Colorado to Florida

Pete: Skiing in Colorado was used as a bribe to get everyone halfway to Fort Lauderdale. Breckenridge was not as high as Telluride, but the snow was light and dry, and great fun. The tree skiing was more brutal than we were used to, as less avalanches and tougher trees meant that the branches were more likely to impale you than in Japan. This didn’t deter the kids, as they zipped into the trees and the soft snow. On the fourth day Max had a run in with some stumps high up, and lost his mojo. I tried to piggy back him down to civilisation, until an evening ski patrol took pity on us, and rescue-sledded him down. the next day he was back into the trees, and it was my turn to get hurt, with a classic skiers or poachers thumb fracture/dislocation. Not a great start.

Tom had a bad case of sleep-walking. Twice the Beaver Creek complex security guards had seen him on the CCTV wandering the halls after midnight, in danger of letting himself out into the snow. We had to lock the hotel-room door, and tie a piece of string to us. It was minus 9 celsius outside. Fortunately Florida was 30 degrees.

Mahia was sitting outside a canal home in Fort Lauderdale, and looked bigger than expected. Fortunately so, because Janine was getting cold feet about being cooped up in a tiny boat. The front swing doors were smashed, but the interior untouched. Stuart, the minder and fixer, helped us move it to the Playboy Marina where i had booked a haul-out. He guided us in negotiating our way through several various drawbridges, swing bridges and gates. Fort Lauderdale is just like the Gold Coast, including the names and architecture, except for the fact that all the roads between canal islands will allow large yachts through. The whole time there was a queue of extra-large cruisers behind us, with two or three level tuna towers reaching 15 metres into the air, driven by young latinos with impenetrable sunglasses and white caps, and hearing impairments.

Ten days in the yard, allowed me to sand, prime and paint two coats of antifouling on the bottom, acid etch and epoxy a boot-stripe, pull the rudder, fit a nylon bush, clear all the through-hulls, put more through-hulls in, take out and replace two toilets, replace a pump, wire a new radio and fit an aluminium arch on the back. That was day one. Janine attacked the interior with bleach and vinegar, and an ikea catalogue. The Boys were heroic, not getting too frustrated, being bribed regularly with change for the fizzy drink machine.

Another week or so at the Hollywood Marina allowed me to order my Mantus anchor, a Mercury dinghy and brand-new 6hp outboard, as well as accumulate a small supply of spare parts. All of them arrived on the very last day of our stay there. With a big boat show coming up, we were being kicked out.

In this frenzied week a LOT of walking was done, trying to find shops. School was started. The Boys spent some time deciding what pets they could keep on the boat and which cupboards the pets would be kept in. They were not at all pleased to find wine and pasta in the Vietnamese Baby Pigs cupboard. We also bought some bows and crossbows at the local medieval festival. Perhaps they hoped a target could be set up on the dinghy towed behind us? Some dreams were made to be broken.


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