Salute to Senior Cruisers

Just prior to Labor Day weekend, we pulled into Pelican Bay/Cayo Costa aboard Leap of Faith. There were only three boats there when we arrived, and we knew all three of them. Some of you may remember Salty Shirl, the solo sailor at 81 years of age. She lives aboard a tiny sailboat with no refrigeration, and has no ties to land.


We met her several years ago, after she beached her boat to scrap barnacles. It was nice to see that she was still out there, living free. We took her a care package (rum and cigarettes), only to learn that she recently had a pacemaker installed. She still took the rum, but returned it after one drink. She was in the process of painting her topsides with Rustoleum. She said she didn’t want someone to find her dead on a dirty boat. Later we dropped off some canned goods. She had mentioned that her dinner was beans and Rotella. She called it chili.

She was ornery as ever.

In the same anchorage was Bob, aboard Marabob. He was a sailor for fifty years, before finally buying a trawler, (40′ Pilgrim).


Bob is in his mid-80’s. We’ve seen him all over the west coast of Florida, from Long Boat Key to Pelican Bay. He lost his dog recently, and we were sad for him. He’s managed to keep on keeping on though. We went over to visit him and couldn’t roust him. We hollered his name and banged on his boat. Suddenly, his head popped up out of the water. He was diving the bottom of his boat to clean the hull. We can only hope to be so capable in our 80’s.

As we have no plans to ever quit living aboard, these two salty old souls are an inspiration to us. They have close to 80 years of cruising experience between them. They can tell great stories, and offer valuable information. They were off-grid cruisers before it was cool.

We are lucky to call them friends, and we think they are still pretty cool.

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