'Tis the season to be jolly....with a few reservations

Phil & Nikki Hoskins
Fri 27 Dec 2013 17:47
Still in North lake Worth, Florida
So the saying goes and why not. The shortest day has been dispatched. Christmas brought the usual chaos back in the UK - grid locked roads, homes flooded by torrential rain, power cuts and for those attempting to get into the air patience was a required virtue. So we certainly had plenty to be jolly about without any of the travel problems or last minute queues to buy presents. Being afloat we don't experience those chaotic scenes.
Needing a break after having been at anchor for a week or so (waiting for weather) we booked into Old Port Cove Marina here in North Lake Worth for a few days to cleanse bodies and clothes with copious amounts of fresh hot water. The boat also enjoyed a thorough soaking and scrubbing from bow to stern. It looked clean for a day or so until a kind sea crow decided to take up residence on the masthead light and send the contents of it's own Christmas lunch raining down over the nice clean deck, but fortunately not through an open hatch.
So, jolly we jolly well were - well, almost.  When we came to use the wifi in the marina, which is part of the Beacon network used by numerous marinas up and down the east coast, it just about held up to Skype with Mums and families in the early morning. Then it just gave up the ghost and went back to a level of bandwidth we'd struggled with whilst out at anchor and we weren't quite so jolly anymore. We suspect that many cruisers spend a far greater time in their lives staring at frozen computer screens hoping to grab a share of the local providers bandwidth than they do actually sailing anywhere.  Times are different and we rely on modern technology just as much as the next person sitting ashore in their computer room. To be honest it's still a minor miracle that we can switch our humble laptop on, press a few buttons and not only talk but see our loved ones 5000 miles away. Even if at times the image becomes fragmented into a thousand coloured squares with everyone frozen-faced like vacant ventriloquist dummies whilst the software tries to get everybody moving again. But, despite the miraculous technology we still moan when it doesn't work!
When we finally gave up on the frustrations of Skypeing we took off for a walk around the gated community that is Old Port Cove. It comprises of a number of high rise condo blocks as well as two marinas. Famous, apparently, for providing dockage for Tiger Woods boat.  The other local claim to fame is having Bert Reynolds wandering around Palm Beach being very nice, we were told, to anyone he meets. Maybe it's a different Bert Reynolds? Must be loads of people with that name. Anyway we neither saw the elderly Mr Reynolds or anything floating that looked like it was owned by a famous golfer. The walk was enjoyable all the same. There is a two mile signed route around the complex and at certain times of day the paths are busy with power walkers, you know, walking stiff-legged with their arms flying through the air. Some occasionally swinging lead weights in each hand thus ensuring they are nicely lined up for rotator cuff surgery within Obama's Medicare programme. Given this community is overrun with ancient members of the baby-boomer age with their daily attempts to ward off the onset of arthritic limbs and heart disease we were surprised the ambulance wasn't a frequent visitor through the check point barrier into the complex. Having walked for an hour ourselves (casually, without looking like a couple of mutant androids) we returned to Ajaya gaily sporting her tannin stained ICW waterline 'smile'.  Compared to the many 'managed' sports fisher boats and megayachts close-by she looked uncomfortably out of place. We had been squeezed into the only available space right outside the plush marina office and newly opened on-site 'posh' restaurant (whose menu we did take a quick squint at earlier but declined for budgetary reasons). The supermarket bought Fish 'n' Chips tasted great but the Heinz sugar-laden baked beans are not a patch on those we buy at home!
The weather this side of the Atlantic didn't fare much better with a major storm further north trailing a cold front all the way southwards over Florida.  This then appeared to stall causing us to take our Christmas walks in a blustery wind, no sunshine and sprinkles of rain! Even Florida has grotty weather sometimes. But the major concern for most of us bobbing around in small craft this season has been the dire absence of sensible weather windows to get across the Gulf Stream into the Bahamas.  The cold fronts have not had enough breaks between the cessation of the easterly trades and the arrival of the northeasters behind them. Those salty sailors that have recently ventured out of Lake Worth Inlet have either turned back or probably wished they'd turned back once into the strong currents between Florida and The Bahamas. Not to worry, we're safe, warm(ish) and a lot better off than many this Christmas time and with that sentiment we wish anybody reading this the very best of festive seasons and a Happy New Year.
Some pics of Old Port Cove area....
Not a mast to be seen - just sports-fishing boats with their outriggers forming a ceremonial arch for dock walkers - oh there's one in the distance... us!
 Off on our walk......
        Amazing tree but not sure what it is!!        The grounds of the complex were beautifully maintained and ideal for strolling around
        Maybe $2-3 million for this sports-fisher ?                           'Harmony'  is for sale for $33.75 Million ......................and the Admiral ?  ....Priceless!
and we really enjoyed looking at the 'fishy' artwork on these sport-fish transoms.......
Happy New Year