March 1, 2006

The Ship Has Sailed

Okay well, it's not really a ship. It's a boat. Hal's boat. His pride and joy, the Pearson 424 ketch he christened Sea Duty.

My mom found a buyer. Or rather a buyer found her. He's a younger fellow who knew Hal and is quite excited about owning the vessel that belonged to my stepfather. Hal was rather a legend in his sailing community: well respected and knowledgable, active in teaching others how to safely survive a bluewater voyage.

My mom never shared his joy of ocean sailing, but she loved puttering around in the Chesapeake Bay or the Caribbean. For many years, Hal led sailing rallies to both Bermuda and the Caribbean, sometimes sailing his own boat or hiring on to captain someone else's. My mother would hop an airplane and join him once he had arrived in the islands. They'd spend the winter months island hopping and socializing with their boating friends. Rough life, yes? Believe me, they earned it.

Just about every room in their house boasts a beautiful view of the creek, the sailboat moored at the dock creating a picture of tranquility. This morning, Sea Duty sailed from that dock heading for a shipyard to be pulled from the water for her pre-sale inspection, called a survey in the boating world. There's little doubt she will be given a clean bill of health as Hal maintained her in tiptop condition.

My mother had been dreading that moment. That moment when the boat left the creek for the final time, another captain at the helm. Interestingly, when her gay-hating neighbor saw the boat leaving, she phoned my mom to make sure she was okay. They are narrow-minded bigots, yet they can also be kind. That shit confuses me.

Now to share something that feels creepy if I overanalyze it but also feels so right in other ways. While Wendy and I were visiting last weekend, my mother asked Wendy put some of Hal's ashes into a small watertight container. We sealed it tightly and labeled it "Captain Hal." It's now stashed in the chart desk aboard Sea Duty. The young man who is purchasing the boat enthusiastically embraced the idea of having a piece of her recent Captain remain aboard.

I think Hal would also approve.



Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

I don't think that is creepy at all -- if only because the person who bought the boat knew him. It might be a bit odd if he were a stranger.

Gina said...

Hear, hear, that was a great idea!

I went to his bio page, and it sounds like the world not only lost a great husband and father/stepfather, but a true seaman and asset to the boating community.

Elizabeth said...
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Elizabeth said...

So do people who look like sailors end up looking that way because they like sailing or are they born that way and then one day look in the mirror and go, 'Arrrrr, I think I be a sailor, matey.'

I'm sure Captain Hal really approved of the watertight part.

weese said...

what a great tribute by his sailing pals.
and I LOVE the idea of the ashes on the boat. I know I would be honored if I were the new owner.

Suzanne said...

The idea of Wendy spooning his ashes with a silver iced tea spoon is what creeped me out. :)

And yes eb, he did look like the consummate sailor man. He didn't even have to try very hard to pull it off.