Chapter 3 – The Dreamer

The Dreamer

Lake Worth Inlet 

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“The Dreamer” 

Lake Worth Inlet that leads to Palm Beach on the ICW is also a jump-off point to the 50-mile ocean crossing to the Bahamas. Many people were here from Ft Lauderdale and other points along the coast because it is a good place to stop and regroup and to wait for good weather. 

The area was multitasking for others as well. A cordoned area with colorful floats sectioned off an area for local vacationers. At first glance the inlet looked like Paradise got bombed and bits floated around. Some Hawaiian-style boat bits had grass skirts covering their bottoms or tops.

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“Hula Skirts”

One bit was a floating bar that boats could call to get served. On land was a nice restaurant and a marina.

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“Grilled Pizza”

Another liveaboard, packed to stay, or go.

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“Shipshape”

One bit was a home away from home to contemplate life away from the city in the background. The grass skirt has a more tailored look, strangely formal for a Tiki Bar. I could hear the husband say, “I built a sturdy, exotic getaway for you, dear.” It cleverly incorporated a casual bar with two stools and cocktail lounge-sunning pad for two people. Any platform serves as a landing for birds, so I was surprised that the decks weren’t “Strafe White”.

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“Two for Tiki and a Heron”

We had been told that we might use a particular mooring to tie onto for the night. We immediately saw the Dreamer, who came to define the place in our minds. Kept in good condition, Dreamer was a seagoing boat still fit for bigger plans, and the sailor was another dreamer. He had been there a while, establishing a friendship over the years with Tern’s previous owners. He welcomed us to our spot then disappeared to fix his dinner. 

The Dreamer intrigued me. The name would be prophetic, no matter what he or his boat did or didn’t do. 

A dream prefaces any endeavor. A dream propels with passion, or it simply stays undefined or dormant; dreaming can lead to success or to a life of impracticality. I wondered what made the difference in those who went out to the unknown to get something in life versus those who never ventured. Could it be that some people never have a dream? 

I also wondered how age would influence this dreamer and other people’s reaction to his being a dreamer. Would living on a boat be as cool for a middle aged man as we imagine it to be for one in his early 20’s or for an old salt or a retiree?

One could only guess the story that brought him here out of the many likely scenarios. Maybe he had already sailed everywhere and had come back here to the favorite spot. Maybe all that he planned to search for was all right here and preempted the need to search. Maybe his dream was simply any place with no one to bother him, with close dinghy access to shore. 

There is value in knowing that you have found your place for happiness. Mansions and “stuff” can be overrated. 

I thought of Thoreau living his experiment in the cold woods in Massachusetts with just the necessities. I thought that this man had it better, with a place in a safe harbor, living year-round in nice weather, with grocery stores and amenities everywhere and fast food just a few boat lengths away. He could : “drive life into a corner” here. He probably hauled the boat out every so often to maintain the boat bottom, equivalent care for a house and lawn. Windows were easy to clean. Nature and its sunrise and sunset were right there every day. 

For all I knew, he showered and used the Yacht club facilities each day and walked the dog, then went back on his boat to write novels. He could cast off at any time into the ocean or nearby river. I could see the Dream.

In contrast, I thought about the poem “George Gray” from Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology, with poems referring to cemetery stone markers observed by the character buried beneath. I hoped the Dreamer was not a George Gray.

“George Gray”

I have studied many times  
The marble which was chiseled for me—  
A boat with a furled sail at rest in a harbor.  
In truth it pictures not my destination  
But my life.          5
For love was offered me and I shrank from its disillusionment;  
Sorrow knocked at my door, but I was afraid;  
Ambition called to me, but I dreaded the chances.  
Yet all the while I hungered for meaning in my life.  
And now I know that we must lift the sail   10
And catch the winds of destiny  
Wherever they drive the boat.  
To put meaning in one’s life may end in madness,  
But life without meaning is the torture  
Of restlessness and vague desire—   15
It is a boat longing for the sea and yet afraid.  

As we looked around at the variety of liveaboards and others in degrees of setting up makeshift homes, Tom and I thought it could be another “Chicken Harbor”, the name Anne Hayes had dubbed Georgetown in the Bahamas. People stayed and became a kind of ex-pat community because it was just too nice to leave. Also, they had decided not to venture further south to the Islands of the Turks and Caicos because the route was often dangerous in the long distances of open water with rough trade winds. They had bravely sailed that far, but then reasonably reassessed  their ability and desire and remained in a paradise as long as it suited them, or longer.

For the people at Lake Worth, the actuality of going to the Bahamas, a full day trip, might have become more intimidating as they thought about the waters outside the inlet. They would need a flexible schedule that allowed for weather delays. “Chicken Harbor 2”, my new name for this cove,  might become a happening place with the Dreamer as an early resident.

The evening had a feeling of calm despite a mild wind, and lots of interesting things surrounded us. Onshore was a large marina with almost-matching large bright white fishing boats, probably for charter. Their towers above the flybridges sprouted outriggers (large fishing rods) and a profusion of monofilament lines that dropped straight down.  From my rocking boat to their rocking boats 400 yards away in the evening, I got a picture I called "Monofilament Rain”. The sunset light glowed on the scene making it even more splendid and elegant.

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“Monofilament Rain”

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“21 Outrigger Salute”

There was a restaurant that lit up gradually as the contrast of darkness descended. Live music wafted and waned with the players and singers and I enjoyed the laid-back selections: “If you could Read My Mind”—Gordon Lightfoot, “She’s Not There”—Santana, Mr. Tambourine Man — The Byrds. The entertainment shifted to groups with other harmonies, all mercifully devoid of screamers. For a Wednesday night, the place was packed.

To the other side of us, a small group of younger folk had been enjoying a party, taking selfies and enjoying the water on Peanut Island. Their boombox music clashed in counterpoint to the restaurant music at our boat. They were the first to disperse and left before dark set in.

The restaurant crowd continued until much later, but it was time for us to go in and we didn’t hear them inside our boat. Another evening, I would have enjoyed joining them.

In the morning Tom and I had some tea and breakfast and looked around. The atmosphere was quite subdued and ordinary in the day. 

The Dreamer also got up, had some coffee and looked around at the day. A little while later he was in his dinghy and pulling at the starter cord. No joy. He wrestled with it for a while, then sat and thought a while and repeated the short sequence. 

It wasn’t starting, so he sat, watched the sunrise finish its show and dreamed about the boat starting. He was a nice guy stuck in Paradise for the day. We called to him to offer help although he didn’t appear distressed. He said he was fine and his phoned worked, so we went on our way.

Tom summed up the experience saying, possibly a quote from somewhere: “The only difference between the boat in this harbor or any other harbor in the world is the will of the skipper.” 

My thought that begged to be made into a song was:

“Half a mile to the ocean but only 100 yards to the bar,

Why go look for adventure, when friends are not so far?” 

We’re working on it.