It Took Them "Just a Minute" to Buy the Boat and Head South
The e-mail arrived in mid-December under a one-word subject line that read, simply, "Irresponsibility." It went on: "Not sure who I should blame for this. Quit my job, sold my house, and moved my family (dog included) onto a catamaran! Currently 80 degrees here in La Paz, Mexico, and overall we're having a great time. Take care, Patrick."
I gulped hard. For I knew that, though I was certainly not guilty of any transgressions regarding squandered employment or large real-estate transactions, I wasn't entirely blameless here, either. For instance: the catamaran. Um, yeah, that'd been my idea.
But I'm getting ahead of the story.
I'd first laid eyes on Patrick Harrigan last May while delivering the Bruce Roberts-designed 64-foot Ocean Watch from Mexico to San Francisco. Skipper Mark Schrader had purchased the boat for the upcoming Around the Americas' Expedition, of which I'm a crewmember. Mark and I were both anxious to shake the boat down in preparation for the voyage ahead. But Patrick was there for a whole different reason. The brother of Mark's business partner, Neil Harrigan, he'd come aboard to learn the literal and figurative ropes in advance of a monumental decision. He was going to shed his old life and get on with a new one. He was going cruising.
There was only, you know, one small problem. He didn't know how to sail.
From the outset, I could see this wasn't going to be a major hurdle for Patrick to clear. He was clearly comfortable around the water, had done a lot of fishing, was familiar with boats, and seemed to be quite resourceful. But the thing he really had going for him was what I believe is perhaps the most underrated but essential trait for any long-range sailor: He had a great sense of humor.
Patrick peppered Mark and me with every question imaginable before he left the boat in San Diego to get back to work. But the one inquiry he kept returning to was at the same time both the hardest and the most straightforward. What sort of boat should he buy? He'd been looking at all manner of monohulls in the mid-40-foot range back home in the state of Washington, but there was a hitch to all of them. The Harrigans, it seemed, weren't going anywhere without their big Labrador, Rudy, and the matter of getting the pooch up and down companionways and into and out of dinghies presented a serious conundrum.