The Gougeon Brothers - Part 2

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Meade & Bill Ling: Meade replacing a straightened rudder following distortion caused by beaching in waves the day before. 2010 Everglades Challenge In 2008-9, Meade had a curious notion about the three hundred mile 2010 Everglades Challenge. An incidental slab of a light work hull had been in the boat shop. First it became a stand up board from which he thought he might finally learn to fish. He tired of feeding bait to them, though, and added a sail. She became Yellow Thing.

Matt Layden, at the 2010 EC start, hadn't seen Meade's difficulty getting off Ft DeSoto beach. It was sunny, northeasterly 'seven to nine' knots. In mid-crossing of Tampa Bay's five mile wide mouth, Meade, with his spinnaker set, overtook Matt. They had a smiling chat; Meade 'was happy', and away he went toward the outside of Anna Maria Island. A steering problem forced him ashore, thirty miles short of Checkpoint One.

Using the paddle in Walela, Hugh's wife's Serendipity sister, Cedar Key, 2009 The Gougeons built Hot Canary, an i550, for the 2011 EC. As with other contestants sometimes, the requisite cushioning for sitting a dozen or two hours isn't appreciated without long sea trials. They suffered, abrading square inches of flesh off their bottoms, but they finished the Challenge in three days, twelve hours, and seven minutes.

In 2012 Meade entered the EC in the monohull, WoodWind, a flat transomed fifteen foot sailing canoe. A thirty knot cold front forced a night's layover for Meade and others at the Sarasota Sailing Squadron, thirty miles down course. At Check Point One he looked at forecasts, and withdrew from the Challenge.

Jan Gougeon passed away from a recurring lung infection in December of 2012. The 'little brother' was gone, whom Meade had lovingly 'older brothered' since their father died on Christmas eve of 1955 - Meade had been seventeen and Jan ten years old. Beyond his technical brilliance, Jan grew to be the less impulsive brother, a moderating influence. They were the closest brothers I've known.

WoodWind (white Paradox to starboard, with Dave & Mindy Bolduc) Meade entered the 2013 EC in WoodWind, equipped with outriggers Jan and he had designed. He sailed valiantly, but a big shore break ended his race. In 2014, WoodWind's strip-hull builder, Canadian Skip Izon, built a faster one, Voyageur, seventeen feet eight inches. Meade won his class.

He didn't race in 2016, following the diagnosis of melanoma. That year was taken with surgeries, treatments, and recovery. He kept thinking about the next EC, though, and continued his wonderful pattern of developing everything further, from tent and sleeping seat to rigs, foils, amas and connective 'beams'.

Meade with Voyageur, which he sailed to victory in his class in the Everglades Challenge 2014. Seen here at Checkpoint One In 2017, probability suggested to him the EC was more of a light air race, a paddler's race. He reverted to smaller WoodWind, but renamed as Elderly Care in honor of Jan's teasing phrase for Meade's 'needs.'

After this year's 2017 EC, Meade wanted to do it again, but in Voyageur, for her roomier accommodation. He had a new tent made and built a seat to replace the one lost in the EC. And he had a fresh idea for dragging the heavier boat up and down a beach.

In May, during the Cedar Key small boat meet, Meade parked his motorhome here, and I made coffee he'd so enjoyed for nineteen years.

Family life: granddaughter Olivia steers the Gougmaran in Florida, with Meade Jan's and Meade's contribution to me has been friendship beyond epoxy, boats and sailing. Wisdom, uncommon kindness, and unparalleled generosity describes them.

Before Meade, I'd imagined developments of cruising sailing canoes, but implementation was sluggishly incremental. Meade brought vast resources including desire, data, techniques, and access to knowledge. He and Jan developed ideas magnitudes more than I could - and quickly.

After Meade met JF Bedard last November, he called and said JF was an interesting young fellow who probably could help with my languishing 'Clam Girl' skiff design, lofted and modeled in 2013.

The final victory: Toby Nipper greets Meade in Elderly Care at the end of the Everglades Challenge, March 2017, as he wins his class. This photograph was taken no more than six months before his death Photograph Hugh Horton Three weeks before his last telephone call, he called about improvements for Voyageur. He'd been paddling and was back to his performance of two years before. He wondered about the Clam Girl collaboration, and the planned meeting with JF Bedard and Simon Lewandowski, here in Cedar Key.

He was gravely ill at the time of his last call, August 21st. It took me several minutes to understand his words, as he breathed with pumped oxygen.

We reminisced most of a half hour. He'd wondered how the Clam Girl meeting went and asked about the short boat ride with JF's young boys.

He asked me to notify our friends, saying doctors thought he might have two months - but it was six days.

~ HH

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