Boat yard of dreams


To the editor: My wife Kathy and I have been on boats of one kind or another for 52 years; all our married life. It seems we’re always working on “the boat.” We know that sooner rather than later we’ll sail “the boat” one-way home to Islesboro, Maine. Just as we’ve resigned ourselves to the future, along comes another voyager who restores our enthusiasm for voyaging and brings back memories of some of our extraordinary adventures. Two weeks before Christmas this particular young couple had their boat hauled out at the Glades Boat Storage yard in Moore Haven, Fla., and propped up on jack-stands next to our own vintage Tartan 34 Endeavour.  

Nathaniel Lara bought the classic 1969 Tartan 27 Panacea more than seven years ago for $4,000. About the same time, during his winter break from fishing in Alaska, he met Jessica Lucey-Brzoza at a nude beach in Hawaii. During the break he popped the question, “How would you like to go sailing? I’ve got a sailboat in Florida.” Jessica, a former University of Maine student and fellow adventurer said “yes.” They were joined by another couple and all four outfitted the boat in the yard and crossed Florida Bay to the Keys and on to the Bahamas for the winter. I know about Tartan 27s. They’re good sailboats, but after several months they can get a little crowded for four people. Evidently the other fellow was tall and had to stoop over below deck. After a month or so in the Bahamas they all agreed it was getting cramped so they decided to separate for a while. Nat and Jess left the other couple on a beach in Eleuthera to go surfing while they continued to explore other Bahamian islands. Nat and Jess picked them up a couple of weeks later. As Jess tells it, both couples were refreshed by the separation.

This brings us to present day when Kathy and I caught up with them during mid December in the Glades boat yard in central Florida. Panacea had sat on jack stands in the storage yard untouched for the five years ever since their Bahamian cruise. It had clearly taken a beating in the Florida sun.  

Kathy and I couldn’t resist meeting the intriguing couple. We watched as they removed an amazing amount of mildewed gear from the boat and piled it on the ground. They had cleared out the forepeak so they could sleep and were cooking meals on a makeshift table made of two saw horses under the bow of the boat. We watched as Nat made some of the strongest coffee I’ve ever had in a battered pot on a two-burner propane stove — he called it “Alaska fishermen’s coffee.” While dinner was cooking, Jess played the ukulele accompanied by Nat on the banjo. They sounded good together.

Since they plan to cruise around Cuba, we told them of our Cuban visits, with permission of the U.S. government. They were totally unconcerned about Federal restrictions on visiting Cuba. “We don’t plan to spend any money,” Jess said. After they return to the U.S. in March they plan to go their separate ways: Nat back to fishing in Alaska and Jess is looking for a teaching job. When Kathy and I think of all the voyagers we’ve met along the way, Nat and Jess prove once again you don’t need big budgets or big boats to live real adventures; you need spirit, positive attitude and a little skill. Of course, youth helps too.

—Dick de Grasse, retired from the power industry, and his wife Kathy split their time between their Tartan 34 and Islesboro Island in Maine’s Penobscot Bay.

By Ocean Navigator