A happy boating wife is the secret to a happy boating life, learns Grace Trofa.
Our boating journey started in 2011, when my wife, Carol, and I decided to move to Naples in Florida. I was going to buy a fishing boat and, while I was talking with the salesman, my wife spotted brochures that said “come yachting with us on weekends” and asked if we could do that with this boat. When he sheepishly admitted we couldn’t, unless we were staying at a yacht club, she asked the killer question: “What kind of boat would we need?”
We ended up buying a 47ft [14-metre] Sea Ray with two staterooms. We had no idea what we were doing. Thank God for the joystick!
We needed a boat slip, so we joined the Naples Sailing & Yacht Club and it only took a few club cruises for us to realise we really wanted a flybridge and a more comfortable centre cabin. We went to FLIBS the following year with a list of builders and bought a 56ft [17-metre] Princess. We loved that boat and should never have sold it, but we wanted something bigger.
Some advice for future boat owners: never buy a boat your wife doesn’t like. A 68ft [21-metre] Sea Ray came up for sale and although my wife hated it, like a dumb husband, I bought it anyway. We cruised on her for a year, and then, one day, she sank. There were suspicions going around the club that my wife had gone around with an ice pick, but I don’t think so.
We ended up buying a 60ft [18.3-metre) Hatteras, which was a wonderful boat with plenty of room. The flybridge was enclosed, so there was more living space. We enjoyed cruising up and down the west coast of Florida and the Keys.
Some friends of ours who bought and sold yachts were talking about buying a 100-footer. We went to the Miami International Boat Show and my mission was to talk them out of buying one. However, when we saw this Hatteras, we all fell in love. We agreed to share her 50/50, but they backed out. I moped around the house until my wife said, “You’ve worked hard all your life. It’s been your dream and we can afford it, so just do it.” That’s why I’ve been married to the same woman for 24 years.
The boat, Magnum Ride, is almost 20 years old and has this vintage look that I like, and only 3,000 hours on the engines. We’ve done some refit work and I have a good captain and crew. We had her in Newport, and she will spend the winters in the Bahamas. We really like Chub Cay and the Exumas.
We’ve come a long way from those early days with the 47-footer. I remember on the first big club cruise along the Florida coast from St Petersburg to Venice, we hadn’t figured out the radar and got lost in fog so thick you couldn’t see 50ft [15 metres] in front of you. Fast forward to today, and my wife is vice-commodore of the club, only the second woman to have the role in its history.
We divide our time between Naples and Wisconsin. On summer evenings, we walk down the lawn to our dock, jump on board our 33ft [10-metre] Chaparral and head out to a lakefront restaurant. It’s a nice life.
First published in the February 2023 issue of BOAT International US. Get this magazine sent straight to your door, or subscribe and never miss an issue.shop now