Help me finish my film !

I’ve done something awful. I’ve become involved in a creative endeavor that I now must complete. No, it’s not a deadline for one of my editor’s–it’s a creation from the depths of my soul, which I never intended for it to be.

When I first launched my boat and was charging to weather with a half rotten backstay, whispering to my boat “please don’t break,” I came up with a question. When I experienced malfunction after malfunction, hands bloodied and bruised, hours spent crawling in bilges and lockers, hands caked in paint and chemicals, I asked the question again.

Why do I do this shit for fun?

It kept coming up, my query. My boat was decommissioned for weeks. I bought and sold a succession of three engines before finding the right one. I fixed my rigging just in time for a gale. I rebuilt hatches. I took off hardware. I put it back on. I sewed tears in my sails. I took measurements. I ordered parts. And I’m not even done. Not even close.

I met other people in the same situation. Long, hot, arduous days spent working on boats. Sometimes for weeks, months, years. With their help I set out to answer what had been gnawing at me. Why go to sea?

I quickly realized, however, the question could not be answered here in my home port. I must find out. I must keep probing other sailors. I must not give up. I must go to sea.

My intended voyage from Lake Champlain to Cuba seems impossible. Thousands of miles through the Champlain Canal, Hudson River, Inter Coastal Waterway and Atlantic Ocean is the most ambitious thing I’ve ever thought of. My window of opportunity grows narrower each day as the season quickly passes.

If you enjoy my musings here on Dinghy Dreams, or you enjoy my film–please share it. If you feel compelled to forgo one more pint of brew to donate five bucks to my mission, I will send you a post card from Cuba and a copy of the film once complete.

In the meantime I’ll be selling my car, doing odd jobs and writing articles for local newspapers to fund this endeavor. I could probably spare a kidney, too, so no worries.

single handed sailor girl, crowdfunding sailing adventure, short sailing film


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



While I was piling my cumbersome belongings into the car of the kind stranger who picked me up hitching off the side of the road, I saw Alan ride past on his bicycle and blow me a kiss. It only occurred to me after I’d already boarded the ferry and disembarked from Lopez Island, but that brief moment in time may very well have been the last time I’d ever see him. 20150717-DSC_2955As I pull my dreadlocks back behind my head, attempting to look presentable for the civilized world, the weathered blue hair tie snaps suddenly. An explosion of hair erupts, engulfing my appearance. It is the hair tie I’ve worn around my wrist for a year, since I found it one day last summer aboard Alan’s boat when the day was too hot for the weight of my mane.
20150622-DSC_2544 The circle was broken. The last thing I had of his was now gone.

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.


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.”