Dick and Gayl's Cruising Adventures

AGLCA Rondezvous April 11-14, 2005
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The Rondezvous began with a happy hour and spaghetti dinner Monday night, and ended with a banquet and awards event Thursday, with lots of local food and lore, celebrity cruise guide author presentations, information-sharing, networking, boat tours and  safety checks, door prizes, and just plain friendly conversations happening inbetween.
There's no way to summarize it all, but here are some of the highlights for us:
Boat Tours: Our group was so big that the boats were spread through three marinas.  Each afternoon of the Rondezvous, boats were on view at a different marina, beginning with our marina on the first afternoon.  We signed up to be on the tour, knowing that, just like when we entertain at home, it would provide us with an incentive to be ruthless in ridding ourselves of clutter.
Little did we know that others touring through would tell us things we didn't know about our boat. While I was showing one of our visitors the galley, explaining that my stove has a toggle switch that lets me use just the burners or the oven, but not both at the same time, another woman said, "Are you sure?  I think I have the same stove as yours on my boat, and on mine that switch just controls one of the burners.  You can use the stove and the other two burners at the same time."
This was a revelation with the power to change my life in the galley.
We tested it, and, by golly, she was right.  I hugged her so hard I practically squooshed her. 
We learned lots of other really interesting stuff touring other people's boats, too--ingenious storage solutions, nifty decorating ideas, interesting ways of using space, navigational equipment comparisons, and such.
Presentations on Great Loop Destinations: We believe you can never know too much about the local waters, so we keep several cruising guides aboard for each of the major areas we visit.  The two authors whose guides have assumed almost biblical proportions for us are Skipper Bob and Claiborne Young.
Skipper Bob wears loud print tropical shirts lovingly made by his wife, and specializes in serving the budget-minded cruiser.  His self-published guides are 8-1/2x11, spiral bound, long on practical facts and short on pictures, with text pragmatically arranged to be easily followed mile-by-mile along the route.
Claiborne Young is a pressed seam khakis and crisp Oxford shirt fellow, with professionally published guides featuring eye-catching glossy color photos on the covers. His trademarks are rapturous reviews of the restaurants in every port, walking tours of historic areas, and lots of notes about things to ogle on the shore mixed in with the navigational information.  His florid prose and tendency to digress make following his guides mile-by-mile a bit more of a challenge, but worth it for the entertainment value.
Though their styles and guides are very different, Skipper Bob and Claiborne Young have in common an enthusiasm for cruising that would be highly contagious, if they weren't already preaching to the choir.
Fred Myers, another widely celebrated cruise guide author, specializes in the Kentucky/Tennessee river systems.  Because he writes about where he lives, his passion for the region is boundless, and his knowledge is deep. When we get to that part of our trip, I am sure that his books will become boating bibles for us, too.
I wrote so fast and furiously during all of their presentations, I almost got writer's cramp.  But, I figured that most of what they presented was already in their books, and this conference provided an opportunity to buy the few books we didn't already have by these authors.   We availed ourselves of the opportunity.
Other people who didn't have books, but did have local knowledge about parts of the route, gave outstanding presentations.  More fast and furious note-taking.  More hand-outs. More enthusiasm building for this great adventure that we have embarked upon.
Coupons: Our welcome bags had coupons for local merchants, and as the rondezvous went on, we accumulated coupons that will save us money as we continue our travels, if we can just get organized enough to put our hands on them when we need them.
Driven by coupons for free chocolate sand dollars, we walked to The Chocolate Tree, a store we knew would entice us to buy from the moment we stepped in the door and took a deep chocolate-infused breath. We bought penuche fudge (Gayl's favorite), chocolate fudge with no nuts (Dick's favorite), peanut butter fudge, and jelly fruit slices, and walked out nibbling on decadently rich dark chocolate sand dollars, making those coupons a very good investment by the store proprietor.
We look forward to redeeming a buy one, get one free ice cream cone coupon at our favorite ice cream store in town.  (We had already gotten ice cream there twice before we realized we had a coupon.)
Boaters: Over and over again, we are finding our fellow boaters to be a grand mix of fun and funny, talented, resourceful, generous, and friendly folk.  At this rondezvous, we have exchanged cards with people on about a dozen other boats who we sincerely hope to get to know better along the way. Most everyone else here will be fun to see as our paths cross again.
We have to be honest.  The world of boating is not a total fantasy world -- there are a few people here with whom we wouldn't want to be stuck in a confined space, like a boat, for more than a few minutesBut, the percentage is small, very small.

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