Where to start? Whenever I think about where to start the story on how I started sailing and living on a boat, I start jamming out to the theme song to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Now, this is a story all about how…. a girl who just wanted to learn how to sail, oh yea, her life got turned upside down! It started one weekend at Summer Camp when a lifeguard colleague of mine, Andrew Johnson, took me out on a stormy day on the lake to sail a sunfish; as counselors we could do that in between camp sessions apparently. I was hooked; I loved the wind, the water, the heeling over, and the sense of speed when we caught the wind just right, capsizing, and Andrew Johnson. Though I wasn’t really hooked because I couldn’t seem to find a way to sail MORE. I lived in upstate NY and well, there wasn’t too much sailing around.
Then when I was in Grad School, one day a lab colleague of mine showed me photos of her mom and dad’s adventures at sea. They had a boat, captain’s licenses, and sailed to/from the Caribbean (or Bahamas) every year offshore. I WANTED TO DO THAT.
I moved to the Caribbean to learn to sail, I wanted to get my Captain’s License. I lived on St. Croix and worked as a beach bum out of a water sports shack; I windsurfed, sunfish sailed, and crewed for day charters doing snorkeling trips. I did my first big sail trip from St. Croix to St. John to Jost Van Dyke to Puerto Rico. I learned I got land sick by the time we landed in Fajardo! I learned a lot, how to tie on fenders, raise and lower a sail, but I was the girl that didn’t get to do much, therefore, I didn’t quite get the feeling like I could take out and handle a boat, never mind still not sail one larger than that sunfish, nor go offshore! I got my Captain’s license. The course I took was great. I learned so much. Rules of the road, navigation, how to use charts, etc., etc. but certainly not how to sail…never mind how to sail a big boat.
The day after I received my Captain’s License, I got on a plane and moved back to the Northeast, I wanted my friends and winter; I love snow. I was staying with my Aunt and Uncle, which I was very excited about as my uncle had a sailboat <!!!> and could teach me how to sail! But no, he had gotten rid of his sailboat a few years prior. After asking me what I was going to do with my captain’s license, my uncle suggested I buy a boat and live on it.
That weekend my uncle had me in Newburyport looking at boats…boats that I thought I could totally live on…you know, for a year! Weekends that followed consisted of driving around New England from boatyard to boatyard looking for my soon to be live aboard boat. I would wake up eeeearly Sat mornings to “If I had a boat, I’d go out on the ocean, if I had a pony, I’d ride it on my boat….” Blaring throughout the house to get me out of bed and into the car…we had appointments to look at boats all winter long. C&Cs, Pearsons, Hunters, Freedoms, Eriksons, etc., etc. I looked at all kinds of boats. Then one day I took a trip to Annapolis with my Aunt. I stepped onto this lovely Freedom 38 and I immediately thought, I could live on this! Acedia was mine March 15, 2005. Even on that date, I had no idea how special she was.
We put her in the water in Salem, MA, however, that meant I had to move her to her new home in Kittery, ME. I had never handled a big boat like that before!? I was terrified. The night before the maiden voyage, I was freaking out so my Aunt sat me down and a conversation was had that went more or less like this:
Lisa: “what is the worst that could happen? The sails are down or there is no wind and the motor dies….you drop your anchor! The boat sinks? Jump into your dinghy and don’t forget the VHF we gave you!” Me: “Oh-Ok, yea, your right…I can do that!”
I had this…with my very adventurous, handy friend, Kagen, I got her to Kittery, ME and up the Piscataqua River to her first (with me) home at Badger’s Island Marina. Capt Tom was awaiting our arrival out on the T dock and I somehow managed to get her perfectly docked (how I timed slack tide so perfectly, I’m sure only the blessed know).
I moved onto my fine new sailing vessel Memorial Day Weekend. I met boat neighbors and marina friends, raced on my first boat friend’s Evelyn 26, learned how to sail, learned how to dock (Thanks Tim and Tony!), learned how to maintain her, winterize her, and this all continued for 10 years between Maine and Boston. Every step of the way, Acedia has gone above and beyond to take care of me. Through every lesson, every incident, through trials and tribulations, blowings, groundings, parts breaking, engines dying, sails tearing, drunk belligerent crew (whom never got invited on the boat again), lost steering incidents, parting from moorings, dragging anchor into the middle of Ptown Harbor, she made sure she and I came out afloat safely.