The sailing master, Bill Servais, has passed on. He went too young, only 68, but perhaps in the way he would have preferred - a quick end. Lord knows if he had ended up in a nursing home we would have felt sympathy for his nurse. He would not have enjoyed that either.
Bill was born August 21, 1942 and died of a heart attack in Mexico, January 25, 2011. He was sailing with his uncle, Dick Randolph, and they were in a harbor near Mazatlan. Bill had gone ashore to use a computer and was found slumped over it. Bill was my brother.
As a kid he wanted a job that allowed him to fish and hunt when he wanted to. He became a dentist so he could move to some perfect town and have a good income. Bellingham offered great fishing along with sailing and seafood, and Bill was quick to master all three. He loved sailing the islands of the Pacific Northwest, catching or gathering seafood and cooking up incredible meals on small sailboats. He could be hard on those sailing with him but none questioned his skills and his knowledge of the islands. It was more fun to be on another boat sailing the islands with Bill on his.
And, in truth, he enjoyed single handing a sailboat. He could sail into the Bellingham harbor in any wind or breeze, tacking and jibing between the docks and put his loved San Juan 24 sailboat into its slip - a slip that was just outside the windows of the Yacht Club bar, where other sailors would put down nickels on the table betting whether or not Bill would screw up or smoothly dock his boat. He never missed. And he enjoyed sauntering into the Club a few minutes later as if he had done nothing at all.
Bill and Corrinne married in 1967 and had two kids, Mike and Nicola. They both now work for tech companies in Seattle. Corrine still lives in Bellingham. After Bill sold his Fairhaven dentistry practice in 1995, he bought the 48 foot ocean cruiser, Migrant, from Dick Johnson. He sailed the Pacific Ocean in her. He embarked on new adventures, working as a dentist in American Samoa and as the only dentist in Antarctica for three winters in a row. He set the record for McMurdo Sound in that no dentist had ever lasted more than two winters. Bill worked at other public health dental clinics over the past 10 years.
He spent summers in his home town of Green Bay and his adopted town of Bellingham, and his winters in Mexican sailing waters. He was a sailor of great skill. He lived a very full life and had many ventures and adventures that the rest of us only dream of having. He brought his unique energy and focus to all that he did, from dentistry to sailing to preparing freshly gathered oysters. He is gone now and we are left with many memories of him in action, doing things in his own way.