Dream Come True
By Carolyn Browne
My husband thought it was just a lot of talk. I believed it would really happen. For years we would sit on our back deck overlooking Cold Spring Pond andPeconicBayin the distance and watch the boats, big and small, heading out from theShinnecockCanal. We talked about doing a boat trip down theIntracoastal Waterwayfrom Shinnecock Inlet toFlorida. We wouldn’t have any timeframe; we would just be like two kids—no responsibilities except to enjoy the experiences we encountered.
So when I retired in January 2004 (two years after Jim retired), I said, “Let’s start planning our trip.” Jim said, “Are you serious? That was just dream talk.” As I reminded him about our previous conversations and how wonderful it would be, it didn’t take him long to get into it. In May, we bought a bigger boat, a twelve year old 28 ft. Wellcraft, which we determined would be large enough to accomplish our objective. We outfitted the boat with aGPS, two radios, a ladder, life ring, two lightweight self-inflating life preservers and a couple of regular preservers in case we needed them. We wanted to make sure that our dream trip was wonderful and not a nightmare.
We told our three daughters who were excited for us until the weather channels were predicting a horrendous hurricane season. Darn! Our plan was to leave in September and fly home fromFloridafor Thanksgiving with our family. As the hurricanes began forming, our daughters and sons-in-law tried to discourage us from going. They said we could go another year. We stuck to our guns; our plans were made. (We later heard from a friend that our kids were wondering if they could have us declared incompetent to keep us from setting out. We’re hoping that this was a joke.)
Two nights before our departure date, we had a shakedown cruise from Ponquogue Marina to make sure all systems were go. We spent the night on our boat inTianaBay. It was so perfect and the sunset so spectacular. We deemed the experience a great omen. The sonar on our depth finder needed some work, which our boat mechanic, Jerry, quickly took care of for us. He knew about our plans and told us he would be available to help us out before we left. Everyone we spoke to about our dream trip was so excited for us and was looking forward to hearing about it when we returned. We had a family bon voyage party on the boat and they all put on a good face for the occasion.
We embarkedMonday,September 13, 2004and cruised out of the Shinnecock Inlet at9 am. Jim had learned how to use theGPS, and I had the nautical charts to study on the first mate’s side of the boat. Our plan was if the water was flat enough to cruise toMannesquan Inlet,NJ, we would spend the first night there. If we couldn’t cross the ocean because of lumpy seas, we would stay in the East Rockaway Inlet area. By the way, this was our first experience boating with no land in sight. Luckily, we had smooth sailing all the way from the Inlet toNew Jersey.
I kept a written journal of every day on the water and some on land when we were stuck for days because of hurricane activity. We didn’t attempt anything crazy. It was great fun and the most time my husband and I ever spent together—every minute of every day for 64 days. People asked how that was—were we going to stay married? We explained that the old motors on the boat, the “Boutnour” were so noisy, that we couldn’t speak to each other all day underway. I guess that was a blessing. Having been encouraged by people in the know, we made sure that each day we cruised from one place to another, we would arrive at a wonderful marina in time for happy hour.
Whenever I had an opportunity (internet cafes or libraries), I emailed our family and close friends along the way. All of a sudden I was getting emails from people I didn’t know asking that they be included in the updates. So many people were living our dream vicariously.