Sunday, December 6, 2009

Wild Iris in St. Marys, Georgia

Paul Caouette and Jim Lichty watch Honey Caouette coming down the ladder from Wild IrisWhile I was in Savannah for Thanksgiving with my parents, we made a side trip to St. Marys, about 120 miles down the coast, to see Paul and Honey Caouette. You may recall that I spent a few days with the Caouettes in Miami this past January, helping them prepare their 1977 Valiant 40, Wild Iris, for a transatlantic crossing (Back from Miami). That trip was scuttled when Paul suffered a bad bout of sciatica that required medical attention (Update on the Wild Iris Transatlantic Passage). They have since sailed the boat up to St. Marys, where they have her hauled out as they prepare for an island-hopping trip down to Trinidad, starting next spring.

When we showed up at the boatyard, Paul had the boat's refrigerator condenser in a cooler full of water, trying to locate a leak, and Honey was on board cleaning. It was weird to introduce my parents to the Caouettes, like two very different worlds coming into contact. My parents were intrigued enough by the boat to climb the ladder up to the cockpit and then descend into the cabin for a look around. Paul showed off some of the improvements he had made since I had last been onboard, including a new voltage regulator and a new solar panel. My father later commented that the boat seemed cramped considering that it was forty feet long. I explained that its primary design consideration was performance and that comfortable accommodations were secondary. He also commented about the considerable clutter, which has been an ongoing problem but one that Paul and Honey somehow manage to overlook.

We drove around to the St. Marys waterfront, where many boats were still moored from the Thanksgiving Day festivities the day before, including a beautiful three-masted schooner tied up to a large channel marker. The Riverside Café seemed to be the happening place, so we took a table on the porch for lunch. Paul and Honey have led interesting lives, and my parents were interested to hear all about them as we waited for our sandwiches and salads. Paul talked about learning to sail in college at Boston University, and then building a plywood sailing skiff when he and Honey were living in Bangladesh, and how it had all led up to Wild Iris and their current sailing plans. After lunch, as we were parting company, Paul and Honey invited me to join them for a leg of their upcoming island-hopping adventure. I may try to take them up on it.

No comments: