I’m sitting on the foredeck aboard the gorgeous Tres Gatos sailboat on a beautiful summer evening, sun in my eyes and wind in my hair. We’re surrounded by dozens of boats at full sail here on Elliott Bay. Behind us downtown Seattle shimmers as the sun starts to slide toward the jagged Olympic Mountains on the western horizon.
It’s breathtaking. It’s so Seattle.
Although I’m just along for the ride, our skilled crew skippered by Bruce Hedrick is busy working the sails and ropes. After a tight turn around the last buoy bobbing in Puget Sound like a giant chocolate chip, we’re solidly in first place with no challengers. Which is just perfect.
You see, this is the Tom Rutten Memorial Race, the last in the 2011 Downtown Seattle Sailing series out of Elliott Bay Marina. Tom, who tragically died way too young 3 years ago, was one of the co-founders and organizers of this series. He was adored in the Seattle sailing community for his wicked sense of humor, incredible knowledge, dedication to the sport, and his, well, Tom-ness.
The man was truly one-of-a-kind. His brother Andy is part of our crew this evening. Tom, who was just 2 months older than me, was my first cousin.
Although I never sailed with Tom, I’m feeling his absence tonight. But how can I be sad with such a glorious backdrop?
Everyone is having a good time. That would have made Tom happy. I’m happy just to be here, to feel the chill in the wind after the sun sets, to see the camaraderie amongst everyone on board even though some of us have just met, to once again be awed by the view of Mount Rainier turning strawberry ice cream pink on the southern horizon.
Life is grand here in the Pacific Northwest. I try to remember that every single minute.
May you, too, wherever you are.