Thursday, December 10, 2009


It was 2003 when Chip and I first started shopping for a cruising boat. Armed with $40K and a lot of research, we made our first, wide-eyed trip to see the first boat on our list -- in Rock Hall, Maryland.

That boat was a Downeast 32, although not Isabella (we found Isabella in Ft. Lauderdale). No, that Downeast in Rock Hall was worthy of a whole blog entry of her own. I hope she has since been rescued from the woman who turned her into a dumping ground, a pig sty, a seagull's nest, a floating flea market, a dog kennel. Ugh.

We ran from that boat and into town, and at one point into Gratitude Yachting Center where we were introduced to Michele.

Even though her Island Packets were way beyond our modest budget, Michele, with her calm, wise manner, took the time to talk to us about life and cruising and sailboats. That day she sewed seeds of cruising-boat philosophy and friendship that have taken root and flourished over the years.

To say we never forgot Michele doesn't tell the whole story. When I starting writing an unfinished(!) novel in 2004, I used her look and serene spirit for one of my characters who sometimes quotes Michele verbatim. (I've never told Michele this -- until now.)

In 2008, when we made our decision to buy an Island Packet, we called Michele first.

"Oh, of course I remember you!" she said.

And now, all these years later, Michele has been a valuable third member of our crew, helping us evaluate the different Island Packet models from her many years of experience selling and sailing them, and once we decided on the 380, thoughtfully evaluating each one on the market, weighing their disparate pros and cons, offering us her seasoned and reasoned advice mixed with humor and big, gut-deep laughter.

"I love it when we get a chance to just sit and talk," she told me on the phone this week. "We have those huge laughs."

Funny, we were just saying the same thing.

Many more to come.

And to quote Michele and one of my novel characters: "It's a great day to be alive!"

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