Friday, January 18, 2013

In Honor of My Captain

I want to Thank you for coming here today to celebrate the life of Ted Ryder.   Ted affected so many lives and as we are here today he would not want us to be sad but to be strong.

Ted not only was my partner, he was my best friend and the Captain of sailing vessel “Serenity”. Most know me by Shirl or Shirley but I was honored and would like to be remembered as Ted’s First Mate. Ted and I shared so many wonderful times together and I will forever hold them dear to my heart and let his wisdom continue to inspire me.  Ted inspired my world and I know his inspiration did that for many of you.  
Most of you have followed our “Blame Buffett Blog” that Ted wrote so well and took so much pride in sharing our sailing adventure.  Today if he was here he would be sharing some of what we experienced over the past few months.
  • He might share the story of the lecture he gave me regarding my boat hook. He stated we would use our boat hooks consistently while traveling over 40 locks through the Canal Systems and we need to take care of them. We were only a few locks through when Ted lost his boat hook overboard. He just smiled and said at least we have yours
  • He might share while crossing New York Harbor to Cape May on our 1st 24 hr overnight sail that I was ill with an awful sinus infection, so I wasn’t much help. Due to the wind he had to go out on the bow to assist with reefing in the mainsail to reduce speed. It was pitch black, very windy and the boat was heeled over on the starboard side. Since safety was always 1st, Ted’s life-line was attached, life jacket on while holding to the boat every step of the way. After the mail was reefed, he entered the cockpit, seen I had big tears in my eyes and with a slight grin he stated that I needed to go and put my big girl panties on (which was often his response when he thought I showed any fear).
  • We learned quickly they are three types of Sailors.  There are three types of sailors: those who’ve gone aground; those who haven’t, but are going to; and liars. I remember when we went aground. I immediately had the look of fear and grabbed my life jacket. Ted grinned, looked at me and stated. Babe, I’m not sure you need that. You can step overboard, it’s only 2 ½ feet. Of course I then felt kind of silly and went on to make lunch while we waited 3 ½ hours for the tide to come back up so we could sail on.
A week or so ago he was sitting on the bow of the boat while I was at the helm.  The wind was blowing, the sky a bright blue, and the water was calmly passing the hull as we traveled. We later spoke about our recent experiences and how we would not have had them if we had not come on this trip. It was not all easy, but it was an exceptional time. As you might imagine, there were some pretty amazing hurdles and successes we achieved. Our lack of experience early on created moments that we were sure more seasoned sailors just calmly dealt with. I have always believed that you learn from accepting challenges and you grow from them. I sure would not have wanted to miss a single second of it. So while writing down my thoughts, I decided that it may be very simple...not complicated. Maybe we were sailing for pleasure and the personal growth that comes from accepting challenges. Maybe we all need to take the helm more often... After almost three months living and traveling on Serenity I do not feel like a newbie any more. There are always challenges in life, and what we were doing is no different. Actually, we were turning into seasoned boat people ourselves. Living your dream is worth the risk, the effort and it makes you a different person.  Our lives were literally changed by it.  Ted would tell you to go for it – just do it!
When talking Ted and I realized that we had crossed many paths during life enough though we did not meet until a few years ago. We would laugh when people often commented that they could tell we must have been together for a lifetime; because we felt that way too.  We felt we were better people due to our life experiences and thought that was why it was easy for us to love one another. I often shared when seeing the love and closeness he shared with his children was why he was so attractive to me. Ted’s unconditional love, affection, gratitude, respect, honesty, trust and his great sense of humor were only a few reasons I loved him. His gratitude often reminded me why I was happy to do things for him in the first place. I loved the way he believed in me and that gave me the courage to accomplish things that I might not have in the past. He loved my children and grandchildren just as much as I loved his. We spent much time laughing when sharing stories regarding them and even though we loved what we were doing, we missed them all so much and dreaded the holidays.
Today is a chance to say thank you, Ted, for the way you brightened our lives, even though God wanted you back too soon for our hearts. I’m sure we will all feel cheated that you were taken from us so unexpectedly and yet we must learn to be grateful that you came along at all. It’s only now that you are gone that we truly appreciate what we are without, and I want you to know that life without you is very, very difficult. We have all despaired at your loss over the past week and only the strength of the message you lived through your years will afford us the strength to think of moving forward.  The message of living each moment to its fullest; to catch each ray of sunshine possible; to spend as many hours of each day possible, grateful for the beauty of this earth and incredible friendships we are blessed with.  You spent each day being unafraid to conquer the unknown and live life to its fullest and I’m so blessed to have been part of your journey. 
If I could talk directly to Ted, my love, my heart - I would say:
This may be A day to celebrate your life and say goodbyes; But it's not final. Every day I'll celebrate in some way, just by the virtue of how you shaped my life and the absolute incredible fortune of the relationship that we had.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Margaritaville state of mind……………

Ted and I sat on the bow of Serenity on December 21st and spoke of the wonderful adventures of this trip. We laughed about lessons learned and loved the awesome cruiser friends we had met. Ted always encouraged me to blog more but knew it was very difficult for me. Even though I journal every day I am private with thoughts close to my heart. With pleasure that evening he reminded me of the recent interview with David Anderson. David had also encouraged me to get more involved in writing for the blog. While this is only part of what Ted and I spoke of that evening, it is also the reason the blog has been very silent. I apologize and do know that Ted would want me to blog. So here I go…….

Rich red, bright gold are some of the colors we have seen with the beautiful skies and glistening water along our travels. The colors that often reminded us of our busy life’s back home. We knew that after all the beautiful colors faded plants and trees would hibernate or die as old man winter creeps in. Just one of the reasons we loved this journey. We were leaving old man winter behind. We seem to never focus on the beauty of each season and what it brought with it. Serenity had given us that pleasure. We traveled from Lake Erie and then down the ICW and enjoyed all it's beauty. Swirling leaves that fell from trees, we often imagined it the letting go process of the hustle and bustle of life back home. Cleaning up the sailboat at the end of a days travels reminded us of what was important. Ted always stated if we took care of Serenity, Serenity would take care of us. Each time we left her I always kissed her and Ted would smile and say that is why she treats us so well.

This year Thanksgiving was difficult for us. The last few years we had hosted dinner with children and grandchildren in attendance. This year we missed that very much. Thinking about Christmas around the corner often saddened us. While we would be alone for the holidays, we planned to go home in January.

Our day was wonderful just like every other day since we left on our adventure. We did boat chores, walked, spoke with cruiser friends, and had a delicious Mexican dinner I had prepared for us. We then watched a movie and spoke with children before turning in that evening. As we laid in the v-birth we spoke of how excited we were head to Fort Meyers the next morning. We would wait for a weather window and head to Key West. Ted smiled and stated New Years Eve we would dance on the bow of the boat and it would be a memorable night that we would never forget. Little did I know that this night would be our last night and one that I would never forget.

I am so very sad and do not have the words to explain how tomorrow is never promised. Although I experienced just that.  On December 22nd while in LaBelle, Florida, Ted suffered a heart attack and cardiac arrest stemming from undiagnosed sleep apnea.  While I called 911, I am so thankful for cruiser friends from Polar Pacer and Sanuk that assisted during this traumatic time. I do not know what I would have done with out them. While family and friends bowed in prayer to plead for a miracle on Christmas Day, Ted suffered an anoxic brain injury and passed on December 27th.  While my journey with Ted has ended for a short, Ted’s new journey began in his Margaritaville state of mind that he had spoke of in previous post. 

January 5, 2013 family and friends honored Ted by celebrating his life at The Covington Madison in Kentucky where his daughter Sara and Tommy were married and his son Justin and Libby had their wedding reception. If you knew Ted at all you would have known that he preferred this non-traditional way of honoring his life oppose to a funeral service. Details were posted at

Ted’s obituary written by his son Justin may be viewed at  
I spoke with David Anderson, for 'The Sailing Podcast'” recently and ensured him that Ted would want the recent interview released as planned . You can now find that interview at .

Ted previously stated Jimmy Buffett's music can take you out of the rat of the hamster wheel...away from the nine to five grind, and place you on an island, under a palm tree in warm tropical breezes, with the smell of salt in the air.  I wish to think that for a brief moment that the songs we played will help me escape the ordinary life...leave it behind, and imagine what it would be like to continue life with Ted, my captain, my love just like a Jimmy Buffett song.

Ted and I sailed...sat under palm trees with our toes in the sand, smelled the salted air and listened to Jimmy Buffett’s song BoatDrinks. We relaxed, looked at the stars, and enjoyed our thoughts and down time. We wanted to be sun baked, salt encrusted, and have some fun. In short I want to think that Ted has an extended stay in Heaven’s Margaritaville and is waiting for me.

I guess what I am trying to say is I Blame Buffett for the fact that Ted is now singing his own song.

Sail on Ted, Sail on... Although I miss you , I will see you again some day.                                

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers,  

My next post will be what I read at the celebration for Ted.

 Ted and I in Panama City
(Picture taken by Ted's daughter Sara)
 Ted with son Justin and daughter Sara

 I can hear Ted saying this to me each time I read it.
(Thanks Dianne)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Blame Buffett?

Shirl and I were interviewed today via telephone by a gentleman in Australia. He has been following our blog and does sailing pod casts. One of the many questions he asked was..."why blame Buffett"? I thought that was a good question. Here is basically how I answered it.

 I have always listened to Jimmy Buffett's music. While he is not a great singer, or an over the top guitarist, he is a great entertainer. His music tells a story. Jimmy has the ability through his music to transport you to Margaritaville. We all know Margaritaville is a state of mind.  Buffett's music can put you in that Margaritaville state of mind. Jimmy's music is simple, entertaining, and fun. It has always been and will continue to be part of my music library.
When my children were young...they are adults now with children of their own, we would vacation with family on a lake in Tennessee. They would swim, play, knee board, ski, swing from ropes into the lake, and spend time with family. We would keep the boats out on the lake for as long as possible every day. You guessed it...with Buffett music playing. Why? because we all wanted to go to Margaritaville. With the water, sunshine, warm temperatures, cool drinks, and Jimmy singing we had our own little piece of paradise. To this day I can remember my kids singing along on "Boat Drinks". My recent boating and relaxing has been on a houseboat on Cumberland lake...a great place by the way. If you can't get to saltwater...go to Cumberland. At Cumberland Buffett music plays.  When our family vacations in Florida...our favorite restaurant, even the grand kids love it, is Margaritaville. More Buffett music.

Jimmy's music can take you out of the rat of the hamster wheel...away from the nine to five grind, and place you on an island, under a palm tree in warm tropical breezes, with the smell of salt in the air. His music has done that for me. For the brief minutes that the songs play you can escape the ordinary life...leave it behind, and imagine what it would be like to live your life like a Jimmy Buffett song.
 We are going to sail to an island...sit under a palm tree with our toes in the sand, smell the salt air and sing BoatDrinks. We will relax, think, look at the stars, and enjoy some down time. We want to be sun baked, salt encrusted, and have some fun. In short we want to have an extended stay in Margaritaville.

I guess what I am trying to do is to Blame Buffett for the fact that I am now singing my own song.
Maybe it's my own damn fault...

Thanks for the music Jimmy!

Our family favorite... 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Thinking in the sunshine...

I was sitting in the sun on the bow of Serenity today...the wind blowing, the sky a bright blue, and the water calmly passing the hull as we traveled. Shirl was at the helm, and I was thinking about the experiences I have had recently, and how I would not have had them if I had not come on this trip. It has not all been easy, but it has been very good. As you might imagine, there have been challenges. Our lack of experience early on created some challenges that I am sure more experienced sailors just calmly deal with, as we do now. I have always believed that you learn from accepting challenges and you grow from learning. I sure would not have wanted to miss this. So sitting in the sun today I decided that it may be very simple...not complicated. Maybe we are sailing for pleasure and the personal growth that comes from accepting challenges. Shirl needs to take the helm more often...
After almost three months living and traveling on Serenity I do not feel like a newbie any more. There are always challenges in life, and what we are doing is no different. Actually we are turning into really good boat people. If you have ever thought about doing this, try to make it happen. It will be worth it.

The Okeechobee Waterway runs across the Florida Peninsula. It is an interesting area. Today Shirl saw an alligator on the bank as we passed. We crossed Lake Okeechobee yesterday. After leaving a lock we were immediately in the lake with fog and a significant chop. After a few miles the fog lifted, the wind decreased and the water calmed. The trip across the lake was great. It is a large, beautiful body of water. Last night we stayed at Roland Martin's Marina. It was a bit over priced but I understand he is a celebrity of sorts....(fishing show). Today we traveled to La Belle, Florida. We will stay here on the city docks tomorrow, which are free by the way. We also have a good WiFi signal. This will be an opportunity to do a couple of blog posts, and work on my computer which is slowing down more every day. The Dink needs to be cleaned as well, and I want to check all the rigging in preparation for our sail to Key West. Have you noticed there is always work to be done? Then it will be on to Ft. Myers.
We will go through a total of five locks on the Okeechobee Waterway. While this is no big deal to us...we have been through a lot of locks on this trip...these locks are different in that the lock tenders open the doors slightly to let the water in or out. This tends to create some turbulence in the locks.

Lake Okeechobee...gator country!

 They are serious!

 Key West very soon...

A lot of fishing boats in this lake. 

 Typical scenery in the Lake Okeechobee Waterway. This is a lot different than the condo lined east and west coasts.

 A different kind of houseboat...a stern wheeler?
 Serenity at Martin's Marina. The building to the left is a restaurant and bar...and yes they serve gator tail...and we had some for dinner. It tastes like chicken.
This lock opens to Lake Okeechobee. Foggy and rough, but only for a few miles... then calm and beautiful.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Heading west for a few days...

We are crossing the Okeechobee Waterway to Ft. Meyer. We will then head south to Key West. This route will give us an opportunity to see a little of the west coast of Florida, and allow us to visit the Keys while working our way back north. We are in Indian Town today, and will cross Lake Okeechobee tomorrow. We are in a tiny marina in a very small slip...a little difficult to get in to. It will be a little difficult to get out of tomorrow. We will be leaving at first light.
It will be interesting to see a more rural part of the sunshine state.
Statue in Stuart, Florida. My friend Rodger loves art.
The produce market...really convenient for cruisers.

Sunset in Stuart
One more...
Great picture which brought back parents had one of these in 1965. Several family vacations were taken in that car...good times and good memories.

Oh yea, I still have it... one and a half miles to the liquor store.

Mooring field in Stuart
Shirl on duty waiting for the lock to open.
No problem for us...after the Erie Canal. We will go through five locks on the Okeechobee Waterway.

Shirl taking over while I took a break.
We passed this in the water today...a first on this trip.
A "deadhead" floating in the waterway...may be connected, may not. You have to watch for these.
A tough slip to get in to.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A politician thinks of the next election...a leader thinks of the next generation.

A short rant...
I saw this bumper sticker today and I thought it was worth putting out there. While this is not a political blog, it is obvious to me that our country has too many politicians and not enough leaders. We can fix that!
End of rant...

We left Velcro Beach this morning, and as soon as we got to the ICW there was a thick fog. Navigating in fog is not easy, however it is good practice. You have to trust your chart plotter and radar. We slowed down during the fog and after it lifted we continued to Stuart, Florida which is on the St. Lucie River. We are considering going through the Okeechobee Waterway to Ft. Meyers, and then sailing off shore to Key West. There is one bridge that may be a problem because it is 49 feet in height. Serenity's mast is 48 feet off the water, and the lights, instruments, and antenna on top the mast add another foot. The boat would have to be heeled (tilted), to allow passage under the bridge. We will find out tomorrow exactly how much clearance there is before we decide. The waterway is not tidal in the area of the bridge. The water level is controlled by locks. We will keep you posted on our decision. We are in the mooring field with a lot of other $16.00 a night.  There are so many people traveling by boat, and they are all so interesting to talk to. Tonight we attended a sun downer on a neighbors boat...thank you so much, it was fun.

We buddy boated today...that is we traveled with two other boats from Vero Beach to Stuart. (Sanuk and Polar Pacer) It was a little cooler today, in the low seventies. We have removed our enclosure and we are starting to protect ourselves from the sun. We are so happy to be where it is warm.

A very Happy Birthday to my daughter who has birthday this month.
A Happy Birthday to Patience, (Shirl's granddaughter) who is now six years old...also in December.

 Our view at the beginning of the day.
 The fog beginning to lift.
The fog has lifted...
This is a good idea...turn your boat into a money maker...boat signs!
Guarding the bridge!
Shirl and Tracie on the anchor
 Another boardwalk...
This sign gave me a laugh...
My kind of house...the back yard is a beach.
Did some one order a beach?
A picture for the off spring..."that's right...Little Killies"
Another Christmas boat...
A painting on a building in Stuart...interesting
 Another double bascule bridge
We plan to visit Key West, and would like to be there for  the New Years celebration if possible. We still want to sail around the Keys, visit Marathon Key, Ft. Lauderdale, and hopefully the Bahamas. We still have a lot of adventure ahead.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Down to the tropical sun...

I have been looking at the chart book as well as the Waterway Guide. We are now into the part of Florida where boating is something people do all year. The Guide states that it is better to travel south through the Ft. Lauderdale and Miami areas during the week to avoid the boat traffic that is much heavier on weekends. There are a lot of bridges in this area as well as no wake zones. It will be a slow trip south for the next 150 miles. It is overcast today so the solar panels are not doing much. Little Red is running to charge our batteries. Shirl is cleaning the inside of Serenity. As with all boats there is a constant battle with condensation. We are beginning to plan a trip home in January, and we hope to be in Key West for New Years Eve.

We will leave tomorrow or the next day depending on the weather. I plan to run the engine for an hour this afternoon to make sure the water pump is fine, and that I did not get air in the fuel lines when I cleaned the Racor and changed the filter. We have enjoyed our stay here, but it will be good to get moving south again. The next place we plan to stay a couple of days is Ft. Lauderdale. ..then it is on to the Keys. To anyone doing this trip...spend some time at Velcro Beach!
A few random pictures...
 Why didn't I write this book? What a great idea! I can not believe I did not think of it.
Wonderful morning view...
 Shirl and Neala...
 You have to pay attention to signs!

 Two car boat garage...check out those outboards!
 A houseboat docked at a bar...what are the chances?
Cruising in the "Dink"