Recently in one of our videos (Ep #36), we invited another patron to come aboard La Vagabonde; Ian McLean from New South Wales, Australia. He actually just celebrated his 60th birthday on the weekend (Happy birthday Ian!!). Unfortunately Ian was unable to come aboard but the story he has left us with is something that has touched us all. With Ian’s blessing, we are honoured we can share his families story…..
Dear Riley & Elayna,
Please let me give you the brief version of the cockpit story…sorry to indulge….won’t take long and will give you an insight into why I am pushing myself to finish the boat rebuild. …and why I must bid you fair winds and happy sailing without me.
Please regard this as a happy story even though it starts off sad…
We lost my beautiful bride Thea, to MND (Motor Neurone Disease) in September 2013….and it has been a tough journey for the boys and I ever since. She was 15, and I 16 when we met and we were soul mates all our lives (see pic of Thea taken in the Whitsundays on Maxi Ragamuffin years ago…which is also on a plaque at Palm Beach overlooking our favourite snorkelling and swimming area there…. see pic of her view from the rock we have her plaque on looking over Palm Beach…and a pic of us both together at Seal Rocks where we went surfing for years).
She was a lover of all living things, in particular, dolphins, turtles and whales. Thea also worked at the local Koala Park.
When I lost her I visited the Coffs Harbour dolphins and gave them a pat and kiss from her..(see pic attached)..we were planning to take her to swim with them however she was too ill to make the trip by that stage. The pieces of coral and shell around my neck she wore daily….gifts over the years from our children.
In 1998 I came home from work one day and Thea said “ I have found us a boat”…..and we purchased CYNTHIA…a Perry 35 sloop. (what man would be foolish enough not to buy the boat his wife found and recommended …right?)
We had many happy years sailing with our children which I am forever grateful to her for. It kept us very close as a family, in and around the water that we loved so dearly. We reluctantly sold her in 2005.
In January, 2015 (last year) my oldest son asked me to look at a yacht he was considering buying whilst he was in Queensland. I grabbed my youngest son (a yacht rigger) and we both arranged to see the boat…Whilst discussing the boat, and sailing in the region, the conversation with the yacht broker went as follows:
Broker: “You seem to know a fair bit about sailing around Pittwater”
Me: ‘Yes….we used to have a boat at Palm Beach and sailed here all the time”
Broker “Really….what sort of yacht?”
Me: “A Perry 35”
Broker: “That’s a coincidence…I have only just listed one of them for sale at my Middle Harbour office”
Me: (knowing there were only about 5 of them in New South Wales..I asked)..”Really ..what is she called?”
Broker “ CYNTHIA..”
My son stared at me and I at him without speaking….an emotional moment.
The chances of us being out there with a broker we had never met, on that day, and striking up that conversation…it was serendipity.
To cut a long story short…..I instantly, via the broker, bought CYNTHIA back off the fellow I had sold her to all those years ago, and we have as a family been rebuilding her ever since. The final work is taking place by the shipwrights and electricians over the next 2 or so months. My oldest son who is a Producer of film in advertising etc is filming a short story about her re-berth…and we are planning to have it all completed by the third anniversary of us losing Thea in September. I will sail her to the Whitsundays August 2017 where we loved to sail.
Therefore, CYNTHIA (we used to joke it was short for …SINFUL THEA…..badly spelt) is a project that means so much to myself and the boys that all things become secondary.
A great story for us….and now my Grandchildren will sail on the boat that has come back into the family that their late Grandmum loved so dearly…so all is well with the world.
Hoping you do take up the offer to sail with us in Sydney one day, and that my name may go back into your computer, and be lucky enough to be redrawn again one day in the future…who knows…serendipity does happen you know
Happy sailing, love each other and cherish each and every day Elayna and Riley.
Cheers for now you Vagabonds.
Ian…… Andrew and Daniel McLean…and CYNTHIA..
To the McLean family, we are so sorry for your loss, there is not a dry eye amongst us. We admire the strong bond you have built as a family, the values you live by and the strength and determination you show in honoring Thea’s passing. Thea sounded like such a beautiful, peaceful soul, she would be so proud. The story of Cynthia is truly an amazing one. We wish you all the best with the rebuild, look forward to the documentary and hope to come aboard Cynthia some time in the future.
With lots of love,
Sailing La Vagabonde