Conservative author and columnist William F. Buckley Jr., passed away February 27, 2008 at his home in Stamford Connecticut. He was 82. His death comes at a time when the entire conservative movement seems to be at the abyss.
But I’ll leave the rants and raves about Buckley’s conservative views to the pundits, the talking heads of media that drone on and on in a time when every news anchor has an opinion yet still refer to themselves as reporters.
Buckley was an admitted editorialist, prolific writer and author, but he was also a sailor, and a well accomplished transoceanic sailor at that. While a member of many yacht clubs, his home was the New York Yacht Club. With all the traditions of a 150 year old club, NYYC cherished their renowned writer by treating him as an equal, he held no honorary directorship or committee chairman’s position and was simply noted as “member”.
Buckley’s sailing exploits are legendary; he authored several books chronicling his adventures as well as a numerous instructional books and videos.
First time students taking the US Coast Guard Captain’s course are often surprised to find themselves watching a safety video with none other than William F. Buckley, Jr. sitting on this sailboat in New England. His wonderful voice and unique New England accent expelling the virtues of “being prepared for any eventuality while upon the sea”.
Buckley was not without his eccentricity, when asked about provisioning a chartered yacht for a 30 day voyage from Hawaii to New Guinea, his only request was for 25 cases of vintage wine and unspecified quantities of peanut butter and Goo-Goo bars.
Once finding himself in heavy fog along the Massachusetts coast, Buckley and his guests smartly elected to put his sailboat “Patito” into Rockport Harbor and requested dockage via VHF radio at the Sandy Bay Yacht Club. Club staff were quite surprised to have a celebrity at hand and Buckley graciously offered to pose for photos with the thick fog as a back drop.
Patito by the way is Spanish for duck, a name suited for a small 36 foot yacht and a famous man without a famous ego. On April 15, 2007, his wife of 58 years, the former Patricia Aldyen Austin Taylor, died. While through the years Mr. and Mrs. Buckley often called each other “Ducky.”
In the July 2004 issue of The Atlantic Monthly Buckley reflects on his decision so sell his boat, the closing sentence is pure Buckley:
“So, deciding that the time has come to sell the Patito and forfeit all that is not lightly done, and it brings to mind the step yet ahead, which is giving up life itself”.
Bravo Zulu Mr. Buckley, well done.