Swing Set is the 15th boat I have owned. Rosie and I together owned 13 of them in a span of 25 years. Not bad. Boat dealers were, and still are, pretty happy to see us walk into a show room.
When we took official possession of this Sea Ray in the fall of 2004 I had some experience with a twin engine boat, but not of this size.
Not more than the second time out we took the boat for a nice cruise on a blustery day up to a resort on the Mississippi, called Cedar Hill. They have a nice little harbor there, but I was so nervous about navigating in that small harbor I decided to tie up to the small dock they had out front. That's Rosie tying lines. Little did I know that just a few yards downstream to my stern was very shallow water with a rock bottom. Good thing I didn't know it.
Here's a shot of my dad on the bow of Swing Set. Of all the boats, cars, homes, or motorcycles that I ever acquired, this boat was the only thing my dad thought was really "neat".
But Swing Set was the most expensive thing we ever purchased, save our last home. During our first season of operation of Swing Set, we didn't really have many unforeseen expenses, I think a starter was perhaps one the biggest, but with the added price of fuel for a larger boat, a greater insurance expense, a greater dock expense, etc., etc., by the end of the first full season we were wondering what we had gotten ourselves into. The buyers remorse was even greater during the second full winter as we made boat payments that took over half of Rosie's salary. We put Swing Set up for sale in 2006 but I actually turned people away once they came to look at it. I don't know how many times I took the "For Sale" sign off the boat, only to put it back on. During one of our many big events on the river, I actually got a round of applause by ceremoniously ripping the for sale sign off the boat and tossing it into the river. (Fished it back out, nature freaks.)
This vacillation about selling Swing Set went on for years. In 2010, during a winter trip to Florida to visit some great friends that winter in Cape Coral, we were looking at property with the intention of taking Swing Set to Florida when we retired in a couple of years. The idea was to get a condo of some sort and keep the boat out front. Then economics reared its ugly head. Although we saw some very nice condos, when we got home and did the math, keeping the boat and owning a condo would be out of the question with our projected retirement income. There was another consideration; I know my sense of adventure and the thought of being in such an expanse of ocean available to us, I couldn't imagine taking the boat out for a trip only to have to turn around so that we could return to our condo full of "stuff".
We also couldn't escape the fact that even though we frequently had reservations about selling Swing Set, by this time the economy had just killed the boat market, both new and used.
So get this, all you Captains who had to beg and cajole your first mates to leave suburbia and begin life as a live-a-board, Rosie says to me one day, "Why don't we just take the boat to Florida and live on it ?" Wow, right? Take a breath, don't agree too fast, these type of offers don't come along every day.
So the plan has been a steady one for coming up on two years now. Our condo is for sale. I have retired. We plan on leaving St. Louis some time in the spring of 2012, whether the condo sells or not. We'll lease it if we have to, the anticipation is getting to us.
My next blog will be about getting our boat ready to live aboard, "On the hook". I promised you that on this blog but got carried away. It's a long winter up here in Missouri, I have a lot to write.
By the way, my docking skills improved immensely. Here we are docked in Peoria at the City Docks in front of Joe's Crab Shack. If any of you have been there, you have to agree this spot is a bit tricky to get into. I'm good at getting into tricky spots.