By Bob Osborn, SV Pandora, President SDSA

A Loss that is hard to Fathom

It has been difficult for the cruising community to come to grips with the unspeakable violence perpetrated against two of our own, Kathy Brandel and Ralph Hendry of Simplicity.

For so many of us, making our way to the Caribbean for a winter of cruising is the culmination of a lifelong dream. And for Kathy and Ralph, that dream was cut short,  Over the last week, our community of cruisers, who live a fringe lifestyle little understood by the general public, has been thrust into the public consciousness with this senseless tragedy with reporting by most major news outlets.  This event has shaken our community to its core. 

Whatever each of us might be feeling, the family of Kathy and Ralph are facing an unimaginable void in their lives.

As tragic as this is, perhaps the one bright part, small as it may be, has been the outpouring of love and support from those who knew Kathy and Ralph, and whether you know them or not, these words from Nick Buro, son of Kathy, and Bryan, son of Ralph, will surely illustrate the close-knit nature of our community:

"We would like to say a few words about Kathy and Ralph that we wish all to know.  We live in a world that at times can be cruel, but it is also a world of profound beauty, wonder, adventure, love, compassion, caring and faith.  Our parents encompassed all those values and so much more.  If we have learned anything from this tragic event, it is that we know they left this world in a better place than it was before they were born.  Ralph and Kathy lived a life that most of us can only dream of, sailing the eastern coast of the United States, living on their home Simplicity, making friends with everyone they encountered, singing, dancing and laughing with friends and family - that's who Ralph and Kathy were, and that's how they will be remembered in our hearts."

Over the years I have been struck by how our community supports one another, always eager to help, whether it is to tow someone into an anchorage, bring a needed package from the states, or to share tools and expertise.  

Cruising carries risk, and it is up to each of us to stay diligent and do what we can to stay safe.  At the same time, we need to remember that this event, as heinous as it was, is extremely unusual and that there is risk in whatever you choose to do in life.  What we've all chosen to do, sailing to faraway places, visiting tropical islands, is something that most only dream about.  For all of us to be a part of the cruising community is a gift to be cherished.

Sadly, for Kathy and Ralph, that dream was cut short but their memory lives on through those whom they touched in so many ways.