My husband grew up on the water. From the moment his family moved to Florida Bob was enamored with boats, swimming, fishing and everything in between. Fortunate to live on the bay, as a young boy he spent hours swimming the canals from one friend's dock to another, playing on anything that floated, dragging up anything that sank, and paddling homemade boats he and his friends built from plywood "borrowed" from new homes being built in the neighborhood. He taught himself to repair boat engines to ensure an honored place on others' vessels that they themselves could not fix. One of his first jobs was working in the shipyard learning to weld and work with fiberglass. He then spent summers working on the beach, renting umbrellas, jet skis and sailboats. At 19 years of age Bob went offshore as a cook on a supply boat, got his 100 ton captain's lisence shortly thereafter and drove these 165 ft boats to offshore oil rigs. He fished in lieu of sleeping. He raced Hobie Cats and went to offshore boat races. Later he worked for several years pulling parasail rides from the beach. He lived, breathed and ate salt, sand and seawater. He refered to himself as a pirate and could not imagine a life apart from the water.
Just to show you the hand (and humor) of God... I met my husband on an Organic Farm in Houston. Life's circumstances had brought him to the big city, and somehow, there, he was introduced to dirt.
Our early married life was spent in the desert of New Mexico learning greenhouse gardening, and later in the boonies of Virginia with plans to raise our family homesteading in the wild, never imagining we would come full circle back to the Gulf waters of Florida and then inland to our present 40 acre farm. We have the best of both worlds here: gorgeous crystal blue water and pure white sandy beaches, and the peaceful beauty of the woods, land and livestock. We are blessed.
My youngest son, Joel, turned 17 yesterday. He has spent most of his years here in Florida and enjoys all the diverse things we dabble in. For the past two years, though, he has been talking about a desire to sail the seven seas with a friend. To explore uncharted waters and discover new lands. Or at least sail to Bermuda. He wondered if our 16 ft Hobie Cat could make the trip.
Wednesday was his birthday.
On Tuesday I found this advertisement on Freecycle:
OFFER: 34' sailboat
I am most likely moving soon and need to get rid of my boat. It is a
serious project, that I didn't have much time to work on. If you would
like to have it, you must be willing to get it registered in your name.
It's currently at the marina, so you would need to take over
slip rental or move it.
Are you familiar with Freecycle? It's a yahoo group that is found almost everywhere in the US to which members post items they want to give away or things they are looking to find. Anything from clothing to housewares to outdoor items to animals.
When I saw this ad I half jokingly called Bob and told him about it. We both knew that this was unreasonable, and surely outside the realm of possibility, but Joel was in the car at the time and said to my husband, "A dream come true!" which reminded us both of his earlier pipe dreams to sail to Bermuda. So, with no hope whatsoever that this boat would still be available, I called. The owner responded and said that there were three people interested ahead of us, but the following day, on Joel's birthday, they met, and the boat was ours. UNBELIEVABLE!
The sailboat is a 34 ft Windjammer Sloop. It has a flush deck and rear cockpit. The inside has been gutted and it has no sails or inboard engine, but all the hardware is there: the mast, ropes, couples, buckles, anchor and chain. It does have a brand new outboard motor. Or should I say "she?"
I am not a sailor. As a matter of fact, we have a 16 foot Hobie Catamaran that I've been on once or twice, and though I remember that it was fun, I'm just not comfortable sailing. I feel like a beached whale ducking under the boom rolling from one side of the trampoline to the other. I've never been on a sailboat this big - perhaps it will be different, and although it looks very nice from the outside, this is definately a "project boat" with the interior completely gutted and quite the mess! (At least that's what the pictures look like to me - I have yet to see "her" in person.)
A major concern I have is, where the heck will we find time to complete this project?! Upon consideration, this is what I've decided. Our time with our youngest son is so limited, and this is his dream (right now :) Though it is not "my thing", God has seen fit to freely give us this boat, so I will willingly, without much complaint, offer farm time for sea time. I will put things on hold and let the men spend hours working together rebuilding this, my son's dream. I will offer support and document the process. I will have no regrets nor bemoan the work not getting done around the Homestead. Those things can wait. This can't. Children grow up too quickly.
Me, on the other hand? Perhaps I'll spend the time that Bob and Joel are off together working on their boat...