ADVENTURES IN RETIREMENT
By Barb Hansen
Thanks to medical science we are living longer. Thanks to ibuprofen, we’re also functioning longer.
Retirees, especially, are beneficiaries. With time and a bottle of friendly caplets on their side they can do things earlier generations of retirees could not. Instead of sitting in a rocker and watching re-runs of Golden Girls, retirees today are sitting in a catbird seat and self-directing their lives into new and exciting adventures.
I know this because in my job as proprietor of a yacht school and chartering enterprise I have been privileged to talk to some of these adventurers and I am watching the first wave of boomers plan and take action for the best years of their lives.
One popular plan is our charter yacht ownership program. Essentially, boating couples sign the papers for the vessel of their dreams, but they do it well in advance of the retirement date. They vacation on it, of course, but the yacht joins our charter fleet so others can enjoy it, too. The owners are compensated for this. It helps pay for the boat, the upgrades and upkeep. When they retire, they’ll already have their winter home in Florida, ready to enjoy this great cruising destination and ready for extended cruises to other wonderful ports of call in the U.S. and Caribbean.
Many people who attend our liveaboard yacht school are finishing up their careers and soon will have the time to do what they really want to do. Cruising is a big part of their retirement plan. More than once I have heard them talk about cruising the "Great Loop.” Sometimes called the Great Circle Route, this is the continuous waterway that takes cruisers up the Atlantic Seaboard, across the Great Lakes, down the Mississippi, and along the Gulf of Mexico. They even have their own association.
Cruising the Great Loop seems somehow appropriate for our goal-setting culture. Buried in our careers we seek to build a nest egg and to provide for the future. Once security is in our sights, we look to fulfill another basic instinct -- adventure. An ambitious plan like cruising the Great Circle Route does that.
For some, the Great Loop is their cruising goal, the summit or pinnacle of their boating journey. Once it is accomplished, they hang up their Topsiders and turn to gardening. For others, the Loop is just one leg of a lifelong adventure afloat.
Cruising also is a civilized way to fulfill the deep-seated desire we all have to return to the basics. I call this satisfying our “call of the wild” instinct. Instead of a closet full of clothes and shoes, we bring onboard a duffel bag’s worth of basics and boat shoes. Cruisers know that so long as their clothes suit the weather their outfit is probably perfect for every occasion.
Once upon a time Dinah Shore sang about seeing the USA in your Chevrolet. Today, she could be singing about seeing the USA in your cruising boat. Cruising is a great way to see the USA without having to pull your wheeled vehicle into a gas station every few hours and an interstate motel every night. When you’re cruising, you don’t have to pack and unpack every night. With cruising, your castle is also your mode of transport. It’s fun. It’s scenic. It’s very economical. It’s romantic.
Today’s new generation of retirees are redefining “sailing into the sunset.”