This is another installment of “Snapshots Across America” which features a few of the people I meet in my journey. The treasure I find in others never ceases to amaze me.
If you live in the Nashville area, you owe it to yourself to check out a Blue Heron cruise.
The 40’ pontoon boat, based out of Ashland City, TN, cruises the Cumberland River offering nature cruises, kid events or private parties.
The cruise is great—-relaxing and scenic. But one of our favorite things about the cruise is the Captain.
We had our first Blue Heron cruise a few years ago. We were lured by the inexpensive cost—less than ten bucks/person for 2 hours of cruises. And I had a coupon too. We arrived as the earlier cruise was ending.
If a pontoon boat can smile, that’s what the Blue Heron looked like as it motored up to the dock. Or was it the smiles of the passengers? Is THAT the Captain? I wondered.
Meet Captain Jim
Sporting an Einstein-ish shock of gray hair and bare feet….this was not like the Captain dudes in the slick literature for the Nashville General Jackson cruises.
We observed the passengers debarking, many laughing….all smiling.
We found ourselves smiling in anticipation.
As we climbed on board, I realized this was not the Queen Elizabeth. Folding chairs….peanut shells here and there….children’s toys scattered about. Sort of like my living room, minus the compunction to clean up.
A bucketful of fun is on every cruise
Cap’t Jim started tidying up and welcomed us to the next cruise. The kids explored the kid things…fishing nets, balloons, water guns. And of course they spied the munchies….sodas and crackers and chips. It was clear this guy understands what kids like. Probably, as we were to discover….Captain Jim is still very much a kid at heart himself.
We’ve had the joy of cruising the Cumberland with Captain Jim for over a few years now. While the scenery is beautiful it’s Captain Jim that keeps us coming back. The guy isn’t the life of the party….he IS the party.
If there are kids on boards, he may instigate a marshmallow war. Or pass out balloons like he did yesterday….and soon the sound of squeaking filled the air as hands were busy twisting the balloons into shapes.
Or perhaps he’ll pull a child aside to conspire with a trick (like a corny magic trick with a balloon and a fan.)
Troubles never far away...like this dramatic balloon war
But l don’t want to leave the impression that the Captain Jim is one big yuck-yuck after another. He takes the safety of the boat and his passengers seriously. And his skill in handling people is something the world could use more of.
Perhaps rather, it isn’t his skill per se, but rather his heart for people.
Captain Jim is one of the most generous people I’ve ever met. He’ll empty out the tip jar for Daniel when he’s helped on the cruise. When I told him about my friend and her husband (who has Alzheimer’s), he whipped out coupons for a free cruise.
Cap't Jim knows how to engage young and old alike
Then there’s the unemployed financial industry worker who showed up on a cruise one summer. Even though Jim can easily manage the duties of a cruise, he had this fellow “help out” during the summer. (“He’s in between his fortunes right now,” he told us.)
He told me about the autistic young man who’s been coming weekly. (“I think his verbal skills are improving.”) I suspect that like us, this man’s caretaker know Blue Heron offers more than sightseeing.
Jim found his passion for sailing later in life….when he was in his late-thirties. And now the 50-something year old can’t see himself doing anything else in life. (Indeed, it’s pretty tough to imagine this guy in an office.) He could be a success story for Dan Miller’s 48 Days to the Work You Love.
But don’t let his laid back manner fool you either….this guy is no dummy. He can go from shooting a marshmallow into the back of a kid’s head to discussing Dante. Well, actually, he confessed he couldn’t quite get through Dante but he did read a version of it.
I’ve found it fascinating to watch the interaction of people on the boat. (Especially parents with children.) You can actually watch people relax. Folks who board the boat strangers will leave friends. (Perhaps Jim should get some of those politicians on a cruise, eh?)
Captain Jim is a living example of one of my favorite quotes:
“20 Years from now you will regret more the things you didn’t do then the things you did. So cast off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the tradewinds in your sails. Dream, explore, discover” — Mark Twain
Cruising the Cumberland on the Blue Heron
He also reminds me that by living with purpose in whatever your calling may be…you can impact the world one person at a time.
Filed under: 48Days, Snapshots Across America | Tagged: Blue Heron Cruises, Captain Jim Steele, Cumberland River, Pontoon boat cruise, Snapshops Across America | 2 Comments »