Friday, March 2, 2012

Reflections on Two Years of Living Aboard

Yesterday, nothing happened.

I jokingly said to Pam that the above would be today's blog, in its entirety.  We spent yesterday driving back to Savannah from Florida.  Not much to report there.  Except for one thing.  I don't miss driving.

That got me to thinking, as Pam dozed in the passenger seat, the dogs slept in the back seat, and as I whizzed along at ten times the speed of Drift Away only inches from others...  We've been living aboard Drift Away for almost two years now, and cruising for almost six months.  I don't miss driving, especially on I-95 in Connecticut.  What else don't I miss?

The first few are easy, and all you homeowners will agree.  Mowing the lawn, shoveling snow, painting, and general home repairs.  Of course, on the boat, I have shoveled snow off the flybridge, painted, and have done many many repairs (and still have many more to do).  But there's a big difference.  Boat projects are fun.  Well, usually they're fun.  Actually, no they're not.  I made that up.  Boat projects are as annoying as house projects.  There.  Someone had to say it.

For the most part, I don't miss working.  Working was a little stressful for me.  My Irish grandma's voice was always in my head saying "Be the job big or small, do it well or not at all", and so I always put my all into my duties.   With only one exception that I won't go into here because it would embarrass  one of my previous employers, who reads this blog, it has  stood by me well.  I grew and expanded every business I ever worked for, including my own.  I don't mean to sound like I'm bragging, but I seem to have a knack to cut through the chaff and get the job done.  It's that Irish saying.

If you're a parent with children, hammer that old Irish saying into their heads.  Or better yet, it might be better coming from someone else.  Email me their cell phone number and I'll call them for you and hammer it into them myself, no charge.

While this kind of goes along with working, it deserves its own mention.  I don't miss commuting, especially on I-95 in the Stamford area of Connecticut.  I've never seen such bad driving anywhere, and I've never seen such a total lack of law enforcement.  People there drive stupid.

How about the things I miss?  Those too are easy.  Family and friends.  I miss my family back home, as does Pam.  Sadly, most of my family have passed on, including my mom and dad, but that doesn't make being away from those left any easier.  It makes it harder, especially from my only daughter, Becky.

I miss my friends too, of which there were many because Pam and I were both active in our community.  I miss running my computer business and Pam misses her bookstore.  We both miss our open mic Friday music nights in our coffee house and the many friends we made there.

Pam misses her best friend Kim, and riding horses.

I miss my 1956 Thunderbird, which is now sitting in a cow barn, collecting dust.  Pam and I had fun driving it to car shows and chatting with passersby and other car owners.

I'll bet you didn't expect to see a pic of an old car on a cruising blog, eh?  There's a first time for everything.  That's my 'bird on the right.  It used to be my dad's.  Which brings me to the last thought I'll leave you with.

My dad worked hard all his life.  He saved his money and invested wisely.  He retired early, at age 60.  He enjoyed retirement, playing softball in an old timers' league and traveling far and wide, especially to his beloved Ireland.   When he got older, though, he couldn't play ball anymore, and he stopped going to Ireland.  There is an age limit on renting cars there, and he wasn't the type to travel on a bus with crowds of old people.  So basically, he stopped doing, well, much of anything.  I was concerned.  If you sits, you rust.

In his younger days, dad was a great shade tree mechanic.  He loved tinkering with his cars and kept them in top running order.  Soon, family and friends brought their cars to dad.  He loved it.  That lasted until the age of the new and improved computerized cars.

I had owned a few classic and antique cars over the years and enjoyed them, so I suggested that maybe he should consider buying one. 

"Oh no", said dad, "I would never spend money on something frivolous like that."

"You're not spending money", I told him, "you're just investing in something different.  Do you toss your stocks and bonds on the floor and play with them?"

The next thing I knew, dad had his 1956 Thunderbird.  When he took delivery of it, I went to see it.  We were both admiring the graceful yet powerful lines of this classic beauty, dad said "Do you remember the 1956 Ford Fairlane I had when you were a kid?"

"The two tone blue and white one?  Sure."

"Well, what I really wanted was a Thunderbird, but I didn't buy one.  Do you know why?"

"No.  Why?"

"Because Ma and I had you and we needed a back seat."

Dad was such a kidder.

He loved working on it and taking it to car shows.  He loved it so much that he bought a '57 for his winter home in Arizona.  When he died, his will gave most of his estate to his loving wife Suzy, and left a bit to my sister and me.  But to my sister he left his '57  T-bird, and I have his '56.  I can't speak for my sister (although she joined a Thunderbird club and goes to all the shows and cruises), but for me, I'll never part with that old car.  It's not a thing to be owned and valued for it's collectibility.  Like the old pretzel can, it's a connection to my dad.

Cruising isn't about things.  It's about people.  The people we miss, and the people we meet.  Maybe cruising is symbolic of life.  Life is certainly not about money, nor accumulating houses and cars and boats and other things.  Quite honestly, I feel sorry for people who measure success that way.  It's about the friends and family we have.  When you cruise, you temporarily leave friends and family behind, but you also make new friends along the way.  And if you're young enough, I suppose you could also make a new family.

Pam and I miss our friends and family a lot, but we're having the time of our lives enjoying our adventures on Drift Away with Ruby, Chevy, and Gertie.   Who, by the way, also make new friends everywhere they go.

Speaking of which, we're still in Isle of Hope.  Chevy goes to the vet's this morning to have his cut paw looked at, which isn't healing right,  and we're bringing Ruby to have her torn ACL looked at in her left rear leg.  We may be here for a bit.


  1. Great post! Reminds me of Eileen Quinn's song, Friends, one of my favorites:

    "I'm counting up what I've got to show for all these years afloat

    a dog eared passport, a weathered face, a tired old boat

    a yarn or two that might be true and a couple of battle scars

    days of sparkling waters, nights of falling stars

    I've got seashells, I've got souvenirs, I've got songs I've penned

    I've got phographs, I've got memories, but mostly I've got FRIENDS!"

  2. Seems we have a lot in common... playing guitars, Tbirds, boats, retired computer geeks... probably many other things as well. Hope we cross paths someday.
    Great post. I always enjoy reading your blog.
    Bob, Mel, Radar, and now Muddy.

  3. Great post Dave! Now if we could just get Istaboa out on the water!

  4. I love that photo of your dad! He looks like he's enjoying life.