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Colorful Characters By Rebecca Burg


any boaters will tell you that some of the most enjoyable things about cruising are the social opportunities. We human beings are naturally gregarious, and cruisers are no exception. Often, strangers will quickly become familiar friends in various anchorages, slips and waterfront bars. On the sea, you never know whom you’ll meet or what unusual new things you’ll learn.

ANCIENT CROCODILES “There are all kinds of white and pinkish creatures swimming in ocean caves,” tropical cruiser Fred Davis said. A serious underwater cave explorer (there are fewer than 100 of these specialized speleologists on the planet), Fred describes what it’s like to dive into the inky blackness of a deep, undersea labyrinth. “There are pale, blind fish, with bumps where their eyes normally would be and things wriggling around that look like white centipedes.” The

Angel beachside bar had hushed, and everyone nearby was listening with curious fascination. Fred talked about the time he’d found fossilized bones of creatures like saltwater crocodiles and snakes in Bahamian underwater caves. Dated less than 10,000 years ago, the fossils are a species that no one knew had existed in the Bahamas. The first one in, Fred explores a new cave site by laying down lines to trace his route and using a compass and computer to map the area. Mexico, Florida and the Bahamas are just some of the places with good caves, known as ocean blue holes and inshore sinkholes. Fred’s currently involved in a film documentary about cave diving and the exploration of new sites. Not as fearless as Fred, I look forward to experiencing this extraordinary diver’s adventures in the safety of a dry, padded settee.

TOOTHPASTE Sailing onward, Angel literally bumped into an unusual vessel, a soon-to-be sailboat named Arame. At least Angel was wearing her fenders when she nudged alongside Arame’s shiny hull for a sociable raft-up. A work in progress, the custom 59 was patiently awaiting her mast, sails and rig. Cruising couple Jim and Constance, not wanting to let life pass them by and miss out on an adventure, simply motored from place to place in the meantime. The couple explained how they’d built Arame, named in memory of a beloved family poodle, from an ordinary hull and into the well-engineered cruiser that she is today. It took about seven years of hard work. Of course, they look forward to installing her rig. Jim’s face was curiously familiar, and I soon learned that it was his friendly visage on the brochure 48 November 2006