Miami International Boat Show Experience - Dr. Bill Smith

The following excerpt is written by Dr. Bill Smith (Andy's Father) regarding his view of our voyage from Miami to St Pete via a 43 ft Hanse sailboat as crew for Capt Don Montgomery. We asked Bill to write about this experience from his unique perspective. Bill and I have a long history of sailing together in the National Sweet Sixteen Sailing Association. We have raced as a common crew and as fierce competitors. We intend to have other guest writers in the future to help give the readers of this blog a more complete picture of our journey. Thank you Bill for assisting with this delivery and you vivid recount of the event.

Captain Don

My week with Skipper Don and Admiral Lana Nelson, 2/13—2/21/09

I know, Don, I said, I have threatened to come to visit you and Lana’s Boat Child Mary
Rose for over a year now. It seems that this career in medicine always gets in the way of
yet another Skipper Don sailing adventure. While racing our Sweet 16’s Don and I often
spoke of what it would be like to experience an extended offshore adventure. What we
lacked in experience might be easily made up for in Don’s profound do it yourself skills,
his unusual interest in sailing gadgetry of all sorts, Lana's astounding compatibility factor
along with her general hardiness and Skipper Don’s nonstop thirst for adventure. Cheney
was windy enough, Jacomo sufficiently beautiful, the Quivira Regatta parties consistently fun enough but it was in St. Petersburg’s perfect marina that Don and Lana
ultimately set to work getting ready for the sail of a LIFETIME to God Knows Where.

For all those who have only read about Mary Rose , take it from me, she is a floating
monument to two people very much in love. This Westsail is built with one part Scuffy
the Tugboat, one part Home Depot, and 2 parts love nest.

The rebuilt circuitry panel looks more like something out of NASA.

The diesel engine, Mr. Perkins, sports a blue paint job of which any Mission Hills home would be envious.

And get this: at one point one of Don’s eclectic marina neighbors actually thanked the Skipper for working on his boat’s mahogany for free. Such is the high mark of a life surrounding cruisers and I am envious.

I agreed to meet Don and Lana in South Beach for the Miami Boat Show. We would pick up Andy, my 27 year old son, and immediately take him on an amazing airboat ride thru the swamp off Alligator Alley.

The attached picture should be self explanatory in regards to the local color.

We stayed in as gaudy a hotel as I have ever seen and enjoyed the sustained South Beach street chaos as well as possible. Best orange juice, ever.

After the boat show we would return a Hanse 49 ft. German built sailboat to its new owner in Clearwater. The “sold sign” erected immediately following the first day at the show only served to put pressure upon us to consider a scratch free existence for the next week. Can you say pristine?

The crowd at the boat show smelled like money and I could never get tired of walking through high dollar sailboats I can only dream about ( how could anyone not fall in love with the Morris M29 daysailer, www.morrisyachts.com ?).

For better or worse the four of us left Miami at 2000 hours Monday night 2/16/09. The National Weather Service called for 2-4 ft seas with winds 10-15 knots, sailor’s paradise. I had brought some seasickness tablets & Thera-flu, for soon to be green Andy but we did not take them. What happened next was frightening. The night Gulf Stream changed to 20 ft swells blocking the views of Miami. The boat motored all night long while poor Andy explored levels of dehydration previously unthought-of. At one point Skipper Don, realizing the full extend of the situation, held onto Andy’s newly purchased tethered, self-inflating life jacket and allowed him to vomit over the transom.

The Brazilian hardwoods were less impressive at that moment. Parent that I am, I retired below and slept soundly for 7 hours. I am told the collective retching continued in my absence. When I awoke the seas had calmed and Tierra Firma was welcomed with terrific overnight at Marathon Key. It was there I witnessed a huge manatee sucking off a freshwater garden hose.

I asked woozy Andy if it wasn’t time to dial Hertz and he said “ No way, dad, I stay on the boat. Don’t ask again “. Memorable.

From that point forward things improved. The boat performed up to my expectations, we slept well and food stayed down. At one point we sailed over acres of flying fish, my
favorite creature. Don and Lana taught us many things and we arrived in Tampa with a Hanse any Puerto Rican ophthalmologist would be proud to own.

I am proud of this trip. I learned that those of us who dream of an offshore experience need to realize the inherent danger.

I learned of the toughness of my son. I saw Don really in love. But most importantly, I gained another level of appreciation for my beautiful home waters of Jacomo/Tapawingo in the Kansas City Metro area..

That said, Don and Lana did mention that they would be taking the boatchild Mary Rose thru the Panama Canal in 2010 . . .