It’s all Jim Bradley’s fault. Or perhaps Herb Payson’s. They’re why the three of us — Mike, Cheryl and Mikayla Lezovich — live full-time aboard a 40’ catamaran.
The siren call of the sea beckoned innocently enough. In 1990, Jim invited my husband Mike to join a sailing vacation in the British Virgin Islands or BVIs as they’re called sometimes.
“Sailing? What’s that all about?” Mike asked his friend.
“Just give me $1000, meet me in Tortola and I promise it will be the best vacation of your life,” replied Jim.
Mike was intrigued and gave Jim a check. A few weeks later Mike joined Jim, Cay and Mary Ann (M.A.) — all IBM colleagues — and Jim’s childhood friend Robin on a 38’ monohull that Jim had chartered. Thus began a week of sailing to Jost Van Dyke, Norman Island, Peter Island, Cooper Island, Virgin Gorda and a few other spots.
They had a blast. M.A. served as galley wench and head bartender. She had brought a small electric blender and her semi-frozen margaritas found a ready and willing audience. Mike amused himself by oiling down the dinghy motor and watching the seagulls try to perform Riverdance on top.
Meanwhile, Cheryl was on a dive trip to Cozumel. Mike had invited her on the sailing trip, but the dive excursion was already scheduled, and she had to play it cool with the guy that she was secretly crazy about. It was her third trip to Cozumel, one of the world’s best diving sites with pristine reefs, countless fish species and cheap liquor. Unfor- tunately, her diving buddy really liked the budget beer and Cheryl had to babysit her girlfriend often.
A year after we married in May 1991, Mike attended the Doris and Steve Colgate Sailing School in the BVIs. The week-long adventure included extracurricular activities aboard Herb and Nancy Payson’s vessel, Red Shoes. Mike was fascinated with their tales of circumnavigating the world with their teenage son. They talked at length about their cruising lifestyle — living 24/7 aboard a sailboat and traveling to exotic locations on a modest budget. Thus, the seed was planted.
Somehow Mike neglected to mention the liveaboard idea to his wife, even as we chartered bareboats biennally for vacations. It came as quite a surprise when he suggested moving aboard a sailboat upon his retirement from IBM. Okay, surprise is probably a bit of an understatement. Stunned might cover it. My landscaping design and installation business was barely a year old, and I had three more classes to take to earn an associate certificate. What good would the paper, or horticulture, do on a boat?
In February 2007, we visited the Miami Boat Show and gathered as much information as we could. We tentatively told a few friends in south Florida about our idea for the future. They were ecstatic.
At Easter we joined several, other families for a neighborhood gathering. As we seated ourselves and placed decadently loaded plates on the dining table, someone casually asked what the Lezovich family was up to. We announced that we planned to sell our house and move onto a boat. Our friends gaped at us as though the Easter bunny himself had just pirouetted through the front door.
Over the ensuing months, we ramped up our efforts to reduce, recycle and declutter. One weekend I returned from a Girl Scout pilgrimage to Savannah, Georgia, and discovered that Mike had arranged for complete strangers to move into our basement to help renovate the house. It was his personal job assistance program for the homeless.
Twenty-one months later, we finally had a buyer for our house. We closed on the same day that Mike flew to the People’s Republic of China on a business trip. Three days later, his first workday in Beijing, he was offered a retirement package from IBM.
The universe continued to support our plan. Great friends let us move into their house so Mikayla could finish middle school. At one point there were four adults, three kids and two dogs under one roof. That scene was repeated when Mike’s sister Ellen invited us to join her family in May 2010 in Lakeland. Just a month later Mike found our new home, Happy Times, a Manta, at the Regatta Pointe Marina in Palmetto, Florida, and by July she was ours.