You didn’t know it was lost, I realize, but I have been acutely aware of its absence for many months. I bought it in Zurich, Switzerland years ago. It’s a special edition Wenger Swiss Army knife with the perfect set of tools for sailing.
When I got back from St Martin in February of 2020, carefully unpacking my bag was the last thing on my mind. I dug out the dirty clothes and delicate electronics, then stored the bag with snorkel gear and assorted sailing stuff inside.
In June of 2021 I was packing for a sailing trip with friends. I could not find the knife. I searched through the bag from 2020, as well as various other pieces of luggage I use for sailing trips and where I store travel stuff.
No knife. I was surprisingly upset. I mean, my degree of unhappiness at this loss seemed out of proportion, and I’m sure I was loading all kinds of emotional distress from the past pandemic year onto it. I reluctantly packed an older, totally functional sailing knife for the trip. I never needed to use it as we visited Martha’s Vineyard.
So that’s probably an important point: sailors carry knives or multitools for emergencies, or at last as a convenience should they need to unknot a line or tighten a screw. But it’s an emergency tool that you don’t want to have to use. Except for this particular knife. Many of my sailing buddies will recognize it because on a boat, I use the main blade in the galley, and it’s got both bottle opener and cork screw. It has a good heft to it and a comfortable grip. It’s a great knife, which certainly contributed to my sense of loss.
Last October I did not search again, it was too painful to put that much focus on the loss. I packed the blue knife and went sailing. And did not encounter a need to cut or tighten screws on that trip.
Yesterday I went to the storeroom to get a snorkel for an upcoming trip to the USVI. I have already packed the dutiful blue knife. Feeling around in the depths of that same St Martin bag I pushed aside fins, water shoes, and a produce hammock, and my hand wrapped around a rough, rectangular lump. My heart raced—could it be? Slowly–delaying the disappointment I feared–I drew the object out into the dim light of the storeroom.
I nearly wept. I was sure I had not left it behind. I had concluded that some dishonest baggage inspector must have taken it. But there it was in its case, freed from under the fins.
I also found the snorkel.
This has been a week of good fortune for me, with a promotion and attendant financial improvement. But finding the missing knife outweighs what ought to be the more important life milestones. The knife is a touchstone for my sailing lifestyle. Finding it means I’m back aboard in mind, body, and spirit.