Monday, March 15, 2010
I stepped out on deck this morning to a glorious blue sky, warm sun, and a gentle breeze….for the second day in a row! But instead of jumping for joy and screaming HALLELUJAH, I stared at an empty mooring ball and shed a few tears. Tracy, Diane, and FAITH were gone. We had a bon voyage dinner on board TESSA last night. When I went back down below this morning, I found Diane’s lovely goodbye note, appropriately written on the lyrics to our favorite song. Next I saw the weekly Thursday night pizza party invitation that Trace left me, handing over the baton as boater’s social director. Gary came out of our stateroom and looked at my tears with concern. “I miss them already” I explained. He just smiled. Shortly after we met Trace and Diane last December, we ran into them in the Matanzas parking lot. Trace was happily unloading some great bargain wine he had found. Not just a bottle or two, but at least a dozen 1.5 liter bottles. “We’re going to get along great!” I announced. And so our friendship began. We learned that we have an amazing amount of interests in common. Sailing, naturally, but also good books, funny movies, good food, cheap wine, and the pursuit of the cheapest happy hour. Diane and I share the same hometown. Most importantly we all share a love of adventure and laughter. A lot of the laughter caused by Trace ripping on me at any opportunity, at which he became very good. Recently I asked Trace if we knew the new mooring ball arrival, a boat named BULLSHIP. “Yeeeahh, I’d expect you know them, you’ve a lot in common with their boat!” he replied and then couldn’t resist complimenting himself on his insult. Even though I am usually the brunt of his cutting Brit wit, I think I enjoy it the most. Trace and Diane are avid cyclists, and met during a cycle trip through Thailand. “Yeeeahh, I fancy that!” he muttered when he first laid eyes on her. He was on his way home to England, and he inquired where Diane was heading. Vietnam was her next destination. “That’s funny! That’s where I’m going!” he lied. Off they went, and have continued on their journeys together for sixteen years. They’ve cycled all over the world, and spend part of the year living on their river boat on the Thames. Diane is a lockmaster there. Trace runs a business finishing fine furniture and antiques. Winters they enjoy here in the states spending some time in Dayton with Diane’s family, then cruising on their sailboat “Faith”. Another commonality we share is the driving need to socialize. It didn’t take long before Trace began coordinating social events for the Matanzas Pass boating community, and bartering with the local merchants for volume discounts. Gary and I volunteered to co-hosts these events, since Diane was busy running Matanzas Inn front desk five days a week. Our first event was a New Years Eve oyster party, which Trace dubbed a “Slurp-n-Burp”. About twenty of us slurped over 240 oysters. We were in mollusk heaven! The next event was a grilled Shrimp fest, which was such a success we were asked to host a few more. It was at one of these parties that we got into a bit of trouble. Diane had printed off the lyrics to “Don’t Forget Your Old Shipmates” and after a few toddies, everyone felt inclined to gather round and have a boisterous sing-along. A little too boisterous, we were told the next day by Matanzas management. Even though we were properly chastised, it didn’t diminish the gleeful camaraderie we felt that night, a memory not to be forgotten by any of our merry band of boaters. Who can forget the Thursday night pizza parties at the best Fort Myers pizzeria, Surf Pie? Trace negotiated with the owners Tony and Lori. Or I should say beat Tony up for an incredible price of $5.00 per person for all-you-can-eat eat pizza. Trace has to nickname everything, and this became referred to as “Piranha Pizza Night”, appropriately so after witnessing the speed at which boaters can consume mass quantities of pizza just to be sure they get their money’s worth. Trace doesn’t admit to regularly attending happy hour. It’s called “going for a sherbet”, which does in fact sound more innocent when your wife is at work while you are at Doc Fords with a $1 Yuengling draft. We shared many a sherbet together. One evening, the boys had a few too many sherbets and both ended up in the drink. Once we knew no one was injured, and I knew Gary’s new cell phone was safe, Diane and I could only laugh as we helped dry them off. We cooked the most fantastic meals together. The four of us love bold, spicy, adventurous recipes, and we took turns trying to outdo each other’s culinary skills. The best type of competition! There are no losers when you are eating good food with good friends! It won’t be the same around here without hearing Trace shout out “Hey Swabs!” as we dinghy up to visit on FAITH. He fancies himself to be a British version of Captain Ron, and decided he is “Super Swab”. I don’t know how long I can go on without a good dose of Diane’s ever present optimism. She just recently gave me a talking to about embracing the weather, as there is nothing you can do to change it. I told her I wished she had lectured me sooner since I spent most of this winter p*$#*d off at Mother Nature. There will be an empty place in our days, and our hearts, here at Matanzas without our buddies on FAITH. Diane’s goodbye note said she is sure we will see each other again. We’re sure we will too, whenever it is meant to be. We have faith!