Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Interlude: Susanna meets the Pacific Ocean

While I finish more posts about our trip to Provence, here's part one about an old friend.

Way back on 1968, while we were living in Italy, my parents bought a boat. Typically for my father (my adoptive father: my biological dad had died 4 years before, and my mother had remarried in 1967), the boat was beautiful and seriously impractical. That was my dad to a tee: always the esthetics mattered most.

Susanna was (and is) a gorgeous wooden sailboat, built in Venice the year I was born, 1957, at the D'este shipyards from a Laurent Giles design. If you are a wooden boat fanatic (there are no other types, from what I know) you will know who and what I'm talking about. The rest of you should just understand that it is meaningful to us weirdos, kind of like owning an original Carol Shelby Cobra. She's 48 feet overall and 10 1/2 feet wide. Supermodel thin, that is; almost anorexic. She's also deep, at 7 feet 9 inches of draft, and the combination makes for a couple of things. First, she's fast: we've legitimately seen 9+ knots, which is Usain Bolt speed for a wooden. Second, she loves to dip her rails under any serious wind, making life somewhat wet for all aboard. Third, she's totally the wrong boat for a family, unless you figure that the 2 boys (my brother and I) would sleep up front with the anchor chain, and everyone else gets a 1/2 twin-size bunk. Which we did.

You just kind of get used to it, and we sailed her all over the Med until 1973 or so, when we shipped her to the US. My parents had split up by this time, and my mom wanted to sail. (Although the marriage lasted less than 5 years, they remained best friends and frenemies to the end of their lives last year.) My mom and occasionally my dad sailed the east coast for the next 35 years, until shingles put an end to Mom's summer sailing. I was an occasional guest, mostly for races: the boat was too cramped both physically and emotionally for me to spend a lot of time on her. But my brother loved it, and went many, many times.

When Mom died, she left the boat to the three of us brothers, two of whom (me and our older brother) gave our share to YB (I don't have his permission to use his name yet.) The reason is that, while any boat is a hole in the water into which you throw money, a wooden boat is also the nautical equivalent of a Brazilian mistress: demanding, exciting and highly impractical. And OB and I just couldn't deal, each for our own reasons. So YB ended up with the boat. Which was fine with him, he loves her and couldn't wait to bring her out to SoCal and go sailing. Which he did, and here are the pictures to prove it.

So Susanna is now in her third ocean. We'll see how long she can stay: the area isn't great for cruising, in that there are few destinations nearby, and long trips up and down the West coast are or can be a real ordeal. But for now, she's in Ventura, and we've already been down to Catalina and back, and it was a great trip.

1 comment:

  1. oh, she is a skinny wench! the pics aren't visible yet - hope that happens, as i'd love to see her!