I don’t need to know how the story will end. But more importantly, how does it begin?
It’s this simple approach to selecting a book that also guides me through life’s choices. Do I accept the job? Do I sign up for a spring marathon? Shall we buy this boat? I credit Miss Edmonson, my grade school librarian, for demonstrating this approach to me. I refer to her as “my school librarian” but obviously she didn’t belong to me. She was however, in charge of every book, every check-out card, and the Dewy Decimal system at the elementary I attended. Her polyester reputation had preceded her so it was with great intrigue, even intimidation, to be allowed into her library. Deeply imbedded is the memory of her demonstrating how to select a book based on its cover or title, mark its place on the shelf with a wooden stick, and then peruse the first few paragraphs for any spark of interest. The finale to her demonstration began with a long pause, where she looked intently into each of our second grade eyes, then asserted this final but serious warning: “Never, ever skip to the last chapter as a means of selecting a library book.”
Instructed in the Edmonson way of making choices, it was easy for me to imagine foggy afternoons and cozy evenings aboard Bobby McGee, a 36 foot Freedom sailboat with two unstayed masts, tied to a dock on Shelter Island. Interested and excited, Captain Chameleon and I followed our broker out to the slip as he recited a list of Bobby McGee’s specifications. She was smaller than we desired and she didn’t offer the list of equipment amenities we had on our list, but Bobby McGee’s charm proposed freedom, possibilities, and connection to a nautical yearning that I carried from deep within. As Captain Chameleon and the broker chatted topside, examining fiberglass and stainless, I chose to get to know her from below, surrounded by her teak and holly sole. Sitting quietly on the portside settee, I sensed a bit of her essence; she was a long way from the Rhode Island boatyard and yachting heritage in which she was founded. Her name, Bobby McGee hinted at the life she had found on the West coast. Despite faded cushions, tattered carpet, and mismatched dishes in the galley, it was unmistakable – I really, really liked her. With the sound and smell of fog rolling in off the Pacific to swallow up another San Diego afternoon, the Captain and I agreed we had just met the boat that would sail us to Mexico…Seamore Pacific.
Purchasing Seamore Pacific was a lesson of letting go in order to let things happen. For years, we had dreamed of buying a catamaran and sailing to Mexico in both luxury and comfort. Subscribing to Sail and Cruising World the shiny advertisements yanked us closer and closer to actually looking for a boat. But even a used catamaran was going to cost more than our house. Instead of backing away, we put blinders on, found a beautiful catamaran, and devised a plan to pay for it. Kept at the San Diego Yacht Club Marina, the cat was showroom perfect. Postponing early retirement, in order to pay for her, seemed incidental if it meant having a boat like her. Working another five years would afford me a galley with a 180 degree view, stainless steel appliances, plush décor, and loads of space for entertaining. The finished product was the homemade spaghetti dinner that I imagined preparing and serving to our guests…by candlelight…on the aft 40 acre deck. It was SO perfect. From start to finish, it was almost everything we wanted. And then, the bottom fell out.
Layer by painful layer, the blinders came off. The haul-out portion of the professional survey revealed aspects about the hull that were unacceptable. I hung on hard, trying to deny the facts but ultimately we had to walk away from completing the purchase. For months I lamented on the spaghetti dinners that wouldn’t be enjoyed, the 180 degree view that wouldn’t be shared, and the perfect sailing that had slipped through our fingers. The Captain, he responded to the disappointment much like a clam does. The disappointment over dreams never coming true and that we were never going to have another boat….blah, blah, blah…lasted for too many months. But then an article in Latitude 38 about sailing on a shoestring budget disproved my wallowing pity party. We had our health, we had our dreams, and we had the down payment we were going to put towards the Queen Mary.
It was through that experience that we decided not to go into debt for a dream. Once we stopped trying to write the final chapter of our sailing story, the real adventure could begin. Captain Chameleon and I now strive to keep our story simple: we forego material and immaterial things that stand in the way of separating us from the ocean. It was Seamore Pacific that taught us that. She wasn’t the boat we were looking for but she was exactly the boat we needed.
The Captain and I are forever humbled and grateful for Seamore Pacific. So it is with immense emotion that we announce that as of this afternoon, she will be helping another sailor write their story. Last year, on a perfect crossing from the Baja to mainland Mexico, the Captain and I outlined a new chapter…eventually sell Seamore Pacific and buy a trawler that we can live more fulltime on and explore the Great Loop with.
Letting something go that I love is difficult and yet I know that to move onto the next chapter, means turning the page.
Bon Voyage. And, thank you to our sweet Seamore Pacific.
Seamore Nautical Spirits
Growing up in the rural community of Marshfield, Missouri besides reading, I listened intently to the lyrics, chords, and melodies of these songs. It was my window to the sea..
What I take with me from Seamore Pacific:
- When the auto pilot failed in strong following seas…and I overcame my fear and was able to help the Captain by steering through high swells.
- Our night crossings. Our tradition became that we both stayed in the cockpit instead of one going below. One would sleep wrapped in the brown comforter while the other kept watch.
- Getting hit in the head by a squid as we were trying to find the inlet into Bahia Santa Maria on a blowing dark night…. my patience had already run very, very thin.
- A whale swimming along side and rolling over to “wink” at us…off Los Coronado’s Islands.
- Cleaning out the lockers, oiling the teak, sewing slip covers, picking out new galley ware, and making her proud!
- Making spaghetti, homemade pizza, and margaritas for friends. Sharing time with friends in our comfortable (little) space.
- Meeting new friends.
- Rolling and pitching all through the night, at anchor…swearing I was going to sell her the first moment we came to a marina. Only to get over it and tell her how much I loved her.
- Jumping over board into turquoise waters off Bahia Conception.
- Falling asleep to lapping waves, clanking lines, and the bark of seals.
- Exploring new places. Dreaming of future places. Tossing a message in a bottle over board….wondering when it will be found.
Oh Betheny! What a big move! Is Seamore the boat you had in the Keys and also took to Annapolis? That was Reilly’s first time on a boat. He’s now 16, almost 6′ and a budding sailor! We all like sailing now and maybe a boat is in our future. Can’t wait to hear what the adventures the trawling chapter will be! Best to you and Greg. Xx Cathy
Such a happy sad moment, letting her go to give way to the next big adventure. I loved our New Year’s Eve aboard together ringing her into your new year. Great memories. Great writing.
What a beautiful & touching story. Through your words & pictures, I feel as though I have shared in your adventure. I’m excited for you & look forward to the next chapter. Xo