I grew up off the Oregon coastline. I have spent over two thirds of my life (I am 58 years old) by the ocean (Pacific and Atlantic), and I knew that one day my love for the ocean would over-power every sane, logical, and realistic molecule of thought in my brain. Not to mention my love for a woman, who unknowingly, had brought to life a passion and desire inside me that I thought had long been forgotten.
Although this incident that changed my life only occurred last year, the real reason began three years ago. I had met a woman online and we began talking to each other. She lives in Shenzhen, China which is right next door to Hong Kong. As the months passed, our short conversations turned into deep, long discussions on where we were in the relationship, and what the next steps should be. Because of the distance between us (5,300 miles by air), time and finances would allow us to be together once a year; either she would fly over here or I would fly over there. Because my visa would allow me to stay there for much longer periods at a time, I had no problem making the transatlantic jump into her arms. We both decided we wanted more out of the relationship; something along the thought of eternal and ever-lasting.
Her name is Shuxian, she is 44 years old, and she is a vice president in a major bank in Shenzhen. I am a retired businessman, now a full-time student working on my Aviation degree. Both our jobs keep us very busy, and time together has now become a much sought after commodity. I live in Central Oregon, a distance of over five hours to the nearest coast, which made my impromptu decision even more insane; everywhere but my mind it seems.
Do I need a boat? No. Had I been planning on buying a boat? Again, no. But what man doesn’t fantasize about sailing off into the sunset: feeling the power of the boat beneath his feet and the wind blowing through his hair. Amazingly, the same feeling I get when I’m flying.
I saw the boat for the first time about six months prior to me purchasing it. She was a beauty! A 1972 Reinell 24 foot cabin cruiser. The same boat I had gone out into the ocean on my very first time. All my old thoughts and pleasant memories came flooding into my mind. It was like I was ten years old again! I could smell the salty sea air succumbing my every senses as the cool gentle spray of the water splashed gently on my face. I had been transported back in time, and suddenly, from that point on, my every thought was on acquiring this boat. Every day I would pass by the boat on my way to school, but I knew I couldn’t afford it. For nine months I watched this boat with the big “For Sale” sign on her, and every day my want for the boat escalated by leaps and bounds. I kept telling myself, “it will be sold today,” but I continued to still see the “For Sale” sign in the window the next time I drove by her. I say “her” because all men refer to their boat as their “mistress of the sea.”
I was heading back from class when I noticed the price of the boat had dropped dramatically. I told myself that since I had to come back to town the next day, if it was still for sale, I would stop in and check the boat out. The next day on my way to town, I stopped and checked out the boat. She was dirty and unkempt, but the hull and the engine were very sound. “Nothing a little TLC (tender loving care) and some elbow grease can’t take care of.” By this time, I had gone off the deep end. I could already see myself out on the ocean; the sun stroking my face as that 225 horsepower engine screamed to life. I could feel the bow (the front of the boat) softly slap the surface of the water as she cut through the water like a hot knife through butter. “I’m home, I’m home!” With my hands firmly on the wheel, and a smile on my face, I stared at the anchor through the windshield as the afternoon sun glistened off the polished aluminum deck rail that came to a point just in front of the anchor. It was karma; “I was meant to have this boat!”
I proceeded to check out the engine compartment and making sure the engine was sound and the hull was sea-worthy, I continued below deck to see what surprises bestowed me there. It was dirty, but that was to be expected. The boat had been sitting on the lot for almost nine months. Everything worked, and there was no major damage that I couldn’t fix easily. In my mind, the cabin area looked like it just came off the showroom floor. “What a beauty she was!” The bed was neatly made, the sink, stove and refrigerator were polished, and free of any rust that time and Mother Nature had added to them. My heart raced as I climbed off the boat and headed toward the sales office.
I knew that the boat was priced to move quickly, and most likely, it was going to be on a cash-only sale. I also had pondered on my way to the office that I really couldn’t afford the boat at that moment. So I had planned to offer the owner an outlandish deal that would most likely make him say no. This way, I thought, I had made an offer on the boat, but my offer was rejected. I could drive away from the lot with a free conscience and peace of mind because I didn’t need the boat.
The lot owner was a friendly man, and I found out the boat belonged to a friend of his, and it was there on consignment. He told me how much his friend was asking for the boat, and that it was a cash-only sale. I figured, “what do I have to lose,” so I laid out my proposal. I had told the lot owner that I wouldn’t have no money for a couple weeks, and that I would give him $500 dollars down, $300 dollars a month until it was paid off, and the boat would stay on his lot until the whole amount was paid. The lot owner called his friend and relayed my offer to him. Within seconds, I heard the lot owner say, “I will make it happen,” just before he hung up the phone.
“Oh my God, what have I just done?!” My mind began to whir at a million miles an hour because reality just hit me between the eyes. I just bought the boat! In my mind, I can’t back out now on the deal because I was the one who initiated the deal in the first place. With my heart in over-drive and a smile on my face, I shook his hand, told him that I would be back in two weeks with the money, and walked out the door.
Still in shock, but with a smile on my face, I drove back over to my newly acquired boat. I boarded the boat, sat back behind the wheel, and began to reflect in silence what I just did, and what my decision had in store for me. After sitting there for a while, and of course, with a smile on my face that wouldn’t go away, I began to make up a list of everything that needed to be done and bought to get my boat ready for my trip to China.
The boat is still there, and I am still making payments on her, but she is mine and she will be ready for her maiden voyage. I am planning to sail to China next summer. It is almost a 7,000 mile trip by boat (thank God for autopilot). At least I won’t have to worry about hotel rates while I’m there. I just hope that I can remain focused on everything else until then. I can’t wait to see Shuxian, and to see the smile in her eyes when I say to her, “Ni hao wo ai, wo zher de (Hello my love, I am here).”