Retiring to the Open seas

For some, retirement leads to drinking sweet tea on the front porch, reading books poolside, or joining a knitting club. That lifestyle is not for Linda Williams.

This year, she retired after 30 years at Cleveland High School as a librarian and now she’s moving on to her next position – first mate.

In February 2013, Linda and her husband, Jesse, moved all of their belongings onto a 43-foot Albin troller, “A Bama Dream.”

“Five years ago, we sold our home in Brooksville and moved into a temporary home,” Linda said. “We wanted to not worry about things back home. The fewer things we have, the better off we are.”

In October, the Williamses will begin the “Great Loop,” a trip beginning on the Mississippi River, traveling down through the Gulf of Mexico, then along the east coast, back through a northern water channel, and returning to the Mississippi where they began their journey. It might sound simple, but this venture could take anywhere from one to two years.

“Most people think we are crazy,” she said. “But I wouldn’t be able to retire if all I was going to do was sit on the porch in a rocking chair.”

This wasn’t a split-second decision. For years, Jesse has wanted to live on a boat.

“I was the one who needing convincing,” Linda said. “It just never felt like the perfect time, but five years ago we were at Guntersville Lake for Memorial Day weekend, and we saw this boat docked, and Jesse turned to me and said, ‘We could do that.’ I finally said, ‘Yeah, maybe I’m ready.’”

The couple also didn’t take the task lightly. They thoroughly researched the trip and became members of the American Great Loop Cruisers Association, where they could learn from those who had already traveled the loop.

What they did not need to prepare for was the extensive journey because they are no strangers to long-term adventures. In a recent excursion, they drove 10,000 miles in an RV for 66 days on a trip out west and visited 15 national parks.

Luckily, Linda says they are water-oriented people, so the transition shouldn’t be difficult.

The duo also won’t be too far away from the coast at any point during the “Great Loop.”

Besides a couple of planned ventures out into the open seas, “A Bama Dream” will remain parallel to the shore which will allow for the Williamses to buy groceries and do laundry when they come across a marina.

“We’ve lived on “A Bama Dream” for more than a year already,” Linda said. “We feel very comfortable and are ready for this new experience.”

The troller is spacious, especially for just the two of them. It includes two staterooms (bedrooms), a galley (kitchen), a saloon (living room), and two heads (bathrooms).

Although this will be their first time traveling on a boat for such a long period of time, Linda says that’s the point.

“I once saw a bumper sticker that said – ‘Adventure is dangerous. Boredom is deadly.’ That’s basically my mindset as well,” she said.