Since I do a little freelance work for the Galveston Historical Foundation, I often get to go sailing on the Tall Ship Elissa, a restored 1877 iron barque that the foundation purchased in 1975 and runs as a floating museum. It's manned by a volunteer crew throughout the year, but in the spring captains from New England come down to take Elissa on day sails out into the Gulf of Mexico. Above is Captain Barry King from Maine. He's been an officer on the Elissa each spring that I've been sailing on her, but seeing him every year causes a little uneasiness on my part. You see, in 1987 when I was fresh out of college I began working at the University of Texas Medical Branch. And a photographer who worked there named Roger Stone, just happened to be in the office across the hall from me. And while I proofread typeset galleys and set about learning graphics on a Mac Plus, Roger became a friend -- someone I looked up to and would talk to about finding my way in the field of graphics and photography. He was by far one of the most easygoing and giving people you'd ever want to meet. On top of that, he was a sailor and a great photographer. He did fantastic infrared work in the time when it didn't mean just screwing on a filter or moving some sliders in Photoshop. He did it with film.
Tragically, Roger was killed in a sailing accident about a year and a half ago helping to save other sailors from Texas A&M University while on a regatta in the Gulf of Mexico. Here's a link to the story. You'll also see a photo of Roger there. And I think you'll also see why I feel so uneasy when I see Barry King. The two share an uncanny resemblance -- both in looks and through their love of sailing.
So when I'm out on the Elissa with Captain Barry King I think of my friend Roger Stone. Whether it's rough seas or no wind at all, the Elissa heads out for sea trials every spring -- ensuring she's seaworthy and making sure she's strong enough to endure the inevitable onslaught of nature. Because as we stare at the horizon we'll never know what terrible ... or sad ... or teriffic things lie ahead.