While working away on my Pietenpol in my aircraft work shop, my best friend John is half way across the country refurbishing his thirty six foot sailboat with the intention of someday taking his family sailing throughout world. My friend is the “real deal”. By that I mean I count him as one of those few people left in the world that is grounded in rich traditional values, steeped with conviction, and bestowed with the endearing quality of patience. John is one of those people who reply to questions with attentive, thoughtful, and logical responses. He will readily admit to not knowing something, rather than guess or opine his opinion. When it comes to things substantive, he abhors those who put forward opinion as fact, because, like flying, he understands the seriousness of blue water sailing.
His is a unique story unto itself, but it is interesting how closely our building stories run in parallel and how many common experiences we share. We talk often about building techniques, philosophies, and motivations, often sharing ideas from our respective projects. I could not afford a new plane, and wanted a plane with more character than a standard used one, so I undertook to build a wood and fabric airplane from plans. My friend was not content to settle for a “turn-key” used vessel, simply because it offered instant satisfaction and the ability to sail immediately; nor was it his desire (if he could afford it) to shell out half a million dollars or more for a new glitz and glamour pile of fiberglass, teak, chrome and electronics. No, the vessel which would take him and his family across oceans, needed to be refurbished from the ground up, with his own hands, drawing on his experiences, always with his objectives and ideals in mind. Years into the project, he and his family are close to realizing their dream.
In this world of instant gratification, sophisticated electronics, and mini-mansions, many (certainly those in sailing circles) would call him a traditionalist, and that is fine with me. Let it be known to the world that there is at least one left. Hurray! And I know where he lives! I enjoy discussing bulkhead structures and casting bronze fittings as he does fuselage structures and wings. An accomplished craftsman and life-long “student” of all things interesting and worth learning, he is in reality a mentor and inspiration to anyone fortunate enough to know him. In the next year or so, he will finish his beloved “Far Reach”, long before I finish my airplane, although neither of us is in a hurry. I look forward to the stories and adventures his family will have as they travel the world. One must visit his website to understand the effort and spirit being applied to his truly inspiring project: www.farreachvoyages.com
To John and all sailors: Fair winds and following seas…