We have a car this week and have been provisioning so we can leave Tampa Bay and head off to sunny islands somewhere. Definition of provisioning: going to Wal-Mart, Publix Grocery and Costco, spending an absolute boat-load (pun intended) of money. Stashing food and goodies in every nook and cranny of the boat while watching said boat sink lower into the water each day from the sheer weight of all the stuff. Have you ever been to Costco and purchased so much stuff that you had to check out because the cart was too heavy to push? We have! Not only did we do this, we went back inside to buy more. The cashier at Wal-Mart asked Cindy if she owned a convenience store as she tried to figure out why we were buying so much. Cindy records everything we purchase and where it is stored. It’s a really big job. Cindy is the organized one. My job: schlep stuff to the boat.
Because we have a rental car this week, we have had to find parking in downtown St Pete. This is normally not a problem as street parking is abundant. However, just this weekend alone, there is a big in-the-water boat show and a Santa parade. It turned out that the street where we parked the car was part of the parade route. The city will put up signs turning regular parking areas into tow away zones. We noticed the signs earlier in the week and made a mental note that Saturday was a no parking day. Part of the problem of being retired is most days we struggle to know what day of the week it is. I can’t begin to tell you how many times we have had to turn on the computer just to see what day it is. This is a common occurrence amongst cruising sailors. We have enjoyed long debates over sundowners with other cruisers discussing what day of the week we all think it is. This is why they make day-of-the-week clocks. We see these on other cruisers boats. Now we know why. I realized it was Saturday and remembered the no parking rule just in time to see our rental car hooked up behind a tow truck going down the street. Crap! I was wondering how much this was going to cost. Crap, crap crap!
I approached the Police car now parked where our rental car once sat. The passenger side window was down and I squatted along side, “Excuse me. You just towed my rental car and I am wondering where I need to go to get it back”. I was greeted by the nicest Police Officer I have ever met. She explained that I was parked on the parade route. I explained I had no idea what the day was most days and that I wasn’t upset at all. I was just wondering how I could get the rental car back. I didn’t think the guys at the Enterprise Rental office would appreciate me telling them their car was impounded. The police officer explained they do not impound the cars, they just move them off the parade route. They move them to the closest legal parking space or public parking lot. Seriously? Do I have to pay anything? Nope. The officer told me if I gave her my cell phone number, she would call me when the driver of the tow truck returned and she would let me know where he had dropped the car. Just then, the tow truck returned and was getting ready to move another car. The officer asked him where he had dropped our car, 1st Ave North in the 300 block was my new parking spot. I am still amazed at this. As I write this I still can’t believe the City of St. Pete didn’t charge me a dime for my illegal parking or the cost of moving the car from the parade route. Later that day, after the parade I walked to where they told me the car was dropped. Using the remote lock on the key fob I followed the sound of the honking horn as I hit the lock button. The car was exactly where the officer told me to look.
I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t seen the car towed and did not have an opportunity to talk personally to the officer. I have to assume the police keep some sort of record about to where they move the cars. I guess when people call reporting their cars missing, the police tell them it’s not missing, we just moved it. How funny is that!
We took a break from provisioning to attend this year’s St Pete boat show. We took some time to stroll the docks looking at the shiny new boats. Boat shows are where dreams start for a lot of people. Before buying Cream Puff we attended a lot of shows. Our dream slowly turned into a reality. Actually, our interest in Amel Yachts started more than ten years before we purchased one. I was cleaning out my desk at home when we sold the house. Inside one of the drawers was something I had printed from the internet over ten years prior. It was an Amel layout. I had written a note to myself saying I should look into these boats. Luckily for us, the broker we contacted much later for information took us seriously and about four years after our initial contact with him we purchased Cream Puff. It seems not every dealer or broker understands lookers turn into serious buyers. One of the dealers at the show, Galati Yachts, had a big presence there but apparently did not understand the usage of the word “show”, as in boat show. We tried to go aboard a powerboat but were stopped short. We were looked up and down. You know the look I am talking about here. The one where someone’s eyes give you the once-over up and down as if they are judging a book by the cover. We were politely told we had to have an appointment with a broker (salesman) to board the boat. Cindy said perhaps she should have worn more bling. I am not sure how they expect to sell boats when they make showing them so difficult. And, coming from a sales and marketing background, it seems to me a horrid waste of a good salespersons time to have a company policy where the salesperson has to babysit two people with only a smidgen of interest. Surely they have better things to do. Sure, lookers turn into buyers but there is no point is wasting the salesperson time until there are questions to be answered. Isn’t it amazing how much damage can be done so quickly when a company lacks productive sales policies and the proper training for its entry level people? Good grief. If you do not want people on the boat, then don’t put it in the boat show. Cindy and I have both said we would like to buy a powerboat someday (when we are done sailing) and trawl the great northwest for a couple of years. Whether we do or not, we’ll have to wait and see. But, I’ll bet you a dollar right now Galati Yachts will not be used when we sell Cream Puff or buy another boat. Just saying.
The boat show offers free seminars hosted by experts. The experts are normally selling a service or a book but will share useful information or as much as they can in the 45 minutes allotted to them in the seminar tents. We picked out a series of weather seminars aimed at helping us better understand weather forecasting and trends. Lee Chesney and Chris Parker were among out top picks. Chris Parker is like a rock star in the Caribbean cruising circles. There is not a boater out there in the islands who hasn’t heard of Chris Parker. We purchased Chris’ book a couple of years ago. He does a fantastic job teaching weather to us novices.
One of the boat show highlights for me was to meet a fellow blogger. For about two years, I followed “Kate and Jessie on a Boat”. It is a hysterical account of two twenty something young ladies who purchased a boat for $3,500 and completed America’s great loop. Jessie was at the show and did a talk. The wit that was present in her blog was also there in her talk. They knew virtually nothing about boating and tried to figure it out as they went. The photography and writing is amongst some of the best in blogging. Jessie had also read our blog and got a kick about why we chose the name Cream Puff. It was wonderful to meet face to face. If you ever have a rainy day and are looking for a good read, start at the beginning of their blog. They tell is a great story. (link to blog)
We did go to the Santa parade where Cindy managed to get herself some bling.