by Robert A. Mayers
Aye, unseen we heard your siren’s mournful wail from back in the bone yard where there were no footprints in the snow.
Bennies gone, pack ice on the Shrewsbury, your spectral presence was masked by autumn’s arrivals.
We found a disheveled hulk with scared keel embedded in the gray ice, close by the river from whence you came.
Remnants of rigging, shreds of a jib and sagging crosstrees were evidence of many lonely winters on the hard.
The sensual curve of your tea clipper bow and flowing sheer, raked masts now horizontal and patina on golden brass, revealed your royal lineage. Yarbrough named you Four Winds.
What mysteries does your hand worn tiller and dark hold conceal? Where are the mariners who promised to return? Did they make that final voyage into unknown seas?
You cried out to us to bring back your elegance, and with tenderness we burnished every inch of your sun bleached decks.
Bright work freshened, your golden mermaids gleam again, even under clouds.
Dolphins cavort on the gunwales and your stepped masts once more point to heaven.
Sails burst into a snow squall as your whole being shivers with rapture when the brine again embraces.
Proud as a Marine sergeant major in dress blues, you salute the Twin Lights as you pass below, threading the way through reverent clam skiffs by Spermaceti.
Your course is set to round the Hook in the wake of the Half Moon, first visitor to the bay.
Shrugging off all terrestrial bonds you genuflect to Sandy Hook’s ancient light by plunging your clipper bow into the first sweep of the broad Atlantic.
With your main bellied and jib unfurled, your mermaids again kiss the waves and the dolphins dip their beaks.
Farewell to you Sandy Hook Pilots, soaring Ambrose and buoy alpha bravo.
We’re off, close hauled, on a starboard tack for Block Island and Nantucket.
Four winds rising.
Robert A. Mayers lives in Watchung, New Jersey. Over the years, the author has traveled to the battlefields of the Revolution and other historic sites in the eastern U.S. and Canada. He has a special interest in New Jersey and New York history. His works are based on his onsite experience and primary sources combined with the discovery of original documents and oral accounts passed down in his family through many generations.
Mayers is an active member of ten historical societies and a frequent speaker and contributor to society publications. He typically presents about 20 speaking events each year. A former human resources executive, he is a graduate of Rutgers University and was an adjunct professor at Seton Hall University.
Mayers served as a combat officer in the Navy and Marine Corps. His military experiences provide him with a deeper perspective of the campaigns and battles depicted in this works.