Tuesday, October 23, 2007

To Those Who Say It Cannot Be Done...

I'm in a reflective mood this quiet morning, as I watch perhaps the last sunrise over Lunenburg that I will see for a while.

I believe it was just a couple of days after the purchase of Annie Laurie that I was close to tears, wondering what I had gotten myself into. I had just received a phone call from a 'historic' Halifax 'property' that owned the wharf where I was tied alongside. In no pleasant way at all, I was told to have the boat moved by suppertime. A 38ft boat (overall length) and it hadn't occurred to me until that moment that I perhaps would need some assistance if I ever had to move her from A to B.

All the doubts started to flow, remembering everyone who had 'warned' me that I may not be prepared to take on such a challenge. Perhaps they were right, I was not being sensible, living on a boat with no place to keep her, and having no clue how to dock her by myself.

Simon, a co-worker of mine, was completely understanding of my situation, having lived on a wooden ketch of his own in England some years ago. That day, after giving me a hand moving the boat to an alternate wharf, he assured me it would only be a matter of time, and I would get a better handle on things.

And that was true. The day eventually came when I had to leave the dock on my own. I cast off all but 2 lines, considered the wind and tide, and having the engine ready and the helm in place, I ran forward to cast off the bowline. I then proceeded aft to cast off the stern line. Then, turning around, there was the bow, stuck between the pilings of the dock! Oh dear... but, how important is that? Well, my boat is not sinking now, is it? Not even close... so what's the worry? I can learn by trial and error, and a bit of missing paint from the hull or a blob of tar donated from the wharf will not offend her too much, and I've gotten the impression that it's her distinguished choice to be patient with me. She wants to go all the places I want to as well. A few bumps and bruises to show her a world she, or myself, have never knows, are easily looked after with painted band-aids!

Now, one re-fit and a year later, and much sooner than I had originally aimed for, I'm sailing to Cuba. I've learned that you just have to throw yourself into certain situations if you are ever to get the most out of life. It's daunting to say the least, and terrifying at times, and more exhilarating than any life I imagined before discovering a life at sea just over 6 years ago. Inspiration is around every corner, whether through a new friendship, the challenge of a storm, another incredible display of nature, or by a unique moment you never in your life would have encountered if you had not taken the chances you had until now.

And that inspiration, from whatever source, is what gets you through the seemingly hopeless times. Simon had a few other words that day I have not forgotten, and they are dedicated to those discouraging folk who say it cannot be done:

Get out of the way for those who are doing it!


I had moved the boat out to a mooring the other night because of an approaching southerly gale. Everything was still quiet at 9pm when I heard a voice coming from out on the water. It was someone in a little rowboat, but because of the darkness I couldn't for the life of me figure out who it was. "Hey, how's it going?". "Good, good, how are you?". "Great".



"I can't see you. Who are you!"

"It's Logan."

The crew I had been waiting for! I hadn't heard from him in weeks, and he was the only link to my other crew hopeful, Ed S. I instantly felt relief, as I realized I wouldn't have to do any of passage south on my own. I could once again be excited about it, instead of the faint dread that had slowly been developing.

Now able to contact Ed as well, I'm quite confident in our crew of 4 (Effie must not be forgotten!) in making the crossing from Nova Scotia to Cape Cod. Thursday is my current departure date, assuming the haul-out at Surretts Island is still a go.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Letter From the Editor

I enjoyed this, thought a few of you out there would too.

"What are "mast boots", "life rings" and a "storm sail"? I can guess at two latter ones. "life rings" are round mettalic things screwed into the side of the boat to which you attach a rope and yourself and a "storm sail" is a large peice of canvas which goes right over the top of the boat so that you can shelter from the elements in your wee cabin while outside the storm rages (Count me out of that little treat). Am I right with these ideas? But mast boots??? My guess would be a little silly. A mast has only one leg, so why would it need more than one boot, unless you need different boots for different events/occasions eg if a mast was marrying another mast, it might like to wear a white boot or it might have a fancy boot for entering a marina and a plainer, more work-a-day boot for normal sailing duties. I warned you things might go a bit silly but I would like to know what these boots are. "

A mast boot (I have 2 masts, therefore 2 boots) goes around the mast where the mast goes through the deck, then gets painted, to prevent water from going down below. Yes, this is something I've only just gotten around to, so everytime it rained since I put my masts in back in May, things would get a little damp!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Ollie's Stress Free and Electrical Shed

A fitting follow-up to my most recent entry would be to introduce you all to Ollie's Stress Free and Electrical Shed. Inspired by Ivan's Stress Free Bar in the Virgin Islands, a member of the Picton Castle crew converted the ship's electrical shed on the wharf into a cosy and inspired gathering place for the crew to mingle and de-stress. It's grand-opening coincided very well with my little 'breakdown' (using that word would be an exaggeration, yet my thesaurus offers nothing much better than 'go kaput'), and I've been spending many-a-night in its warm embrace.

I feel like I'm finally able to cross some major items off my master list of preparations. Fuel filters, mast boots, jib boom, life rings and lights (though no life raft as of yet!) , varnish, paint, distilled water, kerosene... the list seemed endless but the end is now in sight. Jill at the sail loft repaired an old sail my shipwright Mike G had donated, and now I have a small storm sail I can raise, should I find myself out in the weather I plan to avoid.

Meanwhile Effie is settling in quite well. She has been seasick only once, and despite being rather clumsy, she's managed to stay out of the water. I picked up a little harness for her the other day, and when we're at sea, she's going to wear it, whether she likes it or not.

My intention is to leave Lunenburg for the Yarmouth area when I have a weather window providing me with 2 days of moderate to strong northwesterly winds, which will rush me right down the coast, in the lee of the land, so very little seas. If all goes well, it will be Monday at the latest. So the last remaining question... where is my crew?

Friday, October 12, 2007

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Today I finished work at the Ice House, and the pressure is on to get out of Lunenburg and make my way to Surrettes Island where I will haul the boat and paint the bottom. I feel on the verge of crumbling under the pressure. Despite all the help I'm being showered with at the moment from many different friends, providing me with information, and books, and charts, and safety equipment, and the occasional tot, I still somehow feel quite alone. And yet, I'm not able to pin down why. All I know is that I feel overwhelmed on the organizational side of things and the decisions I must struggle with, and ultimately make on my own.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Letter to the Editor

I've been keeping myself too busy lately to spend much time in Historic Grounds updating this blog or keeping up on my email. Really my only incentive is the harassment I receive from my Editor, David in Edinburgh, who lets me know when it's been too long.
I spent most of today sorting through the paper charts I've been loaned and determining which ones I still need to find. I've been working on my rig (masts and stuff, David), mousing shackles (wrapping wires through the pins so they don't fall out, should they become loose, David) , and finally put a new iron out on the bowsprit (the boat's nose, David) for placement of a wire stay on which I will put a smaller, more manageable jib (a sail up at the front, David). I even found time to make it to Bridgewater to buy some necessities, such as kerosene and methyl hydrate for my stove and cabin heater, wicks for my lantern, and some great second-hand summer clothes from Frenchy's (a Canadian organization, David). One purchase which I am especially excited about is a 6.5 watt flexible folding solar panel for charging my house batteries! Was on sale for 30% off at Canadian Tire (a Canadian disorganization, better known as Crappy Tire, David). This pleased the Scot in me, and probably David too (though you won't fully appreciate it until you meet me in Cuba and I have the capacity to refrigerate the beer). You are bringing beer, right?