I walked past striking people today as I climbed off Del Viento. Not striking in the fighting-for-improved-working-conditions sense, these were strikingly attractive, perfectly put-together people. There were a dozen of them, talking amongst themselves as they breezed by in casual clothes, everything about them so together, so flawless. I nodded as we passed. Our eyes didn’t meet. They smelled clean.
Now, it’s possible I might not have noticed this group were they, say in Paris, seated in a snazzy restaurant overlooking the rue des Petits-Champs, lost in a crowd of oenophiles. But we walked by each other on the transient docks in Auke Bay, Alaska.
Auke Bay, Alaska: fifteen miles north of Juneau, 58 degrees north latitude, population: barely a few thousand.
But unassuming Auke Bay is a jumping off point for Glacier Bay National Park. This is the reason that some of the largest privately-owned yachts (Ice Bear, Athena, Lady Christine, Compass Rose) are here, awaiting their owners, their guests, and their turn to enter the Park—just like Del Viento.
To put the size of that retro-snazzy inboard inflatable in perspective, that's a 47-foot beam on Vibrant Curiosity.
Windy’s brother and one of our nephews (Oliver) are flying up from San Francisco and then we’ll leave Auke Bay for the two-day trip to one of the most lauded cruising grounds in the world. (We’ll soon learn whether it lives up to the hype.) Anyone can enter 5,100-square-mile Glacier Bay, but the National Park Service requires reservations to limit the number of boats in there at any time. We got our seven-day reservation two months ago before leaving Victoria.
I continued to the top of the ramp where half-a-dozen red-jacketed crew busily unloaded fine-looking luggage from three limousines. I turned back to the docks to watch the striking people being helped aboard one of two Vibrant Curiosity tenders tied to the dock. They were little kids with their 30-something parents, they were 40-something couples, they were 60-something people.
I’ll admit I’d sell one of my kids for a week—okay, for a couple days—aboard the 280-foot-long Vibrant Curiosity, looking striking and smelling good. Windy probably won't let that happen, but I can take solace in something else. Aboard Del Viento, sharing a dock with these obscene yachts, I'm reminded of the power of even a modest, capable boat, able to transform the forces of nature into motion, along a big blue path to some of the most desirable places in the world. No matter what you look like (or smell like).
In our twenties, we traded our boat for a house and our freedom for careers. In our thirties, we slumbered through the American dream. In our forties, we woke and traded our house for a boat and our careers for freedom. And here we are. Follow along at http://www.logofdelviento.blogspot.com/