Many of us who have landed and loved at Ocean Reef first arrived by boat.
Remember the opening impressions: piloting your vessel southbound in the Hawk Channel, passing mysterious mangrove keys and cays until a glint of something distinct draws the captain’s eye to a landed outpost that appears wholly settled yet salient to the sea.
Channel markers arise like watery standing stones, leading across the shoal, past The Point of No Return, alongside an impossible fantasy of sunbathers bathing, diners dining, and many are waving at us, enough to distract the master mariner’s steady helm. The boat’s idling progress becomes a narrow navigation now near the Dock House and on to the great basin of great white yachts.
Channel 09 directs us to a slip. Just find it among the alphabet docks and all will be fine until the dock crew outfitted like admirals and handling lines like longshoremen make you feel under dressed, under skilled and overtaken by the elegance of it all. Although fitted out for the spattered sea, we are little prepared for the destination: the improbable salutations and manifold seductions all around.
Several seasons living aboard in this harbor of service and security is enriched by the neighborly fraternity of fellow mariners and friendships that swell like an incoming tide. The serendipitous dockside goings-on, captains, crews and cronies, fishing and frivolity, ebbs and flows and festivities happen. Excellent friends, life-long friends, are made and not forgotten.
We are moving ashore with regrets a-plenty, but now comes a time when the land somehow seems proper, offering a living less needy of adjustments to fenders and lines, deck duties, water fills, pump outs, and the scores of furtive faults and failures that vex life aboard a yacht.
It is a curious thing to move from boat to building, from sea to soil. Like the first gulping amphibious creatures crawling ashore, we are breaking the vast surface tension of the ocean that long held our lives afloat.
We have loved and now landed at Ocean Reef.
Fiona and Randy Woods berthed and lived aboard their motor yacht, Jupiter, seasonally at Ocean Reef for the past five years. After relocating Jupiter to explore the Pacific Northwest, they are, like many before them, moving from their boat to an Ocean Reef residence.