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Yes indeed, it’s always something. And then there is the next thing and the next. Maybe that is why it has taken me over a month to post part two of the revitalization of Pyxis, my Rosborough RF246 boat. Since my last posting, I have been south only once and that was when I was passing through the Florida panhandle on my way to St. George Island to attend a writer’s retreat.

Pyxis at the boat yard this summer

During this trip, it was my privilege to stay overnight at the home of dear friends, Jim and Jayne,  who live on top of a tall dune in Beacon Hill – just a few miles from the city of  Port St. Joe. After a pleasurable evening and a good sleep in charming guest quarters, I headed east early the next morning. First stop: Port St. Joe Marina to check on my lovely little Pyxis.

Jim & Jayne of Beacon Hill, Florida

The marina was all but deserted as I walked the docks toward slip N21. It was a splendid morning on the coast – the type of day when the sky is as blue and soft as well worn jeans. Inside the boat harbor a slow incoming tide kissed the seawalls and gulls competed for the tallest perch.

Gull's haven

As usual, when walking toward Pyxis’ berth, the first thing I spotted was her tall, flared plumb bow, which allows her to slice the water efficiently and maximizes her (rather short) waterline length. The architecture and design of the Rosborough RF246 is what initially attracted me to this brand built for heavy seas by a family-owned business in Nova Scotia. As Rosborough claims, “…she’s quiet, smooth riding, not flashy, economical to operate and has some working boat heritage. A boat that makes you smile.” I agree.

Pyxis at sunset

I hopped gingerly stepped aboard. It is such a great pleasure to once again board Pyxis. After a long summer without the vessel, this quick trip felt like coming home again. Although the writer’s retreat was to begin in less than two hours, I lingered on the boat as she rolled gently in her slip. I went inside the pilot house and was satisfied that everything was as it should be. Galley goods were securely stored, fishing and safety equipment put up overhead and in lockers, hats and other items stowed in handmade gear hammocks swinging over the two front berths and clothes and shoes neatly organized in the hanging locker. Even the head was clean and tidy – a proper little yacht, indeed!

Pyxis - at the helm

Pyxis' galley

Reluctantly, I locked the boat and returned to my truck for the drive to St. George Island. Yes, it was a beautiful day and I had places to go and people to meet – not to mention my new Globe bike (hitched to the back of the truck) to ride. Boats and bikes and books and friends old and new – life is good.

St. George Island boardwalk and Globe Carmel

During a recent visit to Mexico Beach – a tiny gem situated alongside some of the most beautiful and benign waters in the Gulf of Mexico – a friend showed up brandishing a shiny new metal detector. One of my many secret desires is to own a metal detector, so I pushed myself leapt out of the Adirondack chair in which I had faithfully lounged for the past hour or so. “What’s that?” I inquired, wide-eyed and sidling up close to the object of desire.

My friend, a serene and gracious person, was unperturbed by my eagerness. With a beautiful smile, she explained it was her new metal detector and unselfishly handed over the device. With wide sweeps and satisfying beeps I quickly detected 3 bottle caps, a wine bottle foil, and a nail buried in the sand. Quickly bored contented with my findings, I handed the detector back to my friend, who strolled along the beach in search of fresh treasures.

Tiny treasures

Tiny treasures

Later that evening, after my friend departed for higher-yielding territories, our friend and hostess Weepy joined my partner and me on the deck for cocktails. Weepy had a story to tell. It seems that earlier that day she observed a tourist cutting sea oats on the beach. “He must have been semi-gay – carefully cutting each plume and arranging then admiring the bouquet held in his fist,” said Weepy. (Note, the semi-gay comment was not meant to disparage, but merely describe the plunderer’s methodology.)

Weepy was incensed. Having lived beachfront for many years and survived plenty of storms, she knows just how important the berms of sea oats are to her property and her community. My mind wandered as she continued to rant about the miscreant who dared defy Florida state law and risk a $500 fine for a vase full of sea oats.

I began to imagine Weepy as a super hero – defender of dunes,  sister to sea oats, avenger of blight – racing down the beach in tall white boots stenciled with sea oats and a bright green cape billowing in her wake! As I created this vision, I began to realize that the lovely sea oats that grace the beach are indeed treasures worthy of our protection. Moreover, people like Weepy, who care enough to defy interlopers and defend the ecological balance, are also treasures to be commended and emulated.

View from Gull Haven

View from Gull Haven

As I idled through the next few days, I discovered many other treasures on the Forgotten Coast. Among them are an Osprey flying close by clutching a fish in her talons, early morning deer tracks in the sand, the soft Gulf waters warming me as I cast my fly rod into the swell, thousands of frolicking mullet fish that have never taken my fly, millions of sea shells, and some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets the planet offers.

Day is done

Day is done

If you are interesting in visiting this area, I recommend Weepy’s Gull Haven. For more information, please leave a comment.

According to a University of California study, dogs really do resemble their owners… not a big surprise, right?  What I would find interesting is a study on the resemblance of boats to their owners. Of course, it was a mere matter of time before the subject of BOAT surfaced in this blog. Messing about in boats (ah yes, I own a few), reading maritime accounts or simply thinking about boating can transport me into a nautical trance unrivaled by the fugue state induced by opiates.

Of my fleet, the boat currently favored is Pyxis, a small trawler berthed at Port St. Joe Marina. I always look forward to time spent on Pyxis and especially enjoy getting together with other boaters with whom I have shaped friendships.

Pyxis, a proper little yacht

Pyxis, a proper little yacht

On a recent trip to the marina, it was my pleasure to meet a few “Loopers”– boaters who circumnavigate the eastern United States via the Great Loop, a continuous waterway that encompasses the eastern portion of North America – including the Atlantic and Gulf Intracoastal Waterways, the Great Lakes, the Canadian Heritage Canals, and the inland rivers of America’s heartland. It was during this recent marina visit that I began to notice the resemblance of people to the boats they own.

Have you ever met someone for the first time and experienced a spontaneous affinity for that person? I don’t know if the feeling of fondness was mutual, but I felt an immediate harmony with Leslie. She and her husband Greg are cruising the Great Loop, had laid over at Port St. Joe Marina and joined some of the Port St. Joe Yacht Club members for an early evening cookout. After dinner, I happily accepted the invitation to come aboard the Amalia – their steel-hulled trawler.

Amalia, cruising the Great Loop

Amalia, cruising the Great Loop

Just like her owners, the Amalia is special. Built in the ’60’s, the yacht has great lines. She is sturdy, strong and dependable– as Leslie and Greg also appeared to be. Boarding the Amalia mirrored the delight of meeting Leslie. The pleasant pilot house with its 360-degree views is made comfortable by eye-pleasing, air-purifying live plants, beautiful lace curtains, abundant cushions and Leslie’s hand-painted frieze on the bulkhead near the ceiling. 

Entering the living quarters of the Amalia through a ladder companionway is a bit like coming home. Family photos, a wood-burning fireplace, large stainless steel cooktop and oven, comfortable beds and a cozy dinette only begin to describe the many features of this intimate friendly environment, which like her owners is altogether stylish, graceful, authentic and unpretentious. Hard-pressed to decide, I would have to say that the wood floor, painted bright lipstick red, was perhaps my favorite feature of the salon and measured up to my impression of Leslie’s resourceful, cheery nature.

As I thought about Leslie and Greg and the Amalia, I began to see similarities between a few of my fellow yacht club members and their boats. Matt’s classic Chris Craft sailboat – which he single-handedly sailed from the Florida Panhandle to Key West – personifies his strength of character and spirit. Jim and Jayne’s beautiful, pristine sailboat with its “always open” galley reminds me of their good judgement and open hospitality.

Henry and Mary keep busy working to improve their sailer, the realization of their pluck and enthusiasm. Dave and Margo’s good nature and generosity are as big as Plane to Sea, their large and lavish yacht; and the open spacious environment of the PatsyRay – a beautifully appointed Island Gypsy trawler – epitomizes this couple’s unselfishness and readiness to go the extra mile.

So, what of the similarity between Pyxis and her owner, yours truly? Well, dear reader, Pyxis is:

  • not long (short)
  • not usually tidy (messy)
  • not slow nor fast (half-fast)
  • salty (piquant)
  • accommodating (adaptable to small spaces)
  • well-found (dependable – most of the time).

Until the next post…  wishing you calm seas and fair winds.