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Old 31-01-2020, 16:12   #1
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Join Date: Jan 2018
Location: Port Townsend, WA
Boat: AP36 Princess 36'
Posts: 18
sea Fever

Sea Fever

My first thought for our annual ‘sailor’s seasonal affective disorder remedy’ party was to recite the famous Maisefield poem, you know the one “I must go down to the seas again….” But Madeline reminded me that Stefan had already done that.
Ironically, Maisefield never went back to sea. Myself, I avoided ‘sea fever’ for the longest time.
When I was 20, inspired by listening to Francis Chichester on the BBC , I remember being all fired up to get a boat and sail away. Instead I bought a motorcycle and went to work in Geneva, Switzerland.
Ten years later, after I’d moved to New York, someone took me sailing. We crossed Long Island Sound in a stiff breeze. I got to steer the boat. I was thrilled. The guy took me to City Island to look at boats. This time I bought a pick up truck instead, built a camper – a tiny house – on the back and went exploring. It was cruising, after a fashion.
I was fifty something and living in Port Townsend Washington, when I finally got a boat but even then it was mainly to get to where the water was warm enough to swim. My neighbor, a sailor, laughed when he saw it; “it’s a motor boat”, he said. I put a rig on it and leeboards and went sailing anyway. A second boat got me to where the water was 70 degrees and a third boat, a 26’ skipjack, became my summer home.
At 64 I decided it was time for another ‘walkabout’. I would fly to Europe, wander around Portugal and Spain – and hitch a ride back across the Atlantic on a sailboat.
Getting a ride wasn’t as easy as the book in the library had suggested. The marina in Las Palmas was crowded with ARC boats and crew. There were lots of other, younger, looking for crew positions: they had resumes and certificates from sailing schools. I was ready to give up when a chance encounter got me an interview on a catamaran.
“Do you smoke, do you do drugs, have you found jesus?” asked the mate. I told them the story of my son and I being guided to a safe haven in a storm. They didn’t really need me, but for some reason they took me.
21 days on a 46’ catamaran. The auto pilot steered the boat; the skipper handled the sails. The mate tried, unsuccessfully, to convert me; the skipper’s girlfriend sulked and Lewis the burly foredeck guy regaled us with stories of life in the military.
Still I loved it. I was overwhelmed by the stars at night- I had never seen so many, not even in the mountains – and fascinated by the clouds and the amazing sunsets.
One day on watch I saw a whale in a big wave right next to the boat. It swam alongside for most of the day. Later, two pilot whales played with the boat like dolphins.
I had swum at Coney Island before leaving and in Portugal. We were becalmed one day so I got to swim in the middle of the Atlantic too.
Sitting on the dock in Sint Maarten three women asked me to marry them. I declined and flew to New York to be with Madeline. That summer we took my 26’ center board boat around Vancouver Island, which gave her sea fever too and led to us getting a Pearson Ariel and then the 36’ ketch we have now. We wanted more of the”wheel’s kick and the wind’s song” of “flung spray and the blown spume” and the “quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long tricks over”
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