When things went south

MY BRAINHere is a look into my mind, from when I first really decided I needed to have a boat of my own. Perhaps it was decided for me. Nevertheless, here is an excerpt from a letter I wrote a friend while I was sailing around British Columbia this summer aboard a man’s boat whom we will call Jack, as in captain Jack (obviously). This friend and I met while we were living and working together on a farm in the foothills of Mount Rainier.

I just walked through a forest trail that had this plant with leaves the size of my body. Where I came out on the other end was this really shitty looking diner, but inside is the most wonderful robins egg blue walls and tables, with all natural light from the big open windows. I’m in Pendar Harbor, BC. There are so many places I’ve visited on this sailing trip through Canada where I’ve been like, “Why can’t I be half Canadian?” Which is funny because I’ve been thinking a lot about getting my own boat, having my own piece of the pie. Jack’s extensive resume of small, attainable boats has me itching to try it on my own. It’s more of an obsession really. 

There’s this story of a man, middle aged, he’s a filmmaker and has this small boat and all he can think about is sailing it around the world alone. In his documentary of the solo voyage, where he loses his mast and experiences an incredible torment of large, breaking seas and relentless gale force winds, he says “If I wasn’t here, I’d probably still be thinking about it.” Boats can borderline obsession and I wonder, if I stay aboard Jack’s beautiful, perfectly maintained cutter– will I still be sitting there thinking about my own? 

I love Jack and every time I lay down in the v-berth, my head tucked into his armpit, warm light pouring through the open hatch I think “this is perfect, how could I want anything else?” But within minutes of every hour, the thoughts creep back in. Scheming how I can manage to obtain and eat my piece, of the pie, or should I say my “peace.” 
On Jack’s boat I’m lazy. I know he is there to keep me safe and I put in minimal effort. I think back to the farm, when my days were so full. I feel like my hands and head were always busy. On my own boat, I imagine it would be similar. I’d be responsible for keeping the farm floating. Yet there’s something inherently isolating about being a sailor, living on a boat. And Jack, who has had partners on boats and been solo, is one of many who says solo sailing sucks. Maintaining a boat alone sucks. Living on a boat alone sucks. But do I perhaps needs to figure that out for myself? Will leaving this boat be one I will always live to regret? Will a boat of my own be my white whale? Something that will swallow me alive financially, emotionally, physically? Do I owe it to myself to figure that out?



  1. There is only one person that can answer your questions. I think part of it also comes into how well do you like yourself? You may have to spend a fair amount of time with just yourself for company. As long as you like you, you are good to go!

  2. I commented when you posted (quite a while back) about being in the marina and people “thinking” that his boat was your boat, and you could sort of almost believe it and also not correct them. Right then I SO recognized your feelings, because I was in the same situation (some years ago). Wonderful boat, wonderful sailing partner, but…. not mine. I just felt I needed to have my own. That feeling never resolved (until I did get my own boat). Also, it’s inescapable that in the former situation, if the relationship ends, your relationship with the boat likely ends as well. Ugh, loss of relationship and boat/home.

    Not saying your experience will be mine, but I definitely “recognize” your writings (except that you express things better than I ever did – great writing).

  3. yes, you owe it to yourself to find out. I suspect you won’t think it sucks. I also suspect you won’t be so lonely.

  4. Why not get your own boat and sail together. Is it necessary that you live on the same boat? You could travel in tandem. Just a thought………

  5. I am excited to read your blog! You are a badass woman!!

  6. “Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”
    ― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

    This quote pretty well sums up my life. I started sailing when I was 8, built a 60′ schooner with my Dad. But didn’t really appreciate the above quote until I got my first 8′ pram when I was 10. For the last 16 years I have owned and sailed a 1960 Pearson Triton. I paid $2000.00 for it and continue to invest all of my spare time and money into her. My wife thinks I’m crazy, but, in truth, my boat keeps me sane. My Dad came to visit me in Tampa 3 years ago (schooner was sold in 2006). We sailed on my boat, because it wasn’t his he HAD to get his own boat. Now he lives on HIS boat 2 slips down from me.

    Get your boat, love your boat, love your life! Just remember, what the boat want’s, the boat gets!
    The dividends are immeasurable. I know Jack thinks that it probably has to be a Lyle Hess design… it doesn’t!

    Milt in Tampa

    • Ahoy!! I love the Triton, so so much. I found one nearby (ish) to me but it needed to be recored (your specialty) and I just wasn’t up to the task on my first boat as a straight away project. I found another little 28 footer I’m VERRYYYYYY excited about and all will be revealed in a future blog post. Until then, Happy New Year!!!

      • I wouldn’t call it a specialty. It about kicked my Ass!!!
        Take Care, If you ever make it to Tampa, I’ll take you sailing (as soon as I rebuild the rudder). See my point? I’m never cored,er, I mean bored!


  7. Keep trusting yourself. I can’t wait for you to find the boat that gets the hairs on your arms tingling, and to read your adventures.

    PS (actually in response to one of your other posts) If you ever want any long distance boat renovation advice I have a yard full of very chatty boat builders at my disposal for the next five months – each offers a different solution (always), but it’s good for inspiration, so yell any time. x