A familiar story

pearson ariel 26 bluewater, refitting a pearson ariel 26
I traveled the Intracoastal and all I got was this yellow stain on my hull

Peanutbutter sandwiches for days. I’ve found work. I’m supposed to start tomorrow. If for some reason it is postponed by weather or something more sudden it’s okay–plenty of other work to be done and sought.

Another sailor said my boat is not messy, but she is wrong. It is cluttered. Disorganized. One cannot think straight. Her interior leaves something to be desired regardless of my level of sloppiness, much of it needing to be rebuilt  if I really think about keeping my boat long term. But how I can work on something like making her interior more comfortable and inviting when there are so many more pressing matters?

Things will happen. It’s why I’ve stopped. I can visualize them; re rig, re core, repurpose old main sail, redo my lifelines. These jobs will improve conditions on many levels–structural, dampness, safety, space.

The rigging and lifeline material are taking up my v-berth along with the old sail I plan to repurpose for cockpit lee cloths. The section of rotten core becomes saturated and leaks badly into the cabin. I can think of more that needs to be done, but that is what I am thinking about now. One thing at a time I tell myself.

But these projects and simpler ones, even with all of the free materials I’ve received to do them, remain incomplete. The rest of the components require time and a bit of money, neither of which I have because my time is spent trying to procure that bit of money. Once I have a little spare change I hope my spare time can be utilized better.

The weather is a factor. For motivation, yes, but more practical matters prevail. I cannot set epoxy and glass in this rain/humidity. Ha, I don’t have any money for epoxy anyway! Or the LED light bulb or wire or switch I need for my fun lighting project I’ve been dreaming about. Or money for the little fittings on the lifelines. Or the tools I need for just about anything but the coring job in particular. Or money for better reef lines, or a winch for reefing, or new halyards, or a bow roller, or…

Money really is a thing, I’m learning. One can only go so far on goodwill which has managed to propel me for quite some time. Free docks, free food, free rigging, free gas, free dinghies, free charts, free sails, a free cushion, free…

A pen to build a dream on

oceanus brass, bow shackle pen

I can never find a pen. I’ve had co-workers and editors act outright enraged when I’ve showed up to cover an event and had lost my pen en route. I go through boom and bust periods when it comes to writing instruments. I have times with a plethora of pens and times with none. That’s why everywhere I go—banks, marina offices, libraries, I  try to leave with a pen. Sure, I could just buy a box of ballpoints but what’s the fun in that? This way each pen I have tells a story.

oceanus brass nautically inspired tools

Right now is a boom period. The top drawer in my little boat is practically overflowing. Anytime a fellow sailor needs a pen, I can provide. I’ve had people literally do a sail by so I can toss one into their cockpit.

Even though I’m ink rich right now I keep navigating back to the same one, my shackle pen by Oceanus Brass. Nautically inspired and hand crafted by a small start up company in Boston, Mass., this pen is nearly impossible to lose as it has a shackle to attach to log books, dry bags, or wherever you see fit aboard your vessel. As I’ve been route planning for my upcoming voyage this pen has been seeing much use and it writes just as smoothly as the day it came out of the box.

If anyone can lose or destroy a writing instrument it’s me but this one, made of solid brass and with an attachment point—well, let’s just say I think I’ve met my match. Also, in an emergency I reckon the shackle could be used for something onboard, but don’t take my word for it.

Since I’m a broke sailor, I obviously can’t afford such a fancy pen. The Oceanus Brass Bow Shackle Pen was given to me by the company. This is NOT a paid post (I wish). 

On the homefront

The closest thing I’ve found to a paying job is my dad offering to give me 20 bucks if I go into the basement and watch an episode of ‘The Walking Dead’ by myself. If I don’t find a job here in the next few weeks, I’ll have to hatch a new plan. 20151115-DSC_3836Every passing moment I think about boats. I crane my neck in the car spotting a mast in a sea of planing hulls, all hauled out and snug for the season. I arrived at the wrong time for work in my seasonal, coastal hometown. If there are jobs to be had, I’ll just have to look harder. 20151113-DSC_3731High above the hudson river I’m reminded of the opportunities to sail right in my backyard. A West Wight Potter points it’s bow west. I spot it from thousands of feet away, squinting my eyes. My dad tells me I should get sunglasses, then maybe I won’t squint so much. 20151115-DSC_3827

 

Saying goodbye to the wine industry

The romantic notion of living in a tent on the vineyard while working as a cellar hand during this year’s wine harvest was exactly that, a romantic notion. 20130914-IMG_4343I’m holding on to boat life with slippery fingers. Not quite willing to take that job that requires the car. Not quite willing to leave these islands for the mainland. Not quite willing to trade the smell of brine for the smell of fermented wine. 20131115-IMG_4734The wine harvest has been my means of travel for many years. It’s brought me to new places, afforded me bits of extra cash, and suddenly ended as quickly as it began. It’s been a lesson in impermanence. A lesson in saying goodbye. Being a traveling cellar hand has always felt like being part of this secret club. A club of cellar rats doing a job that anyone could learn if only they knew it existed. Making wine breaks my back, stains my hands and fills my heart each year. But in the end it leaves me homeless in a strange place where I must then move on to more work or more travel. IMG_3066I am part of a different club now, however. Even though that seasonal job with the French winemaker a state away sounded fun, it wasn’t going to get me any closer to my boat. It was going to take me further away. During our phone conversation he said in a thick accent. “This too is my dream, to have a boat and sail away. But you must first buy your freedom.” 20150515-DSC_0958People tell me to apply myself. To get a “real” job. To “do what I love”. To not “work for money.” All seem to contradict themselves. I can’t do what I love without money and a real job would afford me no time to do what I love.

Taking the helm

Walking through town I’m teetering on the edge of a nervous breakdown. I’ve made my bed, and now I’ll lie in my dirty sheets. I’m moving off the boat.

Helm

The streets are filled with tourists. The sun radiates off the concrete. I come into a cafe for internet  to apply for jobs. One girl behind the counter has her hair perfectly curled by a curling iron. The other has shorts so short her cheeks hang out. They can’t be more than 18. I’m two days back on shore and already I don’t fit.

I head back to the boat to look for Alan and see how he’s fairing in his job hunt but he’s not there. The boat is empty. I heat day old rice and beans and try to stop the tears that sting my eyes. “I need to get used to coming home to an empty boat,” I think. My own boat.

I head back out onto the streets and wander, aimlessly. Hoping to see Alan’s orange t-shirt and white sailing hat somewhere in the crowd of strange faces. I never thought I’d be one of those people who is still in a living situation with their “ex.” But it all happened so quickly, and what can I say–he’s my best friend.

After checking into possible jobs in town I fear I’ve exhausted my options. I head back to the same coffee shop. That familiar hat is sitting in the corner. “I’ve found you two boats,” he says with a smile.

“Yeah?” I say. My heart feeling instantly lighter at the sight of him.  “I wonder how I will pay for them.”