After leaving Nicole and John, we headed to Melbourne, Florida to catch up with old friends, Laura and Andy, formerly of Windswept II. We met them first in Trinidad in 2002 and really enjoyed their company. We haven't seen them since, but have always kept in touch as cruisers do. We had so much to chat about, I neglected to take any photos, but managed to dig up an old photo from 2002. My, but we looked young...er.
We headed to the Melbourne Gam the next day. To say we were verklempt would be an understatement. We still had not finished our presentations and we were feeling a bit under the gun. David was giving a seminar on anchors and anchoring techniques, I was participating in the Women's Forum. The both of us had been asked to give the keynote address on Saturday evening and this was primarily my job to complete. There was a lot to do and we weren't prepared. It's not that we hadn't tried. I'd started the keynote presentation over a month before, but each time I thought I'd finished, we agreed it was too long, boring and lame. We needed a different approach and hadn't found it yet.
We worked in our hotel room pretty much non-stop for two days, taking time out to register for the gam and have drinks and dinner with friends one evening. David created animated maps for the keynote presentation, then set about finishing up his anchoring presentation The two big challenges for the keynote address? 1) Condensing 16 years of “off the beaten track” adventures into about an hour and 2) keeping an after-cocktail & dinner group of cruisers awake from 8:30pm to 9:45 pm ... knowing that cruiser midnight occurs somewhere around 9pm. Finally, we came up with an approach we hoped would keep the crowd engaged and worked hard to complete it, tweak it and rehearse it. Whew!
We showed up in the afternoon for David's presentation which unfortunately ran concurrent with the Women's Forum. When I heard the applause from the room next door, I knew David's presentation had been a success. The forum was somewhat disjointed, but it was fun meeting so many new women sailors and getting reacquainted with so many old friends.
We headed into the general meeting where the “state of the union” address was delivered and subsequently awards were presented. We were pleased to be recognized for having completed our circumnavigation.
More importantly, however, was being presented with the Seven Seas Award, SSCA's most prestigious award. Knowing the venerable cruisers who have received this award in the past, we were honored, humbled and thrilled. Being recognized by the SSCA for doing something we have loved was beyond wonderful.
Though a bit nervous before our evening presentation, we were comfortable once we got started. A friend checked for rotten tomatoes at the door and we didn't notice anyone falling asleep, so it was a wonderful experience, but we sighed in relief when it was over. Old friends and new friends took the time to come up and wish us well. It warmed our hearts and made us feel proud to be part of such awesome camaraderie.
Exhilarated and exhausted, we bade adieu to sailing friends and headed to St. Petersburg on Florida's west coast to visit our oldest son and wife and see their new home. We haven't been to St. Pete in ages and we're looking forward to a little exploring.