Aye, there is a chill in the air tonight. It is heavy with thick wet fog. Each breath comes in cold
and wet, and then goes out as a cloud of used damp steam.
My first step on the old wooden dock sounds solid but hollow at the same time. Every
creaking step is muffled, almost silent. If sound could travel through the clinging night air, I
am sure there would be an echo of each step.
I stop for a moment and listen. I can barely hear the clanging of the #5 channel buoy. It
swings anxiously on its mooring, just outside of the breakwater, its big bronze bell ringing to
any vessel that takes the time to listen. The song it sings is a warning to some and a melody
to others. A little further to the north there comes a chorus of seals and sea lions. They reside
on an old wildlife float. Somehow there growls and grunts cut through the night air and
sound like they are in the water next to me.
I can see nothing but fuzzy outlines in this darkness. The blanket of fog dims what light there
might be. I know I am walking in the right direction only because I have not yet fallen into the
water. I am wet, however, because I am walking through the clouds that have descended
onto the water and everything near it.
As careful as I can be in the mist, I am prodding along the pier one step at a time. My
destination is only a little beyond what I can see and probably a little closer that I can feel.
Further on I see something reaching towards me from the water. Pointed bows of hulls tied
securely to there moorings for the night or the winter or lifetime. Some of the names I know.
There is the old fishing boat that looks to be rotting at the water line and she is the “Sara
Mina”. Then, there are the shinny sides of the “Chaser”. All fifty feet of her hull are made for
speed and racing. Every boat here has a name. Some have numbers with the names
indicating how many have been graced with the same name before. A vessel has to represent
its character. And the name that is given to the boat must come with a tale or story. It may be
an epic crypt that is told over a glass of wine at sunset, or a funny joke played on a mother in
law maybe? Even my first sailboat the S/V “Pondo May”, a little 27 foot sloop, is named after
my late grandfather. I got the feeling once in a while on those late night watches, that I wasn’t
always alone. Was it grandpa perhaps?
I have to stop for a moment and climb back into my britches! A sneaky “Great Blue Heron”,
holding his post like a statue in the middle of the dock, has waited to the last possible
moment to screech into flight, sending out a warning to all creatures in the night that I have
invaded there private hunting grounds. I couldn’t see the giant winged bird as I approached
of course, and I even knew it would be there, because…. it is there every night……..
waiting…..to scare the pants off me!.
Near the end of the long floating pier the air seems to thicken even more. It gets darker too. I
have to slow my pace or I will miss what I am looking for. A shadow appears just above me.
The shape reaches out from the water like the fist of a strange sea monster. As I inch closer,
more of the outline fills in and completes the picture. It is not so strange that I am afraid but it
is much closer then it first appeared. I am wet and cold. I shake off a shiver as it races down
my spine. The haunting shape is the bowsprit of a graceful sailing vessel! It doesn’t look new
and shinny, but rather old and weathered. It must have a soul. It certainly has class and
As I walk slowly along the length of her sides, I feel calm in knowing that I am home. She
does not rock as I step aboard. The dock disappears as I climb onto the deck. I am in the
clouds. I slide open the hatch and feel the warmth of the cabin below. Before I climb down
into the salon, I look around one last time and bid farewell to the night and all that is hidden
|Ghost is Her Name
(the story of how we named our boat)