If Tiger Woods can make confessions, so can I. Last summer I was reacquainted with my mistress. She still has a long, relatively lean body with wonderful curves. My wife, Lou, knows about her and loved her as much as I did.
She is Ten Yo, our Offshore 43 cat ketch. She is 43-plus feet overall with more than 37-1/2 feet of waterline and a beam of 13 feet. She has carbon fiber masts and was built for fast offshore cruising. Time, health and economics imposed themselves on our dream of taking off and sailing the oceans of the world. We never planned to circumnavigate per se - just to sail where our fancy took us. It's been said that life is what happens while you're making plans. It's true.
We sold Ten Yo some years ago to a fine gentleman who had the eye to appreciate her and the time and resources to bring her back to the condition that we were unable to accomplish. We've kept casual contact and last summer he called to ask if we wanted to go for a sail. You bet we did.
She has been repainted, her brightwork redone and areas of rot removed and repaired. The only disappointment was that some of the additional gear that I provided had gone missing - large Andersen winches and ball-bearing blocks with Torlon bearings, new rope to be made into running rigging, new rope clutches, along with additional anchors. However, the work done to her hull, decks and interior is first class. She is beautiful.
After admiring the restoration, Lou and I cast off with the boat's new owner and his wife. There was a light breeze - Force 1 to 2 - and I didn't expect much of a sail. We putted out on the new Westerbeke that had replaced our tired, old Cummins 4108, and once clear of Raspberry Island in Westbrook, Conn., we brought her into the wind and made all plain sail.
I had forgotten how slippery she is through the water. We were reaching - an ideal point of sail - and despite the very light wind, she moved beautifully. Under these conditions, I expected no wake and there was none. We hardened her up to close-hauled and she still moved easily, pointing surprisingly high. She went about smoothly and effortlessly and then ran smoothly and quietly. To my way of thinking, anyone and any boat can sail when there's wind. To sail well in very light conditions is the sign of a good boat - and sailor.
When the wind picked up to Force 3 later in the day, gusting to about 12 to 15 knots - just about perfect for relaxed sailing - she beat, reached and ran beautifully. There was virtually no wake, and the soothing sound of water chuckling past her canoe stern was ... well, it's what sailing is all about.
I've done some stupid things on the water and have occasionally been in "interesting" situations - interesting in the sense of the curse, "May you live in interesting times." However, the real beauty of sailing is what it does for your soul when there is no tension and, aside from your situational awareness, you relax and enjoy being where you are and the companionship of those with you.
I had forgotten what a fine boat the Offshore 43 is, how well she sails in almost all conditions. One of the nicest things about the boat is the ability to move freely across uncluttered decks, with no standing rigging to work past. The boat is also extremely well ventilated. You shouldn't open the large forward hatch except when not under way - it's just too big and too far forward - but she has a multitude of other hatches and opening ports to keep the boat feeling fresh and cool in all but exceptionally hot or wet conditions. I can't remember ever thinking about the need to install air conditioning.
Yves-Marie Tanton, the designer, created a masterpiece. It's too bad that so few were built. I suspect it was the freestanding wishbone rig that kept the boat from being more popular, and it's a shame. Years ago I purchased a Nonsuch 30, initially as a business venture. I discovered that it was a fun boat to sail and it became one of my all-time favorites. It, too, was a wishbone rig, but without the ability to lower the wishbone.
I'm usually somewhat conservative when it comes to boats, but I do like the Offshore 43. Sailing the old girl again reminded me of how fun she is to sail. I rarely miss chapters in my life that I've closed, but I miss my old boat and was cheered by how well her new owner is treating her.
This article originally appeared in the September 2010 issue.