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.


  1. Beautifully written <3

  2. Dear Shirl,

    You don't know me, but I happened on to your blog and I just wanted to say how very sorry I am for your loss, but also how grateful I am for the time you had together. Peace be with you.

  3. Shirl-

    I read your blog quite a bit these past few months. You don't know me but i have followed your story. I am sorry for your loss. A stark reminder just how precious life is.

  4. Hi Shirl,

    Another lovely piece of writing. Thank you for sharing your feelings and please know that there are many of us who share your sadness but take courage from your loving memories of Ted.

  5. Shirl,

    What beautiful words to "honor your captain"! What the two of you shared sounds amazing, and we are so very sorry for your loss. You sound like a strong and intelligent woman, and we wish you many "celebrations".

  6. Dear Shirl,

    Thank you for sharing your adventure on the Sailing Podcast. It was an inspiring story of following your dream. We are heading out soon ourselves as newbies. So sorry you are going through this. Many of us will be thinking of you and your family after hearing your story.

  7. Dear Shirl,
    Thanks for sharing with all of us out here.Enjoy the memories .I am sure the Captain's plan was to show you how to get the most out of Life........So get on out there and make some more memories......Good Luck to you with Life no matter which way the wind Blows.....Blessings to you.....Coming from the middle of the Caribbean .......Long Live Buffet.....Touching us All!

  8. Dear Shirl,
    My wife, Alison and I began our KEY WEST OR BUST sailing journey two weeks ago and are still on the river part at the beginning of the Tenn-Tom heading toward Mobile. I heard your podcast and just this morning found time and internet service to look up your blog because you sounded a lot like Alison and me. I was deeply saddened by the news of the passing of your "captain". I am 62 and am hoping I have not left too late. You never know how much time is left. What a tragedy he didn't even make it to Key West! But at least he got to do the journey of a lifetime and not to still have it on his bucket list when he passed. I am also saddened that your life is now adrift. To have gone this far on such a journey has no doubt changed your life. It will be hard to know where to go now. Best wishes for you!
    Larry and Alison Garner

  9. Dear Shirl, I believe I was drawn to your blog this evening. I too lost my husband, best friend on Dec 26,2010 while we had been out cruising.
    The experience of depending on each other as a team, engulfing yourself with all natures wonders has allowed me to remain positive regarding what the future holds for me.
    I write this the eve before I may make a very large purchase of a new catamaran with a new love. Continue cruising . One never knows what is in store for us. I believe in angels and that those that go before us help us continue on. Thank you for reconfirming why we should take life and enjoy, rejoice.

  10. Dear Shirl, I'm listening right now to David Anderson's podcast episode, chatting with you and Ted. I know that podcast was created three years ago, but I thought I'd write a short note of Thanks. I enjoy listening to Ted (and you). I hope it is some small solace to know that Ted not only lives on in your heart and the hearts of his family, but his words and voice may live on the Internet for a long, long time. May he rest in peace and may perpetual Light shine upon him. Kind regards and God bless, Rob


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