According to a University of California study, dogs really do resemble their owners… not a big surprise, right?  What I would find interesting is a study on the resemblance of boats to their owners. Of course, it was a mere matter of time before the subject of BOAT surfaced in this blog. Messing about in boats (ah yes, I own a few), reading maritime accounts or simply thinking about boating can transport me into a nautical trance unrivaled by the fugue state induced by opiates.

Of my fleet, the boat currently favored is Pyxis, a small trawler berthed at Port St. Joe Marina. I always look forward to time spent on Pyxis and especially enjoy getting together with other boaters with whom I have shaped friendships.

Pyxis, a proper little yacht

Pyxis, a proper little yacht

On a recent trip to the marina, it was my pleasure to meet a few “Loopers”– boaters who circumnavigate the eastern United States via the Great Loop, a continuous waterway that encompasses the eastern portion of North America – including the Atlantic and Gulf Intracoastal Waterways, the Great Lakes, the Canadian Heritage Canals, and the inland rivers of America’s heartland. It was during this recent marina visit that I began to notice the resemblance of people to the boats they own.

Have you ever met someone for the first time and experienced a spontaneous affinity for that person? I don’t know if the feeling of fondness was mutual, but I felt an immediate harmony with Leslie. She and her husband Greg are cruising the Great Loop, had laid over at Port St. Joe Marina and joined some of the Port St. Joe Yacht Club members for an early evening cookout. After dinner, I happily accepted the invitation to come aboard the Amalia – their steel-hulled trawler.

Amalia, cruising the Great Loop

Amalia, cruising the Great Loop

Just like her owners, the Amalia is special. Built in the ’60’s, the yacht has great lines. She is sturdy, strong and dependable– as Leslie and Greg also appeared to be. Boarding the Amalia mirrored the delight of meeting Leslie. The pleasant pilot house with its 360-degree views is made comfortable by eye-pleasing, air-purifying live plants, beautiful lace curtains, abundant cushions and Leslie’s hand-painted frieze on the bulkhead near the ceiling. 

Entering the living quarters of the Amalia through a ladder companionway is a bit like coming home. Family photos, a wood-burning fireplace, large stainless steel cooktop and oven, comfortable beds and a cozy dinette only begin to describe the many features of this intimate friendly environment, which like her owners is altogether stylish, graceful, authentic and unpretentious. Hard-pressed to decide, I would have to say that the wood floor, painted bright lipstick red, was perhaps my favorite feature of the salon and measured up to my impression of Leslie’s resourceful, cheery nature.

As I thought about Leslie and Greg and the Amalia, I began to see similarities between a few of my fellow yacht club members and their boats. Matt’s classic Chris Craft sailboat – which he single-handedly sailed from the Florida Panhandle to Key West – personifies his strength of character and spirit. Jim and Jayne’s beautiful, pristine sailboat with its “always open” galley reminds me of their good judgement and open hospitality.

Henry and Mary keep busy working to improve their sailer, the realization of their pluck and enthusiasm. Dave and Margo’s good nature and generosity are as big as Plane to Sea, their large and lavish yacht; and the open spacious environment of the PatsyRay – a beautifully appointed Island Gypsy trawler – epitomizes this couple’s unselfishness and readiness to go the extra mile.

So, what of the similarity between Pyxis and her owner, yours truly? Well, dear reader, Pyxis is:

  • not long (short)
  • not usually tidy (messy)
  • not slow nor fast (half-fast)
  • salty (piquant)
  • accommodating (adaptable to small spaces)
  • well-found (dependable – most of the time).

Until the next post…  wishing you calm seas and fair winds.


Fall and spring particularly inspire the dilettantish poet in me. To pay tribute to the season of birth, death and rebirth and in honor of my daughter, Rachel, who is the reigning World Champion Easter Egg Hunter, I present the following shape poem that I appropriately entitled “Egg”.

 

Second 

to none, except 

perhaps the chicken 

(and even that’s debatable) 

it is nature’s perfect food. Fried,

coddled, scrambled or poached atop 

toast, bagel or McMuffin, I urge you 

to breakfast today. Lest I have it on my 

face, I’ll remind you of omelette, quiche,

frittata, custard and souffle.Try them hard-

boiled or soft, dropped, shirred or deviled.

Taste them raw in a smoothie or nog. And

to prevent them from being kept in only 

one basket, I’ll be a good one and 

mention egg roll, chocolate

egg and, of course,

caviar.

 

 

Like many people, I’ve been thinking a great deal about money recently. I’m sad when I learn that friends and family have lost their jobs due to this struggling economy. I worry that my own small household might become a victim of  these difficult times. I’m afraid that my meager retirement income, to which I should one day be entitled, may soon evaporate.

 

I’m baffled when the “experts” recommend that we save our money by dining out less often, stop using the dry cleaners, forego regular dog groomer visits and otherwise give up luxury or non-essential purchases. I wonder how those folks who never use hard-earned dollars on this type spending can find ways to save? And what about those who are accustomed to a high life? Does depression set in if a new pair of $300 shoes must stay on the shelf at the local boutique or if that vacation home purchase is postponed another year?

 

It seems the poor economic climate affects everyone – individuals, businesses, governments and, most especially, non-profit organizations. I mention non-profits because the third sector happens to be my field. I am resource development director –the person largely responsible for generating operating dollars – for a medium-sized non-profit agency. Thus, I’ve been thinking a great deal about money recently.

 

One might imagine that my outlook is dim. Corporate, foundation and individual donations are down in general. When asked, the majority of potential donors will point to tough economic times as the reason for not giving to charity, even though it is during such times that charities – and especially those people served by charities – need help the most. Having said all that, I am not disheartened. But what encourages my optimism?

 

During a recent charity fund-raising event guests were asked to make a gift or pledge. Suggested donation amounts ranged from $10 to $1,000. Proceeds from this particular request exceeded the anticipated goal by 300 percent. As might be expected, everyone involved in the fund-raiser celebrated this success, which generated several more gifts than expected in the $500 to $1,000 range .  While the favorable outcome of this fund-raising effort is encouraging, it is not the source of my hope.

 

My faith that goodwill and compassion live on even during hard times comes from one single gift received during that fund-raising event. The gift was two crinkled dollar bills. The gift – gem-clipped to a pledge card – was anonymous, but the donor took the time to complete the card by hand-writing $2.00 in the amount blank. Unlike the poor widow in the Bible (Luke 21: 1-4), the small sum was probably not the donor’s entire fortune, nevertheless the gift was significant in the same manner as the widow’s mite. Most likely, two dollars was all the cash the donor had that day in her purse, yet she gave it wholeheartedly.

 

It is this lesson of the anonymous two dollar gift that reminds me that the essence of  compassion, kindness and benevolence cannot be extinguished by greed, poverty or even a failing financial system. And I am reminded that, it is not the amount which one gives that matters, but the spirit in which the gift is given.

If there’s only one attribute to ascribe to the Great Blue Heron, perhaps it is perseverance. I’ve watched solitary herons stand in shallow water  for long stretches of time as if turned to stone – waiting, watching for the next small vertebrate to flow within reach. Then, the strike! In a heartbeat a fish is caught and gulped down the heron’s long sinewy throat. The process is repeated many times until the sated heron folds her neck into an S, spreads her wings, lifts her feet from the river’s edge and with an emphatic squawk and extended legs trailing, sets sail for her roost in the highest boughs of a longleaf pine.

One of Aubudon's favorite subjects

One of Audubon's favorite subjects

The heron is an accomplished fisher and hunter. When small fry and other aquatic life are not at hand, the heron stalks mice, insects, snakes and other terrestrials for its sustenance. During breeding season, this is especially beneficial as both heron parents must consume up to four times as much food as normal when building nests, mating and feeding their young chicks. In fact, in all things, the heron excels. And why shouldn’t she? With ancestry dating back to dinosaurs, herons have had plenty of time to hone their skills.

I admire the dogged heron’s stick-to-it-iveness. She has learned the best methods for nest building, mating (herons are monogamous), rearing her young and of course, fishing. The heron doesn’t lay around in the nest and thus be late for choice fishing time. She does not need to decide which type tackle she’ll use on any particular excursion… fly rod or spinning reel, light weight or heavy, live bait or plastics? The fact of the matter is that the heron has no use for thousands of dollars worth of boats, rods, tackle, bait, etc. She knows ONE WAY to catch fish, she’s done it THAT WAY for a lifetime and it’s KISS.

Ah, the simple heron – paragon of determination. Had I followed her example of single-mindedness, I might have actually excelled at doing one thing very well. As a business woman, I could have been blue-chip. I could have stood out as a prize-winning writer, an exemplary parent, an exceptional artist, a blue-ribbon gardener, a fantastic lover, a television chef, and without a doubt a splendiferous bass master. 

With extraordinary conceit, I have considered myself a Renaissance woman. I am an idle poet. I’ve written three unfinished novels; owned, operated and abandoned two successful businesses; embarked upon innumerable careers including used car sales, cabinet-maker, artist, insurance clerk, special events maven, and charity fund-raiser. I am a half-fast boat skipper, have single-parented one adultescent, lost and gained hundreds of pounds, and of course, own all the fishing tackle Bass World has to sell.

My latest project, which has recently been supplanted by the writing of this blog, is hand-painting renderings of fishing fly patterns. I am beginning to believe if not for my unending impatience (aka Adult ADHD) to move on to the next big thing,  by now I could have  reached the apogee of achievement. Or at least been able to retire with  my sweetie and a comfortable little nest egg.

As my mother (G-d rest her soul) admonished: be happy with what you have. The heron is.  And today, I am too.