Sailing south along the coast to Morro Bay I came upon a well fit out ketch tied up to a mooring ball. The mariner and his companion were whittling away the summer taking things one sunrise and sunset at a time. There is an abiding peace to be found tucked safe in harbor with a fresh breeze, fog and sun tugging at your day. Aboard lived a sailor and his dog.

By force of will he had found a way to get off the road to fame. This one time troubadour no longer had to load in for another one-night stand, setup and have to play another beer hall, he no longer had to hassle with all those three in the morning load outs. That music hall gigging for a paycheck was all part of some piece of his past, as far as his present, he aimed to partake in the cruising pleasures of an aimless sailing season. Harbor hopping would be an end in itself. Our sailor was one-part boyfriend, another piece faithful son and last the voluntary canine caretaker to the most chew toy sensitive Jack Russell terrier anywhere this side of Hood River.

The Evergreen State College graduate (all you need to know right there) had become a toolkit carrying boat mechanic. Day and night consisted of keeping his Gulfstar 50 in tiptop ready for offshore sailing shape. As for quirks of personality his are no more misguided than any other self styled post revolutionary “Speedy the Geoduck” type. Surfer-sailors punk rock loving recluses can come off to the casual observer as  Havana misfit gringo type’s. Our man on the mooring slipped his bare feet into flip flops, flashed a toothy grin, hit you with a blizzard of well worn jokes all the time not once giving off even one whiff of cigar smoke or revolution. His Jack Russell was named Happy, his boat was christened Spirit and his mother and father named their son Tom Varley.


I right away learned my sailing acquaintance focused his diet for the greater good of the earth and health of his soul. Getting down lower on the food chain benefits both blood pressure and girth. This drifter sailor isn’t opposed to drinking now and again so much as inclined to a more purposeful seldom on shore pace and never while at sea rhythm. Exercise should be invisible to the participant and is best done while distracted on a surfboard. 


Conversation has a Will Rogers pace. Politics comes up short for this sailor. The struggle for a square and fair deal for the lunch bucket working stiff remain missing beneath the tree of awakening. Instead of solving nothing  he preferred to keep his opinion a private matter. Oxygen ought to be used to gather up the strength to bust a stubborn bolt free. To a surfer like Tom Varley there is no upside to chasing your own tail in philosophical circles. Surfing provides a useful purpose where idle Machiavellian speculation serves none. Love everyone up, be curious, ask questions, inquire about another man’s circumstances, buck that gent up, and keep on laughing is our skippers inclination. A generous concern for others comes natural to this shrewd outgoing Samaritan.

Cultivating a keen sense of the muse while keeping his equipment in good repair above and below decks is how the pursuit of a sailing life ought to be lived. Untold hells of every kind may well visit a neglected unserviced vital system aboard a boat. This isn’t just Tom Varley’s opinion this is karmic mechanical law.


Knowing something about how to fix a boat and how to be yourself are two sides of the same coin. If this Tom Varley were a fish you would be right to brag about having made a pretty good catch. Don’t get confused about a good man with a twist of rascal thrown in. He’s got plenty of opinions and can gripe too, but time has sanded off the rough edges.

If you were stuck in a kennel and Tom rescued you from some uncertain canine fate I think it fair to say you couldn’t do much better. Probably feed you dry food for your own good, wouldn’t keep you all pinned up, and when you barked all night at the moon I’m betting he’d smile, pat you on top your head and tell you he understands. Hell I bet you he’d take you for a walk off leash and let you sleep on top the bed. Coming back reincarnated as Tom Varley’s rescue dog could work out to be just the kind of lucky break a soul traveling impounded Jack Russell terrier named Happy could have ever hope for.

That Chute is Second Most Powerful Means of Propulsion Aboard Spirit

I like to believe that this is how the two of them settled things. Happy needed a keeper and Tom needed to be a Jack Russel shaman. I have made up my mind about this pairing. Tom and Happy I’m convinced both understand that it takes one to know one and boy did those two go out and find exactly what they have always been looking for.

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