our purchasing Sea-Breeny, a 26-foot Sea Ray Sport Cruiser we named
after Odalis’ granddaughter Sabrina.
THE BLISS OF ODALIS LOVING BOATS!
Our outings in Sea-Breeny were many, each more memorable than
the one before, making a true believer out of Odalis — a first-time
boater herself. Her newfound love for boating became just as intense
as mine, if not more. Her passion for it brought us even closer than
before. Our investment in Sea-Breeny paid off handsomely as we were
both rewarded, many times over, in enjoyment and good times.
After two wonderful years with Sea-Breeny, we decided to sell
our small mobile-radiology business, which had thrived for five years,
but with the economy the way it was back then, business was taking
a turn for the worse. To Odalis, our obvious need to downsize our
expenses was indelibly associated with selling the boat — a heartbreaking proposition after all the good times and joyous moments
we’d had. Sea-Breeny had become a part of our lives, our marriage,
our love. For me, selling her was the crushing of my soul. We may
never buy another boat, I worried. The only thing left to do was to
thank God for all the good times I’d enjoyed as a boater and for
allowing Odalis to become a true boater, too, if for the briefest time.
Sea-Breeny had become for Odalis what The Torment had been for me:
the beginning of a long-lasting love of boating.
CLOSE YOUR EYES AND PRETEND
Our sadness turned to resignation, as we watched flocks of weekend
vessels skimming along the beloved waters of Miami’s Biscayne Bay.
Sea-Breeny had left a void in our lives. Yet thoughts of The Torment,
in its never-ending inspirational role, were there for me, and I built
hope on the thought that everything in life is possible, or nothing is
really impossible, if we set our minds to do it.
Our urge to find a replacement hobby led us to purchase a
Harley Davidson motorcycle. In my early childhood, back in Cuba
in the 1950s, these vehicles were used as part of the courting ritual.
Up-and-coming teenagers in the island, the pride and joy of Cuba’s
elite, would use their machines, showing off to glamorous
señori-tas in their school buses, in exchange for a glance or a smile. In
54 | BoatU.S. Magazine
a few months, our new hobby had us cruising along the Venetian
Causeway, which connects Miami’s mainland with the beaches. As
we were crossing the causeway on our motorcycle, Odalis tapped
my shoulder, and pointed at the spectacular view of the ICW channels. She, too, felt withdrawal from the fresh smell of the sea — that
forbidden fragrance, forever embedded in our souls. I said to myself,
we need a boat again.
In the weeks that followed, I began to dream. I thought about
how we could buy a boat we could afford — and I would not,
under any circumstance, entertain any financing. Realizing that the
longevity of ownership for my previous boats had been, in one way
or another, subjected to the ups and downs of my business career,
I made up my mind that this time around, I wouldn’t allow for any
contingencies to affect the length of this ownership. I wanted to buy
a boat we could afford, for cash.
After a prolonged search that lasted over four months, I became
the proud owner of a 1990, 20-foot Regal bowrider with a 90-horse
Yamaha. The boat was cosmetically immaculate. Its fiberglass and
gelcoat were gleaming as though it were a new boat. A brief sea
trial proved that the Yamaha was mechanically sound, and so was a
meticulously upgraded trailer. This boat had been stored in a covered
space and given a lot of TLC. I was ecstatic with the purchase and
decided it was time to introduce the new vessel to Odalis by taking
her out on Biscayne Bay.
Photo: Bernadette Bernon
After launching the boat for the first time at Matheson Park
Marina, we cautiously followed, at the required low speeds, the many
other vessels leaving the channel with us. While parading the channel, Odalis and I looked at each other, grinning with the realization
that we were, once again, on the water, enjoying the smell of sun
and saltwater. We approached the exit of the channel with immense
anticipation. The thought of opening the throttle of the Regal, which
is what we named her, and letting the ocean air embrace us once
again was exhilarating.
The Regal was only a bit bigger than the Boston Whaler tender
on my old 46-footer. You’d think there would be a lot missing from
the lost amenities once offered by the bigger crafts, but I was feeling
precisely the opposite. Notwithstanding its much smaller size, there
was something about the Regal that brought an unmatched enjoyment compared to the boats that came before her. It was, without
doubt, the priceless realization of total ownership — that incredible
pleasure of knowing that just about nothing will ever make you part
with your vessel, except, perhaps, for death itself — a soothing feeling to say the least. In the confined space of a 20-foot craft, I felt the
openness that no other craft has ever offered.
As the pleasant reality of boatownership began to sink in, I reminisced about days gone by. I thought of all the vessels I once had:
Fury, Scorpio, Little Flower I, Little Flower II, Sea-Breeny ... all of them
had touched my life. As I now enter into my sunset years, I can offer
renewed testament about how much boating has taught me and how
proud I am of being a boater. Inspiration can be found in the most
uninspiring and least expected events in our lives. In my case, one of
the most important happened long ago, when I saw a tired “For Sale”
sign on the rusted bow rail of a sorry-looking craft, The Torment, and
a whole new world opened to me.
Obie Usategui is semi-retired and lives in Miami. In their spare time, he
and Odalis work on their boat and ride their motorcycle.
OCTOBER | NOVEMBER 2011