David: First Mate, Engineer
Like my son, I took my first sail when I was still in my mother's womb. Even now, I vaguely recall cruising in the Florida Keys on our Catalina 22 when I was only three. In the years that followed, I learned how to sail on Fatty Knees, a 7 ft. sailing dinghy my parents bought for me when I was ten. As I grew, so did the boats. Unfortunately, however, for too many years I was content to merely be a passenger or deckhand, handling lines, hoisting sails, or taking a brief turn at the tiller. It wasn't until recently that I suddenly became enamored with the idea of being a self-reliant skipper, educated in the ways of piloting and deadreckoning, boathandling and maintenance. Living a only five minutes from Lake Michigan for two years, my wife and I finally decided that it was time to get a boat. After a summer sailing aboard our 20 ft. Chrysler sloop, we had it bad--we needed a real boat, something seaworthy, elegant, impressive.
Much of my childhood was spent sailing on Pygmalion, a Westsail 32 that belongs to a friend of ours. My family and I would often spend part of the weekend sailing around San Francisco Bay, mooring off Angel Island or docking at Pier 39 for the night. I loved being aboard Pyggie as we called her. I have fond memories of standing out on her bowsprit as it would plunge toward a wave, that falling feeling in the pit of my stomach tingling my belly. Or lying on my belly on the foredeck, my head hanging over the side as I watched her bow cut through the water. I even celebrated at least one birthday - if not two - aboard Pyggie.
Prior to Pyggie, I vaguely recall sailing in the Florida Keys on our Catalina 22 when I was about three. The memories are very hazy, and some of them owing more to pictures I saw growing up than the actual experience, but I do remember skimming over a shallow reef, feeding freshly caught fish to impatient pelicans, motoring through mangrove-bordered channels, and wading ashore on a remote island only to be eaten alive by mosquitoes.
Sadly, Felicity had to go when we moved from Tennessee to California due to the inflated costs of Silicon Valley. We were fortunate to find several people in the Bay Area who were more than willing to let us use their boats, so parting with Felicity was less of a hardship.
In 1985 I said goodbye to my dad and Pyggie as they headed from SF to Hawaii. I wanted desperately to make the trip, but my mom was seven months pregnant with my brother and I was only 11 - too young, my dad said, to make the trip. Looking back, even though I was upset about not being able to go, I don't know how I would have fared on such a trip at that age. I'm sure I probably would have been a nuisance to the other guys aboard. It was tough to say goodbye to my dad and stay behind with my mom. I vividly remember sitting atop our Volkswagen van, parked near the south end of the Golden Gate bridge, searching the fog for Pygmalion and my dad as they made their way under the bridge and into the open ocean.