First Words — 03 May 2014
A chance to meet Roger Federer is lost at sea

By Mark Gauert

I started to worry I was going to miss my meeting with Roger Federer when the captain slowed the engines, 10 miles off Miami.

One minute you’re sitting on a lounger on a Sea Ray 540, on the way to sip champagne with one of the world’s top tennis players; the next minute you’re wondering if the lounger could be used as a flotation device.

I’d already had enough misadventures at sea to fill a captain’s log. Ran a sailboat aground once in Biscayne Bay. Drifted powerless in the Gulfstream off Fort Lauderdale for hours on a fishing boat, before Sea Tow came along. Didn’t think I got seasick, until I got seasick on a choppy fishing trip in the Keys.

Not again, I thought. Not another.

The Sea Ray’s engines had sputtered a bit when we cast off from Ocean Reef after lunch that afternoon. Just a little exhaust cough, before roaring out to sea.

Nothing to worry about, I thought – and there was plenty of time before I was supposed to meet Federer on Miami Beach. I called up the email, just to be sure it was still there. It was.

“I am writing to extend a personal invitation to join Roger Federer, Global Brand Ambassador for Moët & Chandon, for champagne and a private exhibition match,” his handler said. “Please join us at Club 50 at the Viceroy Hotel as we celebrate the start of the Sony Open with Moët – the official champagne of the tournament.”

What a civilized way to start anything.

But now the captain had slowed the engines from a sea-skimming 20 knots to a sea-sickening 5. And I began to worry that I wouldn’t be celebrating anything, with or without Roger Federer.

“There’s oil all over the floor down there,” the captain confirmed into his cell phone, climbing up from the engine room. “We’re going to have to idle in to the marina at 5 knots so we don’t burn out an engine.”

I did the math, to keep my mind off the waves now rolling the boat back and forth, heaving up and down, the way they had on that fishing trip in the Keys.

A boat is traveling at 5 knots per hour to Miami 10 miles away. If one knot equals 1.151 miles per hour, what time will Roger Federer finish his champagne and leave Club 50 at the Viceroy Hotel?

As the time I had calculated for his departure passed, the boat rolled again and a few of the passengers began to hang as discretely as one can over the side of a bright white Sea Ray 540. I had worried I was going to miss my meeting with Roger Federer. Now I started not to care, unless he was celebrating the start of the Sony Open with Dramamine.

They say any landing you walk away from is a good one. The same applies to boats, too – even if you dock two hours after Roger Federer finished his champagne without you.

 We may have missed our chance to meet him, but we did meet another of the world’s top players, Maria Sharapova, later that week at the St. Regis Bal Harbour. Her career takes her around the world, but she tells contributing writer Eric Barton that she feels most at home in Florida. We also talk this issue with decorators about how to design a child’s room that can outlast childhood, chat with SoBe Food & Wine mastermind Lee Brian Schrager about his love for the simple pleasures of fried chicken, sample some white wines for sipping with warm-weather food, go shopping with Fashion & Style Director Elyse Ranart for timely Mother’s Day and Father’s Day gifts and discover the worldly pleasures of dining in Hollywood with Fine Dining Writer Rebecca Cahilly. We also run off to a few islands for some adventures, from Key West to Aruba, from Turks and Caicos to St. Croix.

I’ll be taking a plane, helicopter or dirigible to get there. I’ve had enough misadventures at sea.




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