A couple of years ago, I owned a small sailboat. It wasn't too different from the one pictured here, maybe a little older and less equipped but similar in all of the ways that matter.
I miss it! ..or.. maybe I miss the idea of it...
I had a couple of software deals mature into some pretty decent deals for me and I had just buried both of my parents. I decided it was time to do something unpractical and selfish: like the Jimmy Buffet lyric suggested, "I bought a boat and sailed off on it.."
Problem is, I didn't sail too far.
We used the 30ft sailboat for some weekend getaways at first but it ended up spending more time in the Marina than being dragged by the wind across our Bays.
During my ownership of the boat, I tried to make some improvements. Among which was to try to give it a proper name. The boat's previous name, which I won't print, was a silly French New Orleans saying about not having two pennies to rub together. I thought that a more appropriate name would be, Stargazer. So we went with that.
Being a Stargazer myself, the name was also inspired from Star Trek, The Next Generation, Captain Picard's characterization of the first ship he ever captained:
He described that ship, also called Stargazer, as an
"overworked, underpowered vessel, always on the verge of flying apart at the seams."
Besides, the whole point was to spend time on the water, under the stars with nothing but the sound of the wind and the waves. Stargazer was a far more fitting name, I thought.
What I learned along the way is that renaming a boat is seriously frowned upon in maritime circles, it is considered terribly bad luck for the boat and the crew. Still, there is a generally-agreed-upon ceremony and procedure that one can employ to rename a vessel and keep the bad mojo away. After our Christianized version of the ceremony we removed anything from the boat that had the old name, as is the procedure. The superstition states that once you rename a vessel anything with the old name should not be returned to the vessel.
We put all of the old maintenance logs, manuals and documentation into a sealed bin and removed them from the boat.
After a while, sailboat ownership wasn't going as I'd planned. The family didn't exhibit a patience for the amount of time it took to travel by sail. I had bought the boat hoping to escape with my family, not escape from them. I spent far more time either 'working from' the boat or 'working on' the boat than I did enjoying it under sail.
Eventually my practicality caught back up with me and we sold the boat.
The person who bought it had all sorts of big ideas for it, too. After a haul-out, sea trial and comprehensive survey he started to make some improvements of his own prior to sailing it home to Texas. He made a couple road trips back and fourth from his home in Texas and the Marina on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay. When the day came for him to sail it home with a friend, I was a little surprised to see he brought the sealed box of documents with the old vessel name on board for the journey.
Evidently, that voyage home didn't go as expected. The 30 year old gasoline engine started to act up around Mississippi. I tend to believe this was related to an exhaust back-pressure issue they created by making changes to the exhaust system, rather than some vengeful seafaring deity that was pissed about the boat having been renamed.
Then, as they entered the waters coming into Texas, a near disaster struck. Strong storms shredded the sails, ripped off a spreader and started to bend the mast. They were rescued by the Coast Guard and the boat was hauled in to be repaired.
When I last talked to the new owner, that was enough sailing adventure for him, he planned to have the insurance repair the boat and sale it.
This all came back to me when I saw this sailboat moored comfortably in the waters around Nassau in The Bahamas. It was a bit of a knife of defeat into my gut. Stargazer's USGC stamps and captain's logs showed she had made the trip before and it was my intention to make the sail trip from Mobile, AL to the Bahamas. It was an adventure I didn't get the opportunity to undertake during my brief years of ownership.
With kids in school and a demanding work schedule, right now that adventure feels as far away as the Bahamas themselves but I'm hopeful to be able to pick that adventure up again in the coming years and finally get to make the journey, this time under sail and instead of from the comfort of a Cruise Line. :)