My husband Mike and I have been on the hunt — “Operation ReloSouth” — for the perfect retirement location. We want to live in a less-expensive, more relaxed area of the country near water. With better weather (no snow) than what we have here in Northern New Jersey. This is our story.
As part of our Relo South adventures in 2012 my husband Mike and I toured a number of planned communities both waterfront and non-waterfront and rode on quite a few boats; we truly think we will retire in the Southeast. Near or on the water. We both like to be out in the sunshine on the water with the wind in our my hair. During our 2012 adventures I happily hopped on boat after boat, relaxed and confident that our captains were well versed in reading their charts, judging tides/currents/water depth and handling any emergency that might come up. Only one captain disappointed me; on that particular trip I thought I was going overboard. No stranger to sailboats I know a boom when I see one, but this captain had the boom, well, booming all over the place. It was a constant struggle to stay under it. And she had the boat heeling so far to one side or the other that I wanted to strap myself to the mast. By the end of the sail my fingers were permanently clenched to the gunnel and my neck was aching. But that’s another story…one I haven’t been able to write yet.
Anyway, Mike has gotten it into his head that he wants a boat of our very own. And I remember that we agreed years ago that we’d only ever rent boats. With captains attached. So okay, I adjusted my thinking, remembering the Duffy we rode in last fall. Unbeknownst to me Mike was thinking Boston Whaler. Have I mentioned that, on occasion, my husband and I are opposites? Polar opposites? While Mike was thinking fishing boat, I was thinking cocktail parties and a future way to get to an imagined clubhouse without driving a death mobile golf cart or riding a bicycle.
To further his idea of becoming a boat owner, Mike convinced me to go to the Ft Meyers, FL Boat Show with him when we were in Florida just to “get an education.” I know Mike-speak well enough to know his mind was already made up: He is getting a boat, but the type of boat is still in question. During the drive from Bonita Springs to Ft Meyers (not a long drive to be sure) I kept trying to convince him that boating was best left to the professionals. When that didn’t work I told him that he could buy a boat, but I wouldn’t go on it with him until he’d gotten stuck/unstuck from sand bars and mud on his own for a year or so. He stared at me, perplexed that I would even suggest he’d get stuck. I mentioned that he’d have to go to boat school and be prepared to dazzle me with his chart reading skills before I’d boat with him. He smiled and assured me that he would be a fine captain. And I smiled and knew I’d be the one knee deep in mud pushing the damned boat off a sandbar.
We got to the boat show, paid our entrance fee and walked inside: The very first boat we saw was a Boston Whaler, the boat of my husband’s dreams. He read the description on the tag. He thumped the fiberglass body. He drooled over every part of that boat. Then we moved on: pontoon boats, speed boats, fishing boats, jet skis; boats for the ocean, boats for the inter-coastal, lakes and rivers. We saw them all (but not a Duffy in sight). And Mike chatted with salesmen, gathering factoids as he went.
On our way out we saw a boat being raffled off to benefit the Wounded Warrior Anglers of America. The boat, an 18′ NauticStar, donated by Fort Myers Marine, is a beauty…Mike really liked it and said he could see himself in it. So we bought two tickets. Who knows…maybe we’ll get a call on May 26th telling us that we’ve won the boat. Then I’ll have to go practice up how to push a boat off a sandbar. Just in case.