Fulfilling a promise

Couple’s love of adventure takes them out to sea and back again

Created date

April 29th, 2019
Lyn and Bob Chambers’ Walton-style apartment home at Highland Springs is decorated in shades of marine blue, a nod to the years they lived on their sailboat, Promise.

Lyn and Bob Chambers’ Walton-style apartment home at Highland Springs is decorated in shades of marine blue, a nod to the years they lived on their sailboat, Promise.

"Some people dream of sailing off into the sunset,” says Lyn Chambers, who spent four years cruising with her husband Bob aboard their 49-foot sailboat, Promise. “We actually did it.”

Originally from Iowa, Bob and Lyn first felt the pull of the ocean when Bob’s career took them to California in the early 1960s.

“A customer invited me to go sailing,” says Bob, who worked in the financial services industry. “I was hooked. I spent the first week of my next vacation in sailing school at Newport Beach. The second week of that vacation, we took our kids sailing to Catalina [Island].”

Bob’s career moved the family three more times, to Dallas, Tex.; Detroit, Mich.; and San Francisco, Calif.

“We lived in Michigan for 15 years and bought two boats during that time,” says Bob. “The Great Lakes were wonderful for cruising.”

While in Michigan, Bob and Lyn crafted a plan for their post-working years.

“We made a promise to each other to sail off into the sunset,” says Lyn. “It was a plan ten years in the making. We took a lot of classes. Bob became a master mariner, certified through the United States Power Squadrons. We took classes in medical emergencies afloat, engine mechanics, and even learned enough Spanish to get by in Central and South America.”

After studying their options, Bob and Lyn commissioned a custom Taswell 49 sailboat, which they christened Promise.

“I was transferred to San Francisco around the time we put in our order, so we took delivery of the boat in California,” says Bob. “The first time we saw Promise, it was wrapped in blue plastic on the bow of a freighter coming under the Bay Bridge. We were so excited.”

Life on a boat

Bob retired in the spring of 1995, and the couple moved onto Promise full time in June of that year.

“We spent a year exploring estuaries around the San Francisco Bay,” says Lyn. “We joined the Oakland Yacht Club, and that’s where we had a slip.”

Those short excursions prepared Bob and Lyn for their ultimate plan, to sail wherever the ocean breezes took them.

“Our kids thought we were crazy, but we’d dreamed about it and geared up for it,” says Lyn. “Bob bought me a dingy for Christmas the year before we set out, because we knew there would be places Promise’s keel would be too deep to get to shore. We joked that he was the captain of the boat, but I was an admiral because I had a fleet.”

Adventure of a lifetime

On June 29, 1996, Bob and Lyn set off, accompanied by a contingent of boats from the Oakland Yacht Club.

“We sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge and turned left,” says Bob. “The other sailboats went with us as far as Half Moon Bay. Then they turned back, and we kept going.”

Bob and Lyn sailed down to Central America and went through the locks along the Panama Canal tied to the side of a tug. They visited Honduras and Guatemala. They snorkeled among the reefs in Belize. They sailed through the Dry Tortugas, where they spotted a pod of whale sharks. They visited Palm Beach and Jacksonville, Fla. They sailed up the East Coast, stopping in Savannah, Ga., and enjoyed scenic views along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

“We dry docked the boat each hurricane season and visited our daughter in Plano [Tex.],” says Lyn. “That’s when we’d take care of routine visits like the doctor and dentist.”

In 1999, Bob and Lyn sailed into the Chesapeake Bay and got word that Bob’s mother wasn’t doing well.

“We had no end date in mind when we set off,” says Bob. “As it was, the end wasn’t of our choosing. We anchored our boat in the Chesapeake and went back to Woodbine, Iowa, where we cared for my mom until she passed away.”

Choosing Texas

Bob and Lyn sold Promise and began to consider their next move.

“Every place we visited, we looked at from the viewpoint of ‘Is this someplace we’d like to live after we stop sailing?’” says Bob. “We never found any place we liked better than the Dallas area. Texans have a friendly, can-do spirit, and we enjoyed their southern hospitality.”

Bob and Lyn purchased land in Frisco, north of Dallas, and built a house where they lived for 17 years.

“A few years ago, friends of ours moved to Highland Springs and invited us for brunch,” says Lyn. “We were impressed by the friendliness of the community and all the amenities it offered.”

Highland Springs is an Erickson Living community in North Dallas. Home to more than 1,000 community members, Highland Springs offers maintenance-free retirement living, on-site continuing care options, and convenient amenities and services.

First choice of apartments

“We liked the layout of Walton floor plan,” says Bob. “When we learned Highland Springs was planning to include Waltons in Twin Oaks Square, we decided to wait for a new apartment.”

Bob and Lyn were the first to reserve an apartment in Twin Oaks Square, a new residence building which opened in August 2018. They selected a two-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath Walton with a den and a fireplace.

“The Walton is a beautiful apartment with an open floor plan that’s ideal for entertaining,” says Sales Counselor Lauren Rozdilsky.

Lyn decorated the couple’s apartment with touches of blue, reminiscent of the ocean.

“We don’t ever want to get too far from the water,” she says.

That’s not likely, as the couple recently realized one more long-held dream. They celebrated their sixtieth wedding anniversary with a cruise from Miami, Fla., to Lisbon, Portugal.

“When we lived on the boat, Lyn and I talked about sailing up to Prince Edward Island, then crossing the Atlantic Ocean and spending a few years cruising around the Mediterranean,” says Bob. “That didn’t happen, so we were excited to finally make an ocean crossing.”

Worries melt away

When they’re not at sea or planning their next excursion, Bob and Lyn keep busy at Highland Springs.

Bob enjoys working in the community’s on-site woodshop. He also plays pool, serves on the General Services Committee, and he and Lyn both belong to the Wine Club. Lyn volunteers with the Lady Links service organization and plays pinochle.

“Right after we moved in, I felt the daily worries and concerns fall off my shoulders,” says Lyn. “All we have to do is enjoy this wonderful lifestyle.”