Now don’t get all panicky, I’m not suggesting that we should imbibe while we drive. I’m just making reference to a well documented phenomenon that seems to occur whenever boaters gather in a group to talk about their collective obsession.
It seems that some law of nature exists out there that requires those boaters to morph rather quickly from a collection of folks discussing technical and navigational matters in calm and measured manner, to a collection of folks who find themselves wearing strange things on their heads and dancing in a conga line.
I know this phenomenon exists, because I was recently a victim of it myself.
The scene of this sociological adventure was the 2012 Marine Trawler Owners Association Annual Rendezvous held this week in Fernandina Beach, Florida.
Janet and I joined this group a while back at the urging of another couple who have a boat on the same dock as ours in Daytona Beach. Don, the fellow who introduced us to the MTOA, said it was a fun group, and that we’d have the chance to talk to some very knowledgeable people about all manner of boating topics. He didn’t mention headgear.
Our boat isn’t really a trawler as that term is rather loosely defined, but we plan to spend most of our time traveling at slow speed (in boat-talk, “displacement speed”) so the true trawler types sort of looked the other way while we filled out the papers.
We went to a couple of the monthly meetings our chapter had, and as advertised, the company was good, the information availability was good, and a good time was had by all. Again though, headgear was not mentioned.
So…having now gotten their hooks firmly in us, they ratcheted things up a notch by dangling a “Rendezvous” in front of our naive noses.
The MTOA is now an international association we learned, and there are many groups within the organization based on geographical area. This allows members who are in close proximity to enjoy each others company frequently. To bring larger groups together, the MTOA holds several regional Rendezvous each year consisting of members from many of the smaller sub-groups. In our case, we were invited to the Southern Rendezvous aimed at members from the southeastern US. Any member from anywhere can attend any Rendezvous, but most of the folks in attendance in Fernandina were from the southeastern states.
Because of our schedule, we had to drive to Fernandina instead of taking our boat, but many of the folks there arrived by water. Some had spent the winter in the Keys and were heading home to points north, others were going south, and there were some who weren’t sure where they were going next.
The marina had been freshly dredged and the place was full of boats.
The event lasted three days, and featured several seminars and demonstrations on boating-related subjects. On the second day, we were given official uniforms to wear for the day. OK, maybe uniform is a bit much. It was actually a T shirt, but a very snazzy red T shirt. Here’s Janet and I all decked out in our MTOA regalia.
Look closely at the thing around Janet’s neck. Click on the photo and blow it up if you have to. You’ll see the cause of the upcoming event. If you can’t see it well enough, I’ll tell you what’s in the pouch around her neck. It’s a ticket that says, in bold letters, “Drink Ticket”. It’s one of several we both had.
This is where things get interesting.
On the second night, we found out, to Janet’s delight and my horror, that there was to be a “Crazy Hat” contest. In years past, I would have been drawn and quartered before I would have put a “crazy hat” upon my head, but I guess age has addled my brain enough that I decided to go along with it. With only a couple hours to find a crazy hat, and not wanting to spend any significant boating money on something we’d hopefully never wear again, we started our search.
A quick trip to WalMart yielded a pair of kids swim rings that seems as though they’d fit just fine around our craniums. Mine was an elephant, and hers was a toucan.
Here are a couple shots of Janet and I as we prepared to depart our hotel room and venture forth into the world decked out in our crazy hats.
Around a child’s waist, it would have been obvious that the thing on the front of mine was an elephant’s head, but when viewed at an upward angle, it wasn’t quite so obvious. The head wouldn’t stay up.
OK, don’t even go there.
As soon as we got to the dinner tent, we realized that ours were by no means the craziest of the crazy hats, but nonetheless, I started passing my drink tickets across the bar as fast as I could.
I think that’s how I ended up in the conga line.