To say that Clyde and Brenda Coe are at home on the water is no exaggeration.
From cruising along the Tennessee river in their 45-foot yacht to navigating distant lakes in kayaks, these two have found their place and their passion with the waves underfoot.
By Pamela Boaz | Photos by Med Dement
Rich Family History
It’s been over 37 years since the Coes moved to Chattanooga from their native Ohio in order to spend more time on the water. Between Tennessee’s longer boating season and Brenda’s parents living nearby, Chattanooga was a natural choice.
“Boating is in our blood,” says Brenda, who grew up around boats thanks to her Grandpa Charlie in Mansfield, Ohio.
Clyde was also introduced to boating by Brenda’s grandfather. “The deal was that if I took Grandpa Charlie fishing out on Lake Erie, then Brenda and I could use his boat for the rest of the weekend,” Clyde explains.
It wasn’t long until he caught the boating fever too. “The feel of the boat, the open water, the rocking—I knew this was for me.”
At that point, Clyde and Brenda were 21 years old and newly engaged. Now, after 44 years of marriage, they continue to share a passion for being on the water.
A Wish List
The Coes’ “home” changes according to a timeshare model; they spend part of every week of the year at their house and the remainder on their boat, the Weather or Knot, which stays docked at Chickamauga Marina.
“The boat is like a second home. I go to work from the boat, we go to church from the boat,” says Brenda, who teaches in the gifted program at East Hamilton High School. Clyde has retired after 35 years in the maintenance department at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
The Weather or Knot is the Coes’ 11th boat. Laughing, Brenda describes the masculine predisposition to want a boat just a few feet larger than the one they have.
“They always say, ‘If only we had one with a windlass that lowers and raises the anchor’ or ‘If only we had one that had a bridge,’” she says, winking.
Jokes aside, a running wish list is what led the Coes to purchase the Carver 444 Cockpit Motor Yacht four years ago. “Before, we had always had runabouts, which meant if the weather was bad, we couldn’t go out,” Brenda explains. Now that’s no longer a factor, as reflected by the name Weather or Knot.
Home Away from Home
The Weather or Knot has all the beauties and comforts of home combined with the powers of navigation. From a generous swim platform, sliding doors lead into one of two full suites. On either side, steps lead to a generous upper deck that offers incredible views and shelter from the elements.
Three more steps up, a bridge offers a commanding location from which to captain the impressive craft, which is powered by twin 375 horse power Volvo diesel engines– two main tanks plus the two auxiliary tanks hold up to 400 gallons of fuel.
Other features include a bow thruster for maneuverability, storage for 80 gallons of fresh water, and a Kohler generator. Clyde also outfitted the yacht with wakeboard speakers, perfect for rafting parties on the lake.
Just beneath the bridge, a cozy stateroom is their “granddaughter Samantha’s domain,” Brenda explains. A queen-sized berth at the center of the room is surrounded by ample storage, a TV, and a DVD player, and a full head (bathroom) is just steps away.
The yacht’s spacious living room has beautiful wood paneling and comfortable, reclining seats. A galley complete with a table and banquette makes for convenient dining, and windows throughout give the space a feeling of openness and light. Going aft (toward the stern, or tail), a master stateroom offers generous space and storage. The room is connected to a second full head (bath), and sunlight pours through sliding doors leading to the deck.
While the Weather or Knot provides plenty of comfort, the Coes look to other vessels for freedom and a bit of speed. “We trailered boats for 30 years, but as our boats got bigger that wasn’t possible,” Brenda says. “We didn’t want to be limited to where we could go, so we added other watercraft,” Clyde adds.
Revving the engine of their Sea Doo jet skis, Clyde and Brenda demonstrate just what they mean by “speed” as they cut through the water, creating a rooster tail of glittering water. The Sea Doos give the Coes access to places the Weather or Knot can’t navigate, their speed and maneuverability providing the perfect complement to the yacht’s luxuries.
Slowing it Down
Clyde and Brenda also frequently embark on yet another kind of water adventure: kayaking. In contrast to the high volume roar of jet skis, kayaks allow the Coes to enjoy the serene beauty of the water up close.
Currently, Clyde and Brenda are a part of a kayak community that explores area lakes and rivers, including the Coosa in Alabama and the Etowah, Oostanaula, and Conausaga in Georgia. Additionally, every February, the Coes travel to Florida to kayak seven rivers in seven days while enjoying lush scenery and native wildlife including monkeys and alligators.
Brenda also shows her skill on the water in one of the fastest growing water sports—stand-up paddleboarding or “SUP paddling.” Increasingly hyped as a great cross-training activity, paddleboarding requires little equipment, yet demands a good deal of core strength and balance. Brenda, however, makes it look easy.
Carrying on the Tradition
With so many years spent on the water, the Coes have developed deep friendships with members of the boating communities up and down the river. The result? A boatload of memories, a number of meaningful traditions, and a growing camaraderie among their boating friends.
The couple describes how every year on the first day of summer, they, along with five others couples, take their jet skis to a landlocked lake to ring in the sunny season. Then, around 50 miles out, they hook their wave runners together to enjoy packed lunches—just one of the many traditions that adds to the enjoyment of being on the water.
Whether they’re enjoying small craft or large, zipping through the water or rafting alongside friends, Clyde and Brenda Coe have chosen a lifestyle that gives them enjoyable exercise, surrounds them with fellow boating enthusiasts, and gives them a “home away from home” on the water.