Sunday, June 29, 2008

Ready, Aim, Fire!

Another adventure arose on Friday when the schooner Hindu, whose ownership has been under dispute in recent months, was returned to her rightful owner Kevin 'Foggy' Foley. To avoid further difficulty in getting the boat underway to Provincetown, Massechussettes, where Kevin had always been intending to take her for the summer months, he decided to get the boat out of Key West promptly and take her to an undisclosed location to have her prepared for the rest of the northward journey. We had to act fast when the 'other' owner finally stepped off the boat after a 3hr standoff. Despite having received an injunction that morning banning him from the vessel, he refused to leave, and he paced the deck swinging, and occassionaly striking, a wooden mallet normally used for firing the ships ceremonial canon, while yelling at Kevin and myself and two other crew to get off his boat. When he was informed the Key West Police and County Sherriff were en route, he decided to avoid further embarrassment (the patrons and staff of Schooner Wharf Bar had a great afternoons entertainment at his expense) and he quietly stepped off the boat. We cast off the lines and started motoring away, Kevin, Finbar, Jonathan (my neighbor in the anchorage), and I.

Finbar, a good friend of Foggy's, was introduced to me as Admiral of the Conch Republic Navy. For those who don't know, the Conch Republic was established when the Florida Keys seceded from the United States in 1982 in response to a U.S. Border Patrol Blockade setup on highway U.S.1 just north of the Florida Keys. This effectively isolated Keys inhabitants from the U.S. mainland since the blockade was on the only road to and from the mainland. There was a protest, and the Mayor of Key West along with a few other 'conchs' (as the locals here are known) went to Federal court in Miami to seek an injunction to stop the blockade, but to no avail. Upon leaving the Federal Court House, the mayor announced to the world by way of the TV crews and reporters, "Tomorrow at noon the Florida Keys will secede from the Union!"

At noon, on the day of secession, at Mallory Square in Key West, the mayor read the proclamation of secession and proclaimed aloud that the Conch Republic was an independent nation separate from the U.S. and then symbolically began the Conch Republic's Civil Rebellion by breaking a loaf of stale Cuban bread over the head of a man dressed in a U.S. Navy uniform. After one minute of rebellion, the mayor, now Prime Minister, turned to the Admiral in charge of the Navy Base at Key West, and surrendered to the Union Forces, and demanded one billion dollars in war relief to rebuild the nation after the long Federal siege.

So as you can imagine, Finbar, the Admiral of the only all-sail Navy fleet in the world, and organizer of the annual re-creation of the Great Sea Battle (which, of course, never really happened), is quite the character. Jonathan informed me that he's been a lieutenant in the Conch Navy for quite some time, and his boat is part of the Navy fleet. I asked if my boat could be too, and if I could join the navy with the distinction of cabin boy. Finbar said that'd be fine and now I'm anxiously awaiting the induction ceremony!

We sailed through the night, up the Florida Keys and out into the gulf stream, and eventually made our way to the top-secret marina.

I had a lot on my mind on the brief voyage as I listened to the details of the ownership dispute between two individuals who used to be good friends. I could relate the stories to recent circumstances in my own life, and it gave me a lot to think about, how mis-communications and misunderstandings can lead to so much unnecessary confusion and strife in one's life, and how friendships can so easily, as well as not-so easily, slip away.

We can, to an extent, decide who we want to bring into our lives, but we can't decide who will choose to keep us in theirs. Most of
us often see things the way we want to see them, but it would be enlightening to keep our minds open enough to at least contemplate another's perspective. By ignoring our own character flaws and simply finding another distraction to keep us from facing what is preventing us from becoming deeper and more empathatic individuals, we are ultimately delaying our own happiness. We can only work on our own issues and try to improve on the faults that others point out to us, or, if we're lucky enough, that we manage to see ourselves through our own mistakes. Others may not share our ideals in morality, loyalty, or any other important criteria that define a friendship, but to try to affect a change in their behaviour is ultimately fruitless, as many will unwittingly choose to live in blind disagreement and self-justification.

There's no time like the present to face these flaws that we all possess, and I'm beginning to see that the more a person avoids doing this
, the further and further they will find themselves from ever being truly satisfied in their lives, and for that matter, sincerely loved.

Some people will spend the rest
of their lives running from themselves, and others find themselves through running. Speaking for myself, a change of scenery can help to break a bad cycle of stangnant behaviour and thoughts. That short voyage on the Hindu was a wake-up; I felt refreshed, and I realized that although I love Key West and my 'conch parents' and most of the people I've met, I've been here too long.

I plan to leave Tuesday, well before the break of dawn. Just Effie and I. Heading east. Right now, that's all I know for certain of
my future, and I'm tranquil in my decision to go.