Friday, September 17, 2010

Of High Seas and Love Found

Nancy and I hit it off immediately.  It's pretty hard for four people to spend the weekend on a 27' sailboat without becoming intimately familiar with each other and ours was a weekend of shared fun and laughter.

Over the next several months our relationship went from friendship to lovers to significant others to roommates.   Over the five years we were together we spent countless hours on the boat and I came to know every Jimmy Buffett song by heart.  There still isn't any better music to sail by. 

We slowly took over the boat from the racing crew as, little by little, the stuff left over from our weekend junkets began to add weight to the boat and she became less competitive.  However, I became so familiar with the boat and the St. Johns River winds that I once single-handed her to an outright victory in the King's Day Regatta, one of the major river regattas of the year.  My crew, Bobby and Nancy, mostly drank beer, providing ballast and, of course, good company.  The first place trophy looked like a cow patty stuck on a piece of wood.  I think it was supposed to be the king's wax seal.  We hung it in the bathroom.

I quickly plugged into Nancy's circle of friends, most of them sailors, some of them owners of big boats of 40' or so.  We would often spend the weekend on the big boats, three or four of them rafted together, and party all night long.

I remember one particular New Year's weekend when we anchored off of a river fishcamp and dinghyed in for the New Year's Eve party.  There is almost no describing the precariousness of a bunch of drunks in an inflatable dinghy on a cold winter's night.  But we made it, unscathed.

The next day we sailed into town and anchored offshore of a trendy riverfront apartment where a friend was having a New Year's Day party.  We took the girls in first and they had to scale a small bulkhead to get ashore.  They didn't realize until it was too late that the small grassy area on top of the bulkhead was the neighborhood's favorite dog walk.  So, the girls arrive at this trendy party, all dressed in their finest foul weather gear and jeans, covered in dog poop.

Of course, being girls, they went immediately into the "ladies room" to make themselves presentable.  In the meantime, we men arrived.  If we had dog poop on us, none of us noticed.  We went straight for the bar and the food.  For about an hour or so we pretty much turned an otherwise sophisticated party upside down and then bid our adieu. 

A few days later, the party host told us that from the perspective of his apartment, and most of the guests, through the picture window they had all watched the beautiful sailboats as they came up the river.  Were interested when we anchored.  Curious when we came ashore.  Aghast when the pirates arrived, soiled the bathroom, ate all of the food, drank most of the booze and left.

Also a sailor and a close friend, the party host thought it all extremely entertaining and the best party he, an accountant, had ever thrown for his clients, who talked about it for years afterward.

We got our comeuppance however when one of our boats found itself hard aground on a sandbar as the tide had fallen whilst we partied.  Had to flag down a powerboat to pull them off.  The humiliation of it.  Arrrrgggghhh.

I have many such fond memories of my time with Nancy.  Why we split, I really don't know.  I suspect neither did she.  Just one of those things.  We remained friends.

Sadly, Nancy passed away about a year ago.  Cancer.

Fair winds and calm seas sweetie.  I still love ya.


  1. Cancer sucks. We're having a battle with it on our homefront, my MIL. I'm really not ready to talk about it yet, which is why I haven't posted on it.
    I loved your story. Arrrgggggh matie.

  2. Diane... My dad died of cancer. Ugly. Thank God for hospice.

    Thank you Mark. I can hardly wish for anything more.

  3. Sometimes ships pass longer than just a moment, yet they still pass. I wonder from time to time why we end up or don't end up with certain people. It's weird. Sorry about ur friend. The whole story was very poignant.

  4. The bittersweet of "getting older," I think, is that we have better stories to tell, but some of the best characters have an unfortunate tendancy to not make it to the next chapter.

    Always love your stories, Mr. C! And I just found out I'm spending tomorrow on a boat!

  5. Keeps me ever alert, thinking of how fragile things are in terms of people in our past, where we're sailing in the future and loved ones we lose along the way. Loved the poop.

  6. Man, sounds like fun times. You guys really know how to spice up a party!


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