John Galpin

Every once in a while you meet someone that has an immediate and sudden impact on you. Who introduces you to things and concepts you’ve not thought of before. Though time spent with them can be brief, the observations made and lessons learned can be long lived. John Galpin was just such a person, who I met for but one day in October 2013.

In September 2013, I left Laurie aboard Toodle-oo! in Belfast while I went on a three week business trip to India. Happily, John and Val Galpin arrived shortly afterwards and moored their beautiful blue power boat ‘Grampus’ close by Toodle-oo! and they befriended Laurie – to the extent that somehow she managed to wangle an invite to visit them where they live on the Isle of Man!

We had an enthralling visit with them during which John showed us the fault line between the American tectonic plate and the European plate – by jumping across the divide identified by a line of quartz and a big crack.

P1010955  P1010954

John and Val showed us around the town of Peel, including a visit to a tiny little Nautical museum, in which was housed an old rum running sail boat – the Peggy, perfectly preserved in its basement where the boat had been walled up. (The boat recently featured in one of the popular sailing magazines.)

P1010950  The Peggy

Val and John invited us to dinner at their beautiful house where Val has discovered that she is a significantly good artist, and where John would study what appeared to be a passion, of understanding the sea life in the Irish Sea, Dolphins in particular.

He explained to me an interesting docking method that allowed one to tie securely in a dock without need for fenders – which with constant motion inevitably wear out the gelcoat of a boat’s topsides (and if you look a few posts earlier on this blog, you’ll see details of that method).

Most spectacularly of all, John  talked of the ‘Green Flash’ – a phenomenon that occurs just as the sun dips below the horizon and when the atmospherics are just so, a green flash of light shows for just a short duration. While I’d heard of the phenomenon, I admitted to being skeptical – so john brought out the documentation he had to hand to prove the physics – quite convincing… As we were sat down for dinner, just as the sun was setting, I queried if there’d be a green flash tonight – he was confident that there would be and he gave Laurie and I both a pair of binoculars with which to watch, so we interrupted our dinner to watch the sun sink below the horizon. Sure enough, as it dipped below, a clear green flash appeared. I would not have believed my own eyes if Laurie hadn’t seen it at the exact same time.


To this day, every time I watch a sunset I think of John and Val and our wonderful – though short time together. We talked of John just this weekend as we watched the sun setting from our favorite harbor, Menemsha.

Sadly, I learned just this week that John is no longer with us. He was diagnosed with Cancer at the end of July 2014, and succumbed just 10 weeks later in early October. He was just 66.

People like this don’t come around often. He will surely be missed. His sudden passing is reason enough to make sure that we make the most of every day and live life to the fullest.

Rest in Peace Mr. Galpin, we will remember you always and often.

2 thoughts on “John Galpin

  1. Val Galpin

    Thank you Bill and Laurie for recording your memories of our brief time together. I really appreciate that piece and will treasure it knowing that my John will cross your mind whenever you tie up Toodle-oo or when you watch the sun go down.

    Keep on having fun.



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