During his retirement, Dad took up sailing in the 1980’s when he lived in Oklahoma. He self-taught himself sailing with a small sunfish on lakes around Oklahoma City, advanced to a larger boat in the Florida Keys, and eventually spent six months in the Caribbean Sea on a 32-foot sailboat.
Dad’s Caribbean sailing was quite adventurous. He will forever have my respect for sailing at a time before GPS existed from St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands, past the British, Dutch, French, and Grenadine Islands, on to Venezuela and back! Dad explained to me “I was sailing from the tip of Venezuela (Curacao) and heading to the Grenadine’s by myself”. I was surprised that he did this alone. He continued, “I set course and sailed into the night, at which time I locked the wheel in place and went to sleep”. “I was very happy and relieved when I woke up the next day and saw the Grenadine Islands in front of me!” To this day, I still can’t get my head around the fact that Dad did all of this on the open sea by himself with nothing but a radio, a map, and a compass.
Sailing – Dad, David, and The Shark
I did go and visit Dad on his sailboat before I joined the US Navy. It was a fun two weeks in which I spent a lot of time diving off the boat and swimming around various beautiful secluded coves around the US Virgin Islands. For years Dad would talk about the time off of St. Johns Island when I cavalierly jumped off the bow and swam around, as was my usual routine. 30 minutes later when I swam back and climbed aboard Dad said, “did you have fun swimming around with your friend out there”. A little puzzled I said “what friend?” Dad walked me over to the other side of the boat and pointed out a shark that was relaxing in the shade of our boat! Dad thought that was funny and I didn’t swim as much after that.