PxPixel
Boat Review: Beneteau Oceanis 41.1 - Sail Magazine

Eulogy for a Boat

Author:
Publish date:
 Legato rests on her side in Nanny Cay’s “temporary graveyard”

 Legato rests on her side in Nanny Cay’s “temporary graveyard”

Twenty-four hours before Irma struck Tortola, I knew our boat was doomed. “We’re going to lose Legato,” I told my husband, Scott. We watched in horror as Irma gained strength on her unforgiving trajectory toward our island of Tortola and the beautiful Tayana 48, Legato, that we called home. We were on our annual “low season” trip back to Chicago to visit friends and family with our three young daughters when the Atlantic basin gave birth to Irma. As the hurricane gained velocity and strength, we became glued to the weather models, hoping, praying for a change in forecast. Days were spent tracking her every move with a growing pit in our stomachs. Helplessly watching a record-breaking hurricane barrel toward your home at 15 miles per hour is agony—an agony, however, that paled in comparison to what we felt in her aftermath. Those of us who live on boats know that they are more than “just boats.” They become an extension of us, a part of our family, and our home. Our boats weather storms and rough seas, they deliver us to safe harbor and new horizons. They are dreams, adventures, hopes and wonder all molded into a shiny, fiberglass hull (or two). Most liveaboards meticulously care for their boats. We are intimate with their quirks, and how they need to be handled “just so” in certain situations. We refer to them as “she,” and treat them with affection and respect. Our boats have souls. Legato was no different.

Brittany, Isla, Mira, Haven and Scott during happier times after a hike around Peter Island, BVI

Brittany, Isla, Mira, Haven and Scott during happier times after a hike around Peter Island, BVI

Although we have been living aboard since 2010 and running our Tortola-based day-charter company since 2015, our beautiful Legato was ours for only six months before Irma. As such, she was never able to take us on all the adventures we had planned for this coming season and beyond. Regardless of our short time with her, we had settled into her deeply. Falling in love with a boat happens quickly. Legato was to be our “forever” boat and was as close to perfect for our family as we could have imagined. She was strong and safe, she sailed wonderfully, and she was beautiful. We were very happy to be living in her cozy belly. Of all the things I imagined for us, I never imagined losing her. Until Irma.

After the first frenetic and heart-wrenching week of confirming the safety of friends and grasping the sheer devastation left in Irma’s wake, we were able to focus on what exactly happened to our home. As word and images began to trickle back to us, it became clear Legato was not in the tangled mess of masts and hulls pushed ashore at Nanny Cay marina.

“We can’t see her anywhere. We are so sorry. We’ve been looking” our friends wrote. Inside, we knew that she’d gone down, along with so many others. Weeks went by and we heard nothing. And then, one dreary afternoon: “Oh Brittany, they found her, I’m so sorry. She’s been under this whole time.” I held my breath. “I took a picture but let me know when you’re ready,” I said I was. But I wasn’t.

How can one be ready to see their beloved home in such a state? The sorry picture of our home—a mere shell of her former self—was devastating. Imagining our boat and all our carefully selected belongings sitting for a month on the silty bottom of the marina was too much. I pictured our saloon filled with water, now dark and murky. I imagined the eerie stillness of a watery grave with our pillows, cushions and clothes sodden where they lay. Perhaps a few items were floating about weightlessly, giving the illusion of life...

I imagined our daughters’ books, their pages slowly disintegrating where they were stacked so carefully on the shelf. Their stuffed animals, water-logged and heavy, laying haphazardly where their final float deposited them. My girls’ collected treasures, colored pictures and crafts, the trinkets from our travels, all drowned.

I tried to inventory our lives. The papers, tools, electronics, kitchen gadgets, and so much more...but the memories of our kids having breakfast and dance parties, playing and reading bedtime stories crowded it all out. So many memories that were and those that were never to be.

What happened, I wondered as I looked at the wreck that was once our beloved home. What did her in? Was it our own rig? The rig of another boat? A piling from the broken docks? All we know is something punctured her starboard side, just at the waterline. That hole— such a small but incredibly significant thing—was what took down our boat and the life inside of her. Have you ever seen water rushing into a boat from a hole below the waterline? The speed of inflow is terrifying from even the smallest puncture. I imagine that fateful moment of impact and how quickly water flooded in, filling our boat at an alarming rate. Our bilge pump wouldn’t even have put a dent in it. Our newly installed high-water alarm might have sounded for a few moments before it too was silenced.

I imagine the water rising, covering our rugs that I’d so carefully selected, the floorboards floating up, releasing the contents kept underneath them. I imagine the water quickly submerging the girls’ toy box, their dollies and blocks joining in the frenzied floating fray, and water rising up past the settees and to our bookshelf to the electronics, the crafting cubby and the pictures on our walls. I imagine the chaos and swirling water and debris down below as even greater mayhem reigned outside.

And I imagine Legato going down, settling on the murky bottom to die with a soft, inaudible thud. She sat there in silence for a month. The diver who found her told Scott there was only one foot of visibility in the marina and they’d resorted to locating boats on the bottom by touch. “When I found her, I put my hands on her and thought, ‘Damn, this was a nice boat’,” he said.

She was a nice boat. And so was the life we shared with her. Yes, Irma took so much from us. But, we are so very fortunate. We are alive, healthy and young. We were insured and we will find another boat. Disaster puts a whole new perspective on life and the community that emerges in the aftermath is humbling and a true gift to cherish. At my lowest points I had to remind myself of this many, many times, and more often than once the kindness and generosity of others buoyed my spirit.

In the grand scheme of things, losing our home, livelihood and belongings, while horrible, was bearable. Possessions are replaceable, lives are rebuilt, and communities heal. While we mourn the loss of our dear Legato and that which never came to be for us, we are grateful. The adventures will continue. The sea calls. 

Brittany Meyers and her family live aboard in Tortola, BVI, where they run a charter business

January 2017

Related

01-061018ROAC-8149

Coming of Age at the Atlantic Cup

Midway through the final race of the inshore portion of the 2018 Atlantic Cup, the three boats in the lead—Mike Dreese’s Toothface 2, Mike Hennessy’s Dragon and Oakcliff Racing, representing the Long Island Sound-based sailing school of the same name—suddenly broke free from the ...read more

01_silken_2018-03-08-0052

North U’s Regatta Experience Program

“Want to check the keel?” North U Coach Geoff Becker calls to me from back by the transom. We’ve just suffered our worst finish in the regatta and are absolutely flying on our way back to shore, spinnaker up and heeling at an angle that feels like maybe we’re tempting fate. ...read more

Navy-Sand-Dune_1080

Tucket Footwear’s Giller Shoes

Just for KicksMove over Crocs, there’s a new plastic shoe in town. Unlike the aforementioned fashion crimes, Tucket Footwear’s Giller shoes are made for boating. Water will get in, yes, but it will also run straight out again via rows of “scuppers” in the uppers and a dozen drain ...read more

01-m3113_git170829-294

France’s Maxi-tri Ultime class

It’s hard to believe how far foiling has come since the Moth class figured out how to reliably take to the air in the early 2000s.Was it really only in 2013 that the America’s Cup was dragged kicking and screaming into the foiling world by Emirates Team New Zealand back in San ...read more

GGTobagoCays

Cruising: Guadeloupe to Grenada

Our Dream Yacht Charter delivery started as a “wouldn’t it be fun if” idea. Those are usually misguided, if not downright stupid. But a Bali 4.3 named Jumelles (French for “twins,” appropriately) needed to leave Guadeloupe to do heavier charter work in Grenada, and as soon as I ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comWhen I bought my boat it had 18 through-hull fittings. To reduce the number of holes in the hull (I ultimately cut them by half), I first re-plumbed the drain hoses from my sinks, scuppers, bilge pumps and ...read more

rokk

Scanstrut: ROKK Charge+

It RokksWith the increasing use of smartphones and tablets for in-cockpit navigation comes the issue of keeping these devices charged, since running nav software will drain those batteries in no time. Scanstrut has come to the rescue with the ROKK Charge+, the first-ever ...read more

GreenCove2-2048

Liveaboard Voting Rights Threatened in Florida

Bucking decades of precedent, a Florida elections officer is refusing to allow customers of a popular mail forwarding service to register to vote in his county. Since 1988, St. Brendan’s Isle of Green Cove Springs in Clay County has provided transient Americans with mail ...read more