Monday April 3rd, 2017
This is the first full day on our own. Mangos have moved south and successfully are on a mooring ball in Stuart at Sunset Bay Marina. They will hang there until conditions are right to make the crossing of Lake Okeechobee and on to their marina near the middle of nowhere. Have fun and safe travels.
When Mangos were preparing to leave yesterday John decided to wait as we heard there was another boat coming in. Channels are narrow in this marina and it could be tricky if you meet a vessel in the wrong place. John waited a while and nobody came so they left without incident.
After they were well gone the expected boat came in. The boat was a J37 modified for ocean travel. It was being single handed by John from Pennsylvania. John is 78 years old and proudly states it. He has had multiple knee replacements on both legs. His boat is being hauled on Thursday and he asked for a little help in dropping his main sail and flaking it for storage.
We bundled up the sail for a short trip over to the grass to flake it up. He was effusive in his thanks and stated that “you start to lose your strength at 70” and quickly followed that with “but not me, others”. He asked me how old I was? I reported with enthusiasm 64, not yet weakened by time according to his scale at least. “Just a teenager” he replied. Not to show him that losing strength could begin before 70 I grabbed the flaked and trussed sail and carried it to his car. Luckily the car wasn’t a foot farther or I would have dropped it on the ground.
On the way back to the boats he told me that he fell off the boat once, without harness or safety lines. A wave washed him over. Luckily he had a line to the ship in his hands and wrapped it under his arm. He managed to get a hold of the boat but as the boat was moving at 5 or 6 kts he was unable to pull himself back aboard. When he had come to the realization that he was dead another wave tossed him up into the life lines and he was able to scramble aboard. Not today…
I’d like to say he doesn’t look 78 but outwardly he does. The scars on his legs from his surgeries and the resultant floppy gait contribute to that. He has sailor hair as I call it, sun skin and an ear wound from a collision with an aluminum extrusion. His glasses by necessity (from the ear collision) are glued together with goop and stuff and remain functional. His eyes are alive and sparkle when he is telling me tales of his travels and experiences.
He said at the time that he thought he didn’t need help to do the two head sails on this particular J37. Then later he ambled by and mentioned that he could use a little help and company in the morning to do the head sails. I will happily go over and give him a hand. If I don’t have time I’ll make time. I hope I will still be alive at 78 let alone still on the boat. His wife had been with him but had flown home from Nassau prior to his crossing continuous from Nassau to Fort Pierce solo. He reports that his wife would like him to retire from cruising but he says “why, when I can still do it”. Why not indeed?