But as comfortable and practical as his bateau might be for canal touring, it’s a far cry from the vessels Len used to sail across the deep blue and the one he is building down in Queensland on the other side of the planet. Len, who has a full head of gray hair and a nicely trimmed beard, was wearing metal-rimmed glasses and a casual shirt with an unbuttoned collar, and he smiled into the camera as he spoke. There was that nagging Skype delay and the echo, but he came across loud and clear.
Growing up, I had ambitious dreams. Now, at an age when my knees are getting creaky — and my mind perhaps a little leaky — I still dream, but I also return to places I left for larger, greener and more exciting pastures. Touching home base on one of those trips recently added a chapter to my sailing experience that had eluded me for five decades.
As the product of a landlocked place north of Italy with pretty but exhaustingly windless lakes, my clock ticks differently than it would had I grown up around Rhode Island's Narragansett Bay. Long before stories about Capt. Nathanael Greene Herreshoff and his sleek yachts seeped into my consciousness, cars designed by Ettore Bugatti topped my lust list. Maybe I just had too much fun letting his name roll off my tongue.As I learned about Capt. Nat and the Herreshoff Manufacturing Co. on Burnside Street in Bristol, R.I., where he conceived, built and splashed his creations, I began to think of him and Ettore as soul mates.
"My goal is to win and bring home a gold medal." That's what quotes in press releases always say. So when one of them put those words next to Erika Reineke's name prior to the 2010 Laser Radial youth world championships in Largs, Scotland, I simply flushed it.
There's little I have done for as long as I have sailed. I'm well into my fourth decade. Still livin' it, still lovin' it. But me being me, I also think I know my stuff. Until someone comes along and politely tells me that, um, I don't.
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