Alexander Watson's book about the purchase, restoration of a classic wooden yacht, and eventual odyssey to the hilly port of Cincinnati could have taken many paths: It could have been a buddy movie, with Dale Harris as the noble sidekick, the Sundance Kid to Alexander's Butch, but it isn't. It could have been a travelogue featuring the hidden delights of sexy anchorages and unusual but good for your budget eateries. It isn't. What it is--first of all, it's delightful--is a voyage of discovery, engendered by that most difficult of all human actions--decisions. In choosing first to buy a boat, next to buy a swamped kit without the assembly instructions, and then to eventually decide to leave the relatively safe home ground in Texas for the unknown wilds of Ohio, Alexander and Dale changed their lives completely. It could have gone so wrong: as Alexander at one point notes, "a boat is hole in the water you pour money into." Sir Thomas Lipton quipped about owning a boat, if you have to ask how much anything costs, you can't afford it. They could have ended in a toxic mess of failed expectations, or disasters caused by inexperience or dangerous conditions. Many marriages have come apart when a couple puts to sea for the voyage of their dreams. But none of that happened. They triumphed.
Watson and Harris illustrate how significant one single choice can be in finding a way to make a wholesome, fulfilling (and not too fattening) life. That choice provided direction, an almost impossible check-list of tasks to do and hurdles to vault, and they were rewarded with safe harbor and the admiration of all they have met along the way. Hurrah for the choice, the journey, and the beautiful 'Betty Jane.'