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Indrek Lepson


When I was in Hawaii in September 1977, I met D'arcy Whiting, a sail maker from New Zealand, at the Waikiki Yacht Club.


We got on well, shared many beers and stories, and he said that if I ever got to New Zealand, to look him up.


That came to be, but not as a joyful reunion.

After surviving a near beaching at Tanna, the volcano island, we set our course for Napier, the final leg of our journey.

Daily, we tuned in to the marine transmissions from New Zealand, for bulletins of marine interests and weather forecasts.

It was during the same gale, when we celebrated another thousand-mile milestone, when I deep-sixed (poured overboard) our celebratory bottle of "fine French wine".*


After dinner, we tuned in to the daily marine broadcast, and heard a "To all ships" bulletin, to be on the lookout for a missing sailor.


He was on his way to New Zealand, and had not been heard from for several days, having previously been in daily contact. A chill ran through me.

The missing sailor was D'arcy's son.


Throughout the night, either Barbara or I were on deck, hoping to see or hear (impossible in those conditions) something, and during the day, we were scanning the sea, hoping for a glimpse of something, anything.

The thought that a fellow sailor was out there, somewhere, in distress, was difficult to imagine.


We continued to look the following night, and day.


He was declared missing at sea. No trace of his boat was ever found.

I never met him, but, as a fellow sailor, I felt a deep kinship to him.

'Tis ever true; "The sea is a cruel mistress".


*Kirjutan hiljem, miks valasin pudeli "head" prantsuse veini merre.


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