The year was 1984. Nuclear
arms controls with the Soviet Union were
unraveling. The prime loan rate was 13 percent.
Vic and I started Southwest Florida Yachts.
I guess we were in an “Oh,
what the heck” state of mind. Hey, if you’re
going to get hit by a nuclear bomb, why not move
to Florida, get married, start a yacht chartering
business and a yacht school and, as they say, live
happily ever after. Keep in mind that “ever after”
on this earth was, in cold war terms, only going
to last another couple of months or so.
Except for the part about the
nuclear bomb, all of that is pretty much how it
has been. Knock-knock. Twenty years on, we’re
still living and working the waterfront dream. We
have survived the fall of the USSR, the Berlin
Wall, the first Gulf War (we tied yellow ribbons
on our boats), parachute pants, Pac-Man, the O. J.
Simpson trial, Bill Clinton, Hurricane Andrew and,
so far, the Islamofascist war against American
Vic and I subscribe to the
philosophy that if you have a job that you love,
you’ll never have to work another day in your
I realize that’s not 100
percent true. Still I would much prefer to do what
I do 12 hours a day than, say, sell insect killer
for four hours a day.
And even when I’m tied and
bound to the office for 12 hours a day, it’s
almost always a good day’s labor of love. I can
look out the window 12 months of the year and see
blue water and boats and people enjoying both.
When clients who charter our yachts or attend one
of our live-aboard boating courses are happy and
excited, I’m happy and excited for them.
I confess to taking
particular pleasure knowing that after 20 years
we’re still engaged in our marine industry
enterprise while so many other businesses,
including many we considered too big to fail, have
bitten the dust.
Twenty years ago AT&T was the
only long distance company. When we called a
customer in those days, we were mindful that it
was costing us about $1 a minute. At one time or
another the “next big thing” was announced--I
recall ads for household gadgets like the Hot
Topper and the Clapper--but now are all but
In 1984 we did not have a
computer. Every letter to a customer had to be a
start-from-scratch endeavor. We were here before
most had ever heard of a fax machine, or a cell
phone, or a Web site. There was no Internet to
speak of, no email.
In 1984, instead of browsing
the Internet, we watched Cheers, Hill Street
Blues, Happy Days, Three’s Company, Dallas,
Baywatch, Fantasy Island, Roseanne, The Love Boat
and Golden Girls. Today we get “Reality TV,” or so
they call it.
It’s enough to make you want
to check out of civilization for a few days and go
boating. Now that’s something that was with us in
1984, is still with us in 2004 and, I’m confident,
will be with us in 2024. Experts say that from
time to time we should escape from the routine and
stress of our daily lives. Chartering is one of
the best ways to escape. Boating reaches deep into
the human psyche and scratches an itch that
doesn’t get scratched by watching, say, the Fear
Now I’m not here to advocate
dropping out of your life as you know it and
sailing off into the sunset. But, a little
“escape” now and then does wonders for the mind,
body and soul. So, this year, consider putting
yourself in this scene: You’re on a luxury trawler
anchored in a scenic cove at the end of the day.
You’ve got your hand wrapped around a cold drink.
The setting sun lights up the clouds with pinks,
oranges, purples and reds. And, you think, life
really is good.
That’s the best kind of