Freedom, Family, and Peace on the Open Water

By Claire Henley Miller

Photos by Med Dement

Sarah  and Jake Langston with their  children Rowan and Amelia

Sarah and Jake
Langston with their
children Rowan and Amelia

 

When Jake Langston started working 80-hour weeks, he realized he needed a break.

The LaFayette native’s business, Humbucker Music, took off in the year 2000, steadily rocketing as it provided high-end boutique instruments to people worldwide. By 2007, Jake’s dedication to his company devoured his days.

“I needed a hobby,” he says as he steers his family yacht beneath the vibrant blue trusses of the Walnut Street Bridge.

Around that time, one of Jake’s customers, Michael Hagaman, a third generation yachtsman and well-known local bass player, invited Jake and his wife Sarah to go out on his yacht. This was the couple’s first time to experience a watercraft of such elegant scale. Michael fired up the boat on Chickamauga Lake for a fun day on the water. Then he looked Jake in the eye and said, “Alright, go have fun.”

Though Jake had operated boats in the past, he had never handled a yacht. But having “the typical male ego,” he said with confidence, “Okay!” So Michael and his wife Ashley stepped back on the dock and Jake and Sarah set sail, falling in love with boating the instant they glided off.

“It wasn’t too much longer after that day that we had our first boat,” Sarah says.

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They purchased the Carver yacht they cruise around in now last year in Knoxville. The luxurious liner, which is typically docked at  the Chattanooga Yacht Club, goes by the name FrequentSeas. The burnished beauty is a 46-footer that’s viewed by the Langstons as a vessel for peace and freedom on which to spend quality family time.

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Exemplifying this mentality is the weeklong “staycation” Jake and Sarah take with their 11- and 9-year-olds, Amelia and Rowan, to Ross’ Landing twice a year. During this time, the family sleeps in the three-stateroom, two-head yacht that gently rocks against Bluff View Docks. They step onto dry land by day to scale the walls of High Point Climbing Gym, expand their minds at the Creative Discovery Museum, ride the carousel at Coolidge Park, or wade into an underwater world at the Tennessee Aquarium.

“We’re totally and unapologetically doing all the touristy stuff,” Jake says.

That is, of course, when they’re not out on the Tennessee River or Chickamauga Lake dropping anchors with their boating friends and grilling out while the kids kayak and swim.

The camaraderie of boating is one reason the Langstons want it to be a lifelong family pursuit. Rowan, who Jake calls his “co-captain,” is already learning the ropes on how to undock and retie FrequentSeas in preparation of one day having his own boat to add to the tight community on the water.

Tranquil solitude serves as the balanced flipside to the fleets of friendship boating brings. One of Jake’s favorite river rituals is waking up early in the morning, brewing a cup of coffee, and sitting on the aft deck as the sun rises over the rippling current. Amelia likes to shuffle past the flybridge to the bow, where vast views of water, sky, and island trees spread before her in ever-changing colors and casts.

She crawls through the circular skylight on the bow to her stateroom after hours of staring out. Her bed takes up most of the space in the room, blanketed by a golden comforter that matches the sheen of the sun on the wake seen from Amelia’s oval-shaped windows.

yacth-2This stateroom opens to the galley where a bowl of bright fruit and a vase of fresh flowers adorn the black granite counters and bar. Nautical accessories like old-fashioned lanterns and globes accent the shelves that span from the galley to the dining room. Soft leather seating surrounds a polished teak table in this eating space that opens to the salon. Here, two beige couches lounge atop the creamy carpet where a circular red throw rug catches one’s eye like a rose.

The master stateroom and head reside three stairs down from the salon. A wall of mirrors functions as the headboard to the bed, which is enriched by a burgundy comforter and patterned gold pillows. Teak-paneled walls enclose the rest of the room.

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From the salon, white stairs ascend to the aft deck where navy throw pillows stitched with pictures of anchors and seahorses decorate the white seats. A similar design floats up to the flybridge where Jake, who does 99 percent of the driving, typically stands at the helm.

Because the Langstons use FrequentSeas as a means to explore waterways and spend time together as a family, Sarah says she envisioned a functional layout when she designed its interior and exterior. A TV sits on the aft deck, but Sarah can’t remember the last time they turned it on because she and her family are too busy swimming, playing Apples to Apples on deck, or simply sitting on the bow, pointing out the blue herons as they sweep in front of the boat, sashaying mere inches above the river’s surface.

“Being on the water is just relaxing,” Jake says. “You get on the water, and you have peace.”

Being an avid backpacker who has hiked more than 1,800 miles on the Appalachian Trail, Jake finds boating to be that perfect counterpart to backpacking, a sport that demands his physical exertion for days at a time. In fact, he and Sarah enjoy life off land so much they plan to cruise the Great Loop once Amelia and Rowan go off to college.

In doing this, they would join the “loopers” who circumnavigate eastern North America through a continuous waterway of inland lakes and rivers that connect to the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway and the Great Lakes. This would take one to two years depending on how much time Jake and Sarah would spend checking out the various cities they’d cruise into.

Based on the sense of family, freedom, and peace FrequentSeas adds to their lives, it’s safe to bet the Langstons would take the whole two years for that trip. The couple would surely enjoy every day of that voyage as they glided from place to place upon the open water.

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