Two octogenarians ‘team up’ to set sail on Biscayne Bay

Two octogenarians ‘team up’ to set sail on Biscayne Bay

Octogenarians Gary Sisler and Bert Colville team up to cruise Biscayne Bay aboard the Yemanjah.

Two octogenarians with a passion for sailing have teamed up to continue plying the seas after coincidentally finding each other at East Ridge at Cutler Bay, the life plan community for senior living.

“I was chatting with a friend about how much I missed sailing,” said Gary Sisler, 82, who formerly sailed Biscayne Bay on Horse Feathers, a 28-foot sailboat he sold just before moving to East Ridge at Cutler Bay.

That’s when he learned fellow retiree and East Ridge resident Bert Colville, 86, still sailed out of Coconut Grove Sailing Club, albeit with one major obstacle.

Bert owned a boat but had no car to drive the 12 miles to Coconut Grove where his 30-foot sloop on Biscayne Bay was docked. As a consequence, for the past three years Bert has commuted almost four hours each way — by walking, biking, riding buses and the Metrorail to finally get to his beloved boat.

Upon learning about Bert‘s long commute, Gary said, “There was only one thing for me to do. I invited Bert to lunch and said, ‘I’ve got the car. You have the boat. How about I drive us, if you’ll let me come aboard your boat for a sail once in a while?’”

Now, the two East Ridge “salts”’ try to get in weekly sails together aboard Bert’s uniquely named sail boat Yemanjah.

“I know it‘s an oddity but that was her name when I bought it, and it was painted so well on the boat’s stern that I left it alone,” Bert said.

He “Googled” the name and discovered that when he and Gary sail they are being watched over by “Yemaya,” the name of a mythical African Goddess of the Living Ocean, which means “motherly protected.”

“Biscayne Bay is really a very unique asset to this area,” said Bert, a former TWA ticketing agent, originally from Connecticut. “It’s not like Fort Lauderdale where you sail directly onto ocean waters. Instead, you have this protected Bay, 50 miles long by 10 miles wide to enjoy a day of sailing.”

For Gary, retired from his commercial real estate business, it was “an end to three years of frustration, after I’d been sailing all my life. It was just great to meet up with a fellow sailor like Bert,” he said.


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