A Painful Realization

“And, then the pain of realizing that everything about our boating changed last autumn, right before Clint winterized our sweet boat.”    – Leigh B. Butler, from yesterday’s blog Winterized Boredom

Yes, that realization was about to hit me right in the face yesterday morning as I went into my closet, reached past a summer shirt that brought the recall of so many wonderful adventures on Barefootin’ floating through my head.

BAM!!  I remembered.  I remembered with a great heaviness that when we clean up Barefootin’ this spring and ready her for new adventures, something huge will be missing.

See, a few years back, because of my Barefootin’ blog, we met 6 wonderful new friends.  Boating friends that became any-ole-time friends.  We spent weekends together on our boats, we spent weekends together at each others’ homes (spread out over 200 miles), we spent nights on each others’ boats.  We’ve  cooked and eaten breakfasts, lunches, and dinners together.  We’ve enjoyed many a happy hour together. We’ve  laughed, we’ve cried, and we’ve  laughed so hard that we cried. We’ve gone on boating adventures for days on end, we’ve swam, we’ve hiked.  We taken boating courses together (see Chattanooga Sail and Power Squadron). We have fallen in love with one another’s pets.  We have truly bonded.  We are friends for life.

But, you remember the BAM, right?  You ask, “So, why the BAM?”

Let me explain.  At the end of last summer the boating part of our lives began to change, not for one boat owner, but for all.  And, for all, in very different ways.  Out of our 5 boats (yes, one couple has 2), only 1 boat of the 5 remains where our friendships began.  Due to life changes, life dreams, and a bit of poor marina management (I am being kind here), we have all moved to new places.  Imagine took a 600 mile trip and has relocated to a new marina (the owners’ work and home sale demanding the new location), Fruition has taken on the adventure and dream of a lifetime and begun its journey (5,000 to 7,500 miles, depending on your chosen path) as “Loopers” (visit   American Great Loop Cruisers’ Association), Three Wire moved on up to a fancy marina in Chattanooga and Family Ties (their second boat) continues to hold down the fort at our old marina (someone has to keep us posted) and Barefootin’, the runt of the group, she has moved a bit closer to Chattanooga out of loyalty to friends (maybe I’ll explain that in another post…but, don’t hold your breath).

Our Beloved Boating Friends: Lower, Sue, Betsy, Laura, me - Top, Jim, Ken, Roger, and Clint

So, there is my pain laid out for all to see.  Yes, we’ll make new boating friends no doubt and, yes, life will go on.  But, as the 2012 boating season approaches, my heart aches at the sweet friends I will miss this year.  We will always figure out new ways to visit and laugh and cry together, no one can take that from us.  But, the days of waking early and climbing up on deck with that hot cup of coffee steaming and looking through the morning mist rising off the river, to see a beloved friend waving and lifting their cup to you across the way will be sorely missed.

Our happy group (minus Jim who's taking the photo) aboard Fruition - Clint, Roger, Sue, Laura, me, Betsy, and Ken

November 2011 – We’re Still Here!

I know, I know, you thought we must have sold our boat, or my fingers were paralyzed due to some boating trauma, or I was just too devastated that I have yet to be nominated for a Pulitzer prize for my blogging.  Nope, it’s none of that.  Like most of you folks, we just get too busy, me with my painting, Clint with his golf/farm upkeep, and, of course, our amazing social life (ha).

So, this morning as I sit in a toasty corner with my afghan and little dog beside me, I’ll give you an update on our Barefootin’ times of warm weather, the river, friends, and exploring.  Grab a cup of hot tea, a warm throw and let’s enjoy some catching up together.

This year we pretty much feel like boating is “old hat,” quite a change from our first long trip down the Tennessee River that I shared with you way back when.  Now we dock, refuel, lock through, raft up, and explore the river with confidence.  We have had lots of experience now, plus we’ve enjoyed taking classes through our USPS squadron in Chattanooga.  (If you are into boating, you should definitely consider joining your area’s power squadron.  They offer wonderful courses on boating from safety to maintenance to piloting.  Plus, like us, you’ll make some new boating friends for life.)

I do want to say here that one can never be too confident on the water, unforeseen things can happen, so despite our experience, we still have a great respect for the water/boating/and the dangers the two can cause.

That said, I’ll move along to the fun of it all.  First, we’ve made some wonderful friends through our boating.  There have been great times on the water that have lead to great times on land too.  We’ve eaten too much, gotten too much sun, laughed until we hurt, maybe had a few too many happy hours, hiked, danced, talked and explored both land and “sea,” and had overnighters in both boats and homes.  I could go on and on, but I’ll give you a break.

We took 3 wonderful trips this year with our boating buddies, Jim and Sue.  You can see snippets of our trips in past blogs (though I admit – gee, I already hear Jim laughing – that I never seemed to finish blogging about a single trip – I’m a Squiggly, Jim, remember that.)  Here are a few photos of our adventures (one to Wheeler State Park – downstream, one to Watts Bar Lake, upstream, and one shorty to Island Cove for 3 days).

So, with the sharing of our 2011 Barefootin’ adventures in photos, I’m sure that I’ve convinced you that “We’re Still Here.”

Stay tuned for many more adventures.  (a little bird told me that Clint has his eyes on a bigger boat for 2012)