Back in the day I could work 20 hours straight, get four hours of sleep, and maintain an okay level of performance. That has all started to change over the last couple of years. Today, I don’t do sleep deprivation well.
So with that said, let me tell you about a rather interesting assignment I got recently. It started with a call from my broker friend Steve Fithian of HMY who needed me to deliver a 42-foot Grand Banks motoryacht from Ft. Myers to Ft. Lauderdale. This delivery was to be an educational run with owners Becky and Gerry, not time sensitive.
I met them in Ft. Myers on their boat at Legacy Harbor on a Friday. I spent a couple of hours going over the boat, familiarizing myself with all the equipment—she was loaded. Then we spent more time talking about our trek across Florida.
Saturday we departed on time around 8:00 a.m. and headed east via the Caloosahatchee River arriving at the W.P. Franklin lock around 10:00 a.m., the first of three locks we would encounter on the first leg of our trip. Ortona lock presented a bit of a challenge with a fierce current, but we managed and had Morehaven lock well within our timeline for our arrival into Clewiston by 5:00 p.m. We stayed dockside at Roland Martin’s Marina. When I’m on a boat, by the way, especially if the owners are onboard, I feel responsible for their well being, as well as the boat’s, and this gets my adrenaline pumping. So I snooze very lightly, fully clothed in shorts and shirt, rarely reaching REM sleep and waking up early.
Sunday morning we had coffee. Becky made breakfast; Gerry and I filled water tanks and checked engines. We departed around 10:00 a.m. with only two locks between us and Stuart. Our arrival there was uneventful, and we decided to use Monday to launch the dinghy and do some maintenance. Tuesday we departed for Palm Beach and again stayed dockside. On our final leg into Ft. Lauderdale, we encountered numerous bridges, Becky handled the radio like a pro, and Gerry did a great job at the wheel. We arrived approximately 5:45 p.m. Wednesday.
Now by this time I had had about 15 hours of sleep over the course of this five-day delivery and I was a bit, you might say, sleep deprived. But there is one thing I especially enjoy about Lauderdale—the all-you-can-eat whole catfish at Catfish Dewey’s, a treat guaranteed to produce a good night’s sleep! So after parting with Becky and Gerry, I made reservations at a nearby Red Roof Inn and hit Dewey’s. Then, after five catfish and a few draft beers, I hit the hotel.
Once I got to my room, I took a shower after which, with great anticipation, I closed the bathroom door as I made my way to the bed, naked, for some unencumbered REM sleep. Around 3:00 a.m., I stirred and in a mental fog got up to pee. I did not completely awaken until I heard the click of the door closing and locking behind me! I had opened and walked out the wrong door! Suddenly I was wide awake, standing in the hall of the Red Roof Inn, and I had no secrets! I tried to open the door to no avail. I took a plastic DO NOT DISTURB sign from a room across the hall to try tripping the latch—no luck. There was no hall phone. I had no choice, I had to seek help downstairs! Sizing up the situation, I decided to take the NO SMOKING sign off the stairwell door to use for frontal cover!
Just as I entered the lobby, the lady at the desk spotted me in a reflection on a lobby mirror. “Do you need some help, sir?” she asked. I could hear her smiling!
“Please, room 402, quickly, thank you.” I said and ran back up the stairs. In a little bit, a politely smirking security guard let me back into my room where I sat counting my blessings with considerable relief! At least the catfish had been great, and both the boat and her owners were safe, sound, and at least partially educated, which had been the whole point of the exercise to begin with.