This is Estelle, in what is probably my favorite portrait I've ever taken. Behind this picture is a tale of lost love, but it's not what you think.
The one I fell in love with is in the picture, but it isn't Estelle.
Her name is Petrel - a gorgeous 70 foot, 1937 Sparkman & Stephens ocean racing yawl - and she had a way of stealing the hearts of all who sailed her, including President Kennedy. I was no exception.
A few years before this picture was taken I was introduced to Petrel by a friend who was the first mate. I was back the very next day as a volunteer crew member, learning to sail in the shadow of Lady Liberty. I spent my summers sailing Petrel around NY harbor after work and on weekends, never able to get enough.
So when the opportunity arose to sail her all the way up to Martha's Vineyard, where she wintered, I jumped at the chance. Little did I know that it would be the last time I'd see her. After three decades of sailing in NYC, the owner decided not to bring her back. I can tell you I was not alone in my heartbreak.
It was on that trip that I took this picture of Estelle. Perhaps my mind was awash with the romance of sailing a legendary antique yacht from NYC to Martha's Vineyard, or my heart was heavy somehow sensing this love affair's demise, but I really don't remember taking the picture. I just remember getting my prints back from the lab and being struck dumb by this shot.