Skip to main content

Sailing Memories: The Pot O’ Gold

Dawn on the morning of my 40th birthday, singlehanding 300 miles offshore, I had just wrapped up an ambitious, five-year work stint that provided for the sailboat of my dreams plus a kitty to take her cruising.
  • Author:
  • Updated:

Dawn on the morning of my 40th birthday, singlehanding 300 miles offshore, I had just wrapped up an ambitious, five-year work stint that provided for the sailboat of my dreams plus a kitty to take her cruising. Now Sparrow and I were beginning a six-year voyage that would eventually carry us 30,000 nautical miles and halfway around the world. I stepped into the cockpit, inhaled a deep draught of pure ocean air, and thought, “This is what they mean by ‘life begins at 40!’”

Just then I lifted my eyes and there, arced across our course line not a mile ahead, was a magnificent rainbow, dense and rich, splashing every nuance of the spectrum across the mottled sky. It hung there, neither moving nor dissipating as we drew closer. To port where one end plunged into the sea (the other was lost in cloud), I was astonished to see the water, churned and frothed by wind and waves, glowing and pulsing a great, radiant corona of pure gold. I had one hundred thousand miles under my keel by then and never saw anything like it. Gold! I’d always assumed it was a metaphor, but now I understood. Sailors of old had seen the same thing, and from their literal description came the fanciful promise: There’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

That rainbow held even as I sailed beneath it, arching right over the masthead, a heavenly gateway to whatever lay ahead. “Happy birthday, skipper,” it seemed to say. “Here’s to your new life, your true pot o’ gold.”



11th Hour Racing Team's Green Mission

“I’ll admit, it’s still hard to watch the boat leave the dock sometimes,” says former Volvo Ocean Race sailor Mark Towill. Since meeting during a Transpac campaign over 15 years ago, he and his teammate Charlie Enright have sailed thousands of miles together aboard two Volvo more


Boat Review: Dufour 61

Dufour, long one of France’s most well-respected builders, has been producing sailboats in La Rochelle since the dawn of fiberglass boatbuilding. Having recently merged with another La Rochelle-based builder, Fountaine Pajot, Dufour has now joined other European mass-production more


The Ocean Race to be “Climate Positive”

The 2023 Ocean Race intends to be one of the world’s first climate positive sporting events, offsetting more greenhouse gasses than are produced. The two-fold effort means cutting emissions by 75 percent and investing in ocean projects that sequester carbon and restore ocean more


Cruising Lake Superior

Almost anywhere a sailor drops the hook someone else has been there before. We are hardly ever the first. That remote Maine harbor without a soul in sight: there’s a lobster trap. The south coast of Newfoundland: the crumbling remains of a fisherman’s cabin lie hidden among the more


Fabricating a Tablet Holder

During the pandemic, I was stuck aboard Guiding Light, a Lagoon 410, in St. Lucia for over a month. During that time, as I worked on the boat, I started by doing a spring cleaning in my spares locker and finding some parts and material that I forgot I had. As soon as I saw them, more


A Catamaran for a New Era

Anacortes, Washington, is an unassuming sea-salty town near the San Juan Islands of Puget Sound, and the Betts Boats yard is easy for a passerby to miss. But within Betts’ facilities, the dawn of an era in Pacific Northwest production boatbuilding could be breaking with the more


Boat Review: Xquisite X5 Plus

The Xquisite X5 Plus is a major update of the boat that SAIL awarded Best Large Multihull and Best Systems titles in 2017. The changes were not just cosmetic, but genuine improvements to an already fine boat, making it lighter, faster and less dependent on fuel. The builder’s more


Cruising: Offshore Prep Talk

When I began preparing Minx, my 1987 Pearson 39-2, for extended Caribbean cruising, I had to balance my champagne wish list against my beer budget. Every buck spent on the boat before leaving would be one less frosty can of Carib down in the islands. On the other hand, I had to more