I dreamed of owning a boat since I was 3 feet tall. But it wasn't until my 61st birthday before I realized that dream — a used Key West 19-foot center-console. We had recently purchased a weekend home near Colonial Beach, on the Virginia side of the Potomac River. From our front deck we could see Cobb Island, 7 miles across the river in Maryland.
The first few weeks I took the boat out several times but stayed close to shore, maybe going as far as halfway across the river. One Saturday morning, I was talking with my neighbor, Keith, about how I wanted to venture over to Cobb Island but didn't yet feel comfortable. He offered to go with me as he'd made the trip several times. We agreed to meet the next morning.
The water was choppier than I would have liked, but Keith assured me the boat could handle it. He taught me that once we got past the buoys marking the creek we lived on to steer toward the radio tower across the river, and that would bring us right to the channel markers to the western inlet of Neale Sound, behind Cobb Island. I soon got comfortable in the waves, which, in hindsight, weren't really that big. I couldn't help but grin when we passed the marker at the entrance to Cobb Island. Crossing the Potomac and rounding Cobb for the first time was my first best day of the water.
Since then, I've visited dozens of nearby gunkholes, hideaways, and restaurants, and just love exploring new places by boat.