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A light, a friendship, and a job done

Eric and Angela, s/v Rouser (Tenacatita)

When we were getting ready to set off cruising in 2002, we received an innocent email from a couple also gearing up to head south that year. The crew of s/v Rouser, Eric and Angela, lived south of us in Olympia (we were still in Seattle at the time), had just found our blog, and were excited to find another couple getting ready to set sail that was also well south of retirement age (27). Since we had never sailed to the south Puget Sound before, we took a week in late July that year to meander down that way and get a personal tour of the town of Olympia from our new friends. We hit it off right from the start and made plans to meet up again in San Francisco in a few weeks. Which we did: right after Michael and I passed under the Golden Gate, Eric and Angela zoomed out in their dinghy off Sausalito to greet us, having arrived the week before.

We sailed together for the most part of the next six months, exploring southern California and the Channel Islands, sailing across the US/Mexican border together, Baja California, crossing over to mainland Mexico to Puerto Vallarta, then down to our most southern anchorage of Tenacatita, where we stayed for a month in January-February 2003. I remember countless evenings spent with what soon felt like old friends: laughter and food and drinks, hikes, exploring small dusty Mexican towns, our New Years road trip inland to Guanajuato, bonfires and music on the beach, sailing side by side to a new destination.

And then, as it always does with while cruising, it came time to say farewell. Rouser was preparing to puddle jump to the Marquesas that spring and had decided to sail farther south to Zihuatanejo to depart from. We were heading north to spend spring in the Sea of Cortez. The day had come when we had to part ways.

It was a teary afternoon; we said our goodbyes quickly. We said we would keep in touch via email (which we did) and visit together in the future (which we have). Angela is from Minnesota so we gave them a copy of Lake Wobegon Days to read on their way across the much bigger lake. They gifted us with a nice tri-color/anchor light that they had as a spare, inscribed. I think Michael had always lamented that Pelican did not have a tri-color at the top of her mast, which would be much more visible at night than our deck-level navigation lights when sailing. We were touched that our friends wanted us to be visible too.

Eric and Angela made it all the way to New Zealand, and we made it all the way back to Seattle. Our gift never made it to the top of Pelican’s mast for reasons I can’t recall now. But we’ve toted that bubble-wrapped light around with us for eight years, through another boat and two houses. Now on Wondertime we were hardly surprised to find out that she didn’t feature a nice tri-color light, but a burned-out rusty single anchor light at the top of her mast.

Now she does. Our beloved gifted tri-color light is sporting new high-efficiency LED bulbs up at the top of Wondertime’s mast. We now shine brightly in the night sky. Friendship made visible.


  1. That is a great story, thanks for sharing.

  2. Great story. Wish I had friends like that! Oh, wait, I do! I love your last line: “Friendship made visible.” It was certainly always tangible to us. Looking forward to further sailing adventures with you both! Secretly glad that Wondertime came to you sans tri-color!!! 🙂