SOS! HELP ME TELL MY #METOO STORY, REBUILD MY BOAT, AND LAUNCH AN ONLINE NEWSPAPER DEDICATED TO SAILING & THE MARINE INDUSTRY SO NO GIRL EVER HAS TO GO THROUGH WHAT I DID JUST TO GET ON BOATS (full story here)
MASSIVE UPDATE : portfolio, yacht broker, & more
Many exciting thing abound like the dark side of sailing culture, yacht broker wars, a new brand and website launch, and a portfolio update so anyone can catch up on my latest sailing articles from SAIL magazine and more.
The dynamic duo is back again. That’s right, I am repping for Melanie Neale at Sunshine Cruising Yachts from now until forever. Hit me up at email@example.com for your yacht broker needs. Coastal North Carolina & Long Island, NY are my current areas.
Massive portfolio update is here: YACHTING JOURNALIST
articles from towndock, spin sheet, prop talk, SAIL mag
And last but not least, coming soon…
You can donate to the BOAT GIRLS FUND here
Day in the Life of a Jewish sailor girl at a Christian dock !
That ~WHOLESOME~ content you asked for! Jewish east coast sailor girl ties up at Christian university ! Making friends, rigging a mizzen mast, practicing tolerance of religion, and exploring this historically Black city ! More on my YouTube! Follow for more @dinghydreams
Another Sam Holmes Feature
Once again in collaboration with YouTube’r and single-hander Sam Holmes, we test a survival suit and it turns out surprisingly whimsical! From his channel “Sam Holmes Sailing.”
Sam Holmes Sailing
When I first met Sam Holmes I had no idea he was famous. We ended up following each other through Instagram due to our respective tag lines; his is “Sailing Oceans in Questionable Vessels,” mine is “Just Say No to the Marine Industrial Complex.” When we ended up in the same harbor I learned he crossed the pacific from California to Hawaii on a 23 foot boat, and was now sailing his Cape Dory 28 on the East Coast. He also had a YouTube channel with some videos clocking millions of views, and what I would later learn has a cult following.
Our encounter was brief but profound. I was impressed by his voyaging and he was impressed with my boat and work I’d done so far. Sam said I reminded him of the famous sailing anarchist Moxie Marlinspike. Even though I’m nothing like Moxie, who literally designed the encrypted messaging app Signal, I was honored and felt seen. He was going north and I was trying to tie up lose ends on the Chesapeake.
We vowed to meet again.
Sam and I quickly became long distance buddies. He helped me come up with the idea to try and recoup the fees slammed on my friend and I for painting my boats bottom with some messages. He offered me lots of advice and stories about ocean sailing. While I taught him about bronze chain plates and white privilege. With a good amount of shit talking on each other intermixed. He gave me his dinghy, which was an awesome skin on frame nesting dinghy that I tried to bring back to life, but Sam wasn’t kidding about questionable vessels.
I tried to rehab the dinghy but it was starting to seriously sink before I even left the dock. When some of my friends who followed Sam’s channel found out I’d met Sam I jokingly started to say “He gave me his dinghy, but we didn’t make out!”
Eventually, I told the joke to Sam. At which point we both entertained it for like one second before quickly realizing we are much better as just friends. And the rest is history…
Sam and I are literally on other ends of the spectrum. He’s hyper focused, I’m ADHD. He eats fast food and I eat vegan. He worked for Disney as an engineer, I’m an underpaid writer. I wonder sometimes about my close sailing mates, would we be friends on land?
I finally caught up with Sam again in North Carolina after a 20 hour sail south on the Pamlico Sound. I was greeted in the harbor by Sam on a skiff with a local teenager from a family he’d made friends with, also fans of his channel. He handed off homemade vegan tamales to me as I anchored under sail. Later we met up at the free private dock where he was tied up. It was like our own little island when we walked to the fancy marina where we had the shower codes down the forest lined street. I forced him to eat vegan food. We had a sleep over in separate settees aboard his cozy boat. And he helped me run mundane errands.
Sam was headed inland and I was headed south but we got to sail together aboard my boat on a blustery day. He filmed it for his YouTube channel. I tried to bail the morning of our sail, to which Sam said, “Don’t be lazy, Emily.”
And I replied, “Lazy is a term invented by capitalism and not in my vocabulary.”
It’s been a running joke about how I’ve never actually watched his channel, because we are friends in real life. So, I don’t really need to. I get the behind the scenes Sam Holmes Sailing pretty consistently. One of our favorite past times is where I read my latest essay aloud to Sam on the phone. Another common theme has been when I’m frenetically trying to get my shit together to get off the dock, or finish a project, or make a passage. I’ll ask Sam to hold me accountable. Then i’ll completely forget I asked him to do that and get mad at him when he does it. Like, why you hassling me bro?
During my most recent conversation with Sam I started coughing abruptly to which he responded casually, “you hitting the bong?” I was just choking on some coconut snacks but you catch my drift. He’d just finished shaming me for deciding not to go out a particular inlet because I couldn’t get against the currents and I was afraid of the wind over tide. But we can’t all be as brave as Sam Holmes. At least, not right away.
That’s what makes him our hero.
Sailing to a Sauna
The first time I ever went to a sauna was in the mountains above the Napa Valley in California. With pools fed by higher elevation hot springs there was a steam room, and sauna. This broke the image in my mind of a sauna full of old white men at the New York sports club. This sauna was filled with yoga teachers, anarchists, hippies, black, indigenous, folks and people of all color and gender.
The next was on an island in an archipelago in the Salish Sea, camping alone I found connection with the people singing chants as we sweat out our demons in unison.
Then, in Vermont, a fire fed sauna with the people who took me in like an orphan when I bought my first boat on Lake Champlain.
Two years ago, my grandfather fulfilled a life long dream of his to have a sauna, and bought a tiny one-person sweatbox and put it in his laundry room. My best friend and I were there on the day before the New Year. Staying in far past the recommended time with my grandma worried sick we’d pass out, we attempted to sweat out all the unrequited love and acts of betrayal we’d endured. It didn’t work. We still went back to our lovers for a while, but it was about the ceremony.
While sailing in British Columbia with a drunk, abusive captain we dropped the hook on a remote island and were promptly invited by some locals to come for a sauna. I was beyond excited, but the captain wouldn’t let me go—and at the age of 25 I was naïve and afraid enough to listen.
Since then, it has been a dream of mine to sail to a sauna.
I got the invite this fall to tie up my boat to the dock of a rich democrat with a house that looks like a museum. As I tied up my boat and he walked down to meet me I said excitedly, “I heard this was the socialist dock!”
As he gave me a tour of the property that I basically had completely to myself, I spotted a sauna. My eyes widened.
“Feel free to use that anytime.”
CALL FOR MUTUAL AID
On Labor Day weekend 2020 I hauled my boat for three days and three days only to paint the bottom, remove the old prop shaft and fiberglass the hole, and make a small repair to the rudder that will prevent me from losing the rudder in the event of fastener failure.
It was a community event. The only reason it managed to happen at all was because I was getting a deal on the fees due to the long weekend and no yachts scheduled for the space.
Sailors and friends came and went. The boatyard manager (and part owner of the yard and marina) offered advice and answered questions. The shipwright (also co-owner) even helped to remove the shaft. The shipwright, my friend and fellow she-pirate, and I all pushed the prop at the same time to finally break it. Then our ‘helper’ grabbed the sawzall and cut into my boat!
“Ack!” I shrieked. “I didn’t consent! You cant charge me for that!”
He laughed and assured me he wasn’t going to. Offered some words of encouragement to keep chasing the dream at sea. Everyone was in high spirits and it was a true collectivist effort. That night I even got a stick-n-poke tattoo onboard my boat, in the yard, commemorating the experience.
But there was a third owner of the marina and boatyard, who didn’t like the cheerful and chummy nature between me and his partners.
By day three I’d salvaged three partial cans of bottom paint all different colors and set to work anti fouling. It was then I was struck by my brilliant idea to add some peaceful, anarcho, collectivist, anti-racist messages to the bottom.
Solidarity, Comrades; Love is free; the acronym for Black Lives Matter; Resist; The Climate Crisis is Real; No Justice No Peace; and even the infamous line from the back of the Dr. Bronner’s soap bottle All for One, One for All; graced my keel.
I launched the next day, and was informed that the partner with the most share in the business was not going to honor the deal because the messages I had displayed. If I chose not to pay, the partner who did me the favor would be held responsible. So I did the right thing to not hurt someone who had tried to help me.
My friend and fellow-she pirate who helped me with my boat, who is also the sole care taker of a salty old boat and four children after her husband passed away during their years cruising together on a traditional gaff-rigged 29 footer, was also penalized and her deal for boat storage was also no longer going to be acknowledged.
I’m asking for donations to recoup the funds from the deal that was not honored. That amounts to $155. Anything extra will be given to my friend for her unanticipated fees upwards of $500. If we somehow raise all of that any remaining donations will be redistributed to mutual aid funds for folks affected by the wildfires on the west coast.
Thank you for your support.
There’s a tropical storm bearing down and it’s about to clip my anchorage. I wasn’t going to write this on the internet anywhere so my parents wouldn’t worry. But they found out about it on their own accord. I’ve got two anchors out and am protected from the wind direction in this harbor. It’s not expected to blow any worse than a winter gale, but still, it’s a bit early for this nonsense. I’m further south than I’d ought to be this time of year, but I thought I only had to worry about the heat and thunderstorms the further we marched into summer. This time last year I’d just barely arrived on the Chesapeake Bay by now. Tropical Storms were the furthest thing from my mind. Sean was still three weeks out from sailing north around Hatteras. This is the time of year people sail to Bermuda and cross the Atlantic. It’s not supposed to be like this. It kind of snuck up on me without warning. Whether it was fast moving or I simply wasn’t paying attention.
This changes everything. I was planning to cruise the sounds on my way north stopping at different islands for anchorages. Taking about a week to meet up with the inland waterway and then follow that into the Chesapeake Bay. Now I’m not so sure. With the potential for tropical storms and hurricanes to become threats in a matter of a day or two notice, I’m wondering if I should seek the protection of inland waters sooner. I don’t have a large diesel engine that I can just crank on two days before a storm to guarantee miles. I’m at the mercy of the winds.
Speaking of diesel engines, I ripped the one out of this boat and sold it in a quest for simplicity and to pay for my refit efforts. I’ve sold enough gear off this boat now that I got her for $1000. And let me tell you, it’s starting to feel like a thousand dollar boat. I’ve had to redo damn near everything. Through hulls, coamings, standing rigging, chain plates, etc… etc.. I find it troubling that the only thing really of “value,” on the boat, was the diesel engine. That’s what people consider essential. It didn’t matter that the rigging was precarious and all the wood in the cockpit was rotted, or that the through hulls were a terrifying corroded mess of antiquated parts…it mattered that it had an engine you could just fire up and “go.” How far have we come from what is considered essential, and seaworthy? When did it become engine first, then rigging? How many people if you ask, what is the heart and soul of their boat, would say their inboard engine?
Sean has moved off the boat and onto his trimaran. So, I’ve effectively had this boat on my own now for one month. I bought the boat through love colored glasses and we both had dreams to fix it up together and cross the Atlantic. With him I really thought it was possible. But it turns out love isn’t always enough. I realized that I stopped wearing my harness and life jacket when Sean came aboard. I stopped caring about a lot of shit.
He’s the kind of person who can manage to fucking circumnavigate on a boat that was basically derelict when he got it. With the right amount of luck, a great deal of intelligence, and an amygdala that doesn’t register fear and risk in the same way as neurotypical people—he fixed it in mostly all the right places and transitted the fucking planet. Not only is this a feat most sailors and people will never achieve, but he did it probably in one of the most uncomfortable ways.
No bunk. No sink. No standing head room. He told me roaches used to eat his toes at night on passages. I thought he was kidding. I always used to think he was kidding. His boat was a mix between some mad scientists lab and Davy Jones’ Locker. He just laid down on a bunch of wires to go sleep before I met him. All the way across the seven seas–passing the time alone contributing source code to open CPN, a navigation program used by world cruisers, and designing and manufacturing his own auto pilots.
I should have known better than to disturb this delicate creature. Because here we are now. It’s funny how someone can go from your hero to your ex that you have petty arguments with across the harbor.
It turns out the “Go North” and the “Go Offshore” are two entirely different lists. The former I’m almost done with and the latter I plan to finish on the Chesapeake.
There’s nothing left for me here.
I’m still not sure how that story ends, so it’s a good thing the submissions deadline for my anthology project Heartwreck: Romantic Disasters at Sea, has been pushed back. More info on submission guidelines here. New deadline is TBA.
I first met my friend Jake in a boatyard on Lake Champlain while I was sitting on the rocks taking apart a trolling motor that I never would end up getting to work. He cracked open a micro brew and shouted from the ground up to another mate on their boat. Quickly after we were introduced he said to me, “You remind me of my ex wife, and that’s a compliment.”
That summer was spent as a tight knit group of sailors rendezvousing in anchorages, sailing each other’s boats, and collaboratively engineering the shit out of repairs. I can easily be brought back to that time we nearly knocked down Jake’s boat in a squall. Or ate sausages in the cockpit next to the cliffs of Kingsland Bay with his partner. Or the time he offered to help me rebed my leaking deck hardware but I abruptly called it off after we did only a few bolts because the whole task just seemed so daunting. He used to call me, “kid,” which I found annoying and would say, “dude you know we’re only like ten years apart, right?”
Jake had a Columbia 26 at the time, which he’d completely restored. He still exists in my phone as “Jake Columbia 26.” From her damaged hull to the rotten core under the mast, new roller furling sails, glassing in the old big port lights to put in smaller, more seaworthy ones. His eventual plan with the boat, other than sailing the shit out of it on Lake Champlain, was to trailer it across the country and launch it in Washington state to sail the inside passage to Alaska. But life happened, and he sold the boat. I didn’t understand it at the time, but Jake always liked to tell me, “The adventure is not your life. Your life is the adventure.”
Jake has always been there for me. Like a therapist, a mentor, an older brother from another mother, or a spirit guide. He’s helped to see me through many of sailing life’s challenges and been there to celebrate the victories as well. He is my emergency contact if there is ever a problem at sea. He literally always answers my messages and calls to the point where I’ve wondered what the hell he even does all day. He even responded once from Belize. He has helped, like any good friend therapist, to create a secure attachment that feels safe and unwavering that I’ve been able to translate that into many other relationships in my life. He has led by example on how to be a good person, a good partner, a good friend, a good ally.
Before giving up a life of dirt bag foolery for the stability of a regular job he was a lot like me. Which I guess is why, in a sense, I’m his hero.
But really, he’s mine.
One time we were sitting on my boat with our other friend, Dale. Jake had just gotten a ukulele and had begun playing it incessantly. With his eye twitching and voice about to crack, Dale turned to him and said, “PLEASE, Jake, for the love of god, would you stop playing that thing?!”
Jake laid down his weapon, hands up with a sly grin.
He’s come a long way from that annoying, repetitive strumming and has written a song so dark, so traditional, and so poignant in response to the global corona virus pandemic that I couldn’t help myself but to do my own rendition. A rendition that deeply offended my mother (sorry, mom), but did help to lift the spirits of my worried old friend.
You know shit is getting real when the person who has always been a rock to you is starting to get scared, and you’re the one reminding them that everything is going to be okay.
It has to be.
In other news: I said I wouldn’t worry about cosmetics but… Feel free to donate to my paint fund!
Two Jews, a Mennonite, & an Engineer Go to a Boat
“It’s called a bulkhead, Dr. Steve. Bulkhead. Not a wall,” I say rolling my eyes.
We’re aboard the boat of Dr. Steve Cohen somewhere on a river in North Carolina. The boat’s high and dry. It blew aground in the last storm and has been there ever since. Without much of a tidal current, it could be a while until he gets it off. He’s a New York Jew, like me. He’s always feeding us vegan brownies and fermented foods. He’s a revered practitioner of natural medicine, with clients from near and far who come to him when nothing else is working.
But he knows absolutely nothing about boats.
He recruited my boyfriend and a young Mennonite who owns a lumber mill to help him build a sculling oar, because his engine is unreliable. He has to spray it with gasoline to start it. It’s a diesel engine. He says he can, “sail anywhere,” but we don’t believe him.
He’s had this same boat, anchored out in front of a private community, for ten years. He locks his dinghy on shore at the park and recently some community member slathered his entire dinghy (oars, seats, and sole) in grease. To what end I can only assume was send a message to get his boat out of their little development.
No such luck, though, since his boat is still hard aground a week later. And Steve isn’t the kind of guy to let a little grease on his dinghy or a hard grounding prevent him from becoming a sailor.
I (the Jew) am somehow roped into organizing setting up and splicing a permanent mooring for his boat, and Sean (the engineer in the story) works with the woodsman (the Mennonite) cutting and carving the oar. It all seems rather fruitless for a boat that is high and dry, but Dr. Steve (the other Jew) has the confidence, enthusiasm, and endless bowls of soup to convince us. He’s convinced himself, too, that Tow Boat U.S. will be able to pull him off once the water levels are up. After all, they know him by name. So we have to finish his new means of propulsion and his new mooring before then.
Steve has been instrumental in helping me get my health on track. He’s guided me in treating a myriad of health issues naturally. It’s been a long road, but like Dr. Steve says, “If it could be fixed right away it would be called a miracle, not treatment.”
When I asked Steve if we could stay in contact after we left he said, “Of course! We’re Jews!”
As in, we stick together
So even though he’s literally the worst at boats, I’m swamped with work, and it’s time to leave his town as soon as possible–we feel inclined to stay a little longer to help him finish his sculling oar and new mooring. Which will hopefully prevent a grounding of his boat, and another greasing of his dinghy in the future.
As far as getting his boat off the ground, well, that’s in the hands of the tow boat…
Happy New Year !
Happy New Year, dear readers!
Many boat and writing projects abound, but I’m stuck in a windy anchorage on a hurricane devastated island.
A fellow engineless sailor is here who helped us get access to bikes, free laundry in a FEMA trailer, and some apples. He lost me, though, when he said he questioned the existence of sexism and asked if feminism was the same as chauvinism. He then seemed surprised when I answered no. And, in his grandest gesture of misogyny he said, “I need to get me one of those,” in reference to a girlfriend who would clean his boat for him. It’s sad because he’s the only other boat around these parts without an engine and he came off so helpful, but it’s 2020 not 1920.
I had no choice but to kick him off my boat even though he’d just shared a couple pounds of fresh shrimp with us.
Should be some wind to sail on out of here soon enough!
I want to express my gratitude for those of you that still read this damn thing and for those who are just starting to. I hope you all get a little further along in your journeys.
Don’t forget submissions are open for Heartwreck: Romantic Disasters at Sea, a collection of stories about love and loss on boats.
Also, check out my article published in SpinSheet Magazine about riding cold fronts down the Chesapeake Bay.
I finally got my writing portfolio moved over here, so check it out and contact me for any of your writing or editing needs.
I’ll get this damn boat seaworthy again soon enough, in the meantime I’ll be here offending all the white men who are holding on to the very last of their undeserved privilege!
Here’s to surviving late stage capitalism, the climate crisis, and all the inevitable break ups and deaths this year!
See you out there!
She Thrived: A Q&A with solo sailor, artist, & cancer survivor Capt. Becca
I wrote a story once about my friend Logan and their old boat with its custom wooden spars and self swaged standing rigging. Among other sailor punk repairs that were solid as fuck but didn’t buy into the marine industrial complex, the boat also had a rich history. Nearly all of that was due to Rebecca Rankin, or Capt. Becca. Turned out that some of the facts in my story about her once-boat, Dolphin, were incorrect—and she reached out to tell me so.
I got defensive, of course, and (not soon enough) saw her side. I apologetically promised to make the proper corrections. While it was uncomfortable to hear some criticism about myself and my work, I in turn gained a glimpse into this woman’s remarkable life journey.
She’s an accomplished solo sailor, a finisher of the venerable engineless Race to Alaska, an artist, cancer survivor, and a student at the Maine Maritime Academy. Oh yeah, she’s also a talented visual artist.
Capt. Becca got into sailing on a whim, and it changed her life forever…
Tell me about your boat, Dolphin.
Oh my goodness, Dolphin. Well, to begin I bought Dolphin when I was about 21 years old. I am 33 now. We had travelled to the Florida because my boyfriend at the time, and I, were cold. It was winter and we lived in my Volvo station wagon. Key West, Florida was the farthest south a body could go without a passport so…off we went!
I had some money left over from my grandmother’s inheritance and he mentioned this idea of living on a boat….and I was like, “that sounds neat!” So, we looked at Dolphin and two other boats and then purchased that little 28’ sloop for $6500 on Stock Island, Florida.
We did SO MUCH WORK TO HER. Things were always breaking. For example, a couple weeks after we bought her and before I had even sailed her, the forestay parted during a storm and the rotten mast boot kicked out and she dismasted. I was trying to learn to re-rig a small sailboat before I’d even been sailing. By the time I finally sold her to Logan, I had touched every single square centimeter of that motherfucker, probably twice.
I did sell her twice, first to my friend Brenna, after single-handing back from Guatemala and having a hell of a time of it. Then I bought her back. Because why? I don’t remember. Either way, I spent eight months in a boatyard and then sailed her from Key West to New Orleans where I lived for a while then decided to “pursue a career” and sold her to Logan in order to go to school. I don’t know what years anything happened. I’m not terrific with a sense of time, but I think I owned her, on and off, for about eight years.
What is the most terrifying thing that happened to you at sea?
Ha! Oh, Gosh. I suppose when I did my first big single-handed passage from Key West to Isla Mujeres, Mexico. I was using this kitchen egg timer to wake myself up in 10 minute intervals while I sailed through a shipping channel at night. I didn’t have any sophisticated electronic equipment onboard cause I was broke. I learned that 10 minutes is sufficient time for a very large freighter to steam from invisible to about three stories directly above your head as she passes directly perpendicularly in front of your bow in the middle of the night… you know those experiences where instead of being utterly, completely fucking dead you’re instead absolutely fine? That was one of them. That ship was so close to me I couldn’t see her top decks without craning my neck, but she passed right on by and into the night and I, and Dolphin, were completely fine. Stunning, that much is for certain. And the stars were so bright.
What kind of boat do you have now? What kind of work does it need? What are your future plans for the boat?
Today, I have a steel 38’ yawl named Cu Mara, which is Gaelic for “Sea Hound.” She was built in Ontario, Canada in 1975 by a gentleman named Al Mason and lived there most of her life until my friend Robin transported her to Maine about six years ago. I bought her, and have moved her only by truck all over the state of Maine. I purchased her prior to my acceptance to Maine Maritime Academy and have been rather forced to put my aspirations for her on the back-burner as I work through school, but I hope very much to see her sailing, hopefully to a foreign country, in the not so distant future. She has been sitting out of the water for many years now so every system requires a general go-over, but she is a steel vessel who has never been immersed in salt water so she is, generally, in remarkably excellent condition for her age.
You said to me once you are in school at Maine Maritime because you want to be a better captain. What is an example of a time you’ve been a good captain? How about a bad one?
Certainly, that time I fell asleep at the helm and was awoken by the sound of crashing breakers, had a moment where I was thankful I was at the beach, then realized I was sailing at 6 knots directly into the shore so pirouetted around without even waking my crew of two was an example of my less-than-illustrious captaining abilities. That was off the East Coast of Belize and, since we didn’t crash nor die and no one else even woke up, it might qualify as a “good captain” moment as well. I’m torn.
But yes, I am at school at MMA because I have zero “official” knowledge of the ways of the sea. Despite my experience, I have no formal knowledge of things like navigation and, so, especially in the world we find ourselves now, I am working to improve my knowledge of all things maritime in the hopes that I will be a stronger and fairer captain in the future, assuming I can actually handle the responsibility. I’m a single-hander at heart for eternity, most likely, and a reluctant captain at best. I just want to make wise decisions and sail to exotic lands without crashing into things, what can I say?
You competed in the 2019 Race to Alaska and finished! What was that like? What kind of boat? How did you end up as crew?
I did! It was fucking dope and fascinating as all hell! What a crazy little micro-universe, cult type thing they have going on surrounding the R2AK. Such a kooky event. So many awesome people. So weird! The boat we sailed on was an F-27 trimaran named Magpie, one of those folding, trailerable deals and we sailed with a crew of three. My captain, Katy Steward, literally just texted me one day and said, “Hey, you sail right?” She says, now, she thought of me because she needed another hand she could trust to stand watch alone and, even though we had never met, she figured I could handle it. We’re real close now, she’s fucking amazing. Obviously, I was available and said “yes,” which is the first step in any real adventure, after all.
What were some of the negative experiences of R2AK?
There wasn’t any wind so we pedaled that goddamn trimaran across a whole lot of bodies of water. I’m not a racer, so I’m not particularly inclined to go places as fast as humanly possible, especially when it doesn’t make any damn sense to do so, so I struggled with that a bit. I was also intriguingly disturbed by the media attention the R2AK and R2AK racers receive, but that’s more of a reflection on me and my discomfort in the spotlight than anything else.
In both the sailing community and marine industry women are in the minority. What kind of sexism have you faced and how have you overcome it?
I have a number of terrifically specific personal experiences, like being dropped from the program at Piney Point for no reason whatsoever, but it’s sometimes personally difficult to separate the experiences I have from the appearance of my gender and the appearance of my tattoos. I am heavily tattooed and believe this to be an equally affective experience in regards to my career, sometimes even more so than the fact I am a woman. I must say, I also stand 6’1” tall, taller than most men, and so have not felt the effects of sexism as directly as many of my smaller, female counterparts. I discern it has something to do with the perception that I can’t be as easily fucked with, so men don’t treat me as less than equal as much. Obviously, discrimination is still a huge part of everything I experience. This is not the maritime standard I hope to see in the future. Sitting with the unbelievable sexist and discriminatory aspects of this industry is incredibly difficult. We are one of the most patronizing and mentally antiquated industries out there. I can only hope that, by continuing forward with my career and intentions, I am part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.
So you’re a fucking survivor and I hope you don’t mind me asking about it. What kind of cancer did you have? How old were you when were you diagnosed? What was it like navigating the healthcare system as a young woman with no insurance?
Yeah, fuck yeah I am! I don’t mind your asking one bit! I was diagnosed with Stage III Ovarian dysgerminoma in July of 2016, at age 30, after having my right ovary, fallopian tube and 26 lymph nodes removed in an emergency surgery after the tumor inside my ovary grew so large it eclipsed my bladder. That sucker was about eight pounds. I underwent 6 months of BEP Chemotherapy, which is a rare but highly effective type of chemotherapy, and have been in remission for about three years now. There is zero history of cancer of any type in my family.
Navigating the healthcare system as a young woman with no insurance was fucking insane. I do not recommend it to anyone and find it incredibly embarrassing that THIS is the point to which we have evolved, societally. Y’all need to get your shit together and re-align your priorities. No person ACTUALLY DYING should have to rely on a friend she hardly knows to feign being a doctor so that she can get the medical attention she requires to NOT DIE in America. It’s a real fucking tragedy. It was about a year, or maybe two, post treatment I could even go IN a hospital without crying. It’s absolutely unbelievable.
How has surviving from cancer altered the course of your life?
It has changed my life, completely, as I know it. I am not the same person as I was prior to illness and treatment. For one, I have a lot of lingering physical issues, like Raynaud’s disease in my feet and hands, PTSD and memory issues that are direct results of chemotherapy treatment but, MORE SO, I was forced, by my illness, to finally fucking show up for myself. I learned about boundaries, my needs, my body and my heart in a way that is reserved for cancer survivors. Its difficult to explain, but not a day goes by I don’t consider that event in my life. Its precious, man. Every second is precious. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a liar cause the only thing I really know is that you really never, ever fucking know.
You’re also an artist, how would you describe your art?
My art is fucking beautiful. For many years, it was my primary source of income. I don’t think I produced the best work I could have due to this dependency, but produced I sure did. My art is a direct expression of myself and it is raw, real and unique, just like me. I have no training, besides what my mom taught me, cause she’s a badass artist, and, so, the result is actually original. It took me awhile, but now I can dig that THAT is amazing and priceless. My art isn’t for everyone, but so what.
How can people buy your art or support you in some other way?
Hell! I have a lot of various websites you can see my art, I sell a lot of original pieces through my Facebook and Instagram. I have goals to publish some books and keep creating in the future and you can always just VenMo me money for no reason at all. It’d be great to start a Patreon, but I need to identify a project I feel worthy, first!
What’s next for you and how can we watch?
The goal, currently, is to make my way, at least semi-successfully, to graduation from the Vessel Operations and Technology Program at Maine Maritime Academy. You can find me on Facebook and Instagram and message me any ole time about any ole thing.
The Right Hands : An Update on My First Boat
I’ve always said fixing boats is a thankless fucking job, but nothing quite says that like the kid you sold your boat to abandoning it at the dock after you just finished a nine month refit.
Luckily, not all boats I’ve sold have ended up with the same destiny as my last one. I recently got an email from the current owner of my first boat, a Bristol 24 named Anam Cara. He bought the boat from the person I sold it to and has made many improvements! He even specifically praised some of the work I’d done restoring her, although he did forget to mention those proper reef points I put in.
At least I can say with certainty that Anam Cara fell into the right hands!
I’m current owner of Anam Cara, when i researched the boat before buying I found your website and have been checking it from time to since. My hats off to you. I am so happy to see people taking a path like you. In this increasingly expensive world it seems like such a challenge to live the dream. Love that you have the next boat.When I moved to Vermont in the late 70s land was very cheap, in very rural places zoning was non existent and it was possible to build a cabin with little resources and live an alternative lifestyle with other kindred spirits. Lost Nation in East Haven VT was our refuge. I still have my cabin and see Anam Cara as its water counterpart. In my youth I took the travel path of hitch hiking and riding trains with a cabin with no electricity to go back to. Now at 60 after years of wanting to go back to boats I found Anam Cara. The man you sold it to had big dreams but no time to repair the boat, in fact it went backwards. Large deck hole were created with two stantions torn out. I bought Anam Cara last fall, repaired the deck finally fixed the mast step with new oak beams and reinforced floor. It doesn’t budge. Smaller 6hp motor, solar power and she is comfortable and sails well. Slow in light airs but what a boat when it blows. Im anchored over at sloop cove on Valcour island and I thought I should email you with an update on her. Your work on her brought her forward. The bow roller and whale gusher are great. I was going to name my boat Lost Nation after my spiritual home but who could change Anam Cara.I will include some pictures, the very best to you. Keep living your authentic life, its so important to not let the machine roll over everything. I will follow the new boats rehab, i loved the bronze chainplate work.
Shattering the Glass Ceiling, Climbing One Mast at a Time : Q&A with Marine Surveyor Cecelia Potts
I met Cecilia Potts, better known as Ceal, while I was working at the used marine store somewhere in northern Florida. In between polishing some brass I overheard her haggling sassily at the counter for chocks, or cleats, or was it a hawse pipe, or something to mount more solar panels.
I’m always interested in women who sail, but this lady seemed extra special. She was an electric sailboat engine dealer of sorts. Her boat was totally electric, completely refitted, refinished, and, she had done it all herself. From how she talked and looked I deemed her one those, has-her-shit-together-engineering-types.
One day during her lunch break from the solar company she worked for (where it turns out she was a marketing specialist, not an engineer), she came to visit me while I was working on my boat in the boatyard. She told me frankly, “I know you love this boat Emily, but you’ve outgrown it.”
She was right.
Now, Ceal is imparting that same knowledge she gave me to other boat owners and buyers through her new marine surveying business, Set Sail Marine Survey. She is one of only 24 women in the world wide Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors. She is, quite literally, the tits. Which is why I’ve decided to publish my entire interview with her as a Q&A piece. I cried when I read her answers because they were so inspirational, and I can only hope to one day lead with such grace.
Tell me a little about your journey sailing, living aboard, and fixing up your own boat.
Boats have always sailed into my life with lines attached. They’ve always been owned by the person with whom I was in a relationship, and in the end I’ve always loved the boat more than its owner. The Catalina 28 was different. My name was on the official document. I’d never experienced that before. In all my past lives and love affairs, I was the keeper, the caregiver, the slave, and I’ve lost it all twice because of it. This time was different because she was mine and even though it was cockroach infested and stank like diesel and burned oil, s/v Wooden Shoe was my sanctuary. As soon as I could stand it (yes, there was still an occasional cockroach) I rolled out my sleeping bag in the v-berth, sans cushions and slept on the cold, hard gel coated fiberglass. My friend loaned me a cockpit cushion when he learned I was doing this, so I had about a 1-inch pad to sleep on for the first four months of ownership. You do these kinds of things when she’s yours. You’ll also pee in a Home Depot bucket, eat grocery store sushi and drink warm beer because she’s yours and you’re spending everything you can to get her refitted and restored. After a year and a half of major work, I had my floating condo and could sail it too. Was the Catalina like the Island Packets I had been part of in the past? Nope, but she also didn’t come with any drama, which made all that work 110% worth it.
What were your experiences like working for a solar company, as well as on boats and in engineering?
I’ve had a career crush on engineering since middle school. But, like most crushes it was awkward and every time I got close to it, I weirded out and ran back to my comfort zone—writing. The opportunity to work at Solar Stik changed everything because it changed my mind. Here’s a company that’s totally been bootstrapped by its owners, providing hybrid electric solutions folks rely on in life and death situations that was started by someone with raw talent and a brain hardwired for engineering who does not have a degree in engineering! Solar Stik was born out of living on a boat. Think about that! All of us who call boat life home, know way, way, way more about power management, energy storage, and power generation than any of our grid-tied friends. Solar Stik pushed me to ask questions and apply my writing skills to help others better understand technical topics.
My affair with boats started when I was a kid and it evolved into this obsession I have with independence and self-sufficiency. The first time I remember seeing a sailboat was in the early 1980s in my hometown on Lake Michigan. The boats from the Queen’s Cup—an annual race across Lake Michigan from Milwaukee, Wis., to Michigan’s western shore—were all tied up along the waterfront in my town and all I could think about was that I had to get on one of those boats and do that. The first time I sailed was in Charlevoix, Mich., on a family member’s boat. Working on boats is what makes my inner being sing and dance, it’s spiritual. Right now, not having a boat feels like I’m walking down the aisle at a cathedral without pants.
What made you decide to be a surveyor? And what was it like to actualize that goal? What sacrifices did you have to make?
In February 2018, I was sitting alone on a beach before dawn in Mexico starring up at the stars through my tears and asking out loud to no one what I’m supposed to do with my life. I was going through a rough patch with me. Though I loved Solar Stik dearly, I had an oil and water coexistence with my direct supervisor. It made me want to chew on tinfoil and eat glass more than go to work everyday. After the BC (big cry) on the beach, I paddled out at sunrise and caught wave after wave after wave. A lady paddled up to me at the end of my session and gave me a bracelet with a medal of St. Christopher on it and she said this is so you always get home. Home for me is the water and the independence I feel when I’m out there. That was the universe giving me a hug. In May 2018, I had my boat surveyed by a surveyor so I could get insurance. I had just installed the electric motor and was sitting on the hard ready to go back into the water. He said it was one of the cleanest boat’s he’d ever seen…and the biggest finding he made was I didn’t have a Type IV throwable floatation device on board or flares. Easy fix. He told me I should look into being a surveyor.
By November 2018, I was truly miserable at work. It took every thread of my resistance to not reach across the boardroom table and choke my boss. My negativity was affecting others and it was hurting my relationship. My partner and I were driving south to go kite surfing on a Friday (we worked 4/10s at the time) and after a 45-minute silence I said, “I think I’m going to look into the surveying thing.” He agreed and said check it out. Ten minutes later I had Google-searched Chapman School of Seamanship, called the number and made the $150 deposit to secure my spot in the March 2019, six-week course. I’ve never felt so much relief in my life…for like 24 hours, and then I started asking myself, “oh my god, what have I done?” I had an exit strategy and things just started falling into place. My finances have always been precarious (probably because I love boats), and I had to be very careful to not let anyone know I was planning on leaving my very secure J-O-B.
I put a countdown timer on my phone and called it, “Operation Pull The Rip Cord.” I told a couple people I could trust, and my nickname became the flying squirrel. Pride was one of the biggest sacrifices I had to make, and also selling my boat. Chapman School ain’t cheap and I had to borrow money from my dad (which I will pay back) and ask my partner to give me a break on the cohabitation bills for awhile, which he was most willing to do. When I finished school, I had ZERO cash flow and realized the only way to build my empire was to sell my boat. I cried when I let her go, but she went to awesome people who I know will do great things with her.
What do you know about women in this part of the industry? Are there many female surveyors?
I cannot tell you how many female surveyors there are total, but as far as SAMS [Society of Marine Credited Surveyors] members, there are 24 female surveyors that are SAMS members worldwide…and there are 836 SAMS surveyors total. Of the 24 females, five are located in Florida, and I’m one of those five.
What kind of training did you undergo?
That’s a tricky question because 20 years of my experience came from my involvement in boats, which I drew on—heavily—to get to where I am. The formal schooling I received was six weeks full time classroom (8 a.m. to 3 p.m.) with exams and tests at the Chapman School of Seamanship. The amount of studying I did in that six weeks made my undergraduate studying (20 years ago) look like a joke. I did end up as co-valedictorian of my class, though, which was very validating. I also tested and passed as a Certified Standards Technician with the American Boating & Yacht Council (ABYC). To become a member of the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS), you have to apply, take and exam, submit a formal survey report, and then be interviewed. From the time I submitted my application to the time I was accepted into SAMS, it was 12 weeks…and this was after my 6 weeks of school at Chapmans. There are two levels of surveyor membership in SAMS. Essentially level 1 is called a Surveyor Associate, and that’s what I am. The next level is Accredited Marine Surveyor (AMS). To become an AMS you have to complete continuing education credits (which also are required for my level of Surveyor Associate), work as a Surveyor Associate for 5 years, and then sit for an intense AMS exam. If you don’t pass the AMS exam after two tries, you get kicked out of SAMS. You’re done. I was accepted into SAMS as a Surveyor Associate with two years of service credit, which means in three years, I have to take the AMS exam. I am already studying. For my continuing education, I am going to focus on electrical. Sometime this fall I will take the ABYC Electrical Standards Exam and then take the corrosion class. Next year I hope to attend the Level 1 course through the Institute of Infrared Thermography.
Was the training program primarily men?
Yes. I was the only female in my cohort at Champan. Incidentally I have been invited to be an instructor for the surveying program in November. At least once a week, or more if there’s a full moon, I am greeted with “I didn’t know there were female surveyors,” or “I’ve never had/heard of a woman surveyor,” or my personal favorite, “Are you sure you know how to use all those tools in your bag?”
Did you experience any sexism in your trainings or beginning of your work? What about in general in the marine industry?
Yes, without a doubt. Instead of meeting that small minded thinking on the same plane, I use it as a teachable moment. I stay centered and don’t lose my cool and bristle because I don’t want to give anyone more daggers than they already have. Behavioral correction is more effective when offered without a slap. My first solo survey was on a make and model of a boat I was extremely familiar with. This was the survey client who greeted me with the “you know how to use all those tools in your bag?” To be honest, throat punching him did cross my mind, but instead I said “absolutely! And I can’t wait to see what stories they’re going to help your prospective boat tell me.” At the end of the survey, my client bought two rounds of beers and handed me a cash tip with a heartfelt apology. I accepted the beers, cash and apology. We all learned something that day. There’s another story I’d love to share, but it’s still a little raw. Suffice to say it was the first time I ever stood up to a bully in my life personally and professionally and he knew he was dead wrong—there were witnesses.
What advice do you have to women who want to make their mark in the male dominated marine industry?
View yourself as an equal and treat others that way. Don’t get defensive and feisty when a male automatically assumes that you don’t know anything about boats. Take a look at it from his prospective, you’re a unicorn and in his world he’s probably never crossed paths with a unicorn. Know your strengths and train your weaknesses. READ. Know as much about the subject matter your working on/talking about as possible. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, either. I ask a lot of questions. Today I learned about MBRF fuses and how to stack battery chargers for hybridizing electric propulsion systems for boats 30 feet and longer. Brilliant!
Lastly (and most important)! Tell me about your business.
My survey business is Set Sail Marine Survey and I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org 386-319-4848
I offer the following survey services:
Pre-purchase ($22/foot LOA)
Insurance (Condition & Value) ($20/foot LOA)
Appraisal ($20/foot LOA)
Absentee Buyer Inspection ($10/foot LOA)
I’ll fly anywhere in the world. Most recently clients have flown me to the Bahamas, Montana, and Texas. Travel fees are negotiated on a case-by-case basis.
Boat People : Capt. Mac & Crew
I met Mac in Atlantic City while poaching the dock at the historic Gardiner’s Basin. I was walking to the dock when I heard someone call, “HEY, are you on a boat?”
“Maybe,” I said. I had recently decided to only tell other boat people that I was on a boat just to, you know, be safe.
He shook his head and laughed. “Maybe?” he asked. “I’m on a sailboat, too. Right out there.”
He pointed to his boat which was anchored right out of the inlet entrance channel. The currents there were insane and twice a day you’d find your boat opposing the anchor.
“Damn!” I said. “Did you ride the gale out there?”
“How was it?”
“You got to go into the secret anchorage!” I told him. “Turn into the small channel right off of Rum Point.”
“My draft is five and a half.” He said. “Can I fit?”
“Absolutely! There are some big boats moored in there and my depths never read below six. The dock here is free, too! It’s after season and the harbormaster is nowhere to be found!”
Mac was on a C&C 35 named Suka, which in sanskrit means ‘place of beauty.’ His mother named the boat. He bought the boat from his parents. While he got a good deal, it was still priced at fair market value. He had saved enough money for the boat and his intended voyage by working in Antarctica. His crew consisted of his two younger sisters, Skylar and Rourke. The funny thing about these sailors is that when they were children, they did the exact same trip on the exact same boat, with their parents at the helm. The sailed from Toronto to the Bahamas as a young family. However at the time Mac was living out the years of teenage angst, and wound up hopping off the boat halfway down the coast. This would be his redemption sail!
I caught up on and off with Suka all the way from Atlantic City to Annapolis. They were the first of many sailors I would meet who were actually close to my age. The majority of folks out there cruising East Coast waters belong to the 50 plus age category. The Suka crew made it to the Bahamas by Christmas 2017 where their parents met them to spend the holiday together on the boat, just like old times.
Not only was Mac there on the boat this time around with his family, but he was the captain!
My Friend Steve
I’ve often muse about how lucky I am to be surrounded by such a strong community of sailors. I feel like we are fibrous. Strong as the fibers that hold our boats together. No matter how far, there is always a handful of sailors I can count on who will go out of their way to help me. Whether it’s building a dinghy, sending me a diagram at midnight, talking about all the weaknesses of my boat and brain storming the best fixes, showing up to my boat with food, giving me a place to live while the boat is a construction zone, or just letting me take a load off in their cabin or cockpit when I’m sun scorched and tired of sanding. I’ve been trying to get a job at the used marine shop for months. I’m even willing to work for store credit because all I need money for right now is to outfit my boat. Well, I finally got the job after a series of people in the community put in the good word.
One of the more interesting characters I’m lucky enough to call one of my sailing buddies is my friend Captain Steve. I met Steve two years ago on Lake Champlain. I was heading out of the harbor on a friend’s trimaran to compete in a race that almost killed us. Steve was on a very strange looking boat that resembled a wooden clog, and exchanged pleasantries with my boat mates as we headed to the starting line.
It turned out Steve built the interesting looking boat on a nominal budget. It’s name was Sled. I was intrigued. Working as a journalist at the time I set out to do a story on the unique boat and it’s captain. Steve built Sled as a sort of homage to climate change. She was designed to be sailed or motored efficiently, and she was flat bottomed so she could be pulled up onto the beach or even ice, Steve said. He wanted to create a versatile boat for any marine environment, and make a statement that boats of the future need to be able to handle rapidly changing environmental conditions. Having sailed around the world, Steve was no stranger to fierce weather patterns and was firm in his belief that the oceans of today are not like the ocean’s of yesteryear that he sailed across.
Steve has built several boats in his life. When he started life with his young family in Hawaii in the seventies, he got a Navy ship lifeboat at auction. He fitted it out with a cabin top, mast and sails. Later he built a catamaran out of plywood, much in the spirit of the Hokulea, the famous Polynesian voyaging canoe that sails the world spreading the Aloha message. He would eventually go on to circumnavigate the globe with his growing family on the catamaran, Melekai. Steve never intended to sail around the world, he just intended to go sailing.
The best part about Steve is he believes in me and my voyages. One time he told me that he doesn’t know much about wannabe blue water sailors but instinct tells him I’ll make it. We share the same birthday. When I travelled to Costa Rica a little over a year ago I met one of his sons at random. I was on a bus talking about boats and Lake Champlain when a young man said, “My dad has a boat he built up there.”
When Steve recently broke his computer and couldn’t email me his ideas to fix my mast he sent me a hand written letter outlining his repair ideas. I just received something else very special in the mail from my friend Steve today—a book of poetry written by his son Stevaki with a $50 check inside. Stevaki grew up sailing the world and was home schooled aboard Melekai. In 1988 he was accepted to Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts, where he died tragically two years later as a young man. A big thanks to my good sailor friend Steve, for reminding me that those who may have the least materialistically, often have the most to give.
Boat People: Meet Capt. Allison
I met Capt. Allison when she took command of her recently purchased vessel, an Endevour 43. This sailboat is actually quite massive with a wide beam and very high freeboard. Ketch rigged, built stiff with big winches for big sails, encapsulated ballast, and an amazing layout down below. If a bit sloppy to steer down wind, all in all this vessel was an excellent choice for this captain with a story unlike all the rest!
Capt. Allison is a 32-year-old single mom of two! Talk about a nearly unrepresented group in the sailing world, single mom sailors! She has her 100T Captain’s license, teaches sailing, and is becoming quite handy on the sail rite machine. She used to be the Captain of a personal motor yacht, a “big ‘ole burger” as she referred to it, on the waterways of Tennessee. She is a personal friend and was a captain for the charter business in the Caribbean run by one of the original sailing bloggers, Brittany of Windtraveler. This saucy captain also worked for Play Boy at one point doing promotion, and has attended many parties at the Play Boy mansion. But that was before sailing life and ultimately mom life took hold!
I met Capt. Allison when she took ownership of her vessel in June and hired me as delivery crew to help get the boat from where she bought it on the St. John’s river to her home port on the gulf coast of Florida, where she and her kids would begin life aboard. Her 3-year-old son was home with grandma, but her one-year-old came along for the voyage.
Our trip down the coast was eventful of course. We dealt with fouled halyards, uncomfortable seas, wind over tide inlet conditions, an unreliable dinghy/dinghy engine, a leaking water tank, a faulty alternator, an early season tropical storm, and more. One of the things I love about this sailor is she totally gets it. Even though she had just bought this boat for upwards of fifty grand, she didn’t complain about the boat work and repairs. Of course, there is always a level of frustration when things go wrong, but there are so many people going out there actively looking for boats for sale who expect the boat to be perfect, and don’t get it at all. There is going to be boat work on even the most expensive, biggest sailboats! Sometimes more work because they are more complicated vessels with more to break like refrigeration, water pressure pumps, electric windlasses…
I had to hop off the boat in Miami due to time constraints. Our passages had taken longer than we anticipated due to weather, and another crew took my place as they continued on towards the Florida Keys and through the Gulf. Capt. Allison lives aboard with her two kids who are adjusting well to boat life. She plans to set sail back to the Caribbean in the coming years when her boat babies get a little bit older. For a look into the floating life of Capt. Allison you can request her on Instagram @mermaid_crossing
May 20 ::: Outbound
Left St. Johns river at 0900. I nearly got left behind at the dock untying the lines! I had to climb over the bow platform. Damn though, this girl can drive a boat. The river was beautiful, grey and new. We had some annoyed bridge tenders but that’s expected. We are waiting a few days before going offshore as we get to know the boat better. All is well floating along…
I wake up in the morning determined to get a hold of my friend Tony. Last night I got a text from him saying he’s spent the last few weeks in Puerto Rico in the jungle, living off the land. “I wiped my ass with banana leaves, I brushed my teeth with a mango stick. I’m only back in Florida to sell these boats and then go build my jungle house. Peace.” I am hoping to catch him before he goes off grid completely. Last we talked he was going to try and come up here to help me a bit in the yard, and I was supposed to help consult him on the purchase of his next boat which he planned to sail to the Caribbean after hurricane season. We hadn’t talked that often as of recent and the last time he called me I didn’t answer. By the time I called him back he was gone. He had mentioned once that he stopped carrying his phone when he was working on his boats; a Seasprite 23 I helped acquire and sell to him and an Ericson 27, which were soon to be on the market and put towards the bigger boat.
I’m talking to my friend Ray in the boatyard about Tony. I’m telling him the story and basically calling out Tony’s name like Tom Hanks calls for Wilson in Castaway when he stops me.
“So what’s your end goal here, you want to go and live in the jungle so you can wipe your ass together with banana leaves?”
“No,” I say. “I’m not saying I’m in love with him, but I do love him. And I’m trying to sail to Puerto Rico, so I’d at least like to kick it with him in the jungle and for him to leave a way to get in touch. Plus, there are some things left unsaid.”
I still haven’t heard from Tony.
I’m sad that I hadn’t been more present in our friendship lately, or ever really. I was in a state of romantic entanglement when we met and was always experiencing some drama every time we’d hang out. Tony was my crew when I finally left Palm Beach, on the blue road again but in dire straits this time. I had no confidence in myself, or my boat. I was leaving the city that had broken my spirit, and my heart. We had left the downtown anchorage and I just planned on dropping the hook further up the waterway—still in the city limits where Tony would hop off, but the tide was favorable so we kept going. He stayed on the boat with me for two more days, having brought nothing except the clothes he was wearing that day.
Tony was a great friend to me when I had none left in that town and no energy to make any new ones. We met almost everyday for lunch at Publix and would ride around on the free trolley. One time he actually wound up nearly driving the trolley when one of the drivers needed help. He would hang at the free city dock and wait to make sure that I made it back to my boat, no matter how long it took. Sometimes my dinghy would be pinned against the dock with the swift current and wind that I’d have to claw my way off it one stroke at a time.
He was my crew when I had no other choice but to head north on my broken boat, with my broken budget (and let’s not forget my broken heart). Still banished to the ICW and in need of a place to land for a while I was anxious, jaded, and feeling oppressed by the hot Florida sun. I didn’t have any sun awning at the time but the sails offered me shade, and his company helped ease my pain and bring back the old me. The real me! I was even starting to talk to fellow sailors again when we reached Vero Beach where Tony had to get off the boat.
I had to continue on. Not long after he left and I was alone on my boat again I got super depressed. The rest of that trip basically consisted of tweaking my sails and constantly pulling them up and down, running my engine at too high a throttle just to get there (wherever it was I was going because I didn’t actually know), and crying in between mile markers. Tony would text me everyday.
“Where are you today, Captain?” Or some other musing.
I’d tell him where and how I was fantasizing about just abandoning my boat and some how or another I’d be pulled back into reality that things can get better on my boat, or on another boat, and I’d sail on.
I eventually landed in the best place I could for what I was seeking to do and I started to gain back my confidences and happiness. I wound up in Palm Beach again as crew on a sailboat delivery, but time and weather didn’t allow me to see Tony. We kept in touch often but in the last month I grew busy, and neglectful of our friendship. Now, in light of this news, I miss my friend.