News from the Helm – November 2019
by Michael Robertson
Good Deed, Good Boat, Everyone Happy
A couple of issues ago, we announced that Paul Koepf was giving away Bagheera, his turn-key, well-maintained 1981 Morgan 32 for a single US dollar to the writer who best makes the case why Bagheera should be theirs, in a compelling essay of no more than 1,000 words.
Well, the contest is over. Paul received lots of essays. Paul sold his boat for $1. Paul couldn’t be happier. The new owners couldn’t be happier.
But let’s back up.
This story started when Paul and his wife, Maren, decided to downsize from the Morgan 32 they loved to something smaller, a Com-Pac Horizon. They listed their beautiful Morgan for sale, but then decided to give it away, to a worthy new owner. But how? They contacted Good Old Boat to see whether we had any ideas.
“How about an essay contest?” we offered.
Paul agreed. We said we’d use The Dogwatch to publicize it.
Paul received over 30 essays. He and Maren waited to read them all in the final week of the contest. He said it was overwhelming. Paul said: “I didn’t anticipate how the stories would occupy my mind and stir emotions from decades ago!”
He and Maren chose an essay they received from an adventurous young couple about to get married, Amandine Bouhour and Tom Ben-Eliyahu of Montreal, Canada. Paul wrote, “I have decided the ownership of Bagheera will transfer to a young couple ready to go. To see the places I could have and did not; to navigate new waters and adventures.”
Following is the winning essay/letter, all 985 words:
“We are Tom and Amandine, two 26-year-old dreamers who recently got engaged. We met five years ago, and over the years we’ve realized that the combination of our personalities is one that makes projects happen. We support each other’s ideas and aspirations and work together to turn big dreams into reality.
“Amandine: Originally from the south of France, I learned to sail on the Mediterranean on Optimists, Hobie Cats, and dinghies. My mother loves to sail, so I was also lucky enough to get a taste of cruising on extended family trips. It was on a 15-day sailing vacation that something clicked and at eleven years old, my dream of one day living on a sailboat started. Since then, I have taken every opportunity to sail and I recently completed a coastal navigation course.
“Tom: My love for sailing started young as well, and was passed down from my dad. I learned the basics in Junior Squadron and then continued to race dinghies. While doing this, I also worked at a local boat repair service and eventually became a sailing instructor/race coach for the adapted sailing programs in Montreal and Ottawa (sailing for people with physical/mental disabilities). After five fantastic years working with these programs, I am still happy to volunteer in most of the local adapted sailing events still happening.
“Having both grown up sailing, being on the water is what is most natural to us. We met on the river, whitewater kayaking, and our first date was on Tom’s dad’s San Juan 24. Lying under the stars, in a hammock we had rigged on the deck of the boat, we knew right away that we had something special!
“Since then, we’ve lived many adventures together that have shaped us into who we are today. Four years ago, we decided to follow our passion, retrofit a small van to hold our windsurfing gear and ourselves, and move into it. We drove west to explore the Pacific coast and learned that travelling over long periods of time and moving slowly makes for a much richer experience. It allowed us to get fully immersed in local communities and to create strong connections with extraordinary people. One such person introduced us to the third member of our crew, Bonbon, an adorable mixed-terrier who is as adventure-driven as we are.
“Our companion on these trips, our 1997 Volkswagen van, has faithfully carried us from remote desert roads in Baja, to scenic mountain passes in British Columbia, and back to the windy lakes of Quebec and Ontario. We affectionately named her “The Mistress,” for all the time Tom has spent under the hood fixing various mechanical issues, as well as the long days we spent turning this old work van into a home. We like to keep things simple, to fix what is broken ourselves, and to take care of what we love.
“As we look forward into the future, we want to make sure we combine fulfilling work and our love for exploration. As we both value sharing and giving to others, we’ve decided to pursue careers that enable us to be of service to others wherever we are in the world. We are currently working in Montreal, Amandine as a registered nurse and Tom as a windsurfing/kitesurfing coach. We hope that these careers will enable us to enjoy a nomadic lifestyle in a sustainable and meaningful manner.
“As we prepare for our wedding next summer, we are also plotting our next adventure. We are strong believers in going with the flow and welcoming opportunities; our best experiences so far have been unexpected. How is it that, as we are questioning our next move, evaluating whether we should put our savings into a boat and make it our home, we discover your contest!? We were looking at a Morgan 32, this must be the universe giving us a hint that we are on the right path to the next phase in our lives. Bagheera seems like the perfect vessel to carry us towards our future.
“Seeing your contest makes us want to meet you, and to know more about all the unforgettable trips Bagheera has taken you on. We can see from the immaculate shape in which you have kept her and the lengths that you are going to find her a good home, that she must be more than just a boat to you. We imagine that, as our “Mistress” is to us, your Bagheera must be like an old friend, a travel companion with whom you can reconnect to nature and recharge. It seems to us that you want the best for her, for her to glide freely with full sails from one safe anchorage to the next. For her wood to never go gray and her hull to stay strong and sleek. Above all, for her to invoke as much joy, love, and excitement in the heart of someone else as she has in yours for all these years.
“If we were so fortunate as to have you choose us, we promise to take good care of her and report back with tales of the distant anchorages and people we encounter. We would spend the next year getting to know Bagheera and making her our new home. Once we are sure that we are ready, we would sail her down to the Caribbean, where we would spend the next years living aboard. We would take it slow and find work opportunities in the places the tide takes us. If all goes well, we would maybe even one day take her through the Panama Canal and into the calm Pacific. We understand the drive to make the adventure carry on, to see Bagheera continue to explore, and we hope you will trust us to be the ones who write the next chapters in Bagheera‘s vessel log.”
To Tom and Amandine, Paul wrote, “Go see the world and send me a note now and then. Bagheera has been a good friend and mentor. I wish her well as she protects another loving couple.”
We have no doubt they’ll pursue adventure in Bagheera and update Paul along the way. We have no doubt Bagheera will offer the protection we’d expect.
By the way, looking online, we see that Amandine was modest about her sailing chops. She is a world-class competitive windsurfer.
Bagheera’s in good hands.
Hats off to Paul and Maren. Paul wrote us to say that he and Maren were “SO moved by this experience. Our time with Tom and Amandine aboard Bagheera was like slipping back to when Bagheera was new to Maren and me.”
Across the Bar: Olaf Harken
It was widely reported last month that Harken company co-founder Olaf Harken died. He was 80 years old. He and his brother Peter Harken started the company in 1967; it’s impressive what it’s become over five decades. The most interesting story to come out of Olaf’s obituary is that Olaf (who studied engineering at Georgia Tech) ended up running the business side of Harken and Peter, who was an economist, took over design and manufacturing. Peter said, “Each of us was better at the other guys’ education. We kept it quiet, figuring people wouldn’t want blocks designed by an economist.”
Our hat goes off to Olaf for a job well done. Our hearts go out to his family.
Fortress Anchors Stay in the Family
In other company news, we just got a press release from Fortress we thought was interesting, because it said a lot that we didn’t know. First, that Fortress (the maker of those lightweight Danforth-style anchors that disassemble and get great reviews for holding in specific conditions) was started in only 1986; we thought they’d been around much longer. We also learned that the products are made entirely in the US. Finally, we learned that the company has always been in the Hallerberg family. In fact, Fortress was just bought by Dylan Hallerberg, from his father, D’Milo Hallerberg, who bought the company from his dad, founder Don Hallerberg. That’s all.
Do you or someone you know suffer from ancraophobia? Are you anemophobic? These are two ways of expressing the same psychological disorder. If you like to sail, you can rest easy that you probably don’t suffer this malady. And those who do suffer from this condition are likely not sailors and not reading The Dogwatch (nor Good Old Boat).
Who knew fear of the wind (and even drafts) was a thing? It is. Usually brought about by trauma caused by a negative experience with the wind. Seems to us that a terrifying sailing experience could cause ancraophobia. Good news is that all reports indicate it is very treatable.