Bow to Stern

Published in the February 2011 Issue February 2011 Ask The Expert

Secret First Loves

By Barb Hansen

When we were dating, Vic told me that he had been in love before. Apprehensively, I waited to hear love stories that didn't involve me. The first true love of his life, my husband said, occurred when he was only 12 years old. He had an affair with an older sailboat. He even made a set of sails for it.from bed sheets. Hmmm. Other love stories followed. The objects of his affection were-you got it-boats.

I understood that his pre-teen psyche had been imprinted with a powerful, though strange, attraction. I married him anyway.

Now fast forward to a few years ago. I turned to the comic strips and went immediately to my favorite, Hagar the Horrible. From his comic strip barstool Hagar the Horrible was telling his drinking buddies that he had had nine true loves in his life. All boats. I laughed out loud and thought, that's Vic and he's channeling Hagar the Horrible! I clipped it out and taped the comic strip to the refrigerator.

I'm not sure to this day if I know about all of Vic's earlier sweethearts, but I've been an enthusiastic partner with him on every acquisition since. The arrows that Cupid released at us were surely tipped with a love boat potion.

When I first read the cartoon strip my boating memory kicked in and I started counting up our loves: Dolphin, a 36-foot ketch, was our "home" for four years. Others include two Boston Whalers, a few sloops, several Grand Banks trawlers and assorted dinghies.

Hagar told the boys in the bar that a man is lucky if he has one true love in his life. A boat owner nine times, Hagar had been lucky nine times. Counting boats only, Vic and I have Hagar's kind of luck.

Sometimes truth speaks to you from the funny papers. Sometimes it's from the news section. Did you hear about the new cruise ship for 3,500 passengers? The specs include 1,487 cabins, 3,710 bunk spaces, and who knows how many miles of all-you-can-eat buffet lines.

But those specs don't impress me. My votes go for something with two or maybe three cabins, a reliable vessel with a shallow draft that motors smoothly along a placid coastal waterway framed by mangrove wilderness and views of wading birds, dolphins and the occasional family of manatees.

My cruise ship doesn't have an activities director; it doesn't have an ATM; it doesn't have an onboard hospital. In fact, it doesn't have a schedule unless you say so. If it's Tuesday, it's not Belgium, it's probably Sanibel Island, or Useppa Island, or the most beautiful beach you've ever seen on Cayo Costa Island. Cruise ships can't go there, and that's a good thing.

On my favorite cruise, dressing up for a meal means pulling a tee shirt over your swimsuit where passengers don't cut into the buffet line to take the last shrimp. And every evening at dinner the captain sits at my table.

Barb Hansen manages Southwest Florida Yachts, yacht charters, and Florida Sailing & Cruising School, a liveaboard yacht school. Contact her at, phone 800-262-7939 or visit

  • Like what you read?

    Want to know when we have important news, updates or interviews?

  • Join our newsletter today!

    Sign Up
You Might Also Be Interested In...

Send to your friends!