“We sold our old boat, our home, the furniture, and one of our cars to build the boat of our dreams, Magic Moment, (our wedding song)—then we left our jobs and headed south,” Carol Montgomery tells me over a cool drink at Bahia Redonda Marina, Puerto la Cruz, Venezuela.
One of the more interesting aspects of cruising is the fun of meeting other travelers who don’t ‘fit inside the box’ – professionals who have decided not to postpone touring until retirement but to take a sabbatical from their jobs—now. Just such a couple is Gene and Carol Montgomery, computer consultants, who live and cruise on their gorgeous custom 60’ ketch, Magic Moment.
Hailing from the New York/New Jersey area in the United States, both were from families who owned power boats; Gene lived on the Jersey shore where he was a weekend fishermen while Carol lived on board a 41’ Hatteras in Long Island Sound. Carol started sailing with friends in the early 1980s while Gene had a Spirit 23’ Kagen, which he sailed on weekends in Barnegat Bay, N.J. The two met in ‘82 when they were hired as consultants on the same contract. They spent that summer sailing on Kagen and then traded up, buying a 30’ Newport, Genecar. “It was sailing on Genecar that we devised a plan of cruising in the future. As we sailed down the Jersey Shore, we decided to see the world rather than start a family,” Carol tells me.
“We knew we wanted a center cockpit so we bought an Irwin ’38 Into the Wind, which again was used as a weekender. Taking a month off, we cruised Maine in ’95. Gene actually quit his job for this trip and enjoyed it so much that we could see doing this again in the future. Knowing what we wanted, we took naval architect Dave Gerr pages of our ideas filled with pictures we liked of bows, sterns, interiors, sheer and exterior lines, etc. After spending a day with him, he understood our needs and surfaced with the initial design, which was perfect for us.”
Built by Kanter Yachts in St. Thomas, Ontario, Magic Moment is an aluminum center cockpit ketch with a 6’ draft, twin screws and rudders, a 15’ beam, and measuring 52’ on-deck (and much longer with her gorgeous bow sprit and dinghy davits) – all part of Gerr’s design.
“The interior is a cherry veneer with two full staterooms with heads, a salon and galley combination, bookshelves and all the accoutrements of home—we are really happy with ideas that we never would have thought of such as a full pantry. In August of ’98, we brought her through the Erie Canal to Jersey City at Liberty Landing and began living on board. Built on a ‘time and materials’ schedule, we needed to do more work. Five years later Magic Moment was headed down the Jersey coast and our first season of full time cruising,” says Carol.
“By 2004 we had cruised the Bahamas, followed by a two year job stint in Florida, again doing consulting work. In 2006 we left Tampa, sailed over to Marathon, re-sailed the Bahamas and began coming down the island chain meeting friends also on sabbaticals—cruising together. We made it to Venezuela, which we love, and are now enjoying a leisurely return up the islands to New York, where we will resume our working schedule—until we cruise again. Our current plan is to consider retiring in five years.”
I certainly admire the vision and spunk of ‘Sabbatical Cruisers’. Life is not a dress rehearsal and it is great to know that working professionals are taking to the sea and living their dreams.
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.