Thursday, April 8, 2010

Trawling for Neighbors

There's a marina right next to my apartment complex. I walk by it every day, sometimes several times a day. The slips are filled with a variety of vessels—sailboats, powerboats, even a couple of enormous yachts. This year, one boat caught my eye, a small trawler called Namaste. In all the times I've walked by, I've never seen anyone on it. Yesterday, though, I met the owners and discovered that we've been neighbors since the fall.

The Namaste doesn't resemble any of the other crafts in the marina. It lacks the sleek lines of the yachts and the classic beauty of the sailboats. It looks like it was made to be useful, a no-nonsense workaday boat, with a pale gray hull and a pilothouse painted crisp white, accented by a thick red stripe. On the deck at the stern of the boat are two chairs next to one another, creating an inviting tableau.

E. and I met the owners while we were taking our afternoon constitutional with Cosmo. We were a short distance from the marina, wending our way toward our favorite bench overlooking Biscayne Bay, when we noticed another a couple walking along the sea wall near the bench. They noticed us, too, or more accurately, they noticed Cosmo, who's otherwise known in our family as "the conversation starter." The woman came over to pet him. In short order, I learned that her name is Bonnie and that she and her husband, Randy, own the Namaste and have been living on board since last November.

The two traveled to Miami from Maryland during the fall. It was a slow journey—the boat can only travel at about nine knots, or around ten miles per hour. There's no television on board, though a computer provides streaming video, so not too much hardship there. The kitchen is a tiny galley, but Bonnie likes to cook and finds it adequate. In short, life on board sounds a bit cramped, but otherwise not so different from my life in an apartment several stories up.

Miami's historically cold winter presented a few challenges. The couple had planned to do some cruising to nearby islands, but for much of the winter it was too chilly to be out on the water. And they really had to cuddle up on those frigid nights when the temperatures dipped into the thirties.

Bonnie and Randy have invited us to come see them on their boat. Given my extreme susceptibility to motion sickness, it may be a short visit, but I'm looking forward to it. And we'll be sure to invite them to our place. Other than a big screen TV, I'm not sure we have much to offer that they don't already have on their floating home. Other than Cosmo, that is.

Click on the photograph to enlarge it.

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