MY HEART SKIPPED a beat or two while I was looking through Craigslist the other day. The most gorgeous boat was for sale, a trim little sistership to John Guzzwell’s famous Trekka, the 21-footer in which he sailed around the world.
This one is called Tern, and she’s a Laurent Giles-designed Columbia-class sloop, strip planked of Port Orford yellow cedar on oak frames, and launched in 1978. The entire hull, deck, and cabin are covered in 1.5 oz. polypropylene cloth and epoxied.
She’s being offered for $7,500 with an extensive inventory. And you can’t look at a picture of her without dreaming of the South Pacific, blue water and warm winds, and white sandy beaches on exotic palm-fringed islands. She's built for the deep water and ready to go — at half the price of a new baby car.
She is, of course, very cramped below, although she does have a solid fuel stove and a small chart table, along with a couple of bunks. And she is made of wood, which will put off a lot of buyers who don’t appreciate its advantages.
Wood is still as good a material for building boats as it ever was. It’s stronger, pound for pound, than steel aluminum or fiberglass. It floats, it accepts fastenings well, it’s plentiful, it’s easily repaired with simple tools and it’s biodegradable. And, best of all, it’s warm and appealing to the human soul. It certainly stirs mine. In fact, I fell in love with Tern on the spot.
My wife wasn’t jealous. “You could buy her just for the fun of having her,” she said.
But no. If I bought Tern I would be obliged to cross an ocean. Maybe two or three. That’s her destiny. She would be forcing me to go. And my conscience wouldn’t let her sit in port and rot.
But the timing is wrong for me. It’s too late. I am now too jaded and cynical. She needs someone young and passionate, someone willing to forgo luxury and safety in that wonderful wild, headlong quest for excitement and new experiences.
I hope she finds that someone soon.
The woods please us above all things.
Boaters’ Rules of Thumb, #227
How much wind can you expect on an ocean crossing? Well, approximately 65 percent of all ocean voyaging is done in winds of 12 knots or less. That’s an observation by Lin and Larry Pardey. It’s confirmed by world voyager Eric Hiscock, who said that during his three circumnavigations the trade winds averaged Force 4 — from 11 to 16 knots.
Two masked men with guns confronted Seamus O’Murphy.
The bigger man asked politely: “Excuse us, sir, but can you let us have a nickel?”
“A nickel?” said Murphy, suddenly very relieved, “well sure. My pleasure. But what do you guys want with a nickel?”
“Oh, my colleague here wants to toss a coin for who gets your watch and who gets your wallet.”
(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)