A fond farewell to a beloved family boat

Laughing Gull, a Pearson Triton, under sail. Photo courtesy Peg Ryan

May, 2022

By Peg Ryan

Editor’s note: The letter below was written by boater Peg Ryan following the sale of the 1961 Pearson Triton she and her husband Jim purchased in 1977. At the time, Jim was recovering from a heart attack and they hoped the vessel would provide some encouragement and enjoyment during a difficult time. Peg said they had been looking for a fiberglass boat that would be easy to maintain. The Pearson was spotted by a former classmate of Jim’s who was also a boat broker. “I told him to put a sold sign on her and we’d call the next day,” Peg writes. “When I told Jim, his persona changed. With a smile on his face and still in the ICU, he said to get his best friend and check out the boat. I came home with the boat!”

The couple enjoyed two years together with the boat until Jim died at age 48. After Jim’s death, Peg continued to sail Laughing Gull with her sons and their Sheltie Muffin traveling as far north as Maine and as far south as Cape Cod for another 32 years. She passed along her love of sailing to her grandson John. She sold Laughing Gull when it became too difficult to maintain the boat.


Dear Laughing Gull,

How do I say goodbye to such a very special lady in my life? We have been together since that very first day I laid eyes on you in 1977. You were to be the medicine that would give Jim hope for the future. We had only 2 years of that future before Jim sailed to Heaven. I promised him I would care for you and carry on the legacy of his love of the sea.

You and I traveled the waters north and south, on sunlit days and starlit nights. We had our rough times when the seas became wild and the unrelenting winds blew strong, but we weathered the storms you and me. Although we didn’t sail the oceans of the world, we had so many special times together. The memories of Jimmy, Mike and me sailing to Sandwich and on to Martha’s Vineyard, our days with invited friends sailing around Boston Harbor and the many trips north to Gloucester, Marblehead and on to Maine, are locked in my heart.

When I made the decision for us to move from Marina Bay to Parker’s Boatyard on Cape Cod, I knew we would be leaving so many friends behind. But it was the right choice, because it would allow us to further carry on Jim’s legacy. You and I would have new adventures showing John and Colleen, the next generation of the Ryan clan, the very special world on the water. When we picked up mooring E3 in Redbrook Harbor, you and I knew that spot was and is a little bit of Paradise. We shared so many moments over the past 12 years in the mooring field, sailing around Bassets, heading toward the lighthouse into Buzzards Bay and beyond.

I can no longer care for you my lady and give you the TLC you need to survive. You have served me well over the past 45 years. It is breaking my heart to let you go, for I am you and you are me. How empty and lost I feel knowing we must go our separate ways. I hope Jim will understand how hard I worked to keep you with me. I may not have accomplished my goal of spending my life with you and handing your helm over to John, but know that you played such an important role in my quest to keep Jim’s legacy alive. And know also that John’s love of sailing and the sea is because of you.

Fair winds my dear soulmate,

Your Captain