Bob Franklin, one of the most knowledgeable power boaters I have ever met, lived in Houston as a teenager and started sailing on the Gulf of Mexico from Galveston. Now in his 80s, he has spent most of his married life with wife Susan in boats, around boats, or messing with boats.
Bob met Susan, an Austrian/American, when she was in Madeira, Portugal, on a holiday. The two married in 1974 in Nevada and their boating adventures began. Susan attended Annapolis Sailing School and, after sailing the California coast with friends, the couple moved to the East Coast where they bought a 16’ Bayliner. In 1986 they moved to Florida and bought Pipe Dream 1, a 34’ SeaRay flybridge, on which they cruised the west coast of Florida.
Susan loves the lifestyle. “It’s like a snail—you carry your house with you and have everything you want aboard.” Pipe Dream II followed—another SeaRay, this time a 36’ flybridge—and just two years later, wanting an even faster cruiser, they bought a second 36’ SeaRay, Pipe Dream III, with twin cat diesel engines. Cruising at 26 knots, they visited the Bahamas, Dry Tortugas, and the lower east coast of Florida.
In 1994 Bob sold his cable TV company and retired. “We did the Great Circle going across the Okeechobee Waterway to the East Coast, up the intercoastal to New York, up the Hudson River to Lake Champlain, through the St. Lawrence Seaway, into Lake Ontario and up to the Trent-Severn Waterway, with its 44 manually-
operated locks. I was most impressed by the college students working for the Canadian Park Service who operate the locks.”
The couple continued on to Georgian Bay, into Lake Huron, under the Mackinaw Bridge to Chicago, and explored mid-American waterways. Traveling down the Illinois, Mississippi, Ohio, and Tennessee Rivers to Kentucky Lakes, they entered the Tenn-Tom (the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway) which took them to Mobile, the Gulf of Mexico, and finally to Florida.
In 1996 they bought a larger and quieter boat, Pipe Dream IV, a Hatteras 42 LRC, and began their offshore cruising. “As we were on the governing board of the US Power Squadron, we sold our house and took Pipe Dream IV to Puerto Rico for the squadron spring meeting. In every marina in Puerto Rico we were welcomed with open arms. We received the key to the city in Boquerón from the mayor where there were 100 boats ‘rafting up’ for a two-day Memorial Day celebration. We then took eight months and cruised down through the islands to Trinidad. In August of 2000 we joined friends in Venezuela where we have cruised all of the southern islands.”
The friendly couple is now based out of Bahia Redonda in Puerto la Cruz where Bob, known as “The Mayor,” says, “Like hundreds of expatriate cruisers, we love South America where we can travel by land or sea. We have enjoyed the ABCs, many of the Los Roques Islands, Margarita, Los Testigos, Blanquia and the Aves.”
Bob and Susan recently returned, by air, to Florida for medical check-ups. However, Pipe Dream IV is still at Bahia Redonda so we know they will show up any day now. I speak for everyone at the marina when I say, “Hurry back—we miss you.”
Nancy Terrell is a freelance writer who has lived in the Caribbean for 21 years. She holds an MA Degree in Literature and is currently cruising on her trawler, Swan Song, throughout the Caribbean.Tweet