As this column is being written I’m recovering from having had my right hip replaced on April 8th. If the X-rays are accurate, and there’s no reason to believe they aren’t, I’ll probably have my left hip replaced later this year. In addition, as some alert readers (ARs) may recall, I wrote back in December about having two molars extracted. Since then these molars have been replaced by dental implants and a third molar has been removed. It too will soon be replaced by an implant. Given this litany of surgeries, ARs could quite understandably get the impression that I’m like a car that’s out of warranty, all of whose parts now need to be replaced. I can’t disagree.
While most ARs have probably purchased one or more automobiles over the years, I suspect that very few have undertaken a vehicular purchase as ambitious as that of Stephen and Sara Hale (S’n’S), who are in the process of buying a custom-built sailboat in Argentina, specifically an Antares Catamaran to be named Sorella. As most ARs surely know, S’n’S have worked in a variety of positions at Schlafly in the past 30 years. Stephen is currently an ambassador for the brewery, a role for which he is uniquely qualified. Sara is a loyal Schlafly alumna who left the company over ten years ago in order to join her sister Jamie in starting Fair Shares, a Community Supported Agriculture cooperative. S’n’S now plan to retire and live aboard Sorella.
I am not making this up. ARs who don’t believe me need only look at their website https://sailwiththehales.com . As will be documented on this website, S’n’S are contemplating a very active retirement, not one of sedentary leisure for which many of their contemporaries may opt.
Upon learning about S’n’S’s plans, I was reminded of a book I read as assigned summer reading before my freshman year in high school, Two Years Before the Mast, by Richard Henry Dana, Jr. As ARs who have read the book will recall, it’s Dana’s account of a sea voyage from Boston to California and back starting in 1834. Dana, like Stephen, grew up in New England and was drawn to the sea at an early age. Unlike S’n’S, who will be communicating with us in cyberspace, Dana relied solely on his handwritten diary, which he later published as a book. Unlike the crews on Dana’s ships, Stephen and Sara will be brewing beer on board Sorella. They will also be using much more advanced navigation equipment than was available in the first half of the 19thcentury. And, perhaps most significantly, when Sorella leaves her port in Argentina she will be heading north toward the equator and North America. S’n’S will sensibly avoid emulating the most treacherous part of Dana’s voyage…sailing around Cape Horn at the southern tip of South America.
I read Two Years Before the Mast in the summer of 1962, which was also when I learned how to drive. I was only 13 years old, so all of my instruction took place on private streets with little or no traffic. The car on which I learned was my father’s Corvair, which had a stick shift (four on the floor, to be precise). Three years later, in 1965, consumer advocate Ralph Nader published Unsafe at Any Speed, which is best remembered today for its denunciation of the Corvair as the most dangerous vehicle on the road. I don’t know if my father was at all influenced by Ralph Nader when he subsequently traded in his Corvair for a Chevelle that also had a manual transmission (three on the “tree” or column in popular parlance.)
Reflecting back on these cars over 55 years later leads to two observations. First, if I owned them today they would be 100% protected against theft by almost all millennials and probably some of my fellow baby boomers who never learned how to drive stick shifts. Second, I’m sure both of these cars were consigned to scrap yards long ago, probably at least 50 years ago in the case of the Corvair and at least 45 years ago in the case of the Chevelle. In that context, despite the fact that I’m now out of warranty, the fact that I still have almost all of my original parts after 73 years is still pretty good.
Chairman – The Saint Louis Brewery