Smooth Sailing

The next best thing to owning a boat is sailing with Capt. Dave McCullum on Healing Time, his 33-foot Beneteau 2000. Heck, the price sure beats the expense of owning and maintaining your own ship. A three-and-a-half-hour cruise costs only $35 per person, a six-and-a-half-hour cruise runs $60 per person, and a sunrise or sunset cruise that lasts a couple of hours is $20. Those prices include drinks and snacks, and for $10 more per person, McCullum will serve a luncheon. Or he'll have a barbecue upon request. And you can bring along as many as five guests. He'd like you to bring along at least one other passenger, but McCullum admits that a couple of times, he's taken just one person out and not charged him or her extra.

"I don't like to refuse anyone," he says. "And who knows, maybe they'll bring a friend next time." You can even tell McCullum where you want him to go; his cruise of the Intracoastal Waterway comes complete with a running commentary on points of interest and shoreline history and trivia. McCullum likes to go to the library to dig up old articles about the Palm Beach area and expounds upon these subjects as he shows people around.

"The Kennedy compound sold for $4.9 million," he declared on one recent voyage. "That place costs $40,000 in monthly maintenance."

If you want to get your sea legs under you, he'll take you for an ocean sail -- weather permitting. Want to go for a swim? Bring your bathing suit. Want to go snorkeling? Just bring your gear, but leave the scuba tanks and weight belts at home. McCullum knows the spots to visit, Peanut Island in front of The Breakers being a consistently popular area. Don't know how to snorkel? McCullum will teach you. Want to take the helm? That's fine, too. In fact he encourages kids to give it a try -- under his watchful eye, of course. Even pets are welcome aboard the Healing Time. The captain also takes people out now and then to help them decide if they'd like to own their own boat. "Yacht companies send people out with me," he says. "I give them a reality check." The one thing that McCullum won't do is overnight trips, even though the boat has a full head (that's a bathroom, landlubbers) and sleeps four comfortably. The name of the boat says it all -- for McCullum, as well as his guests.

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Dale Koppel