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Boat Parade

On the approach, the new Mercedes Benz stadium was clearly visible. Unlike the path that the crow flies, the road system I was travelling did not go straight to my destination. I could see a nearby landmark, but not the road I needed to take.

And so, as is common to my travels, I took a wrong turn. The GPS rerouted and sent me on a new path so it was no major disaster. But it threw off my concentration. And I missed another turn.

Ending up in a parking lot full of nothing but boat trailers, I knew I was in the right area. But I couldn’t park there. The blue lot was my destination. There was a gate guard at the main entrance to the trailer lot so I stopped to ask him where I needed to go to reach my goal. He seemed a bit surprised that I came from within the trailer lot, but very kindly gave me the directions. It was just a around the corner and I was there in no time. Pretty good for me!

The boat show promised to provide the mother lode of boats to examine. I would like to buy a boat, but it’s hard to go to every dealership to look around. And even worse to have to face the scrutiny of hungry salesmen on the small stage of a single dealership. This big show was sure to be somewhat more relaxed. And would allow me to look at vessels I would not normally see at my local showroom.

The exhibit hall at the World Congress Center did not disappoint. It was huge. And filled with hundreds of boats of all sizes and shapes.  Long lines to get onto and explore the biggest and fancies yachts.

Actually buying a boat here was not in my mind at all. That would be way too impulsive. But as I walked around I did see signs on several boats indicating that they were indeed sold.

My goal was to clarify in my mind what type of boat I really wanted. Or more precisely, which type I should actually buy. I had three options in mind. In no particular order, they were sailboat, pontoon boat, and runabout boat.

Each type comes in many sizes and styles, but it wasn’t within these categories that I needed to decide, but rather between them.

I have had two sailboats and I enjoy drifting silently across the water powered by only a nice breeze. But there are places that sailboats can’t go, like close in to a shoreline. The pontoon will go anywhere I want it to go, carries a good number of people, and is easy to drive. But somehow it seems a tad boring. Now the runabout, a classic vintage one, is to me just the coolest thing ever. Lapstraked hull and curved windshield with that 35 horsepower engine. OMG! Not like the big offshore boat I saw with three 300 horsepower engines strapped on to is after end. But I didn’t expect to see an antique boat at this show. And quite honestly, I think I’d be afraid to drive it lest it get a scratch.

Row after row I looked, and climbed aboard several. The sales folks seemed to ignore you unless you sat on their boat for more than ten minutes. And very strangely, I noticed that every one of the people I spoke with had their hands and mouths full of food. Boring show?

There were several food and beverage options available at the show. Including beer and wine. Oh lord, a drunken sailor! And it wasn’t just boats on display. There were people selling lakefront real estate. And patio furniture. Skin lotions and clothing. Anything and everything that had even the slightest connection to outdoor and water oriented recreation. That part of the show I breezed through.

In all of my researching here I did discover one thing. While I love all three types of boats that I’ve mentioned, the pontoon is most practical for my desires.

It took a while, but I finally found an example of a pontoon boat that fit my needs. Especially in the price category. I don’t have six figures for a boat. Basic is what I want. Low budget. Not too big. Plenty of seating. And enough of a go fast device to go just fast enough.

But I won’t be buying one of these fancy new boats. Still out of my budget. I should say out of my will to pay. Instead, I’ll find an experienced boat, one well travelled and a little broken down. Just like me.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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Mid-day Snack

Amelia Island, Florida is one of my favorite summertime destinations.  Great beach.  Not crowded.  And plenty to do in the quaint village of Fernandina Beach.  Which actually has a great historic district, antique shops and restaurants.  Lots, and I mean lots, of golf.  As long as I can stay in a place where I can see the water I’m happy, but the best place, for me, is at the Plantation.  And there, I prefer a spot called Turtle Dunes.  Has a lot of memories for me.

I never knew why it was called turtle dunes.  I just figured it was a beachy sounding kind of name for a residential area on the water.  And turtles have been of great interest to people of many cultures for a very long time.  On other beach trips I’d seen the roped off little areas on the dunes that indicated a sea turtle nest, with hundreds of eggs buried.  But I’d never actually seen a turtle, or the little hatchlings scampering across the sand on their way back to the sea.  So, you can imagine my surprise when just after lunch I walked down the path from the condo, across the boardwalk spanning the dunes, and saw right there in front of me, right, a turtle.

It wasn’t a sea turtle.  The feet were clearly feet and not flippers.  And the shell had a high arch to it rather than the flattened shell of a sea turtle.  Don’t ask me for a scientific species identification.  I just know it was a turtle.  It wasn’t all curled up in its shell.  No, this dude was walking around.  Checking out the sights and looking for a little bit of grass to eat.  He took really little bites.   When he saw me he must have been curious: food or foe?  He came right at me, turning several times as I moved out of his way.  He must have gotten bored with that game as he soon went back to walking around  with an ocassional stop for a bite to eat.  He finally made his way to a hidden hole in the sand dune and disappeared into his home.  Enough sun and food for now.  I don’t know how long he was out there, or how much he ate, or how far he walked around, but what I saw him eat wouldn’t sustain a gnat.  But he looked like he’d been around for a while as he was rather large.  And I suspect “experienced.”

Big deal you say.  OK, it was a minor moment, but how often does a burb dad like me run into wild animals sharing the beach?  I guess in a way, he was allowing me to share his beach.  I’ve seen plenty of birds at the beach, and dolphins, and a shark or two, and fish in the water, and crabs scurrying around, and a skate once.  But never a turtle.  And I really like turtles.  Probably because we move at the same speed.  So, it was a big deal to me.  And part of my personal history.

What’s your story?  Have you seen a turtle?  Save your stories for the future.  www.personalhistorywriter.com

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