Sunday, January 28, 2007

11/12/06: A Star of a Day

After church (or should I say churches -- we attended both Alpine Anglican of the Blessed Trinity and Lake Murray EV Free), The kids and I met up with my parents, my brother, and his two kiddos. After a quick lunch at Del Taco, we drove out to Cabrillo Point, at the very tippy end of Point Loma. Today, the Star of India, the flagship of San Diego's Maritime Museum, sailed out of San Diego Bay, an annual occurrence lately, but one that was long in coming during my childhood.

You see, my family has a connection or two with this lovely lady, the oldest ship still sailing in the entire world.

She was a wreck, our lady was. Docked at the Embarcadero in downtown San Diego, she sat there, rotting away for simply years. Then, in the early 70s, someone had the brilliant idea to overhaul the Star and sail her for the Bicentennial in '76. She was made shipshape with mucho effort and money, and she indeed sailed that bright, windy, Bicentennial Fourth of July. And we sailed with her.

Yep, in a Coronado 25 -- a small, humble boat. Just after my tenth birthday, we set sail to watch the Star of India on her first voyage in nearly fifty years. I only remember watching her through the agony of seasickness, but my parents tell the tale of our motor going out, and our near collision with this lovely lady of the seas. With Coast Guard boats flashing their blue warning lights at us, we were helplessly in the path of the Star. My parents got the sails up somehow and we got out of the way just in time, ending the day with a tow back to Southwestern Yacht Club and an indelible memory of taking part in a sweet day of San Diego history.

Plus, the Star of India was built in the Ramsay Shipyard on the Isle of Man -- that insignificant dot of an island between Britain and Ireland on most maps. And my great-great grandfather, a Quayle of Ramsay, hails from the same town that birthed the Star of India in 1863.

So, the Star and our family -- we share a bit of history. And watching her return into the bay this afternoon, her jib and spanker still up despite the tugboat hauling her in (the winds were only good for sailing out of the harbor, not back in) drew tears to my eyes. As we drove back down the Point on our way home, we could still see her over the white hallowed ground of Fort Rosecrans Cemetery, a dashing lady of another time, coming home to San Diego, her place in our history and our hearts, once again.

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