Fast forward three years from my purchase of the Papagallo. I’m no longer a novice yacht owner. However, Nick, the man who stepped up and befriended me when I was, is no longer here. He has passed away, leaving a hole in our friendship. And sadly, with his death, the time we spent keeping the Papagallo shipshape and the sage advice he gave me on maintenance had come to an end.
During all the time we had worked together I never realized how much pain Nick had been in. How each task must have taxed his dwindling strength. He worked tirelessly, never letting me down, right up until the end of his battle with cancer. And through it all, he never complained. Not once.
Looking back, I understand now the urgency he displayed when he was teaching me how to solve problems onboard. He was always thorough – showing me what steps to take and how to take them when we did repairs – but somehow it seemed we needed to do them faster. He knew his time was short. He also knew that I had a lot to learn. The skills necessary to maintain a yacht don’t come to you over night. He was a wonderful mentor in every sense of the word. And a cherished friend.
Today, I spend most of my early mornings alone, drinking my coffee before my work day begins. I so miss his company – the quiet, calm mornings we spent onboard the Papagallo solving the world’s problems, discussing world events, women, our time in the military, and a hundred other topics. In the end, Nick was convinced the cancer he suffered from was a result of being exposed to weapons testing in Nevada during his hitch in the Air Force. He was one of the last of many in his unit to succumb to this dreadful disease.
If he were still here I believe Nick would be proud of my understanding of the various systems onboard. I think he might even admit that I’ve come a long way. Everyone on the water front misses him and the great service he provided us.
Since his passing, I have had to tackle many repairs on my own, including the raw water pump on the Aft Gen two more times. It was not pretty! I will never be the mechanical genius that Nick was, but that doesn’t keep me from trying and putting into practice the skills he taught me.
Now, whenever I’m faced with a new repair, I pause for a moment and wait for the small voice in the back of my mind to speak. It used to be sad. Now it is respectful. It asks “WHAT WOULD NICK DO?”
The comfort of having a friend may be taken away, but not that of having had one. -Seneca
Miss you man!
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