Sunday, November 13, 2005

That Sinking Feeling...


A few years back I was writing a semi-regular column on my company's website which I called "A Touch of SASS!" I attempted to be clever and humorous and at the same time tie the column back to some meaningful information about the company's mobile commerce service. One of those columns was a play on the title of this post... I called it "That Synching Feeling..." and focused on the advantages of using our service to synchronize data between a handheld device such as a mobile phone or PDA and your desktop PC. A clever bit of BS, if I do say so myself...

Now, thanks to that horrible, hideous, heinous hurricane called Wilma
I find myself faced with a very different and very real sinking feeling... this time I am dealing with the literal sinking of my old sailboat, ELSEWHERE...

I have been a sailor since the age of 10, when I had the thrill of playing the role of human ballast, huddled near the bow of a BlueJay in the crowded waters of the Long Island Sound as my dad "crewed" for a neighbor who owned the boat. As apartment dwellers, it was a real bonus to find a means of spending a weekend afternoon on the water, so as our boat owning neighbor (a successful young veterinarian) moved up the boat owning ladder and traded in his BlueJay for a larger vessel, we were always available to tag along and help out. I loved the sounds and smells of sailing and the salty white crust it left on my skin after a long day out in the wet and wild wind.

I was hooked, and took my love of sailing with me to Summer Camp, where over the years I honed my yachting skills on Sunfish and Lasers in the weedy waters of Lake Onota in Pittsfield, Mass., eventually becoming an instructor. Years later, after college, my dad and I went to the Boat Show, and with fond memories of Richard the Veterinarian we left the show the proud owners of a MacGregor '22. We called her "A Touch of Sass!" and sailed her every summer, first in Manhassat Bay and later in the Great Peconic Bay.

Miraculously (read "stupidly"), when I decided to move to Florida in 1994 instead of bringing A TOUCH OF SASS to the Sunshine State, we sold her, leaving me to live in the land of year-round boating without a boat. Dumb decision number 23,462. I missed sailing and thought about it often, living vicariously from ashore and through the pages of magazines. Finally, in 2002 I jumped back in the water and acquired a 1979 Chrysler S-27 Sailboat called "ELSEWHERE."

She was a solid, steady comfortable old boat that had once served as the home to a University of Miami Law Student. I got her from a charming couple who lovingly kept her in shipshape condition. While the kids and I debated calling her "A Touch of Sass II" or "Kiss My Sass!" we ultimately decided we liked the name ELSEWHERE and would rather not tempt the sea demons to give us bad luck by changing the vessel's name. I spent many enjoyable weekends going elsewhere on ELSEWHERE... with my kids, with friends, and alone...every day journey a unique adventure on Biscayne Bay... She was a wonderful boat, and she was hostess to many, many wonderful afternoons...

As HURRICANE WILMA took its predicted hard right turn toward the Florida Peninsula, the projected path put my home clearly in harm's way. The boat, in Coconut Grove some 35 miles to the southeast, seemed to be less a target of Wilma's pending pounding. WRONG! Wilma whacked me on both sides of my head, causing havoc at home and sending Elsewhere somewhere else... namely up against the rocks and seawall of Dinner Key Marina...

She was dis-masted, lost her (new) rudder, chainplate ripped through the deck, lead keel ripped off, four visible holes through the hull, and, thanks to being half submerged, the water inside ruined the cabin and all its contents. Elsewhere would never go anywhere again.

As my oldest son and I watched the 70-Ton salvage crane lift her into the air, water pouring from the swiss cheese that a few days before was her newly restored hull, we understood just what that sinking feeling was...


ELSEWHERE, 1979 - 2005

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