But in 1989 Bob and Graham sailed me to Maine. En route, Bob developed strange symptoms. They flew home after leaving me anchored in a sheltered cove near Rockland. Bob underwent a battery of medical exams, none of which proved conclusive. When the summer ended, he had me hauled and dry docked in Maine.
He was still mystified by his condition when he and Nancy visited Richard in Hong Kong the following winter. They took the ferry to Macau one gray day, stayed in a drab hotel, went for a walk around the aging Portuguese colony. In a photo taken in front of a Taoist temple, Bob’s face and posture reveal the toll whatever he had was taking on him.
I stayed in Maine all through the 90’s as he racked up a series of health issues, each accompanied by another medication. Richard moved from Hong Kong to Chicago and began raising kids of his own. Bob sent off a check to the boatyard each year. I faded into the background of their lives, an occasional topic of conversation. I was strapped to a cradle, weather beaten and depressed. Richard thought of rescuing me himself, but the logistics of getting me to Lake Michigan were impossible. Besides, he was now busy with work.
In 1999, Bob received a call from Maine. A guy named Tony asked if he owned the 34 foot sloop sitting in the Rockland boatyard and offered to launch me if he could sail me for a season. He stepped my mast, commissioned my engine and put me in the water. Oh, to hear the wind screaming through my shrouds again!
My reentry into service coincided with a similar change in Richard’s life. He and his wife had relocated with their two children to New Jersey. It was a hard adjustment. As the millennium ended, so, too, did their marriage. A year later, he met Caro, who lived in Sag Harbor. When he told her about his father’s boat as they walked along Haven’s Beach one crisp, sunny afternoon, she suggested they try to get a slip in town. There was a long waiting list, but the next week, they got a call: a slip was available. Richard arranged with Bob and Graham to go up to Maine to fetch me. It rained on the trip, revealing my leaks. The wind was out of the south. For most of the way, they had to use the motor, which was loud and smelly, and shook my whole cabin. But on June 21, 2001, they sailed across Gardiner’s Bay and backed me into Slip #26 at Marine Park, shifting into reverse with a pair of pliers.
Caro and Richard eventually married and he brought her to live with him in New Jersey. He also brought me to the Hudson River. He replaced my ancient engine with a new Yanmar diesel, fixed the gear shift, exchanged the hank-on jib with a furling one, bought a new mainsail, installed a GPS/depth sounder, radar, and as any boat owner knows, made minor improvements and repairs too numerous to count.
For the next decade, Richard sailed me every year with some friends to the east end of Long Island for a week or two and back to Nyack. In September 2009, they sailed through Fire Island Inlet to the house in East Patchogue in whose driveway I had sat so many years before. Bob was walking with a cane and carrying an oxygen tank but they got him aboard me one last time.
He passed away the following spring. They scattered his ashes into Great South Bay. The next winter, Richard developed strange symptoms. He couldn’t walk, let alone sail a boat. At first, he thought he was destined for a life of pain and confusion. So he put me up for sale.
But no one was interested in buying me. Then somehow, Richard recovered from his mysterious illness. He and Caro bought a house in Sag Harbor a short walk from Marine Park. Then he sailed with his friends into a stiff, easterly wind and brought me back here. Now he shows up on weekends and we go sailing. Sometimes he has friends with him, sometimes he is alone. He takes care of me, changes the oil in my engine and paints my bottom. I especially like when he brings Caro aboard and they go below. The waves lap against my hull as it rocks in the harbor and the great shroud of the sea rolls on.