Monday, December 28, 2015

Politics and pot lucks

Kintala has been anchored up in Stuart for the Holiday week, celebrating with friends who are here as well. There was never really much of a “plan” to all end up here together, it just worked out that way. Some are here struggling through the last tasks of a major refit. (At least they hope they are the last tasks.) Some are here staging for the Islands. And one lives here now, having moved back on land after solo cruising the Islands for a while. With Daughters (3) and Grand Kids (9) far away this Christmas, it would be hard to express just how grateful I am that the cruising tribe does this gypsy thing of gathering and “setting up camp” whenever a couple of boats happen to be resting near each other.

Then, a day or so a go, Deb got wind of a pot-luck dinner at a yacht club not too far from here. It was a combination SSCA / Women Who Sail thing. A bunch of plans were made and unmade as to who could go and how we could get there. In the end the crew of Skimmer, rafted up next to Kintala, decided to just sail up the river. We went along since sailing the five miles or so seemed a lot better deal than walking or driving. After a bit of drama getting the boats apart, mostly caused by yours truly making a bad call on the bow line being the first to go given the winds. I tossed the line rather than suffer the indignity of having it drag me off of Kintala and into the water between the boats. Skimmer circled around and made a very nice touch-n-go to gather me up. We shut off the engine, rolled out the jib, and sailed merrily away on a run. The first bit of sailing we have done in a while was pretty close to perfect.

The lunch was pretty good as well. It turned out there was a guest speaker; Jose Miguel Diaz Escrich, Comodoro Club Nautico Internacional, Hemingway, de CUBA! How cool is that? He is in the US helping to normalize the procedures for Americans to cruise his country. As can be imagined it is a bit of a bumpy road, but Comodoro Escrich seemed very pleased with the progress being made. He also offered an invitation to become members of the Hemingway International Yacht Club of Cuba. There are good reasons to do so if one is trying to work out a trip to Cuba and, truth is, Deb and I are thinking about it. If nothing else, how cool would it be to be members of the Marsh Harbor Yacht Club in the Bahamas (which we are) and members of the Hemingway International Yacht club of Cuba?

At the moment, if an American does go to Cuba, the Cuban government will grant a 30 day visit with a near automatic 30 day extension. Desafortunadamente, the US government will only allow its citizens to remain in Cuba 14 days. I'm not sure what happens if Mother Ocean doesn't provide a weather window to comply with the demands of the Department of Homeland Security. I guess that's one of the bumps still being worked out.

Also at the lunch was a Canadian cruising couple where, as with the crew of Kintala, the Admiral was bi-lingual while the deck monkey stood around trying to look like he understood the conversations going on in Spanish. (I actually caught a word or two, now and then. Made me happy.) After Mr. Escrich left, we sat around chatting with the Canadians and a Cuban ex-pat who lives near the Yacht club were we had lunch. (He also owns two cruising boats, one power, one sail.) Fortunately, most of that conversation was in English, though Deb and Heather (Admiral of the Canadian boat) took full advantage of the chance to chat in Spanish. (Stuart and I standing around trying to look like we understood.)

It was a fun afternoon full of laughter. Understandable, since American Clown Car Politics and our society's weird obsession with lawyers, guns, and money, was kind of the theme for the day. It would appear the rest of the world can't bring themselves to take Americans very seriously, regarding us as a weird kind of joke being played on the world. It seems a pretty rational approach to me, and I think I will borrow it. Cubans, Canadians, Americans, an ex-pat Israeli, and a guy who spoke with a heavy British accent (I didn't get much of his story)...quite a mix for an ad hock pot luck. And not that unusual in the tribe of gypsy cruisers.

Mid afternoon found Skimmer carrying us back to the anchorage, coming to rest next to Kintala once again. Sailing was close to the wind, multiple tacks, and a really good time. We tied the last of the spring lines just as the day faded, gathered up some stuff, jumped in the Dinks (Skimmer and Kintala's) and headed off to join the crew of Kokopelli for sundowners.

But I still managed to miss being with Daughers (3) and Grand Kids (9).

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