Saturday, November 22, 2014

Thanks for everything Miami


Miami is an interesting place.

We stayed in Miami for nearly three weeks. We used it as our last post for provisioning. We had some friends visit. I enjoyed my birthday there. We were able to finish everything we set out to do. We sorted out our new spinnaker, did some varnishing, filled propane, water, food supply, and bought two brand new batteries without issue. Dan was even able to get his eye exam, complete a CPR course, and submit his captains lisence application. 

However, for some reason, we always felt a little uneasy at our anchorage. Maybe it was the constant advice of "you HAVE to lock up everything," or the never ending flow of muscle heads blasting bass from the boat version of a souped up Honda with a spoiler parked outside a McDonalds as if they are in a car show. Said greased up muscles heads returned our appraising glares as they sent our boat to rocking with their 3 ft wakes. 

Dan will never admit to any unease, but while anchored he finally installed a lock to the boat so we can lock ourselves in at night-- Something we have been talking about for over a year. 

Things escalated the day I nearly, accidentally became an accomplice to stealing a dinghy engine. 

The night we returned from camping down the in Keys we took multiple trips on the dinghy to get our supplies on board Sarah safely. I was waiting for Dan by the canal. A man climbed into a nearby dingy and asked if I was "okay." Which I appreciated. It was nearly 9pm I was sitting alone at the waters edge. Then that considerate fellow started to try and heft his dinghy engine up to shore. I asked him if he needed help; it was low tide, a large engine, and a 4 ft drop down a cement wall. He says "no, I've done this before." The next thing I know, he is falling backwards between the boat and the cement wall, with the engine on top of him, into the water. I obviously tried to help as best I could. The situation was ridiculous. I realize the man is planning to put the engine on his bicycle. I also see that he is skinny to the point of being gaunt and covered in tattoos. Alright. I don't like to pass judgement too quickly but the kicker was his pacifier and cross choker neckless. As there were no infants in the vicinity, I don't think the binkey was for conventional use. "Is this your boat?" "Yes of course it is." 

I knew I should call the cops but was afraid he was going to kill himself trying to get the engine to shore. I was hanging from the cement wall trying to support the engine and talk the man into taking a break until he could get some help. 

Dan, thank goodness, showed up just as I was starting to freak out. Dan yells at him. Tells him to get lost. For a moment it wasn't clear if the man would scram, or fight for his right to steal. 

As he tried to flee the authorities, bleeding and soaking wet, the chain to his bicycle fell off. Which in retrospect was amusing. I was on the phone with a 9-1-1 dispatcher staring at him while he was trying to fix the chain. 

What would you have done? Stopped him? Helped in the first place? Citizens arrest? 

After all that, the cop yelled at us. I apparently should have let him drown (even though at the time I thought it was his boat) so they could catch him in the act. 

After this incident I talked a lot of trash about Miami. Never before have we felt the need to lock our dinghy to the boat at night. It was also hard to ignore the large bruising to my chest and knees received during my brief accidental criminal career. 

But looking back it is an amazing city. Filled with diverse culture and seemingly endless entertainment. After the dinghy engine incident we met a few of the cruisers that stay for the winter every year. They were quick to exchange numbers explaining "this way we can look out for each other." I also met a lovely live aboard at the laundromat who gave me the inside scoop to all the free and cheap things to do in the city. 

There is crime in any major city. When the ultra rich and the disadvantaged are in each others backyards there is going to be an atmosphere of discordance. The polarization is not just economic in Miami but also in language and culture. 

Miami is special because of its diversity and vibrant spirit. Given a little more time (which we were unwilling to spare) I know we would have found a community, and with that community a sense of safety. 

Like I said, I talked a lot of trash about Miami, but I take it all back. It was me, not you, Miami. I look forward to visiting again with a more open mind. 

I still suggest everyone lock their dinghy engine. 

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