A flash of memory and I was suddenly on a 28 foot Islander motoring into the mouth of the Merrimack River late in the night after a long, wonderful evening ’round Isle o Shoals, music playing loud and rum flowing freely. We were lucky that night, reckless as we were, but all highly focused when it counted. And entering the treacherous mouth in the dark is one of those times when it counted. The entire night is a shared conspiracy between the three of us, and the stories usually come out with the rum.
That sailboat was full of challenges and maintenance issues and most of all an unplaceable odd smell we just couldn’t get rid of. The smell was the deal breaker, and we finally sold her to an eager gentleman with resolve to bring her back. I recognized that resolve, but that boat broke me just as it probably broke him. I hope not though – I’d like to think that she got a complete facelift and is defiantly darting across the waves as she once did. She was a great sailor, that Islander. She had a great name too: Kiwi. But her body odor was just too… off-putting.
Like a bad relationship you can’t get past, I’d like to sail again, but I’m scarred by the first one. I know the cost of a big boat. Money is one thing, but time is another. There’s nothing wrong with spending either if you’re all in, but I’m not all in. Not now anyway. And so I crew on other boats in normal times. And I sail on small boats when the opportunities come up. And I scheme and plan for ways to get back on the water again. And follow the adventure of others who do. When the respiratory vapor settles on this pandemic I’m picking up a small boat to sail around the bay. One small way to stay in the game. I know the logistics of that aren’t small either, but nothing meaningful is easy. And sailing is meaningful.