"What a wonder life I've had! I only wish I'd realized it sooner." Colette

May 30, 2018


“Chop, chop…time to move!” Tom nudged us along. It was Georgetown, the Bahamas, and after one night in the unprotected anchorage we'd foolishly selected, the Captain and I were moving Ruff Life to Tomboy’s well protected hurricane hole nearby. Tom, an experienced boater, knew what he was doing and kept track of things like ‘tides’; unlike the Captain and me, who couldn’t find our sea-butts with dozens of hands. Tom, a former teacher, generously shared his knowledge during that winter, lucky for us; for I believe that without his help we might never have left Marsh Harbor.

That’s where Tom and Pam Lazio’s paths cross with mine in December, 1997. Two months aboard Ruff Life and already I was done; but all bridges were burned so we were heading to Venezuela, a favorite destination during hurricane season.  We'd sprung for a slip at a marina to work on never-ending boat repairs and calm my nerves, and I was SO looking forward to staying put for a while.

Our cruising time had been anything but smooth sailing, and when a coconut fell just inches away I was convinced my life was hanging by a thread. The marina had creature comforts like TV reception-of-sorts, and each morning we'd have coffee and listen to ‘Lou’ on VHF Channel 68 where he'd broadcast the weather and odd bits of news from around the world; and boaters would radio in with questions, information and items wanted or for sale.  Once repairs were finished, the plan was to go back ‘on the hook’ sloowly to calm my nerves by proving to me it was possible to cruise without being injured.

From my Journal (12/18/97): “We didn’t just go into the harbor – on that stupid 68 ‘chat-radio’ Tomboy  said they were heading south to Little Harbor and eventually Georgetown. Excited to find another trawler, the Captain called and arranged for us to travel together," since we motored at approximately the same speed; besides which we didn't have any charts, assuming in Florida we could pick them up along the way, like at a gas station.

To continue, "I started freaking – we had to quick go to town and quick get back so we could quick get going. Picked up some meat and other groceries; got back to the boat – Tomboy was gone! Oh no! (I could only hope.)"

Well, the Captain found them and off we went.  We followed Tomboy like a shadow for 5 days, grateful Tom took charge of our course. We passed largely uninhabited islands until we reached Georgetown, where we spent six glorious weeks snorkeling, playing volleyball, attending pot lucks and Happy Hours. When Pam produced that huge turkey with all the trimmings for Christmas dinner for 6, I couldn’t have been more surprised if it was David Copperfield.

We continued south while Tomboy remained in Georgetown for the rest of the ‘season’, eventually returning to the States and ultimately their home in upstate N.Y. We’ve kept in touch for 20 years now, for although we come from different backgrounds and life experiences, we share the bond of boating, not easily cast aside. Additionally, during my early days of writing, Tom and Pam’s encouraging critiques were instrumental to once again keep me going.

Therefore, I was very sorry to learn of Tom’s passing this past week. His health had been declining for several years, and while it is heartbreaking for Pam, how wonderful that she could share this reflection:

Please know that Tom lived life to the fullest over our (47) years together, and there is nothing to regret.  A wonderful teaching career before retirement. Our years in boating, meeting new friends in so many places on the water, expanded our horizons exponentially; from our antique wooden boating days on the canals of New York and Canada, to our trawler days on Tomboy, cruising the ICW and Bahamas. Our three vessels motored us through many voyages of adventure, (some not so pleasant), but adding so much to our lives. After leaving the joys of cruising, we transitioned to RV (as some of you also did) and enjoyed visiting you at land bases. We were most happy in our final home, overlooking the waters of Canandaigua Lake.”

What a wonderful tribute, Pam. We will all miss Tom.


  1. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Andrea. What wonderful memories. You were brave enough to go on to Puerto Rico and live a Ruff Life there, so I salute you. We all go on to the next thing. May we remain curious enough to be excited about it.

  2. You are so welcome, gal. And we WILL remain curious.


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