Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Blue Bayou

It's a story of a boat, this boat.
From a distance, she looks okay. She was a fast boat, a racer, probably over forty feet. She skimmed the river water about a decade ago, winning races among multiple yacht/racing associations near Oriental. She was chosen "Boat of the Year" by the Neuse Yacht Racing Association four times (1998, '99, 2001, '02), in the spinnaker class. I found record of her participating in the Blackbeard Regatta in 2004, where spinnaker trouble seemed to plague her. Here's a little view of the racing that day:

But I could never find the Blue Bayou in that video, and her distinctive two-tone blue hull should stand out. Then I found this video of the ICRC Dragon's Breath Regatta in the same year, and THERE SHE IS!

This short video clearly spotlights the Blue Bayou. Her brilliant colors shine from far away. Her crew perch proudly on the deck. She's beautiful! And she was fast-as-blazes. Adam talked with his buddy Tom, who did quite a bit of sailing in Oriental over the years (and designs and builds his own sailboats). He crewed on Bayou and recalls her winning races from Oriental to Belhaven, and winning by miles.
Well. As you know, Adam and I bike out to Whittaker Marina nearly every day, stroll along the docks and look at the boats there. That's where I first saw the Blue Bayou. She is derelict, in nearly the worst shape of any boat there.
 Her color's faded.
 In several places along the dock-side, her fiberglass hull is worn raw and ragged by bashing into the dock during storms. No bumpers protect her, as with other boats nearby. She is savaged by the elements.

 Because we go often, we note that her hatch and companionway door are wide open, allowing rain into the cabin. This can't be good. Perhaps the owner is attempting to air her out? If so, he should come more often. There must be so much water inside, after the rains this past month.

 Adam noted that some really fine hardware is still on the boat, like these racing cleats.
 Really a beautiful cockpit. I'm saddened by her state of disrepair.
 A little video of her now:
video
This is a cautionary tale, I suppose. We might say, "It's only a boat, a possession. Things deteriorate. Que sera, sera!" Or more accurately, we might say that sailing life in Oriental has changed (and died down) quite a bit since thirty years ago, or even twelve years ago. The sailors who came here as middle aged men and women are now elderly or dead. They built up a beautiful sailing life and community that few younger families can afford to live in, in the same way. Back then, a single income, a second home in Oriental (which had cheap real estate then), a sailboat, a slip, yacht association and racing association dues -- all this was affordable. It must have been a beautiful time on the river!

Whittaker Marina, much as I love it, shows the wear and tear of years, as does this single boat. It's hard for me to watch a beautiful thing die. Something about beauty is divine, is of heaven, is it not? When the beautiful fades, sags, crumbles, dies, we are disheartened that even beauty doesn't live forever, as we know in our hearts that it should.

I wish I could see the Blue Bayou sail again, her spinnaker bulging with wind, her hull flashing in sunlight, her rigging strained with pressure, her sailors leaning as she heels, and loving every moment. Anyone out there care to resurrect a boat? I wish someone would!

2 comments:

  1. It does seem sad that the boat seems to have fallen into disrepair like that.

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  2. Sad it is but it is not unusual. Cruising on the creeks and rivers of this area will show many other examples although most don't have the pedigree or history of Blue Bayou. Blue Bayou is a J36 racing sloop that successfully competed in many regattas for a couple decades in eastern North Carolina. Near the end of her racing days, she was still fast but the deterioration that affects everything on the planet had already begun it's natural duty. Her lightweight, which provided much of her performance potential was also a source of her downfall. Her core between the outer skins of fiberglass began to deteriorate beyond the level of reasonable repair. In the end, entropy always prevails with boats, as well as the people who love and sail them.

    Unless someone comes along who is willing to take on the substantial task of keeping a boat alive, this is the usual fate. Walking the docks of local marinas and more especially the grounds of boatyards, many examples of similar progression will be seen. The stories behind each one will be as different as they are alike.

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