I watched as the mainsail began to rise up the mast. I turned to head toward my office where I hoped I could more easily ignore what was going on. But a few steps later I realized I wouldn’t get any work done. So I turned back and tried not to scrutinize every move made by the crew as the staysail was hoisted, then cleated. I desperately wanted to head to the very end of the jetty and call out, “Ease the main sheet more.” But two things held me back. Taleisin no longer was mine and I didn’t want to fluster the new owners, relative neophytes, as for the very first time they sailed off a mooring on their own yacht.
I have heard, “the happiest time in a boat owners life is the day they buy a boat and the day they sell it.” But this definitely didn’t ring true for me. We had never bought this boat. Almost forty years ago Larry cut down several black locust trees, sawed them into boards and stored them to air dry for several years. Thirty five years ago we were in Singapore and bargained for seven teak logs and arranged to ship them to a mountain hideaway in California where a year later we began the three year construction project which slowly grew into the boat I now was watching sail out of my life. I had helped run every single piece of timber through the thickness planer, had sanded and varnished or painted each frame, each plank at least five times. Then through more than 30 years and almost 100,000 miles of voyaging I’d sanded those hatches, those spars several dozen more times. So every inch of that floating object was almost like a part of me.
As Taleisin’s crew, Eben and Annie, let go the mooring pennant, and she began to fall away and gather speed, Annie spotted me. She spoke a few words to Eben. Together they called out, “We’ll take good care of her.” Those words reminded me of the ones an old boatbuilder had used when we first launched this little dream ship, “You take good care of her and she’ll take good care of you.” His words had caught the symbiotic relationship which, through the years, developed between us and our boat.
As soon as Taleisin had glided past the turn of North Cove and was lost to view, I walked quickly to the house to join Larry who, incapacitated by the effects of Parkinson’s disease, had been watching from his favorite seat by the window. I turned on the VHF radio.” Hauraki Gulf, Wind Warning, Northeasterly winds increasing to 30 knots by afternoon with gusts to 35.” I was tempted to call Eben on his cellphone. But, together, we’d all listened to the forecast the evening before. I’d suggested getting up before dawn to catch the lighter winds. They had agreed, but we’d spent a very busy day getting all the spare gear sorted and onto the boat. I’d seen lights moving around on deck long after dark as they hoisted the dinghy on board, stored fenders, took off sail covers in preparation for an early start. So I assumed they’d been tired and an eight AM departure was the best they could do. I thought to myself, should I take care of Taleisin by suggesting they run up the Mahurangi River and anchor before the winds increased.
But I didn’t. I had to force myself to let go. On the other hand, there was nothing I could do about my desire to check the VHF now-casting every hour. Then I got a call from the local water taxi company. “Heard your boat has been taken away,” the office manager said. “One of the skippers spotted it sailing close to Algies Bay. He said it looks like the new folks are doing okay and she looks good, a reef in the mainsail, two headsails set.” An hour later I had a call from a sailing friend who was on board his own boat and running for shelter near the Mahurangi River, “Was that Taleisin I saw running wing and wing towards Tiri Tiri channel?” Each communication reported stronger winds. By the time I had served lunch the winds were up to the predicted 30 knots. I tried to put her out of my mind but found my eyes constantly drawn to the empty spot where Taleisin usually sat.
“Larry,” I asked, “Will you miss her?”
“It’s time for her to go to someone who can use her,” he said.
“Don’t you wish you had the health to be planning another adventure, hatching another crazy scheme?” I asked.
“Lin, that would be downright greedy,” was his reply.
I was pondering on the wisdom of his words when the telephone rang.
“Hi, it’s Eben. Just wanted you to know your baby is safe and sound here in Westhaven. What a sail. Learned more in one long morning being fully responsible for my own boat than in a week of sailing lessons. This is going to be so much fun.” I laughed along as he related the adventures they’d had; figuring out how to gibe in ever increasing winds, feeling then getting over the vestiges of seasickness, being surprised by how much the wind seemed to increase when they stopped running and began reaching up the harbor, the excitement of a slightly out of control gybe.
“Come on down and see her any time you are in town cause I know I’ll have a thousand questions. Hope you don’t mind if I call or email with a list,” Eben said as he signed off.
For the first week the questions flew fast and furious. A month has passed and the communications have tapered off to a question a week. And each email or call includes something about a new skill Annie or Eben has acquired, an interesting “someone” my boat has brought into their lives. Strangely these communications have given me the feeling that, just as I never bought Taleisin I never actually sold her. It’s more like I’ve found adoptive parents to cherish her. No longer do I get a twinge of sadness when I look out to see the empty spot where Taleisin used to be waiting. Instead thoughts of searching for a smaller sailboat fill my mind, one that I could manage on my own. That way, when spring arrives, I can rendezvous with Taleisin and encourage Eben and Annie as they continue taking steps toward Taleisin’s next sailing adventure.
Lin and Larry
P.S. I am really excited. I am heading to the US East Coast in late Septembers It will be time to introduce the latest book I am publishing, Voyaging with Kids . Then I am headed to the SSCA Gam http://www.ssca.org/cgi-bin/pagegen.pl?pg=home&title=Home I’ll be presenting the Saturday evening keynote talk and on Sunday, I will be presenting a special four hour seminar on Writing, Video, Blogging – how to make it add to your Cruising Kitty. Next I’ll join Tory Salvia of TheSailingChannel.TV at the US Sailboat Show in Annapolis to present some seminars and be in a booth where I hope some of you can stop by for a chat.
P.S.S. I spent several hours on the phone with two different podcasters the past few months. One was Valerie Ibarra of San Francisco who commentates a Womans Magazine. Click here to listen to the podcast. The other with David Anderson from Brisbane Australia who creates sailing podcasts www.thesailingpodcast.com/51.