CRUISING COMMUNITY • Over New Year’s, we left our boat Lime’n on a town mooring in Vero Beach, FL for a couple of weeks so we could fly back to the office while this edition of BWS was finished and sent to the printers. Cruising for us these days is a hopscotch affair with our partners as we stage the boat south for the winter. With any luck, it will be in the Bahamas for most of the winter. And BWS is sponsoring the Georgetown Regatta in March, so maybe we’ll see you there.
Vero is one of those special cruising harbors where boats from all over the world gather. Some of the folks come for the winter since the town moorings are secure and fairly inexpensive. But most of us are passing through and choose Vero because it is convenient and filled with other cruisers.
Ashore, the town provides clean washroom and laundry facilities, a meeting room and a free trolley that swoops through the marina regularly so folks can get around town. The atmosphere is relaxed and the people friendly and informal. The cruising community is just that way. Everyone is out to enjoy themselves and we all look after each other as best we can. Potluck is the operative dining term and most of us never learn the last names of the friends we make.
But there is no launch service in Vero, so you need your dinghy to get to and from your boat. For us, this presented a small problem—we wanted to leave our dinghy and outboard secured aboard our boat while we were away, and we had to depart for the airport at 6am. Hmmm.
We were in the dock office running this problem by the fellow on duty when a couple wandered in to retrieve their mail. They heard us describing our dilemma, and without so much as a moment’s hesitation walked over and introduced themselves.
“Hi, we’re Karin and Jim on Kokomo, and we’d be glad to take you ashore in the morning.”
Um, yes, thank you.
We were expecting a cold front to come through during the night with frigid temperatures and a big northerly wind. It didn’t come and didn’t come, and then, just as we were stirring before dawn, the rigging began to sing and Lime’n started dancing on her mooring.
Soon after, Jim arrived in his dinghy with the little outboard putt-putting nicely. He was in full foulies and sea boots. My two crew-mates and I managed to close up the boat, lock the hatches and climb into the soft bottom inflatable. We barely fit.
By now, the wind had really picked up and a chop was building in the harbor. Jim piloted us through the moored boats, across an open stretch of water and toward the protected dinghy landing. The overloaded dinghy labored in the chop, and more than once I thought we were going to take water over the bow. We didn’t.
Jim let us off and with a wave headed back to the warmth of his bunk aboard Kokomo. Will we catch up with Kokomo in the Bahamas? Perhaps. Will we see Karin and Jim again? Possibly. But we know we will see their like-minded peers everywhere we cruise, and one day we will volunteer to get up before dawn to ferry three strangers ashore from their boat. Because that’s just what we do in the cruising community.