S/V Tiger Lilly

Rig heavy, reef early, and pray often; for God does not assure us an easy passage, but He does promise a safe anchorage...

02 January 2018 | Clan Jeti Anchorage, Georgetown, Penang Island, Malaysia
03 November 2016 | Singapore, Southeast Asia
02 October 2016 | Kumai River, Borneo
24 August 2016 | Rindja Island, Indonesia
22 July 2016 | Fannie Bay, Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia
14 June 2016 | Pancake Creek, Queensland, Australia
13 June 2016 | Pancake Creek, Queensland, Australia
11 June 2016 | Burnette Heads, Queensland, Australia
07 June 2016 | Mooloolaba, Queensland, Australia
11 May 2016 | Colmsie, Brisbane River, Queensland, Australia
23 December 2015 | Brisbane, Australia
13 August 2015 | Whangarei, New Zealand
07 August 2015 | Whangarei, New Zealand
23 July 2015 | Whangarei, New Zealand
12 April 2015 | Whangarei, New Zealand
11 February 2015 | Whangarei, New Zealand
25 January 2015 | Whangarei, New Zealand
24 September 2014 | BORA BORA, French Polynesia
23 September 2014 | Bora Bora


09 January 2011 | Jacksonville
Very cold on the St Johns River
After a whirlwind 18-month courtship which included - riding a roller coaster of emotions, cruising over 2600 miles of the East Coast of North America together, and figuring out what we wanted for our final trimester (if we are really lucky we may get 30 more years); we decided that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. So on New Year's Day 2011 we stood beneath a huge moss-draped oak on the bank of the St Johns River and our Pastor Jason from Christ's Church married us. In the presence of God we won one another on one / one / one-one :-) Wow! This process of older folks coming together and getting married certainly is not for sissies. (Lilly sez: "Older folks?" Speak for yourself Buckwheat!)
So, how did all this come about, anyway?
TOM: It was the spring of 2009, a Friday night about two weeks after Easter, and I was sitting on the patio at the Fruit Cove Starbucks. My boat was swinging on her hook on bucolic Julington Creek in Old Bull Bay - an aptly named anchorage for a guy like me. The north Florida winter had been one of the coldest on record, and the clement spring breeze warming the St. Johns River and environs was most welcome to a single-handed sailor with a touch of cabin fever. Starbucks was a convenient place to check my email, to see and be-seen, and to generally just enjoy the evening. I was absorbed in conversation with my youngest daughter Jennifer on a Wi-Fi Skype connection, when peripherally I noticed a fit looking pony-tailed blonde gal bounce by my table and sit behind me. My conversation with Jennifer had taken on the aspect of a younger-but-wiser concerned daughter counseling her wayward father; and my usual response to my daughters when I don't want to roger-up for some situation which they perceive as being bad for the Old Man is to simply respond "Well, I'll be dead soon anyway." If memory serves, this time the subject was my single-handed sailing adventures, and this session had started out with the usual, "You know Dad, you are not quite as young as you used to be..." It was hard for either of my daughters to realize that being divorced from their sainted mother, I really am enjoying the autumn of my years - sailing my boat where I want to go, doing as I please, and pretty much just being a curmudgeon... Common decency and State Law compel me to plead guilty to Skyping in a public place without headphones. I feel duty-bound to offer issues of mitigation and extenuation: after many watches in ship's engine rooms, and mucking about the bottom in noisy diving helmets, I do have a slight hearing loss - so it is likely that I was raising my voice just a bit during our Skype... Nonetheless, while having a PRIVATE and PERSONAL conversation with my daughter, from over my shoulder I heard a woman's voice state in a boiler room whisper "HEY BUDDY, WHAT'S YOUR PROBLEM?" I turned to locate the source of this irritation, and sure enough, it came from the blonde chick. I was determined to ignore her, but I'll be DEUCED if she didn't repeat her harsh interrogative! Is that woman totally incapable of MINDING HER OWN BUSINESS? A second glance in her direction - but certainly not enough of a look to encourage any sort of conversational exchange - caused a flicker of recognition to register. I had seen this woman before. It was just two days prior - at this same Starbucks - I remembered seeing her get out of a carpet cleaning van, and meet a young quadriplegic man in a wheel chair. Yes, this was that same woman. That afternoon she got out of her van like John Wayne gets off a horse, hitched up her belt, leaned forward like she was walking in a gale, and carried a bit of a starboard list that portrayed a certain "don't cross my bow" man-o-war attitude. There was no mistaking the cut of this one's jib; then, as now, her dishwater blonde hair was severely yanked back with one of those absolutely horrid banana clips from right out of the 70's. She had the tightly packed body of a professional athlete, not many curves on her; the Romanian woman's welter-weight Olympic Wrestling team came to mind... Although she had a harsh quality about her physical appearance, her warm and friendly manner towards the crippled lad revealed a completely different side. But in the aggregate, my assessment of this woman had been "Now there is one tough chick - better stand clear of her." And here she was, interrupting my conversation with Jennifer, and addressing my person in what only could be described as an impertinent manner. But for some strange reason, on this inviting spring evening, in the soft glow of the Starbucks veranda, she didn't look quite so harsh; and in fact, one could almost describe her pesky demeanor as both perky and interesting...
LILLY: I had just left a church dinner thinking that a hot Venti Caramel Macchiato would taste good before I went home and turned in, so I turned my big white F-150 Crew Cab south, and headed for Julington Creek. I knew Starbucks would be closing in an hour or so, so I took my drink outside to enjoy the invigorating night air. As I walked across the patio and took in the sounds and scents of the spring evening, I noticed this man sitting alone, but his bald head, advanced age, and seemingly permanent scowl did not invite my attention. So I passed by him and sat down alone; allowing my coffee to cool while I went over the events of my hectic day. In my case, hectic was normal, and hectic was good; the fast paced self-imposed chaotic activities of my carpet cleaning business seemed more fulfilling that way; and besides, the days passed easier. I propped my legs up, settled in, and got comfortable - people watching on the patio at Starbucks was one of my most enjoyable past-times - I just love God's people. On the other side of Bald Guy a couple was holding hands across their table, and their smiles and obvious interest in each other brought to mind thoughts of the pictures that I had just removed from the refrigerator door the previous week. Was a year enough to mourn? When I went into Ryan's room and sat down with him to talk this big change over, I wondered if this young man of mine was ready to see his Mom back in the push-pull of a social life. I knew it was time, but I didn't know how I knew - it simply was. My melancholy reverie was thankfully broken by Bald Guy's baritone - but he was apparently talking to his computer. This fellow was not only talking to his lap top, but he was doing so in a manner as though he were on the deck of a ship. Not being very experienced with computers, I had never seen someone talking to one - and his behavior was quite interesting to me. The amazing part was that Bald Guy was not only talking to his computer, but I heard the thing talk back - in a lady's voice. Ummmm, this seemed pretty weird to me. I could not help but to hear him say "I'll be dead soon anyway" and that sort of talk did catch my attention. It became apparent to me that he was using his computer as some sort of telephone, and he seemed to be talking to a concerned woman. It was when I heard him say this death thing again that I just thought that perhaps this fellow was in trouble and needed a friend. Being an extrovert, I just had to blurt out, "What is your problem buddy?" That is when he kind of glanced at me with obvious distain, and as if to say "Lady, what is YOUR problem?" Then he ignored me and actually started talking to the computer a little bit louder. He told the person on the other end that a woman was eves-dropping, and wondered out loud if something was wrong with me. He told the computer that he would get back with her, and that he was going to close for now. This is when I said again, "What is your problem, and what makes you think that you would be dead soon?" And that is how I met Tom Service. It turned out that this guy could talk, he certainly had something to say, and I guess that I was ready to listen to what he had to say. It's a good thing too, because all of us who know Tom realize that he is full of himself, and there is no way we are going to get a word in edgewise anyway - so we might just as well listen.
TOM: Although this gal came across a little brash, it was probably just a defensive front. (I have read the tech manual on women - Men Are From Mars & Women Are From Venus - so I have an excellent understanding of these things.) I am pretty sure that she was enamored by my almost perfectly shaped head. She had a spirited demeanor, was an interesting conversationalist, and the time seemed to fly by as we talked about her son, my daughters, our spiritual beliefs, her business, the Navy, and life aboard a cruising sailboat. She was obviously quite fit, and I was interested in that aspect of her life, but she was reluctant to talk about herself; in fact, I pretty much had to drag anything out of her that I wanted to know. The shock of the night came when she got on my bike and circled around the deserted Starbucks parking lot. I was seeing something that I had never actually witnessed before - poetry in motion. I keep a bike aboard my sailboat - it is my principal form of land transportation; I have an active life but I am certainly not an athlete. I have owned touring bikes and kept them aboard the Navy ships that I was assigned to; and I have enjoyed riding my bike around the various foreign ports of call that we visited. I have watched the Tour de France bicycle race on TV and saw that amazing athlete Lance Armstrong perform; the grace, agility, power, speed, and perfect form with which he and his teammates raced was something to behold. Yet right here before my eyes was that same perfect form, agility, and grace being demonstrated for me; it was absolutely amazing to watch - and I was pleasantly dumbfounded. It was immediately apparent to me that Lilly was in the same league as those athletes I had watched on the TV. For once in my life I was speechless. Who was this lady? (Some weeks later, after it was apparent to us both that our relationship was going somewhere, Lilly made the decision to let me in to a special part of her life. I sat with her on the couch with her scrapbook on my lap and read her press clippings. Here are the highlights of what I read: Number One all-around athlete in her Hollywood, Florida high school graduating class; AAU collegiate national swimming record holder; MVP member of the women's water polo team which won the national championship; one of America's first professional women triathletes; for five straight years in the 1980's she won south Florida's prestigious Penrod's Tinman Triathlon; in 1985 the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel ranked Lill 9th in America's Top Ten Sportswomen of the decade balloting - Olympic Champion Mary Lou Retton headed that list; in 1986 she was a founding member of the 1st United States National Triathlon Team; and in that same year the PM Magazine TV show did an hour long Valentine's Day special on America's Sweetheart Triathlete - you guessed it, it was Lill... Her sponsors included Cannondale bicycles, Oakley eyewear, the American Dairymen's Association, and America's Bike Shop - Mike's Cyclery. She was on the cover of Triathlon Magazine's June 1986 issue - looking every bit like America's Sweetheart Triathlete. In a sport dominated by narcissistic personalities, an altruistic triathlete like Lilly was a rarity among her competitors. Lill's fans adored her, and they formed a national fan club in her honor with tee shirts, newsletters, and a Board of Directors.) I had never met anyone like this before - this lady is truly a champion.
LILLY: Starbuck's had closed down at ten-o-clock, midnight was history, and we were well into a new day. Oh my gosh! Had we talked that much? Where had the time gone? Tom had explained to me in his Studdley Do-Right way - and with plenty of detail - that HE lived aboard a sailboat, that HE had sailed around the world, that HE didn't own a car (and actually seemed proud of this one), and that HE was a bike rider. I must admit that I had enjoyed his company, and I found his stories to be different and interesting - and he did seem to be genuine. But a cyclist? Really, I thought. (That must be his bike over there on the lamp-post.) OK, another guy who thinks he can ride. I walked over to his bike and quickly gave it a once-over. Hmmmm, Schwinn heavy steel frame K Mart Blue Light Special, "equipped" with a kick stand, kids tail light, kids head light, heavy-duty locking cable, and luggage carrier - all totaled about 10 pounds of extra stuff, with enough wind resistance to slow down a freight train - all this bike lacked was a raccoon tail, finger pull bell, and mud flaps. This guy was no Roadie. I asked him if I could take it for a spin, and he puffed up a bit and was obviously pleased that I was interested in HIS bike. He worked the secret combination to this valuable piece of equipment, and proudly turned it over to me. I jumped on, and began to ride, but the handlebar and brake levers were upside down. What was up with THAT? Impulsively I said to Tom, "How in the world can you ride this thing?" I did a few tight figure eights in the deserted parking lot; but as I maneuvered I softened a bit and told him that something was not "quite right" on his bike. (A few days later, I found out that the bike had fallen off its kick-stand the previous week, struck the handle bar on the ground, and rotated the whole thing around backwards QED the upside-down brakes.) Cycling is my life - and I can enjoy anything with two wheels - so I just had some fun on his bike. As he watched me ride, he seemed absolutely amazed - but I didn't have a clue what was putting that silly smile and wide-eyed look on his face. Something was going on inside that smart head of his, and apparently the scowl wasn't tattooed in place - he did have a nice smile :-) There was no way that anyone could safely control this bike in its present condition, but this guy was clunking around Mandarin on it - oblivious to its problems, and riding without a helmet on that shiny head of his. As I gave him back his bike, he made his move - I knew it was coming... He asked me if I would like to come out to his sailboat for a cup of tea. I thought to myself "Is THAT your best shot tough guy - A CUP OF FLIPPIN TEA?" But that is not what I said - somehow I didn't want to close the door on this fellow - and after a thoughtful moment of outward reflection said "No, it is late, and I don't think that would work out tonight, perhaps another time." Of course what I really meant was "NO! There is NO possible way that I am going to go out onto that dark river, in the wee hours of the morning, in a small dinghy, with someone I just met - NO WAY! (Should we put her down as undecided?) Well that is what I thought, but what we said was that we really enjoyed the past few hours talking with each other, and so we exchanged telephone numbers and email addresses. We agreed that we would see each other again - soon. Our first evening together was over; he got on his peculiar bicycle, and I got into my nice clean white pickup truck and followed him down the street. As I drove, I observed my new friend and thought to myself; he seemed educated and intriguing, he was dressed in nice clothes with polished alligator shoes, and he was confident in his athleticism. Maybe his arms and legs did flap about as he rocked his undersized bike back and forth, with his back pack bouncing up and down, his bald head shining in my headlights, and the bike not holding any sort of straight line. I thought to myself "I sure hope he sails better than he rides." Hmmmm, but I must admit that there were other goofy thoughts going through my mind... Looking back, I now can see that this was the beginning of the end of my long career as a single woman.
Lilly's Friends & Family are likely wondering "Where did she find this character - what was she thinking?" Answer: Starbucks, and I was ready to change the direction of my life. In my heart I knew that the time had finally come to settle down, and to spend the rest of my life with one man. The question was, which man? I wasn't sure about the settle down part, but then Tom explained his life as a bluewater sailor: it is like the vibrant existence of a sea bird, living at the dynamic interface between sea and sky, and ever on the move. That sounded like my kind of settling down, and he was my man. However, Tom and I both agreed that if we had made a list of the traits that we were looking for in a mate, neither of us matched up very well with the other person's list. Mr. Organized had in fact made his list - and posted it on Date Dot Com for all the world to see, but my list was in my heart - I would know him when I met him. Early on in our relationship this question of "Is this the one?" caused an awful lot of turmoil. The person we were looking at appeared so much different from what we had imagined. This issue was not resolved until we took a pre-marital course at church. Even at our ages, one can still learn a lot. Pastor Randy explained to us that God has the perfect present for each of us, but that perfect present is not a perfect person. OK, that concept explained a lot - but the question still remained - Is this the one? I had thought that for the first time in my life I was going to choose my mate based on my head as well as my heart - after all, I was now a mature woman who knew what I wanted. But in the end, what we both did was to open our hearts to God's will instead of our own; so that we could recognize and accept His perfect present. Life-style change is certainly one of our most difficult challenges. My career in both amateur and professional sports, and my working life as a hard-charging entrepreneur had cost me dearly. Both my body and my mind were tired, and more than ready for a change - but my spirit told me don't lie down, discover a new challenge - but find a healthy challenge that would lift me up. God has a great sense of humor and I am living proof of it. World history and geography were my downfall throughout school, but now I am eager to learn as much about the world as I possibly can with this sailor man named Tom. One of the great lessons that I have learned during our courtship is that a person cannot embrace the past and move forward to the future simultaneously; and that can be very scary. My son is 20 years-old and I know that he is more than ready to make his way in life, without his Mom hanging on him. My brother is a strong person, and a capable businessman in his own right. He and his wife will go far with their new company; they will do it together. I love them all and my prayer is that my loved ones will also enjoy the gifts that God has waiting for them. What I am sure of is that this man Tom is the one I have been waiting for.
Tom's Friend's & Family are likely asking "Is she strong enough to survive his personality? Answer: you betcha! He doesn't call her Tiger Lilly for nothing... Here's why: In 1992 Lilly moved to Albuquerque and entered her first real mountain bike race - up Sandia Mountain's 10,000 feet of elevation, and many switchbacks - she won that grueling test of strength and stamina earning her the nickname "Lilly Hammer." Later that same year she came in second in the famous La Luz 9 mile foot race straight up that same mountain. She ought to be able to handle anything Service can put out! Our story is of two very different successful, strong willed people coming together in a dynamic relationship; the entrepreneur mentality (Come on - just get er done!) vs. the Naval Officer (Dudley Do-Right crossing all the tees and dotting the eyes...) However, we are equally yoked in our spiritual beliefs as Christians and we are finding that this overcomes most of the chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry choices. There are some issues, which faith doesn't seem to solve: about the third time Lilly got her little toosh wet in the dark of the night, we had the no-holds-barred come-to-Jesus toilet seat down discussion - but then don't all couples go through this one? In many ways we are so very different: MUSIC - Lilly likes The Kinks (never heard of them) and The Rolling Stones, while Tom likes to listen to dead white guys like Beethoven and Bach; TRANSPORTATION - she loves motorcycles, jet skis, and high performance cars (she will ride anything, anytime, anywhere as long as it is fast), he prefers to row his dinghy - and is a loyal Toyota Corolla man: ENTERTAINMENT - Lilly finds amusement in slapstick comedy, while Tom loves documentaries and movies with a developed plot and dramatic content; EXERCISE - Tom's exercise performs useful work and is built into his active lifestyle, while Lilly runs, swims, and cycles in time-consuming circles, a form of recreation, and very effective therapy. But not to worry. Pastor Armand says that we only have to get two things right in this life: marry the right person, and establish a right relationship with God. Everything else is small stuff, and there is no need to sweat the small stuff. So far, my only regret about our relationship is when I think of all the time, hard work, and advanced thinking that I put into developing my clever "Message In A Bottle" profile for Date Dot Com (as Lilly derisively refers to Internet Dating), and then the lady who became my wife never read the dang thing! Now that we are married, adult supervision has been restored to my life, and that is a good thing; but the scary part is that Lilly - now think LUCY, as in the famous comedienne Lucille Ball - is now the recipient of my new-found patience, understanding, and compassion - important character qualities I have needed to work on for many years now. I guess this is just another case of be careful what you pray for! I didn't know her name, or what she would look like, but I had been searching for my Lilly for a very long time - and now I have found her.
Well, there you have it; that is our story, and we are sticking to it!
If you have read this far you have probably wasted a perfectly good 30 minutes, so you might just as well keep going and check out our Photo Gallery to see our wedding pictures and read the vows we took. You can get there by simply navigating through our PHOTO GALLERY thusly: Crew, Family & Friends / LILLY & TOM TIE THE KNOT / then click on each picture (our vows are under the sailboat wedding ring).
We would love to hear back from you; perhaps you too have lived some of these same experiences while searching for the love of your life?
Vessel Name: Tiger Lilly
Vessel Make/Model: 1977 CSY44 walkover hull #55
Hailing Port: Green Cove Springs
Crew: Lilly and Tom Service
Lilly is a retired business woman, and was previously a professional athlete. As one of America's first professional female triathletes, she was a pioneer in woman's sports. [...]
Our kids: From 1987 to 1991 Tom circumnavigated the world with his family. Daughters Dawn and Jennifer were ages 11 & 13 when they departed on a 4 year, 40 country / island group, Trade Wind voyage around the world, and 15 & 17 when they returned to St. Petersburg, FL. During his high school [...]
Tiger Lilly's Photos - Main
Approximately 100 Asian elephants live in and around the Trincomalee Landfill in northeast Sri Lanka. These huge creatures eat plastic strewn trash and garbage because they have been driven back from their natural habitat by the encroachment of farms.
38 Photos
Created 24 September 2018
13 Photos
Created 17 January 2018
69 Photos
Created 22 November 2016
19 Photos
Created 22 November 2016
22 Photos
Created 22 November 2016
23 Photos
Created 22 November 2016
15 Photos
Created 28 September 2013
124 Photos | 4 Sub-Albums
Created 26 August 2010
1 Photo | 7 Sub-Albums
Created 23 August 2010
1 Photo | 8 Sub-Albums
Created 23 August 2010
4 Photos | 7 Sub-Albums
Created 23 August 2010