Thanks, Eric-I guess the time has come, if you would, to please place a notation after my name on the Owner's Registry-"retired with honor 03/07/04". That was the day I removed the metal shields from her sides and the plate from the head.*
She was christened la Belle Vie (the Good Life) on Sept. 9, 1969. Her number, 566, indicated she was the 66th. Col26MkII built in the Portsmouth, VA yard-their block of numbers started with 501.
In all the years I owned her, she took a lot better care of me than I could have ever taken care of her-affording me not just a sailboat but an entire lifestyle built around her-a reality I created to avoid "dealing with the land"-a place where I do not do well. As the major part of this lifestyle, I was the entertainer at Cabbage Key, Pine Island Sound, Florida, where nearly every weekend from October 1984 to July 1997 I sailed over from Burnt Store Marina on the east side of Charlotte Harbor and lived aboard while I played in the lounge and made a lot of people happy as they escaped "the real world", and, at least temporarily, joined my world:
Check out Randy Wayne White's Doc Ford books Captiva and North of Havana - I'm mentioned, by name, (one sentence) in both of them.
I could not have done it without la Belle Vie.
And so it was.
* Columbia placed the manufacturer's ID plate on a cabinet in the head. - Eric
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