For Jeff and Judy Wahl wintertime is a time to break away from the hustle and bustle of life and head to the serenity of the ocean and their boat “Island Mistress.”


Most of the time the Wahls head south before winter hits. But this year Jeff says they hope to head south in February. As the owners of Lewis & Clark Resort they are busy overseeing a major construction project.

Living on a boat for the winter months began in 2004. The couple took their boat “Dream Catcher” to the Florida Keys for three and half months.

“Living on that was pretty tight quarters,” said Judy. “You have to get creative when you live on a smaller boat.”

“It’s hard to entertain yourself… you play a lot of cards.”

Judy also says you have to get pretty creative in the way you cook on a small boat.

“Just throw stuff together; whatever you have in the refrigerator. I can never duplicate the same thing cause I don’t know what I did,” she adds.

In 2005, Jeff says, they bought their 47 foot Wellington the “Island Mistress.” By Labor Day 2005 they launched from Seattle and headed to Mexico.

Since then the Wahl’s have been taking to the open waters, visiting exotic locations in Mexico and many other ports of interest.


Jeff and Judy Wahl

For them this is a time to relax.


“It’s more relaxing to live on a boat,” says Judy. “You don’t have the stress of day to day life.”

When they are here (in Yankton) they are in business mode, says Jeff, but once winter comes around and they head to the boat it’s a whole different way of life.

“You get down there and come spring it’s ‘I don’t want to go back,’” he adds.

Often times Jeff and Judy don’t know what day it is, or even what month, because life is so much different.

“When you’re gone for five months it seems like a long time.”

Judy says last year when they got down there they started doing things really quickly to make up for lost time. They had only been there a week or two she said, but “towards the end when it was time to head home it was like ‘I’ve only got a month left.’”

Jeff and Judy have places they want to visit, soon. One place is Ecuador, but there is so much to see it’s hard to get it all in.

“I want to go to the Galapagos Islands and Judy wants to go to the South Pacific.

So we might go to the South Pacific and come back.”

Life on the boat can be so relaxing, and Judy says the only real stressor is when things break down. When you live on a boat there are always projects because, as Jeff puts it, there is always some thing breaking down.

“It’s all a part of living on a boat. The definition of cruising … Doing Boat Repairs in Exotic Places.”

Over the years one thing Jeff and Judy have come to realize is their travels are really about the cultures and the people they meet. So many times people who sail don’t take the time to go inland and meet the people, they said.



“We’ve been invited to birthday parties; we’ve traveled most all of Mexico. A lot of inland miles,” said Jeff.


“A lot of people sailing, cruising, stick to that sliver of land along the ocean. Well, we go inland.”

If you just stay on your boat your missing something, adds Judy.

Jeff says Mexicans are one of the nicest cultures and people you could meet.

“They are just lovely people. Especially if you get off the beaten path and get back into the old villages and old towns.”

Jeff says that many times they will return to an area just to see some of the people they have met over the years.

Over the years Jeff and Judy have met some wonderful people and made life-long friends — both inland and in port. Jeff said it’s not unusual to meet someone and then five years later see them again in a different port.

They’ve even met people from this part of the country — and even the Yankton area.

“It’s a small world. You never know who you are going to meet sitting at the bar.”

“A lot of the people that we have met are more than friends. They are family,” says Judy.

Judy says she does miss some things when they are out on the boat — things like her house and some of the creature comforts we are all used to.

“Mostly its things you don’t have” like storage and the space to walk around.

Jeff says that when you come back from being on the boat so long, you begin to realize just how much stuff you buy that you don’t really need.

But it’s a good thing they have bought things during their travels. Judy says they have been able to decorate their condo with items they have found in Mexico.

Overall, Jeff and Judy wouldn’t trade life on the boat for anything. The people they’ve met and the places they’ve been could easily outweigh the lack of creature comforts for a few months.

And besides, who couldn’t handle going for a relaxing cruise?

Jeff says he recommends the lifestyle to everybody.

“It’ll probably increase your longevity.”

For more photos of the Island Mistress, click here to view them on Spotted!