Sitting at the dock behind his Virginia Beach home, Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Va., keeps a wooden row boat — a boat that his retirement plans have been shaped around.
Last year at an auction, Rigell first met the boat , called Miss Nellie. “When my wife pointed it out in the little auction guide, I was pretty excited because when your wife points out something, that was her way of saying, ‘if you want to do that, you can,’” Rigell said.
The boat is 13 feet long, draws three inches of water and “the top speed? Well, that’s classified,” he said. The congressman is a self-proclaimed amateur wood worker and Miss Nellie was created by the Tidewater Wooden Boat Workshop in Hampton Roads, Va.
When he toured the workshop, he learned about a volunteer program there that provides at-risk children from the city with boat building experience. “Maybe I’ll come down here and volunteer,” Rigell said. “I have a sense I will be doing that, and I’ve got some other things I’m working on.”
“I don’t like this word retirement, maybe transition, I’m not going to really retire,” he added.
“The simplicity of [Miss Nellie], there’s quite juxtaposition between that boat and Washington.”
Rigell announced his retirement in January. “Washington is an exciting place to be but … to hear the wind, hear the birds, hear the ospreys, I sound a little bit like Walt Whitman but there’s something to that,” he said.
He said the boat gives him the chance to separate from technology and think and write.
Rigell’s district is on the water in Virginia. “When you describe it, you gotta start out with: water,” he said. He has previously owned sailboats and large power boats. At one time, he had his captain's license and said he drove a boat down the East Coast, from New York to the Bahamas.
The congressman has also built a wooden kayak, which he said is currently in his garage. “I think every member has their own way of winding down. The speaker does a deer stand and I don’t golf,” Rigell said.