OCC Meet at Hobe Sound
One of the reasons we put an extra spurt on to get south was to make the Ocean Cruising Club meet at Hobe Sound. We joined this world-wide organisation when we were in Europe and have met many other cruising members on our travels. Anyone that has completed an open water passage of 1000 miles is eligible for membership and to fly the famous flying fish burgee having been nominated by an existing member. But we had not made one of the East Coast USA rendezvous due to either little mishaps or just being in the wrong place so we were determined to make sure we attended this event which was kindly hosted by Port Officers George and Nancy of Trumpeter at their Florida home in Hobe Sound. The Port Officers offer help, advise and support for members passing through their areas many of whom have dock space, cars for loan, local knowledge and show a generosity second to none.
Our 'home port' for a few days Dan & Jean's back garden
We arrived on the afternoon of the first day's social activities - a pot-luck supper and were privileged to be allowed to use the dock of their next door neighbour whose dog, a loopy Water Spaniel called Bentley, tore out to meet us as we were assisted in tying the boat up by fellow members Pam & Frank on Blackfoot. This was after negotiating a narrow canal barely 50ft wide which made for an interesting challenge in turning the boat round. Each side of the canal is bordered by low-rise dwellings with palm trees lining most of the waterside. It wasn't long before we spotted some Manatees slowly making their way up the canal to feed in the mangroves at the head of the waterway. These docile creatures are slow moving and unfortunately not good at recognising danger from approaching boats so the casualty rate is high. We were relieved that they had not been in our way as it would have meant moving at a snail's pace behind them.
Slow moving Manatees Fast moving Bentley - but 'Skip' won the shaggy dog contest!
For the Saturday event George and Nancy supplied all of the delicious food and some 60+ members turned out. They have very understanding neighbours. However, the evening's activities were winding down around 2200 which was as well as the average age of OCCers tends to be around 60ish many with their high living all night revelling days behind them! Some had come by boat as we had, some by RV (Motorhome in English) and some had flown down in a light aircraft. A real mix of travellers all swapping stories about life onboard our respective craft. We were delighted to meet up with some friends we had last seen in the Bahamas last Christmas time where we had a good time celebrating the New Year with another OCC boat from Germany - not an orchestrated meet-up but a chance encounter which made it all the more enjoyable.
Re-united after almost a year with Dale & Spence The pool area - complete with scuba diving vacuum cleaner!
Skip at the dogs again! Those eyes say it all - leave me alone for goodness sake!
Also in attendance were a British couple John and Caroline Charnley who were taking their brand new British built 50' cruising catamaran Discovery Magic on a round the world voyage whilst exhibiting at Boat Shows along the way. We are sometimes slightly critical of other cats as we like what we have ourselves albeit from a different era of design thinking. Our class was once described as being 'One of the most innovative catamarans in the world' which if we told somebody today would induce a rolling around on the floor with side-splitting laughter. However this creation of John's with design input from Bill Dixon and Ken Freivokh has produced a stunning looking cat with just the one similarity to ours - a large forward stateroom accessed from both hulls and there the similarity abruptly ends on every dimension!! The interior finish was one of the best we have ever seen in any boat - monohull or catamaran. John and Caroline kindly gave us a guided tour on the Sunday morning and we then returned the favour - although our tour of Ajaya took less than a minute!
Dinghying out of the canal to visit........ 'Discovery Magic' at anchor in Hobe Sound
On the Sunday evening George and Nancy played hosts again to the few remaining guests from the night before inviting us to enjoy the, still tasty, leftovers. Just before we went across to the house our 'boat hosts' Dan and Jean Mackin arrived proffering a very nice bottle of wine to share whilst we had a chat about Dan's life as an artist. He is very renowned, has painted for famous people (Brian Wilson of the Beachboys to name one) and we are now proud to have a copy of his book and a T shirt each.
On the Monday George and Nancy kindly invited us to attend a concert at the Lyceum in Stuart, Florida where an English jazz fusion musician Peter White was playing alongside some very accomplished American players which made for a great Christmas Jazz evening. George had mentioned a 'sassy' lady member of the group, Mindi Abair , whose effortless style blowing her saxophone had a profound effect on most men in the audience! Prior to heading off to the theatre Nancy took the orders and drove off to get pizzas that were typically the size of juggernaut wheels (but tasted much better). Earlier that morning as our bread supply finally ran out the 'Admiral' got kneading in the galley to produce a loaf of bread that had the same density of Osmium and would have easily penetrated any jewellers window that you cared to throw it at. An immediate investigation brought about suspicion of the yeast used. We ate about two thirds but woke up the next morning both smelling strongly of yeast so binned the remaining third. Just hope Bentley didn't sniff it out in the rubbish as it would have made a water spaniel into an underwater spaniel. We resorted to a loaf of bread out of a tin which seemed a good idea when we purchased it. We had been curious to know what it tasted like and now we know - horrible. At least as bread, but with some custard on would have made a good desert.
Also that morning we knocked on Dan's studio door as he had kindly invited us to see what he was currently working one. We had commented on his working sweatshirt when they had brought the wine round. Needless to say he doesn't wear an apron so wipes his brushes on his now multicoloured sweatshirt. Phil has similar attire which has grease and oil on. Amongst the paintings was a Harley Davidson fuel tank which was being painted featuring one of Dan's beach scenes for a Doctor that pretends to be a Hells Angel at weekends. Handy to have around when those motorcycle chains make an appearance! We left Dan to his busy painting schedule with many commissions to complete before the Christmas holidays. A truly nice man we are pleased to have met.
We should point out that Dan and Jean, George and Nancy undertake huge amounts of charity work for the less well off in the locality as do so many Americans we have met up and down the East Coast.
On our final day George kindly arranged a delivery of diesel fuel for Trumpeter and the two remaining boats which caused much mirth as we manipulated a hundred yards of heavy hose from the lorry out front through Dan's garden and onto Ajaya. At the moment the gate was opened to allow access to the hose Bentley made a bolt for freedom. He was gone running as fast as a Water Spaniel possibly can when freedom beckons. It was left to Phil to track him down to a another neighbour's house where an enticing smell left his senses of escape momentarily dulled and quick as a flash Phil had him by the collar and marched him back to life behind the gate once more. What could have been an act of revenge for his shortened period of freedom Phil then trod in one of Bentley's worst offerings hidden in the lawn. A right messy one. We shuddered to think how much 'Bentley Poo' ended up being rewound onto the tanker's reel afterwards!
The tanker arrives - (Admiral had the shakes that morning) Refuelling Florida style
A quick wash off and it was time to slip our lines, extricate ourselves from the narrow and shallow canal, back into the Intra Coastal Waterway (going aground at the entrance in the process) and make our way through seven lifting bridges towards our next stop in Florida - North Lake Worth which is in West Palm Beach. A place where the metaphorical boating 'wildebeests' gather in numbers to cross that nasty patch of water (the Gulf Stream) in order to spend the winter cruising in warmer parts. Unlike the real wildebeests fortunately the mortality rate in the crossing is significantly less (just a few each year). Although the experience isn't usually eagerly anticipated or pleasant come to that. It's all part of what we choose to do and it beats sitting at a desk or shovelling snow from the drive.