Ishmael is away – bon voyage, fair winds.

We named him after a schooner, which in turn was named after the lead character in Moby Dick. “Call me Ishmael”, goes the first line. I met the schooner in 1979, off Dangar Island in the Hawkesbury. I was trying to get my canoe-to-NZ project together, Curt Ashford (builder/designer/owner) and Jenna were anchored off Dr David Lewis’s place there. Curt and David had come together during the Hokulea project: http://pvs.kcc.hawaii.edu/build.html

Magic time, magic people, magic boat.

When it came time to name our first, I got it if a boy, Jennie if a girl. Ishmael it was.

When he was 12, we went on a year-long cruise of the Queensland coast, something none of us will ever forget. Magic people, magic time, magic (but small!) boat. On the way back down the coast – perhaps September of ’99, he came running along the beach to us, asking if he could go for a sail. Only thing was, the beach in question was on West Percy Island, and that is about 50 nautical miles out from Mackay. The other little consideration was that the ‘sailing’ consisted of joining a playboy and his lass, on a racing yacht headed 600 miles south.

We said yes. He vanished into the evening.  Having sailed to Southport, he stayed there working on the boat, then caught the bus for a 17 hour jaunt to Mackay. Friends put him up, then he hitched a ride back out to us on a pearling lugger, after three weeks away. 12 years old.

So it’s not surprising that I said goodbye to him at sea, over Easter. I was helping deliver a Farrier trimaran south from Akaroa, he was leaving on Evohe  bound for the Pacific and who knows where?

(see her website: http://www.evohe.com/ and this: http://frkfriis.wordpress.com/2010/01/29/hello-evohe-crew-and-seasickness/)


He texted from up past Napier “I’m capt of the third watch, and it suits me fine. Easy going and keen to learn crew”.

We know we may never see him again, and he may never see us, but that is the case every time you venture out in a car – and most folk seem to accept that. We are proud, pleased for him, and excited to hear how he’s going. He’s in goodly company on a goodly ship – what more could you ask?

This wee stanza has haunted my head for years, but never more so that the last few days. (By way of explanation, the ‘Peter’, or ‘P’ flag, was flown on the old sailing ships to signify to those ashore, that she was about to leave. ‘P’ ‘ for ‘Preparatory’, in other words. You can just imagine the hungover and the fleeced (be warned, Ishy!) staggering out of the bars and brothels…..

The wind was rising easterly, the morning skies were blue,

The straights before us opened wide and free.

We looked towards the Admiral where high the Peter flew,

And all our hearts were dancing like the sea…

Round the World if need be – and round the World again….”

from ‘The Old Superb’.

Go well Ish, until our paths cross again, may your heart always be dancing like the sea.

And thank ******** for the internet!


ps: heres the poem in full:

Title:     The Old “Superb”
Author: Henry Newbolt [More Titles by Newbolt]

The wind was rising easterly, the morning sky was blue,
The Straits before us opened wide and free;
We looked towards the Admiral, where high the Peter flew,
And all our hearts were dancing like the sea.
“The French are gone to Martinique with four-and-twenty sail!
The Old _Suberb_ is old and foul and slow,
But the French are gone to Martinique, and Nelson’s on the trail,
And where he goes the Old _Suberb_ must go!”

_So Westward ho! for Trinidad and Eastward ho! for Spain,
And “Ship ahoy!” a hundred times a day;
Round the world if need be, and round the world again,
With a lame duck lagging all the way!_

The Old _Suberb_ was barnacled and green as grass below,
Her sticks were only fit for stirring grog;
The pride of all her midshipmen was silent long ago,
And long ago they ceased to heave the log.

Four year out from home she was, and ne’er a week in port,
And nothing save the guns aboard her bright;
But Captain Keats he knew the game, and swore to share the sport,
For he never yet came in too late to fight.

_So Westward ho! for Trinidad and Eastward ho! for Spain,
And “Ship ahoy!” a hundred times a day;
Round the world if need be, and round the world again,
With a lame duck lagging all the way!_

“Now up, my lads!” the Captain cried, “for sure the case were hard
If longest out were first to fall behind.
Aloft, aloft with studding sails, and lash them on the yard,
For night and day the Trades are driving blind!”
So all day long and all day long behind the fleet we crept,
And how we fretted none but Nelson guessed;
But every night the Old _Superb_ she sailed when others slept,
Till we ran the French to earth with all the rest!

_Oh, ’twas Westward ho! for Trinidad and Eastward ho! for Spain,
And “Ship ahoy!” a hundred times a day;
Round the world if need be, and round the world again,
With a lame duck lagging all the way!_

When was Evohe’s antifouling last done, again?

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