Sue: $228,000…What we did as we continued to add to our retirement account, our 401Ks, and they continued to go down, we picked up on our working hours. I was very, very fortunate because there’s a tremendous shortage of X-ray techs, and there was a bidding war out there. Whoever bid the most for me, that’s where I went. I literally worked around the clock at my hospitals.
Mirage: How long did you do that?
Sue: Two years ago (Spring 2001), I started picking up the pace. The last six months there were times when I went in 3 o’clock on Sunday afternoon and I’d work 3 to 11, 11 to 7 and 7 to 3, those three shifts at Nelsonville. Then I’d go up to Logan and work 3 to 11, come back to Nelsonville, and work 11 to 7. Come home Tuesday morning, get all my stuff changed and head back to Logan 3 o’clock Tuesday afternoon, 3 to 11…I was allowed to sleep when I didn’t have patients. That was good.
Paul: All they wanted was coverage. Same with the docs in the ER…
Sue: It really wasn’t all that difficult. The work was work I really enjoy, and he was right there for me…The rest of the time we just chilled out. We didn’t do anything. We didn’t go anywhere. We sold the Carver.
Mirage: You sold a lot of stuff I take it. Is there anything out there left?
Paul: There’s only a little bit of stuff in storage.
Sue: Collectibles…We ended up having an auction, which was very unsuccessful. We ended up giving away
Paul: We got rid of everything.
Sue: We were both junk collectors.
Mirage: That’s why you have house: To put junk in it.
Sue: We had a three bedroom that was crammed full. Two barns that were crammed full. A two-car garage that was crammed full…
Mirage: Your life is much simpler now…
Sue: Our life is simple. So we were building the boat. I talked with my sister and asked for her help decorating the boat. Our family was very supportive. Everybody asks, “What did you kids say about living on a boat?” They were very supportive. They were excited for us. So we showed up June 30 to take delivery of our boat July 1. And I worked June 29. So who’s standing here bag and baggage is my sister and her husband. They had sold their house in Cape Coral and their new house wasn’t supposed to be done until October, so they decided to move on the boat with us.
Paul: They had an offer that was at or above the asking price. The condition was they had to move in immediately…
Sue: People kept asking, “When are they leaving?” I said, “I don’t know.” It wasn’t fair to kick them off the boat...So we said, “Do you want to go up to the Chesapeake with us.” They said, “Sure.” So for three months we all lived on this boat, but very comfortably. My sister and I shared the kitchen and the cooking and planning the meals and stuff. They were like little beavers keeping the boat clean, and they were fun to be with. They slept upstairs in the pilot house and John (brother-in-law) made that bed up every day. But then we also gave them the little bedroom; they kept all their stuff in there. They didn’t bring a whole lot, just their clothes. But they had their own bathroom. They slept where they had their privacy, and we had ours. During the course of our trip, our daughter brought Paul’s mother and came. There were six of us for three days and we were just fine. John got off the boat the next week and we had two couples from Indianapolis, so we had six again. It was comfortable…Everybody loves the pilothouse. We had slept up there on Neil and Gail’s boat, and we loved the pilothouse.
Mirage: After the Chesapeake where did you go?
Sue: We went as far as Baltimore then came down here to Florida.
Sue: Intracoastal. Through the Dismal Swamp. We loved that…It was so pretty.
Mirage: See any bears in the trees?
Sue: We didn’t. We would have loved to.
Mirage: You went to the Bahamas, too. I find that to be very bold.
Sue: That’s what we had planned. Once we had moved on the boat we had a couple goals. They were to be south in the winter, north in the summer and we definitely wanted to go to the islands. Paul got every book and magazine he could get his hands on, and when we should have been going through and sorting stuff at home, we were reading magazine and books. I kept hearing so much about Trinidad.
Mirage: There’s no reason why you can’t go to Trinidad, and right on to Venezuela.
Sue: Years ago a friend of mine went to Aruba and was talking about how fabulous Aruba was. And my niece honeymooned there and she thought it was fabulous. Paul and I talked about that: Can we really take the boat there? And we set that as one of our goals. Then when we talked to you in Annapolis, you set it in stone because you said that we could do all the little islands. And we met Margo and Jim, these sailboaters, that had done it, too. You don’t have to be like the Hawaii crossing (recently completed by a Mirage N37 trawler). You can go island to island.
Mirage: You have to be careful, and you can’t be in a hurry. That’s where people make their mistakes. They get it set in their minds that they’ve got to go on a certain day. There’s a stretch on the north coast of the Dominican Republic where you could wait a couple weeks for good enough weather, and you’ve got to play it just right. You’ve got the book, Bruce Van Sant’s Gentleman’s Guide to Passages South.
Mirage: Once you get past that bit and get to Puerto Rico, you’ve seen the worst. The part between the Turks and Caicos and Puerto Rico.
Sue: We’ve got the guide to the Turks and Caicos.
Mirage: Can you believe it? The water is even clearer in the Turks and Caicos than it is in the Bahamas.
Sue: No. No. Our last big trip from Great Sail to…
Paul: West End
Sue: It couldn’t be. It was pure glass, and it was like a marine show the whole way in…I don’t think we would have been this happy just going to the Keys. We just set it as a goal, and we talked about the Great Circle forever.
Mirage: I think the Great Circle is fine, but you can do that when your 95 years old. Strike out to the islands now.
Paul: We can’t strike out unless we fly back in to get Social Security and a number of other things set up.
Sue: Other people we’ve talked to said its important to fly back every once in a while to get your “family fix.”
Mirage: Where did you touch down in the Bahamas first?
Sue: West End (on Grand Bahama)…One thing that we knew then and its more reinforced now, especially being here. There’s so many people who are going to do all these things, but they’ve got to do something first. Some of them were here in August and now we’re back and their still here. I don’t want to do that. We have a lot of projects left undone, and it’s just going to have to be that way. We’ll get the necessities done then we’re taking off. We don’t want to be stuck in one place. We’re very healthy right now, and we don’t have anything to stop us from adventuring.
Paul: That’s right.
Mirage: One of my favorite sayings is, “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” People who try to make their boats perfect, everything perfect, they miss out on the good, because they don’t go.
Paul: Okay, yup.
Sue: We’re not going to do that. Once we got to the islands…
Mirage: Where did you go after West End?
Paul: Great Sail, Green Turtle
Sue: When we first got to that water on the bank, Paul had never seen that water. We loved the water, saw the flying fish and that was exciting.
Sue: We were with two other boats, and they were first-timers. The first shark we got into was in the Exuma National Park when we took our dinghy to sign in.
Mirage: Warderick Wells?
Sue: Yeah. There was a shark underneath the dinghy. But I’m comfortable with sharks now.
Mirage: So you left the Abacos and then you went to Eluthera?
Sue: We had planned from the get-go and we had heard so many wonderful things. We said we’re going to go to the Abacos and get our feet wet, feel things out.
Paul: We used the marina as point from which to make overnighters and two or three day runs. We stayed in Marsh Harbour. We went out to Treasure Cay, Nippers.
Sue: Treasure Cay. They say its one of the ten best beaches in the world. It was like heaven. When we first got down there I fixed cheeseburgers and we had cheeseburgers in paradise. We’re not really hamburger eaters, but I can’t tell you how many times we enjoyed cheeseburgers in paradise. We got hooked on Barefoot Man music, and we bought a couple of his CDs.
Paul: So we stayed using Marsh Harbour as a base for a month…After the month, we went off to Little Harbour in the south.
Sue: We didn’t know about the “blue holes” until we got over to Eluthera…and that was nice. And walking through the ruins. A lot of people in the anchorage.
Paul: Spanish Wells.
Mirage: Then you crossed over to the Exumas?
Sue: And the park!
Mirage: Did you have a pot-luck at the ranger’s
Paul: We didn’t have a pot-luck. We had a happy hour.
Sue: We practiced our snorkeling. We had snorkled in the Abacos but the water was cold. When we got down there, we snorkled around the coral heads. We loved it and didn’t want to leave, so we headed on down.
Paul: To Compass Cay, and day trips out of there.
Sue: When we got down to Tucker’s, Compass Cay. The owner comes out and helps you get the mooring ball, and there was a shark swimming around. He said, “We have our pet sharks and you can pet them.” We had a carry-in dinner there and we fed leftovers to the sharks and then pet them.
Paul: They were nurse sharks.
Sue: We went on down to Staniel Cay and that was an experience. The boats! How many boats were there?
Sue: 150 all the time. And we kept hearing about Georgetown, but everyone said we weren’t missing much…And we went to the underwater cave where they made Thunderball.
Mirage: So you turned around at Staniel and came back?
Sue: Staniel, yes.
Mirage: That was a really, really good first strike-out. I never got past Warderick Wells the first time I went to the Bahamas.
Sue: So much undone. So much we want to do again.
We hope to hear more from the Grahams; check back soon. The Staff