As many of you know, we recently added a Watt and Sea Hydrogenerator to Gargoyle in the hopes of allowing us to power our hungry beast across oceans while leaving as small an ecological footprint as possible. What you may not know is that this Watt and Sea comes with more than just a few miles on it. It also comes with a memory.
It was 2016 and we had just purchased Gargoyle with plans to sail her around the world. We knew she was a sound design but the voices of some that doubt a Beneteau’s ability to sail the world safely lead to nagging concerns. One day while discussing needed upgrades to Gargoyle, First Yachts, our Beneteau team in Vancouver, mentioned that our sister ship, Turnagain, was here in Vancouver. Her owner could provide us with tips in preparing for offshore sailing and calm our nerves.
Turnagain’s owner, Travis McGregor, turned out to be exactly what we needed. Travis had visited the Beneteau factory during the build of his yacht and happily shared pictures of our two boats as they were built side by side. Turnagain is hull #11 while Gargoyle is #12. Once Travis had taken delivery of Turnagain, he quickly pressed her into service as a family cruiser but also, more importantly to us, as an offshore racer. Turnagain competed in many offshore races with Travis at her helm, including several Vic Maui races including a division win in 2018. This hard use and Travis’ tips about the parts that were prone to break in the demanding race were enough to assure us of our Beneteau’s readiness for our big adventure. It was also these tips that helped cement our friendship.
It was the first week of the 2018 Vic Maui and Turnagain was once again at sea and racing. Early in the morning my phone rang, and I was surprised to see that it was First Yachts. This team of experts kept both Gargoyle and Turnagain in prime shape. They were a bit out of breath as they explained that Travis had contacted them and that once again, as in the 2016 race, he was experiencing issues with his quadrant. That was not unexpected as one of Travis’ key pieces of advice for us was to ALWAYS have a spare quadrant aboard as they were the only thing with which he had experienced consistent issues. Even though we had no plans to push Gargoyle as hard as Travis did when racing, we had taken that advice and had a spare quadrant, just in case. Funny enough though, Travis did NOT have one on Turnagain and he had contacted First Yachts to see if he could borrow ours as his was showing cracks and signs of failure. Shortly after, a courier was dispatched to our boat and our quadrant was off to the rescue. We joked after the race: why carry spares when you can just have a sister ship store them for you?
After this we often exchanged texts and emails. When Travis was in the Galapagos we took note of all his stops, vowing to one day repeat this trip. As we sailed down the coast of California and posted pictures of the journey to social media, we received a text from Travis to stop in his favorite California port, Morro Bay. We did just that and it turned out to be our favorite as well.
It was November 2019, and we were leaving the US and preparing to tackle the coast of Mexico. We had acquired Expedition software as our weather routing solution and, while we had mastered the basics, we were relying on an expert, Travis, to provide us with an online tutorial. We emailed Travis to arrange a day and time for him to guide us novice navigators and continued our preparations. Uncharacteristically, we received no answering email. We continued south but still no word from Travis. This was quite uncharacteristic for Travis as he always had time for a friend. We assumed he must be offshore sailing and that we would hear from him eventually. Sadly, that was not to be. On November 10th, as we were preparing to depart San Diego for the Pacific coast of Mexico, Travis had died in a diving accident off his beloved BC coast.
Gone But Still Helping
But that is not where our story with Travis ends. As we anchored off another of Travis’ favorites, San Cristobal, Galapagos, we were discussing a need to add more passage power to Gargoyle – exactly the type of scenario where a year prior we would have reached out to Travis for his advice. Instead, we called the team at First Yachts, and there he was again for us, ready to help. You see, Travis had decided it was time to upgrade his well-used Turnagain and he had ordered one of the first new Oceanis 51.1s, fully equipped for racing. In preparation, he had removed the Watt and Sea 600 and left it in storage, ready to be mounted on his new Beneteau. That never happened but the Watt and Sea was there in storage, just waiting for her owner. We would still have to navigate the travails of international shipping but with the funds from our purchase going to Travis’ estate, this was an easy decision for us. Shortly after, we departed the Galapagos for Panama. A month later, the Watt and Sea joined us.
It is said that no one is truly gone while their name is still spoken. And in the quiet of those long night watches, when the memories of those that we miss come to visit, we will again hear his words in the whispering of the sea.
“One lives in the hope of becoming a memory.” Antonio Porchia