Saturday, December 18, 2010


Vero Beach, FL 27º39.389N | 80º22.256W

Bridge south of Vero Beach mooring field.   ©2010 Tammy Kennon
At the end of my cruising days, I expect to return with a bilge full of memories, captivating moments from my floating life. Tonight will be one of them.

First, I must preface this story with a bit of Florida law. Bear with me here.

Most of us cruisers don't have navigation lights on our dinghies, but as we all approached the Florida state line, we began hearing chatter about a Florida law requiring at least one light that can be seen from "all around" and over the heads of the passengers when motoring at night.

The conformers among us bought tall $35 lights from West Marine and officially attached them to our dinghies.

Other (most) cruisers being free spirits, crafty and cheap anarchists have figured all sorts of workarounds. One friend sports two head lamps and turns his head a lot. We know several who jury rigged a PVC pipe to the back of their dinghy and stuck a $4.99 solar light from Kmart in it.

Those of us who are even less inclined to conform for a quick passage through Florida use the ultimate cheap workaround: a $4.99 solar light held overhead by a human.

Tonight we held a reunion of the Thanksgiving kids' table from St. Mary's: Dale & Karen from Jessie Marie and Håkan & Anna from Unicorn. We spoke fondly of the fourth couple Barney & Diane on Sea Gal, who have already crossed to the Bahamas.

Håkan and Anna on the way to Happy Hour.
The six of us gathered for Happy Hour on the other side of the bridge from the Vero Beach mooring field. Under that highway bridge, jutting out about 50 yards, there is a low pedestrian bridge that you have to go around in your dinghy to get to the restaurant. Or do you? The pedestrian bridge has about two feet of clearance underneath. A typical inflatable dinghy stands a little less than two feet above the water -- without passengers sticking up.

As we were leaving the restaurant, Dale says, "Under the bridge, women driving!"

Nova Scotians Dale & Karen
Dale had assured us all that if we dove in the bottom of our dinghies, we could just fit under the bridge, cutting off, not our heads, but the long trip around the low bridge. There are some people in this world that inspire trust, and Dale is one of them. He is a SCUBA diver, a skydiver and a retired Canadian sailor who served in Afghanistan dismantling IEDs -- specializing in underwater explosive devices down to 300 feet. Yeah, he survived all that, so surely he would not lead us to our death under a low-slung, concrete bridge.

Off we went, six people diving at the last minute into the bottom of three dinghies, buzzing toward the bridge.

Our little dinghy parade emerged unscathed, with three women at the helm, motoring through blackness pierced only by three solar lights held high, like so many giggling Statues of Liberty.

Vero Beach, FL 27º39.389N | 80º22.256W

What's Håkan worried about?
That I might publish this dog biscuit photo from Thanksgiving?