Here is the vessel Spirit the very Gulfstar 50 I sailed from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. We enjoyed about 3 weeks while sailing south then departed leaving Tom and Shauna to voyage throughout Mexico in the privacy and style they were accustomed to.
Our passage began in late November 2019, in the before time’s, prior to the global chaos caused by Covid19. By many measures this is one of the last of my unburdened adventures. Vaccinations were still 16 months away from being available, wearing masks and such didn’t get underway until late March 2020.
The completely unencumbered fearless world was still available to any normally wired curious souls. You didn’t fear congregate settings, traveling by sailboat would be risky but not because of a virus, risks were offshore aboard a sailboat should a patch of nasty weather might kick up a messy sea.
I had by now logged about 3000 coastal ocean sailing miles aboard my boat primarily. There were a few other offshore jaunts with a host of other fine sailors, but the sail to Cabo with the skipper of Spirit was a next level experience.
First, the skipper knew every inch of the Gulfstar, he knew every system, had either replaced or repaired most of the systems aboard. A sailboat with a diesel powered generator, watermaker, vacuum powered toilets, air conditioning, heater, and refrigeration requires some dandy tool skills to keep all in good working order.
The vessel is powered by a 150 horsepower turbocharged Cummins diesel engine. Spirit was re-powered after the previous owners agonizing northbound trip up the coast from Mexico in the 1990’s.
My smaller sloop is 36’ and a much simpler boat. I have no watermaker, no generator, no vacuum flushing heads to keep running. The larger a boat the more systems are usually installed, and the consequences there are more things to go wrong.
As fine an experience as Spirit is she is also a lot of responsibility and keeping her in tip top condition will tap your wallet and time. For some years any talented sailor might muster the energy to keep up with a machine of this size and complexity, but a day will come when the sailing vessels keeper will have had enough.
I would have not an inkling of a clue to Spirit’s fate. I wasn’t sure they would drop us in Cabo and then continue on to circumnavigate the world, I’m not sure the skipper and his first mate had any fixed plans. By March 2020 with the global pandemic taking grip of the world most borders were closing down. In a sense the decision was made for the pair of voyagers.
By summertime I received word of Spirit returning to Southern California, they were able to find a suitable berth in the same Channel Island Harbor from where they had departed.
Circumstances changed. Opportunity pulled the voyagers in different directions. One went back to London while the other remained aboard. Some soul searching took place and the decision was made to put Spirit up for sale.
Spirit has fatefully been sold and has ended up here in San Francisco’s South Beach Harbor. We are berthed out at the end of C-Dock, Spirit is out on an end tie on A-Dock, as the bird flys perhaps no more than 200 feet north of where I keep Sweet Seas.
I can’t help but think of Spirit and her skipper as one inseparable thing. I see a few boats as well cared for, now and again, you have to know boats well enough to know when you are in the presence of such a finely maintained sailing craft. The pleasure of sailing with the vessel Spirit had to do with the personality, passion and skills of her skipper. My personal reward was how his caring for his boat influenced our taking care of our sailboat.
Hanging out with the skipper raised your game, you played a better version, you stepped up, you did better, you worked that much harder, you discovered the value of cleanliness and good order. We weren’t exactly slackers to begin with, we were pretty good in fact, but not this good, not this attentive to every detail, until now, and I can’t help thinking of the skipper of Spirit when I’m hard at a task varnishing the teak, cleaning the toilets, or troubleshooting the windlass.
Hat’s off to a good one, thank you Spirit and the best to the skipper wherever your muse and wonder might take you next—