The Joys of Boomerdom

By Tracey Barnes Priestly

tracey BPOne of the surprising benefits to being a Boomer is looking forward to the end of summer. You read that correctly. While many people are turning their attention to the demands of another school year, we are celebrating! Why? This is the time of year for our annual trek to the waters off of British Columbia. Ah, the joys of Boomerdom!

It all began when my husband built Descant, a beautiful, 24 foot, wooden, pilothouse cruiser. From the moment we left the marina for the first time, we knew we were in for some memorable experiences. What we didn’t fully anticipate was that we’d have the opportunity to be reminded of valuable life lessons along the way.

The maiden voyage of Descant proved to be an remarkably worthwhile adventure. Traveling from Anacortes, Washington, we cruised through the San Juan and Gulf Islands. Crossing the Straight of Georgia, we headed north to Princess Louisa Inlet and our ultimate destination, Chatterbox Falls. (There’s a piece of the planet worth a “Google”.)

At times, the waters were glassy calm. We’d sit in a secluded bay at sunset, mesmerized by the landscape … and the fat geese swimming by. All felt right with the world.pilothouse cruiser

Yet some days, the seas churned madly from the wind and currents, slapping our little boat around like a bath toy. I can’t say these were my most favorite moments of the trip.

I can say that they gave me the opportunity to appreciate the many advantages that come with age. I came to wonder if this trip would have held the same significance and value for a twenty year old because over the course of those two weeks, I was reminded of following:

  • The only thing to expect in life is the unexpected. In anticipation of this vacation, I packed books to read, art supplies to enjoy. The reality? I didn’t even finish the book I was already half way through and the pastels only saw the light of day three times; all because we had underestimated the challenge of navigating a boat in these varied conditions while living aboard for the first time. Not to mention that our plan to reach the falls was wee bit ambitious.
  • When your expectations aren’t met, shift gears. You may have an even better time than you ever imagined! Within the first 24 hours of our trip, my husband and I came to understand that what we had embarked upon was somewhat larger than life. We had a choice to make – go with it or have a miserable time. Our decision took no time at all.- we were in it for all of the fun and satisfaction the trip had to offer, however that might unfold. We were not disappointed.
  • Work together! We celebrated our thirty-first wedding anniversary on this trip. Clearly, a large part of our success as a couple has been that we seem to work together pretty well. This trip provided us with ample opportunities to test this theory. (Now there’s an understatement!) Consider the time we were trying to dock in low tide, with a strong wind and current against us, rocks and boulders starboard, someone’s personal “Titanic” port side and two ninety degree turns to make in quick succession. In spite of these circumstances, and our fatigue, plus some guidance from a fellow boater, we pulled together and docked without incident.
  • Challenging your brain, your wits, is a good thing. Granted, at times, our experience felt fairly miserable while we were going through it. But later that evening, as we shared a glass of wine and the dog slept at our feet, I admit we were guilty of that grievous sin known as pride! Yet again, we had sized up a situation, put our heads together, and solved a problem.
  • A simple life can be a very good life. There we were, living aboard a 24 foot boat. We had a camp stove, a tiny barbecue, and a cooler. Many of the other vessels we encountered had dinghies larger than our entire boat, not to mention flat screen televisions and microwave ovens. (Ha – one even had a landing pad for a helicopter!) But I seriously doubt any of those people could have possible been more content than the two of us. We had everything we needed.
  • Appreciate your good fortune. It can be gone in an instant. We had to wait out tempestuous weather for a few days – not much rain but plenty of wind. Even all of the ‘Titanics’ stayed put! During this storm, we learned there were a few “May Day” calls. Hopefully, no one was seriously hurt, but those circumstances certainly made me appreciate being securely tied to the dock, all safe and cozy with my best friend in the world. Life is simply too short to go through it without a keen appreciation for when things are going well!

It’s now been five years since that first trip. I’m happy to report that our mighty crew of two, our sweet little boat, and even our loyal dog have all become far more experienced when it comes to our annual trip north. (Believe me. Now, when the weather forecast says to ‘stay put’ we do. Out come the dominoes and with them, the comfort of knowing that we are smart for letting Mother Nature have her turn.)duck pond epiphany

This kind of boating is such a good fit for all of us that my husband has begun another boat. (Trust me, I saw this one coming!) But our decision makes sense, as this boat will be slightly larger, allowing us to comfortably live aboard for longer stretches, something we hope to be able to do well into our Golden Years.

And isn’t this the secret of Boomerdom – discovering exactly what it is in life that you want to grab on to, as often as you possibly can.

Tracey spent many years as a therapist and is now a Life Coach. A former syndicated columnist, Tracey currently writes about Boomer issues. Her first novel, Duck Pond Epiphany was published in May, 2013.

EDITOR\’S NOTE: Tracey will be doing an NABBW teleseminar on the topic of her book on November 7, 2013.