Jimmy Buffett, and the doors of summer slam shut.

It’s Labor Day weekend and it’s been chilly in the mornings, a clear message that fall is on the way.

I recall years ago, a friend Port (he was a sailor and yes, that really was his name) once remarked that on Labor Day, if you listened closely, you could hear the “doors” of summer slam shut.

For most this weekend marks the end of yet another summer season that went by way too fast.  “What happened to summer?  It seems like yesterday that it was Memorial day.”

Yes, summer is over in more ways than one with the passing of singer Jimmy Buffett, THE original summer guy, marking the end of decades of summers that he shared with millions around the world.

On Friday Jimmy Buffet died in his home in Sag Harbor at the age of 76.  It has been reported that he died of lymphoma, a complication of melanoma, in itself a sad reminder of the dangers of living an “endless summer”.  For a guy that embodied “summer” that was a particularly cruel end.

To be sure, Jimmy had a lot of fun over the years and inspired generations to kick back and enjoy life in a world where it seems that everyone is scrambling to climb to the top.  I expect that there are thousands that have taken stock of their lives, in no small part, inspired by the words of his songs.  Perhaps his passing will inspire more to head out for adventure before it is too late.

He wrote in his memoir “You know that Death will get you in the end. But if you are smart and have a sense of humor, you can thumb your nose at it for awhile.”

In a way, the timing of his passing, on Labor Day weekend, the official end of summer was sadly fitting.

Along with being a talented singer and song writer, he also wrote a number of books and when I turned 50, 18 years ago not to put too fine a point on it, a friend gave me copy of his book “A pirate looks at 50“.    You can order a copy from Amazon for about five bucks. It is a touching and amusing book about his life and a trip that he took to mark his half century, seen through the eyes of someone who was crossing the threshold from young to “old” or at least into the second half…

When I remarked to the friend that shared a copy, the message of the book resonated with me but my friend was quick to point out that “your turning 50 is NOTHING like Jimmy Buffett turning 50”.  Fair enough.

For me though, it was a timely read as we had sold our company and I knew that I’d be retiring within a few years, by my 55th birthday, my goal since I was in my early 20s.  It turned out, compliments of the “great recession” that I had to work an extra year and retired six years later at 56.  Not bad for a “newly sort of old guy” that I had become.

Like Jimmy, I too had no particular idea of where life would take me if I looked back when I was young.  The idea of heading to the Bahamas was the extent of it and that was a stretch, never imagining that I would end up in the Caribbean, sailing thousands of blue water miles and would now be leading a group that runs rallies there every year, Salty Dawg.  In many ways, my involvement in this group has come to define my “later years”.

I have been thinking of Buffett more lately as when I was in Sag Harbor a few weeks ago I saw Buffett’s boat.  In spite of being worth an estimated one billion, he still owned a small boat, his 49′ Pacific Seacraft built “Drifter” and it was there.  She is only a few feet longer than Pandora but probably cost 3x as much. Her accommodations are amazing. I’m guessing that a lot of Margaritas were served in her cockpit.

The coolest of his vehicles though, was his Grumman Albatross flying boat.  An awesome plane that I believe he flew on and piloted during the trip that inspired his book “A pirate looks at 50”. This is a walk-thru of a sister ship of Buffett’s plane.  It’s a remarkable “yacht” or “camper” as it’s described in the video.   Enjoy.This link will take you to the sale listing for the plane at the broker.   The listing is from 7 years ago and I doubt that it’s still on the market.  However, at the time, the asking price was $375,000.  For a machine of this complexity, I expect that the annual maintenance is plenty.  What a plane.  Land this baby on a lake somewhere and enjoy the moment. Makes me want a margarita.

And, speaking of margaritas, here’s the a video posted over the weekend by CNN, a short summary of “the man”, Margaritaville himself and all that flowed from his laid back island vibe.I guess he had plenty boats, planes etc, appropriate for a guy with a net worth of a billion.

When he built his sailboat, Drifter he had downsized from a Delta 125 which he sold ostensibly because he didn’t use it enough.  His last boat, built in 2019 was also blue, appropriately names Last Mango.  is blue as well, like his sailboat “Drifter:.  Here’s Last Mango, Jimmy Buffett’s last boat.I have no idea if Pandora will be our last boat but this coming season, as have noted in past posts, takes me and Brenda into our second decade of winter cruising.

I have booked a slip in Hampton, VA for the month of October to allow me to run Pandora down to VA before the weather gets too cold.  An easy trip might be wishful thinking as according to our weather router, Chris Parker, even late September may prove to be a bit challenging for southbound traffic as the  weather windows for southbound runs are already getting shorter.    Wish me luck on that as it’s only a few weeks until I begin to head south.

On October 26th, a month later, I will head around to downtown Hampton to join in the rally departure festivities, leading up to the start of our run to Antigua on November 1st, weather permitting.

I wonder how many have “cast off the docklines” and headed out to cruise the world, or at least the Bahamas and Caribbean over the years, inspired by Jimmy Buffett.

In my own small way, I hope that I too have done the same for at least a few others that have decided, over the years, after listening to may many webcasts on the Bahamas, Cuba and the Caribbean, to head south to warmer climes,

When it begins to get cold up in the north, Labor Day arrives and the “iron doors slam shut” another opens as the warm tropical waters beckon for yet another season afloat.

Soon enough it will be winter and those who are not lucky enough to head south to the mythical Margaritaville will have to take solace in listening to the laid back summertime ballads of Jimmy Buffett.

And yes, after all those lazy summers, it seems that his passing makes the iron gates of summer slam just a bit louder than normal.

Perhaps a good place to end is with this live recording of the Margaritavill man himself from a concert way back in 1993, no less relevant 30 years later.   This song always makes me smile as much as it did when I first heard it so long ago. Makes me feel old but I still like margaritas and they will always make me think about Jimmy Buffett.

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