"What this place needs is a good hurricane," Sgt. York said as he watched the television over the bar at the 'Pukin Pelican's' Hurricane Party last Monday afternoon. The weather channel's tropical update at ten minutes before the hour had been the most popular show since Tropical Storm Isaac formed a short week ago but now it was on continuously.
"Ah, it's just a near miss," said Newbie Newt.
"It's close enough for me," said the bartender Nancy. "My son called and he told me we have branches and all over our yard in LA (Lehigh Acres) and it will take a week to clean up."
The swirling storm south had crossed Hispaniola and weakened then it strengthened after it left Cuba. The Keys got it pretty bad and then it skirted our coast with tropical storm winds. The 'PP' wasn't the only waterfront bar open but they were selling $5 Hurricanes and free leftover 'Weather Channel Spaghetti' so it was crowded.
"It's about time to wipe out all of the trash and the politicians off the beach," said Cranky Chuck
Nancy stood behind the bar and watched the same report but she kept her mouth shut because she worked for tips. The wind rattled the shutters and she worried about Tornadoes and her inland home. Nancy glared at Sgt. York as his words rang in her ears. She didn't worry about a tip from the drunken old man.
"Don't hard eye me, Nancy! It ain't comin' here anyway. I was just wishin' all those rich idiots could get wiped out," York said.
"They got the money to re-build, stupid. It's the old buildings like this one that'll be gone."
"This place is built like a brick out-house," York said and then he laughed. "It is a concrete block out-house and it ain't going anywhere!"
The near silence ended when the report was through and a low murmur rose in the bar. Everyone had an opinion and they were all experts about something that none of them experienced before. This was near miss in August but it was nothing compared to the center of impact that would cause billions of dollars of damage somewhere.
The Dead End Canal Yacht Club was far outnumbered by this odd bunch of live-aboard boaters, beach bums and relieved Condo dwellers that didn't take kindly to York's remarks. Lightning flashed and thunder roared as another band moved over the islands.
"I have been here since (Hurricane) Donna. Just 20 years old and my father had a fishin' camp on a no name key behind the beach. We ran like hell inland and came back to nothin' and I mean nothing left of that fishing camp. Not much left of this island either."said Miss Betty Lou.
"That's what we need an island sweeper," said Sgt. York from the other end of the bar.
"Shut up, York or you'll be drinking out of a paper bag on the patio," said Boston Bob. The bar erupted in applause and York waved his campaign hat at the crowd.
Manny, the cook came out of the kitchen with another pan of free leftover 'Weather Channel Spaghetti'. Nancy went back to grinding ice for the 'Hurricane Isaac's' and the patrons crowded around the food. It wasn't bad for left over computer-generated spaghetti. A little dry with red sauce and crumbled meat. It reminded me of the food they served from carts in Italian train stations. They called it 'Spaghetti Neapolitan.'
"Can I get some garlic bread," asked Cap'n Crunch. Nancy shouted over the crowd noise that they weren't cooking off the menu because they didn't have the staff.
"Sit down," Run-aground Ralph said to Crunchie. "It's free and it ain't bad!"
We'd all arrived by car because our boats were either up in a dry storage rack or tied down to the dock with all the line we could find.
"They don't ever turn around do they," a Newbie leaned over from the next table to ask. It wasn't polite to laugh but it was just the tension breaker that we needed. We roared, Crunchie spit out some beer, involuntarily I assure you, Boston Bob nearly fell on the floor and someone said I was a little purple. Isaac was beyond us and it wouldn't turn around and we were having a great laugh. The real party started!
DISCLAIMER; The management of this paper doesn't condone Hurricane parties nor the willful disregard for personnel safety during dangerous weather events.
Boatguy Ed is an avid boater, past Commodore of the Dead End Canal Yacht Club and the manufacturer of the best hard ablative anti-fouling bottom paint, www.supershipbottom.com. Contact him At boatguiEd@aol.com