Both us are suffering from a surfeit of nostalgia. A combination of history, editing and modern technology has brought moments from the earliest days of our partnership alive. Here’s the story:
About three years ago, Herb McCormick was commissioned to write a biography about Larry and I. It was made clear that this would be a warts and all project, one where we would be asked to confirm facts but could not determine or control the content. We spent almost three weeks with Herb, answering questions, sharing stories, talking about people and experiences we hadn’t written about before. It was really enjoyable, how could it have been otherwise: talking to a highly experienced sailor who had also, through almost three decades, become a friend. Occasionally, over the past three years, Herb would send an email asking for someone’s contact details or clarification on dates, but generally we forgot about his project. About two weeks ago, the final manuscript of As Long as It’s Fun arrived in my inbox with a request that Larry and I check facts and answer some of the editor’s queries – mostly about spellings, locations and such. Reading Herb’s interpretation of our life was sometimes highly amusing, others times made me wish I could re-edit a few of my actions (especially my very early ones) and brought back many memories. But it was one of editorial queries that pushed both of us into this current state of extreme nostalgia. Kathleen Brandes (the editor) wrote, “please check this website and confirm the last name.” We’d told Herb how we’d named the Seraffyn after a modern day troubadour whose voice and songs had enchanted us while we worked to build our first cruising boat. “Seraffyn York was his name,” one of us said. “He wandered around in 13th century garb, played a lute, sang for his supper, even sang his way across the Atlantic on board a cruise liner. Seemed a fitting name for us as we both liked to sing, planned on working our way as we wandered….” In the days before affordable personal computers, CD’s and easy recording options, the friend who first introduced us to Seraffyn’s songs had gone to the trouble of copying his record onto a cassette tape. We’d played that tape as we voyaged, until it eventually wore out. Several times through the years, we’d tried to locate another recording of Seraffyn, wondered what had happened to him and though we sometimes encountered someone who had heard him sing live at their university or at a folk festival back in the 1960’s, we had no real luck. So I was delighted when, two weeks ago, I clicked on the link Kathleen provided. http://playitagainmax.blogspot.co.nz/2009/06/seraffyn-of-love-of-war-of-many-things.html
Not only did I learn we’d had Seraffyn’s last name wrong, it is actually Mork, we learned about his history, his demise and after more than four decades we were able to hear his voice again. I downloaded the album and we must have played it a dozen times already. As we listen, memories of the often difficult but utterly satisfying work that went into building Seraffyn came to mind, the late nights as I varnished and sanded her bunk boards and bulkheads, the hours and hours of milling timber for her decks, the music we listened to while we worked, Joan Beaz, the Christy Minstrels, Buddy Holly. As I listen to this time capsule from years gone by I realize it was the fourth song, in which Seraffyn plays the lute softly as he quotes the poem, The Song of Wandering Aengus by W.B. Yeats, that was the true inspiration for the name of the wonderful little sailing ship that carried us onto a sea of adventures:
I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.
When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire aflame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And some one called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.
Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.
As I write this I am looking out towards where Taleisin sits alongside our jetty here at Kawau Island waiting for kinder weather so we can add a coat of varnish to her boom, then put the mainsail back in place. At the beginning of October, spring came flying in with a week of spectacular weather. So we started the spruce up work she needed. Three days into the project the gales that usually blow in September decided to ruin our plans. For three weeks gales and squalls have stalled progress. On the only quiet day, when the sun shone warm and bright, the wind dropped off to a delightful breeze, we stalled our own progress because we couldn’t resist the chance to take little Felicity out for a sail. We’re not the only ones stalled by this rough spring weather. I just had an email from Fatty and Caroline Goodlander saying they, and dozens of other cruising sailors, hoping to head south from Tonga towards New Zealand, are stalled by forecasts of gales and frontal systems. But the weather will change, and soon we can put aside the nostalgia and enjoy sunny warm days doing what we know best, just messing about in boats.
May gentle winds blow your way,
Lin and Larry
P.S. Andy Schell called us from Sweden a few weeks back and recorded a 45 minute long podcast. You can listen to it here: http://www.sailfeed.com/2013/10/59-degrees-north-podcast-4-lin-larry-pardey/ We’ll be meeting up with Andy and also Herb McCormick in January when we head north to Chicago and Toronto to present seminars at the two winter boat shows. Hope to meet some of you there.