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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
March 13, 2019
At some point you just have to say fuck it, and go sailing. I know this boat. I know all its weaknesses. I know what it can take. I also know what I can take, which is probably a lot less. I know how quickly it can change out there. That’s why some passages are…questionable. On a good day this boat can do it out there. On a good day any boat can do it out there. This is not the boat I want to be in when shit hits the fan. At least not in its present condition.
I think at this point being on the water is intrinsic to my being; or I’m jaded. I just find it hard to fully immerse myself in the moment and enjoy when I feel a lot of pressure to prove myself and make this boat respectable.
Let’s see I have six weeks, maybe eight, to finish the rest of the work to this boat. Did I mention I want to refinish the interior on this piece of shit? I know, I know, she’s my piece of shit which is precisely why I am making her pretty. Shit, I might AirBNB her when I get wherever the fuck it is I’m going (north).
And even though it pains me not to be in the Bahamas today was a win. Moving the boat to the other side of the waterway. The island side. I can hear the ocean over the dunes and mangroves. There’s a lighthouse. Some pretty boats. You can land your dinghy at the public launch ramp or hide it if you want to leave it for longer. They can ticket your dinghy, but I have a feeling Loner will slip through the cracks.
There are some dero* boats here (*side note: my Kiwi friend used to call me/Vanu “dero.” It is literally short for derelict but in Kiwi slang it’s used endearingly for someone that is hobo/hardcore/crusty or whatever. Someone usually broke, traveling, and kind of dirty. I’ve adopted the term to refer to the derelict boat problem in Florida). But I’m not worried about them. I can keep to myself, speak their language, or defend myself if ever necessary.
I’ve decided that after Vanu I’m going to own a boat a year until I find “the one.” Being on Vanu has literally been a time warp. Throw in daylight savings time and, well, I’m tired of the struggle. I’m selling out. I’m getting a job. And then I’m getting another boat.
In the meantime I’ll be illegally stashing my dinghy, prepping the boat, and doing odd jobs here and there before leaving this town, out the inlet and onto the next adventure. On a good day, of course.
I am incredibly honored and excited to announce that I’ve been featured in SAIL Magazine and its latest article Sailor-Punk and the State of Cruising. I’m beyond stoked! Not only am I featured next to the legendary Moxie Marlinspike and the kids from Hold Fast but the editor named me his personal favorite young sailor blogger. I’m also really excited to be referred to as a sailor punk. It’s an identity I embrace, but I was never really in the punk scene on land, or on the water. So even though in my heart I felt like a boat punk, I wasn’t sure I qualified. In light of this recent honorable mention I figured I might get some new readers, and a brief update was in order.
I’m currently working as a deck hand and living aboard a 100-foot schooner on the Chesapeake Bay. After launching my boat in March the budget was busted. My money for the Bahamas was non-existent and to be honest, the state of affairs onboard Vanu, despite so many months in the yard, were still precarious. On top of this I had to borrow nearly $700 from my dad to bail my ass out of Belize after the boat delivery from hell. I did eventually wind up getting that $700 back from the captain by threatening him with a lien on his boat, but that’s another story.
I journeyed my little boat from Florida back up to the Chesapeake Bay on a five-week voyage of sorts to start my new job. The trip was filled with a constantly failing electrical system, getting chased by wild horses, gales, coming face to face with my past traumas, great days sailing, bad days motoring, time offshore, time inshore. There were times I wanted to run my boat up on a sand bar and walk off forever with nothing but a backpack, and there were times I didn’t want it to end. Oh yeah, I also fell in love with an engineless circumnavigator who designs and builds autopilots and sells them.
I learned what this boat was truly capable of for the first time. I cried. It made me fucking cry to feel that. I finally learned how to make passages. Which is why, as of now, I am continuing to sail and work on the structural refit of my boat, until the next boat presents itself. I have to take what I learned on this trip and apply it. I have to keep going. There will be another boat in the near future but until then I just have to make money. Save it. Keep working on Vanu and practicing sailing her. I’ve got a big wide river and lots of little creeks that I’ve already begun to sail and explore.
I want to tell you all more about this, but please be patient with me. I am working 12-hours a day on the tall ship, and when I’m not doing that I’m usually frantically trying to keep my boat safe. She is currently tied to a broken dock off of a fisherman’s museum with yet another leak below the water line. This time it’s the fiberglass tube that houses the rudder shaft. It’s a slow leak, but it needs to be remedied. I plan to make this repair by careening the boat and patching it from the inside.
I just spent the last two hours of my day off cleaning my electrical connections. The rest of the day was spent inside the belly of my boat pin pointing the leak. So, my apologies for the lack of blog posts, but I can assure you that if you hold fast you won’t be disappointed with the content to come. Standing by channel 1-6.
Note: after writing this post I realized I had read the dock fees as boatyard fees, and the live absurd fee has not, in fact, increased. There is merely a three percent environmental fee being added to our bills. Oops.
Boatyard fees are up and I’ve basically announced it to everyone in the yard who may not have seen the email yet. The email concluded with an offer to contact them if we have any concerns, but my only concern is that I can no longer afford this yard as a small boat sailor. Even my friend who works for the yard seemed surprised.
“Again?” He said.
I damn near gave my neighbor a heart attack as I heard him open his hatch and I spun around from scraping caulk like the girl in The Exorcist to exclaim, “HEY, yard fees just went up.”
“I haven’t heard that.”
“Yep,” I went on. “Fifteen dollars a foot plus the live aboard fee. Maybe you’ll be grandfathered in though since you do so much work diving here.”
“Doubt it,” he said.
“I dunno. The owner calls you Matty. You’re on nickname basis.”
What does this mean exactly for someone ahard on a mere 26-foot-sailboat?
Well, I was originally paying $390 per month. I was living in a house and doing a work exchange for rent so this wasn’t much money at all! Once all of my grinding was done, and the oppressively hot Florida summer had passed, I started sleeping aboard my boat and the fee went up to $469 per foot with the “live aboard” fee. With the new yard rates, my base fee will be $490, plus the live aboard fee (which is now more of a live absurd fee) for a total of $569 per month.
In the grand scheme of things this is still less money than someone would pay for rent, but nearly $600 in boatyard fees for a boat as small as mine is steep. If you’re on a small sailboat, you’re likely on a small budget. Rising fees make boatyards like this inaccessible to the humble sailboats. What’s unfortunate is that this is the best, safest boatyard in town and was one of the last remaining affordable boatyards that is still safe to live and store your boat in.
But nothing like a little pressure to light a fire under your ass. I’ve already started scraping faster. I have a designated launch date that I don’t really have a choice but to meet, because it’s the last of the money I have designated for yard fees. Once I launch I still have work to do outfitting and repairing, and need to start earning more money so I can set to sea.
For now I’m just focused on the work I need to do to get out of the yard. No point in wasting time trying to make more money for increased boatyard fees, because then I’m going to lose days working on the boat, which means I need more days in the boatyard, which means I need more money. I’m trying to avoid the spiral of becoming an indentured servant to myself and use my time as efficiently as possible in lieu of this news. I probably should have been doing this all along.
Unfortunately this boatyard is becoming a place that a hobo sailor girl such as myself can no longer afford. As the years go on, fees will only continue to rise. Luckily, I’m in the home stretch of my projects on the hard.
There’s a lot of things I lived without on my boat all in the name of adventure. I shit in bucket. I colored my cabin lights with a red sharpie marker for night passages. And for a while my sleeping situation was pretty rough as I slept on a stinky, sticky, vinyl cushion from 1968. Redoing my interior cushions, however, was never very far up on the to do list. I just threw a sheet over my quarter berth cushion, and then I threw a blanket over that as an added layer of protection. I wanted to make sure my skin never touched the sticky and decrepit cushion cover. What ensued, of course, was a lot of condensation and wet sheets that needed to be changed frequently. But whatever. I was out there and that’s all that mattered.
When I anchored in Factory Creek off of Lady’s Island, South Carolina, I didn’t expect to stay long. I had planned to anchor south of the bridge and make an early start the next day, but the bridge closed from four to six in the afternoon and there was an anchorage right to the north. Before dropping the hook I noticed the small Lady’s Island Marina with shore access. I waited until the sun set to row ashore and hoped to sneak up to their dinghy dock and tie up without having to pay. I was only running to shore for a quick jaunt.
It was hard to escape unnoticed, however. “Was that you on that little sailboat,” quickly turned into, “there’s some food here,” and “here are the shower codes,” and “if you need a slip for a couple of days to do any work to your boat…” That night I wound up on the boat owned by Susie & Adam, the folks who owned the canvas shop at the marina. Susie and I connected immediately. She reminded me of one of my aunts, she has a sailing daughter my age, and she owns a Bayfield 25. When she found out I was sleeping on an old vinyl cushion from 1968 she was appalled, but also determined to remedy the situation.
Susie made me the most amazing cushion out of only top notch marine canvas materials. I can’t say I made it, because trying to loft the cushion reminded me that I suck at geometry, but Susie and Adam were there to fix any of my errors and give me jobs throughout the process. In exchange I cleaned the shop windows, baby sat their puppy, and helped them install a bimini. Was it a fair trade? Probably not, but before I left Susie looked at me and said, “you didn’t have to do any of that and I still would have made it for you.”
What was meant to be a one night stop over turned into nearly a week dockside tinkering with the boat, playing music with the live aboards at the marina, and spending as much time with Susie as possible. She felt like family in a time when I was far from home.
The dock master at Lady’s Island Marina and the folks at Journey Marine Canvas are notorious for helping young, broke sailors continue on their way. So, if you can afford to stay at docks and pay dinghy dock fees make sure you stay at Lady’s Island Marina on your trip down the ICW. It’s located in Factory Creek, just before the Beufort Ladies Island Bridge.
The community at Lady’s Island Marina in South Carolina sits conveniently on Factory Creek off the Beufort River—an anchorage where one might be lucky enough to ‘get stuck’ because they missed the last bridge opening before rush hour and the next one isn’t until 6 p.m. One might also get stuck coming into the creek quite literally, unless you have a draft like mine and it’s high tide—then you’ll just be able to limp out of the fluffy top layer of mud. Either way, mind green buoy number one (where many boats go aground) which is hard to spot but lies just before the Lady’s Island Beaufort bridge.