Sunday, November 18, 2018

John Kretschmer at Coconut Grove Sailing Club

John Kretschmer at Coconut Grove Sailing Club
During the whirlwind tour to promote his new book "Sailing to the Edge of Time", John Kretschmer spent an evening at the Coconut Grove Sailing Club in Miami on Saturday, November 17. His presentation was open to the public and very well attended. Some of the stories John recounted from his book were already familiar from past experiences and previous books, but it was entertaining to sit with an enthusiastic audience and listen to them again. Every copy of the book that John and his wife Tadji brought with them was sold and signed, including one bought by me for my father, who enjoyed John's previous book, "Sailing a Serious Ocean".

Before the event, John and Tadji met me at the clubhouse for a launch ride out to the mooring field to see Whispering Jesse, my wife Nan's and my 1980 Valiant 40 sailboat. John had advised me on purchasing the boat back in 2010 during one of his professional sailing passages that Nan and I crewed on, a multi-day trip from Bocas del Toro, Panama to Isla Mujeres, Mexico, with stops in Providencia, Roatan, and Belize. We reviewed the detailed boat survey that was emailed to me while we were in Roatan and decided it was worth a trip to Baltimore to see the boat, then named Little Walk. After the passage, John met me in Baltimore for a sea trial with the boat's owner and his broker. There were some issues, mostly of the deferred maintenance type, but none that would preclude buying the boat if the price was right. The owner and I eventually reached an agreement and Little Walk became Whispering Jesse.

John Kretschmer aboard Whispering Jesse
During the purchase process, John had recommended his sister and brother-in-law's marina and boatyard in Solomons, Maryland as the place to go to get the boat refitted, so that became the first stop after my friend Kevin Harrison and I sailed the boat away from Baltimore. The boat was in the boatyard for over a year's worth of work, during which time John was occasionally on site to teach one of his popular sailing workshops. I met him there during one of my frequent visits and we checked together on progress with the refit.

That was back in 2011 and John had not seen Whispering Jesse since then, so it was a pleasure to show him how well the boat had turned out. John, Tadji and I wandered around the deck and up to the bow, where John commented about how much more effective a manual windlass, like the installed Simpson-Lawrence one, could be over an electric one. I told them about my experience with Hurricane Irma and how the three-anchor strategy and arriving late to the hurricane hole had probably saved the boat, when so many others had been lost. We went down below and I opened a bottle of red wine. John commented about how much interior space there was for a forty-foot boat. Tadji seemed suitably impressed by the layout and classic features, so different from modern production sailboats.

I wished that there had been time to take a quick sail, to get John's impressions of the boat's handling and whether new sails were in order, but that will need to wait for another visit.