-- By T. F. Sayles
When I scanned through the letters to the editor for this issue, I thought, oh boy, we're in big trouble. . . . It was another Wendy Mitman Clarke love fest. Two different readers, two different but equally effusive raves about Wendy, how her Off the Charts column never fails to make us think, how she connects life on the water with life in general, how she describes our shared world so vividly and with such charm and good humor. If you read our letters page regularly, you know these bubbling felicitations aren't the least bit out of the ordinary. I've never seen anything like it. I wish I had a nickel for every reader love letter Wendy has gotten since she began to write her Weather Eye column in this space nearly seven years ago. Indeed, it started before that, in the spring of 1998, when she joined the magazine and immediately started to wow us all with the stories of her adventures on the Bay.
By now, surely, you see where this is going. Surely you sense the blow, the gut-punch, that's coming. Wendy is leaving us. I'm sorry. I know that hurt. Take a minute to get your breath back. . . . Maybe it'll help if I tell you she's not leaving all at once, that for the time being only her column goes away and she'll continue to write and edit for us well into next year. In fact, her column isn't really going away; it's only moving to another magazine, Cruising World—which makes perfect sense, because Wendy and her family will soon be doing just that, cruising the world. Not just the Bay, the world. Beginning with this month's issue of CW, you'll be able to read all about the Clarke family's plans and preparations for their excellent adventure on the high seas. Hurray, yippee, etc. (I'm sorry, Wen. I'm really trying to keep this upbeat, but it's bloody hard. You're the Lieutenant Bush to my Horatio Hornblower. You're the Bullwinkle to my Rocky. Or maybe it's the other way around; between us, it seems like I should be the moose. Anyway, point is, I hate change. Change is an ass. Sometimes I want to punch change right in the mouth.)
So without further ado or whining on my part, let me bid Wendy a truly fond farewell, for now. And my parting gift to her is that her own good-bye—her farewell column in this issue—will be her exact words. No editing, no tweaking, no cutting. I'll just make sure everything is spelled correctly (good-bye has a hyphen, Wen) and then pass it on, telling all the other quick-draw wordsmiths here to holster their pencils and stand down. This time, and this time only, we'll let it run just as it is, word for well-chosen word. It's the best gift I can think of for Wendy. It's the only thing that comes close to expressing how much I admire her, how grateful I am for all the brutally hard work she has done for this magazine, how she has become one of the very pillars of quality on which it stands. I wish Wendy and Johnny, and those precious children of theirs, nothing but fair winds and following seas.