This could be you…full listing for THE SANDPIPER, 35-foot, ferrocement fully restored, rebuilt, ready-to-go cruising ketch. Full listing coming soon to YACHT WORLD
First up meet Anna & George Jordan- a cape cod fishing family that salvaged and restored a 76-foot steel schooner.
Next is Eddie & Dean. Teen brothers who refit a boat with the help of their parents to “sail the world” in lieu of college.
If you enjoyed these videos please join the SAILING SHORTS patreon for only $5 a month @ www.patreon.com/ADHDSAILOR
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
Take a look inside the magic that happens when community, career, passion, and a conscious approach to capitalism collide! Meet the literal sailmakers of Latell Ailsworth Sails, a trade that employs both traditional sailing skills and the latest yachting industry technology. In a marine industry moving more and more toward globalization and remote consulting–Latell Ailsworth is a brand and business that prides itself on it’s partnership overseas, as well as a strong local and regional East Coast presence. Is it any wonder Latell Ailsworth Sails, of Deltaville, VA–a small yachting center on the southern Chesapeake Bay–is a division of a Kiwi Company?
The kiwi’s may be a small island country but has a strong yachting history, along with modern democratic socialist practices. It’s capital, Auckland–is known as the City of Sails. In fact, its the first place I ever sailed and where I got into this whole sailing mess to begin with! My first day sail ever was in NZ (fun fact: the letter “Z” is pronounced “Zed” in N Zed). Latell Ailsworth overseas partner is Evolution Sails, a New Zealand sailmaking parent company.
I loved New Zealand and have pretty much just been trying to get back there ever since. By yacht of course. I told Latell I’d get the Evolution logo tattooed on me (which he did not endorse…yet) as a testament to my commitment endorsing this opportunity to low key partner Evolution Sails–I mean maybe the parent company wants to sponsor my return to Aoteaora (New Zealand in Maouri, literally translated to Land of the Long White Cloud).
Now I’m day dreaming again.
Sometimes it feels like I have a goal, I chase it, I get the opportunity, and then I have to do the actual work and the entire time I’m just dreaming of the next thing to chase. So before I get back to New Zealand I’ve got to just get back to my boat eight hours east of my current locale, and well, go finish my new Genoa furling headsail a few hours south of my boat, and then bring it to my boat, bend it on, photograph it and send it in on time for the deadline to SAIL Magazine to meet my contract for the October 2022 Issue and the Annapolis International Sailboat show.
Ha, and then sail my boat down of course. To where I have to finish refitting her and launch some entrepreneurial endeavors.
Can I pull it off? I usually do, in some way or another. It always works out in the end.
Where do you find the heart of sailing? Is it witnessing both a sunset and a sunrise at sea? Is it in a boatyard with no fresh water, skin itchy with fiberglass? Is it in stepping ashore after a long passage, and drinking sparkling water with a lemon you foraged next to an abandoned dock? Is it in being wet, cold, and slightly frightened?
Or Is it found somewhere else? Is it found in yacht clubs and private marinas? Is it found in a fully enclosed cockpits with electric winches? Or in that moment you cash in your stocks and buy a boat to sail off into the promised sunset, cocktail in hand?
In the harbor right now there are three boats, including myself, that are all “basically engineless.” Meaning we all have some kind of auxiliary propulsion that only really work under totally calm wind, wave, and current conditions. Whether it be an extremely underpowered 2.3 HP outboard, or an outboard with a shaft that isn’t long enough, or a dinghy hip tied. That means in any and almost all conditions we are sailing, unless it’s for some short stretches of the ICW.
Is it because we are broke? Young? Idealists? Perhaps a combination of all three.
I’ve been a vagabond since I was 22 and bought my first boat at 26. I’m 31 now. I haven’t paid rent, except for the odd slip at a marina here and there for a few months at a time, in ten years, and have held various jobs. I happened upon sailing by chance on a yacht delivery in New Zealand and sailed across a literal sea a thousand miles over ten days, and I’ve just been trying to get back to that ever since, on my own boat.
But I never felt stuck in life, in a career, or in the throngs of capitalism that so many people feel that leads them to quitting their jobs and searching for boats. I’ve felt stuck with no money and very unseaworthy boats, but I didn’t do what most of my generation did; which is basically get real jobs. And now that they’re in their thirties and sick of the grind they’re like, let’s get a boat.
And they go buy some plastic boat from the eighties with a comfortable interior and no inherent seaworthiness in its design, but it’s safe enough. They focus on having a good engine, and then motor across the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas. They follow the “Thornless Path” and motor sail in the calms that can be found in between the prevailing opposing winds. Until they eventually reach the Caribbean and it’s all downwind from there. They have enough money, and enough confidence, even never having never sailed before, that they make it just fine.
Lots of people do this, especially with the advent of YouTube. People are like, “Yo, I can live on a boat and make a YouTube channel to pay for it?!”
But I can tell you this is not where you will find the heart of sailing. That is something you really have to look for. This is where you will find a departure from it. I’ve been trying to find it for years by now of living aboard and messing around with boats, and I still know nothing. “Remember you know nothing,” an old schooner captain told me. That’s what makes you a good sailor, he said. A good captain.
Famous sailor Nancy Griffith said, “know the limitations of your crew and your boat.” Crew, for the most part, has usually been only me. And I’ve scrutinized both myself and my boats heavily when weighing certain passages. I worked at marinas as a way into even learning about boats. My first boat I stuck to lake Champlain, my second I took down the Hudson River and to the Florida keys, only spending a little time offshore. The boat simply wasn’t prepared for passage making. Most of the offshore sailing I’d done before my current boat, was on boat deliveries. So I hold myself to that standard of seaworthiness, of what I’ve seen on the sea.
I spend more time fixing my shit to be at sea then I do actually at sea. I have to fix boats so often because I don’t have money, so I’m pretty DIY. The trouble is I really don’t trust my work. I rely on people with much more skill than I have to tell me if I’ve done something right. For me, the goal is to make my boat as safe and comfortable as possible on the sea. It’s been and continue to be arduous, refitting old boats to be sustainable in such an inhospitable environment, with little money and no formal training.
Sometimes I envy the other kinds of travelers. The backpackers. The ones who hoof it, bus it, ride planes and hop trains. But that’s not for me. Devoted to the sea. And if I can’t be there, damn it, I’ll be on land just trying to get there… because nothing else matters.
Selling your boat is kind of like selling your dog. Or your kid. It’s an extension of yourself. It’s taken all of your money and showed little thanks, yet still managed to teach you lessons you weren’t even aware you needed to learn. You want to find the best home for your vessel, which is why you often hear stories of older people selling their badass ocean-cruiser for a fraction of its value to some young salt who promises the boat will remain where it belongs; at sea.
Many potential buyers (well, the good ones anyway) treat inquiry messages as an application of sorts. They take the opportunity to not only introduce themselves, but to prove they’re worthy of taking over stewardship of your vessel.
I listed my late great boat Vanupied, a Pearson Ariel 26, at a price so she would sell quickly. I didn’t want to be bothered by people who weren’t serious and put that in the ad. Interested in shore power? Navigation instruments? Flush toilet? Move on. Not the boat for you. I think I put it like; “This is a MINIMALIST boat and that is reflected in the price. Only contact me if you get it.”
I didn’t honor my own intentions. I sold my boat to someone who most certainly didn’t get it.
It started with an email where he called me “Sir” (my name was in the ad). When I corrected him, he referred to me as a “Mrs.” By the third interaction he was using my name. He asked questions I considered not answering. Was the boat big enough to sail from its location on the Chesapeake Bay to the Delaware River? Was it free to live at anchor? Could I get the boat to a location closer to a major bus line so he could see it?
I remembered all the people who were kind to me when I first started out, and when I learned he was new to sailing (rather, boating as he called it) I softened.
No, I wouldn’t move the boat prior to purchase. Yes, you can live aboard at anchor for free. Yes, the boat can handle that trip. And so it went. A back and forth exchange of about 70 emails answering his questions on how to buy, live, and sail on a boat. He called the keel a “tail,” and asked me what kind it was. I told him to look the boat up on sailboat data.
While it wasn’t my responsibility to explain to him the difference between a fin and full keel, a displacement and a planing hull, the tides and currents, and how to not die, I did it anyway.
Despite his constant questions that could have been answered by a simple internet search, I still had hope. He was 23. A broke college kid who said he wanted to live the boat life. He didn’t know up from down, it seemed, let alone port from starboard but we all started somewhere. He said he read my blog and found it to be a “fascinating look into the lives of a seafaring community.” A community he longed to be apart of.
I told him under no circumstances was he to go out on the ocean in the boat until he had more experience and made necessary repairs, and he promised to read every sailing book I intended to leave on the boat from cover to cover. He bought the boat from me sight unseen through paypal transfer, and planned to come get the boat one week later.
As I off loaded my years worth of stuff and prepared the boat for transfer his questions continued. Where was the boat located again? What’s the best way to get there? Was there a library or somewhere he could get wifi? What about a grocery store? Could he swim to the boat? Could he swim off the boat? Could he borrow my dinghy? Could he fish commercially from the boat? Could he brew beer, and then sell it from the boat? Did I know anywhere he could get a job? Could I stay a few extra days and teach him how to sail? How far can you get on a tank of guess? How do you get gas? What is gas? Why is the sky blue?
(Okay…the last two are a joke)
I was seriously starting to doubt his competence for living on the hook. He called me from a few hours away the day he arrived and asked me if I could move the boat a few miles to a marina across the river. I told him no. I told him there were currents to deal with. I told him I would go over the boat’s sails and systems with him as promised, but I was leaving the next day to sail to my new boat. Finally, he asked if I could get the boat to any marina.
This once again wasn’t my job, but I wanted this kid out of my hair. Luckily there was a marina in the creek where the boat was anchored, and they had a slip. I made sure to get him an end tie for easy departure, although that was wishful thinking… that he’d ever go anywhere.
When he finally arrived and we met in person, it all started to make sense. Seeing the boat for the first time his reaction was a disappointed, “oh.” He couldn’t stand up in the boat. It looked bigger in the ad. Sorry, no refunds.
I learned that he was the son of rich parents who had decided to pay for him to stay at the marina for a month. I was glad. At least he wouldn’t kill himself out there on my boat. I also learned he was an alcoholic, and after several attempts at college, and a recent event where a friend had to be airlifted from his parents house due to alcohol poisoning, he wanted to move out of his family home for good as to not cause them anymore trouble.
A boat was the cheapest living option, and my boat was the cheapest to buy. He bought Vanu out of desperation. At one point he said to me that he hoped the boat would prevent him from drinking too much, because if he was too drunk he could fall overboard to his death.
The next day I met him in the morning to go over everything on the boat as promised. He was sitting in Vanu’s cockpit with some rich yachter who was telling him he needed to haul out, because that’s what you do when you buy a boat. I told him the boat had just been on the hard for nine months and that’s what rich people do when they buy a boat. You’re broke, remember? His new friend glared at me.
I showed him how to raise the sails, use the stove, run the engine and listened to him go on about “mens rights,” and other disturbing rhetoric like how I should consider having children because I seemed like a wonderful person. When I left him at the dock that afternoon all of the rich yachties where gathered around him as if he showed such great promise. I was appalled. How could I have let my boat fall into the hands of someone like him?
A week later my friends at the marina told me that the kid who bought my boat had a seizure, went to the hospital, and returned to live with his parents. He hasn’t been seen since. Vanu is still sitting at the marina today…
I guess I didn’t need to get him that end tie.
FOR SALE: 1987, 27-foot O’Day Sailboat (Model : O’DAY 272 LE)
O’DAYNG, someone’s going to have a lot of fun on this boat! Great first boat, easy to single hand. Lines led aft. Roller furling. Inboard diesel engine runs like a top. 30 Amp Shore Power. Located in St. Augustine, Florida.
Owned since 2014. Single owner before that. Meticulously maintained all receipts and work logs onboard. Proven boat! Sailed to the Bahamas from Florida coast, Charleston to Florida, offshore in the last five years.
NO BLISTERS. Hauled out and inspected in 2017. Solid thru-hulls. Solid stern-hung rudder attachment. Rock solid deck, no soft spots.
SAILS: Main with 2 reef points
Roller furling 130 % Genoa
Westerbeke 10-2, diesel inboard. Excellent condition. Lists of all maintenance and upgrades.
Running rigging last year
Speedometer & depth finder
Manual and automatic bilge pump
Self tailing winches
30 Amp Shore power
360 Gal Water tank
Inboard and auxiliary diesel tanks
Contact Emily at firstname.lastname@example.org .
I had a vision of a man at the tiller, taking the Alberg home. He was bundled up, handle bar mustache, rugged looking, and certainly taking the boat on some sort of adventure that would result in further ruggedness. This ain’t a boat for the faint of heart. The right owner will see what she lacks not as a bargaining chip, but as a blank canvas. And everything she has they’ll see as the culmination of a dream…
I wrote those words in my journal and a week later, the boat I was representing sold to a man with a handle bar mustache.
Pickle is a 1977 Whitby Boatworks Alberg 30 and was located for sale on the Long Island Sound in New York. The Alberg 30 has a reputation as a stoutly built and sea kindly vessel, and was made famous by Qubecoise circumnavigator (and my personal hero) Yves Gillenas. These boats have a cult following, and Pickle was basically the best Alberg 30 on the market. New rigging, new chainplates, new sails, new through hull fittings, new engine. She wasn’t outfitted with the latest and greatest electronics, her interior needed some sprucing up, and she had some delamination on deck around the hand rails on the cabin top.
From the time she was listed to the time she sold, I must have interacted with fifty potential buyers between email and phone calls. As soon as most of them heard the word “delamination,” they were running scared. I tried to explain to people that delamination doesn’t spell doom and with a grinder, some cloth, some wood, and a gallon of epoxy they could fix this issue. Plus, it didn’t stop them from sailing the boat as is, right now. Yes, it needs to be fixed before a major voyage or before several more seasons of freeze, thaw, freeze, thaw made it worse—but it did not compromise the integrity of the vessel.
We listed the boat slightly higher than she was likely to sell for, but it was not much of a stretch considering what she was worth. But people didn’t see that. In the world of modern boats designed for comfortable interiors rather than seaworthiness, we were looking at a niche group of people who would be interested in this boat. I had interest from several people who I could discern by the end of the conversation were interested in a clorox bottle, not a classic plastic.
Towards the end of my first adventure into brokering, we were closing in on a deal and I could easily decipher between serious buyers and the Looky Lous. Sometimes it sounded like I was convincing certain people not to look at the boat. Like the guy convinced he was going to sleep on the boat, in the cockpit, at anchor, through a northeast winter. Or the several hipsters from Brooklyn who were tired of paying high rent, wanted to live on a boat but weren’t sailors. It may sound crazy but I knew this boat would only sell to a certain type of person, and they certainly were not it.
We eventually listed the boat at the owner’s bottom line and informed people it was not negotiable. We just couldn’t, in good faith, sell the boat for any less. When an offer came in for $1000 under that price we held fast, but with another season of yard fee’s looming the owner gave me the go ahead!
The buyer was somewhat elusive. We only corresponded by email, much to my chagrin. It would have been so much easier to explain everything to him over the phone. The day before he was set to meet the owner and finalize the deal he sent me this in an email:
In 1978, I restored a sad Herreshoff 12 ½ that I found and bought out of a guy’s backyard in Bristol. I almost flunked out of school because of the time I put into it and only had one summer to play with it. I had to sell it when I moved away. This is my first boat since that one. I am really scared.
I thought he was going to back out, so I told him what I tell everyone in a position to buy and sail an old classic boat for the first time, or the first time in a while.
Good. Stay scared. Fear will keep you alive on a boat. When I bought my boat, started my first refit, set off on my first trip by myself I was in way over my head. I still am. But if I can do it, anyone can.
He bought the Pickle the very next day.
Congrats to Mike on the ownership of his new vessel!
If you’d like to list your classic plastic sailboat with me contact me at email@example.com
It has been too long. I’m sorry I haven’t written sooner. Life moves pretty fast onboard a sailboat that goes an average of five knots (which is actually pretty fast for the hefty, intrepid Anam Cara).
First off, my goodness–what a boat. We have been through some wild rides. Like the time it took me four hours to tack past Diamond Island. It was difficult to point in the 25-30 knot gusts, and every time we made progress we’d near shore and get blanked by the mountains, the wind would just die.
Or the time my mom came and visited. It was a thunderous, rain storm of a weekend. We stayed on land at a Bed & Breakfast while Anam Cara was tied safely to a friend’s mooring ball. We had one small window, or so it seemed. The clouds began to part. In a nice 12 knots northwest breeze I flew west on a starboard tack and then headed north. I’d been watching clouds develop in the northwest corner of the Adirondacks and it had finally begun approaching. The winds started to shift so I jibed home and was making only three knots.
As soon as we entered the bay the storm ascended. We were soaked to the bone, could barely see five feet ahead, but the wind never came. I could see the wind line all around us to the north, south, east and west, but we escaped in some kind of shadow. I arrived on the mooring ball as lightening and thunder cracked the sky. My friend on land saw me come in and later said we looked like a ghost ship through the fog. The VHF reported 50 knot winds from the storm.
Most recently, my best friend on the planet came to visit. Winds were predicted south one day and north the next. I decided we’d sail north to Burlington and back south the next day. Going there was light, easy. We pretended to be pirates and drank far too much wine. We anchored under sail, in the rain, in our underwear, the entire anchorage watching our silent maneuvers.
Leaving, however, was a different story. The winds and waves built all night. We left on a starboard tack heading west to clear Juniper Island before we could head south and run home downwind. Twenty-five knots, sustained, five foot waves and confused ones at that. I had to point very carefully to not get broad-sided, but Anam Cara delivered. Her sturdy keel breaking up the chop.
We’ve weathered five storms at anchor, all over 40 knots. I only dragged once, and luckily into open water. I had anchored under sail and the hook didn’t set until the storm blew us back.
But I am pushing the boat sailing in such conditions. She needs more than I gave her in the yard. There’s a crack in the fiberglass above the bulkhead. The one the previous owner said hasn’t gotten bigger in 10 years. But I’ve sailed this boat more in the past three months than she’s been sailed in a decade and, well, it’s gotten bigger. A lot bigger. The mast is compressing the cabin top causing all sorts of trouble.
The roller furler is flimsy, rusted, and needs to be repaired or replaced. I’ve decided to have a new forestay fabricated and convert to hank-on sails. I’ll drop the mast this fall, tend to the compression crack by repairing the fiberglass and supporting the compression post on the ballast of the boat, not the cabin sole that is suffering from dry rot (which seems to be the reason why the whole thing happened to begin with). While I’m at it I’ll have the rigger inspect her standing rigging. I know I need to replace at least one turnbuckle…
This, along with many other issues with the boat, is why I’ve decided not to go south until next year. I need the fall, spring, and probably much of next summer to really get her right. I’ve even gone so far to think I might stay here in Vermont for the winter, get three jobs and a car so I can access the boatyard easily. I’m thinking to hang the boat up at a small boatyard in Vermont, where I have a handshake agreement with the owner to work for him during haul out season in exchange for winter storage. Only problem is I need to haul out soon to get to work on my boat before the cold comes–and with the lake level so low the yard can’t haul boats until they dredge. When it’s going to happen is the question of the hour…
For the last month I’ve been working for a Danish sailor on his Morgan Heritage One Tonne. Cool, ocean race boat. I helped prepare her for launch but left after four weeks seeking the freedom I felt the first few months on the boat, in Monty’s Bay and the north lake, when I still thought I was going south.
But everything is different, now. The goal has been and will continue to be to journey this boat back to saltwater–now that it won’t happen this year, everything has changed. I’m just biding my time, at anchor, before I have to get my shit together. Winter is coming.
It’s nearly two in the morning and I’m rowing my dinghy around the marina back to my boat. I round the corner of B dock and the sheer line of my little vessel is illuminated from the soft lantern light coming through the port. The sound of laughter is coming through the hatch.
This is my little house, I think to myself. She’s floats.
My two friends and a dog are inside. They’re cooking chicken and laughing about the French guy on the boat a few slips down that ran out in his speedo to help us dock the boat after we went for a sunset sail. He invited us over for drinks and put out a spread of every cocktail imaginable and high end cheese. With ice clinking in my glass I’m reminded of why I love this lifestyle. The people.
When the yard manager and his crew knocked on the hull at 9 AM on Friday morning and said, “You ready, Captain?” all the work from the last four weeks, all the uncertainties, and lonely nights in the boatyard, the hours of frustration and fears, the storms that bellowed through, the long days filled with little food floated away with the gentle four knot breeze.
And as my nearly two ton boat was lifted into the air, my motley crew surrounding me, I stared in wonder at this piece of fiberglass, metal and wood that has already taken me on a great adventure.
To all the people who have lent me a hand, a buck, or a word of advice–I couldn’t have done it without you.
“Happiness only real when shared.” -Alexander Supertramp
“Coraggio,” my Italian friend said to me as he left. “Courage.”
My launch has been postponed as I wait for a part to arrive for my outboard engine that I’m not sure I know how to install. It’s my fault. I waited until the last minute to do an engine checkup because I have absolutely zero interest in that part of my boat. It’s beyond my realm of consciousness. Now it’s a holiday weekend and the part I need won’t be shipped until Tuesday, my scheduled launch date.
Sometimes I feel like I’m at camp or somewhere else magical you go as a kid. Running around at sunset from boat to boat celebrating the projects completed, and commiserating those that went wrong. Showing face at campfires. I know everyone. I’m starting to understand French. I sat on a friend’s boat with the best view in the yard, of all the masts and white hulls lined up in perfect order, and he taught me how to smoke a cigar.
When my engine actually started I was elated, but right away I noticed it wasn’t spitting water. Something was wrong with the intake (or is it the outtake)? Regardless, the cooling system on the engine was not working. A few minutes later I had a crowd of all my boatyard friends around the engine as we tried to diagnose the problem. We cheered in unison when it would start, and sighed together when it failed to expel water.
It takes a village to raise a sailor.
When I learned my engine would need a repair, and my launch would probably be postponed, my heart broke a little. I sat in a friend’s cockpit and cried my first tears of this journey. I felt like I’d put in so much work and that the boat and I were ready to launch, only to come face to face with a problem that my skills are too limited to fix.
The engine needs a new impeller. I’ve ordered the kit and spent a long time talking to my friend who is an airplane mechanic about how to make the installation myself when it arrives. He helped me to order the exact part online and gave me the formula for annual engine maintenance that I can do myself.
It will be mid-week when the part arrives, with few people around to help me–so I’m scared, but I think I might be starting to understand the iron beast that resides in my cockpit.
The count for holes drilled in my boat now totals six. I’m not an expert, but I’ve got it down to a system. First I visualize the holes, draw a diagram that looks like a five year old did it, then I mark them. Then I have an eerie calm wash over me, and right around bed time I start to freak out and send massive amounts of text messages to boat friends in a panic, and scour the internet for information for the umpteenth time. Finally I head to the bathroom and take a nervous shit. The next day, I drill (or make someone else do it will I sweat over their shoulder).
The first three holes were through the deck for my bow roller to store my plow style Rocna anchor. I grew up on Rocna, i.e. the sailboat I spent the most time and learned to sail on had this style hook. I remember sitting in an unprotected anchorage as a gale blew over us, the wind whipping through the rigging so loudly that we shut the forward hatch for a reprieve from the harrowing howl. The anchor never budged. I’ve been a firm believer ever since.
The roller I got required three holes to mount. I drilled the holes oversized and filled them with epoxy. A lot went wrong along the way. The first time the epoxy was so thin that it dripped right through the protecting tape on the bottom of the deck. The second time, though thickened correctly, proved that my original holes weren’t measured correctly–as when I drilled through the cured epoxy my drill still picked up bits of core. At this point the best I could do was to overdose the fittings and hardware with sealant, and hope for the best. It worked out great. I call it the “epoxylypse.”
The next project was to install the manual bilge pump. This required a hole through the cockpit/bulkhead, through a piece of plywood that sections off the hanging locker, and finally through the hull (gulp). My boat has been sailed since 1976 with no bilge pump. Tight as a drum (knock on wood), but I wasn’t about to splash my boat without one. The previous owner purchased a Whale Gusher manual bilge pump but never installed it. Luckily, I’ve become friends with the right people who drove me back and forth from the hardware store to get the right hoses and fittings, and are very handy with tools. It took us two hours on two different days but we finally got it installed, and by golly it works! I hope I never have to use it for anything other than condensation or drainage from the anchor locker.
I’m a firm believer in take care of your boat and your boat will take care of you. Everyone said the boatyard is miserable, to expect misery, but I’m not so sure. This boatyard is magic. With the help of others, I’ve completed two of the three major jobs that make Anam Cara “seaworthy,” in the opinion of me and my professional marine surveyor. All I have left to do is rebed my starboard chainplate and strengthen the bulkhead it attaches to with a bit of fiberglass. Then it’s little things like brightwork, painting, and a small upgrade to her mainsail. The boat will be ready to splash soon, the only question is… will I be?
I love my boat. I’m in love with this lifestyle. Tearing everything apart during the day, putting it back together every night and she’s a home again. It’ll be even better when we’re floating. Everyone thinks I’m the crazy American girl living on her boat. Lots of people stay on their boats here in the boatyard and the marina, but I’m the only one actually living aboard. I walk around saying “bounjour” to people I don’t know, and wear a little red scarf around my neck to show what a Francophile I am.
This morning I woke up to a knock on the hull from the waitress at the little cafe on site with a pack of cigarettes for me! “Yellow cigarettes for the yellow boat,” she said. We chatted on the boat for a bit and then she took me for a real tour of this one pony town. She’s originally from Seattle and we had a lot to talk about like the Pacific Northwest, our taste for dating older men, and traveling. She paid for lunch and when I tried to give her money she said “welcome to North Country.”
The tour wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the Weather Cock, the local watering hole. While there I told sea stories and basically won all the local’s over, once we got one question squared away. One of the guys asked it, after I told them my plans for the boat, but everyone was thinking it.
“So, what are you a trust fund kid or something?”
My new friend chimed in. “She bought her boat with the tips she made waitressing.”
She filled me in on all the gossip around the marina. Like how everyone thought my crew member, Gina, and I were lesbians, and how it was just assumed I was French Canadian because of my style. Both I took as compliments.
When we got back I invited her and her boyfriend for dinner onboard one night in the yard, and definitely a sail once I’m launched. Before leaving she told me how cool she thought it was that I have the self motivation and confidence to buy my own old sailboat, fix it up and go sailing. It was nice to hear from one of my peers.
My confidence and motivation comes in waves, but today was a good day. I finally figured out the roller furler, prepped for my chainplate repair, and got my new ground tackle all set up. While doing so, my boat neighbor, Claude, came over with a shackle that he insisted I keep, “just in case.”
A 22 pound anchor, a 10 pound anchor roller, 25 feet of chain, and 200 plus feet of line. That’s nearly 75 pounds at the bow of my Bristol 24 sailboat that’s never been there before. Take into account her Johnson 9 horsepower, four stroke outboard engine at the stern, and I’m afraid I might be having some center of effort issues come sailing time.
When I was a kid I was obsessed with animals, I still am, but my parents liked to keep a fur free home. When I asked for a dog, I got a bunny. When I asked for a pig, I got chickens. When I asked for a horse, I got a hobby horse. One of the plastic kinds you see outside midwest grocery stores that dips up and down from forward to back. A fun sensation when you’re a kid, not so much when you’re a sailor.
My quasi plan to right this inevitable issue is to add more weight mid ship, most likely in the form of canned goods, rice, and water. But I have a theory…
When clambering through the lockers I saw some removable bars of ballast. I think they are led, or iron. When I asked the previous owner what was up with these he said they came with the boat and he always just left them in that spot, mid ship.
“I think personally, though, she’d sail better with that weight up in the bow,” he said.
This leads me to believe that with the engine aft, external ballast mid ship, and the added ground tackle weight forward, she might just sail like a balanced boat rather than a bucking bronco.
I just spent the last hour finally finishing up fixing a cataclysmic error. Okay, it wasn’t that bad. I was trying to coil my anchor line after having gotten a bit tangled up earlier today, and I got frustrated. Ultimately throwing the clean, unkinked line in a heap on the floor along with the mess already there, and making the mess even bigger. My morning was spent learning to splice. I’ve settled on a pretty standard rope to chain back splice but man am I scared I’m doing it wrong! Youtube video after youtube video, photo after photo, diagram after diagram and I think I finally got it. Although at this point my spliced strands are so frayed and unraveled that I’m just going to start over. It’s a good thing I have 200 feet of line to work with.
It’s hard to imagine that my entire life is essentially going to be hanging by a thread pretty soon. A thread that I childishly tossed onto the floor in a heap because I was tired of studying the splice and not getting it right.
Tomorrow I’ll get it right.
“Can you see the way there? If you can see the path there, get going. If not, get busy with something else.”I visualize it in 3D, actual life, real time. I visualize it on paper, with stick figures, cartoon sails, a narrow drawing of a canal. I see the end of the season and finding some way to make money over winter for the next, which will be the entrance to another waterway. It’s not about the money. Sure, I worry a little I might run out of money, then what? But it’s not about the money. There’s always more of that.
My entire life, every idea I’ve ever had, people will say “I’m afraid if you do X, Y or Z (i.e. something different than their way) you’re going to fail.” They don’t realize though, quitting is not an option. I can’t quit my life. This isn’t a sport. This isn’t a vacation. This isn’t some model fucking airplane I’m building. It’s a lifestyle. A long-term, sustainable, lifestyle.Hell, you know how they ask your “5-year plan” at a job interview? Well, I never had one—until now.
I’m not going to let some fiberglass, wood, and metal push me around any longer. The past few days have been intense. Filled with what if’s and what the eff’s, but I’ve finally reached the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m no longer consumed by fear of the unknown, I’m embracing it.
Ah, glass reinforced plastic. It’s messy, requires care and attention to detail, but with the right amount of both it will last forever. I’ve read enough books and forums, and talked to enough sailors to know that whatever needs to be done, I can do it. I may make lots of mistakes, and botch a few jobs, but all that will eventually lead to getting the work done the right way. It’s not rocket science. It just takes some basic, do-it-yourself know how–and the ability to realize when you need to ask for help, whether from a more experienced boat owner or a professional in the yard. I can’t believe I was letting 24-feet of frozen snot work me up into a frenzy.
This blog has been a bit of a sounding board for me to voice my anxieties about my new found boat ownership, but I am in no way a damsel in distress. I’m a dame, yes, and I’m stressed, but I don’t need to be rescued or convinced not to quit.
Every single thing I’ve done in the past four years, from the yacht delivery from Tonga to New Zealand, to working at a posh marina tying up boats for minimum wage, to living aboard a small cutter with my then boyfriend, have lead me here. I’m exactly where I want to be. Sure I’m scared, but I don’t know anyone who isn’t. A little fear keeps you alive, it’s too much of it that can paralyze you.
From now on I’m keeping my fear in check, but certainly never going to ignore it. It’s like what my uncle said when we were talking about navigational hazards on my boat’s journey back to salt water;
“In my experience, the biggest enemy? Complacency. Never get too comfortable. You should always have a few beads of sweat, somewhere, when in unfamiliar territory.”
I know that there are going to be frustrating days, financial hardship, and a fair bit of misery ahead, but it will all be worth it–when my new anchor roller is installed with a Rocna ready to be deployed, the bottom is painted, the varnish is sparkling, her hull is waxed, standing rigging strong, her interior cozy–and I hoist the sails for the first time.
“You see all those people out there on the street, walking around with a bunch of tattoos? They’re not any tougher than you.” -My Tattoo Artist
“But I’m going to need a dinghy,” I say with a suspect tone.
“Yes, but I’m going to need one, too,” my Canadian friend replies.
So, we’re negotiating.
When I got a call this morning from the owner of the boat I’ve been slowly trying to make my own I knew that the methodical, maple-syrup like pace I’d been operating at was too good to be true.
“I’ve got a fellow from Toronto who wants to come down and buy the boat right away, sight unseen, for my full asking pricing!” He said, practically laughing with excitement.
I guess it’s true what they say, about the two happiest days in a sailor’s life. . .
But I wasn’t going to let this Canuck swoop in and spirit my boat away from right under my nose. I appreciated the forewarning, which had been delivered in good faith, but it was time to act fast.
Less than an hour later I had bus fares booked and a surveyor who understood my situation, was willing to come on such short notice and not charge me for the entire survey if we decide early on the boat’s not up to par…but I hope she will be.
I’ve written up a contract. My finances are in order. On Monday morning I will board that bus that could take me into the future. She’ll be buried under snow. She’ll surely have some deck rot. She might not even have a dinghy. But she might be mine.
Like what you see? Follow the journey and get updates from the poop deck.
“You don’t understand,” I say. “This isn’t just some job I’m trying to get in another country. I’m afraid I’m going to get this boat but be paralyzed by the responsibility, so it will sit there unmaintained and degrading. And I’ll be living on this tiny floating thing that has become some kind of prison.”
“That won’t happen,” she says. “I’ve got to go.”
She hangs up.
Somehow this validation from my friends makes me feel better. How they’re already telling their people in these cities so far away from me about this boat I’m getting that they’re going to be sailing on soon.
My fears are not irrational. I’ve been shirking my boat responsibilities. Yes, I’ve been working a lot and socializing more than usual—but I’ve had the time. I need to schedule a survey for the trip I’m taking soon, but I just haven’t done it.
I’m going to see the boat that I think is “the one.” So many sailors have used that cryptic line.
“When you know, you know.”
“But how?” I ask.
“You just know.”
That’s all I can go off. The fact that this boat was the first one I called on four months ago when my pockets were empty. How even when I push her to the bottom of the list she somehow manages to resurface as number one every time. How I’ve already started making the list of what she will need right away in order for me to be comfortable splashing her and living aboard.
How her name is translated into English as “Soul Friend,” and how my handful of nearest and dearest mates scattered across this country, who are the only people that I can talk to when I’m on the edge that can make me feel human again—how I’ve always referred to them as my “soul friends.”
Sitting in the cabin of the boat ten feet off the ground I felt like I was in the belly of a whale, swallowed whole by her size. Her current owner left me instructions to tie up the tarp properly for the impending snow storm and left me to fiddle around unbothered.
The first time I ever sailed was on a 43-foot catamaran during a 1200 nautical mile trans-Tasman journey. From there I sailed on everything from tall ships to day sailors, with the majority of my time sailing spent aboard a 22-foot pocket cruiser. Ever since that fateful day that I learned about small boats, size has mattered.
I’m not a purist, or a good enough sailor to be considered an authority on anything, but I scoff at fancy boats. Give me something with a simple rig, good bones, an adequate anchoring system and a simple way to charge a handheld VHF.All signs from my self-survey pointed to this boat being a winner. Yes, there were some signs of delamination on deck but nothing indicated an entirely rotten core. Yes, she had beads of silicone around some fittings that indicated leakage. Yes, some of the bolts on the lifeline stanchions were rusted. Yes, her main sail would need to be retired almost immediately. But none of this seemed beyond my skills or budget for replacement or repair. She even had a working outboard motor and the head had been ripped out years prior (I come from the school of using a bucket as a head, just ask Teresa Carey, so that was a plus for me). The biggest issues I found were rusty chainplates and lack of a working 12 volt electricity system. Both were a turn off, but not enough to pull the plug.
The price was right. The owner was honest. It wasn’t the work that needed to be put in that would swallow me, it was her magnitude. She was closer to it but wasn’t “the one.” Now, I look forward to meeting her little sister. . .
“At sea, I learned how little a person needs, not how much.” – Robin Lee Graham