Mandeville Sailing

October 30, 2015

Saturday and Sunday, it rained like hell. We've had nothing but beautiful weather for as many days as I can remember, and I especially can't think of when it was as wet and as ugly as it was this weekend.

But the weekend before was the last in a long line of absolutely perfect weather. We decided to sail to Mandeville, a town that's usually four or five hours from our home dock. It's a nice little town, with a publicly funded wall fitted with water and power that's absolutely free to the visiting sailor. Once there, you have a playground for the kids right there, the yacht club ( = bar for mom and dad, plus another playground), and many other places to eat or drink within an easy lakefront walk. It's certainly worth an overnight trip.

Sailing from Slidell to Mandeville in two minutes.

We had a fast and comfortable sail into town, and we reached the public dock about 30 minutes ahead of sunset. One other vessel was on the wall, and a few drunk visitors came over and grabbed our lines for us. They made the tie-up extremely easy. We spent a little while putting boat stuff away and digging out sweatshirts, shoes, and a camera for the walk into town. On our way out, our dockside friends expressed interest in hanging out with Lily instead of having us lock her down in the cabin. I knew that Lily would rather hang out with people than be locked up alone, and knew that they could just stick her back aboard if they got tired of her. And if they turned out to be maniacs who eat dog? Well, Lily's 10 now. We would miss her, but we've had a good run.

We ended up walking to a restaurant called The Beach, which we've visisted many times. It's a good place to watch football (and this was during the LSU/Florida game) and there's a play area so that kids can entertain themselves some without bothering the grown-ups. I was surprised that there were plenty of empty seats even though we got there right at kickoff.

When the game was almost over, I got a call from a number I didn't know. Guessing that it was dog-related, I picked up. An irritated, bitchy woman told me to come get my dog, who had been tied to a post next to the boats. I told her that I would, but that we were walking, and it would take us a little time to get there.

I called her back a few minutes later and told her just to put Lily on the black sail boat. She said, "I'm not comfortable leaving her on a boat by herself." Suit yourself, sister. I went right back to watching the game, which was too close to abandon at that point.

Once LSU took possession for the last time, and the game seemed to be in hand, we got up to leave. My phone rang again. This time, it was the Mandeville police. I explained that I had told the woman that I would be a little while, and that I was in route, on foot, back to the boats. The officer seemed fine with that.

On the way back, a patrol car pulled up to asked for us by name. I'm still curious if they knew our name from a phone number lookup or from a lookup of the boat name.

Once we got closer to the boats, a different office met us on foot. He asked for our story, and warned us that the drunk people were troublemakers. We made a mild defense of them and expressed surprise that the town's police force seemed to have mobilized on a Saturday night, just on account of an overfed beagle. The officer told us something like, "It's because nothing ever happens in this town. It's like Mayberry. Literally. Believe me, this is the most excitement we'll have all night."

Then he told us that the local teenagers would be along the section of street next to our boats to hang out after dark. He told us to let them know if the kids were unruly, as he would relish a reason to run them all out of there.

Back along the water, the nosy dog lover had Lily on a leash. I think she wanted to give me a lecture, but my walking up with one kid on my shoulders and another holding my arm took the wind out of her sails. I just said, "Sorry for the trouble," and she replied, "okay."

Dog lover left pretty quickly, and not long after, crazy semi-homeless came by to apologize. We told him that there was no problem and offered him a beer. Mrs. theskinnyonbenny referred to dog lady as a busybody, which is now Oscar's favorite word.

"Busy body. That's just the word I was looking for! She was a busybody!"

A little while later, I could hear him on the other boat. "Like that lady over there said, she was a busybody!"

We ended up bullshitting with the members of the other crew for a while. They were a couple from New York, who had worked their way down over the course of several years. One gets the impression that they might just be staying one step ahead of the law. A real mariner Dukes of Hazard type of thing. They would probably make for a good reality show. The third member of the crew was Oscar, who Mrs. theskinnyonbenny compared to the scary bounty hunter guy from Raising Arizona.

Oscar was itching for a fight, and the only enemies he could muster were the high school kids, who come to the lakefront to sit in their cars and stare into their cell phones late at night. I didn't see any sign of drinking, smoking pot, sex, and I didn't even hear loud music. I'm glad I grew up in the 80s. His partner talked him down the few times he expressed his need to scratch the itch.

Oscar sees us off in style.

Once Oscar made moves as if he were going to sleep in our cockpit, the captain of this little crew took the further step of herding the group to bed down where they belong.

Before we got ourselves down, we chatted with a friendly family from Tupelo, who was visiting the lakefront to try to catch fish, and then with a guy with a guitar, who came aboard and played some pretty good tunes for half an hour or so. It turns out that he had been at some kind of show, and at the end, the band invited audience members to jam with him, and he was riding high from performing well. I wish I knew the name of our 1:30AM companion, because he really was very good, and I wouldn't mind hearing him play again some time soon.

And that concluded the oddest dockside night that I can remember.

The next day, we thundered out of Mandeville, flying the new spinnaker in 10-14 knot winds. Velvet Elvis was absolutely flying downwind, in a way that I didn't know was possible. But not before a noisy sendoff from Oscar, who appeared out of nowhere to see us off the dock (in front of a large assembling regatta) with hearty screaming ("VANYA! ROCK ON LITTLE MAN!!!"), and with the waving of a Confederate Flag crossed with a silhouetted machine gun and some writing that I couldn't make out.