If you every say “it will be a cold day in hell when..” take it back. Because it could happen. I said that myself and did not ever marry until 2010 and it was a chilly 46 degrees in Key West, the coldest day every on record in 150 years. Iguanas dropped out of the trees freezing cold, the fish died and floated to the surface in South Florida. It was truly a marked event that is miraculously a good one. I married my now wife Ronda Rinald. She called home to say “I married medicare, he married menopause; that she was my first wife and probably only wife, and the cold weather was (my) fault”…. It was a cold day. People remember that year who lived in Key West back then and rarely does January ever see that kind of weather. Right now weather is better in Key West than most of the country and usually even during hurricane season our summers are milder than everywhere. Weather is almost in the national weather news daily.
About that weather, a cold day in hell – In 1976 it was a cold day in hell and every where else too. I was out of money out of luck and owed my parents $500 and going to leave Cape Cod to go home and work to repay my parents the debt that I owed. Leaving in my oil burning Buick, my future looked uncertain. I had just interviewed for a job as a last resort. On that fateful day, near Christmas time, I was stopped by Jim Cumberforte, a Sloan Fellow Honor Student from Harvard University, who was the new owner of the Patrick Ellam Yacht Delivery Service. After an brief interview he said, “We can use you” Jim said, as he reached into his desk and brought out $500 and gave it to me he cheerfully remarked, “now go home pay your folks in Wildwood (New Jersey) take off three days for the holidays and come back ready to work.” Crew members were hired and trained under other captains and companies. The sailboat was in sad shape located in Block Island, Rhode Island; we stopped for some repairs near New York to make her more sea worthy. I went to New Jersey for another break and we eventually made our way toward Florida in January, 1976.
Back in the 1970’s before the days of “licensed” captains you had to be approved by the existing captains for a company. Off on my first delivery with Captain Hal Synder and wife Cathy, and Ted Genard (who provided the photos for this sailor’s tome), we were taking Nepenthe from Block Island down to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In my mind it sounded like a good start albeit cold as usual, and ending up in Florida? Sure let’s do it. What could be bad about going to Florida after the holidays in January?
Little did we know that while in New York, we had also acquired unwanted stow aways while at the docks. River rats took up residence in our sail bags in the Nepenthe’s v-birth. With the wind at our backs although noticeably cold, we were young and full of adventure. And so the sailor’s tale begins….