The grand Laschever sailing tradition began ignominiously, or shall we say inauspiciously. Oh let’s just be frank, the Laschever sailing tradition began badly. Fred Laschever, my father, took up sailing in his thirties. In the mid-1960’s he bought a Snark, an 11 foot, Styrofoam hulled, lateen-rigged sailboat. It cost him around $99. On his maiden voyage on Princeton’s Lake Carnegie, he capsized her. When the mast stuck in the mud, he climbed on the upturned hull and waited until the fire department rescued him. I dimly recall driving to the lake to welcome him ashore.
Undaunted, my father graduated to larger boats and larger water bodies. Sailfishes and Sunfishes on Lake Shwartzwood in northern New Jersey became a staple of Laschever summers. Here, my father taught my brothers and me the fine points of sailing, such as how to capsize the boat, stand on the center board, and right her. Oh, we also learned our points of sail and to always sail upwind so we could run home. Sailing solo from our dock with my father’s encouragement was a right of passage that opened my brothers and me, each in our turn, to that special freedom that sailors know.
The Pog, as he became known in his later years, was best man at my wedding and lived to see Eulalie, his daughter-in-law, earn her captain’s license and sail to the South Pacific and back to Hawaii. Her ocean crossing and my father’s death in 2009, moved my own dormant cruising dreams to the front burner. Sail away soon, I thought, or regret it.
As we prepared to depart Seattle in 2013, Eulalie and I were practicing yoga. Yoga helped us manage our stress and kept us limber for the boat gymnastics to come. A month before we left, our instructor invited the class to meditate as we concluded our session. Pick an image and focus on it her voice thrummed. And so I focused.
Once again, I was casting off from a dock, the Pog ashore encouraging me as a warm breeze caught my sail and I left him on land. My mind let go as my father’s presence filled my heart. My class mates later told me that sobbing was not unusual during meditation and was in fact a good thing. But of course, I already knew.
So Pog. The grand Laschever sailing tradition lives on, as do you in my heart.
Happy father’s day Pog, on whatever distant shore this may find you.
Eleazer Frederick Laschever