From John Conway

I first met Ali when she started volunteering on Balclutha, and was impressed by this fearless, eager-to-learn child, who would work anywhere, from painting bilges to securing a Christmas tree to the mast truck. A few years later a new set of sails appeared for one of the historic small boats, flawlessly hand sewn, and I asked where they had come from. Amazed when I learned that Ali had built them from a pile of canvas, rope and thread. Was incredibly glad last year when she appeared at one of our morning meetings, now a young woman, saying she had been hired to one of our permanent ship’s maintenence positions. Recently promoted to ships rigger, I last saw her a couple weeks ago in the Balclutha’s shop, putting the finishing touches onto an eye splice on an inch and a quarter wire backstay, with a great smile on her face.

I returned to the shop last week as a volunteer to find a new wire in the vise ready for another eye splice. The shop seemed so empty. I had to leave as soon as I could.

I’m offering a picture from a book I gave my Mother in the last days of her life. She loved that book, the mother of a sailor, who understood exactly why I’d given to her. Now I give it to the family and friends of a sailor who have lost a daughter and friend.

I asked, and received permission to make this tribute to a friend, fellow sailor, from the artist/author of the book, so I must add this caution:

Used with Kind Permission from the Artist, Mr. Buckley Smith. From his book, “Moonsailors”
Please respect Copyrighted material.


2 thoughts on “From John Conway

  1. Thank you I see this picture and read your article and just brings tears to my eyes and I invision Ali sailing this ship and smiling all the way to the moon. This captures her essence and love for the craft. Yes when I saw her handy work all I could do was marvel at the unique everlasting beauty of the maritime work she crafted. So delicate and so strong. Auntie Tricia

  2. Our good friend posted sent us this message.She lives near Lake Merritt and has expressed deep concern about Ali and Luc.Thought this is worth sharing:

    “am so heartbroken over this news, even though I didn’t know them personally. I walk through that intersection almost daily, now with a profound sense of sadness. I left some flowers there and am going to plant some at the curve at the Bellevue/Grand corner in the park this afternoon. There’s a little patch that the neighbors maintain”.

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