I am sad to report that this week we lost two old friends who are legends in the sailing and cruising worlds. Patrick Childress (pictured at top) succumbed to the Covid-19 virus in South Africa after an 18-day battle and 16 days on a ventilator. His wife Rebecca chronicled this sad saga on a GoFundMe site that was set up for them when friends learned their insurance company had declined to cover their medical expenses. Read more here.
Patrick was a sailor’s sailor and a waterman from his earliest days. When he was a young man, he acquired a Catalina 27, fit it out for cruising and then proceeded to singlehand his little boat in a very seamanlike circumnavigation. He moved to Newport, RI in the mid-eighties where he started a home renovation business and spent springs and falls delivering Swans to and from the Caribbean with Hank Schmitt and the NARC. During one of these deliveries, he met Rebecca who soon became his wife and sailing partner. Over the last decade, they have sailed their Valiant 40 Brick House from Newport westabout via Panama to South Africa and had planned next season to head to South America. Patrick’s writing and photos have appeared in all the major sailing magazines and he was a regular contributor to Blue Water Sailing. He is also the co-author of A Cruising Guide to Narragansett Bay. As of this writing 1,200 people have made donations to the fund, which is an indication of how well liked, admired and respected Patrick was. He will be sorely missed and by no one more so than Rebecca to whom we send out deepest condolences.
Brion was one of nature’s true originals. Sadly, he lost his battle with cancer after a year-long struggle. Brion was something of a Renaissance man even though he was principally a rigger of yachts, ships and tall structures. With an infectious wit and ready smile, he was also a great teacher, expert sailor and an author of several well regarded books including his best selling The Rigger’s Apprentice and, most recently, Falling, which recounts tales from a life led aloft.
Brion has taught many young riggers their trade just as he once learned from a master rigger on the coast of Maine. He stressed to his young apprentices and to the owners and skippers of the yachts he worked on that sailing vessels are each unique and need to have a rig set up to bring out the best in each one. It was almost a spiritual calling to make sure that a sailing vessel and its rig were in harmony. Like anyone who has touched so many lives, Brion will be missed across the sailing community.