View from the Marina: Back to School Time

It’s back to school time!  No matter where you live, I’m sure heavy school bus traffic has been the tipoff that the kids are headed back to class, but that’s not all.

View from the Marina: Back to School Time

The old adage, “You’re never too old to learn,” is what I’m talking about.  We see it in action not only at this time, but throughout the year.  

While many may have plans for retirement that focus on rest and relaxation or moving to warmer climates, we have a steady group of students that have it in their mind that they want to cruise on a boat when they retire.  And to prepare properly, they head back to school to learn how to cruise so when retirement comes, they are set to head out to sea.  

From the comments we have received over the years, our “students” enjoy learning at sea, as well as the option to charter different types of cruisers once they have been “degreed” and have the skills needed to charter.  Some use these experiences to buy their first cruiser or upgrade to one that’s more suited to their plans for retirement.  Let me share some experiences from several of our “alumni”.

View from the Marina: Back to School Time

For northeasterners Jim and Lauren their dream was retirement on the water, responding to what they refer to as “the call of the sea”.  “Even better if that water view could change daily like on America’s Great Loop,” said Lauren.  They knew the key to making their dreams come true began with proper training and that included the U.S. Coast Guard basic boating safety course and two courses with us providing “actual hands on the boat with on the water training.  

“That gave us the knowledge and confidence to buy our own yacht and four months later we set off for a 304 day, 6000 mile cruise on America’s Great Loop,” noted Lauren.  “We learned a lot about ourselves, and boating, on the Loop during those 304 days, applying knowledge learned from our courses to the many challenges we faced.  Our marriage grew stronger with each challenge we conquered and we returned to our marina 304 days after leaving with our heads held high to the cheering from our friends.  I guess you can teach old Sea Dogs new tricks after all!”

For Harvey and Nadine, retirement was the chance to potentially move in a new direction and go back to school to see if cruising was for them.  After a five-day live-a-board class plus two extra days, “we loved it,” said Nadine.  With retirement two years away, the couple began their search for the right boat with some advice from us.  That led to purchase of the Mainship “Vagabonde,” making retirement at sea reality.  

“Our classes gave us good basics but as with all things learned, practice makes perfect (including making mistakes,” said Nadine.  “Retiring on the boat means also studious time preparing the route, checking the tide and the weather.  It’s all worth it as I write this after discovering Jekyll Island and viewing a beautiful crimson sunset.”  

Keep in mind, going back to school is not just for kids, it can be the starting point for a very special lifestyle change, and you don’t have to ride the bus to get there!

View from the Marina: Back to School Time

Barb Hansen manages Southwest Florida Yachts, yacht charters and Florida Sailing & Cruising School, a liveaboard yacht school.  Contact her at, phone: 239/257-2788.

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