After the thrill of arriving in the U.S. had worn off, there was the prospect of selling the boat. Sandy and Erica were keen to be on their own. There was talk of going to Europe to buy a yacht and sailing it back to New Zealand. Dooley was anxious to be with his family and back to work in New Zealand. I don’t get the impression that any of them fell in love with San Francisco and the American way of life.
Dooley stayed long enough to see the sights. His visit to the redwood forest being one of his fond memories of his stay. His trip home to New Zealand was a series of flights, hopping from island to island, many of which they had visited on their way north.
Sandy and Erica stayed behind in San Francisco to tend to business. Apparently someone had offered to buy the boat, but the deal included some land in trade. The brothers were not prepared to accept this. Erica never forgave this refusal as she saw it as the pivotal moment in what was in store.
I’m not sure how much they had hoped to get from the sale of Leda. Apparently yacht sales were slow in 1954. The economy of the United States had entered a recession about the time our crew landed in San Francisco. Brief reading about this time period suggests that the recession was mostly consumer driven due to pessimism over interest rates. The Federal Reserve had implemented a restrictive policy to fight inflation that never happened. I guess some things never change. The result was that luxury items like sailing yachts did not sell well, even in places like well-healed San Francisco.
1954 passed and 1955 came along. The couple were making contacts in the community. In April of 1955, Sandy joined a crew to deliver a yacht from Newport Beach (south of Los Angeles), to San Francisco. The yacht with a crew of five was run down during the night by a freighter somewhere near Santa Barbara. All hands were lost.
This was a tragedy on many levels. Not the least of which being that Sandy’s young wife was left with a yacht she needed to sell, little money to support herself and in a land where she had no support group. Despite speaking with Erica about this, some details are vague. She was uncomfortable speaking about her experience and I was uncomfortable asking her about it. Suffice to say that she was in a bad situation, her dreams were shattered and her husband gone.
Every person I have ever heard speak about Sandy had loved him. He was apparently intelligent and witty and not without charm. Dooley was not in the same dire situation as Erica, but felt the loss deeply.
Leda was eventually sold. I’m not sure at what price. Dooley told me it barely covered expenses for materials. Erica suggested she had accepted any cash offer. It was a sad ending to a grand adventure.
Next: Leda in The U.S.A.
Previous: Across The Pacific