People and Boats: Linda Hoffecker

Linda Hoffecker likes her boats presentable, so it was no surprise to find her waxing the hull of her latest acquisition, a nameless 22-foot Starwind, on the banks of the Chesapeake Bay last spring. After applying a second coat along the waterline, she started on the transom.
Author:
Publish date:
What’s in a name—or under it? Photo courtesy of alan Keene

What’s in a name—or under it? Photo courtesy of alan Keene

Linda Hoffecker likes her boats presentable, so it was no surprise to find her waxing the hull of her latest acquisition, a nameless 22-foot Starwind, on the banks of the Chesapeake Bay last spring. After applying a second coat along the waterline, she started on the transom.

Working the paste wax from port to starboard, she noticed a vertical ridge about a third of the way across. Under her cloth, it felt like a raised letter, a “P” maybe. Next came an “a” then an “r” and another “a.” By the time she reached the other side, her boat was no longer nameless.

I first met Linda 10 years ago when we were sharing a finger pier in a Havre de Grace, Maryland, marina. She was in her late 60s then, and her boat was a well-maintained early 1980s Catalina 22.

The first thing I noticed about Linda was her wonderful, quirky sense of humor. Shamelessly devoted to the double entendre, she loved verbal sparring, and I did too. We became instant friends.

The second thing I noticed was her affection for the sailing life. I could tell within minutes that she loved being a sailor. The tedious boat maintenance and repair responsibilities that I hated, she enjoyed. Not that she did all of the work herself, mind you, but she did what she could and then called on a network of sailing friends for help.

Not surprisingly, when repairs required the attention of a professional, Lynda was no easy mark. She knew what needed to be done and how much she was willing to pay for it. She is so knowledgeable, in fact, that I’ve consulted her on a number of occasions about repairs of my own.

Linda seemed to know everybody on those docks, from the marina staff to the concert pianist over on the 500 dock. She referred to the outboard motor salesman by his first name and was up to date on all the latest sailing gadgets. If you needed directions to the nearest sail loft or wanted to keep up with the latest marina gossip, Linda was the one to see. She was that kind of a sailor.

Interestingly enough, Linda didn’t sail much. In fact, I’ve kidded that she’s logged less time at the helm than the spiders that live in her tiller cover.

I used to attribute her lack of sea time to the physical demands that sailing puts on her 100-pound frame. But while that’s certainly a factor, I’m now starting to think that the act of sailing is not what appeals to her the most. I think it’s the waxing and the gathering of scuttlebutt and the friendships that she loves. To her, sailing is a personality and a way of life.

I’ve learned since that Linda’s 22-foot Catalina was the third in a series of five sailboats she has owned since 1997; her current thought-to-be-nameless Starwind was her fifth.

Sadly, with the frequent boat changes and the lulls in between, Linda and I aren’t finger-pier neighbors anymore. In fact, she keeps her sailboat at another Havre de Grace marina a half mile north. Still, we keep in touch. We exchange emails regularly, and it was her most recent that prompted me to share her story.

After buffing the wax off of her Starwind’s transom, Linda stepped to the side and could see that, in spite of a previous owner’s attempt to hide it, her boat was named Paradise. While a surprising discovery, it wasn’t until she looked down at the port-of-call that, as she told me, she “almost fainted.”

There, in a matching script, was printed “Paradise, PA,” the tiny little hamlet in southern Pennsylvania’s Amish country where Linda was raised and graduated from high school (“24 in my class—three boys!”) “Is this some kind of message on a boat?” Linda wondered in her email to me.

Well, Linda, what it says to me is that you’ve been presented with a unique opportunity. After repairing your Starwind’s leaky rudder tube and replacing that old cabintop winch, you’ll be able to tell all your friends that you discovered Paradise—and improved on it. Not bad for a septuagenarian with a penchant for a corny joke.

Related

mcarthy-and-mouse

Experience: McCarthy and the Mouse

Sitting at the helm in a light breeze, my arms crusted with a fine rime of salt, my skin so dry I’d lost my fingerprints, I heard a clatter and a curse from below. There were only three of us a thousand miles from shore and only one on watch at a time. Usually, the off watch lay ...read more

2018-giftGuide

2018 Holiday Gift Guide

Brass Yacht Lamp Does someone on your gift list spend the whole winter missing the warm days on the water? Let them bring a little bit of nautical atmosphere home with this new lamp from Weems & Plath. The glass enclosure means the flame cannot be blown out even by ...read more

image001

Opinion: On Not Giving Up Sailing

E.B. White was 64 when he wrote his now-famous essay “The Sea and the Wind That Blows,” which begins as a romantic paean to sailing and then drifts, as if spun around by a pessimistic eddy of thought, into a reflection on selling his boat. Does an aging sailor quit while he’s ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com A Helping Hand  This is a real-world solution, and I expect correction by my betters. However, anyone whose seacocks are modern ball valves rather than the grand old tapered cone variety may care to ...read more

1812-JeanneaueNewsVideo

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 410

Designed by Marc Lombard, the Sun Odyssey 410 shares much in common with her older siblings including of course, the walk-around deck. Other features that set the 410 apart from other models being introduced this year include the 410’s “negative bow” shape allowing for a longer ...read more

shutterstock_698968441

Cruising: The Bahamas

“The ‘Explorer’ chartbooks. All three.” “An unlocked phone. But good luck with BTC.” “Spam. It’s ‘spensive there!” These were just a few suggestions we received from fellow sailors who had cruised the Bahamas when we asked how to best prepare for the trip. In fact, several ...read more

windsensor

Gear: B&G Wind Sensors

Sense the Wind B&G has launched a new line of wind sensors, including the WS320, a wireless system that is suitable for masts up to 80ft. Wireless wind sensor technology has been hit-and-miss, with some users reporting intermittent signal failure on tall rigs, but B&G, citing ...read more