Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Fond Farewell

Twenty-six years ago I bought a nice little ETAP 23, a Belgan sailboat I could single-hand on the various rivers and creeks of the Chesapeake Bay.  I was not new to sailing, having sailed on other people's boats as a teen and then renewed my skills on a little ten-foot Wesort at the headwaters of the Severn River for a few years before upgrading to a larger boat.

Over the years Sparrow, as I christened her (the dingy was named Hawk, in case you were wondering,) and I explored the various rivers and creeks feeding the Bay.  First sailing out of Back Creek in Annapolis, through the mouth of the Severn, and into the Bay itself.   From there I sailed across to circumnavigate Kent Island, cross under the Chesapeake Bay bridge, and once, sailed all the way to Baltimore.

After I moved to a marina on the South River I learned the pleasures of reaching the more southern reaches of the Bay and later, in the Magothy River, I managed to explore further.  Sparrow finally ended up in Pasadena, quite near where I first learned to sail and from where I could sail by the huge carriers and transports entering and leaving the waters of Baltimore's inner harbor, often lying in irons off Fort Carroll to watch the tugs and Bay pilots maneuver the large container ships to dock.

Sparrow was ever ready for a day;s sail, responding to the wind, current, and my steady hand on the tiller and lines. She sometimes acted the frisky colt, eager to run and at other times like a tired plow horse.  There were hours of crushing, searing boredom when the summer failed to produce sufficient wind to blow the chuff off a dandelion.  There were also moments of near terror when gale winds and storms came with little warning.  I once had to chip ice from the shrouds on my way to winter storage because I procrastinated too long by wanting one more day with her.

But as time and tide cannot be stayed, neither could my ability to sail Sparrow as I wished. The last year I ventured no further than six nautical miles from the marina, far less on windless days, and often regretted the other things I could be doing instead of limping along.  For the past two years I wouldn't go out when the winds were stiff and dreaded the weaker winds that failed to give Sparrow  a good run.  I'd like to think that Sparrow understood, wishing instead that we could sail as we did before, brisk against the wind, surfing the cresting waves, and running free and happy.

But all good things must end and so I finally admitted that we had to part. I donated Sparrow to charity so she could find a happier home with someone who loved her as I had.

I will miss her.


1 comment:

  1. God Damn -- this is the saddest blog you've ever written!


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