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Sail! Sail! Sale?

What does the scene above bring to mind for you? What do you notice or sense?

Each of us might answer those questions very differently. And…if those boats could speak aloud, what might they tell us? Of dreams, of adventures? Of practicalities? Of beginnings and endings?

A friend put his well-loved 22’ Catalina sailboat on the market this week. It was a decision that I didn’t anticipate; though, perhaps subconsciously, I did. It’s been 3+ years since he’s been out on the water. A new relationship, a career change and starting a new business, plus a residential move and first-time home ownership have taken him further from the lake. Looking forward, those priorities are unlikely to change anytime soon. In his note about the boat, he cites factors such as the time commitment of maintenance and even travel, increasing costs to launch, and other less tangible considerations such as overcrowding and even “ramp rage.” I hear other friends who keep their vessels in marinas voice parallel concerns about seemingly untenable skyrocketing moorage fees.

I, along with some of his other friends, will certainly be sad to see it sold. It was a favorite at our annual Lake Party. For that reason alone, I’m tempted to give that old sailboat a new home. I also know it has been carefully maintained and kept in good repair. It just needs… a “little TLC” and some “elbow grease.”

I’ve recently been inspired by a former colleague, now a Facebook friend, who is refurbishing a similar, just slightly larger, sailboat. She and her husband have a very limited budget; but their seemingly unlimited resourcefulness – as well as TLC and elbow grease – provides a counterbalance.

Last season, their photos showcased a complete cabin makeover. My friend replaced the upholstered cushions and curtains, challenging her already substantial sewing skills rather than their bank account. She sourced fabrics and materials designed to combat condensation and mold, yet were affordable and easy to replace – for example, artistically-patterned yoga mats became flooring.

They did hire professionals for lift out, to install new thru-hulls, to repaint the hull and bottom, and for electrical expertise. But, they have taken on all of the other work themselves or trade labor with friends. Low living expenses and overhead also offset their costs of boat ownership. Several years ago, they reluctantly moved from Seattle to a small town to decrease those costs.

Endings so often tug at our heartstrings…but ideally, positive new beginnings follow. I don’t know them well, but from this vantage point, I see a burst of creativity, energy, and enthusiasm that followed that move. She now posts details about sailing-related books, classes, and future travel plans.

I hesitate to ever make assumptions, (even about myself), but I sense that their sailboat with its many projects and possibilities brings them joy. Conversely, I sense that for my other friend, his sailboat had gradually become a burden; but those other changes, opportunities and challenges in his life now make him happy, as well as keep him busy.

How do I view the scene in the photograph? As the one who took this snapshot in time, I have the advantage of additional information. I paused to capture this “present moment” on a busy Sunday afternoon in late May at Seattle’s Shilshole Marina. The setting appears so tranquil, yet moments before there were children laughing and wobbling past me on razor scooters and bicycles fitted with training wheels; couples walked past either fixated on those children, bickering, or seemingly welded together; seabirds were swooping by. My fleeting thoughts included worries that any one of those might knock my camera into the water.

As I viewed that scene, I did think about how so many boaters are being priced out of marinas. Then, I smiled when I saw the kayakers.

I’m also reminded by this photo of how quickly things can change. A few hours after I was there, reports in our local news media noted that one of the vessels in the marina had burned.

As is often the case, I’m left with a myriad of questions and impressions, and even confusion. What is it that we aren’t seeing? Why the expression that we “harbor” illusions?

Karen Berge

Karen Berge

I enjoy living in Seattle, where boating opportunities abound. My goal is to take advantage of them all!
Karen Berge

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