Answer the Call!

posted in: Uncategorized | 19

We just did this

I received a call from my friend Mike Draper, who as you know has sailed with us often (including helping us sail Happy Together back to Florida last month) and he is the owner of our “old boat” a Hunter 49 called “Tide Together”. He said, “I got a nearly fully price offer on the boat and I took it”. “What! You loved that boat”, I said. But like for everyone, Covid changed plans and a few dreams, and Mike has some exciting things in mind, including upgrading to a larger boat and maybe a catamaran. Mike said, “The problem is the buyer wants the boat in Florida, so we have to move her there ASAP”. Hmmm. Mike never denied a crew invite on Happy Together and always was ready and on station when we needed him, so I replied in kind and said, “let’s go, when?” “soon”, he said. Well soon meant soon and we had a grandchild coming in days and then a new home closing in Park City, so I said, “as soon as the baby is born, I will be in Antigua”. The problem was Mike was in Antigua at the time so now he had to wait. As it turns out, the baby came soon and the closing was right after that so Lennie and I had to do the unthinkable. Yes, we had to divide our duties. I would go to Antigua and sail the boat home with Mike and Lennie would head to Utah and we would rendezvous back in Florida in 7 or 8 days.

Okay it’s a little corny

Lennie and I have been together for 25 years. In all that time it never occurred for us to be separated for a week. For a lot of my friends that is normal and they are used to it and some even like it, but not us. This would be a first. Not to mention she would have always preferred to come with Mike and I on the trip but the other commitments were in place.

Sailing anyone?

Mike and I just needed one more crew member so we got on the phone made a list of possible candidates. It started with Captain Richard and Mike Sheperd, both Happy Together crew alumni but they couldn’t make the sudden date work. Next on the list was a friend of Mike’s he had met on the Salty Dawg rally last year and he would reach out. I waited a few days and texted Mike and asked about his friend. He said he asked Brian and that he accepted, and it would be a blast to have the three of us together. I said it sounded good. A few days later my brother texts me and says, “what do I need to bring to go sailing”. I ask who he is sailing with and he says, “you and Mike duh” Oh…. that Brian! Mike had reached out to my brother and I thought it was the guy in Tampa. I guess we got our wires crossed but what a great outcome because and I hadn’t sailed with my brother in years. There was a reason…

It was a dark and stormy night…

If you haven’t met my brother, it’s because he doesn’t spend a lot of time on the water anymore. You see, when we were teenagers and racing fast boats in San Francisco we had earned a bit of a reputation. One morning in early summer my brother and I got a call from a man named Aury Guch (not making this up) and he owned a Santana 35 called Wild Hare which was a racing sailboat like the one our father owned – Brian and I knew the boat well. He said he was sailing it to Hawaii in the Transpac and needed a delivery crew to bring it back to California. He had asked my dad permission first but extended the offer for 2 of 5 crew slots on the return voyage. This was to be a trip of a lifetime and it included first class airfare and a week at the Kuwai Hilton before departure. Who could turn this down? Well as it turned out I had just turned 15, had a new girlfriend, it was summer, and my best friend Mike (yes that Mike) was dating her friend, so I declined the offer. Brian, at 17, of course accepted and two weeks later he was gone.  This was 1978 so you can imagine, no communication devices or life raft for the that matter. We expected him home in 3 weeks. The story is too long for this blog, but I keep encouraging him to write about it, and when he does, I will post it, but here is a glimpse. Five weeks after he left, we received a call from the Coast Guard at 10PM saying the boat was off the coast of Oregon and on its way to San Francisco and all hands were on board. My mom cried. Four days later we drove to the pier in Oakland California with my mom, dad and sister and waited for hours and at 2 am this little boat limps in with 5 very bewildered crew members who looked as if they had been in the wild for a month. They had. The trip took over three weeks and they faced a hurricane-sized storm with 80 knot winds and 50-foot seas. They were closer to Alaska than California at one point and none of them thought they would make it home alive.

Next blog I will tell you about our sail to Florida. Spoiler alert….We made it!!

19 Responses

  1. Bud Clark

    Great blog… I raced Transpac in 1977 — Thankfully took the boat to Admirals Cup and did not get caught in delivery back to SoCal. Thank God your brother got back safely 1977 was a tough year going both ways.

    • happytogether

      Hi Bud, Great story and so glad you didnt do the return. Brian is now writing the story with a book editor so hopefully we will have something soon to share.

      • Michel

        Hey Randy, great to read from you again!
        Great story, I cannot wait to read more soon.
        Adventures are still possible, and reading that you sailed with your brother in former times encourages me to tell you about my adventure to come.
        I will sail in one week from the Netherlands to Norway with both of my brothers.
        The intention is to have enough special miles (night cross ocean sailing in tides areas) to do the Brittish yachtmaster ocean. (Beside this I have more than enough „normal“ miles on my knowledge account)
        Now being in my fifties, I consider this fact to have time with my brother for 10 days as very precious as each of them has his own life with family, kids and jobs, like I do.
        I am for sure gifted to have such an excellent relation to my brothers that they trust my sailing abilities in these more challenging conditions, and that they are willing to spend 10 days on a boat where there is nowhere to go.
        Hope you will soon be able to sail with your brother again!
        By the way, my project to purchase a Leopard 50 is still ongoing; only CoViD 19 slowed it down a bit…
        Wish you an excellent time sailing your old boat home again!
        Michel (from Switzerland)

        • happytogether

          HI Michel from Switzerland! Thanks so much and I am so excited for you. I can see this story resonated well with you and I look forward to hearing about your adventure and look forward to sharing mine!!! Thanks so much for your notes and keep in touch!

  2. Neil Wilson

    We can’t wait and what a gift to sail with your brother again.

    • happytogether

      Hi Neil, Thanks buddy and yes it was and not the last time. He wants to do every passage now!!!!

  3. Paul Geiser

    Wow, I’m sitting on he edge of my kitchen bar stool drinking a cup of coffee and now I have to wait, too much anticipation! Hope everyone is safe and healthy.

    • happytogether

      Hi Paul, Ha!! I promise to write the story of the passage with pics soon!

  4. Dan Draper

    That was awesome, I look forward to Brian’s book. 50 ft seas lol ouch. Also look forward to the rest of your story. By the way, Lauren and I have done the time apart but neither one of us like it. I love that you guys are never apart. Rare in this day and a great example to todays kids!
    Love you guys,
    Fair Winds and Following Seas brother

  5. Debbie

    I remember that 5 weeks well, and even after this much time I’m not sure I can read Brian’s story… great blog Randy, can’t wait to hear about the trip on Mike’s boat!

    • happytogether

      Hi Sis! thanks for your comment. We all lived it but I think it accidentally became a family secret due to the horror of discussing it. Each day when I see Brian now I realized he’s lucky to be here.

  6. Michel

    Reply
    Hey Randy, great to read from you again!
    Great story, I cannot wait to read more soon.
    Adventures are still possible, and reading that you sailed with your brother in former times encourages me to tell you about my adventure to come.
    I will sail in one week from the Netherlands to Norway with both of my brothers.
    The intention is to have enough special miles (night cross ocean sailing in tides areas) to do the Brittish yachtmaster ocean. (Beside this I have more than enough „normal“ miles on my knowledge account)
    Now being in my fifties, I consider this fact to have time with my brother for 10 days as very precious as each of them has his own life with family, kids and jobs, like I do.
    I am for sure gifted to have such an excellent relation to my brothers that they trust my sailing abilities in these more challenging conditions, and that they are willing to spend 10 days on a boat where there is nowhere to go.
    Hope you will soon be able to sail with your brother again!
    By the way, my project to purchase a Leopard 50 is still ongoing; only CoViD 19 slowed it down a bit…
    Wish you an excellent time sailing your old boat home again!
    Michel (from Switzerland)

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