Remember that old tongue twister, “She sells seashells by the seashore”? Well, for the Rose family, it’s not just a silly saying; it’s the truth. Lily and Paul Rose traded the hustle and bustle of the Fort Lauderdale area for the authentic Florida lifestyle when they moved to Sanibel Island, opened up a bead and shell shop run by Lily, and bought a Boston Whaler to satisfy their four kids’ passion for the water.
“It’s in their blood. This boat is a working vessel for their fishing hobby,” Lily explains. The kids, Aaron (13), Matthew (11), Sammy (10) and Isabelle (8), are fishing fanatics. The minute they get onboard the Boston Whaler 305 Conquest, the goal is to catch something.
Paul idles the boat out of a small canal on the eastern side of the island. Isabelle and Sammy peer over the gunnel at the tangles of mangroves to look for fish in the clear water. Aaron occupies the passenger lounger. He stretches his feet across his mom’s lap and settles in for a quick nap. He’s at that age where every second of sleep counts. His snooze is short-lived, however; soon after Paul gets the Whaler up on plane, Isabelle shrieks, “They’re following us!” She points to the wake where a pod of dolphins is cavorting in the froth.
“When something or someone is following you, it’s not usually a good thing,” Lily says, “but when they’re dolphins, that’s a different story.” Paul makes a few subtle turns to alter the wake while the kids and Lily watch to see if their new pals will stick with them. Indeed they do, and Isabelle marks every dolphin jump with a joyful squeal. “Okay,” Lily says. “Next time one of them comes up, everybody raise your hands to say hi.” She turns to her husband. “I don’t think we’ve ever gotten a show like this.”
Paul gives her a playful smirk. “I hired them for you.” The kids burst into giggles at their father’s joke. The quiet twin 300-hp Mercury® FourStroke Verados allow for easy conversation while the boat is in motion, and the Whaler clearly provides Lily and Paul a unique way to interact and be truly present with their children. Instead of plopping them in front of the TV to watch a nature show, the family gets the opportunity on a regular basis to head out and see it for themselves—and to enjoy each other’s company while doing so.
“One day a giant ibis landed on the boat,” Paul says. “You only get that when you’re out on the water. We’ve also seen stingrays and giant loggerhead turtles.”
The Whaler reputation also eases any apprehension the Roses might have originally felt about heading out into Gulf waters with their babies. The durability issue was a huge selling point for Lily, who often stays behind to keep the shop open. “I see it from a safety point of view, “ she says. “My whole life goes out on that boat, and I have to know they are safe.”
Paul nods in agreement. “Even if it broke in half,” he says, “you’re not going to sink.” When they bought the boat from MarineMax of Fort Myers with the help of salesman Brian Kemmis, the Roses also thought about their long-term future and what the boat would mean to their kids as they creep into their teens. “Before you know it, it will just be the boys taking out the Whaler,” Paul adds. “And I would let them.”
Paul and Lily have owned various smaller boats throughout the years. They recall a time when Lily was eight months pregnant with Isabelle, and they’d run aground. “Paul told me he could move the boat,” Lily says with a laugh, “but he told me I had to get out first!”
The dolphins are fun to watch, but the kids haven’t forgotten that the task at hand is fishing. They wave goodbye to their flipper friends and head off toward an area near the Sanibel Causeway, where they’ve had good luck before. “Hey, that island looks like an alligator,” Matthew says to his younger siblings. Lily smiles at his creativity. When Paul lets off the throttle, the kids set to work rigging lines. Isabelle climbs all over the boat as if it were a jungle gym made just for her. Her bubbling energy is in sharp contrast to Aaron’s sleepy demeanor. After his parents razz him about being so mellow, the teen admits he was up late watching The Hobbit.
The Roses generally fish for red snapper, grouper and the occasional amberjack. “I’d rather catch a good fish than a shark,” Matthew says, “because then you can eat it.” He tells the story of how he once hooked and released a bonnethead. No matter what he catches, though, Matthew simply likes the challenge and the thrill of it all. “When you reel it up, you have the feeling that you just caught that thing,” he says. “I love to reel them in.”
Paul smiles. He knows the feeling and says he’s elated that his kids have taken a liking to one of his favorite pastimes. He grew up fishing in New Jersey and tried to introduce the sport to the boys when they were much younger and the family lived in Coral Springs, Florida, but at first it didn’t take. “We weren’t on the right boat,” he says. “It was just a cabin cruiser that wasn’t set up for fishing at all.”
When he finally traded that boat in for the Conquest, fishing became so much easier. “There’s room for everything we need,” he says. “Plus it really works for a family of six.” Lily and Paul also rave about the quality of their boat. “The fit and finish are excellent on the Whaler, and it’s something I notice,” Paul adds.
Something else came with the Whaler, too. The Roses not only bought a reliable boat, but they also became members of the greater Whaler and MarineMax families. Recently, they took their boat to the Keys on a coordinated MarineMax outing, and they’ve also gone to Bimini in the Bahamas as part of the annual Whaler Bimini Rendezvous. “We had such an incredible time,” Paul says, “and it was an experience we wouldn’t have had without being Whaler owners.”
Of course, Sanibel Island provides the family with plenty to explore right at home.
The Sanibel Island Lighthouse is a hotspot for visitors who like to hang out on the nearby pier and fish- or bird-watch. Although, the best bird-watching can arguably be found in the island’s J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is part of the largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem in the United States and is a great spot for spying on real alligators—not just islands that look like them.
The soft sandy beaches of Sanibel offer the best there is for seashell hunting and gathering. Sand-dollar riches abound. That’s why it was the perfect locale for Lily to set up her bead and shell shop (www.thesanibelbeadshop.com) where she sells sea-life charms and supplies for making jewelry. She encourages visitors to the island to bring their beach finds to the store so she can help them select the right materials to turn their trinkets into wearable statement pieces.
Paul, who likes to ride his bike to his Whaler slip, works in sales. He can be on the job anywhere he has a computer and a phone. That flexibility allowed the Roses to leave Coral Springs and move to Sanibel, making their former vacation destination their full-time home.
Suddenly, Isabelle lets out a full-throated yodel and then casts her line into the water. Lily claps and then chuckles at the dramatic performance. “That’s her fish call,” she explains. It seems that in seeking out that “authentic Florida lifestyle,” the family has carved out an existence that’s truly authentic Rose.