Magazine deadlines are long before publication — it takes the paper artisans longer to make those pages so slick, I guess — so it seems like weeks ago that I wrote a piece for Hour Detroit on the Port Huron-to-Mackinac yacht race, but lo and behold, it showed up in this month’s issue (no link, sorry) and even better, it got me invited to the media lunch at Bayview Yacht Club today. What a lucky girl I am, because who should sit next to me but this guy (scroll down to the picture of the short man in the glasses towering over the tall guy).
His name is Chuck Bayer, and he’s a past commodore of the yacht club and credited with saving the lives of eight or nine people in the 1985 race. First there was a nasty line of thunderstorms, and then the wind came around to the north, and the seas got huge. The yacht Tomahawk came down hard in a trough and broke apart, he said, and sent out a mayday just before it sank. Bayer and his boat, Old Bear, picked the skipper and crew up from a life raft about half an hour later.
They would have kept racing, he said, but several of the rescued sailors were sick, so they motored into Alpena and dropped them off and called it a race. “We got the Coast Guard’s highest civilian honor for that,” he said.
He’s sailing in either his 55th or 56th Mackinac race this year. He leased a 72-footer for the occasion, and it’ll be temporarily rechristened Old Bear. Someone else will handle most of the helm duties, but no problem — the yacht has a hot tub and a wide-screen plasma TV. Now this is a lunch conversation.
Which I guess seems the appropriate time to announce that our long domestic nightmare is over (or perhaps just beginning), and we now own yes, yet another boat. Or will within a few days, when money changes hands, the trucker delivers the goods and we dock Alan’s new Sea Sprite 23 in our slip down at the city marina. I haven’t seen it yet; Alan had to go to Cleveland to find it, but I trust his judgment. I already know the most important thing: It has a built-in cooler. Photos when the thing arrives.
“Does it have a name?” I asked.
“The Mary B,” he replied. “Named for the guy’s mother.”
“Well, that’s gonna change.”
“Eventually,” he said. “Not until it needs a paint job.”
If I were naming a boat for a mother, I think I’d pick Mommie Dearest, but there you are. I guess getting to know the vessel beforehand will allow us to choose a moniker that fits. Alan the jazz fan favors Salt Peanuts; continuing the theme, I like Boplicity or Epistrophy. What I don’t want is something trite and obvious — you just wouldn’t believe how many sailboats are named Windrunner or Windchaser or Windwhatever. No names for women, either, although I’d like to see a gay man name his boat Long John Silver or something like that.
Anyway, this is something we’ll be thinking about. Got any suggestions? Leave them in comments. And yes, Nancypants has already been ruled out.