Tuesday, April 29, 2014


The catamaran's yellow hull and wooden masts in the far corner of Craford Bay caught my eye as I raised Spartina's sailsl in a northeasterly breeze Sunday morning.  A quick look through the binoculars confirmed that it was a Wharram, a boat well worth visiting.  Across the river and into the bay past the snowbirds from New York and New Hampshire and soon I was circling "Mon Tiki" for a few photographs.  I enjoyed the classic looks of the polynesian design.  Seeing no one aboard we were soon headed down Towne Point Reach to Lamberts Bend before doubling back to downtown. 

Sailing through the snowbirds of Craford Bay late morning for another look I saw a man waving from Mon Tiki.  Not just waving, he was beckoning Spartina to come closer.  Within calling distance he was complimenting Spartina as I was complimenting his boat.  With camera in hand he motioned for a closer pass.  As I turned back I asked if he would like to hop on board for a brief sail.  He ducked down into the cabin, emerged with a life jacket and stepped on board.

It was David Ryan, shown above in a self-portrait from his Facebook page.  Mon Tiki is his 38 foot Wharram design, built by "East End" craftsman near her home port of Montauk on Long Island.  Designed and built as a charter boat, David was returning from an off-season trip to Florida Keys.  The charter season was coming up fast, he has bookings lined up for May.

With a well-tanned and relaxed look that comes with a few months in the Keys, he told me about Mon Tiki, plus the five others boats he has built of the years.  He had questions and compliments for the Pathfinder design, telling me Spartina looked beautiful cutting through the water.  I think he enjoyed the sail.  He told me as he climbed back aboard Mon Tiki that it was the first time in three years he had sailed on a boat that heeled. (Wharrams apparently don't heel.)

It was a couple of days later, when I came across David's biography, that I realized we had missed a chance for a great discussion.  It turns out he was born and raised in La Jolla not too far from Wind'n'Sea Beach, one of my favorite old haunts.  I was born close by on Coronado, and spent my teen years in Pacific Beach and La Jolla.  My first job was at the old Diving Locker on Grand Ave, where I used to take breaks and get fried fish, french fries and cole slaw from Ocean Fresh Seafood, carrying it down to Wind'n'Sea Beach for relaxing lunches that I remember to this day. (And Ocean Fresh it was - I one time pulled into the parking lot in my '64 VW bus next to a fishing dory filled with a pile of fishing nets and a hammerhead shark.)  David and I, I realized, had body-surfed, scuba dived and sailed in the same places.  Wouldn't it have been fun to compare notes?

When I emailed David about this, he described the encounter as serendipity.  Yes, it was.

A few hours later, making my last few tacks on the river, I saw Mon Tiki raise sail, disappearing out of sight rounding Hospital Point.  I doubt we will ever have that discussion about growing up on the beaches of La Jolla.  But I will remember, and enjoy, a brief bit of serendipity that connected me back to a lot of fun times I had a few too many decades ago.  


Anonymous said...

Something else we have in common Steve, I had a 1960 VW camper in college. That tired 40 hp engine taught me a lot about patience. I had a great time with it in the fair weather and froze my ass in the winter.

Kevin B

Steve said...

You're aren't kidding about freezing. I did two years in Missouri with that old bus. I've seen a couple recently around town, 63 or 64 buses, in mind condition. Cool vans and I still wish I had one.