My friends refer to me as a hurricane magnet. Consider, for example, the years 2004 and 2005. I was living and working in southwest Florida in 2004 when Charley, Frances, and Jean came to visit. Then I moved to south Alabama to work with another yacht company in the fall of 2004, only to have Ivan partially destroy the marina we were moving into, so plans for the move were postponed. Shortly after opening a temporary office in Orange Beach, Alabama in 2005, Arlene came to town. Arlene was technically only a tropical storm, but Ivan had left enough destruction so that Arlene caused us a lot of trouble.
A few weeks later Tropical Storm Cindy made landfall in the Florida Panhandle and South Alabama. This bizarre tropical activity all but negated any potential boating activities including sales, my lifeblood at the time.
Then along came Hurricane Dennis, a Category 3 direct hit. Of course later in the year we would see Katrina, Rita, and Wilma. However, storms always offer me extra work and I had signed on to take care of a Cabo 35 Express during Dennis.
The owner wanted the boat moved up the Tenn-Tom Waterway to Demopolis Yacht Basin in Alabama. I departed about 36 hours before Dennis was slated to make landfall. I hired our receptionist to drive to Demopolis to pick me up and return that evening. The trip up the Tenn-Tom Waterway went extremely well and quick and I was actually two hours ahead of my ETA, so I had time to kill until she arrived.
Let me make this perfectly clear; I was born in Texas, but spent most of my youth in a rural Alabama town, half the size of Demopolis. I love Alabama and its people. Roll Tide! However, that being said, we do have our little quirks.
Waiting for my ride, I decided to go to the restaurant at the Demopolis Yacht Basin and indulge in a some cold beers and a cheeseburger. Upon entering the empty restaurant, I noticed all the TVs were tuned to The Jerry Springer Show and the bartender and waitress were both engrossed in something about grandmother strippers and the men who love them. I entered and sat at the bar unnoticed.
After several minutes, I politely inserted myself between their barks at the TV: “You tell him honey!”
“Excuse me,” I said, “could I please order a beer?”
“I didn’t notice you walk in,” the bartender responded.
“That’s OK,” I said, “a Budweiser and a cheeseburger, please.” After a little small talk, I felt comfortable observing that, “Only in Demopolis, Alabama, would you walk into a sports bar and every TV would be tuned to The Jerry Springer Show and it would be considered a sport!”
The bartender snapped back, “This ain’t no sports bar, this is a yacht club!” Indeed it is! Happy cruising.