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Gone to Fiddlers Green- Larry Pardey

September 24, 2020

Last July, I lost one of my sailing icons, Larry Pardey. Since then, I have been reading many online accounts of his sailing resume and accomplishments; all accrues with his wife Lin Pardey. I won’t recount those exploits here, as this is more of a personal nature about my memories.
My memories go back over twenty years. Then I was a landlocked midwestern sailor with dreams of building a boat and going cruising, hardly a unique thought. Reading “Cruising in Seraffyn” helped fuel that dream.
Years passed, with dozens of boat study plans and more Pardey books. Then my first real sailboat (not counting the wooden Sunfish), a 20-foot Matilda with bunks for four and a minimal galley. I sailed her in Ohio then moved her to Tennessee.
In Tennessee, I taught a good friend to sail in her. Then we decided to drive from Tennessee to Annapolis for the annual sailboat show. For the next seventeen years, my wife, Pat, and I attended the show every year.
Early on, we became aware of the cruising seminars held at the Annapolis Marriott and hosted by Cruising World. It was there where we first saw Lin and Larr in person. They were perennial fixtures at the show for a long while.
One year, they attended the show with Seraffyn. They were giving tours for donations to CRAB (Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating). So, for five bucks or so, Pat and I got to go below in Seraffyn. Now by this time, I had watched several of Lin and Larry’s video shot aboard Seraffyn and marveled about the spaces below deck. Then I stepped below deck and realized Seraffyn was ideal, for 4-foot 5-inch Lin.
I remember another time; I don’t remember if it was at a seminar or at a bar afterwards. Larry was talking about the time he and Lin were building Seraffyn. He and a friend were at a local bar having a beer. His friend was in Human Resources at a nearby Lockheed Aircraft Plant. He asked Larry how long he thought the average Lockheed retiree lived. Larry postulated five years? 10 years? No, his friend said, about six months. Larry said right then and there he was never going to have a real job. And he didn’t.
Another story recounted to me, I wasn’t there for this one, took place on the Tuesday morning after the boat show. Now, those of you whom have never been to an Annapolis sailboat show need to know that the show ends at 6:00 pm on Monday. Immediately, boats begin to be moved out to make way for the Powerboat Show starting on Thursday.
So Seraffyn was definitely in the way Tuesday morning. Dock workers banged on the hull. Lin pops out of the foredeck hatch and yells “we’re having sex and we’ll damn well move the boat when we’re done!” Supposedly a true story.
As the years passed, we saw less and less of Lin and Larry. They moved their home base to New Zealand and made fewer trips to the boat show. We heard snippets of their travels now and then. The last book I read was Lin’s “Bull Canyon”, the story of them building Taleisin in the California hills.
So, it came as a shock to me when notices of Larry’s passing began to show up on the Internet. It will do us all good to remember Larry’s admonition “Go small, go NOW”!

PS: From Wikipedia - Fiddler's Green is an after-life where there is perpetual mirth, a fiddle that never stops playing, and dancers who never tire. In 19th-century Anglo maritime folklore, it was a kind of after-life for sailors who had served at least fifty years at sea.


 

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