When the tidal current shifted and a 40 foot trawler and my 40 'catamaran almost missed or kissed hulls, I met Ben, a retired navy electrician. We struck up a casual conversation from the decks of our nearby anchored boats when our friendly chat changed course when he mentioned he was divorced and been living aboard for three years. I asked him how it was going after his 30-year marriage broke up.
He said "there's only one thing missing - a woman."
I nodded and commented "it's difficult finding a woman who has the same dream of loving the sea."
"Fuck that", he exclaimed, "I'm looking for a woman who wants to cook and clean for me."
"You're looking for a woman who wants to live with you on your small boat and do house chores?"
"Yea, these American women feel too entitled; I'm thinking about finding me an Asian. They know their place. They willing to work for a man."
"Wow", I said, "you paint such an attractive offer, can't understand why the women aren't lining up at the opportunity."
"Yea, me neither!"
"Good luck with that."
"Hi, Caitlyn, You writing again today?"
"Yea, I need to get away from the people I'm sailing with."
"They are picking on me. Making fun of me."
That stinks! Are these friends of yours? You sailing together?"
"Actually, I am sailing my boat alone, but asked them if I could cruise with them for safety sake. I have been with them since we left Nassau a week ago. So I think I'm sailing north without them today."
"Let me know if you need any help at the dock."
"Yesterday I told you I was collecting boat name stories."
"Yea, interesting project. So why this project?"
"I was abused by my alcoholic father when I was a child and he used to take me on boats and I thought my writing would help me forgive him."
"Wow, that must be challenging."
"It's part of my therapy."
"Have you considered another part to your project?"
"Have you forgiven yourself? Maybe write with that in mind!"
"Yea, I have found often people need to find a way to first forgive themselves for self-blaming. It's difficult to forgive another when you have not forgiven yourself. Just a thought."
"Never in my 50 years have I considered forgiving myself."
Stuart, an electrician, from Stuart, Florida, worked on my boat's Yanmar engine, even though he said he knew the engine, he admitted he was no mechanic. Somehow our conversation weaved around to opportunities blacks have in our country.
He said, "They just lazy and live off welfare."I responded, "all of them?"
"Bunch of good-for-nothings"
"Really? Do you think their culture being enslaved influenced them?"
"Hell, no, Doesn't matter where they started from....been over a hundred years....they have had the same opportunities we white people have had for decades."
"Yea, they been given enough government benefits."
When the AAA mechanic could not restart my car battery, Jose, a tow-truck driver, came to Marine Stadium to tow my car to Little Havana in Miami to replace the battery. "Habla inglés?"
"Si, six months"
"Si, Trump por favor"
"No me gusto Hillary. No muchucha, mujer Presidente ....no like woman President."
Riding in a van with boat cleaning crew of three women who have offered to give me a lift soon asked me if I liked Trump.
I responded, "I was supporting Bernie."
"Why do you like Trump?"
"Like what he has done for dock workers. He going to help people in unions."
"Really? What has he done for them?"
"He employed some of them. I like what he done to employ people."
"What about his attitude toward women?"
"All men are like that; he tells it like it is. Why do you like Bernie?
"He tells it like it is. And he has some ideas that would help everyone."
"I don't know anything about him. Trump's the man."
While sitting at an outdoor bar next to the Exuma Market in George Town, Great Exuma, a bearded "gentleman" sat opposite me. We struck up a conversation and thinking he was familiar with the area and been on the island for a while, so I asked him if he knew anyone or anywhere I could find someone who could fix my electric windlass. After suggesting a couple of places that could not help, he offered his services.
"I don't know much, but I know enough about most things that I could give it a try."
"You are offering to fix my windlass?"
"Yea, I will do it for free and if I fix it, you can pay me what you think my effort is worth."
"What if you make it worse?"
"You an asshole or something? What you some professor or something?"
"I'm a sailor looking for some help."
"Well, I made you an attractive offer....what do you have to lose?"
Thanks, but no thanks."
Bill, the self-appointed commodore of the nonexistent Manatee Pocket Yacht Club sits down next to me, hands me his business card and tells me he is sweeping the bar area for payment for his docking space.