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Sassea Sails

SAILING, METAPHORS, ADVENTURE,

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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?

Eyes See What Your Mind Creates

“Perfect vision!” That is what my ophthalmologist said yesterday morning. It is a fact I take pride in. To be two days short of my 71stbirthday and not need cheaters to read a menu, or glasses for driving is incredible. Yet, as the day wore on I became obsessed with wondering why, with perfect vision, I had been blind -sighted on the previous day. It was at the end of my final check out dive for SCUBA certification. 

Under sunny skies the surface seas were barely a foot high off the coast of Riviera Beach, Florida. After a 40-foot descent, the instructor and I enjoyed a tranquil drift along the living reef. My harmonious breathing, slow and steady, kept me floating about two feet off the bottom so as not to disturb King Neptune’s garden. Gazing at the vibrant colored corals and tropical fish we were pleasantly surprised by two aquatic wonders. A giant loggerhead turtle was poised by my side. After a few seconds, he/she majestically swam across our path.

Right behind the loggerhead a ten-foot green moray eel slithered along.

An involuntary deep breath ensued as I marveled at the abundance of sea life. 

When the instructor signaled with his thumb pointing up I was relieved. I accomplished my goal to remain calm under water. It was time to ascent. Then, at the fifteen-foot safety stop my demeanor changed. Bored while hovering at the three-minute controlled stop, I checked my watch. The instant my timer went off, my breathing became shallow. My heart raced.

When my head popped onto the surface. I inflated my BCD (buoyancy compensator device). Faster and faster my heart went. My mouth was dry. Thinking fresh air would moisten my dry mouth I pulled the regulator out. Self- talk, thankfully, screamed at me. “Put that dam thing back in your mouth.” I did.

The dive boat was clearly in view. The instructor remained at arm’s length. But, instead of maintaining a more desirable state of mind, my shallow rapid breathing continued, my legs kicked feverishly. I felt desperate to get back on the boat. When I reached the transom I barely had enough energy to pull off my fins. Maybe someone else took them off for me. Climbing the boarding ladder seemed impossible. My thighs were like rubber. I could feel them, though powerless to lift me. The dive master pulled me up. The other divers helped me out of my gear.

All night I wondered what happened. During the safety stop, why couldn’t I see my instructor and I as three dimensional beings hovering on the ocean’s bright blue canvas? At the surface why couldn’t I see myself floating peacefully on my back? To slow my breathing and heart rate why couldn’t I see the tranquility and beauty that abounded, if, indeed, I have perfect vision? 

Regretfully I saw what was in my mind, not my view!

Explore

Exploring new places and cultures are ubiquitous dreams of perspective cruisers. What discourages most, perhaps more woman than men, is the exploration of what it takes to make those dreams come true. Let these selfies of my exploration of Sass Sea’s transom under the cockpit speak volumes. To reach it, I had to crawl into the starboard lazarette, lie on my

back with a flashlight in hand and scooch around the corner.

                                

Notice the rotting wooden backing plate.

It was installed 40 years ago when the original through hulls were installed. Of all the exploring, this is the imperative one. 

Ladies, take charge of your destiny. Get a little dirty, get help from others.

EXPLORE

Alone

Alone, having no other person in the house, having no pet, no dog, no cat, no lover, no mate, no friend nearby. Just you, yourself, with no physical contact with another. The radio is off. I-Tunes is off. A car passes by.

The ice cream man has long been gone. His high-pitched sing song melody is finally gone. The kids who clamored for a nutty buddy or icy treat are surely in bed. A Netflix movie ended. The yard cats fed.

A neighbor is raking leaves or doing some other task making a whoosing sound. A plane flies overhead. A street light wastes energy every night, all night long.

My room mates aren’t home. I am always at home. Where ever I go. I am home. I eat vegetables and rice for dinner; cook on our one burner stove. I sit on the bench seat, feet propped up over the hinged table. I type the words for my blog.

Another month til a year has passed. The loneliness feels alone tonight. There is gratitude for the friends, family and the two special men who bless my life. There is peace. There is the gym for swimming, the boat for working, and the errands for driving. There is no passion for sailing or anything else I do. There is no one else home. Just me, alone, brushing my teeth before crawling into bed.

Memories start, loneliness returns. Good times, awkward times, adventure, romance and boredom. Like a never-ending song. Take a Dramamine, drift off to sleep. In dreamland, REM sleep, in a state of calm. Where I am, alone.

Swim in the morning, work out at the gym. Buy a portable fridge. Tidy the boat, check out a Portland Pudgy, visit sister Jane. Drive to Ocala. Buy new rudder. On and on and on, it goes. Alone.

Danny Diesel

What better name for my Perkins 4.108, 50 hp diesel engine than Danny Diesel. After all, he was on my mind when I woke up this morning. I had a visual picture of his expression 48 years ago when he became aware that I failed to respond to the oil indicator light in his Ford Pinto. He wasn’t happy having recently rebuilt that engine. A month later, I fried it.

Fast forward to the present. when my CSY 33 mentor, Dag Hansson, took the time to give me a tour of the 40 year old engine perched below the galley sinks in my sailboat. I listened, took notes and asked questions. Later that day in the quiet solitude of the setting sun I rewrote my notes. Below are things to know about Danny Diesel and perhaps about your prized engine too!

Check the zinc on the starboard side of the cooling engine. It is under the six sided bolt head.

Heat Exchanger – blue cylinder along back of the engine – look for a zinc – should be a spare heat exchanger on the boat-if so take it to a radiator shop to have it acid washed, then pretty it up by repainting with blue Chrysler paint

Oil Filter – orange cylinder in rear s/b side – change every 100 hours: unscrew to loosen, place a freezer thick zip loc baggy around filter, catch filter and oil drippings in zip loc, dispose of properly

Secondary Fuel Filter – blue cylinder with a white label on it; above cooling engine and below to rear of air filter, 2 micron filter

Lift/fuel pump – manually lift and lower when engine is bled to get air out; it is the small tab with a hole in it; pointing to it with a pencil in pix below

 Electric Fuel Pump – on circuit breaker labeled ‘fuel pump’                                 

Battery Switch – behind circuit board

    Impeller is the salt water pump                    

Salt water hose lies across front side of engine leading into impeller                                 

 Coolant is collected in the bottle on bottom of engine room- need to clean it out; check inside the coolant thingy to see if/when to add more

Pressure Cap for coolant is same as in a car; get new cap at NAPA Auto Parts                               

Silver tape – get some for inside engine doors

Injectors – have mechanic do every 400 hours

Valves – have mechanic do every 1000 hours

 Hope this helps

As always your questions and comments are encouraged!

Sassythesailor@gmail.com

                                    

            

Getting Back on the Bike

It’s been said that once we learn to ride a two-wheeled bicycle we always remember how to ride. Granted aging or an injury may impact our balance. For the most part, though, we push off with one foot, press down on the opposing pedal, and with both hands on the handle bars swish on down the road. Depending on the bicycle we may need a refresher on how the gearing and brakes work. Likewise, my return to chart reading this evening needed a review.   

           For some of you that might seem trite. For me, approaching age 71, I questioned my memory. It has been four years since I last read a chart. At that time, I was embarking on a familiar coastal course. Respecting my crew I relied on my them to compare the paper chart with the GPS. It was at least five years ago when I set a new course for a safe harbor I had never been to before.  

            With this self-proclaimed vote of confidence, I refreshed my plotting skills by setting a course from Ft.  Lauderdale to St. Lucie Inlet and then one to West End. There is no doubt, now, that charting courses for places far and wide will be a cinch.  So it is, than, that in 20 days Sass Sea and I will head for the boat yard to restore her to the structurally sound vessel she once was. 

Now, in addition to knowing longitude and latitude I need to pay more attention to soundings. My previous shallow draft multihulls needed 2.5 feet below the keel. Sass Sea, my CSY 33, needs 6 feet of water to stay afloat. 

Reminding myself of the bicycle riding adage provided confidence as I plotted the first course for my recently purchased CSY 33. I reminded myself of plotting a course from Cape Canaveral to Sandy Hook, New Jersey. With the help of my crew, Maryanne, we than navigated our way to Bermuda. A year or so later I figured out how to sail throughout the Bahamas and on to the Dominican Republic.

“Hell,” the voice inside my head blurted out, “if I could chart those courses and get back on a bicycle, I will do an even better job sailing on to foreign ports.” 

        

Buyer’s Remorse, No More

There is a poem by John Greenleaf Whittier that my friend, Chris Ammerman, reposted after she saw it on facebook. The title of the poem is “Don’t Quit.”  Reading it first thing this morning calmed my nerves. My sleep had been interrupted several times with sinking thoughts of my newly purchased boat off to meet Davy Jones. I had a vision of water dribbling into the settee from a one inch scratch on the outer layer that never got sealed.

Thirteen of my fourteen previously owned sailboats were floaters. My Hobie’s, Supercats, and Marples 35 were filled with so much air and foam that I believed they would still float even if they were filled to the brim. My biggest trepidation with buying this boat is that it is heavy, like really, really, really  heavy. It has a keel about five feet deep that is molded into the main structure. The keel is filled with lead or concrete or other such heavy stuff that easily proves it weighs more than water. In other words, if you fill the my newly acquired thirty three footer with water, you are doomed to toast Neptune at the bar in Davy Jones Locker.  Not a pleasant thought. 

After this restless sleep, I awoke to the sound of my wide-eyed brain shouting “Minimize your losses, sell the dam boat!” Like a bolt of lightning such a disparaging claim jolted me out of my bed. Forgetting my slippers I dashed onto the cold tile floor in my bathroom. Instinctively I sat on the toilet and lifted my feet while dispelling my morning pee. You know the relief you feel when your bladder finally empties? Thankfully that sensation brought me to my wits. 

My promise to write at least five pages every day came to mind. I washed my hands, brushed my teeth, then gargled for a longer time than usual. Into the living room I stoked the wood stove, boiled water for coffee and began writing. This led to a bit of research. Not finding what I was looking for I turned to Facebook ready to post my question. There was Chris’s wonderful reminder to stay the course. 

Whittier’s poem, “Don’t Quit” has now been married to my “Best Self” journal. The author of that book by Coach Bayer, instructed me to name my Best Self, I call her Sassea. (see previous blog Sassea Believes, Jan.2019)

With gratitude, I thank Chris for her re-post as I cherish the last line in Whittier’s epic poem:  .

For all the sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest of these are: 

It Might Have Been.

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. . .


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