Elizabeth Gugino works for Age Well Institute and is a Yoga Instructor. She shares her experience of her time “crewing” on OLOH.
Once upon OLOH…
When moving to Jacksonville, a coastal city in northern Florida, I was drawn to the water. It was when I moved that I understood how looking out onto a body of water could allow the body to feel a sensation of relaxation wash over every cell.
Since the beginning of my relationship with the OLOH crew, I have often thought about this aspect in their lives. Together, Tim, A.J., and their sweet rescue dog, Jasper, paint a picture of how their life captures the essence of relaxation. Their picture tells a story that is calm, serene and sometimes naturally hectic, just as a body of water can be. OLOH’s life on the water brings out vibrant colors, rich with positivity and adventure to the eye and mind.
I was invited to jump on board OLOH as they passed northern Florida. I was excited to join them in their journey, take in the water as it flowed beneath us and see the coast with a brand new perspective. I hopped on in Saint Simon’s Island, Florida where my boyfriend, Captain Sean Flynn of the sailing vessel When and If, was already aboard.
Every day of travel planning brings discussion for the following day based on the tides, weather, water depths, and destination and I learned that the path is not always perfectly clear. Uncertainty can add a layer of stress to the decision-making. At a restaurant onsite that evening that uncertainty seeped into our dinner conversation. Tim gracefully asked that we table the conversation and focus on a nice dinner, setting a tone right then and there. This small request was a lesson. The benefit of life on the water can instill the body with a relaxed state of mind to let things go and enjoy the moment, but you must remember to take that moment.
We woke up in Saint Simons to an easy morning sipping coffee with the guys discussing the plans for the day. Given the wind conditions, A.J. decided to take the boat off the dock from the top deck and we got off the dock effortlessly. I was very impressed with how well the crew worked together. Our destination was Kilkenny Marina, Georgia but it was decided after some discussion and concern about getting there too late in the evening to change our destination to Sunbury Marina where we could arrive at a decent time. Change is a consistent main theme when traveling up the coast. An adventure on the water soaks in the idea that we must embrace change because change is all around us. Again, water is a reflection of OLOH’s adventure; they go with the flow.
Everyone has a job responsibility when underway. My responsibility was accompanying Jasper to provide companionship and comfort. I couldn’t have been happier. He quickly cozied up next to me with his head on my lap. We watched the water, passing marshlands, dolphins and cozy cabins tucked back into the trees. The sun, peeking through the clouds kept us warm from the breeze and made us feel lazy so we napped a bit. I found myself reading Siddartha and listening to tunes A.J. had put on to enhance the vibes of the journey.
While underway, A.J. and Sean talked what I call “boat language” the entire time. We had delicious turkey pastrami Reuben sandwiches with a homemade thousand island dipping sauce all whipped up by Tim. A little over five hours of travel later we got to Sunbury. The dock master Kenny, kindly greeted us with great enthusiasm and energy and got us tied up and settled in. Afterward, the crew gathered to toast our safe passage with a drink called Pain Killers. I got the privilege of saying the toast, “May we be well, may we be happy, and may we have fun on the water, cheers!” Then we rounded up Jasper for a walk together, first stopping at the dock office. Located right on the dock, it was simple and functional with a repurposed Sundrop Soda vending machine, door open, where office supplies and the credit card machine were kept. Nothing fancy, just the essentials and it made us smile.
Walking up the long dock and onto the mainland, Spanish moss hung overhead on trees we estimated to be 200-year-old or older. There were large homes on the waterfront property and a parking lot packed with cars at the only restaurant in town – the Sunbury Crab Company, owned by the marina.
On our walk through the neighborhood, Sean saw a cat and knowing that Jasper gets a little over excited when he sees a cat, quietly whispered “cat” to himself. He was trying to discreetly warn A.J., who hadn’t seen the cat, to keep Jasper on the move. He might not have said it quietly enough because Jasper knows that word and caught sight anyway. We all instantly chuckled, it was a laugh that took in the easy-going nature of our experience thus far in Sunbury. It created a feeling that makes you think, we are all where we are meant to be. We didn’t need entertainment, television or movies to bring a little comedy into our lives at that moment. We just needed Sean to whisper “cat” to make us laugh. Maybe you had to be there…
Before dinner, we gathered for a cocktail on the upper deck of OLOH and talked about the appreciation we had for the day. As the sun set, we headed up the dock for dinner at the restaurant. On our arrival, Elaine, the owner of the marina and restaurant, greeted us with her sweet presence. She directed us to the bar to wait while our table was getting ready and said she would be over to sit with us as she likes to get to know the people who stay at her dock. She made us feel instantly at home. Her son was the chef, her husband Barnie was working there as well, and Kendra, Kenny’s sister-in-law would be our bartender.
We started off with an order of cheese fries with jalapenos on the side. They were delicious. We shared each dish that came out, except no one wanted to share my salad. Why? Because it was the weekend! As our dinner came to an end, Elaine stopped by to share a nightcap with us. She shared stories and apologized for talking too much. We didn’t agree and embraced her stories about Sunbury, her family and the joy she gets doing what she does.
In the boating community, it is awe-inspiring how quickly special bonds are created when sharing stories of experiences on the water. After dinner, a couple whose boat was docked adjacent to OLOH came over to our table. They were headed to the Chesapeake after spending time in Stock Island. The enthusiasm they brought into our conversation was infectious. They were living their life the way they had always dreamed of doing. I think that is the ultimate gift we can give to ourselves — to live with joy. Being on the water is the gift they gave themselves to reach that state of happiness.
We spent one more day in the small town of Sunbury due to weather. We awoke to Tim’s homemade biscuits and gravy with turkey sausage and eggs. The morning conversation was thought-provoking; meditation, energy, and Siddartha’s theme of being our own teachers. These are topics I crave. As the morning progressed, A.J. mixed up a batch of his famous Bloody Marys with a tasty kick. I offered to do dishes and while in the process something went awry and a pan lid crashed into the sink, chipping one of the OLOH mugs. I quickly shouted, “all good!” but Tim walked in to check on me. I asked if that chip had been on the mug before. A long stare came into his eyes, it kept getting longer and longer and then he said, “no it wasn’t.” I am pretty sure my face went pale. Then Tim let out a big laugh and I couldn’t help but laugh too. “It’s just a mug!” He said. His smile and laugh washed over that moment the way water washes relaxation over the soul.
Later that afternoon, Jasper’s “you know what time” came around and the guys decided to check out Sunbury while I hung tight on OLOH. It was a long walk and it started to rain. By the time they got back to OLOH, they were soaked but the grins on their faces were priceless.
Our last evening in Sunbury, we headed back to the restaurant. Elaine was excited to see us again and put us in a terrific table with a view of the water and marshlands. She, Kenny and Blythe, our terrific waitress from the night before, all stopped by to chat. Before heading back Tim and A.J. bought t-shirts from the restaurant for all of us. On the back of the shirt is a flounder (we had a delicious flounder for dinner). The picture of the flounder has these two eyes with the same stare Tim had been giving me all day when around the dishes! It was a perfect full circle to end the night with.
The next morning as we got ready for our journey, Sean checked on the winds and A.J. discussed tides with the crew and passing through an area known to have shoaling called Hell Gate. Given our later departure, Sean and I decided to get in some yoga on the dock, then the whole crew was off to our last walk with Jasper. We saw Barnie and got to say goodbye and thanks, and said farewell to magical Sunbury.
My weekend trip on OLOH was perfect thanks to the detailed planning of A.J. and Sean (with Sean aboard, Tim got a rare break from planning), the great conversation, the delicious food, and Jasper’s tail wagging. The impeccable OLOH is a vessel that allows Tim, A.J., and Jasper to give themselves the gift of living their best lives. It is honorable how quickly they open up their home to friends and family. Sharing their experiences on the water has surely enriched their lives and others. Through conversation, moments of silence, and great appreciation that I have learned how they bring the rich essence of life, togetherness, and simplicity to full fruition.
Thank you, OLOH, for having me on part of your journey up the east coast! I will always appreciate the bond we have created, especially my bond with the greatest pup in the world, Jasper.
For much more on this part of OLOH’s Adventure, please click here.
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