Many lives will be modified, even ruined, by the pandemic scouring the planet. Lost jobs, lost loved ones, interrupted education, collapse of civility.
In comparison with these tragic losses, my grief is minor. Nonetheless, I have a stone in my stomach and an aching heart.
On March 31, the cruising season came to a halt when recreational boating was banned in Maryland, Virginia, and DC.
On April 6, we sold our 30-foot sailboat, Echo II, to someone who needs a cheap place to live in isolation due to the coronavirus.
My initial reaction was relief. Those of you who have followed my boating adventures via this blog know I had mixed feelings about Echo II. She was 30 years old, moldy, broken down, and required loads of repairs and loving care to get her into cruising shape and keep her operating.
By 2019, she was shipshape for cruising — rebuilt engine purring, new sails and rigging, leaks sealed, upgraded plumbing and electricity systems, comfortable Sunbrella upholstery and bimini. Pope poured buckets of blood, sweat, and tears into those efforts.
Every cruising season she required days and days — and more days — of cleaning and fixing. Plus systems maintenance, loading and unloading, winterizing and de-winterizing, and haulouts for bottom cleaning every few months.
The work was interspersed with play. We cruised to the Bahamas, Charleston, Martha’s Vineyard, Long Island. And spent many weekends poking around the estuaries of Chesapeake Bay.
As Pope aged and his health deteriorated, our cruises got shorter. In 2019, we prepared Echo II for a second cruise to New England. Medical concerns, a bad starter, and a leak in the exhaust elbow disrupted that plan. Instead we enjoyed a few nights aboard, cruised to Gibson Island and St. Michaels, and didn’t leave Chesapeake Bay.
In 2020, we had just drained the antifreeze when the coronavirus struck and we got stuck at the dock.
We had hauled the sails out of winter storage, along with the spare boat parts and the custom-cut linens for the sleeping berth in the bow. Echo II was in good shape.
Then the pandemic arrived, and our plans for the boat changed. Pope made one last repair: a rusty electrical connection.
Back on the dock, with everyone in a face mask, and with a few tears falling onto mine, we traded the boat title for a wad of cash. Counted the money with gloves on.
We moved Echo II to a different marina, a short distance upriver. The new owner waited on the dock until Pope and I disembarked for the last time.
We bid farewell to our cursed and beloved boat. She is somebody else’s cruiser now.