Sailing Into Retirement

For many, retirement is a time for pursuing lifelong passions and taking up hobbies they’d long wanted to try. For Patrick and Patricia Knoll, there’s nowhere else they’d rather be than on the water.

By Rebecca Rochat
Photography by Med Dement

It wasn’t until retirement in Houston, Texas, that Patrick Knoll decided to pursue his nautical aspirations by buying a 44-foot sailboat. Determined not to let his lack of experience keep him from realizing his dream, he enrolled in a Coast Guard course to learn the basics. After that, he gained practical experience by crewing on racing boats and helping people sail from Houston to Florida and the Bahamas. Soon, he had gained all the experience he needed to become comfortable on the water. He began setting out on sailing expeditions that took him to the Chesapeake Bay, the Caribbean, and as far away as Venezuela and Portugal.


Little did he know then that his love for the water would ultimately lead to a new relationship and a move to the Scenic City. Today, he and his wife Patricia are residents of Chattanooga. Sharing a passion for being on the water, the couple spends warmer days cruising the Tennessee on their 42-foot yacht.

The Knolls’ romance was a nautical one from the start –  Patrick first met Patricia while at the yacht club in Houston. At the time she was working for NASA and had joined the yacht club to socialize and make friends. One day, her attire caught Patrick’s eye. “I was wearing boat shoes and socks,” says Patricia, laughing. “He came up to me and said, ‘Young lady, salty people don’t wear socks.’ Something must have clicked because after that he was always teasing me.”Knolls

The two married in 1994 and will soon celebrate their 21st anniversary. After Patricia retired, she and Patrick moved to Chattanooga to be closer to family and friends. And between being bitten by the sailing bug and living so near Chickamauga Lake and the Tennessee River, it wasn’t long before the couple began looking for a boat. Their search led them to the Chattanooga Yacht Club, where they purchased a 42-foot yacht. They now spend as much time as possible cruising Chickamauga Lake and the Tennessee River. “We fell in love with the Tennessee River,” Patricia says.

Their yacht, which they named Anastasia after Patrick’s mother, includes bridge, fore, and aft top deck seating, as well as a main salon, a galley, two staterooms, and two heads. The best views, of course, are up top beside the wheelhouse and bridge. But while guests enjoy being on the top deck whenever possible, good space planning allows enough space to move about inside without feeling cramped. As well as being aesthetically inviting, Anastasia is very comfortable and functional.

In the main salon, a nautical navy and gold color scheme is complemented by handsome teak paneling. An L-shaped upholstered seating section in one corner faces a TV on top of a teak entertainment storage cabinet. Above the shorter end of the seating area is a beveled mirror hung with a print of Monet’s “Terrace at the Seaside, Sainte-Adresse.” Above the longer end are windows with views to the outside.

A counter bar housing an ice maker is a convenient spot to serve food and drinks to guests who have gathered in the main salon. For extra seating, Patricia has added an armchair and two stools. Other decorative touches are colorful accent pillows, a glass top coffee table, and lamps. Also in the main salon is a ship’s wheel from which the captain can steer the boat from the inside.


Below the aft deck is the master stateroom, which continues the teak paneling and nautical color scheme. The bed is covered in a gold silk tufted bedspread with a diamond pattern, and the windows are covered in bands of navy and gold accordion shades that can be left open or drawn for privacy.


Every possible space is fashionably utilized for optimal storage. The dressing table includes a pop-up section for toiletries, and the suite’s head is hidden behind sliding doors, which open to reveal a beautiful space outfitted with a shower, vanity, toilet, and parquet floor.

The bow of the yacht houses the guest stateroom and galley. Situated just off the main salon, the galley is outfitted with parquet flooring and teak cabinetry. Stainless steel appliances including a cook top, microwave, refrigerator, and double bowl sinks add a modern touch.


The guest stateroom, which doubles as an additional gathering space, is outfitted with comfortable upholstered seating with loose pillows and a flat screen TV. Just off the space is a convenient guest head with teak paneling and a tiled backsplash.

Patrick and Patricia plan to do more work on the boat, but for now they feel it’s perfect for hosting friends on river cruises and Sunday brunch cruises. One of their favorite routes is cruising through the Tennessee River Gorge in the fall, and this year they have trips to Knoxville and Guntersville, Ala., in the books. But for the time being, they’re content to spend their time on the water either docked at the Chattanooga Yacht Club or cruising along the Tennessee River.

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