Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A few words about Marty

The memorial service for our friend was this afternoon.

Marty was a sailor. He died sailing. For those of his family and friends who don't know sailing, I'd like to try to explain what sailing meant to him, and what he meant to those of us who sailed with him.

For me, the universe changed that day. We knew something was wrong, but not what. Larry was sitting on his boat, hunched up, looking like ice. He said, "Marty's at the bottom of the lake. He went under; he didn't come up."

That did not compute. Not Marty. Not the ever-so-reliable Marty that we could always count on to be there when he was needed. Not the quiet, supportive Marty. Not the gentle, understanding Marty. No. It couldn't be. He couldn't possibly be gone.

But he was.

Marty was the most loyal sailor ever to sail with Larry on Constellation. He was devoted to the team. He showed up for every regatta, unless he was traveling somewhere with Paulette. We could count on him. And he always brought sandwiches; one of the bonuses when I sailed on Constellation was that I knew I would always have lunch – even if Marty forgot to leave the mayonnaise off mine.

As crew, Marty was the most devoted. He never gave up, never slacked off. He gave everything to running the boat, whether it was getting drenched on the foredeck or hauling lines in the cockpit. He may not always have been graceful – I gave him the blog nickname "Twinkle Toes" as an ironic comment, and at the end of one rough day I came off the boat with a bruise on my calf with the exact tread pattern of his boot – but he always put his whole self into what he was doing.

Off the water, Marty was also the best crew a skipper could ever have. He gave generous gifts to Larry for the boat, and he once traveled to El Paso to attend an awards ceremony in Larry's honor.

Marty also had his own sailboat, Windependent. He spent hundreds, possibly thousands, of hours working on that boat. It was something of a running joke among Larry's crew – this isn't exactly a high-performance boat, and there's always something breaking. But a couple of years ago, Marty had done a major overhaul, including replacing the mast. Some of the very best sailing experiences I've ever had have been on board Windependent – most especially the 2008 Anniversary Cup. That was a peak experience, a crew and boat tuned to each other, like a symphony orchestra – and on that day, the only thing that broke on the boat was one of my fingernails. We won the regatta. The euphoria from that day lasted for months.

Marty was quiet, easy to overlook. He tended to fade into the background, especially when louder people were around. But he was always there, a quiet presence, observing, with a knowing smile and a twinkle in his blue eyes. I loved seeing that smile. I don't know that he ever knew that I saw it.

Everybody loved Marty. In a sailing club, as in any organization, there will be people who don't get along with each other, who have personality clashes. But as far as I know, nobody ever had any beef with Marty. I've never heard anybody say anything negative about him – ever. He just didn't have conflicts.

Losing Marty has left me with a hole in my heart. Yeah, we can come out with the cliché that he died doing what he loved. And there's some truth in that, and some comfort. But it's not enough.

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Blogger Baydog said...

We all know someone like Marty, don't we?

Sun May 16, 12:07:00 AM MDT  
Blogger O Docker said...

Your words have helped me understand the bond you felt with your friend, Carol Anne.

I'm sure they were a comfort to those who heard them.

Sometimes it's the quiet people in our lives who have the most to teach us.

Sun May 16, 12:08:00 AM MDT  
Blogger bonnie said...

I have to say that I'm still shocked that I am reading this here. So sad & so sobering.

I always do my spring boating safety rants because this is such a bad time of year for things to happen - but it's supposed to be unknown "somebodies" that that happens to, "somebodies" who you can just assume didn't know the risks & wasn't properly prepared for them (just had one of those in Long Island Sound last weekend - young man borrowed a kayak on the same day when all us East Coast boaters were putting "Boating plans cancelled, too windy" on Facebook).

It's not supposed to happen to somebody who's an experienced sailor, somebody who I've enjoyed read about in one of my favorite blogs. Still hard to believe that it did, or imagine what it's like for him, his family & all of the people who loved to sail with him.

I know I've said it about 10 times already, but I am so, so sorry.

Mon May 17, 08:53:00 AM MDT  
Blogger Carol Anne said...

Thanks, all. Yes, Marty's quietness was his strength.

Bonnie, so true ... and one of the television news reports made it sound like Marty WAS one of those ignorant saps. That was the report that corrected the one that made Marty sound like a State Parks employee.

Mon May 17, 07:12:00 PM MDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

Your letter about Marty was beautiful.

Thu May 20, 08:15:00 PM MDT  

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