“We are all inventors, each sailing out on a voyage of discovery,
Guided by a private chart, of which there is no duplicate.
The world is all gates, all opportunities”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
One of the things I loved the most about traveling to sunny Southwest Florida, most specifically Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands, is that I got the chance to participate in activities that represented real challenges, allowed me to face my fears and finally conquered them!
Besides learning River Kayaking (in an area where crocs live), I also had the chance to go sailing on board the Smoke & Roses, the largest private sailing catamaran in Florida.
Captain Dan Long and Captain Agnes Long are the owners.
Their story not only is inspiring, it is incredible! I really loved learning about how they left behind their successful careers in order to follow their dreams. They say that if you follow your heart, success will follow. It couldn’t be more true!
Originally from South Dakota, Dan was a retired firefighter and Agnes owned a Rose business, that’s how they came up with the name Smoke & Roses 🙂 Both have always had a true passion for water. They are US Coast Guard Captains, certified PADI Scuba divers and hold many ASA (American Sailing Association) sailing certifications!
They purchased the 47 feet, luxurious Leopard sailing Catamaran in 2004 and they worked in the charter business in Tortola, British Virgin Islands for a period of 8 years. Then they decided to move to Southwest Florida, to Port Charlotte which is where they currently live and operate from.
They offer private charter excursions for groups of 6 persons maximum. They start from a sunset cruise (2 hours) to half a day/full day cruise (4 & 8 hours) and longer voyages (2 days to a full week) are also possible.
We were invited to go on a sunset cruise, sadly that day it was a grey rainy day, however that did not stop us from embarking on an adventure!
We arrived at their lovely home, where their spectacular vessel is docked.
We got on board and toured the impressive interior.
There are 4 queen size cabins and each equipped with an en suite bathroom.
Exterior sitting area
Bimini shaded cockpit
As soon as everyone was on board and once we got ourselves comfortable, we set sail for Charlotte Harbor.
Stunning houses (actually mansions) can be admired along the way. One can always daydream right? 🙂
Leaving everything behind and going into the open water.
What amazed me the most was the absolute feeling of calmness, tranquility and just be in awe at what is right in front of you.
It really does relax you and take away any worry, any fear and just concentrate on appreciating the present and that special moment.
Was I happy? Well, if you add a nice hot chocolate in a mug and a nice blanket, you bet 🙂
Now I am quite curious and restless by nature, so I was observing what the Captains were doing.
So I started asking them questions. They say that curiosity is the sign of intelligence eh? 🙂
Well little did I know that I was going to be asked to help even if it was for a few minutes. Being at the helm? Great, I kicked my fear right into the water!
As I mentioned earlier, it had been raining since we set sail and now the wind was picking up so they needed to adjust the sails. Therefore I was given instructions to hold on to the wheel for a couple of minutes and I did under a watchful eye!
I sure had a blast!
Captain Agnes deployed the mast and it was just an amazing to see her in action!
She was very focused, fast and this was the final result. Way to go 🙂
Afterwards it was smooth sailing as Captain Dan took control once again and I just sat back & enjoyed the rest of the trip 🙂
Now I definitely understand what it means to sail away and let fears go!
I am quite grateful and happy that I had the chance to experience and feel the exhilaration.
I now have more respect for people who love the sea and work hard but do it with so much passion. They literally put their heart and soul into everything they do 🙂
Sadly all things come to an end and we wish we had seen the sunset on our last day in Charlotte Harbor but trust me incredible feelings and unforgettable lessons learned will be something that will stay with me….forever!
If you are ever in Southwest Florida, I highly recommend going on a sailing trip. It is the ultimate expression of freedom. It is so much fun and very relaxing.
To learn more or to check out their latest adventures, you can go visit their site http://www.smokeandroses.com
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Dan and Agnes Long for their warm welcome, kindness, patience, fantastic & adventurous spirit and specially for trusting me even if it was for a brief moment. They helped me face my fear and believe in myself more than they’ll ever know. They truly are professionals and I loved seeing them live the biggest adventure of all, the life they always dreamed of 😉
Now I know what this quote means
“Life isn’t about waiting for the winds to change…
It’s learning to adjust your sails”
No matter what comes at you, face it, change directions, have fait and you’ll come out stronger than ever 🙂
Thank you also to Charlotte Harbor CVB & Above Water PR for organizing this memorable and exceptional journey. It sure will go in the history books and will definitely help me go on my first cruise!
Now, it’s your turn!
Have you ever gone sailing?
Where was it and what did you learn from it?
If you haven’t yet, would you like to or are you afraid?
Tell me all about it!
I really look forward to reading from you, so don’t be shy & share it with us.
Until next time,
I wish you all the best and happy sailing!
More adventures in Charlotte Harbor & The Gulf Islands to read:
An adventure on the Boca Grande bike path
How a kayak adventure helped me conquer my biggest fear
Shop, eat, stay and play at Fishermen’s Village in Punta Gorda, Florida