Baggy Wrinkles

Baggy Wrinkles
S/V Nautica, Hull #614, Built at Whitby Boatworks Ltd., Ontario, Canada 1977, one of the most recognizeable Carl Alberg designs. A masthead sloop displacing 9000 lbs, keel hull, Yanmar 15 hp diesel, LOA 30.27 Beam 8.75, Draft 4.29, roller furling headsail, tiller, berths for 4, interior teak bulkheads, teak cap rail and cockpit teak coamings, 12 volt lighting, aluminum mast support, Harken self tailing winches, in its day was designed for customers as a Cruiser-Racer, the Alberg 30 remains a Classic design of the modest Alberg inventory.

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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Sailing and Contemplation

It was a curious connection to be sure.

Even spiritual.  After meeting the owners of Queen Bea, the Alberg 30 we found in Nova Scotia on a trailer in the little hamlet of River Bourgeois, we couldn't help but remark to each other how ironic, if that is the best word for something like this, that the sellers were devotees of the works and writings of a Christian pastor and author from Tennessee, with whom I was very close friends.  It came out in conversation, after Beatrix mentioned she had to go to the Nursing Home to play hymns on the piano and share their stories with the residents.  She asked if I had heard of the author and showed me his book.  I smiled and said, “yes I know him quite well.”  She asked if I had read the book, I said, “yes I have.”  I then told her the author had been my college roommate 40 years ago and that we were long friends!  With an incredulous surprise, she said that Pastor Robert Morgan's (link is to his Bio) written works were of such help and inspiration to them both.  They were speechless that this could be so.  I said of course, pulled out my phone and texted Rob, took their photo and sent it to him.  They were caught off-guard and quite surprised and delighted that on this sunny spring afternoon in Nova Scotia, far from the cosmopolitan world, that visitors to their gorgeous place overlooking the water, a visitor, and a close personal friend of their spiritual mentor had arrived.
Bea and James in May 2016, proud of the books by Robert she had read and used in her volunteer ministry of music and stories to nursing home residents in their community.  They became acquainted with my friend of 40 years while reading these volumes on life and faith. They owned the Alberg for 15 years before we found them and became its owners.  Thank you both!
And so our meeting in May of 2016 was over lunch in their lovely home which overlooked the water and the Alberg 30, sitting about a half mile away.  After reminiscing about our unusual serendipity and exchanging email addresses and taking note of some additional items of the Alberg, we finally said our goodbyes and reluctantly made our way home to South Carolina.  And all the way we simply shook our heads at this particularly unusual meeting.  If you've read the New Testament, it was similar to the disciples' reaction to having spoken with an unusual celestial visitor on their walk on the Damascus Road (Gospel of Luke).

Meeting James and Bea and the Alberg in Nova Scotia on a sunny day in May 2016.

Then just the other day, we learned that Bea, after whom the Alberg was named, 'Queen Bea,' had recently passed away from a cancer about which we had no idea of her having.  So, it is a bit sad to be sure, but James is keenly happy that Bea will go on in some way in this Alberg for years to come.  And yes, even with a name change, Bea will always be part of the interesting catalogue of owners' who've cared for her from 1977 to this day.

All of our vessels capture our lives and share them like quiet muses who nod their heads at our successes and comfort us in our sorrows.  Where else would I want to be if I were in need of comfort than on the Alberg, sailing in the wind, or rain, or at anchor, able to be alone with my thoughts and heal at my own pace.  It is a therapeutic experience to be so associated with a sailboat one loves.  And all of the previous owners, the kids, the pets, who've come aboard over 40 years are pieces of this nautical tapestry.  In my thinking, to have met Bea and James, and to have been the recipients of their Alberg have meant so much more to me than simply a contractual sale.  Our mutual friend Robert and I have remained friends since we met each other in a dorm room where we were assigned as college room-mates.  This deeper connection has brought something more than just a sailboat, it is a connection with people and enduring themes in our lives.

I felt too, when we discovered our mutual friend, that somehow the good Lord was looking over my shoulder when I had been poring over the photos on Yachtworld, and Sailboat Listings, trying to find just the "right" boat.  I recall I had decided not to purchase a larger sailboat just yet as my father was in the process of declining and eventually passed early in 2016.  I wanted to get through that process, which took until his burial in July at Arlington Cemetery.  Too, I still owned my Alberg Cape Dory Typhoon!  And yet, as I was sipping my cafe in the wee hours of the morning this past Spring, my eyes lighted upon the "Queen Bea," her white decks and blue hull an instant attraction (the First Mate had told me our next boat needed to have a blue hull!), her teak appointments and classic Carl Alberg lines lured me just as did the Cape Dory Typhoon, years previous.  It was in those moments there was some more providential impulse to discover this yacht, and then to offer full price to secure the sale.  It was not happen-chance in our opinion.  It sent us to Nova Scotia, where we met James and Bea, in their lovely hamlet facing the North Atlantic Ocean, a place of compelling beauty, and where we connected at several echelons at once.  We could not have planned such an encounter where all of those points of interest and people come together into one very interesting passage together!

Sailors often talk about something deeper about the yachts they've owned, and the waters they've sailed, and the effects of these things on their souls.  It's part of what these boats do to us and how they repay us for the brief experience of maintenance bogies, hot yacht yoga days (my term for those incredibly difficult places one must enter in order to fix a small but important part), and the endless trail of dollars that goes with keeping a good ole boat afloat and underway.  It's not something we really mind at all for the joy and the renewal they bring to our minds and hearts.  I find that sometimes when in the midst of a sail alone, there are epiphanies which occur, well not visions or anything, but moments when I seem to have the distinct and even direct impression to look and hear something which is speaking to my soul rather than to my mind.  I've sailed in many locations, but now, sailing in a closed lake area, I find my routes are rather predetermined.  Yet it also seems that once in a while, when I'm mulling some issue in my mind and heart, that there comes some renewal, some sort of inspiration, some grace of life that lifts my heart and mind and carries me to resolution, to some port of goodness that heals me again.  If you ask me to define this process any further, it does no good, it will break down and dissolve and disappear under reason’s limitations.  But if you keep quiet, listen and reflect on it, you will find again, and again that the contemplation while sailing is good for the soul.

Talk like this reminds me of how years ago, surfers talked about being “soul surfers.”  I wondered what they meant and how that was any different from ordinary surfing?  This small group of surfers weren’t so interested in competition, contests and standings as in finding that perfect wave, or that isolated break where they could surf and enjoy the natural harmony and beauty of the environment.  I too surfed as a teenager and as an adult and always found the same sort of soulful wanderlust in surfing.  In a very similar way, sailing has these folks too.  There is something about sailing which, like surfing, is a vehicle for the human condition, calms the nerves, salves the soul, and renews the spirit, without ever stating that it will do so.  These folks don’t respond to the whistle or fret over a start, they are more so on a journey when they tug on the sheets and keep an eye on the conditions.  It is there, in the midst of sailing that much is resolved in the complicated and often besetting affairs of life.  It is not dissimilar at all to a journey, much like the Camino I walked a couple of years back.( see the entry at )

And I think the great thing about understanding our sailboats this way helps in making our daily journey just all that much better.  Connections with people, their lives, their boats and our lives enhances life and brings us closer to a sense of the spiritual that we might otherwise miss in the rush of handling those lines on deck!

The Alberg 30 lying in her berth at the Club.