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February 3, 2000, Bend, Oregon

 

"Not all those who wander are lost"

Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings

 

I know that I'm wandering around looking for a boat, but I don't feel that I'm lost. There has been a certain direction and a certain pleasure in this meandering. I do want another boat, not a house. I know that for sure. I have always felt that when you're looking for a boat, it is as great a pleasure as owning the boat. Looking for a boat is a search to be enjoyed. When you're looking, you, in your imagination, can have any boat. Once you buy a boat, it sits there quietly tugging at the dock lines, alone, your's alone with all its problems. No longer can you buy the one you saw a month ago with the green hull paint and yawl rig and teak decks. The search is over. The fantasy becomes real.

While looking for boats, Ellen and I have had a rewarding time visiting family and friends from the East Coast to the West Coast. We've been sailing in Maine, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Delaware, Maryland and on the Chesapeake then truck driving through Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington and a few other states. I feel those gracious friends and family are in some ways, my estate. I feel close to them. So many people welcomed us to their homes that I feel there must be something beyond the friendship. Perhaps they wanted to see what motivates those who move about, homeless, beneath overcast skies, among strange harbors, strange highways and motels. Who are those who drift about and enjoy it?

We headed toward Seattle and Lake Union to look at two boats. We've seen four so far, and none tug at our heart strings. I'm beginning to tire of the driving east and west and north and south. I feel that I need a place to stay where I don't have to break a paper envelope from the soap every time I shower, pull a "sanitary" wrapper off the plastic cup for a drink of water and snap a paper ribbon off the toilet seat when I have to relieve some internal pressures. Something has to happen.

We're traveling north and staying at "Five Star" hotels. :-) The phone works at this one, and the lighting isn't too bad. The lamp is placed near the bed, and that is a good feature. Unfortunately, barely enough light spills over to the table where I'm working where there is no lamp. We turned the heat on maximum when we walked in, and the room's habitable now. I think if we leave the heat on all night on full, we'll be pretty warm by morning. We're happy though because we just renewed our relationship with beautiful California by driving up the coast to Eureka passing through the King Range mountains. It was incredible with clear skies and sunshine. For long stretches there were no other cars on the road. We were amidst tall redwoods, small streams, waterfalls and moss covered rocks and stumps. Steep cliffs, white surf and blue sea stretched out to the horizon. What a coastline. Incredible beauty.

On Lake Union we saw a boat that came close to our requirements. It was a Lord Nelson Victory Tug with handsome lines, but with light displacement and a round bottom that probably lets her roll like a billiard ball in a seaway. While I was standing on the dock, I put my hand on the rail and leaned on the boat. She moved away! This boat is light compared with the old schooner. At 46,000 pounds displacement "Silver Heels" would never move around that easily. Stepping aboard "Silver Heels" was the same as stepping to the dock. The old girl was solid and heavy. This tug has half the weight of schooner "Silver Heels." Actually this tug is what I call an "old man's" boat. (There's a picture on the photo page.) She's 37 feet l.o.a. and has heavy high bulwarks all around so it's hard to fall overboard. That's good. The pilot house is enclosed. You can have a cup of coffee and be dry as the seas and spray come over the bow. That's nice. The single engine has 150 HP, and she cruises at about 8 knots. I like the lines, but she has no bowsprit, no gaffs, no booms and no sails. Everytime this boat goes cruising there's going to be a gnashing, grinding and hammering of steel engine parts as the Cummins diesel engine powers her along. I think every powerboat represents the most efficient way to convert diesel fuel into noise. With this gut wrenching rumble I'll truly miss the quiet of sailing where the only sound is the creak and groan of the rig as the boat heels and the gentle slapping of the bow wave as she moves along. I really don't know if I can own a stinkpot ... and be happy.

After the Seattle tour, we're going to head south to San Diego to see a wooden ketch called "Unicorn." She's cold molded wood about 41 feet long on deck. She's also half the gross weight of "Silver Heels" and will be easier to sail short handed. Her interior is not finished as well as the old schooner, but she is a SAILBOAT that Ellen and I can sail. She has a beautiful transom with a carved unicorn adorning it, and a clipper bow that'll cut the water with grace. Last fall, I went to the Annapolis Boat Show in Maryland, and 9 out of 10 of the boats had a transom that looked like a snow shovel and a bow that had the contours of a cantaloupe . There's only a handful of designers today that can design a boat that doesn't have an interior that chills you to the bone with white fiberglass and stainless steel. Row the dinghy up and hold short of a beautiful classic sailboat with classic lines, take a look and you have a moment of pure passion.. Do I have to buy some other boat and sail into the sunset on a deck with a reverse sheer, molded plastic nonskid and snow white gel coat covering everything? I hope not. So, for now it's pull your collar up and turn your back to the wind. I must be careful.

With best regards to you all, Terry and Ellen

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