Posted by: adventuressetravels | January 18, 2013

The Single-hander

wet Bowen harbor


“Great to have ya hea mate!” Captain Nemo greeted me, his round face beaming.  With shaggy gunmetal grey hair, and a belly to match his face, and a Crocodile Dundee hat he was the archetypal Australian.

“I’m as happy as Larry ya made it, he drawled in his thick Australia Accent.  “Yer gonna love  Mareva.  She’s a beauty.   She’s been getting tired of being stuck here at anchor.  All she wants to do is stretch her sails and shake off the barnacles.  She’s made of 1,000 year old Australian Red Cedar,” Captain Nemo spoke with love and admiration   He went on to explain how the trees were protected and illegal to cut down – you couldn’t find boats made from it anymore.  He bubbled over with praise for his boat.  It had to be the most impressive yacht of all time not to mention the love of his life the way he described her.

Mareva was named after a Tahitian goddess, he told me, (though I have since learned it is actually a Tahitian girl’s name meaning canoes carrying gifts from one island to another).

We dinghied through Bowen’s run-down anchorage and I craned my neck to see my new home for the next few months.  As we approached a light-blue boat I tried to look at her with a sailor’s eyes, to see what made her so special.  I must not have known enough about sailing or been too used to sailing on catamarans.  Though the sloop looked like a nice boat, she didn’t stand out.  She didn’t look nearly large enough to be the 44-feet Captain Nemo said she was.

“She’s solid, not like these fancy new boats.  They’re all made out of plywood and fiberglass.  People pay millions of dollars for them but they are just flashy pieces of junk that break in a couple of years.”

Mareva was certainly solid.  The Captain had lived on her for more than 12-years and he just kept improving her.  Just 2-years earlier he had gone electronic and installed a chart-plotter.  He was an old-fashioned sailor.  You can’t trust electronic charts he told me and regaled me with a story about how a mistake in one had caused several boats to run aground on reefs in Papua New Guinea several years earlier.   So though he may have a GPS chart-plotter he always checked it with his charts.  People had been sailing with charts for centuries, they were tried and true.


Until recently he hadn’t used enough power even to need a generator – he had gotten all the energy he needed from his solar panels.  Now that he had a laptop he used it almost once a day, but he would much rather be self-reliant.

Whether or not he liked having someone sail with him, Nemo was a single-hander through and through.  He loved Mareva with more devotion than many people give to their spouse.  She wasn’t just a boat, she was a living being.  She liked some people and couldn’t stand others.  She had feelings, emotions, and
After all, I certainly am affected when a boat sinks more so than if it were merely an inanimate object.  But we will save that story for later.her own distinct personality.  Maybe I just haven’t spent enough time at sea to bond with a boat.  Perhaps I haven’t ingested enough salt water to relate to an object like that.  Though it may be that I’m headed in that direction.


  1. Sally, interesting, really interesting…………..until the boat sinks, then it bacame scary. What???

  2. A photo of Nemo would have helped, though your word picture suggests he was not photogenic. Isn’t the question whether the boat liked you?

  3. I agree but he wouldn’t let people take pictures of him.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: