Imagine Healthy Food Afloat

August 04, 1991|By Lynn Williams

You may say John Lennon was a dreamer. But he was not the only one.

Among those moved by "Imagine," the songwriter's paean to "a brotherhood of man," were Terry and Linda Bosley of Ocean City. With the tidy sum that Mr. Bosley had earned as a record-breaking real estate salesman, they bought a 41-foot sailing yacht, named it Imagine, and set out with their three preteen children in search of freedom, adventure, new lands, pure waters and "above us only sky."

Twenty years after the song caught their fancy and their boat got its name, the Bosleys are back home in Maryland. After more than a decade of operating their yacht home as a floating restaurant in Palm Beach, Fla., the Bosleys -- their children grown but their idealism undimmed -- are ready to switch their base of operations to the Chesapeake Bay and to introduce Baltimoreans to their healthy shipboard "movable feasts." And, of course, to share stories about the famous folk who have sailed and eaten with them, a roster that includes Robert Mitchum, F. Lee Bailey, Laura Ashley, Peter Pulitzer and divas Rosa Ponselle and Roberta Peters (the latter of whom who came aboard in a full-length sable coat, according to Mrs. Bosley).

Not to mention John Lennon himself.

On their travels around the world, the family became expert at living in close quarters, as well as at cooking in the tiny galley and making creative use of fresh-caught seafood and items traded with other sailors they met on their travels. These skills were to serve them well when they decided to return to the "real world."

"For about six months beforehand, we'd been serving three meals a day to friends in the Bahamas," Mrs. Bosley explains. "We were broke, and decided it was time to come home and go to work again. Neither of us wanted to go back to what we had been doing before. So I said, 'You know, we ought to start a restaurant on this boat, and start charging for what we had been giving away.' A Movable Feast was launched at the White Marlin Marina in Ocean City in 1975, then, after stops in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Miami, relocated in Palm Beach, which would become the Bosley's major port of call. It soon racked up impressive critical notices and was recommended by the New York Times as one of Palm Beach's best dining spots.

Dinner and a sail aboard the Imagine was a normal restaurant experience for some of the resort town's residents: "We were the place to go for banana grouper, just like Tony Roma's was the place to go for ribs," Linda Bosley says. Many customers were regulars, including one high-rolling English lawyer who would make reservations several times a week during his visits to town, and would always show up with a different woman on his arm.

In early 1980, John Lennon, whose vision had launched the Imagine adventure, came aboard for a day's sailing with his wife Yoko Ono and their son Sean.

"The phone rang, and I picked it up, and this voice says, 'I'd like to book a charter for today,' " says Terry Bosley (who is called Skip, for "skipper," by his family). "I told him we almost never book a same-day charter."

The caller was insistent; Mr. Bosley reluctant. "I said, why don't we make it for tomorrow?" he continues. "He said, 'If I told you it was John Lennon, would that make a difference?' I said, 'It sure would!' "

He tracked down his wife, got the teen-agers John ("Camper") and Mimi out of school -- eldest son Terry Jr. ("Kettle") was away at college -- and sailed off with his most celebrated customer.

The Bosleys remember Lennon as a genial, unassuming man -- humorous (he treated the party to his own rendition of "Popeye the Sailor Man"), affectionate with his family and enthusiastically curious about the family's sailing lifestyle. He was also fiercely protective of Sean -- kidnappers were a constant worry -- but he did let Mimi take snapshots of the boy and the rest of the family. When the singer was assassinated later that year, these pictures were worth thousands of dollars to the tabloids. But Mimi -- who at 14 was too young to remember the heyday of the Beatles but knew what John Lennon had meant to her family -- refused to sell.

Although the Movable Feast concept was an established success in Palm Beach, the couple decided to return to their home state a few years ago, when Linda Bosley's mother, who is in her 80s, broke her hip in a fall. She didn't want to leave her Maryland home, so they chose to relocate to be near her. They sailed back to Ocean City and ran their dinner business there, until relocating recently to the Baltimore area. After living so long aboard ship, the couple is now settled in Monkton, and the Imagine is now running dinner cruises from the Inner Harbor.

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