I've kept the tiller extension to my first Hobie Cat
and the tiller from my first keelboat (though never had anything sink, yet). Like others have noted, there is just something 'special' to many of us about our vessels, large or small.
Don't have any idea if this could be a naval tradition like "plankholding" (as my uncle was aboard his WWII destroyer, until KIA). I just did it at the time, seemed appropriate.
As far as Eric and family
, don't think the Navy
And I'm more supportive of them than not, but a little skeptical of taking an infant and toddler offshore
My better half then would have had me committed had I suggested such a life path, but there are many who do this and it seems to be OK for most of them. Go for it if you really want to.