Yes, there is crying in boat ownership. What can I say? I’m a girl. I didn’t mention, yet, the second time I sailed up the Piscataqua River (which has the 3rd fastest current of any river in the US) and I didn’t hit slack tide just right. The confused, conflicting tides created standing waves and white water that I hadn’t seen or experienced yet on Acedia and I had to try and dock my boat right in front of the bridge?! I’m was so confused and terrified of what the river was doing-Tears! I was convinced I was going to jump overboard and just swim to shore.
Then there is now, yes, currently I’m sitting out in my cockpit, Acedia is at anchor in
Antigua watching the most beautiful sky set over Montserrat as I write. It’s beautiful and I’m happy! Yet, still fresh in my soul, I can honestly say that last week I was off in tears for…um, probably a few days. My friends had left to explore other islands without me, new friends were leaving me behind soon, too, I had just taken on for the first time in my life captaining my own boat offshore for over 1,500 miles <!!!!>, I had had a tough passage coming down from Bermuda, upon arrival I immediately had to take care of each crisis issue that needed to be addressed before I could even get my boat into harbor safely…and then the next day to a dock… and then the issues I needed to take care of to get off the dock and anchored…and then the rest of the issues to become fully functional in my new surroundings (it took over a week and half!). I had been away from familiar surroundings for over a month, I had been swept away by my very dear new friends for the holiday (New Years, thank you for all the fun Mike!) left to forget (and procrastinate) the next set of crisis that needed attending to…and then once it all started to come together, I fell apart. Cry, cry, cry, cry, cry. Aw, it’s all good, but yes, there is certainly crying in my boat world!
I love living on my boat. It’s been some of both the most tough and fun times of my life. Oh boy, do I have stories! Overall, I’d say it takes a bit of extra work and organization to live on a boat, as there is:
The ritual of having to fill up water tanks frequently, walking or dinghying to your boat without falling in… in all kinds of weather (remember, I’ve lived on my boat for 10years, even in the winter, and on a mooring for several summers), cooking in a boat galley is like playing tetras yet hopefully you get something tasty out of it, sometimes swallowing the fact that you have to bundle up in layers and boots and a winter hat so your hair doesn’t freeze to go use marina shower facilities leaves you to second guess how necessary a shower even is, the nights when you get dragged to the local pub in your pajamas because having just showered and put on pjs is obviously not a good excuse to NOT go out, neighbors are close and so they become good friends, you know what boat to find this or that tool, a DVD (10 years ago), where you can leave a pint of ice cream (at your own risk, that is!) as super cold refrigeration is premium, who’s having the dinner, or drinks, or other random social gathering.
Oh yes, organizing all the social events! Boat dinners, wafflethons, can you get by the ‘known always to be a party going on’ boats or not?, happy hour, Disco Deck Dance Party, regattas, shrinkwrap parties, it’s dead of winter come over and help make the boat cozy and I’ll cook for you parties, it’s spring-let’s have drinks and sail parties, it’s summer-weeeee parties, epic birthday parties, meeting up in Ptown parties, etc, etc, I think you catch the drift! Living on a boat leaves you surrounded with some of the greatest, most fun people you can imagine. Some are odder than others, but all and all, some of the best people I have met, it’s a wonderful community. This is why my Dad agreed that I didn’t need to have a gun. And why magically one day while I was temporarily unemployed, a newly fabricated gooseneck (critical part, it’s the thing that holds my boom to the mast) appeared on my deck, so I could safely sail back to Maine for a new career opportunity (You are the bestest Freedom big brother a sailor girl could ask for Lance!!)
I digress from the blood, sweat, and tears. In amongst the socializing, there was always the boat work. Wash and polish the decks, clean and oil the teak (these things haven’t been done for years as the following list prevailed), varnish the interior teak that has water damage (never even got to that!), the fix that, maintain this, change the oil and filters,
rebuild your engine (Thank you John.. and Jon!), replace your batteries, buy a smart battery charger, buy new sails, seal up that leak, tighten the steering cables (again!), clean and paint the bottom, climb your mast, shrinkwrap, clean and grease your winches (you have to do that?!), replace windlass, clean out a pile of rust that used to be your anchor chain, install davits to hold up an impressive solar array, install hot water tank to support extra solar diversion for hot water, new sail track installed and new sail car system sewn into the main, fix that electrical connection, clean up this corrosion, etc, etc, etc. Needless to say, I’ve learned most of all this through trial and error (and in my case, mostly error). I never read the owners manual and had I done that 10 years ago, I’m sure I would have bailed by now! But, I worked, I employed friends help, Dad’s help, neighbor’s help, and without everyone, I would be curled up in tears because it’s SO. MUCH. WORK. And honestly, mostly work that I’m far from being good at. Ugh.
After outfitting Acedia to be off the grid and living on her on the mooring for several summers, I knew I had to do something, something to make it all worthwhile. I couldn’t just be maintaining this boat and lifestyle to just go to work 5 days a week when I had a vessel that could take me places. There had to be a point to it all. Two years ago, my bestest boat neighbors were talking and planning to sail away. At the time, I wasn’t sure if I could pull it off myself, but it certainly was fun to talk about taking off, too, and sailing to the Caribbean. Isn’t that what you do, when you can and you somewhat have the means?! I never wanted to do it solo nor (again) did I think that I could pull it off, but I figured if I sat around waiting for someone to do it with…I just might not ever go. That in itself was more depressing than not having someone to do it with. Plus, it was exciting to think about where such a journey would take me and the possibility of whom I would meet along the way. I tend to meet some of my most favorite people while traveling. Therefore, I thought I must try!
This past year and half has been the hardest working and miserable times of my life. My boat, which is my small, itty, bitty residence, has been in a constant state of disrepair; one boat project turns into 15 by nature of the beast and it was NEVER ENDING. I needed my boat and her systems to be tip top and Bristol fashion. I needed her to be solid and seaworthy. Therefore, I made an appointment and I sailed her to her birthplace, RI (afterall, I never read the manual so I had no idea what I was grossly neglecting). The former production manager specializes in working on Freedoms today so clearly that is whom Acedia needed to go see. I sailed to RI and ended up staying for well over a month. I had her rudder dropped and a new bearing fabricated, prop sent off across the country to be rebuilt, steering system completely overhauled (ooops, it’s an issue if you constantly have to tighten steering cables, who knew?!), the reefing lines replaced and reefing system upgraded, boom vang collar fabricated for solid setting to the boom, mast collar seal replaced, cutlass bearing replaced, new running rigging, and autohelm drive unit rebuilt, third reef installed in the main, design and make dodger, install bow tank, electrical overhaul (Thank YOU Joe!), and the list continues… I wasn’t kidding when I said I had her decked out! I needed safety equipment, I needed to learn more about safety at sea, weather, routing, and satellite communications and I needed to find crew for the offshore passages. I didn’t sleep much, I took off days sick from work to stay home and eh hem (cough, cough} work on boat projects. I was tired and stressed and things usually hurt; I was covered in bruises and I was so exhausted, I was more or less useless at work anyway. Arguably, many of the projects sucked so bad, they made me ill!
Woah. It was a very, very intense last six months. And I love all of my friends, DEARLY.