Location: Coomera, Australia
Before leaving Australia for good, we went back to see Tayrona one last time. I’ve been thinking about how to say goodbye to our boat. It’s a challenge because the role it played in our lives is fluid and unclear. Is it a home? An infant? A guardian?
I’ve realized that Tayrona is the closest thing I’ll ever have to a dragon.
Hear me out…
Physically, Tayrona is a pretty good dragon match. She’s got a pair of fifty-foot leathery wings that snap and flutter in the wind. Her fiberglass hide, while not quite impenetrable, is tough as nails and topped by a scaly non-skid deck that has carried us to distant lands. She accepts only those who are willing to learn her peculiarities and sends others cowering back to the shore. Her race is of vain, moody creatures, mercurial, but without malice. A contented purring and a silky glide under blue skies turns to a grumpy rodeo with nothing more than a passing cloud bank. She instills abysmal fear in some, bottomless greed in others, but still, she’s an unquestionable symbol of adventure and intrepid spirit. Tayrona possesses magical qualities too, speaking telepathically to others of her kind all over the world, and turning sunlight and wind into sweet water, tinkling icicles, and crackling electricity.
Sailboats, like dragons, are insatiable gluttons for treasure, with a ceaseless lust for that which is prized most by mariners. Gleaming stainless, shiny black-gold, and the finest fabrics money can by: it’s the crew’s job to find such plunder, lest her humor turn foul. But behind all this she’s a fiercely loyal friend, who would “wait dutifully at anchor” for us as long as her talons would hold her to the ground. She’s fought across more than thirteen thousand miles of open ocean for us and she’d be ruined on the rocks before letting us come to any harm. Does this make me sad to be leaving her? Unequivocally. Crushingly. More than I can express with words. But men aren’t meant to sail the seas all their lives and sailboats are. So rather than mothball an immortal dragon’s wings, leash her to the earth, and make her wait for us to come back, we’ll find her new riders. We’ll leave her to sailors who will point her bows again into adventure, who will sail her through the winding labyrinth of the Great Barrier Reef, anchor her off headhunter shores in Papua New Guinea, and send her purring out across the endless seas where she’s happiest.
So now it’s time for us to say goodbye to our good Tayrona. Countless thanks to you for ferrying us safely to the other side of the world, for sheltering us against hammering rain and crushing waves, for the people we’ve become in two years before your mast, and for the many lives you’ve touched on this journey. May you carry your new riders far and wide, my good friend. Although they may call you by another name, you’ll always be our Tayrona.
Now enough nostalgia. Go get that horizon, sweet girl!