A lament for the boat left out

Published on February 26th, 2019

by Bob Muggleston, Points East
“A boat is always there – you never stop worrying about her whether you are aboard or ashore – she is always a presence in the mind and you’re conscious of her at all times. Men lie awake worrying about their bank balances, their waist lines, their wives, mistresses actual or potential, but sailors worry about boats.” – Frank Mulville, from “In Granma’s Wake: Girl Stella’s Voyage to Cuba”

In November of 2015 an ad appeared on craigslist that demanded my full, unwavering attention. It was for a 1966, Carl Alberg-designed Pearson Commander sailboat, and the $750 asking price for the 26-footer nearly sent me into a tizzy.

This seemed awfully cheap for a pedigreed boat, but there weren’t any pictures with the ad, either, which meant one of three things: 1) the ad was some sort of scam, most likely perpetrated by the Russians; 2) the boat might once have been a beautiful example of Alberg’s finest work, but no longer was; or 3) the owner of the boat had no idea what he or she had, and their ignorance would finally justify my obsessive combing of internet classifieds.

Everyone knows the story of the wife whose husband dies, and, years later, unaware of real-world prices, unloads the husband’s Mercedes for next to nothing. This was just the sort of Easter egg I thought I might have stumbled across.

The owner of the boat, when I called him, seemed pretty normal, and his story more or less fit a narrative I’d already fashioned in my head. He was a non-sailor, he said, and had picked the boat up that spring on a lark. He and his family had used it all summer, puttering around Long Island’s Northport Harbor, but he’d recently gotten a job in New Jersey. The boat had to go.

He answered my questions the best he could: Yes, there were a couple of sails, three, in fact; no, the deck wasn’t spongy; and yes, the 4-horse Yamaha that came with the boat was a good motor, though probably a bit on the small side for a 5,500-lb. vessel.

We talked for about an hour. As time wore on, I became convinced that what he was telling me was the truth – that I’d found my Easter egg. I hung up the phone feeling like I’d just talked with the prettiest girl in school. – Full story

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