Au revoir, Murf.
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.