Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cap'n Courageous

"Cap'n Rick!" chirped the voice that answered the phone.  "How can I help you?"

Alan and I had been vacationing in Key Largo, Florida for exactly one day.  It was our first trip to the Keys, and both of us were looking forward to a full week of doing absolutely NOTHING!  We'd been feeling a little over-worked and greatly fatigued, so the plan was to sip margaritas poolside and immerse ourselves in a couple of good books. That's it.

But the islands in the Keys are tiny ones, and everywhere you turn you can see pristine, windex-blue ocean. It was calling to us.  We decided we really wanted to get out on that gorgeous water!

We found a brochure in the hotel lobby for a charter boat that had day snorkeling trips.  The name of the company was Morning Star Charters, and the boat pictured was that of a beautiful, fifty foot sailing yacht. We decided it was too good to be true but dialed the number anyway, when we heard Cap'n (NOT captain, "cap'n!") Rick's cheerful greeting.  He told us he had an opening the next day, and to pack a cooler and meet him at his slip in the morning.

We arrived at the dock early and got our first look at this beautiful ship. It was even more glorious than the brochure picture had portrayed, white with dark wood trim and fat blue cushions displayed inside.  A 50-something man with a medium build and a tanned, happy face appeared and warmly offered his hand.  "Beautiful day, isn't it?  I'm Cap'n Rick," he said with a smile.  I liked him immediately!

He helped us onboard and showed us around, clearly proud of his rig which he kept in pristine condition (That's us onboard in the picture on the left.  Check out how I'm sucking it in!!). Soon, two other couples arrived and after exchanging a few pleasantries, Cap'n Rick cast off and slowly maneuvered his gorgeous ship out onto the open water.

He explained he was taking us to a place called "Pickles Reef," named after the pickle barrels that were the unfortunate victims of a shipwreck that had occurred there hundreds of years before.  You can still see the busted wooden barrel remains on the shallow ocean floor.  We arrived in no time and Cap'n Rick quickly got everyone set up in flippers and scuba masks.  After a brief tutorial on proper snorkeling techniques, we all jumped in and pressed our masked faces below the warm salt water.

The only way I can adequately describe what we saw on the other side of that water is to reference the classic Disney film, "The Little Mermaid."  You know that song, "Under the Sea," where all the colorful cartoon sea creatures dance around and have a party?  Well, I SWEAR I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that is EXACTLY how it appeared!!  These are actual pictures of it on the left and below!  There's no QUESTION in my mind that EVERY one of Disney's artists must have visited Pickles Reef before animating that number!!

It was amazing!  So many colors, from the school of electric blue and yellow fish that darted around us, to the bright green sea vegetation wedged between florescent coral formations, reflecting the sun above us.  We saw sea turtles, sting rays, eels, even tiger sharks.  Cap'n Rick would not leave until he'd shown us all of it.  I couldn't help thinking, "He does this EVERY day, why is he still as excited as ME?"

Much too quickly, it was announced that it was time to go, and we reluctantly climbed back onboard.  Cap'n Rick hosed the salt water off us and simultaneously handed us each a beer.  I've got to tell you, on the deck of that boat, with the saltwater still clinging to my lips, and the Florida sunshine warming my face, that Coors Light tasted better than ANY other I've had before or since!

As we began the trip back to shore, we asked Cap'n Rick how he came to own a boat chartering business in the Florida Keys.  He told us he was an ironworker for several years, assembling skyscrapers in Philadelphia, PA.  He had done some fishing and scuba diving in his youth, and had always dreamed of one day making a living on a boat somewhere warm and tropical.

His friends and coworkers told him he was a crazy dreamer, that he had a good, solid union job with decent pay, health benefits and a pension.  Better stay put, they advised.  Still, Rick couldn't shake the longing for his own business in paradise.  He saved his money over the years, did some research, and was finally able to put a down-payment on his beautiful boat.  On his last day with his fellow ironworkers, they all wished him luck, but told him they bet he'd be back before long.

Cap'n Rick paused his story just then and quickly went below to retrieve something off the wall.  He came back up carrying a large framed photo.  It was of the steel skeleton of a large city building, and men in hard hats were pictured working on it's beams.  "That was my last job as an ironworker," he told us.  "I keep this on the wall downstairs to remind me how lucky I am to be HERE!!"

Following his dream wasn't always easy for Cap'n Rick.  For the first several years he lived in the cramped quarters of his boat.  There were some lean times in the beginning, until word got out and paying customers slowly began to arrive.  But hard work, determination, and a deep love of the ocean on which he daily sailed soon paid-off, and I'm happy to report business is booming!

Cap'n Rick now lives in a lovely home overlooking the ocean with his new wife, Joann and sweet miniature yorkie, Moonshine.  His boat is paid for, and customers call constantly, wanting to reserve a turn to explore paradise with him.  He is a rich man in many, many ways.

I think about Cap'n Rick all the time.  Along with the amazing surroundings in which he lives and works, I so envy his GUTS.  He had no idea how things were going to turn out when he initially packed-up his entire Philadelphia life and relocated to a place where he knew exactly NO ONE.  But he knew he loved the ocean, he loved to sail, and he was determined to work hard and give it his best shot.  Anyone who's spent two minutes onboard his boat can tell you, without hesitation, that he made the right choice.

So, what's YOUR passion?  What are you DYING to do, but are afraid to try?  I think Cap'n Rick would tell you to trust your instincts, take a risk and follow your dreams. Who knows, maybe you'll wind up in paradise...

Thanks for Reading!!

53 comments:

Kellyansapansa said...

Wow, look at you in your teeny weeny pink bikini!

That is an amazing story. I absolutely admire people who give up any form of security to take a chance on a dream. I'd like to think that one day, when I realise what my passion is, I'll have the courage to follow it.

PS - every single blog I've been to over the past week has a comment from you on it. Are you sleeping at all? :o)

mercy said...

Looks like a beautiful place.

My dream, well right now it's to survive being a SAHM until the kids are old enough for school. Then I had the idea to start a small business in making diaper cakes. They are unknown here but I'm sure many rich women want something unique for their friends and relatives baby shower. The market is there, I just need the time to do it.

CentFla said...

This is great honey. You should send him a link!

Sinful Southern Sweets said...

I would love to go to the Key! Just beautiful!
Hey, and there's no shame in sucking it in when pictures are being snapped :)

Loving Wife, Working Mom said...

My dream has always been to be in the medical field. My brother is a physician and I used to work in a hospital. I was 16 when I went to college... book-smart but who the heck allows a 16 year old decide what to do in life? I still might get involved in a year or two. :)

lakeviewer said...

I've been in the Keys. Totally out of this world, waters so warm, they beckoned you to lounge around. The story of Capt. Rick is a good reminder not to pass up your dreams.

We retired early to live by the waters of the Pacific, to feel the sea breeze and enjoy the play of the waves. We were lucky too.

Great post.

Ian said...

Wow, great pics, and even better story!

Rick said...

Hello again "Anything." I enjoyed reading about the life of "Cap'n" Rick. Earning a living doing what you love to do is something that not many people get to do. If I could earn a living doodling...

Thank you for becoming a follower of my blog. I am honored - truly. Be sure to look for my "Copy & Share If You Dare" doodles, which I provide with guilt free pirating.

Stay "Tooned",
Rick

Denise said...

Another great post. What an enviable life-style. I was in the Keys several years ago and have always wanted to go back. It is an amazing place.

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

Great story Joan!
I have a husband like Cap'n Rick....never been as brave as he.
Are you?

ReformingGeek said...

Good for Rick! I'm glad it worked out for him. I will have to look him up when we finally get to the Keys! I love snorkeling.

Bossy Betty said...

OH, thank you for this lovely mini-vacation! It was just what I needed today! Capt. Rick--an inspiration, indeed.

Sylvia K said...

Love your story, Joan! I haven't been to the Keys, but after I retired I moved to Mexico for a year, lived in San Miguel de Allende and one week I took a trip to small island off the coast where I went snorkeling and had a guide much like Cap'n Rick who showed me the incredible beauty under the water. I'd tell you the name of the island, but I'm having a senior moment right now!! Hate it when that happens!! Anyway, it was a glorious trip! And it was a wonderful year! Hope you have a great weekend!

Sylvia

MeganRebekah said...

I love the Keys!
What an awesome experience you had. Thanks for sharing

We live in a Zoo! said...

Excellent story :D Now I want to go back to Florida and visit the Keys!

Meg said...

Love love this story! You're such a good writer! He took a risk and followed his dream! So many of us don't take that risk and regret it forever. Fear is the only thing that holds us back.

Meg

THE OLD GEEZER said...

Great Story!

My passion these days is to draw closer to God and love my wife more and more in these sunset years of my life.

Just be happy! said...

I'd love to start hiking, that's something that could happen. I live in the Pacific Northwest, to be more exact in Tacoma, WA, and we have beautiful moutains and small hills that would be perfect for that. I just need to find the courage.
Another thing I'd love to do is to travel more, but that is a different story $$$$.... heheheh
I'm happy being a stay at home mom though, I have been enjoying my little boy every minute of each day!

Krista said...

Wow... I love the Cap'n Ricks of the world, don't you?

I like my job and love the security it offers. For now I am happy to continue working and paying off my debt and traveling a bit here and there.

Once the debt is gone, the dreaming will begin!!! :o)

Rachel said...

Aw I love this story :)

KathyB said...

You describe it all so wonderfully, it makes me want to run down there tomorrow! Hope I get to meet Cap'n Rick someday. And you and Alan look fantastic in that shot!!!!

GregoryJ said...

Great story.
Good for him.
I'm glad he 'made it'.

I wonder how many don't.

Mary Sugar said...

Beautiful story, Joanie!

LucyCooper said...

Ahhh. under the sea. That's where I wish I was right now- with the proper equipment of course...
My dream is to be a full time writer.

lifeshighway said...

I started living my dream a few years ago when I finally was in a time of my life to start training for endurance competition (horses). After my first competition, I burst out crying at the finish line. Now all I have to do is figure out how to be self employed and I can continue on to the big leagues! (hey, it could happen)

"Julie" said...

ugh those pics made me so jealous!!! Looks so amazing!

Being Me said...

Ace story, J! What an inspiring guy. It does take so much guts to follow your dream. I'm recently amazed at how, when I really look at it, the only thing stopping me from doing so many things is.... Me! And then I annoy me. For stopping me. ;P

Sistertex said...

Really LOVE the very first photo! Great post. I have still never been to the Keys, been to FL many times as my parents live down there. It seems we never get south of Orlando when we go to visit them. One of these days...

I often think that I would love to return to Japan again, I really loved it there. But I've always wanted to walk along the great wall of China. Maybe one day.

Alyssa said...

LOVE reading your blog...hubs is not so happy about my enthusiasm, though. I'll have to encourage him to be a better reader...

We lived in Fl. for 4 years but never visited the Keys. You know I want to go now. The photos and post were breathtaking. Sometimes I wonder where we would be without the Cap'n Ricks of this world. And I wonder how many unsung Cap'n Ricks there are out there.

Tgoette said...

That was such an inspiring story. I love hearing about guys like Cap'n Rick who go against the odds and prevail like that and make their dreams come true. It gives us all a little more strength to push ourselves to go that extra mile. Thanks for a great post and some beautiful pics!

The Warrior in ME said...

Thanks for reading? No girl! thanks for telling- i felt like i was on that trip with you guys- i needed a vacation so bad and you just gave me one, just like that Lovely. How in the world, did you take under-water pictures? I' mighty pleased with my read :)

Teresa Evangeline said...

It seems once you make a decision and begin to move forward without fear, the universe conspires with you to bring all that you need to manifest those desires. If everyone chose to truly follow their bliss I think the world would be much better for it. Love this post.

blueviolet said...

Now that I've read your story, I feel like I really need to visit the Keys! I want to see what you saw under the sea!

Melissa @ Cellulite Investigation said...

What an inspiration! Makes me thankful for the dream I'm chasing.

I love diving in the Keys (and who doesn't suck it in for a bikini shot?!).

Spot On Your Pants said...

Wow. This is what we are trying to do. Smaller house. Work from home. No commute. Now I want a Coors!

[Rhiannon][Wretchdz] said...

I've had many.

My biggest one is to be an author and/or horror film writer/director.

:)

...being realistic now, I'd love to be a Librarian in the US or UK.



Ps. I love how you blog about the interesting people you come across. They are very inspiring.

JenJen said...

I love that boat man. He sounds awesome. And I love, love, love your pics. Please tell me that you and your man at one point sang the Beach Boys? Please?

My dream is to have a large-animal rescue facility. I want to live near the mountains and raise, care for, and breed horses. Since I'd have the barn and fencing and all that, I could adopt abused goats, cows, and other horses, as well. It's my dream :) Someday!

Jessica said...

We snorkeled off an island in Thailand on our honeymoon - I know exactly what you mean about the colors of the fish and plant life; it's amazing.

I have a long list of things to accomplish in my life, but as for one true passion - I have no idea. Maybe to never stop learning? There is so much to do, see and experience out there, I just don't know if I could pick one thing.

Kim Crouch said...

Following back from the Friday Follow but you have to know I love the name of your blog!
Here's to creativity.

A.G. said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog and Happy Friday Follow!

The name of your blog gave me quite a chuckle. :)

I admire Cap'n Rick!

Fragrant Liar said...

The Keys are on my list of places I must travel to SOON.

I do have dreams that I'm hoping to bring to fruition within the next couple years -- maybe two of them in the next few months! Wish me luck.

Fragrant Liar said...

P.S. Congrats on being chosen for a blog post of the week over at Elise's. She picked right!

TechnoBabe said...

Cap'n Rick is a wise man. Heading to work to a job you love is probably extending his life. So many people go to a job they hate and stuff the feelings till they burst. This was a very nice read.

Jen said...

What a wonderful inspiration Cap'n Rick is! :). Im unsure at the moment what my dream is. I would love to get a DSLR camera and give photography a go, although being back at work now I am thinking that perhaps I would like to learn more about the job I am doing and try and extend that stream of education into something outside of the school setting, including doing some volunteer type tutoring :) . I will work towards those dreams slowly :)

Shan said...

Great story and a great reminder!

sister laura said...

my dreams right now? a freaking HOUSE and a DOG. soon...

Rachel said...

How inspirational! What a terrific way to spend your days - making a living by doing something you love!

Love the picture of you two (but am STILL terrified of eels! :)

Missy said...

My dream, of course, is to write a book. Or 3 - that's about how many I have swirling. I'm not scared to do it, just short on time. But the time will come - couple more years. :)

Heatherlyn said...

I love this post! First, some two of my favorite memories are of snorkeling expeditions: first, in Tobago with my husband where the sea life was beyond amazing (seriously, it was like being in a blue planet documentary only better); second, in Puerto Rico where we were able to snorkel with our entire family. I thought that the couple who operated the catamaran in Puerto Rico had a dream job in Paradise. Seriously, what a relaxing wonderful beautiful way to spend your life. I just have the memories from a few day trips. But I love the ocean, always have. And I admire people who make their dreams come true.

...Mrs.P! said...

Wjat a great story! Thanks fr sharing. He sounds like a great guy and a real inspiration to live your dream.

I'd love to be a photographer or a session singer, but I just don't know if I could make the leap into the unknown. Maybe one day.

Derrick said...

Congratulations on getting the Everday Goddess award for this post. I can see why. I once tried sea fishing off the coast of Venezuela; couldn't enjoy a beer until we were calmly back in harbour!!

christy rose said...

What a great inspirational story! I want to go to Hawaii. I don't necessarily want to live there. I just want to go and vacation for a couple of weeks. I am pretty sure that I will some day. I can just feel that it will be!!! :)

Erin said...

Great story Joan! I needed to hear that kind of inspiring tale : )

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