A ship waited, anchored, in a harbor. Her owner and builder, Captain Valor, originally built her to serve as his flagship, but loved her so much that he did not wish for her to be soiled by the rough sea waters. So he kept the ship tied in the harbor. Day after day, he sat and admired the beauty of her majestic sails, her intricately carved mahogany wood, her shiny bronze helm. She was the gem in his eyes, perfect in every way. He decided to call her “Sea Pearl.”
The people of the nearby village loved ships and always came by to acclaim Sea Pearl. The final question was always, “when are you going to take her out on the high seas?”
To which Captain Valor would laugh and say, “never! Sea Pearl is too beautiful, I would never take her out because then the winds would tear her majestic sails; the water would soften her intricately carved mahogany wood and my hands would dull her shiny bronze helm. No, she is staying right here in the harbor, where she will be safe forever!”
There were other ships in the harbor. Their owners took them out regularly — fishermen, oil riggers, leisure boats, sailboats. Captain Valor knew none of those ships could compare with his Sea Pearl in terms of beauty. None of those ships lasted nearly as long. Their sails were wind-torn, their wood was softened and the bronze color of their helms was grimy and dull. Sea Pearl’s harbor-mates changed as often as the seasons.
As time went by, Captain Valor noticed something. Fewer and fewer villagers were coming by to admire Sea Pearl when they visited the harbor. It was gradual — the adults would head for the other ships, but the children still wanted to see Sea Pearl. Then, even the children stopped coming, preferring instead to look at the other ships. Soon, his only visitors were parents bringing their very young children who had never before seen Sea Pearl. He was confused. What could possibly be so interesting about those other boring ships that would be junkyard material at year’s end?
One day, a little boy came to the harbor. This boy had once loved Sea Pearl. But today, all he did was wave at the beautiful ship before heading off toward a fishing boat. “Wait!” Captain Valor shouted. “Come back here for a second, I want to ask you a question.”
The boy came back. “Yes?”
“Don’t you wish to walk the decks of my Sea Pearl? I miss having you and the other lively children around!”
“Sorry, not today,” said the boy. “Captain Hart just brought the Sea Arrow came back from a battle hundreds of miles away. He said he would tell us some stories about that and then we get to see the cannon. He might light it and do a test fire!” Without another word, the boy ran off.
An older man and woman came by. Captain Valor stopped them. “Do you wish to have a look at my Sea Pearl? I miss having all of you fine ladies and gentlemen around!”
“Sorry, not today,” said the man. “Captain Whisk just brought the Silver Cat back from fishing off the shores of the Misty Islands.”
“He’s going to tell us some stories about that and then we get to see how he used the boat to catch the fish,” said the woman. “He might take out the fishing nets and let us try some of the fish!” Without another word, the man and the woman ran off.
A mother with five children came by. Captain Valor’s spirits lifted. This particular family was one of Sea Pearl’s most frequent visitors! Surely they would come. But the kids ran to Captain Whisk’s Silver Cat or to Captain Hart’s Sea Arrow. None of them even looked at the Sea Pearl. Captain Valor’s heart sank. He stopped the mother.
“Lady, would you like to visit the Sea Pearl?”
The mother smiled. “Sorry, but not today.”
Captain Valor’s curiosity got the better of him. “Why not? The Sea Pearl is a very fine ship!”
“Indeed,” agreed the mother.
“Then why do you not wish to view it today? Your family once leaped at the chance to lay eyes upon my Sea Pearl.”
The mother nodded. “Yes. We did love your Sea Pearl. We still do. It is our favorite ship. But we have laid eyes upon her, many times. Now there is nothing to see that we have not seen already. Why don’t you ever take her out on a voyage?” With that, she made her way over to Captain Hart’s Sea Arrow, eager to see the cannon-fire demonstration.
Captain Valor was taken aback. He stopped every man and woman who stopped by, asking them the same question. The answer was always the same: “We have seen all there is to see. There is nothing new with the Sea Pearl, she is beautiful as ever but that is it.”
It was then that Captain Valor realized how shortsighted he had been. “How could I have forgotten that ships are meant to sail, not sit in a harbor?!” Of course! The people in this village loved adventures and interesting stories! The other ships may not look as pristine as his Sea Pearl, but that was because those ships had actually fulfilled their purpose in life! What good is my pretty ship if all it can do is look pretty?
So one wild, stormy night, he stayed up until the wee hours of the morning, dreaming up future voyages for the Sea Pearl. In his dreams, Captain Valor imagined braving battles ten times more dangerous than any that Captain Hart had ever weathered; and with the Sea Pearl, Captain Valor caught fish no one — not even Captain Whisk — had ever imagined could exist. Sure, the Sea Pearl’s majestic sails would tatter in the wind; her intricately carved wood would soften in the water and her shiny bronze helm would grow dull, but her adventurous heart would always remain sharp.
The next morning, Captain Valor awoke and ran to the harbor, eager to take the Sea Pearl on her first voyage. But when he reached the harbor, he stopped in his tracks. Part of the deck surrounding the harbor had collapsed in the storm. The damaged deck had fallen directly on top of the Sea Pearl, causing irreversible damage. The Sea Pearl was gone, all gone.
As Captain Valor wept in grief, people came by to pay their respects. “She was a good ship,” they said. “We are so sorry for your loss.” Other people said, “Life can be so cruel sometimes, for no reason at all.”
The older man from the couple he had spoken to the day before said, “It’s a shame. You tried so hard to keep her safe, but in the end, that made no difference.”
Then the mother from the other day came by and said, “yes, I wish you had had taken her out on a voyage. Now you shall never know her potential.”
Captain Hart and Captain Whisk both came over to say a silent tribute to the Sea Pearl. “We mourn your loss, for eventually we will say good bye to our great ships. But those ships have done great service in their day, and when their time comes, it will be a grand retirement.”
For days, Captain Valor mourned the lost of his beautiful Sea Pearl. He collected her remains and donated some to scrapyards and craftsmen. “Use them well,” he said.
Captain Valor put the rest of the remains aside. He was not sure what to do with them. Until he got an idea — he’d use them to build a brand new ship, a beautiful ship, a ship to fulfill the promises of her mother the Sea Pearl! Captain Valor wasted no time, and, several months later, the entire village gathered to celebrate the maiden voyage of the beautiful Sea Ivory. Every bit as stunning as the Sea Pearl, the Sea Ivory was made of parts from her mother and from parts donated by the people of the village.
“I will be back in a year. She will not be as beautiful then, and she will not be as safe while we are gone, but she will have plenty of stories to tell upon her return!” Everybody cheered. From the deck of the Sea Ivory, Captain Valor and his crew waved as the ship pulled farther and farther away until they could no longer see the village. Captain Valor smoothed his hand on the Sea Ivory’s fine wood deck. It still bore the carvings that once made up the Sea Pearl’s deck.
Captain Valor looked upwards. He saw the Sea Ivory’s sails flapping happily in the wind. Those were once part of her mother’s majestic sails. He walked over to the shiny bronze helm — the Sea Pearl’s navigation wheel. He grasped it in his hands. “We finally set sail, my beautiful Pearl.”