Au revoir, Murf.

Passage Maker - - From The Pilothouse -

The very next day af­ter my par­ents closed on their first fiber­glass sail­boat, a Ranger 23, I caught my dad pe­rus­ing the clas­si­fieds in our lo­cal sail­ing rag, 48¡ North. I was 11 years old and pleased they had re­placed the rust­ing steel boat that sat on a cra­dle in our front yard with some­thing that ac­tu­ally floated. But it was clear I should not get too at­tached to this new boat. I got the feeling over break­fast that morn­ing that our new fam­ily mem­ber was just a tem­po­rary fix for these se­rial-boat-owner par­ents of mine. They had al­ready sailed and sold a 19-foot Mer­cury, a Thun­der­bird, and the afore­men­tioned rust bucket.

The new one, dubbed Murf, would even­tu­ally be­come known as “Lit­tle” Murf. He was, in all re­spects save one, a per­fect sail­boat for bud­get-friendly small­fam­ily cruis­ing. That one re­spect? There was no head.

So, “Lit­tle” Murf suc­cumbed to “Big” Murf, an­other Ranger but with an ad­di­tional 10 feet and an ac­tual head. Big Murf was ideal for our fam­ily of four. At 33 feet, he had the stor­age, berths, and comfort that suited cruis­ing our usual is­land haunts, and when there was wind on our fickle Pa­cific North­west wa­ters, he sailed well. When there wasn’t wind, we’d be en­veloped in the dron­ing of what­ever gas or diesel mo­tor hap­pened to be work­ing at the time while spend­ing count­less hours play­ing cards, lis­ten­ing to base­ball games on the AM dial, and eat­ing chips and salsa.

When we had guests with us—our record overnight guest count was four adults and five ado­les­cents in Vic­to­ria Har­bour—of­ten­times I would sleep in the quar­ter­berth, with my head mere inches away from the en­gine. When we had to get mov­ing to take ad­van­tage of tides, the start of the glow-plug alarm 12 inches from my face was enough to shat­ter dreams, even for a deep-slum­ber­ing teenager. Yet with time, even that has be­come a pleas­ant mem­ory.

If Lit­tle Murf’s fa­tal flaw was a lack of a de­cent toi­let, Big Murf’s was the lack of a re­li­able en­gine. And now, af­ter 32 years of du­ti­ful ser­vice, his sec­ond fail­ing mo­tor will ul­ti­mately seal his doom. Big Murf’s vol­umes in fam­ily photo al­bums will come to an abrupt end.

It was a good run, Murf. You will be missed.

Jonathan Cooper Editor-In-Chief [email protected]­sage­

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