As construction of the boat progressed, I would occasionally tell Andy Bike what was going on. On our rides I heard about Bike’s travels, his family, and the music he liked. One day when I told him that I was going paddling instead of biking, he showed up with a Wee Rob Canoe he had built himself. Eventually I found out that he had once owned a sailboat too.
One of my next boat challenges was deciding whether to make the sails from a kit or have them custom made. Despite their simple appearance, sails are both hard to make and costly. A pair of new sails on an old boat (like the one I’d recently owned) can be worth more than the boat itself.
“Hey, Andy,” I asked Bike one day as we were riding along the riverfront path. “What did you do, anyway, before you became a stay-at-home-dad”
Andy looked casually at me. “I was a sailmaker.”
I nearly collided with an oncoming lycra-clad jogger. Did I hear that right, I wondered, possibly aloud. This must be more than just a coincidence. First I’d met Andy Boat, when the odds of finding the boat I wanted seemed low, and he was building it for me. Now, just when I had to decide about the sails, this new Andy turned out to have a secret past that might move the project forward.
As soon as I regained my composure, I queried Bike about his salty credentials. “So Andy, why didn’t you tell me you were a sailmaker when I first told you about the boat?”
He shrugged. “I didn’t want to impose, since we were sort-of new friends.”
“Okay, and when I asked if you got out on the water much when you lived in Seattle, you said not much. What gives?”
He shrugged again. “Well, relative to other people, I wasn’t out there all the time.”
It occurred to me later that perhaps I should have read something more into the e-mail Bike wrote when I first sent him a picture of my boat: “I think there’s a requirement to wear a coarse-knit turtle-neck wool sweater to sail a boat like that. You might have to grow your beard a little longer to fit the part too. It’s a beautiful boat though. Love the juxtaposition of the horizontal hull lines and the vertical seamed sails. Not at all like wearing vertical stripe pants with horizontal stripe shirt.”
Yes, I’d definitely missed some major signs.
When I discovered that Andy still had all his sailmaking equipment and sailcloth, I sheepishly asked if he’d help me make the sails. He agreed, sounding almost as excited about the project as I was. This was more than just good fortune. It was like a magical gift. It was a big deal that Andy was a sailmaker, and sure, it was nice that he had all the equipment, but the magic was that I would unexpectedly get to build something with a good friend, something that would provide wonderful experiences for years to come.