Growing up with parents who have long had a true love of sailing and an appreciation for a coastal lifestyle, it was inevitable that I would follow suit. As a native of Pensacola, Florida my weekends since I was a child have been spent sailing and anchoring out along the Gulf Coast. Ft. Mcree, located in the Gulf Islands National Seashore, also known as Admiral’s Island or Sand Island, is still my favorite anchorage, and it makes an ideal setting practically year round. As such I would settle into a maritime lifestyle quite easily and find that the planning that goes into my free time consist mainly of provisioning the boat for another adventure. Travels too far from the sea and for too long leave me uneasy. If you want to find me, then you will likely need to untie the lines and look for me in one of my favorite coves.
The necessary provisions for my early childhood outings required only towels and swimsuits, it was a time when I basically just showed up, oh how times have changed! The rest of the day was an adventure filled with running through old forts at Fort Pickens, searching for treasures from the sea, and then back to the boat where my personal chefs (Mom & Dad) cooked dinner. There was no better place to have dinner than under the stars at Ft. McRee.
My parents first sailboat was an Oday 24 named Moon Shadow (they loved Cat Stevens), and then they would add the Hobbie 18, Evil Ways (they also loved Santana). Our last sailboat was a Hunter 46 named Ancient Rain, named after a poem written by my oldest brother. I was in high school by that time, and that would be the boat that would seal my love of life on the water.
When I earned my MPA in Coastal Zone Managment it was clear I had ulterior motives, which were to live and work near the coast. For almost 20 years now I’ve worked as an Urban Planner, and it’s with great fortune that I’m living and working in my home town. I’m reminded of the opening line from one of my favorite books, “Beaches” by Lena Lencek and Gideon Booker, which absolutely sums it up, “What American reared on the childhood classic The Wizzard of Oz can’t relate to Dorothy’s magical mantra, “There’s no place like home”, well, we have a confession to make, beach bums from infancy, we were always skeptical about the strength of Dorothy’s longing for the flat fields of Kansas because, for us, there could only be one place with the power to rock the soul and feed the heart – and that place was and continues to be the beach.”
The locals around here refer to to our home town as paradise out the back door. I definitely agree.