How do you put a capstone on the greatest adventure of your life? (Hint: It’s not what you learned about boating; it’s about what boating taught you along the way.)

Departing Galesville MD, October 2013

We have been living ashore the last couple of months, Magnolia has been sold and she actually sailed away just yesterday. We have begun building our next home, “Magnolia Grove”, and defining what our near term life will be here in Beaufort, SC. My most recent comment has been “We are living our most luxurious life.” Weather and schedules are no longer a daily consideration, boat maintenance and repairs are now someone else’s problem and we have endless hot water. How much more luxurious could life be???

Living the blessed life that we have had, and are living, hardly seems adequate without an examination of how we got here and the lessons learned along the way. Here are the cliff notes if you want to jump ahead…boating is not about the places you visit, its about the people you meet and know along the way. That’s it. Life is people, not places.

That sounds a little too simplistic, and rest assured my ability to communicate will never do the truth the justice it deserves. Yet I need to try and capture this moment.

We departed Galesville MD October 2013, nearly 10 years ago. Full of excitement and optimism, even those first few breaks downs and having no clue how to solve the problem dropped in front of you couldn’t dash the excitement of that first year. If for some reason a boater finds these rantings of a crazy old man before departing on that first year adventure, remember lesson #1: the first year will be the most rewarding year of your life. You just have to finish. It’s going to be messy, but I promise, just finish and know that the next year will be a least easier though most definitely less rewarding. That second year you will be less scared and filled with terror. “Trust me”, says the crazy old man.

With time and experience moving the boat will become second nature and part of your life. You have moments when seas are calm and equipment is working great and then moments when crap is hitting the fan. Then there is lesson #2. For me it was a clear understanding that when I am at my worst my wife, Annette, is at her best. It really is our ying and yang that made us successful. I hope when we sit on the porch of Magnolia Grove we can look back at these years as a truly shared adventure.

I cannot emphasize enough how little “place” has had to do with this adventure. Granted watching Fort Jefferson rise above the horizon as you approach the Dry Tortugas is pretty awe-inspiring but having memories of sharing the experience with friends and family those we keep in a safe place close to our heart. Departing Annapolis in 2013 with Kindred Spirit and Eleanor Q are the moments we will hold close. Its funny to me (not being the sharpest knife in the drawer) how experiences make us flash back and bring clarity to things far in the past. Perhaps two of the most meaningful moments of my life were when friends took a moment (and a lot longer) to interrupt me painting a room in Fredericksburg or another who drove several hundred miles at Christmas to make sure I was well. As I get older and crazier the more I appreciate these moments. Our very last significant cruise was to Maine last year. We have been there and seen much but the real draw was spending time with my Dad and Kindred Spirit and others along the way. It wasn’t the potential hurricane, but the long dinghy ride with Unforgettable from the hurricane hole for lobsters while waiting for the “storm that didn’t happen”. Its not the place, but the people.

Just last week we had three boats passing through Beaufort who made time to visit. The whole time they were here I cherished the moment as well as those we had shared before: how one of the boats helped us find a lost anchor and chain after a storm in the Bahamas and another how we sail raced across the Abermarle Sound on a crazy windy day and the third we hold responsible for getting us into a Krogen! Memories are a wonderful thing!

The view from “Magnolia Grove”

We are building our home, “Magnolia Grove”, with friends and family in mind. We will have lots of room for visitors to come visit. There will always be place and respite from any storm to those who need or want. We have never felt more grateful for the opportunities given us and look forward to our next adventure on land with the people we know and the people we will meet in this new place.