Farewell to Skip Allan’s S/V Wildflower

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Anyone who has ever run before a gale knows how exhilarating it can be. On the right boat, in the right conditions, the adrenaline rush is as intense as any we’ll feel in this world. Bull riders, surfers, and skydivers get a few seconds of excitement. An ocean gale can last for days ... and that’s where the problem lies. With your senses completely in tune with the boat, wind, and sea, the experience of hurtling down an ocean wave stirs the soul. But as the hours pass and day turns to night, the thrill gives way to exhaustion. Mostly, you’re too busy to be afraid, but each mountain of green water that fills the cockpit brings doubt. How high will these waves get? How long can I last? Even with a drogue streaming off the stern to slow down the boat, running before storm-driven waves entails a great deal of risk. There’s danger enough aboard a fully crewed boat, as the rig, sails, and steering gear get pushed to the brink.
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Darrell Nicholson, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.

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