A 30-foot sloop called Freelance was part of our family for only about three years; but we did share a big adventure. She was young then, just five years old and born in South Africa.
Now she’s 33 and swinging to a mooring in Portsmouth, England.
We sold her in Florida in 1987 and headed west. We didn’t hear from her for years until she suddenly came up for sale in the 1990s. I flew to Florida to see her with intention of buying her back, and was heart-broken at her condition: rust, rot, filth, mildew, cockroaches. Almost everything that could be removed and sold had been removed and sold. The engine control lever was a rusted pair of Vise-Grips.
I made a low-ball offer, which apparently wasn’t enough to cover the bank loan still remaining.
She was eventually bought by a South African who saved her life and her soul. Every few years he would check in with me. Last time he contacted me, Freelance was on the hard in Grenada, West Indies, sitting out the hurricane season. Finally he sailed her to Spain and put her up for sale there. I thought seriously about buying her back, but as I live on the west coast of America it would have been a very long delivery voyage home, via the Panama Canal or The Horn. I just didn’t have the time or the money.
Out of the blue yesterday I got an e-mail from a stranger in England, giving me details of the present British owner and where he keeps Freelance. And so the saga continues. One of these days I fully expect someone to buy her, sail her round the Horn, bring her up here to Seattle, and give her to me. Of course, I’ll have to give her right back, because I’ll be too old to sail by then. But it will be a nice gesture.
He who joins in sport with his own family will never be dull to strangers.— Plautus, Trinummus
Tailpiece“What’s all that celebrating in the clubhouse?”
“My wife did it in one.”
“She hit a hole in one?”
“No — she managed to hit the ball in one.”
(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)