We are in Saint Petersburg, Florida and we will be staying here for a while. We came to check out a boat our broker found for us: a 42 Tatoosh 1982. It is not a bad boat, but it doesn’t click, as we are told it should. It is a bit small for our needs; has only two cabins and we need three. But as we got here, we discovered that it is a perfect place to learn to sail and stay for couple of months. The city is beautiful and friendly and every weekend there is some event going on.
The first one is a four-day boat show starting Thursday, November 29th and we decide to check it out. We buy half-price discount tickets $5 per adult per day, free admission for the kids, and we spend two days, from 10 am to 5 pm, looking at all kinds of marine technologies and collecting brochures visiting sailboats, and listening to seminars given by all sorts of sailing experts with hundreds of years of sailing and cruising experience. Each seminar lasts about 45 minutes and we go to five each day. Three seminars go on at the same time in three different tents and sometimes it is hard to choose which one to attend, so we split. Ivo and Viktor go to tent A and learn about Solar and Wind Power Technologies, or Marine Plumbing- Modern Solutions, or Marine Air Conditioning, while Maya and I sit in tent B listening to Corinne Kantor telling us all about Galley Secrets A-Z. We go together to Cruising for Couples, Caribbean Cruising, On Board Emergencies, Getting Started- Is Cruising for You?, Preparations for Offshore Cruising, How to Use a Chart, Novice to Medalist: How to Develop your Sailing Skills given by Jen French, a silver medallist from the US sailing team at the 2012 Paralympics Games in London. Before her lecture starts, she asks us if we know the difference between the Olympic Games and the Paralympics Games. She explains that the Olympic athletes are so called “able bodied” or people without any disability, while the Paralympics athletes all have some sort of a disability. Jen survived a spinal injury while snowboarding in France and is in a wheelchair. Her story, determination and victory make all our problems, our daily struggles seam insignificant. Long after her seminar, I am still thinking about the role of the body, how it is perceived in professional sports, and the great challenge it presents for disabled athletes. For “able-bodied” athletes, the main goal is training and developing the body as perfectly as possible in order to use it as a tool for achieving success, setting records, and winning medals, while for “disabled-bodied” athletes the imperfect body becomes the main challenge, the first obstacle to overcome.
At the end of the second day, we walk out of the boat show full of new information and invaluable knowledge. We are more determined to find the boat for us and live the life we have already chosen, but before we continue our search, we will be staying in St Pete, learning to sail on small 18 feet keel boats at the Sailing Centre, living in one of down town Saint Pete’s Public Parks.