Admiral's Quarters

Thanksgiving Day, 2002...

To our many readers,

The Captain of this vessel keeps pestering me to write something in my section of the web site. Bruce is the story teller in the family, but here goes anyway…

From the first time I crewed on Robert’s Thresh’s borrowed El Toro, sailing with my friend Lynn on Lake Merritt in Oakland CA, I dreamed of having my own boat. I thought that was for rich people, though, and never thought it possible until I met Bruce. It took nearly 50 years to achieve, but here we are on Goosebumps. I've been transplanted to the East Coast and am actually living aboard and cruising with a wonderful man, my dear Captain. So folks, if you ever think it’s too late to fulfill a dream, think again.

When I met Bruce, and he told me of his long years on sailboats, I wondered about sailing again, and started to take some serious lessons at OCSC in Berkeley, CA. When I went to check it out, one of the owners gave me the tour of the school, and showed me the chop of the SF Bay, I think to scare me off.

I was excited and scared the morning our instructor, Sandy and two other students took off in 25 knots of wind. Our J24 screamed along, healing way over, with the rail in the water. We were tucked inside our foul weather gear and life vests, taking turns learning to crew, bracing ourselves against the boat, being splashed in the face with that cold ocean water. It was really fun and exciting, at least until I fed the fish and had to be taken back to the clubhouse. After a call to Bruce, lunch, Dramamine, and some advice from my instructor and former ER nurse, Sandy, I went back out to finish the day.

With lots of sleep and Dramamine, I made it through the week and some free extra lessons, to pass the course. I was determined to learn the first steps, and OCSC were there to pass on their safety skills and sailing techniques with a great deal of patience and love of sailing. Thank you to all the instructors and crew!

Bruce and I have had more adventures in the last year and seven months than I've had in a lifetime. It's been great fun most of the time, except for a few times like when the bow wave came in on top of me while I was asleep, or the time we tried to cross the Gulf Stream, and it was so rough and I was seasick. Then later, the time we missed our chance to go with our friends Layne and Michael to the Bahamas after I broke my leg. Then Bruce scared us both when he needed to have his Gall Bladder out. But there has been for the most part, great fun and laughter.

I've had to learn to cook on a small stove and use a tiny oven, with various disasters and successes. I've had to learn to conquer the head and tiny shower aboard. But, I've also never slept so well, with the peaceful sensation of floating on the water. We survived the first summer on the Chesapeake thanks to our neighbor Ric, with his air conditioning, our car, and going to the movies. Thanks, Ric! He's continued to be a good friend who can always be counted on to make sure that we’re still on top of the water and have what we need.

We've met some wonderful people and made some good friends, like Fran and Char who've cheered us on through e-mails; Layne and Michael, who are here with us now. We've seen some beautiful country here on the East Coast, slowly making our way from Annapolis to here in Key West. I've seen the world from the water in a brand new way, gone under bridges, though locks, lived through hundreds of mosquitoes inside and outside the boat and being bitten by bugs you can’t even see. I've been privileged to live close to nature, which has been one of my greatest joys. We've enjoyed the wide variety of birds, fish, and other wild life, yes even alligators. We've marveled at the dolphins and manatees.

As for if Bruce's stories are true, they're mostly true, with a few embellishments. I look forward to his updates, too. It's been great to have a record of our life on the water. From time to time I will add a word here and there. If anyone has any questions for me, just send a note to celia <at> rabbit-rabbit <dot> org, and I'll try to answer (we've disguised the e-Mail address to avoid spam; just replace the " <at> " & " <dot> " with the usual "@" & "."). That’s all my news for now. Take care.


Tuesday, January 14, 2003...

Greetings to everyone from the Admirals quarters! Thanks very much to all of you who sent best wishes before our wedding. We really appreciate hearing from so many friends, especially since we are so far away from you, and it helps us feel connected to each of you.

Yesterday was a great day! The spirit of Key West was a part of our wedding yesterday. No, we didn't have any chickens show up from the hundreds all around town, but we were casual about how we decided to celebrate the day. We had a short engagement period, actually waiting a bit longer than the three required days in order to have our friends Layne and Michael, three boats down, stand up for us. Thanks Michael and Layne. We were expecting to leave for the Bahamas shortly and wanted to be married before we left. Unfortunately, it was short notice for friends and family so far away. Hopefully, we are going to have a visit soon from Bruce’s son, Brad and his girlfriend, Stephanie, either here in Key West, or on our honeymoon trip to the Bahamas.

The day started out a bit frenetic when the cake wasn't ready at Publix supermarket. It took a few more hours than expected. The flowers were ready from Island Florist, however. We dressed casually in our blue jeans- something blue, shirts-something new for me, and boat shoes, Michael in his shorts. Layne, having come from her job as a Youth Probation officer was the dressiest.

Layne came over with a beautiful bouquet of flowers for us, with lilies and marguerites, roses, carnations, baby’s breath, and some kind purple bell like flower. She made sure that I had something old and borrowed, with the loan of her grandmother Lillian’s cut crystal pendant with a delicate silver setting and chain.

The five of us, including Emma, Michael and Layne's sweet, loving, yellow Lab loaded into the car at around 4:00. We had to stop immediately for a school bus with a door that wouldn't’t close, holding us there for such a long time we decided to turn around and go an alternate way. With all of the Key West afternoon traffic, we took Layne’s short cuts to the county court house.

We arrived in plenty of time at the Clerk of the County's office. After checking in, all of us were jammed into the side room labeled, “Domestic Abuse,” which drew laughs and photos. The traditional ceremony was performed by a novice deputy, with the assistance and comedy routine of another deputy of the court. (Weddings are performed by notaries in Florida or with a notary added to the ceremony.) With laughter and some tears by me—I cry at all weddings, even my own, we made it through, saying our “I do's,” and “I will's” squeezing the rings past swollen fingers, and sealing our vows with our wedding kisses.

Then it was on to our favorite Cuban restaurant in town, El Siboney where we sat and relaxed over drinks and appetizers of fried yucca, plantains and a tasty tamale. Then we ordered these delicious huge steaks and pieces of fish that had to be folded under to fit on the plates, with the traditional rice and beans and fried plantains and latia, a type of flan for dessert. Besides being inexpensive, there’s no way to finish a dinner at El Siboney’s without doggie bags. We usually split a dinner when we eat there.

After Emma’s dinner, we all took a stroll around the neighborhood. Then it was back to Goosebumps for cake and some special champagne from Michael and Layne, water for Emma, special toasts and more photos and a going away cruising/wedding gift of a really cool small lantern/flashlight/dingy light combination. Being experienced cruisers they know that there isn't’t room on a boat for anything that doesn't’t have multiple uses.

Thanks to Michael, who thankfully had great fun, we will have digital memories of each moment of our day. Hopefully, Bruce will be able to put some on the web site to share with you, as well.

Bruce and I had a very happy day, simple, relaxed, with the good company and friendship of Michael and Layne and our favorite dog, Emma. Thanks again for all your messages of love and support. We had e-mails and phone calls from our friends and family on the West and East Coasts, and as far away as Australia. Bruce’s newsletters attract quite a following of friends from all over.

We have a few photos from the wedding to share with you... just click here.

Love and thanks from,

Celia Bowman, the Admiral