Date: 6 February 2014. Time Stopped.
Bob Winter is the sort of person
who personifies a man determined to prepare his boat for the very
worst that could happen at sea. When younger he owned an eTap day-sailer and spent
19 years in New York waters gaining experience sailing and enjoying boating
on a recreational level. But eventually there grew in the back
of his mind the realization that the time on his eTap was in
preparation for real cruising.
Cruising is what Bob said he wanted
to do. Initially his goal was to cross the Atlantic but he later
revised that for simple island hopping. Bob talked about going to the
Bahamas. That's less than 50 miles from the coast of Florida.
Bahamas are right off the southeast coast of
Bob was a member for numerous
years of the Cornwall Yacht Club in New York before heading south. He spoke often
of old friends there and admired the men and women who actively
sailed. I remember he even had a burgee from the club.
Like other associations, boaters
tend to have long term relationships. We might not see you for
a half dozen years or more but when together will catch up. I
met a transvesselite* named Bill and was able to share the location
of mutual friends Tina and Dave. And I'll expect him to catch
me up on the Schucker and Grand Banks owners I met aboard his
*Transvessselite - a boater that
starts out on a sailboat but gradually realizes that power boats are
better and switches sides. Pronounced: Trans-vessel-ite.
Bob, bless-his-heart, is quite a
character. He always gives me heck for calling the sole of my
boat a deck. Inside, it's a sole. Bob knows his
Chapman's inside and out and is a great resource for terminology.
This is Bob's boat Maverick, a 27'
He also loves photography, a
passion that began when he was serving in the United States Navy.
Often Bob has his Nikon camera around his neck and he is the guy
taking pictures at get-togethers and such. At
ThinkGeek I found a coffee mug that is shaped like a camera
lens. It was a great gift as the one thing Bob likes better
than cameras is coffee, black, with lots of sugar.
Bob enjoyed learning about and photographing birds of all
I gave him a copy of my favorite bird book,
Birds of North America.
Blue Heron on mud bank.
Laughing Gulls on piling.
Of course you don't pass the half
century mark without learning a few things. Bob chose a
marshmallow (AKA inflatable dinghy) that is red. One of the
problems with the usual grey ones is they are less visible on the
water. His stands out very well. Because it is so distinctive it's
less likely to disappear -- another benefit.
In St. Marys Georgia there is a
Mexican restaurant boaters favored for lunch. El Potro is casual,
inexpensive and about a mile from the waterfront. One of my favorite dinners
ever included Bob and was at El Potro. The table was set thus:
|Bob Winter on
Chief of Police
|Lynn on In
Horse farm owner
Classical French horn player
|Ken on Sparrow
|Me on Seaweed
You will note that six people sat
together at a table with incredibly diverse backgrounds yet all of
us shared one passion: boating. It was a fun dinner -- one that
those of us who were there will likely never forget. And the reason
Well, it's not my
fault. I am totally innocent except for the guilty part and
really, that wasn't me initially. I was only taking advantage of too
good an opportunity to let pass. And you'd have done the same thing
It all started after we'd received
our orders. Bob had selected shrimp fajitas (pronounced: fa-heat-ahs)
and the shrimp were large and numerous. It looked delicious. I
was having tacos -- not bad, but certainly not the quantity of food
that Maverick received.
Ken on Sparrow was sitting within
reach of Bob's plate and took his fork and speared a shrimp from
Bob's plate. I did not see this occur. What I did see was Ken
looking up and around -- the picture of innocence. But I knew
Scanning the table to see what was
up, I spotted the big shrimp on Sparrow's plate. Quickly I
retrieved my fork, stabbed the shrimp and popped it in my mouth.
It was delicious.
About this time Bob realized what
had happened and suspected that I had put Ken up to it. I do
have an affinity for shrimp which is known, but this time I was
totally innocent. Ken, sitting within reach had taken what didn't
belong to him. That's an extremely bad thing. A little tiny
bit of justice was served when I kept Ken from profiting from the
No need to thank me. But
apparently my reputation as a shrimp thief was born that day.
Bob did eventually realize who the
real culprit was, though I suppose I'll always take some ribbing for
the acquisition of that particularly scrumptious shrimp. And Bob is a good sport: he took me back
to El Potro so we could each order the shrimp fajitas. His
Still, what I like best about Bob
is that even after I left the area, he called almost every day. And each time
I hauled in the anchor while underway I gave him a call. He
became my cruising partner, albeit via the telephone.
Almost every evening I could count
on a phone call from Bob. We'd discuss the weather, my engine
swap, upgrades done and yet to do. It was such a nice treat
for me to have a sounding board though he didn't always agree with
I want a watermaker. Hauling
water to Seaweed is probably the most physically difficult task
there is, and Bob regularly shot down the idea. He suggests and
rightly so, that taking the money not spent on a watermaker and
going into a marina would solve the water issue. Of course this presumes
there is a marina nearby. I tend to prefer the more remote
locations. And I still want a watermaker.
But what Bob said he most wanted
to do was cruise. He has a pair of oil lanterns I got for him
in case he didn't want to use his batteries for the regular lights
inside his cabin. I have a matching set.
His boat has an Air-Breeze wind generator. It has two new
batteries, a well-maintained engine, and more. He just upgraded
to pressure water aboard, after getting tired of the hand pumps.
Maverick is "almost"
ready to cruise.
Alas, last week Bob got very sick
and ended up in intensive care at a local hospital. Once stabilized
he was transferred to a second hospital. It was pneumonia. At
his age, 72, physically there are serious complications and the
prognosis is not stellar. The likelihood of Bob cruising on
Maverick has decreased dramatically. But his boat is ready to go,
almost. And I am beyond sad. I miss my phone buddy, and my real life
friend who probably won't get to meet me in the Bahamas.
Update: 7 February 2014. The
news this morning is the worst possible:
R.I.P. Robert Winter. 20 December
1941 - 6 February 2014.
I'd love to read your remembrances of our Bob. Bless his
And, have you met someone like Bob who was almost ready to go, but
didn't get to?
http://americanathebeautiful.com/ ~ 14 February 2014.
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