Distract me from myself

Collapsing into a chair in the marina lounge I let out a dramatic sigh. I had two useless job interviews today. My part time boat work remains part time. The hustle continues into the evening, tonight. Uploading a resume and profile to online freelance networks. Haul out is scheduled and I have just enough money for the fees and one month in the yard. That doesn’t leave much left for epoxy, or a seacock, or cockpit drains, fittings for my rigging, or any number of things my boat requires to be made seaworthy.

Somehow I’ll get there, but I don’t know if I’ll ever achieve the height of adventure status as these two. I’ve been following Ellen & Seth’s blog, Gone Float About, since my time sailing in the Pacific Northwest. They circumnavigated in their early twenties onboard an ancient wooden boat under 30 feet. They had no offshore experience, and little knowledge of how to restore said artifact. But they did it!

Now, they are Arctic voyagers, nature photographers, published writers, academics…

I don’t aspire to earn a Ph.D., circumnavigate, or ever go to the Arctic Circle, (although I do have a 40 oz thermos given to me by a couple of Northwest Passage makers) but their level of seamanship, teamwork, and how well they steward their vessel is of great inspiration.

I don’t regularly follow many sailing blogs or youtube channels, although I’ve been trying to collaborate more with other sailing media folks out there recently, I’ve probably been most loyal to Ellen and Seth. Partially that’s because their posts are infrequent (Ellen mostly writes paid articles for sailing publications) and because their work is different than most sailing blogs and vlogs out there.

Their most recent post, however, happened to reach me at just the right time. As I was sighing in self pity hoping for something to distract me from myself their video sailed into my inbox, complete with classical music and all.

A good cabin boy is hard to find

It was mates for life at first sight. Vegan. Kiwi. Sailor. I had literally just written some lines about how my sick obsession with boats began in New Zealand and then he walked through the door. I’ve always placed more value on friendship than romance. Finding it longer lasting, more meaningful and intimate than any dalliance.

Lust complicates everything. I avoid it whenever possible.

Not long after our first meeting we floated away for a short overnight on my boat. He cooked dinner. He did the dishes (mostly because I blatantly refused). He didn’t try to tell me what to do. In fact, I might even know more about boats than he does and, miraculously, he’s cool with that. I laughed so hard I could barely hold the tiller when he suggested we precociously raft up to a line of power boats at the bottom of the bay, and pretended to hear the jokes (and thus responded) being made onboard a neighboring vessel. He coined the term “my boat, my pussy” which embodies the attitude I’ve had to adopt as a female solo-sailor in a male dominated lifestyle.

It was refreshing to not only be around a sailor close to my age, but around one who doesn’t either hit on me or feel his manhood is belittled when I give direction as a captain.

Our second overnight adventure, while under 24 hours, felt like a lifetime. Time between two people is sped up when you’re on a boat that only goes an average of five miles per hour.

We experienced dead calms and big gusts. We beat off lee shores and sailed pleasantly off the wind. We were encouraged by another boat to poach a mooring ball and watched the sunset over the ridges of distant mountains.

“This reminds me of New Zealand,” I said.

We argued and made up. We had conversations about feminism and veganism while I was shitting in a bucket. He handed me tampons and toilet paper. We sang sea shanties under the full moon. We whispered like kids in summer camp from our separate bunks into the wee hours of the night.

On the way back I told him I didn’t want to do anything. That he could sail the boat home. I trusted him. It was a test of my control freak nature onboard my little boat to not criticize every maneuver. I tried to think of the times I sailed with captains who yelled at me or yanked something out of my hand when I didn’t do it exactly their way, even if what I did wasn’t wrong. I don’t want to be a captain like that.

When I finally looked up from my nesting spot we were safely entering the harbor and it was time to say goodbye. He was leaving America and back to study for his PhD in Europe. We vowed that one day, we’d cross the pacific together. Maybe even onboard Vanupied.

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 !!!

 

Help me finish my film !

https://www.gofundme.com/see-you-out-there

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

 

I get by with a little help from my friends

The words from an acquaintance when I was contemplating buying my first boat last year sometimes echo in my mind; “I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed that Lake Champlain isn’t exactly a sailing mecca.” He was wrong.

cruising the ICW

Bluewater boats, Bluewater sailors, Bluewater scheming and planning and dreaming around every corner and cove. Chart swapping, gear talking, beer cans clinking. Boomkins, boom gallows and bowsprits. Varnish and vagabonds. Full keels, fin keels, twin keels. Gaffers, cutters, schooners and sloops.

sailing lake champlain, sailor girl, sailing blog

I must be the luckiest sailor in the world. I’ve said it before, but every point I round on this lake there is someone who has helped me or taught me to thread aluminum, cut with a grinder, fair my epoxy, wire my electronics or tune the rig.

sailing blog, sailing lake champlain, pearson ariel 26

We hold each other’s screw drivers, we take turns buying packs of beer and cigarettes, we act as sounding boards for ideas, we climb each other’s masts, we stop what we are doing to help. We are friends. We are brothers and sisters. We are cousins. We are a circle of humans. A tribe. A water tribe.

My community is strong, my boat is strong, my spirit is strong. I don’t want to jinx it but…I think I’ve set a departure date.

“You going south this year or what?!”

“I’m going to try, but I’m scared! Like really scared.”

“Good! You Should be! It’ll keep you alive.”