The seven-year itch

Morgana, on her mooring. Photo by Pam Humbert

March/April 2021

By Pam Humbert

We were smitten when she first came into sight from the launch. It was a Pearson 30, the make of boat that had reached the very top of our short list after three years of pouring over advertisements, research and inspections. We thought to ourselves, “If she’s as good as she looks, then she’s the one!”

And she most certainly was, checking every single box. She became our lovely lady, our sweet Morgana. She’s taken us from our home in Northport, N.Y., as far east as Hamburg Cove, on the Connecticut River, and as far west as Liberty Landing in New Jersey. We’ve raced, cruised, sailed and enjoyed almost 300 days aboard her since that day, seven years ago. It was a lasting love affair, expressed too often, like a broken record, “I love this girl, what a sweet ride. Oh, she’s a keeper!”

Until she wasn’t. Like the lyrics of “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” by Rupert Holmes, I was tired of my lady, we’d been together too long. Like a worn-out recording, of a favorite song.

One evening I giggled as Jim climbed into the v-berth next to me. “You know, this is more like a ‘sleeping cabinet’ than a stateroom,” I said.

Settling in beside me, he chuckled at the vivid word picture and agreed, “It is a cabinet, isn’t it?”

Recalling the day’s activities, I added, “We spent a lot of time re-setting stuff on the boat today. The awning, sun shower and wind scoop up, table and swim ladder down. Swim ladder and table up, awning, sun shower and wind scoop down. If we had a bimini, a shower and a center-line table . . . .” I didn’t think about my lady, I know that sounds kind of mean. But me and my old lady, had fallen into the same old dull routine.

Although I never stopped looking at sailboat listings after we found Morgana, I had started to look more closely. I scrolled past ones with trendy keels, and ones made in the early days of balsa hulls. I even went so far as setting filters for 37’ to 40’, within a limited distance of our zip code and by very few builders. Then a 38-footer appeared locally. Feeling a bit like we were cheating on Morgana, we went to see it. This one had a bimini, an aft stateroom, a separate shower and an oven. Features Morgana could never have. We looked it over closely and were stunned by all its shortcomings. Morgana outshone it mightily in both storage and roominess at the helm. Although only a few years older, Morgana looked decades younger.

Undaunted, I kept looking, and pictures of two more pretty ones flashed across my screen.

Of those two, one was definitely high-maintenance, with much teak and varnished trim. Below, it was dark and overbearing. I also knew that someday soon the headliner would need a total makeover.

Next up was the young beamy one that left me feeling cold. Its open transom conjured images of trash, dogs and babies being swept away. The boat seemed more concerned with appearances and big gatherings than holding me close. Morgana provides me with any number of reassuring places to brace when we’re heeling; a foot up here, and a handhold there. The beamy one had no such disposition.

“It’ll be like finding a needle in a haystack” I admitted to a friend. Resetting stuff aboard Morgana was looking less troublesome with every boat we looked at. And she’s still fun, fast, solidly built and easily maintained.

We set out for a weekday sail under clear skies, calm seas and steady 10 knot winds – a perfect fall day with conditions Morgana performs her best in.

So I waited with high hopes, then she walked in the place. I knew her smile in an instant, I knew the curve of her face. It was my own lovely lady, and she said, “Oh, it’s you.” And we laughed for a moment, and I said, “I never knew.”

Her topsides, stanchions and washboards sparkled in the sun. The engine purred, her lines clean and supple in my hands. The main went up, the jib rolled out and the engine grew quiet. Morgana leaned beautifully into the breeze and turned up her water music as she accelerated. Wind was humming in the rigging and the water rushed along her hull as she skillfully danced through it.

I’m the love that you’ve looked for, come with me and escape.

Already enchanted, I watched with delight as Jim took his hand off the wheel and – showing off – she sailed herself. She was doing what she was built to do, and doing it exceptionally well when I shared a familiar refrain, “I love this girl. What a sweet ride. Oh, she’s a keeper!” I could feel the seven-year itch melting away as I fell in love with our lovely lady all over again.

Pam Humbert, a Northport, N.Y., native who’s been boating since she was 7 years old, is a devoted wife and mother of three grown children. She is also founder of P.K. Services, providing start-ups with the skills and services they need to help keep their sails trimmed.