See you out there

single handed sailor girl, pearson ariel 26

I’m sitting in a swanky modern coffee shop with an iced tea that cost four dollars. There are dogs and wooden chairs and young mothers with babies in slings, men with beards and macbook pros. I smell like gas and sweat. I just rode in from a neighboring bay where I left my boat safely on her anchor with a seven to one scope in 20 knots. I surf down four foot waves on my mate’s dinghy, yipping and hollering as spray explodes across the bow and into the boat. I spot a Nor’Sea 27 in the harbor with its mast down. I knew it was Nor’sea the other day when I spotted it nearly a mile away and my suspicion was correct. They must be going south.

I struggle hauling three gallons of gas a few blocks from the fuel dock to the dinghy.

I find an eagle feather on the sidewalk in my first steps onto the city side walk.

I haven’t showered in a week.

I subsist off rice, beans, kale, tortillas, and tofu when I can afford it.

My days are governed by the wind and waves.

I take freelance assignments from the paper. I reject freelance assignments from the paper.

I’m broke. I’m ferrel. I’m free.

The past seven days have been a blur of repairs, purchases and installations, raft ups, long beats, long reaches, long scope. Lazy nights under candle and starlight.

Everything is always better out there. Amongst my people or alone, it’s better out there. 

When people come into the anchorage I stand on my bow and stare them down. Yesterday I fended three people off from my space. One bearing down on me under power, another anchoring 30 feet to starboard, another about to drop their anchor right on top of mine. They all obliged. Something about this being a lake, perhaps, but people don’t seem to know anything about seamanship.

I suppose I was there myself, once.

NOTE: My main sail is gutted. On its last legs. I find a new tear everyday. I’ve taken to patching it with 5200, as sewing has just created more strain on the disintegrating fabric. I need another primary main or at least a spare. I have a last ditch plan to turn an old main off a Columbia 26 into a spare. I’ll have to put in reef points and new hanks. I’m going to do it Tom Sawyer style. It’s the only way. 

If anyone knows of or has a mainsail that would fit my boat (dimensions below) PLEASE CONTACT ME and we can strike a deal. 

Luff : 27′
Foot : 11’11”
Leach: 29′ 4″
dinghydreams@gmail.com 

ALSO– watch my film and donate if you care to see it completed !!!

 

Marooned in Shelburne Bay

dinghy dreams, live aboard, lake champlain sailing

I don’t know if Shelburne Bay passed me by, or I passed by it. I arrived with the intention to find some work. Maybe a job at a restaurant,or at the shipyard I rowed into, but rarely on this trip does anything I expect to happen, well, happen.

Shelburne Bay is a great place with a cove for nearly every wind direction, a boatyard full of many classic and forgotten beauties, sailors from near and far full of much advice, and ghosts. Crawling into my little berth at night, Shelburne was the first time I closed my hatch boards to feel more protected by the spirit of my little boat from the spooky evening.

I did find some work there, only not in a traditional fashion. When the shipyard gardener was using the hose and I needed to fill my water jugs we got to talking. She’s a homesteader, master gardener, and keeps chickens and goats. My past days of goat rearing came in handy as we hit it off. I asked her if she needed any help and she set me up with two days of work digging in the dirt.

I reached out to another shipyard down south and while he doesn’t have any work for me right now, he offered to help me advise me with any projects I intended to do to get my boat ready for leaving the lake. There’s a possibility there for end of the season work, perhaps in exchange for yard storage in the winter. While in Shelburne I also made arrangements with the sailmaker a short sail north to work trade for a second set of reef points in my mainsail.

Perhaps the most profound thing to happen to me in Shelburne Bay, however, was the chance meeting with the canvas maker at the yard. He lives aboard a Shannon 26 with his wife, also a sailboat sewing guru, and they’ve cruised the world extensively with their children.

I’ve been vacillating between going south down the Hudson this year or waiting another. This time a month ago I gave myself four weeks to make a decision. As time went on I became more and more over whelmed with what the boat needs in order to actually be ready for salt water.

The words of so many couch sailors I’ve met echoed in my ears.

“Just go.”

Talking with the canvas maker he said, “why not wait a year? Don’t outfit in Florida. You’re one of a million. Everything is more expensive. Here people want to help you. You need to be ready.”

So it was decided. I made three lists of what the boat needs. Before winter, before south, and ongoing. While I felt a great relief to be able to enjoy the rest of the summer sailing on the lake without the pressure to leave by a certain date with a certain amount of money, a new type of anxiety set it. I’d have to find somewhere to store the boat, and worst of all, I’d have to move back to land for what could be seven months.

But I didn’t have time to worry about the impending dark months ahead, my little boat sitting lonely on jack stands—I had a weather window and a sailmaker to meet.

Sailors are a lonely bunch

bristol 24, lonely sailor, single handed sailor, live aboard

It’s nearly two in the morning and I’m rowing my dinghy around the marina back to my boat. I round the corner of B dock and the sheer line of my little vessel is illuminated from the soft lantern light coming through the port. The sound of laughter is coming through the hatch.

launch, bristol 24, live aboard, sailor girl

This is my little house, I think to myself. She’s floats.

bristol 24, full keel, sailboat restoration

My two friends and a dog are inside. They’re cooking chicken and laughing about the French guy on the boat a few slips down that ran out in his speedo to help us dock the boat after we went for a sunset sail. He invited us over for drinks and put out a spread of every cocktail imaginable and high end cheese. With ice clinking in my glass  I’m reminded of why I love this lifestyle. The people.

launch, bristol 24, live aboard, sailor girl

When the yard manager and his crew knocked on the hull at 9 AM on Friday morning and said, “You ready, Captain?” all the work from the last four weeks, all the uncertainties, and lonely nights in the boatyard, the hours of frustration and fears, the storms that bellowed through, the long days filled with little food floated away with the gentle four knot breeze.

DSC_5971

And as my nearly eight ton boat was lifted into the air, my motley crew surrounding me, I stared in wonder at this piece of fiberglass, metal and wood that has already taken me on a great adventure.

solo sailor girl, live aboard, bristol 24

To all the people who have lent me a hand, a buck, or a word of advice–I couldn’t have done it without you.

live aboard sailor girl, solo sailor, single handed

“Happiness only real when shared.”  -Alexander Supertramp

crew, sailing, sailboat, bristol 24 , dinghy dreams, live aboard

Adventure vs. Ordeal

From the countryside of Quebec, to a frozen boatyard, to the lounge of a 200 year old Adirondack cabin, to my grandparent’s house, to the grimiest city in the world, and back home again–the journey to see the boat was a long one.20160216-DSC_4803It started early in the morning in sub zero temperatures as I caught the bus to New York City, to catch another bus, and then another bus. From there I did as best I could for my self-survey, but it was cold. Bitterly, bitterly cold. The wind howled through the rigging and snow drifts piled around as the wind off the water blew frozen bits in a steady direction. Before I left the boat, I sat in the port side settee, leaned against the nicely varnished ceiling boards and closed my eyes. I tried to picture warmer weather. I tried to picture myself, with all of my stuff, and my all of crazy notions, living in harmony within this little vessel. Thirty seconds later I sprung up. I had seen the light. Bristol 24 interiorThat evening I enjoyed a traditional Quebecois meal of meat pie. A few glasses of tea, and a quick performance on the squeeze box and  it was time for bed, as the next day I was meeting the surveyor in the wee hours of the morning. Luckily, the temperature was going to near 45 degrees that day. It’s damn cold in the north country this time of year. 20160215-DSC_4786
When we arrived in the boatyard the next morning, the wind had quieted and the temperature spiked. Within minutes though, the current owner (who had graciously put me up for the night and offered me a ride to the bus stop to catch home later that evening) slipped on some ice which resulted in an intense injury. He had to call it and retreated to the Canadian border.

The surveyor and I went through every inch of the boat for the next four hours. My toes were about ready to fall off, but I felt like a got an education that was worth the frost bite. When the current owner had to bail, the surveyor said he would drop me at the bus stop. The thing was, I would be stranded there until midnight! I didn’t want to fish too hard for an invite to spend the remainder of the day at his house, so I didn’t. “I’ll find a coffee shop,” I said. “Or a bar.”20160216-DSC_4807Turns out, he was heading south where he also has a home and business, so I was able to catch a ride with him to my grandparents house in the rolling mountain range a few hundred miles down the line. A quick stop at his 200 year old house that used to belong to the secretary of the great New York poet Pearl Buck, and we were on the road.

Overall, it would take him 90 miles out of his way total to drop me off there. Not only did that not matter to him, but he knocked $150 off the survey price, and we smoked cigarettes in his flash Range Rover the entire time, talking about boats. I felt like a sponge, thirsty to soak up every last bit of information I could from him during our impromptu road trip. He has thousands of sea miles, many of which were offshore.

So many people don’t take care of their boats, or take care of them wrong. In some ways, talking to the surveyor gave my confidence a boost, as I asked the right questions. It was like we both came from the same school—except he was a near zen master, and me just wee student.

Somewhere in between the highway and the back mountain roads he said to me, “Emily, I think it’s great what you are doing, and I’m really excited for you.”

“Thank you. Wow,” I said. “I’m excited to have you as a part of it.”

I’ll keep him in my proverbial rolodex for years to come.

I was at my grandparent’s house in time for dinner, where my poppy gave me lessons in the art of negotiation, and my grandma advised me to wear a life jacket.scrabbleTucked into bed with my aunties playing a rousing game of scrabble, the past 36 hours almost seemed like a dream. It had all happened so fast. The boat, the miles of road, the mountains…