Search

Sassea Sails

SAILING, METAPHORS, ADVENTURE,

Sailmeom.com

Found this website and believe it is worth sharing. Here is an excerpt that speaks to me. This is especially true after my soliloquy on Sea of Life Parts I and II which was posted a few minutes ago. How timely???

3) Know the difference between fear and anxiety.

After reading a really wonderful series of blog posts by a fellow sailor and therapist, I know that what I feel is actually anxiety.  Not panic-attack level, medication-necessary anxiety, just run-of-the-mill Jewish Grandma worry. Understanding more abouthow my brain works has been helpful. It hasn’t cured me,,,but perhaps reading up on how you feel can make a difference. By understanding what’s happening in your brain chemistry,You can let feelings pass through you and acknowledge them, and ultimately let them go in a moment of zen, or treat them professionally if necessary.

http://www.sailmeom.com/stories/2016/10/25/fear-anxiety-boats

On the Sea of Life, Part II

As stated in the Sea of Life Part I blog entry, each line I read in the poem below was questioned. My brain kept repeating, ‘what if’ until it reached such a crescendo that I had to literally get out of my easy chair and write about it to help quell the voices within. Each line in the poem as it was presented are in the left column. On the right is my response as I rationalize my behavior in order to make sense out of my choices.  At the least doing so became an interesting insight into my cynicism. . . Let me know your thoughts . . .

There is so much more to life than finding someone who will want you, or being sad over someone who doesn’t What if finding someone who will want you is fulfilling? Ever watch the gleam in the eyes of people in their 70s or 80s holding hands as they stroll along?

Sadness is a normal part of rejection in our bitter sweet life. What if one allows a limited amount of time to be sad while allowing time to be happy in each day. What if I quit being sad over my husband’s death? That would be the ultimate sadness….

There is a lot of wonderful time to be spent discovering yourself without hoping someone will fall in love with you along the way What if I have spent my life discovering myself without hoping someone will fall in love with me along the way, but what if my being is overwhelmed with the quest to taste love’s lasting pleasure?
And it doesn’t need to be painful or empty What if we need pain to feel relief?
You need to fill yourself up with love What if it gets tiring? What if a message from a friend adds to fulfillment?
Not anyone else What if others want to add love to your life?
Become a whole being on your own What if you are a whole being? What if being whole needs defining?
Go on adventures What if my adult life has been an adventure? Buying my own sailboat, teaching myself how to sail, sailing solo from Bermuda to Florida? These are not adventures,,,, surfing in Jeffreys Baai, trekking the Lares Valley
Fall asleep in the woods with friends What if I have slept in the woods with friends and along?
Wander around the city at night What if I spent more nights I can remember or count wandering the streets of New York City? It doesn’t get more citied than New York…
Sit in a coffee shop on your own What if I spent many a morning or mid day sitting in a coffee shop alone? What if I told you at age 21 I did so in the French Quarter? Just sipping a latte watching others come and go?
Write on bathroom stalls Yea, what if I told you I have written on walls around the world?
Leave notes in library books What if I have written and continue to leave notes in books I read, whether in the library or in a campground, marina book swap.
Dress up for yourself What if I took a pix of myself wearing my brand new size 27 stretch skinny jeans, that I proudly sasshaed around in, and didn’t need a complement to stick my chin up, and boobs out, cause I knew I looked good!
Give to others What if I continually donate time and money to others?
Smile a lot What if I smile most of the day? Even when I was at Linda’s I practiced the wonderful mantra she shared with me, “chin up, boobs out, smile, smile, smile.
Do all things with love What if I believe I do all things with love? I avoid judgement… I respond
Don’t romanticize life like you can’t survive without love What if romanticizing just comes into my brain? I can survive, I will survive, that is not an issue. What if I choose to survive with a mate with whom there is mutual love?
Live for yourself What if living for myself is the only way I can live? Indeed I firmly believe everyone does. Even Mother Theresa lived for herself; her way of living for herself meant helping the poor, indigant and ill.
Be happy on your own What if I can be happy on my own but the daunting ‘work’ to live on my own is eased with the loving companionship of a mate
It isn’t less beautiful, Promise What if beauty is in the eye of the beholder

 

On the Sea of Life, Part I

The next chapter in my life begins, like previous ones, with the end in mind; sort of. As Covey postulates one needs to know where they want to be in order to navigate an efficient course to arrive at their preferred destination. What if one doesn’t know where they want to end up? What if one wants to meander through life one day at a time?

Years ago as part of professional development I participated in a workshop that illustrated three different types of people. Those who asked themselves one of three key questions: What if? How?  Why? Instinctively, before the lecturer gave details about each of those categories, I knew I was a ‘what if’ person. Always when faced with a challenge I ask what if?

This has been especially true when faced with a challenge to do what others indicate is something I either don’t have the talent for or something that could be harmful. An example is my present situation. Despite the odds of making a life with someone who has twice denounced me I ask, “What if this time, we make it work out? A previous decision I made regarding the purchase of a boat in a foreign third world country was, “What if this boat truly becomes a classic?” More significantly was when I asked myself, “What if I make it around the world.”

In simpler situations I ask, “What if I buy a VW bug?” What if I buy another musical instrument?” Of course, the haunting question at age 69 is “What if the stock market crashes?” Regardless of the situation though my thoughts are more concerned with the What ifs, rather than the how to do something, or the why.

Which of these questions do you frequent? Test yourself during the next week and please feel free to share your responses. Throughout your day question what you are doing or what you are going to do. For example, let’s say you are going to exercise by walking two miles. Then, see which question comes to mind:

Why are you going for a walk?  How are you going to walk?  What if you walk _____?

Question Possible Response
What are you going to do to get healthy? Go for a two mile walk.
How are you going to get healthy Walk and lift weights.
What if you do something different than on previous occasions Maybe it will be more fun.

The point is to determine what questions you ask yourself. The reason I brought this topic up is because a friend sent me a poem about how I need to love and cherish myself rather than look to another for validation. Yet, as I read each line, my brain interjects, “yea, but what if…” To see how the poem transpires see the next post entitled, “Sea of Life Part II.”

 

Buying, Budgets, n Boats

As I juggle my budget with my passion for sailing and my desire to live with minimal comfort here are my current options.

KitundersailNorthAtlantic.jpgAthena 38, Fountaine Pajot   Asking Price $187,000

Boat name “KIT”     She has all the amenities. Very Clean and Efficiently organized. Rebuilt engines.  Currently in Daytona Beach

6217176_20170427164037819_1_XLARGE.jpg Tobago 35, Fountaine Pajot Asking Price $147,000  Ft. Pierce

Lil’ sister to Athena 38.   Boat name “Makai” (I think) She looks a bit dirty, concern about thickness of hull above engine room on transom.    Engines need a professional look. Currently on the hard in Ft. Pierce

main.jpgCSY 44 Walkover     Asking Price $69,900   Merritt Island

Boat name   “Darby Ann”      Will have a look at her tomorrow. She is a monohull. Picture looks sharp. Friends Dave and Sherry McCampbell began their round the world voyage on a CSY 44 and highly recommended it as a safe ocean passage boat. Not sure I will find living on a slant to my liking. The price is in a comfortable range for me.

Lastly, my previous love, SPRAY may be for sale. Negotiation with current owner at this time.

Keeping the cost at $100,000 would allow me to sleep well at night. Anything less will allow me to sleep well day or night. As long as my ship is seaworthy, , , that is the most important thing. I am just not ready for the rocking chair,,,,that will go into foster care or storage as my little buggy may as well. That’s not this blog discussion.

Please feel free to comment, advise, and definitely encourage me to continue my quest for equalizing  the buying, my budget and my next boat.

sassythesailor@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

Solo Sailing a 27 Foot Slanter Across the Atlantic

James Muggoch learns the hard way that solo Transatlantic cruising is all about practice, more practice, and yet more practice

My solo Transatlantic in a 27ft cruiser 

I first crossed the Atlantic over 49 years ago, aged 18, as one of 16 crew onboard the 180ft motoryacht Camargo V. I felt awe and fear at the vastness and relentless power of the ocean and vowed never to go near it again. So when, in 2014, my wife Louise asked: ‘What do you want to do for your 65th birthday?’ I have no idea why I replied ‘I’m going to cross the Atlantic single-handed.’

I planned to buy a small yacht, sail the Atlantic, run her up a Caribbean beach and give the keys to the first local I met, provided they drove me to the nearest airport. My friend Ian Joseph, who comes from Grenada, suggested that I give her to the Grande Anse Sea Scouts in St George’s, Grenada, instead.

Several months later, with the support of the Grenadian High Commissioner in London, His Excellency Joslyn Whiteman, and the Deputy Commissioner of Scouts, Tim Kidd, Louise and I started looking for a yacht that was up to the passage and would suit the Sea Scouts.

Finally we found a David Sadler- designed Frigate 27 in East Cowes. The owner of Annie of Orford knocked £2,000 off the price as it was for a good cause and threw in every spare part he could find. I’ve been afloat all my life but I’m very short on ocean sailing experience, and I only managed a few weekends sailing Annie in the Solent before leaving.

The broker, Boatshed’s Corrine Willard, proved an expert in her field and a good friend – indeed her husband Simon Judge delivered Annie single-handed to Marina Rubicon in Lanzarote and had to be restrained from doing the whole trip.

When I arrived in Lanzarote, friends of friends Mike and Jean met me at the airport, took me to Mike’s radio station (The Mix) for a two-hour local radio chat show, then down to the Marina to find Annie. With the victualling done, I had to wait for two days while a gale blew itself out – not a luxury I was to be afforded for the next 42 days. Finally I spent my last euros on ten lemons and a Mars Bar.

Transatlantic

I set off at 0800 on 2 February 2016, or tried to. The 7hp Volvo engine refused to start despite an expensive service in Cowes. The spares would take 2-3 weeks to arrive so I asked the marina to tow me out of the harbour. The engine only had a range of 200nm anyway, and I would be able to sail her all the way. I had a solar panel and a wind generator to charge up the batteries to power the nav lights, GPS, AIS and VHF.

Once outside, I raised main and genoa and sailed slowly South down the coast of Fuerteventura. I’d been told that the northeast winds funnel between the islands but I left the sails up too late and, as darkness fell, I was going too fast. I had stupidly secured the preventer to the boom, so I had to cut it and, having opted for hanked-on foresails, had to go forward to change sails. An earlier accident, while breaking a stick to throw for my dog, left me night-blind in my left eye, and a motorbike accident four years earlier hurt my right shoulder so I was in considerable discomfort. While lowering the sails, I caught my right hand in the mainsheet track, fell into the cockpit, landing on my head, and had my first, but not last, totally sleepless night of the next 41.

Tired and battered

Next morning Annie and I were tired and battered, but still on course – or so I thought. After experimenting with sail combinations to get the Pacific Light windvane to behave, we were becalmed for five hours so I went below. My head was sore. It had stopped bleeding but I felt sick – not seasick, I don’t suffer with that. Otherwise all was well apart from the GPS, which wouldn’t lock onto a position. I saw a mountain far off on the port bow and thought I was looking at Africa. The wind came up, darkness fell and I found myself being blown onto a continental lee shore – as tired as I’ve ever been and sick with pain. The Pacific Light came apart and I steered by hand for 6-7 hours to clear the land, unable to get to a drink or food. In deep trouble, I cut my losses and, ignoring the ‘voices’ that were starting to haunt me, came about onto port tack, fixed the self-steering and went below.

I woke to a calm sea, aware that I had survived a very ill-prepared start. A good breakfast and co-codamol for my head made me feel much better, until I looked up and saw two large islands dead ahead, where there should be ocean. I shot below, turned on the GPS, which decided to work, and found out it was the Canaries. We were back where we started, two days ago.

Struggling for control

I pulled myself together and reached the open Atlantic. Out of the islands’ lee, with 25-30 knots over the deck, the sea came up. Eight days of heavy cloud and my eye problem meant I couldn’t see the compass, sea, sails or stars so I lay ahull and went below – not seamanlike, but the best I could do. By now I was hallucinating quite badly. Imaginary voices and shadowy shapes haunted the boat for two weeks and became seriously worrying. Days and nights blurred and I struggled to control Annie. I was managing runs of over 100nm a day, but with great effort and little sleep. The windvane had a will of its own and I would fiddle with it at dusk, creating no end of trouble through the night. About 500 miles south of the Canaries I thought ‘I haven’t seen a ship for six days’ when I saw what turned out to be the Maersk Tacoma. I contacted her Master, Capt Catalin Petrescu, and asked him to email my wife Louise. He also gave me the forecast: ‘Force 8 becoming 9, sea 8m becoming 12-14 overnight.’ Thanks for that…

I had to make a decision: head for the Cape Verdes, or press on to Grenada. My hands had rope burns, my shoulder was killing me, and salt water sores on my bottom made life very uncomfortable. I tossed a coin – and did the opposite: Grenada it was.

Over the next few days, Annie’s log records 35 knots over the deck, lost jib halyards, stray sheets, a soaked sleeping bag and bunk and lots of water below. The entry for 15 February reads:

‘Opened the main hatch and removed the top washboard when a breaking wave washed me back into the cabin. Floorboards afloat, electrics out and the sound of rushing water behind the galley lockers. Bailing like mad with no automatic bilge pump and the manual pump in the cockpit. Sprayed the electrics with WD-40 to dispel the sea water and carried on bailing, tiring badly. Suddenly smelled burning, smoke and flame from the electrics. Had extinguisher to hand, but thought it might make things worse, so turned the batteries off, which worked. Annie sailing on, waves still breaking on deck and more and more water coming below via the galley deckhead.’

I was at a fairly low ebb but kept bailing. Thinking I was sinking, I put out a pan-pan call on my handheld VHF, then I sent my first – and hopefully last – Mayday. With no response, it was down to me.

Transatlantic

I lowered the sails, which stopped a lot of the waves driving over the deck. With a hammer, I smashed out the galley lockers, cut up two Tesco Bags for Life and rigged them so that any water coming into the boat went straight into the sink. The wind dropped and the sun began to shine so I pumped out and tidied up. The cooker had come off its gimbals – no more hot drinks or food – and the chart table had collapsed.

On deck I found that a port stanchion had been ripped out by the preventer as Anniebroached, leaving a triangular hole big enough to put my fist through. I tied my feet to the starboard grabrail, laid across the boat and tried to fill the hole with Plastic Padding, but the waves and the difficulty of mixing the paste with both hands while gravity tried to pull me overboard proved too much. I deployed the sea anchor and took the night off.

This was the third time I’d nearly gone overboard. On day three I just caught the starboard shroud with one hand as I went. Later I slipped while adjusting the windvane. I grabbed the ensign staff, which broke, but not before it had given me enough leverage to fall into the cockpit. After day two I gave up wearing a harness or lifejacket. Every time I went on deck I got tangled in something. I knew I couldn’t get back onboard unaided, as the emergency ladder I had was the same one with which fit, young magazine testers had failed to get back onboard – in a marina!

Transatlantic

Things got better: tradewinds, sunshine and clear skies – I could steer by the stars! The windvane and I had come to an arrangement: with genoa and double-reefed main, we made 5 knots at 20 degrees off the wind.

With better weather came more sleep and an end to the voices. I’ve since found that I’m not alone in being visited by these bloody things and I hope never again to hear a voice I recognise threaten to kill me.

There were still ups and downs. I was becalmed for three days, which was worse than the storms. I saw loads of flying fish, dolphins and the spouts from whales. I didn’t kill the big fish that stayed with Annie for two days – I had loads of Army rations and the fish was the only friend I had. I rewired the VHF and re-installed the cooker for the last week: coffee!

Transatlantic

I hove to 25 miles off Grenada to make landfall in daylight and got underway around 0500. At 0730 I heard a lady’s voice over the VHF saying ‘Morning Grenada, this is Cruisers Net radio. Come in please!’

I was beside myself with joy and listened to boats in Prickly Bay, Secret Harbour, St George’s and many others checking in. During a silence I called in ‘Grenada, this is Annie of Orford

‘Hello Annie! Welcome to Grenada, we are all waiting for you!’

Transatlantic

Annie and I sailed past the South coast and turned to starboard, tacking for the first time in 42 days, towards Annie’s new home: St George’s Bay. Half a mile out, an officer on a police launch came up behind shouting ‘Put some bloody clothes on!’ I’d forgotten I’d been naked for four weeks.

Transatlantic

Annie raced into the harbour and a large RIB came up behind with my best mate Brian onboard. ‘What are you doing here?’ I asked. ‘I’m with her,’ he said, pointing to my wife, Louise, who I hadn’t spotted.

Transatlantic

The landing, the greetings, the landlegs, the first beer and the best burger in the world all passed in a dream, but I knew one thing: I had made it!

Lessons learned

James learned fast on a crossing where so much went wrong. These are his key lessons

Transatlantic

Choose the right boat. Mine would be steel with a doghouse, a boarding ladder welded onto the transom, a bar running down the centreline for clipping on and a deep, self-draining cockpit (Annie’s drains are small and block quickly, once with a dead flying fish).

It would have granny bars at the mast, where you need two hands to work, plenty of handholds on deck and below that you can actually grab (Annie’s were too close to the bulkhead), a deep bilge and a sump where water can collect and be pumped out.

Having water sloshing around the sole soaking everything is no problem in the Solent but gets tedious on a 40-day ocean crossing.

Transatlantic

On no account choose a boat with its mainsail traveller running at knee level across the middle of the cockpit. It’s difficult enough in calm seas and daylight, but a dangerous nightmare in rough seas at night. I still have trouble with two fingers on my right hand, which was in the wrong place during a crash gybe.

I’m sure there are performance advantages to a fin keel, but I was never happy with it. When I bought her I had a surveyor check the keel. Apart from a visual inspection, this involved someone swinging on the keel with the yacht in the slings, while someone else watches inside to see if the bolts move. She passed, but I was never truly relaxed at sea. Having once, many years ago, tied my Yorkshire Coble to a 40ft container while half-way across the Adriatic from Brindisi to Dubrovnic, I promise you that, should Annie have hit one of those at night or in bad weather, the keel would have come off.

Don’t replace your furling genoa with hanked-on foresails.

Have a waterproof ‘boat book’ with details of stores, spares and kit, so you can find things quickly when you need them.

Have comfortable, waterproof seating, both inside and out, and avoid wet clothing, which leads to boils, salt water sores, and all the associated discomfort.

Transatlantic

Practice. You need to earn money to pay for the boat and time off work, so you don’t have enough time to go sailing. She’s out of the water, the engine needs attention, the sails are being checked, the liferaft is being serviced: there are always reasons not to go, but you must make time to sail before embarking on a long passage. It’s too late when you set off to realise you can’t see the compass at night, you can’t remember where various switches are, where things are stored etc. Go at night, in bad weather, alone – but go.

How not to clear in and out

Though delighted to have been made an Honorary Commissioner of the Sea Scouts, it was time to go home. Then I realised I hadn’t cleared in. I went with Scoutmaster Elisha St Louis to the immigration office at the marina. A strict-looking lady took Annie’s details and asked:

‘What time did you land?’

‘About 1220,’ I replied.

‘But it’s only 1130.’

‘Yes, but I arrived two days ago.’

‘You can’t leave Grenada if you haven’t arrived!’

She woke up the snoozing chap next to her.

‘Who’s he?’ I asked.

‘He’s the officer who hands out fines.’

‘Where have you come from?’ he asked.

‘The Canary Islands’

‘Never heard of them, where are they?’

‘Near Africa’

‘Who owns them?’

‘Spain’

‘Right. Can I see your leaving documents?’

‘Sorry’ I said, ‘I haven’t got any.’

‘How did you leave?’

‘I just sailed away.’

Dead silence. ‘You can’t come into Grenada without leaving somewhere!’

‘Sorry,’ I said, ’do you want me to do it again?’

Luckily, Annie and I were still being treated like rock stars and a swift call to His Excellency Joslyn Whiteman (the former High Commissioner in London) cleared up the matter.

James Muggoch

My family moved on to a houseboat when I was 14 and 53 years later I’m still here. My other boats have been everything from canal boats to barges, RIBs to sailing yachts, motor yachts, oil exploration vessels and film location pirate ships.

I hold various qualifications such as ICC, Yachtmaster and Ocean Yachtmaster (shore-based). For the past 20 years I have owned the ex-RN steam tug Cob, and I’m hugely proud that she led the vintage tug flotilla in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant.

Like a Shaken Beer Can…

“I can’t do this anymore,” are the words that instantly reverberated in my mind. “What, what you are saying?” I quizzed. “We need to end this, I can’t do it,” was his reply. ” Another question from me, “You mean us, I thought we were going to live together until we die.” In a kind of innocent voice he offered, “Well we can end it now or we can finish the trip first.”

It was those words, end it now that flipped my top. Like an explosive 12 ounce beer, the bottled emotion exploded from my heart and my gut. “End it!” I shrieked in horror. It is the last thing I wanted. I had become so happy with my life and lived each day thinking of ways to enrich our bond. Now, I learn it was only working for me. With authority and assertiveness, I squealed, “If we are going to end it, we need to end it now.” At the same time I felt the devastation of a love gone bad. How I wanted to calm down, but if it was over, I couldn’t continue to go on a three month vacation. I had to find a residence. I had to again start a new life. And then, like a summer squall the tears flowed for hours as he drove and drove, nearly non-stop back from whence we came.

Three weeks later and there is a constant urge to send a text, to practice playing the Shadow of Your Smile on my piano. All the while the reality seems that I will  not spend the rest of my life with this handsome man who brought so much calmness and efficiency into my life. A man who I longed to kiss good night each night.  A man who would leave me, who for whatever reason just couldn’t keep joy in his heart when I was present. Like a microburst, in a split second it was over. Or is it?

And so, at age 69 I sit on the seat in the airport waiting the arrival of my sister. To refrain from stalking him, bothering him, or being a whiny chasing female I distract myself by:  practicing French using the online DuoLingo Language Program, write up this blog entry, and perhaps work on my journal organization. In simple terms it is said another one bites the dust as I focus on a life on my own. I failed at making this relationship work. I blew up like a cork on an aged bottle of champagne. The damage to the relationship would be akin to putting the alcohol back in its container. After all, he too seemed to be overwhelmed by the emotional outburst and just wanted me gone. I was like an out of control freight train, or a wounded deer that wanted to run far and fast away from the hunter.

Yet, in my imagination when I look up from the computer screen, I see him the way I saw him when he arrived in the airport in the Dominican Republic. I see him coming to get me while at the same time I am awake to the reality that he will . . .

 

FULL CIRCLE by Ellen MacArthur

Ellen’s book, “Full Circle,” confirmed the intelligence, ambition, and understandably of an incredible  woman. How many women do you know have sailed in a boat by themself? Well, Ellen did. She crossed the Atlantic Ocean when she was in her early twenties. And then, she went on to break the around the world single handed sailboat challenge.  Knowing Ellen’s round the world record breaking feat was completed on a trimaran further compelled me to put her on my list of heroes.  Before I could read her book I had to conquer my struggles with jealousy. More on that later.

The first half of Ellen’s book focuses on the 2004 round the world single handed race in which she broke the record. A more amazing challenge is told in the second half of the book when Ellen reveals her choice to hand up her sailing gloves. She calls it ‘sustainability.’ Her influence both in sailing and sustainability are a part of my everyday life.

As a reader/learner I develop an intimate relationship with the written words. Notes are written in the margins, with arrows pointing to pertinent phrases, and words I want to add to my everyday vocabulary. So it is no surprise that on April 18, 2017 I wrote these words on the front page of Full Circle.

To pick up this book to read has brought tears as the reality of my aspiration met with who I am, a dreamer, a jealous want to be extraordinary sailor–a solo round the world sailor, maybe one…not today!

Quote from the book:

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”   Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Hear Ellen’s Own Words at:

Solo Sailor Susan Sails at Seventy

IMG_0169

Susan Tuttle retired from teaching special education. To begin her new lifestyle she looked to the horizon as she set a course for an offshore sailing adventure.  The easy part was finding the same style boat, a Contessa 26,  as the one Tania Aebi completed her round the world solo circumnavigation in the mid 1980s.  Having a friend who was an experienced sailor enabled Susan to have someone teach her the fundamentals of sailing. Then, the adventure began.

As an experienced commercial airplane pilot Susan understood the need to make course adjustments depending on the wind currents.  The first leg of her maiden voyage from Crawfordville, Florida to Isla Muejeres, Mexico took 11 days.  Along with her crew  Susan confessed, “We spent an extra week getting there due to a northern current that we failed to account for which in essence was taking us to Texas.”

In addition to failing to account for the current Susan mused, “I wish we had reefed earlier on our fifth day out.  By the time the squall hit us it was a difficult balancing taking the sails down with waves as tall as my house rolling us fore, aft and side to side. My boat is quite small and with the dinghy strapped on the foredeck I am sure I will forevermore heed the golden rule to reef early.

Safely arriving in Isla Mujeres Susan’s crew flew home. No stranger to living by herself Susan relished the time she spent exploring the village by herself while planning to sail to a more remote anchorage near Excalata, south of Isla Mujeres.  To interrupt the solitude Susan paddled her inflatable kayak to shore where she took several bus trips to visit neighboring villages and the many ruins that have survived the passage of time.

An unexpected pleasure came from meeting a guy she had previously met in her home port. Then, she met another solo sailor. He was from France. It was Susan’ introduction to the small world of sailors who roam the seven seas.  After a few weeks Susan again sailed to an even more remote area near the Mayan jungle. She anchored in an abandoned fishing village. Again, the call of the sea beckoned Susan to set sail even further south.

It was on this leg of her journey that her contentness alone at sea caused her ship’s demise. Susan said she had been below deck cooking, reading, and relaxing for about three hours when she heard the crackling crunching sound of a fiberglass boat being crushed on the rocks. Anyone who has made such a fateful mistake as failing to keep watch need not be questioned; the auto helm on a boat like cruise control in a car still requires human interaction. A mistake is a mistake, even like this one a costly one.

Fortunately, she was able to get herself safely to land while her Contessa lisped along the reef. Imagine how she felt walking several miles until she came upon a resort where she made a deal with some local fisherman to free her boat. They charged her $1500 which was considerably less than what the officials would bill her for.

Susan described a disheartening scene as her  pride and joy filled with water. Then, when the rudder broke free she knew her boat would best be left as scrap. Susan sighed at the remembrance,  “It was just a terrible thing.” Throughout the ordeal she never felt afraid. She just got busy doing what needed to be done. In fact, in all her sailing adventures thus far the only time she felt fear was when anchored about 14 off the coast of Key West. Speed boats were flying by at what she thought were reckless speeds. It was during the night that she realized how vulnerable she would be if one of ‘those guys’ decided to board her boat.

Did crashing her Contessa on the rocks or the fear of ne’ar do wells damper her spirits? Did she give up sailing? Did she wallow in her depleted life savings? NO. Rather, Susan took a job as a special education teacher in Huslia, Alaska. It is an Indian outpost about 250 miles west of Fairbanks. Every spare penny was saved and two years later Susan traded her earned cash for a FLICKA 24. Being similar to the Contessa Susan was confident to once again set sail.

This time, she cruised, alone, along the west coast of Florida to the Dry Tortugas.  Returning north her engine was not cooperating. Taking advantage of her Sea Tow insurance, Susan was towed into the nearest port, Everglades City. Looking for assistance she wandered into the town’s museum and was eventually connected to a mechanic and me.

Though most of her two weeks were spent on maintenance repairs, she was able to get her inboard diesel purring like a kitten. I am grateful to have had the privilege to drive her the required 40 miles to Wal-mart for provisions. We idled away many hours as sailors do, sipping wine and sharing tales of life at sea.

When asked what she has learned from her adventures she shyly smiled. Then, as if with indignation she said, “It is a lot of work. It looked like sailing would be easy, but it’s not. I don’t have a windlass and my anchor weighs 22 pounds.” With a sigh we nodded at each other, filled our glasses, and continued to gab til we fell fast asleep.

Susan’s spirit invigorated my passion for sailing solo. Something I may do again. Hopefully, reading this will inspire you to ‘sail through life, either on a boat or other means.’

The picture below shows Susan navigating the Barron River in Everglades City on her homeward voyage along the west coast of Florida. Her boat is a Flicka 24.

IMG_0209

For more information about Susan you can access the May issue of the Mullet Rapper published for and about Everglades City or contact me at sailorhiker@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”     Antoine de Saint-Exupery (taken from Ellen MacArthur’s book, ‘Full Circle’)

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑