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CORAL BEACH is the eldest of Buford and Jerry Beach’s two daughters. She grew up in Dallas, Texas then attended both the undergraduate and graduate schools of business at the University of Texas at Austin. She moved to Galveston Island, Texas in June of 1977 and married native Galvestonian Joe Murphy.

Her twenty-one year career at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston began as a computer programmer, progressed to the Assistant Director of Computing Services, then the Director of Hospital Information Systems. Finally, she was an administrator with the Group Practice Plan.

Coral and Joe have been married for thirty-two years and live in a customary beach house on Galveston Island, Texas, with Penny, their Jack Russell Terrier. You can find Coral and Penny jogging daily on the beach in front of their home.

Coral, Joe, and their two children Molly and Matthew, visited Beachouse all around the world in places like the Caribbean, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Indonesia, Thailand, and South Africa.

Coral, prone to every kind of motion sickness there is, does not sail. She required Beachouse to be anchored in smooth waters during her visits. However, she is an avid scuba diver—as long as it is a short boat ride to the dive site!

My parents swore it was purely by accident. They thought Coral was a pretty name—a beautiful pinkish-orange color. It was also the name of an Australian actress—Coral Browne. So, they named me Coral, never connecting it with their last name. (So they claimed.)

It wasn’t until several days after my birth that someone congratulated my parents on their cleverness. But it was now too late—the deed was done.

When I married, I couldn’t part with it. Coral Murphy just didn’t have the same pizzazz.

Over the years, I have been accused of being an actress, a stripper, and even a resort hotel. In fact, I once stayed in a Coral Beach Resort in Thailand. (I ran around collecting stationary and anything with my name printed on it!) When I made collect telephone calls, the operators thought Coral Beach was where I was calling from or a ploy to get free phone calls.

In the early 1980’s a Houston magazine published a photo essay on people with Marvelous Monikers. I was included along with others like Welcome Wilson, Boots Hansen and Coots Matthews.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I purchased the ever popular baby naming book. Inside was a section “What not to name your baby.” It claimed you should stay away from “cutesy” names. The example was a couple in Florida whose last name was Beach and who named their children Sandy, Wendy, Rocky, Shelley, and Coral. I promptly threw the book into the garbage can.

On our thirtieth wedding anniversary my husband asked me, “Isn’t it about time you changed your name to Murphy?”

My reply was, “Why?”


The title, Happy Hour in Paradise, is explained in the chapter entitled Happy Hour:

Buford and Jerry enjoyed happy hour each day around 5:00 pm. They established this rule to diminish the temptation of over-imbibing on warm, lazy days with beautiful sunsets, which occurred almost every day when sailing. Several times a week, Buford and Jerry had fifteen to thirty-five people join them for the ritual drinks and snacks. Everyone had drinks with ice from Jerry’s root cellar, a luxury for most yachties. Usually the revelers consumed their second drink while watching the gorgeous sun set over some exotic locale.

One happy-hour participant explained that Buford and Jerry kept to their rule pretty well. He found that cocktails didn’t happen around five—they happened at exactly five—within minutes. They didn’t have a “couple of drinks”; they had exactly two—no more, and, to quote Jerry, “for damned sure no less.”

In Puerto La Cruz, like everywhere she went, Beachouse was the center of the social scene for cruisers. Because of its size and large amount of deck space, parties were common on board. “Let’s have a party!” was Jerry’s mantra. If a party was anywhere in sight and she wasn’t invited, someone needed to explain why. When she attended or gave parties, she was the best guest or hostess imaginable.

Here is an account of a fellow cruiser’s first invitation to happy hour on Beachouse:

We first met Buford and Jerry in Venezuela, probably in 1987 or 1988. We were in the Cumana Marina, and Jerry stopped by our boat to issue an invitation for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres on Beachouse. We were surprised at the invitation because we’d never even met them before. Imagine, we thought, they picked us out of all those other boats in the marina. Not until we arrived at Beachouse at the designated time did we realize that Jerry had invited the entire marina to their boat that evening. What a blast! They even had ice for our drinks. Now, that was a treat all by itself!


The Writing of the Book

From 1985 to 1997, my parents, Buford and Jerry Beach, traveled the world on their yacht, Beachouse. There was no Internet, and satellite trans-ocean communication was expensive; cellular phones were nonexistent. VHF radio or written letters were yachts’ only methods of communication.

So, Mom wrote letters to her family and friends during Beachouse’s twelve-year circumnavigation. Each time a letter was distributed, soon came a call for more. The letters were so entertaining, clever, and amusing that the recipients couldn’t wait to get the next one. They were shared with more friends and more friends…and so on.

Everyone prodded Mom to put their experiences into a book. However, she had no confidence in her writing or the desire to dedicate the time. Therefore, the task fell to me. I knew that I needed to document their amazing story for my children and their children. If I didn’t, it would be lost forever. I thought it would be a great project. Little did I know the amount of time required.

I began by contacting recipients of Mom’s letters, asking them to share with me any I was missing. To my surprise, most of them still had their copies! The result was a collection of thirty-six letters. All the letters are in the book printed as written. Only minor grammatical errors and misspellings have been changed.

My research consisted of reading daily diaries Mom kept beginning in 1981 and ending three days before her death in 2003. I made notes of interesting activities not included in her letters. This formed the basis of my narrative, including quotes from the diaries.

Another source of material is my Dad’s Navigator’s Log Book, the captain’s daily account of Beachouse’s location and movement. Also, I conducted interviews with visitors to Beachouse, gathered newspaper articles from around the world, and sorted through hundreds of photographs. All of the pictures in the book were taken by my parents or their visitors (including me).

I decided to write the book as if my children, or any reader, knew nothing about sailing and the hundreds of locales Beachouse visited.  With almost one hundred maps and pictures, it would be part travelogue and part description of everyday life on the sailboat.

In addition, my children would understand commitment, dedication, planning, setting goals, perseverance, working through problems, and especially, how to live life fully. Lastly, they would learn about their grandparents—two people who loved each other deeply and were completely devoted to each other.

What began as a small project took six years and resulted in Happy Hour in Paradise: Twelve Years on Beachouse.