Skip to main content

A learning curve to cruising-Baby Boomers Part 2

Since retiring, Joe and Gail Trachtenberg have broadened their horizons.

Image placeholder title

Joe is a lifelong boater. He loves to fish, but after his retirement the cruising bug bit him. Trachtenberg is in his “mid-60s,” just a tad past the age of a bona fide baby boomer, but he and his wife are helping blaze the trail into this brave new world of learning to do new things in retirement.

Former chairman of piping manufacturer Victaulic, Trachtenberg boated and fished for 30 years out of Long Beach Island, N.J. He owned a 20-foot Grady-White, later a 26-foot Parker, and when he retired to Naples, Fla., three years ago he bought a 26-foot EdgeWater center console for fishing and “puttering around.”

“Then I decided I’d like to try something a little different,” he says. He wanted to cruise Florida’s west coast — explore Sanibel and Captiva, visit Useppa and Boca Grande. The challenge was to woo Gail aboard. “My wife really isn’t crazy about boating,” he says.

He started by learning more about seamanship and navigation. He took a captain’s course, passed the test and received his Coast Guard “six-pack” license to give both himself and Gail confidence in his big-boat skills. He was ready to charter and try out different boats.

“We knew we wanted something with enough room for us, our daughter and her husband, and our 7-year-old grandson,” Trachtenberg says. It also would have to be a boat that Gail was comfortable aboard.

They chartered a 43-foot Mainship trawler, then on later cruises several Grand Banks models. They settled on the Mainship, a “fast trawler” with a semidisplacement hull. The Trachtenbergs found the yacht roomy and laid out well for their extended family, with a master stateroom aft, private guest stateroom for their daughter and son-in-law forward, and a “grandchild’s room.”

Southwest Florida Yachts, of Fort Myers, the company they had chartered with, found a 2006 blue-hulled Mainship 430 Aft Cabin — the last one built — for sale at Petzold’s Marine Center in Portland, Conn. The Trachtenbergs chartered it for a week in July 2007, and that turned out to be the clincher for Gail.

“She enjoyed that vacation so much that she said, ‘Go ahead and buy it,’ ” says Trachtenberg. “If she had hated it, there was no point in spending all that money. Having the chance to charter the boat before we bought it was incredible.”

He and three buddies picked up the boat, Pipe Dream, in Portland that September and delivered it to Naples on a three-week cruise. “We had a ball,” he says. “It was one of the best experiences in any of our lives.”

Since then, Joe and Gail have taken Pipe Dream on the Gulf of Mexico to Key West, a 5-1/2-hour trip. They’ve cruised to Cabbage Key for a taste of Old Florida and the Cabbage Key Inn cheeseburgers that Jimmy Buffett popularized in his song “Cheeseburger in Paradise.” This summer, they plan a multi-week cruise to the Panhandle — Destin and Apalachicola — and next spring they want to take Pipe Dream up to New Jersey to cruise Block Island, R.I., and Nantucket, Mass.

Gail still is a little tentative about boating, but cruising has proven a great opportunity to spend time with the children and grandchildren, who love Pipe Dream. “Sharing in something they really enjoy is the highlight of our boating now,” Trachtenberg says.