Posted by: nauticalchronicles | April 2, 2014


Weddings and Scatterings

Our time on the water is spent mostly cruising to exotic ports, anchoring and mooring with close friends and other famous celebs, aimlessly hovering around the docks making up projects to do (tinkering), swimming and snorkeling off of the many beaches and sandbars available to us. Our evenings, when not underway, are generally spent singing, dancing and in celebration of our extreme good fortune to be able to do all of these things we love and enjoy…in celebration of living. That’s just what we do.

On occasion, however, we (my mate and I) have the opportunity to do things out of the ordinary. For instance, not too long ago, we were asked to perform a “wedding at sea”. Shortly after that, we were asked if we could participate in a wedding by bringing a wedding party, via the bow of our boat, to the wedding site in Newburyport, providing a “grand entrance” of sorts for the crooning couple soon to be officially coupled. And then one day…we were asked if we could help in remembering a loved one who had passed away by spreading their ashes at sea. On these occasions, we are truly thankful to be a part of our boating community.

As is usually the case, I need to explain some things before I can continue expanding on these stories.

Years ago, when I was “in banking”, it became necessary to represent the bank in legal matters (small claims court, mortgage foreclosures, repossessions…); some of these matters required me to become a Notary Public and a Justice of the Peace in New Hampshire. I have maintained these licenses, in good standing, since then. And they have come in handy on many occasions, mostly for friends needing free or almost free notary services (there was a time notaries could charge no more than fifty cents for their service…but, I digress).

Eventually it happened. Many years after leaving the banking profession, Louise’s friend Lindsey was planning her wedding and asked if I could be the officiant since I was a licensed JP. This was a surprise to say the least. I had never done a wedding but had done some public speaking; it would be a challenge but everyone agreed it would be a grand idea. And it was…a grand idea and a lot of fun. There were only two glitches; one: I pronounced their names “Lick & Din” instead of “Dick & Lin” (I got away with it; it looked like it was done on purpose), and two: I cried during the vows. What can I say; I cry at weddings.
Lynn Z & Bob Z
Since that first ceremony, I have performed almost two dozen weddings (at least three of which have been for Lindsey…she does enjoy getting married!)

On a sunny, cloudless day at the docks, as Louise and I were untying the lines, ready to motor “HalfMine” out of the Merrimack River toward parts yet unknown, our good friend Adam stopped long enough to help with the lines…and to ask if we would like to perform his wedding service…on his boat…in two weeks…at sea! I thanked Adam and asked if we could talk further on Sunday when we return. He said, “Sure” (pronounced “showa”).

And so began the planning for Adam and Hannah’s wedding at sea. To be sure, this was to be a spectacular event with the reception to be held at Cove Marina under a large tent with all of the boat owners and their guests, as well as all the family members and their guests. We planned on using “HalfMine” for the ceremony instead of his boat; I planned on wearing my Captain’s uniform (though I did find to my surprise that captains cannot legally officiate unless they are otherwise legally recognized as clergy or justices…but again I digress); Louise was to captain our vessel while the ceremony was being performed.

Our “wedding at sea” was a great success. Only the wedding party was on board. We motored a mile off Hampton’s north beach (since the marriage license had been issued in Hampton the marriage needed to be performed in New Hampshire); Louise drove flawlessly; the weather was agreeable and the seas were calm and very quiet allowing the ceremony to be intimate and meaningful. A champagne toast followed the pronouncement…and a beautiful bouquet of flowers was floated on the picturesque New Hampshire coastal waters. We marked our position on our GPS to remember this event when we again travel this way.

We returned to Cove Marina to the multitude of well-wishers and to an outstanding catered reception. It was a memorable event, for Adam and Hannah, and for the Captain and Mate.

Officiant Bob

Sometime later, well after this wedding, another boating friend asked if we would participate in a similar wedding, only this time we would bring the wedding party, by boat, to the Newburyport town dock; we would not be officiating. The bride and groom would have their ceremony performed on the town common and ours was to be a grand entrance for them. We agreed and made our plans accordingly (my uniform had been freshly cleaned, starched and pressed). On the day of the wedding, the weather did not accommodate us. The Merrimack River was showing whitecaps, rain was threatening and the wind was blowing…”hard now, 60 knots or there a bouts” per J. Buffett. The wedding was able to be performed, and the reception was held under the tent at the marina, but the wedding party decided against the grand entrance by boat. My mate and I were sorely disappointed, but could only imagine what the bride and groom might have looked like on their arrival to the town dock had they chosen to arrive by boat.

A year ago, we received a phone call from Kara and Peter in California. Kara’s mother Elinore is Louise’s closest cousin and one of her few remaining relatives. Louise and I attended Kara and Peter’s wedding with Elinore in San Francisco and have since become very close. They have all visited us many times over the years, and have spent many enjoyable nights and days on our boat.

Elinor's wedding with Louise attending  Louise & Kara Peter & Kara

Kara’s call was that Elinore had passed away after a long battle with dementia. Elinore’s last wishes were that she be cremated and returned to New England, and that her ashes be spread on the water off her beloved New England coast. Could they please make plans to come visit us in the summer and bring Elinore with them? The call came in December; they planned their visit for the following July.

When the boating season commenced last year, we of course mentioned this upcoming ceremony to several of our boating friends. As is usually the case, one of them had performed such an observance on his boat. Jim (Just the Accountant) and his wife Carol own a boat similar to ours and had been asked to do a similar celebration of life for a friend’s mother. As boaters, we always appreciate input from our fellow boaters about all matters of importance, and we always get input whether we want it or not. In this case, Jim’s input was invaluable.

While at sea, off the coast of Salisbury, Jim captained his vessel an appropriate distance off-shore, cut the motors and prepared for the farewell ritual. Words were spoken by family members and tears were shed. He brought the urn to the side of the boat, removed the top and slowly poured the ashes onto the surface of the water. Unfortunately, the wind was such that many of the ashes returned to the cockpit of the boat, onto the family members and adhering to their tears. Jim’s was a lesson well learned and well appreciated by the crew of “HalfMine” and one to be avoided in the future.

Kara and Peter arrived, as scheduled, in July. They stayed for ten days, most of which we spent on the boat. When we get together, which is much too infrequently, we truly do have a celebration of life; this visit was no exception; except that we were really celebrating Elinore’s life and her return to New England.

We chose the best day of their visit. We invited a few of our close boating friends to attend. We headed out of the Merrimack River and turned north. We settled on a spot between the Isles of Shoals and the north beach of Hampton, NH. The weather was perfect; hot and sunny, and the seas were calm and very quiet allowing the ceremony to be intimate and meaningful. Words were spoken by Kara and Louise and tears were shed by all. A Jameson Irish Whiskey toast followed the ceremony…and a beautiful wreath of flowers was floated on the picturesque New Hampshire coastal waters in remembrance of a life well lived. We marked our position on our GPS to remember this event when we again travel this way…”Elinore”.

Elinor's spot

Last week, our daughter, Jennifer, was blessed with another lovely baby girl. She named her Eleanor Grace in memory of our other Elinore.

Louise with Eleanor

Captain Robert Brown
First Mate Louise

the little man








  1. Sniff…sniff….beautiful, Captain Bob! Surprised that there was only one reference to the Jamieson toast! Seems I remember a few others…hmmmmm….

  2. Beautiful Bob .. A tear jerker

  3. Love, love, love. Can you PLEASE do these on audio for you favorite sister? You are a fantastic reader, I should know, I am the audio book queen. Love you, bro ❤

  4. Great memories and well repeated; Thanks Brian

  5. Good one! Congratulations on the new baby!! Looking forward to seeing you in May!

    Sent from my iPhone


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