Karma economics

pearson ariel 26, cruising the icw
The answer is out there somewhere, I just gotta find it.

I want to be so close to a manatee that its snot gets on my face. That’s what happened to Tabatha, age 9, who lives aboard a 46-foot Hunter with her 11-year-old sister Elizabeth and their parents, Ferrel and Phil, from Austin, Texas.

“The manatee nibbled my hair!” she said giggling.

“You’re not supposed to touch them but it’s okay if they touch you,” her sister chimed in. “They got so close that one’s snot got on Tabatha’s face when it sneezed!”

I looked at this boat child in disbelief. She nodded in earnest.

“You’re so lucky,” I said and the saloon erupted in the little girls’ laughter.

pearson ariel 26, live aboard
Pirating the dock in Georgetown, SC.

Michael, onboard an Irwin-something, was in the same part of town as me. I’d walked to the goodwill in an effort to find a pair of rubber boots. I passed an Aldi’s on the way and convinced him to meet me there and share his Uber with me back to the marina. I went crazy on canned fish, peanut butter, coconut oil, crackers, and introduced him to the magic of this discount store for provisioning.

I bought a canned ham because it seemed sailor like and promised we’d cook it together for Michael’s thirty-second birthday this week.

“Except it’s already cooked,” he said.

bi polar the dinghy

On Saturday we launched Bi Polar. By we I mean myself, Kourtney, Pete, Pete’s 15-year-old daughter Ava, and her teenage boyfriend, Liam. How excited these people get a fixing problems astounds me. I stared at them in awe as they methodized how to remove some tight fitting rubber from the oars. I’d just have cut it, but they excitedly interjected different suggestions and strategies until it was done. I sort of felt like I was watching an act, but it was real. These people don’t give up.

Bi Polar is, of course, a dinghy. The dinghy of my dreams, actually. A double-ender, eight-foot, salty little row boat. The dinghy once belonged to Kourtney’s friend Scotty. Scotty taught her how to row. Scotty recently died. Scotty liked to drink so we drank champagne in honor of him and the relaunch of his old boat. Kourtney has had Bi Polar for ten years. It will soon be the tender to the 25-foot Pacific Seacraft she has gutted and is rebuilding from the ground up. But for now it is my loaner dinghy until we come up with a permanent dinghy solution.

It was kind of like a dream. These people showing up in their magical VW bus, helping you solve your problem, and then leaving you there alone to row your dinghy in peace while dolphins swim alongside.

In the hullaballoo of getting to the pre-launch dinghy preparations in town, one of my rubber boots managed to detach itself from my backpack. In an effort to locate the missing boot I made signs and retraced my steps, but to no avail. My efforts were merely cathartic it turned out. I may have lost my sea boot but I’ve gained so much.

The magic bus

The girl I’m working for now, Jillian, is 31 and owns her own yacht services company. We wax sport fishing yachts and sailboats and oil teak. She does so much more than that, but right now that is what keeps us busy. She brought me to the ocean and we ate warm soup in her van on a day we got rained off from work. She is connecting me with another sailor and possibly more work painting his boat.

I only found her because Kourtney brought me to the used marine store and the owner gave me her number. I called her, told her my story, told her who I know and the next morning she came to meet me even though she had just learned her friend died. We looked out at my boat from the seawall and she gave me a job.

Space wax

I am continuously humbled by the kindness and friendship from strangers. – January 14, St. Augustine, FL

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Lonely Blue Highway

(c) Roland Falkenstien

Cities on the water way are so strange. Step away from the harbor front streets, the marinas, the anchorages and it’s as if you’re not even near the water at all anymore. Suddenly it’s suburban sprawl and traffic and you find yourself riding a borrowed mountain bike down a highway sidewalk, diverting into a neighborhood that resembles the hood, just trying to escape the lights, and noise, and rain— in order to get back to your boat.

One mile inland and, it seems, people have no fucking idea they are anywhere near the sea.

Humans are kind to me. For whatever reason I find myself constantly surrounded by people and forming unlikely friendships. Sometimes I forget how to be alone. Sometimes I’m afraid it will end—the people I already know, the people I haven’t met yet. Not only will they not be here physically, they won’t be anywhere. They won’t be in any pocket of my heart, the land or the waterway.

Technology baffles me. So many people keep up with me, meet up with me, and ultimately alter my life in positive ways that put me one step closer to my goal—which is, in a sense, to be away from them completely. To be alone on the sea.

There is not one moment of one day where I don’t think about this boat, my means and my character—and how all that equates to the possibility of actually achieving what it is I envision.

“You are in charge of what happens next,” Chris said to me as I left her dock and historic estate. We were discussing the possibility of my return to that small Chesapeake town for what would be an overhaul to the boat. Another step, in a series of steps and seasons, to be out there on the sea safely, sustainably, solo.

“What’s new in your love life?” my oldest friend asked me in a text message.

“Not much,” I replied. “Just in a solid, committed relationship with my boat.”

My conversations with those furthest away who know me best are reduced to screens. My face-to-face conversations happen with people I hardly know and may never see again. These conversations all feel equally important.

“The intercoastal is that way,” a sailor I traveled with told me twice.

Once when we were at the dock discussing the next day’s route and another time when we were underway. The natural direction I thought to go in both those instances led to the open ocean… not the protected waterway.

When we parted ways and I pulled into port to wait for important mail, he continued on into the next canal and body of water where he hoped to wait for a good weather window and sail offshore.

His mast now far from sight I called out on the radio anyway.

“Good luck out there on the lonely blue highway,” I said, essentially, to no one.

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

 

Old salts

Everywhere I go there’s some old salt with thousands of sea miles under their belt who seems to believe in me and my little boat more than I do. Perhaps for every one of them, there is someone who thinks I’m fool hearted. My own thoughts of this whole endeavor fall somewhere in the middle.

dirtbag sailor

The past ten days being in the boatyard have been like an extended self survey. I’ve learned every weakness of my boat, and her strengths. The crazy thing is, I think I can fix damn near everything. I don’t know how it happened, but I’m finally starting to understand all this. I can speak the language, decipher diagrams, ask the right questions, and use the tools. I know what needs to be done, and I more or less know how to do it.

The winds are up which means no boats are being launched today or tomorrow. I’m scheduled to launch first thing Thursday morning and then I’ll navigate to my home port, where the real work begins.

“Don’t get stuck in Florida,” one of the old salts said to me.

“What do you mean, like don’t run aground?” I asked. 

“No,” he said. “Don’t be one of those people that never leaves…and don’t dawdle in the Bahamas!”