Sassea Sails



Sassea the Sailor

Sailing was once a passion for me. Still, it remains a metaphor for life. As a lifelong learner my formal education started at age 4. At 70 I continue to learn. From piano and ukulele lessons to deciding what to do during this decade, I challenge myself to improve. As a single septuagenarian I have a comfortable, albeit mundane lifestyle that is searching for excitement. Buy another cruising boat? Hitchhike around the world? Or, something else that intrigues me....What's a woman to do?

Here’s Sass Sea . . .

Here’s Sass Sea, the 15th sailboat under my tutelage. Funny, the first boat I ever boat was in 1980 when I was a sprite thirty year old single woman. It was a brand new Hobie 18, one of the fastest sailboats of her day. I learned to race her with an unprecedented passion. Over the years I bought and sold an array of Hobies, Supercats, a sunfish, a Corsair and a cruising trimaran. Now, as a widowed septuagenarian, I bought a slow, like really slow cruising classic.

Sass Sea is a CSY 33, promised to do 5 knots. For the past five months I have shopped intently for this style of boat. Why? Because two seasoned cruisers recommended it. My friend Sherry along with her husband Dave have sailed their CSY 44 extensively from Melbourne, Florida to somewhere in the Pacific. Except for its slow speed Sherry speaks highly of the CSY’s reputation for building a strong seaworthy boat. Another gal, who I know through her writings, is a world renowned cruiser, Lin Parday. Lin’s advice is to choose a smaller, seaworthy boat.

My own assessment led to cost factors. All things considered a 33 foot long, 11 foot wide boat will be less costly to maintain than a 38 foot long, 24 foot wide trimaran. Besides, the choice of trimarans is slim. The caveat to selecting this particular CSY, named Rhapsody, is the camaraderie of a whole new group of sailing enthusiasts that came with the boat. The former owner, Rick, who at 26, is embarking on a sailing adventure across the Pacific. His attention to detail, and pride brought aesthetic and functional improvements to Rhapsody.

Prior to Rick’s tenure on Rhapsody, was Dag. Dag’s extensive knowledge of Rhapsody has been written about about for the Southern Seas Cruising Association. He owned Rhapsody for 14 years. Though she will be renamed, what a pleasure it is to dock her at Dag’s while I prepare for my next cruising adventure. I am also privileged to have met a neighbor, Pam Wall, who along with her husband and two children did a 7 year circumnavigation. Through all my sadness this past year, how did I get to meet such a wonderful group of people?

As every sailor knows there is a lot of work to do, even on this ready to cruise boat. In addition to organizing the lockers to meet my needs, there are 40 years of sailing memories, and a great year two-stepping with my Colorado mountain friends that need to be packed. Cherished times racing with Hobie Fleet #80, competing at the Women’s Hobie events, sharing good times with the Sassy Sailors, canoeing down the Swanee River, and the ever present memories of my husband Dan, and my life mate, Ron will always be with me on SASS SEA, my CSY 33.

P.S. Gotta thank my sister, Jane, who graciously endures my ups and downs of this crazy life I lead…

Sassea Believes

Yesterday I was hypnotized from watching endless streams of Dr. Phil episodes on my new IPHONE 10S, or is it an ‘X?’ What woke me from my mesmorized state was the introduction of Coach Mike Bayer. My interpretation of Dr. Phil’s tribute to this collegiately dressed man is that he is the best thing since peanut butter. And, I love my peanut butter. 

During Dr. Phil’s spiel about how great Coach Bayer’s new best-selling book is, I typed in Amazon on my trusty MacBook Air. Within a minute, thanks to pay pal, my copy of “Best Self – Be You, Only Better” flashed on my screen. Coach Bayer’s introduction indicated this book was to be interactive. He encouraged journaling. I took the challenge. 

Step 1 required conjuring an image of something to represent me. I chose a Mermaid. I named her Sassea whose motto is Sassea Sails. From that image, I wrote down Sassea’s belief that she can do what she sets her mind to. As instructed by Coach Bayer I listed Sassea’s best traits: intuitive, impulse, active, fun and genuine. 

Outside the silent snow fell. My mind wandered back to the past seven months. Most of my nights were spent searching the internet for the ideal cruising boat. For two months in the fall I toured more boats and marinas than I can remember.  My plan is to sail until I can’t sail anymore. Then, I will spend my sedentary years in my cozy cabin overlooking the Spanish Peaks in Southern Colorado. Never did I conceive I’d find a Florida home with a dock on navigable water that I could afford.

I lay curled up on the couch with only the crackling sounds of pine tree logs burning in my wood stove. A bell announcing a new e-mail arrived. “OMG,” I shouted to the wall. A house within my price range on a navigable stretch of water with a dock in my old sailing neighborhood was described. While sitting up, I called my sister, Jane, to share this news. During our chat another e-mail came through. The owner of a boat I am interested in stated I can look at it next week. Just two days ago another boat I have an interest in was listed for sale. Both boats and the house are all in the same area.

Jane listened to my chatter. There were three factors to consider. One, sell my house. Two, buy a different house. Three, buy one of two possible boats. Despite the stress of these major decisions, it is exciting to think of the possibilities. It won’t be today, but within the next few months a new life’s chapter may begin. After all,  Sassea believes she can do what she sets her mind to.

Naturally Weird

Being a two-timing widow is weird. If others have had this same misfortune, I would certainly like to hear from them. You marry someone and spend many wonderful years together. Then, after a peaceful sleep together your husband doesn’t wake up. It sounds so simple, so easy to comprehend. You go to sleep, your heart stops beating, you die. Life is over.

Digital image

Unlike life which eventually ends, time continues. You discover someone else who you take a fancy to. In turn, they like you. Why not build a life together? Each person brings an inner joy to the other. You set up housekeeping. You dance together, you read stories to each other, and eventually you share the same bed. Then, after a peaceful sleep together, feet entwined, this person with whom you pledged to live together with until you die, doesn’t wake up.

How can this be? How can this happen? How do you deal with more of life’s seemingly simple things? I have my favorite picture of each of these fine men hanging in a prominent place. Today is Ron’s birthday. Friends graciously invited me to spend the day with them celebrating his life. Every June I have done something special to appreciate Dan. Now, I have two birthdays to celebrate. I guess it is like celebrating the life of a mom and a dad, whom you love both, equally. I just never met anyone who, like me, has woken to two different lovers, who left silently in the night.

It all feels so weird. So, f_____ up. To be lucky in love twice. To be widowed twice. . .

A Single Day, A Single Life

The misty, snowy day faded into dusk. It was a subtle transition as yesterday’s clouds dulled the colors of the tall pine and juniper trees. In contrast to the darkened tree trunks, the snow’s whitest white presented a Norman Rockwell painting. 

The slightest amount of sunshine hid behind wispy clouds. This caused the snow to dissipate into the ground. There were no puddles of slushy snow. From inside our house I could see the ground cropping up from beneath the snow. The brown dirt and low lying bush-like plants emerged as if pushing themselves up through the moisture filled snow. 

With nightfall approaching I turned on the living room light. It cast a soft romantic glow. The wood burning in the stove allowed another log to join its glowing coals. I turned on the stove’s fan and opened its door an inch or two. This expelled the heat into our living room. It got so hot I moved further away from the crackling fire. Outside the birds were off to their nightly retreat. Darkness fell. Upstairs the loft was quite warm. Yet, my preference to watch the fire’s glow kept me on the ground floor. 

Tears filled my eyes for the loved ones who died: my dad, my brother Harry, my husband Danny, my friend’s daughter Nicole, and more recently my life mate Ron. Thoughts of these people moved me from the Costa Rican rocking chair, that my sister gave me, to the soft cuddly couch that came with the purchase of our house. As I folded a blanket so its double layer stretched from under my chin to the bottom of my feet, an unwelcome pity party showed up. 

To thwart the self-indulgence I listened to a podcast sponsored by TED TALKS. It was an uplifting tale told by a lady who praised her single life style. At age 63 she never married. Me, well, I wouldn’t trade a single day of my married life with Dan, or a single moment living with Ron during his life’s last chapter. This morning when the sun cast its light onto my awakening eyes, I felt the embrace of a challenging life ahead.

Uh-oh, I Hit My Teacher, , ,

      In the middle row, in the front seat of our sixth-grade classroom sat Eddie, the class clown.  About three seats back and in the row to the left, sat I. Our teacher, Mr. Matthews, sat behind his desk which was placed front and center facing the class. At the beginning of each day when Mr. Matthews stood up we knew it was time to say the Pledge of Allegiance. He followed the pledge by reading a passage from the bible. Then, the class sang the first verse of My Country tis of Thee. On this particular day, our usual English lesson was postponed.  Rather, Mr. Matthews told us to clean out our desks. 

            One by one I took a book out and placed it on my seat. I was kneeling in order to get eye level with the inside of a dark mish-mosh of school related stuff. Spelling papers, with 100% printed in red at the top, along with unfinished math worksheets were pulled from the rubble. Notices that I was supposed to have taken home appeared. An overdue library book, with its cover now bent, slid out. After indistinguishable papers, broken pencils and crayons were retrieved, I reached my arm into the recesses of the dark corners of my desk. 

            “EWWW,” I felt something squishy. I wriggled my nose and with trepidation I used the ends of my fingers to maneuver whatever lurked inside. I knew I had to get it out. When it was almost outside of my desk I squirmed. It was a scrunched up brown paper lunch bag. Despite my hesitation, my curiosity got the best of me. I opened it. “Phew,” it was a moldy peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Instinctively I squashed the mushed bag shut. Hoping no one saw it, I shoved it under the books and papers already surrounding me on the floor. 

            Suddenly, I heard Eddie shout, “Here, take mine too!” As I looked up a pile of papers hit me. Gravity fell them to my feet. Angrily I waded up some paper and made a really tight ball. Then, I mustered up as much strength as I could. I pitched the best pitch of my life. The ball was streaming right toward Eddie.

            Eddie ducked. My perfect pitch hit Mr. Matthews right between his eyes. No one was more stunned than I. In a soft voice, barely above a whisper, Mr. Matthews enunciated these words, “Go  to  the  Office.” 

            Sheepishly my head hung down. I stared at the floor that led me out of the classroom, down the hall and into the Principal’s Office. I was scared. Next, I remember dad escorting me to the car. He muttered something about having to leave work to come and get me. I didn’t know what to say. The indignation of it all silenced me.

       A few months later I became the only one in our class who Mr. Matthews did not pick to sing in the Christmas. Was the teacher getting revenge? I’ll save story for another blog. 

Sassea’s Home

Home, Home on the Range 12/5/18

             It was 5:30 am when I was overwhelmed by the sight of the snow-capped Spanish Peak Mountain outside my driver’s side window. With Orion in the western sky surrounded by a display of sparkling stars I pulled over to catch my breath. Here it was on this year’s 4thday of Chanakah when little old me was surrounded with such beauty. I was so blessed to have the sweet side of our bittersweet world embrace me. There wasn’t a single other car, truck or van on the road. I took a few deep breaths before easing my mini home back onto the road.

            Being awake during my favorite time of day I vowed to enter our driveway at first light. I turned up the volume on the radio. ZZ Top was blasting out their hit song proclaiming what I have a propensity for, ‘A Sharp Dressed Man.’ After all it was Ron wearing his baggy tan pants and Dan wearing his surfer digs when each of these fine gents stole my heart (years apart of course).

            This morning’s joy was such a contrast from yesterday’s doldrums when I eased along Highway 82 between Amarillo, Texas and Raton, New Mexico. I was thankful to be off the interstate system on which I had been driving on since leaving Jacksonville, Florida. The hilly stretch of a backroad boasting a 75 mile an hour speed limit surrounded by miles and miles of pastureland and cotton fields was delightful. There is something about wide open spaces. Despite my complaint about maintaining our home so far from the sea, it was a peaceful end to my 65 days on the road visiting friendsamily* and boat shopping.

            To those folks who I did not see, I apologize. Everyone who I have ever met during my short lifetime, has a place in my heart. To all who I had a chance to spend time with, know that it was quality time at its best.

            My inherited mini home, Ron’s van, became the perfect vehicle. I can back that sucker into the tightest spaces, change lanes without flaw, and cook up gourmet meals. The onlytime I slept in someone’s house was Thanksgiving night when I was at the home of my neice. The onlytime I paid to stay at a camp ground was during my four days in Cedar Key. The only regret I have is referring to the van as the consolation prize. Indeed, it is the most cherished possession of all Ron and I embraced. On equal footing, is the precious money Danny and I accumulated.. There better be a heaven for these handsome wonderful men. 

            Now, sitting before the fire anticipating fun times with my Coloradofriendsamily I feel good. Got the wood stove stoking, brand new electric blanket warming, and a cup of the coffee that, as always, is good to the last drop.     

*friendsamily = friends +family when individually these fine folks becoone in the same..

Cedar Key November 2018

Peddle, Sail, Motor Your Way–new prototype 

Rain, Rain, Don’t go Away

While the epic children’s song wishes the rain would go away, this adult is hoping it stays. I want a day to be by myself, to write, to read, to think. Typically I schedule things to that involve other people.  Mostly, I enjoy thecompany of others. Sometimes, though I want to make writing a priority. On this road trip between boat shopping and visiting, I have let my fitness and writing routines wane.

My lack of staying physically fit reared its ugly head yesterday. A sailing friend, Phil lent me his sunfish so I could participate in a regatta held at the Melbourne Yacht Club. Ten women entered the competition. Several I recognized from my sunfish racing days nearly ten years ago. Several new faces emerged on the course. Whereas it should have been a delightful time, and whereas I did pride myself in not flipping over in the 25 knot gusts, at the end of the day I retreated to my mini home. I just felt out of shape.

When morning came I boiled water for coffee, went inside the clubhouse to take care of ‘morning business’ then returned home. With the forecast for thundershowers I thought about packing up the boat but decided to wait for a lull in the rain.

Being out of synch with the boat’s instability, especially when having to jibe in windy weather,  made the racing more of a learning experience than a competitive event. Dinner’s typical regatta food of reheated thick noodled, cheese laden lasagna sat in my stomach like a lead ball. Everyone but me seemed content to sit and chat. No doubt they were tired from five races and enjoyed sharing their personal wins and losses of their day. Feeling emotionally disconnected from crowd, and to ease my bloated stomach, I went for a stroll around the neighborhood.

I didn’t even put my headphones on and play itunes. As I walked around the familiar territory I yearned for days gone by. The yacht club, racing, and interacting with these folks used to drive my every day’s plan. Thoughts of Bill, my sunfish coach and dance partner, who passed away a few years ago, wasn’t here. Danny, who died on Nov 17, 2010, wasn’t at home waiting for me to share our day’s events, and Ronald, that big smiled guy who brought organization to my life left me to finish our life together alone. And, now with the rain washing the road dirt from the top of our van, tears trail down my cheeks. Maybe, just maybe the rain will stay today to flood my plans with happy thoughts of yesterday.  And maybe, just maybe I will get some exercise and writing done,,,

Walking Away

I am compelled to copy a short paragraph from page 56 of Deb and TJ Akey’s book, “How NOT to buy a cruising book. Just two days ago I cried for for an hour after rejecting an offer I made on a CSY 33.  I convinced myself it was the perfect offshore cruiser for me. A thorough inspection was done by a professional surveyor and by two experienced circumnavigators on a CSY 44. Reading the surveyor’s report and hearing what my CSY expert friends told me, I knew I had to decline the purchase at the agreed upon purchase. Before I put my phone back in its case after telling the broker I was cancelling our contract my eyes welled up with tears. For the next hour I cried while driving away from Miami’s Dinner Key Marina to visit a sailing friend in Port Charlotte. I finally calmed down when remembering the Melbourne Yacht Club was hosting their annual adults in prams race that night. I changed course and headed north.

The next day I resumed my internet boat buying search. I also looked for more information on buying a used boat. When I read page 56 in the book by Deb and TJ Akey I decided to reprint this paragraph in hopes of reminding myself and others that walking away is the ticket to finding the perfect boat.

 Yup, walk away from that first real prospect.Shed a tear if necessary, but 

  walk away. It is good practice. It will set the proper head, harden the heart,

 and give the broker a chance to earn his or her cut. Look at some other boats.

 I’m not saying that the first boat can’t be the boat in a week or month.

 In all likelihood, it will still be around. …. Good boats do grow on trees.

 Another deal will be along shortly If the broker is any good he or she will

  know about it. 








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