I wasn’t in your fan club. Two adventurers from opposite ends of the spectrum, we didn’t gel. I found sailing with you difficult and frustrating and come the end of our trip together, I was happy to leave your company without a backward glance. But … I was in a minority of one. What does that say about me? More importantly, what does that say about you?
It’s not only today that people who knew you have posted flattering, loving comments about you. They always have. Your kindness, your patience, your sense of fun have all been admired by the many who love you and I respect every single person that has ever enjoyed your company.
It wasn’t all bad – I loved to hear you sing, I appreciated that you watched me and another crew member suffer a massive fit of giggles in an Oostend bar (neither of us were drinking, we were just – high on life) without understanding the joke. I loved to hear that you were a wrestler, a stunt pilot, a ship builder and I admired that you knew your ship from keel to t’gallant because you were there at her inception. And I am grateful that you allowed me to fulfil a long-held ambition to sail on a square-rigger. I met many, many people who I still hold dear seven years later. So, thank you.
I will not pretend to have changed how I feel because that would be false, and I am not a liar, but I am sad. I have shed tears. A man like you should only have left this world after being struck by lightning – twice – but none of us can choose how we exit life (unless by our own hand.) You weren’t electrified by the heavens but you are still absent from this world and there is a vacuüm because of that.
Unlike you, I don’t have a god or a faith and I don’t believe that you will ever know what I have written here. I am writing for me – and for any of your friends that might read this – but I want you, and your loved ones who will be in such pain, to know that you were a mighty man. A captain, a seafarer, a shanty singer and a person of note who will be remembered as a one-off, an unrepeatable man of many talents.
Goodbye Ian, safe sailing in your heaven.