on them express shipping a new memory card to us by Monday -- which they did. Tuesday morning we began casting off the lines that secured us to "Tardis". Barclay didn't want us to go. He attempted to delay our departure by jumping on board. "No, Barclay," we told him firmly, "you can't leave Vero with us." He reluctantly returned to Rich and Chris.
We stopped at the marina fuel dock to top up with diesel and water. The staff all came down to wave good bye. "Isn't that nice," Eileen said. "I think they're going to miss us."
"They just want to make sure we're really leaving," David muttered as we pulled away.
We motored south on the Indian River, bound for Lake Worth where we intended to wait for favourable conditions to cross the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas. The weather report mentioned an approaching cold front. As the day progressed the wind strengthened from the southwest, kicking up a nasty chop. We decided to stop at Jensen Beach and anchor on the north side of the new highway bridge that's under construction. "We'd better hunker down here for the night," David suggested. "When the wind clocks tomorrow morning, we can re-anchor on the other side of the bridge and wait for the front to blow through."
Yesterday at dawn we woke to the din of screeching cranes and rumbling trucks. The wind had shifted and waves were slapping the hull. Overnight the temperature had dropped to around 50 degrees. Eileen shivered and put on another sweater. Staring out the companionway at the dark construction site next to us, she observed, "This isn't the prettiest spot we've ever visited. It sure isn't the Bahamas."
David nodded. "Yeah, but at least it's not Vero Beach."