Saturday, September 8, 2007

From Dream to Reality...

Today, September 8th, 2007, I will begin a series of writings as I make plans to embark on my first major journey aboard my traditionally-rigged wooden ketch, Annie Laurie. She is named for the old Scottish song written by a soldier a long time ago, as a proclamation of his love for his sweetheart back home.

I have a short time-frame to make this trip happen this autumn. Weather-wise, all experienced sailors are aware of the June to November hurricane season, during which time it's best to cruise further north, in Canada's Atlantic provinces and the northeastern United States, where the cooler water temperatures are rarely able to sustain the life of a hurricane, should it happen to track in this direction from its southern origin. After November 1st, the risk of hurricane formation becomes minimal, and discomfort of living aboard in Nova Scotia begins a steady incline.

Having lived aboard since purchasing the boat in July 2006 as a means of affording the independent sailor's lifestyle, I have no desire to re-live the horrors of another winter alongside in Dartmouth. Masts out, the boat under a blue tarp, she was alongside and subject to blasting northerlies funneling down the Narrows of Halifax Harbor, producing freezing spray that would sometimes result in an inch-and-a-half of ice on my mahogany hull. Daytime-highs of 5 degrees Celcius, despite a spaceheater running 24-7 often left me with no other choice than to hide out at the local pub, and, less frequently, the library. I often faced a morning walk that began at 0530 each morning to make the 1-hour trek across the MacDonald Bridge to my 12hr/day position as marine meteorologist in Halifax. Much of the winter I spent refinishing my 2 masts, which I had stored on a larger neighboring boat. The wind was brutal, and each day it wasn't long before I lost all ability to move my fingers. Survival was pivotal on the electric blanket I received that Christmas, which instantly catapulted my parents to super-star status. Thanks Mom, thanks Dad.

As a realist, I am making no claim to the certainty of this voyage becoming a reality this Fall. What I can say is that I am currently doing everything within my means to supply and prepare my boat, safety-wise and otherwise, to make her completely seaworthy for possibly taking the Bermudian route to the eastern Caribbean, Cuba, or perhaps the Bahamas. Meanwhile, I'm always keeping an eye out for other opportunities, including short-term offshore delivery crew positions on other boats. These positions often translate to valuable experience that can be applied to sailing my own boat, whether in regards to sailing tactics, weather prediction, or other basic survival-at-sea scenarios.

With my intent, determination, enthusiasm, and assistance from fellow sailors and friends, my journey has already begun. Whether or not my plans come to fruition in the coming months, or if I have to resign myself to a springtime departure that will take me east to Scotland instead, this is all ultimately part of the voyage.