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The Long Run

Traveling the Maine coast with one of the most famous passagemaking couples of the modern era is instructive and meaningful.

The 62-foot Northern Marine trawler, Spirit of Zopilote.

Kessler’s 62-foot Northern Marine trawler, Spirit of Zopilote.

Bruce Kessler (circumnavigator, passagemaker, racecar driver, Hollywood director) and I have been friends for three decades. Annually, at each of the big boat shows, we get together for a meal to catch up on what’s been going on in our lives. Sometimes Joan, Bruce’s wife of 46 years now, comes along and sometimes his buddy Jo Swirling comes too. Often, others get factored in, all friends, all boaty people we love.

Over the past couple of years, one thing in particular has come to dominate the conclusions of our jolly repasts—Bruce’s invitation to my wife and me to spend a week during the upcoming summer, cruising the coast of Maine on board his 62-foot Northern Marine trawler Spirit of Zopilote. “Bring your wife,” he suggests with a smile, “and we’ll all have a good time. I’ll have a rental car—I’ll pick you up at the Bar Harbor airport.”

The stars aligned last summer as never before. BJ and I took Bruce up on his kind offer and, of course, he was as good as his word. When we arrived at BHB, there he sat on a bench just outside, rental car at the ready, ever the consummate boat guy, dressed in faded blue jeans, faded T-shirt, scuffed deck shoes, and a worn baseball cap emblazoned: Spirit of Zopilote.

“Well, well, well,” he said, evincing a special sort of warmth that’s all his own, “here you are.”

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