Easter, April 21, 2019.


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2019 Easter sunrise out of focus

Easter sunrise from the writing room  April 21, 2019

From the writing room.  

“Christ Is Risen.  Alleluia.”   Easter.  What does it mean to you?  To me it has become personal.

Mother always honored her parents by placing beautiful flowers on their grave at Easter. I have chosen to do the same. Mother loved Easter.  On Thursday I drove to my hometown, Winston-Salem, NC to put flowers on the graves of mother, my “Dad,” my maternal grandmother, mother’s little sister that died at birth, and the maternal grandfather that I never knew.  He died when Mother was eight, but she spoke of him often enough for me to know that like many little girls, she worshiped her tall, handsome dad, Lewie T. Burke.

Granddad ~ Lewie T Burke

Not many men look down into the eyes of their horse. My grandfather did.

As I child, I woke up each Easter morning to a beautiful basket filled with Easter candies.  On Easter Sunday we attended church in our new Easter outfits.  As I think back, those new outfits may have been symbolic of a new beginning in our lives each time we honored the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.  We celebrated Christ’s birth at Christmas, and His dying for our sins at Easter.  The older that I get the more I realize how sad it is that both holidays have become more about retail sales than paying tribute to the Savior of our souls.  I am pretty sure that if  more people lived by the Ten Commandments there would be more love and tolerance in this country.

In 2016 while unpacking books that we had moved into our new home, I found Mother’s family bible that held a picture of Jesus, and an Easter bookmark. Family Bible and picture of JesusThe Bible was among the books I moved from her home.  Once again, I was reminded of Mother’s love for Easter.  She understood what Easter was all about.

This year, after purchasing flowers, I went to the New Philadelphia Moravian Church graveyard.  Yes, we Moravians still call it a graveyard, not a “cemetery.” Every Moravian graveyard is called “God’s Acre.” In a Moravian graveyard, all tomb stones are the same size and color, and all are lay flat on the ground.  A sidewalk runs through the middle of each graveyard, separating the mens’ graves from the women’s.  We used to joke that our Moravian forefathers  wanted both the men and women to truly “rest in peace” after death. Gods AcreIn each graveyard there is also a place for children, and their tomb stones are of equal size, but smaller than adult stones.

This year I drove to Winston alone.  While I missed Nana’s companionship on the drive, it also gave me to time to revisit many memories of Easters past.  The hardest time was at the graveyard.  As I cleaned the stones and secured the flower vases the way Mother taught me, all I could think about was how much I missed her and my “Dad.” Married October 4 1960 A Happy DaySome would call him my stepfather, but he was so much more than that.  He and Mother had been high school sweethearts until WWII separated them.  Each married someone else and each marriage failed.  And then came the day they ran into each other and learned they were both going through a divorce.  I was invited on their first “date,” and about every other date until they married, October 4, 1960. He raised me like a son.  He took me hunting and fishing.  He taught me there were no rules in a street fight.  In our discussion of the “birds and bees” he made  one thing very clear – if he ever heard of me lying to a young woman to “have my way” with her, I would answer to him.

My “dad” called me Junior more than he called me by name.  There was never a doubt that he loved Mother and me unconditionally. In their forty-three years of marriage, he never once raised his voice to Mother or me.  He was so respectful of others that you wanted to respect and please him.  He loved us with all of his heart and the feeling was mutual.  I have often said he was the closest thing to a real, live John Wayne type hero that you would ever meet.

His death in 2003 was sudden and unexpected.  As I cleaned his stone, I relived never getting to tell him how much I loved him one last time.  I never got to say goodbye. He introduced me to boating.  He bought my first pair of water skis and taught me how to use them.  Two weeks before our son was born, he pulled Carolyn on skis.  When her doctor found out what she had done, he asked if she knew what could have happened if she had fallen.  She replied that she knew she wasn’t going to fall because her father-in-law was driving the boat.  Her words spoke volumes of the trust we all had in him.  When our children were young they climbed up into his lap.  Our son asked, “Bop, why don’t you love us?”  He replied, “Bo, you know I love you.”  Our son replied, “If you really loved us you would quit smoking so you could live to see us grow up.”  A man who had grown up on a farm and smoked his whole life, never lit another cigarette.  That day he quit smoking – “cold turkey” – for the love of his grandchildren.  He was that kind of man.

I stood and stared at Mother’s stone before cleaning it.  The inscription of her and dad’s stone reads the same, “THE GREATEST OF THESE IS LOVE.”  Mother was a beautiful woman with an equally beautiful heart. Mother Date Unknown ~ In her 30sFor her entire life, she lived that inscription.  Her last three words to me were, “I love you.”  For the next two years until her death, she never spoke another word.  Dementia is a horrible disease that does not always move quickly. During the years that she was a single mom, she somehow always provided and never complained.  In her later years we teased her about always worrying, but in my youth when things were at their worst, she was always strong for me.  As I cleaned her stone and the memories spun through my mind, I wondered if she knew how much I loved and appreciated every single sacrifice she had made.

This Easter, I finally realized what putting flowers on her parent’s grave meant to Mother.  It is a small sacrifice compared to those our parents make for us over their lifetime. I’m hoping my mom and dad were together in an embrace, looking down and reading my thoughts during my time at the graveyard.  If so, they know how much I love and miss them.

Though my mom was there for the birth of our first grandchild, Tanner, his birth was only five days after the death of my dad.  We knew she was deeply depressed, but did not know that she was also in the early stages of dementia.  The bottom line is that my parents never got to enjoy the grandchildren they always wanted.  Fortunately, my in-laws were able to enjoy them for a short time.  Today, both sets of grandparents would be so proud of their grandchildren Tanner, Keenan, and Banks Cummings, as well as our children, Kristin and Bobby Cummins, and Bo and Courtney Trammell.

If your mom and dad, grandparents, siblings or other loved ones are living, call them today.  Tell them how much you love them.  On their behalf, go back and read the Ten Commandments.   Our country needs the honesty, love and tolerance the Commandments teach.

You Could Be CruisingTheICW!


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“If you can dream it, you can do it.”  Walt Disney


Tuesday, August 28, 1018.  If the “Admiral” and I can go CruisingTheICW, then anyone can go CruisingTheICW.   When it comes to cruising, money may only dictate the price of your boat and the distance you cruise. Our daughter, her family, and friends, as well as some of our neighbors often do weekend cruises to Beaufort or Georgetown, or Myrtle Beach, SC in their center console boats.  Once there, they stay in B&Bs or Air B&Bs. Stories have been written about adventuresome souls even doing America’s Great Loop on jet skis and 16-foot Boston Whalers. To again quote Disney, “If you can dream it, you can do it!”

How We Started CruisingTheICW

In 1999 we returned to the SC Lowcountry after ten years in Raleigh, NC.  In making the move, we decided we wanted “smaller home, bigger boat.”  The problem was that four years earlier I had launched a new company, with the office located in our Raleigh home. Our decision to downsize as part of returning to the Lowcountry meant locating an office outside our home.  In discussing it with our CPA, he asked about the possibility of locating the office on the boat that was to be part of the “smaller home, bigger boat” lifestyle. Once I got over the shock of his suggestion, I said we could make it happen.

SunSmiles from Naut-Less
The 1977 30-foot Cargile Cutter Cruiser known as “SunSmiles”

In the mid-1990s, the “Admiral” had accompanied me to a meeting in White Fish, MT.  On our drive from the airport to White Fish, we passed a home with the most unusual cabin cruiser that I had ever seen, parked on a trailer in the side yard.  A few days later we returned to the home to get a better look and take pictures of the boat. We learned it was a Cargile Cutter Cruiser that was normally kept on Flathead Lake, near Kalispell, MT. After looking over the boat, I told Carolyn that if we ever moved back to the coast, I wanted a Cargile Cutter Cruiser.  Little did I know that we would eventually return to the Charleston area, and a Cargile Cutter Cruiser would become my office.

Coastal Living story 3-05

With a floating office, not all meetings are held in stuffy offices or at boring meeting tables.

When we made the decision to move, and knew a boat office was a very real possibility, I began researching Cargile Cutter Cruisers.  I learned they were designed and built by Allen Cargile from about 1970 to 1980, in Nashville, TN.  Thanks to the Internet, I was able to track down and call Mr. Cargile.

The late Allen Cargile was a fascinating and gracious man.   When I told him the story of seeing one of his boats in Montana, and now wanting one, he offered to help in any way that he could.  When I described the Montana boat, he told me it was a 28-foot model, but that I needed to find a 30-foot model. He said it would be more comfortable, and would be like the 1977 Cargile Cutter that he had cruised from New York to Paris in twenty eight days to prove the seaworthiness of his boat. That boat had been especially outfitted with bladders for additional fuel, and powered by a newly released Volvo-Penta diesel with stern drive. Proving the boat’s seaworthiness included surviving a freak, night storm with 50-foot high waves, by backing down against two sea anchors!  His feat was legendary for his time, but then again he was a fearless, former Navy fighter pilot.

After an extensive search, we located a 1977 30-foot model outside of Houston, TX.  Following an inspection and sea trial, we bought it, and had it delivered to our new hometown of Mount Pleasant, SC to become our “bigger boat” and floating office.

 For the record, in 1999, at $15,000 we paid less for our 1977 Cargile Cutter Cruiser than many people were paying for their used 21-foot center console boats!

Choosing Your CruisingTheICW Boat

Today there is a wide variety of new and used boats available to wannabe cruisers.  They come in all models and sizes, and some very popular ones are trailerable.  For those that desire cruising something larger, but still affordable, there are numerous older trawlers and motoryachts that can be bought for a fraction of their original price.  “SunSmiles” was that kind of boat.  Older. Affordable. Spacious. Comfortable. In our son’s words, the boat was very utilitarian, which made it easier to maintain.  One thing was for sure, it  attracted attention in every marina we visited, and in every day spent on the water.  It is long gone, but our memories of days spent onboard will last a lifetime. “SunSmiles” proved to us that CruisingTheICW and beyond could be done affordably.

In 2012, we sold “SunSmiles” to a family in Portland, OR.  Like I had once done, the father found “SunSmiles” while doing an Internet search for a Cargile Cutter Cruiser.  His desire to own one stemmed from the fact that when he was five years old, his father had bought one.  His daughter was turning fives years old, and he wanted her to grow up with the kind of fond memories he had of his father’s boat.  The minute she saw the picture of “SunSmiles” Fighting Lady Yellow hull, and heard the name “SunSmiles,” it was the boat she wanted!  Sadly, “SunSmiles” was destroyed in a freak accident while being towed to Portland.  Twenty-three miles outside of Laramie, WY, “SunSmiles” and two tractor trailers were hit by what the highway patrol described as a “hurricane force wind,” and all three were destroyed.

In 2016, we began another boat search.  This time we wanted a trawler with twin engines, two or three staterooms, and two heads.  A friend strongly advised us to work with a “buyer’s agent.”  It was advice that I am glad we followed.  We started out with a male broker, but the relationship only lasted a short while.  The day that I emailed him a couple of questions that would help determine the boat we needed, he suggested that we decide what we wanted and then get back to him.  I never got back to him.

We then chose Katie Williamson, a broker with Ashley Yachts, in Charleston to be our buyer’s agent, and she was outstanding.  With a few short questions, Katie had us rethinking the boat we wanted and needed.  How often will you use two or more staterooms?  If you are buying a trawler, how often do you figure you will travel offshore, or need the speed provided by twin engines? And last but not least, how often will you need two heads? Before we could answer, she said, “Keep in mind that what you are talking about will needlessly double the annual maintenance on the boat you choose.” Suddenly, we were looking for a sweet little trawler with one engine, one stateroom, one head, and a molded stairs to the flybridge for our dog, Kate to join us there.  When we found our little 2006 Mainship 34T, our buyer’s agent said, “She will drink six, feed four, and sleep two, very comfortably.  AND Kate will have easy access from the dock to the boat and up to the flybridge!”  SOLD!

BEST Slow Dance at Moise Island 3

“Dwell as near as possible to the channel in which your life flows.” Henry David Thoreau

A Word To The Wise Is Sufficient 

After cruising “Slow Dance” for a couple of years, we realize if we had a larger boat we could enjoy friends or our grandchildren sometimes traveling with us.  It goes to prove that you should “measure twice and cut once” when considering exactly how the boat of your dreams may be used.  All things considered, “Slow Dance” may be our forever boat.

In addition to the expense of maintaining twin engines, twin heads, and twin staterooms, keep in mind that unless you own the boat slip, the size of your boat will dictate the expense of dock fees, whether at home or while cruising – and 40-feet seems to be the dividing line on when per-foot costs increase.

When it comes time to buy, work through a reputable yacht broker or buyer’s agent, and by all means, get the boat surveyed as part of the purchase agreement. BUT before paying the expense of a survey, do a personal tour of the boat in question, or if it is a distance away, find one closer to check out.  The “Admiral” and I looked at a Mainship 390 and another Mainship 34T before deciding a 34T was the boat we wanted.  As we discussed it while driving home from Deltaville, VA where we had inspected a 34T, I said I wanted to check YachtWorld.com one more time before putting a contract on the Deltaville boat.  That one last look at YachtWorld led us to the boat that would become “Slow Dance” – and it was definitely worth the wait.

For the record, I am not a yacht broker, marine surveyor, or marine technician.  I am a boat owner that went through a multi-month process of research for an affordable boat that would fit the needs of a retired couple and a dog that wanted to go CruisingTheICW.  The following short list of considerations was compiled based on our personal experience in the boat search and purchase process.  I sincerely hope it will help as you deliberate taking your cruising dream to the next level.

  • Think long and hard, and then do your research to determine the type of boat you want.
    • USE A BUYER’S AGENT!!!  Unless you’ve owned numberous cruising boats and know everything there is to know about the exact boat you want, USE A BUYER’S AGENT TO HELP YOU THROUGH THE DECISION PROCESS AND TO NEGOTIATE THE DEAL.  AND, use a buyer’s agent that both you and your partner can relate to. (The “Admiral” and I used a young woman that had lived aboard and maintained a small trawler.  Though it was a bonus that she and my “Admiral” had graduated from the same college, her knowledge of cruising and living aboard was priceless in helping identify what we needed and might want to consider in the “boat of our dreams.”)
    • TO REPEAT:  If for no other reason, use your buyer’s agent in determining the value of fair market value of your dream boat, and in negotiating the offer.
    • What type of cruising will you be doing?
    • In-shore or off-shore?
    • Just cruising the ICW, planning the Great Loop, or is offshore in your future?
    • How often will you need two staterooms, two heads, and two engines to maintain?
    • What is your budget for this dream boat?
    • If possible, buy a boat you can afford without financing.
    • Discuss your desires/needs with experienced cruisers of various sized boats
  • Before putting a contract on a boat, or ordering a survey, visit the boat for a walkthru to see the layout, the general and obvious condition, and determine is that is really the boat you need or had in mind. EXAMPLE: The “Admiral” did not want a galley down model of any boat, until she went onboard a Mainship 390 with galley up, and then the Mainship 34T with galley down. After touring both boats, she realized Mainship’s galley down did not leave her feeling like she was in a cave, like she had experienced on other boats.
  • Once you’ve found the boat of your dreams and are ready to put a contract on it, THEN schedule the survey.  Your buyer’s agent should have surveyor contacts regardless of wherever the boat is located.  I personally recommend the engine(s) and generator be surveyed by a licensed surveyor that is extremely knowledgeable about the specific engine(s) in your dream boat.
  • I also personally recommend a second surveyor to do an indepth survey of the overall boat.  Once the survey is complete, you can cross-check their reports related to the engine(s) and generator.
  • Let your buyer’s agent negotiate the “survey allowance,” – if there is any – with the owner’s broker.

As a novice boat buyer/owner, I readily admit that you, any broker, or buyer’s agent could add to my list.  Just consider my list a starting point to get you thinking about the process of your dream of boat ownership and cruising.

In the words of Richard Bach, in his 1977 novel, Illusions, the Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, “You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it true. You may have to work for it, however.”