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We live in a crazy bubble

Sometimes the higher power puts you where you’re supposed to be.


Sometimes you’re just plain lucky.


Sometimes you have to make things happen by sheer force.


And sometimes you need all three.


The next sequence of events is so bizarre that it is incredulous even to me as I tell the story.


While traveling south, we had problems with our autopilot. We rolled into Vero Beach hoping to find a solution. While making the jump to the Bahamas can be done without an autopilot, it is certainly more difficult. And since this would be our first time traveling across the Gulf Stream, we definitely wanted to have ours working.


The tech support at Raymarine was very informative to troubleshoot but when he suggested that we “borrow a control head from someone” to test out the rest of the system it made us both laugh out loud.

YEAH RIGHT, like that is going to happen.  Who is going to have an extra Raymarine st6001  (circa early 2000s) laying around on their boat OR allow us to pull it out of their cockpit control box?  We thought, probably about the same likelihood as winning the lottery!


But I kept that suggestion in the back of my mind, and much like our English Bulldog which we loved for all 13 years of his life, my tenacious (or is that stubborn…hmmm) side is a strong one and I don’t usually give up.  This time it definitely paid off!




Now on to the crazy story.


I had previously put on some Facebook groups about our problem.  Quite a few people gave us some great suggestions and we tried many of them.  One gentleman in particular took the time to send me a PM with some troubleshooting which was very thoughtful but it was near the end of a long day of frustration and time to quit. So we set out in the dinghy to visit our new friends, Natalia and Andrey , who were also anchored in the Vero Beach Marina area, and relax.


On our dinghy across the mooring area, Eddie and I noticed a sailing vessel with HUGE lettering on the sail cover that said, FLYING PIG.  We chuckled about what an unusual name for a boat. Later that evening, it suddenly occurred to me that one of those helpful sailors had a Facebook profile photo that was of a sail cover with the name FLYING PIG!

What are the chances that one of those awesome good Samaritans was in the very location that we were!


It was lucky for us, but  possibly unlucky for the owner of the Flying Pig because I literally drove him crazy with questions and requests for him to come help us fix the autopilot! Skip Gundlach, was the EXACT person we needed and he has proved invaluable with how much he has helped us since then.

The next day, Skip offered to come by our boat with some Corrosion Blocker to see if that would help but IN THE MEANTIME, Eddie took a trip to West Marine.


This is where it begins to get weird.


As Eddie waited for the bus to return to the marina, he happened upon a couple named Dan and Betsy, who consequently offered  to share an Uber ride back when the bus was a no-show.  After the ride, they stopped by our boat to meet me and to share a glass of wine.


Within 15 minutes of me meeting our new friends, one of THEIR friends drove by in his dinghy.


Enter Larry Stewart of the Sandy Sea


This is how the Captain describes this bizarre part of the story.

Larry drives up.


Cara says


“Hi Larry, how are you? Do you happen to have a Raymarine st6001 control head?”


I thought, my wife is crazy.  What are the chances of this working out?


Then Larry answers, “Yes, I sure do.  I’ll go get it.  Jump in the boat!”


Within 2 minutes of meeting Larry, I was in the dinghy of a perfect stranger going to get a control head to test out our system.  Good lawd, this is bizarre.

So now he have an alternate control head, and it works, and we know ours needs to be replaced. Still trying to get south for the jump, we leave Vero Beach to try to find one in Stuart.



A new Facebook buddy messages me to tell me he has NOT ONE, BUT TWO Raymarine control heads that he can give us IF we can find a way to get them.


OH. MY. GAWD! is this for real?!!



Enter Mike Vaccaro to the story.


After conversing with Mike (from Pennsylvania), he tells us that his boat is “on the hard” because it was struck by lightning, and it AND HE were in the town of Vero Beach.


What are the chances?!  I mean, jeez,  of all of the friends on Facebook, this guy is in same area that we just left!  WHAT??!!


Rather than travel back north to get a part that Mike wasn’t really sure was operational, we pondered how to get this to us in our next stop which was North Palm Beach.


Enter Ken Millman to the story.


Ken had the vessel, Vittoria, next to us in Vero Beach, and being the kind, friendly man that he is, he offered non-reciprocated help to us and in his words, “I love helping fellow boaters.”


So, I, (in my crazy personality trait of never to give up) thought, “Let’s ask Ken if he knows anyone traveling from Vero Beach to Palm Beach.”


My jaw almost dropped when he responded, “I could bring it, I have to go to a VA appointment on Thursday.”

WTH??!!  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  That is one day after we get to WPB and his appointment is only a few miles from our anchorage!


So Mike, went out of his way to drop the new “heads” off to Ken for him to bring to us.  Wow.  Wow. Wow.  This was truly an act of kindness.


The whole series of events was an almost perfect orchestration of everything we needed seemingly just falling in our lap.  But really it involved amazingly generous people willing to help other boaters in their time of need.


I often tell the Captain.  We live “in a bubble”.  The incredibly humbling higher power seems to reward our crazy diligence and perseverance with random acts of kindness and opportunity.


And some pretty incredible new friends who are priceless.


Many thanks to all of you that went out of your way to help two novice sailors in a town where we knew no one.  God bless you all.

“The Stubborn Sailor”



5 Comments to We live in a crazy bubble

  1. Loved your story. Thats what cruising life is all about. We have made the very best of friends this way. PS crossing gulf, go with south wind. Shortest way from West Palm to West End Grand Bahamas. Check out Ocean Reef Resort. Cheap and loads of fun.

  2. We had many such experiences during our years on Kintala, the most touching being around the help needed when my Dad passed away while we were out in the middle of nowhere in the ICW. It is the part of cruising I miss the most, and hope to get back to some day.

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