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By Cypress Cove Resident Robert Runck
If Cypress Cove had a travel championship, Dick and Mona Lee Davis might well be titleholders. To see why, read on.
The Davis couple were high school sweethearts. Their first date was to Dick’s junior prom. After graduation Dick joined the Navy, serving four years aboard a submarine, the USS Gudgeon, stationed in Pearl Harbor and cruising the Pacific Ocean, while Mona Lee studied nursing at Englewood Hospital in New Jersey.
She joined Dick in Hawaii, and they married in 1959, living in Hawaii shortly before it became a state. Daughter Tammy was born a year later, and they moved back to New Jersey.
Following his Navy service, Dick began a 26-year career with IBM, servicing and teaching personal computer repair. Mona Lee began a 25-year nursing career in early oncology, critical care and intravenous therapy.
Their love of sailing began when they moved to Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey, and wanted to enjoy a family sport.
They bought an old wooden sailboat which tended to waterlog and sink lower in the water over the course of the summer.
They taught themselves to sail by mimicking the yacht club races on the weekend. Later they took formal lessons at a “live aboard” sailing school in Long Island.
Dick was certified by the Coast Guard to carry passengers on a charter boat service in the Caribbean, where they vacationed every winter and fell in love with the lifestyle.
A transfer from New Jersey brought them to Florida in 1979, enabling them to sail the beautiful Gulf waters, the Keys and the Bahamas. They arrived towing a 22- foot Catalina. “Put a boat in the water and it grows” is what Dick says. Several boats later they bought a 41-foot Morgan Ketch, Independence.
Dick’s early retirement in 1987 after 25 years with IBM enabled them to fulfill the dream of moving aboard and living on the boat full-time.
They left Florida with no timeline or final destination, ultimately docking in a well-guarded marina in Venezuela. They safely left their boat in the marina and traveled throughout Venezuela, touching down in Columbia on their flight to the Galapagos Islands.
In 1989, they found themselves in Puerto Rico in the path of Hurricane Hugo. They tied their boat down in a mangrove “hurricane hole” and took refuge with hospitable islanders.
After five years of cruising the Caribbean, it was time to come home. Their interest in South America had been piqued, so they returned the following January for a three-month walkabout with one small duffel bag and two plane tickets, one to Buenos Aires and a return flight from Rio de Janeiro.
Arriving at the tip of South America, they booked a one-day visit to Antarctica being offered on military flights but were continuously bumped and never made it.
They sold their beloved boat Independence and bought a motor home, traveling the U.S. and Canada, including a 17,000-mile trip to Alaska.
After several years of cruising the inland waterways in a 36-foot trawler, they spent the next two decades traveling the world, to six continents and 78 countries.
They’re now pleased to be part of the Cypress Cove family since February 2022, where Dick, an accomplished artist, paints, and Mona Lee writes.