Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Dan from Adrift at Sea tagged me to write about what I was doing one, five and ten years ago. As you can see from the title of this post I have thrown in a bonus year for reasons that will become apparent shortly ...

One year ago in April 2005, my eldest son and his wife had just given us the exciting news that we were going to become grandparents in November. This being the internet age, they chose to break the news by sending us via email a digital photo of their home pregnancy test kit with the tell-tale blue line. All went well with the pregnancy, a baby girl arrived in November and we are just crazy in love with her.

April that year was a busy month for sailing with an extended road trip to Florida and the Carolinas. I attended the Rick White Sailing Seminar in the Florida Keys and wrote a little about that experience here. On the way back up north, my wife and I spent a few days in Charleston, and then I sailed in the Laser US Nationals at Wrightsville Beach in North Carolina. I posted a story about one incident at that regatta here.

I was also actively working on starting up a new Laser fleet at my sailing club, planning our first Laser regatta and putting together the schedule for a junior Sunfish series that I had started a couple of years earlier.

In April 2001, I had been retired for less than a year and both my sons were still in college. In some ways I was still sorting out how to be retired, to what activities I was going to devote my time, how to pace myself.

Earlier that winter, my wife and I had made the first major trip of our retirement - several weeks in Australia where we visited our youngest son, who was doing a semester abroad at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, and we also spent time with my wife's relatives in Perth, Western Australia which we loved. We pondered for a while whether we should emigrate to Australia but knew in our hearts that we wouldn't be able to bear living so far away from our sons.

Part of my aim in retirement was to expand my sailing horizons as my sailing life had settled into a bit of a rut, sailing every Sunday in the summers in the Sunfish fleet that meets on the lake across the road from where I live, as well as doing occasional local Laser and Sunfish regattas. I see from some notes I made a little later in the year that, among other things, I had ambitions to become a sailing instructor, do a lot more Laser sailing including the Laser Masters World Championships, and to find some outlets to write about sailing - all things that I did achieve in the following few years.

I was doing a lot of running that spring, ran a 5k in March in under 23 minutes - nothing special, but a time I would like to repeat later this year if I can.

Ten years ago both my sons were in high school and I was working as an IT executive for a major corporation. I remember I resented the frequent travel, especially the long trips to Latin America, that took me away too much from my kids and wife.

April that year was a milestone month in my sailing career. I scored my first overall win in a Laser regatta - at a small club in Peace Valley, Pennsylvania!

Also in April, my youngest son and I took a Bareboat Cruising Preparation Course at Offshore Sailing in Connecticut during his spring break from school. I can't remember the motivation for doing this - I don't think we had more than a very vague intention of actually chartering a yacht for a vacation. But, at least for me and I hope for him, the course was a blast. We had what looked like a brand new Hunter yacht to play with on Long Island Sound in April. I remember glorious sunny, breezy days out on the Sound in the middle of the week without another sail in sight. We practiced all the skills from maneuvering under power to man overboard. Of course, even at 15 years old, my son was a better big boat driver than me. I remember that when I had to take compass bearings from the boat to plot our position on a chart I managed to "prove" that we were two miles inland somewhere in Fairfield County. And it was me, not him, that managed to demolish the refueling dock. Oops. After that I decided to stick to Sunfish and Lasers - much to the relief of the whole marine insurance industry, I am sure. At an age when father-son relations can be difficult - and we were no exception - it was a unique opportunity for us to do something together that I will always remember.

At the end of the month I ran the classic 10k Woods and Lakes Run in our home town in under 46 minutes. I'm doing that run again this year and know I won't come anywhere near that time, but I have set myself the goal of achieving that time in a 10k by the end of the year. Hope these old bones can make it.

The bonus year. 33 years ago I wasn't a sailor and I wasn't a runner. I was working in IT in the UK, leading a team of programmers.

But 33 years ago this week I was on my honeymoon. I had met this bewitching, gorgeous, warm-hearted, tolerant, kind, patient, good-humored, playful, smart, artistic, long-haired beauty 18 months before and proposed to her a year later. (Must have been the attraction of opposites.) Amazingly she said yes and we were married in a small civil ceremony on April 14 and spent our honeymoon in Cornwall, exploring the coastline, discovering charming fishing villages, walking on the sand, paddling in the sea (way too cold to swim in England in April).

I still wake up next to the same girl every morning and my first thought is that I'm the luckiest man on earth that she chose to marry me and put up with me for 33 years. On our anniversary I brought her a cup of coffee in bed and gave her a card and a kiss. Her response was, "Here's to the next thirty three."

If I can make it to 90 years old that's a deal. Wonder if I'll still be sailing a Laser then?


Pat said...

Nah, at that age you'd probably have to move up to something comfortable and decadent like an Etchells. ;-)

Congratulations on 33 years with your best gal pal, lover, and wife. This year Carol Anne and I will celebrate 23 years of marriage. Still, it seems so very recently that I proposed and she accepted (on a boat, of course, near the South Padre Island north jetty sea buoy). Pat

Anonymous said...

It is amazing how good it can be when you marrry the right person. Congratulations to you and Mrs. Tillerman... Same to Pat and Carol Anne.

Katinka said...

Congratulations on the 33rd Anniversary...that's a rare accomplishment these days! :)

So you both were in Australia? I've never been as far as Perth or Brisbane but always wanted to explore that side of Oz a bit more. (My family are spread between Sydney and Portland)Did you get down to the Great Ocean Road stretch along the East Coast? The coastline is really stunning...

Tillerman said...

No - we didn't do the Victoria coastline - we drove from Sydney to Brisbane stopping at a few places on the way.

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