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  • Steve


In my old professional advertising agency life, everything I did revolved around deadlines -- from publishers, from clients, for prospective clients, for all kinds of internal meetings, projects, agendas, campaigns, you name it...

Now that I'm on the other side of the looking glass in central Florida in the tail end of hurricane season getting a thirty-nine foot sailing vessel ready for a journey to Central America with my girlfriend and two dogs, deadlines have gone from having a real, tangible value to being a vacuous concept without any reference to reality. We have to be out by the first of November no matter what and we're a sailing boat that doesn't currently have a mast or any standing rigging. We're basically a powerboat with a really small engine at this point.

Of course, the wheels of everything move much more slowly down here but there is a fine line between meticulous, methodical work done at an island time pace and untimely execution of duties. It's been two weeks since we had our mast unstepped and lowered our boom down onto our deck and it feels like it's been forever. It feels like I could have ordered the rigging from Beneteau myself and done the job already, but I have zero experience with rigging...

Since then we've been doing all kinds of other repairs and maintenance on lots of different systems. You wouldn't believe the number of different compartmentalized systems on a boat of this size. We're setup to run off the grid completely (water maker, solar power, etc.) but there's a lot of upkeep that needs to happen before we leave the land of 2-day guaranteed Amazon service. Just getting the basics up and running, keeping the leaks from leaking and making sure all of the hoses everywhere are double-clamped is a lot of work, but as our good old boat guy NIck tells us, it's the amenities that make living aboard feel like home.

So we've got a huge incredibly heavy air conditioner sitting on our kitchen table that I spent some time cleaning of stuff earlier in the day. I'm not sure how Nick got it down into the tiny compartment where it's going to live, but he got the first one in and this is the same model, only I wasn't able to finagle it into the right position, even with Andrea's help. It's a two-man job.

Since this is our second unit (the first was damaged incredibly in shipping with the compressor bent at a crazy angle) I didn't want to force it in so we're going to wait for Nick to put it in tomorrow. He's also going to take care of the alternator (that was supposed to happen today but someone forgot to order a hose...).

And Nick also said our wires are in, so our appointment on Monday at Seven Seas to get the mast re-stepped (or un-unstepped or whatever the actual sailing terminology is) should be good, which means City Dogs should be a real sailing vessel pretty soon. With a new alternator, water pump, air conditioner, television, not to mention brand new standing rigging, we're going to be looking good ... soon.

Only, this is Florida, a place akin to the Twilight Zone where deadlines don't mean much and timelines, plans & departure dates are openly scoffed at. You know what they say about life, it's what happens while you're making other plans.

Hopefully the system off Honduras right now doesn't develop into something worse, the world doesn't need another hurricane this season and we don't need another bullet to dodge. We just need to hit that deadline and get the engine, AC and rigging sorted so we can get the hell out of Central Florida.

It's not that I don't like Ponce Inlet. It's a charming little community at the end of the line south of Daytona Beach but it's not somewhere I could ever imagine staying for any length of time. There are weird vibes here, that's for sure, and it's not just the zombies running into glass windows and looking through you high out of their minds on flakka (which is a real problem down here), even the normal people down here are what we would have called characters back in New York City. Everyone has stories on top of stories or they're shut off, openly hostile and suspicious and likely armed to the teeth with assault rifles, handguns, shotguns, knives, who knows.

Having said that we have met a lot of nice, extremely polite, generous people down here who have been free with their advice and help on a number of different projects. In fact, we definitely could not have managed half the things we've done without the help of lots of folks from down here. Hell, even the cops who patrol the two avenues like hawks for anyone going over 35 MPH stop in at the dog run and give out treats to all the doggies and they stop in at the local watering hole after hours to hear the live music and have a coupe cold ones.

So I guess it's not all bad. Doggies dig the deck without the mast. It's just a different kind of place, about as different from the East Village of Manhattan as you can get outside of like the middle of the desert in Arizona or something.

Just wait til we get to Roatan.

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