Our loop is slowing down. Part of it is the weather. Indeed, we experienced gale force winds in both Miami and Hillsboro. Both times, we came into protected spaces to ride out the storm for several days at a time. In both places, we stayed about a week.
The slowdown is more than a weather drill, though. It's a planned reduced pace that allows time for maintenance, work, and relationship. In Miami, we came off of a mooring ball because we didn't want to live in our boat marking time by giant waves crashing against our hull. We wanted to experience South Florida, with the international foods and cultures, so we blew through our planned budget based on pre-2020 Marina prices and pulled inside.
We are glad we did. Rather than riding out weather and marking time, we met people in Dinner Key marina, saw manatees, visited fairs with street art, and did the things loopers do to fill our souls.
Later, as we ran up to Ft Lauderdale with punishing wakes and weather, we found no room in the inn. Anchorages were tight and marinas all cost more than high end hotel rooms. Instead of stopping, we pulled on through, and stopped in the lovely sleepy town of Pompano Beach. We settled in at a marina for a few nights before moving to a private dock and into the wonderful waiting arms of a couple we'd never met, David and Violet.
David contacted us and told us he wanted to do the loop too, and also in a Ranger Tug. He invited us to come and stay with him. Not wanting to overlook a free dock or great hospitality, we agreed. We Zoomed with the couple several times around the loop, before our crossing and in the keys. David asked about the dozens of little details pending loopers must nail down as plans emerge. I asked about the sea conditions where we would be, and asked about things an award-winning fisherman and local Florida boater would know.
When we reached Pompano Beach, David and Violet greeted us with enough supplies stuffed in cardboard to fill several of the commercial cargo ships we passed in Ft Lauderdale. We'd pulled hard on the lines tethering their hospitality to Currently and crew, but they didn't break. Instead, those boxes became conversation starters, open invitations to discuss the logistics of supplying a 10 month, 6,000 mile voyage.
They graciously waited as I ran my Thursday night mentoring program, and watching that group meet led to more conversations. How does a looper get reliable WiFi, what does it cost, and how reliable can it be expected to be? What hardware is required on a Ranger Tug, and are the parts available, and where do you get them? How much Internet does Zoom or Netflix require?
The logistical conversations bled into conversations about our lives, our common experiences, and our uncommon ideals. We found things we agreed about, and things we didn't. We even talked about things off limits in most of the dinner tables in the United States, and enjoyed those conversations!
As I think back about those few nights, the beauty of the loop shines through. Common goals and experiences bind people together that would not otherwise meet. Our common beliefs in hospitality, humanity, and friendship overwhelm our differences.
We are hungry for more of this kindness, friendship, and humanity in our lives whether it's a visit to a friend's boat or friendly, land-based bed. Relationships trump politics.
May it always be so.