Sailing Feed

Our Selfish Lifestyle at Sea

I once told EW that this lifestyle seemed a bit aimless to me. What is our purpose? During a recent conversation with a family member, I said that taking off  as we have done is a bit selfish. He disagreed and said we were living our lives and following our dreams.

That’s true, but traveling away from friends, family, neighborhoods, and organizations that we’ve supported requires us to let go of some “shoulds”. Friends help friends move, provide a shoulder to cry on, and open the champagne for celebrations. Family members go to doctor appointments, take care of kids, gather for holidays, and for bake beans for funerals. Good citizens volunteer, serve on boards, and stay involved. We’re no longer available to participate in person, and there have been months when we aren’t available by phone. As one girlfriend said during a call today, “You are happier when you are connected.” No kidding. (I love Puerto Rico, in part, because of U.S. ATT on the iPhone)

We miss our friends and family, I’ve found that easier to cope with than knowing how much they miss us. Pat's Cross Stitch 4-3-2011 11-33-01 AM Having us leave wasn’t their choice, but they must deal with the consequences and that makes me feel selfish. Our son, Mo, lives across the country and  he’s a sailor, adventurer and traveler so he was the easiest person to tell. Our parents had passed away, and that makes this easier for us than it is for other boaters. One woman told me that her otherwise independent mom cries every time they talk on the phone.  These folks are going to store their boat during hurricane season and immerse themselves in friends and family for four months. Two different boaters who have built homes in Luperon have moved their 90 year old moms to the island with great success. When we bought our boat, one of my mom’s dear friends congratulated us and said, “I think this a great thing, but I’m sure glad you waited until your mom was gone before you did it.” No kidding. My sister and her husband, as has EW’s sister, immediately recognized the boat as our home. My sister made this for us the Christmas after we moved aboard.

Whether we travel by boat, RV, or plane, those of us who have opted for this lifestyle understand that we are giving up daily and weekly contact with friends and family, and it’s important that we understand that those same folks are making sacrifices as well – but they didn’t get to make the decision. Are you traveling far from home? Have you moved to another country for your retirement? Do you sometimes feel selfish? I’d welcome your thoughts.

This weighs more heavily on me than it does on EW, but he’s a nice guy and doesn’t diminish my feelings. He hugs me, and we call everyone we can when we have cell coverage. We’re sorry and we miss you, but we are loving this life.

Heart Sail 1 4-3-2011 11-33-45 AM

This plaque was a going away present from my college roommates and their families – my honorary nieces and nephews. This kind of support, makes the journey possible for me.

A Tale of Two Treks

The islands in the Bahamas are beautiful. We have explored them by dinghy and snorkel; we’ve walked beaches, roads, and trails. This is a tale of two trails, one at Black Point on Great Guana Cay, the other was on Stocking Island in Elizabeth Harbor.

Regarding the Trail from Black Point, The Explorer Chart Book says:

For some real exercise, don’t miss the hike out to the bluff overlooking the majestic Dotham Cut and the gorgeous ocean beaches; it’s well worth the effort. (On a cool day with your trusty water bottle.)

Doesn’t that sound inviting? We had mentioned our intention to one lovely local woman who said it was a good hike, but the trail, “is a bit overgrown. We’ve asked them to work on it. Ladies in TOPS like to walk it for exercise.” That doesn’t sound too bad, does it?” Later on she did suggest we stick to the trail because, “One elderly couple when through the bushes and got lost and came back all scratched up.” Since our source is in her early thirties I assume the “elderly couple” is EW’s age (sixty-something) so the comment smarted a bit.

The next morning, we left La Luna shortly after 8 armed with sun screen, hats, water bottles, and the camera. We did not take the machete, though we do have one aboard. We did hear afterward that others took a machete and used it. (Now, they tell us!) The trail begins as a wide gravel trail, narrows, and is less trail-like as one P2110119 progresses. We passed two lovely beaches facing the open Atlantic Ocean, double-backed, took turns scouting ahead, and finally came to a narrow cove. All the while, the rock cairn high at Dotham Point gave us direction and a goal. We crossed the cove via a rock bridge walked a narrow beach to find … nothing.






No trail, no broken branches, no footsteps, nothing but bushes and trees. We broke our way through the scrub P2110121 to a more open area with several pine trees, where EW spread his arms and shouted “THE BIG W!” (All you other elderly folk with catch that reference to It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World, where a cast of characters sought a treasure under THE BIG W – a group of palm trees. That’s the kind of guy I married. He married the kind of woman who got the reference immediately. Do you find that scary? I do.)

So we took that as a sign and continued up the hill, through the brush until we found ourselves above the tree line (OK, not really, but it felt like it) with a majestic view. Our source on the island had mentioned that the road past her house, heads toward Dotham Point, and we could see that road from high ground.

Here we are at Dotham Point. P2110123 P2110126

And here’s the view back to Black Point and civilization.

P2110127 Since we particularly enjoy the trek out, we thought we’d try a different route home. (Probably like that other elderly couple.) We made it back to THE BIG W and continued West instead of turning South to head back across the small cove. We backtracked, and pushed through brambles, and (I anyway) worried about poisonwood, and “got all scratched up”. Then we came to an area we referred to as “The Great Salt Flats”. Now  I know that Dotham Point is actually an island, surrounded by water or sand flats at low tide. The road dead ends because the larger cove (the one that doesn’t drain completely) is between Dotham Point and the road. The nice, wide, bramble free dirt road.

I’d scoped the road out when on the hill and I am the navigator, but EW doesn’t like to get his shoes wet. He was wearing sneakers and i was wearing sport sandals. (Secret Fact about EW: He hates wet shoes/sneakers/socks like I hate gooky. He complains if he has to walk through dewy grass. When he took one of our dogs on morning walks the complaints were frequent.) In short, EW was not going to get his feet wet in the shallows. P2110140 So we spent about 45 minutes looking for a passable trail off the sand flats. We saw some interesting wells or blue holes, many footprints of folk who had gone before, but no sigh of how they had left. I knew we had to head north and wade around the mangroves to get to the road, but first we had to try every other possibility. I suspect this is where that other elderly couple got lost and really scratched up. The road is probably only 25 or 50 yards from the flats, but they are a hard 50 yards that include cactus plants. I was not going overland.




The great salt flats of Dotham Point.



Ultimately, I gave EW the camera and told him I’d check out my route while he stayed dry. The sand was mud-like, a bit on the gooky side, but I prevailed. The water reached just above my knees and I successfully waded around the mangroves to the road/boat ramp. EW followed, and his sneakers squelched all the way back to town. He took it like a man. This “real exercise” of a hike took 3 hours.

The road. I like roads.






For the past week, we’ve been anchored Monument Beach at Stocking Cay, gazing each day at a hill with a monument on top. We’d been told there was a trail, in fact a number of them, up the hill and down the other side to beautiful beaches. Somehow I convinced EW to have another go.


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Now this is a trail. There are signs, resting benches, picnic tables, and a rope handhold to help one over a steep section.

There’s a charming coral wall similar to the rock walls we find in Maine.

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The trail was beautiful and the view of the island and anchorages spectacular.

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It’s beautiful, but it doesn’t make much of a story.

 P2210027 Until we noticed this small plaque. I couldn’t read it as I hadn’t brought my reading glasses, but EW wiped it off and read, “In Loving Memory of Barbara Hart.” I laughed and said, “Very funny. What’s it really say?” “He said, “In Memory of Barbara L. Hart.” No kidding. I’m going to assume that she sailed here for years and died in her 90’s and that the names of her loved ones on the plaque are grand-children. That works for me. By the way, I'm Barbara J. Hart

Getting to Devil's Cay

NOTE: This post was written January 4th. Our connectivity prevented me from uploading the photos at this time. Sorry about that. I posted the photos here on January 19th.


We’re using the Explorer Chartbook series for as main resource and charts for the Bahamas. They're the best available and very good, but this navigator has had a few problems. The most serious was the entrance to Devil’s Cay harbor.

We’d already bumped bottom three times, twice in Bimini in sand and once heading west to the Berry Islands. The first time was my fault , the second due to shifting sand in a channel. The third grounding was practically planned when we crossed Mackie Shoal on a rising tide in the deepest water possible at that location. On paper, La Luna draws 6 feet 2 inches, but we’ve now decided that a fully loaded La Luna draws 6 feet 5 inches and figure that into all plans. (This photo is at the “planned” grounding, where the monitor shows .1 foot below the keel. The depth sounder thinks we draw 6 feet 2 inches. The depth sounder didn’t load or provision the boat.)   PC290019

We didn’t like Bimini, though we met some nice folks there. If I were to make this crossing from Florida to the Bahamas again and had a larger weather window I would definitely not stop at Bimini. The name conjures up sandy beaches and lovely turquoise waters and (for some reason) pink colored buildings. They have the sandy beaches and the turquoise waters, but must of the buildings are run down, cobbled together, or in total disrepair. I think Hurricane Andrew hit them hard and the island as a whole hasn’t recovered. (I’d check the Internet for Bimini information, but as you may recall – I’m not connected as i write this.) To me, Bimini is largely uninviting and it’s a shame. There is litter everywhere and, more tragically, apparently an island wide problem with alcohol abuse. Perhaps we caught the island on a bad week during the holidays, but it certainly wasn’t what we imagined when we left Key Biscayne.

So we left North Bimini to anchor off of North Cat Cay with Dave and Linda (and Jack) on Choctaw Brave. It was the first of three nights in which we anchored and didn’t go ashore. The next day we traveled for over 30 miles in 8 – 15 feet of water (except for that one spot early in the day) across Mackie Shoals. That night we went north for a bit over a half mile and simply dropped the hook. In the middle of nowhere. Nothing. We anchored in 13 feet of water with nothing around us for 30 miles. It was eerie. And beautiful.  It was a three day passage like no other we’ve undertaken and much more restful than keeping watch overnight every three hours.

(Jack is a miniature Doberman Pincher. He is a good boy. He and his folks, Linda and Dave, visited for Christmas dinner on the 26th. He “goes” on the boat. Good dog.)

PC290026 Our third night out, we anchored 10 miles east/southeast of Great Harbor Cay. Again, we could see no land.  David and Linda’s boat holds less fuel and water than La Luna, and Linda had planned on doing laundry back at Bimini before deciding to join us at the last minute, so they wanted to spend a couple of nights at the marina on Great Harbor Cay. We’re trying to avoid marinas, didn’t need fuel and water and have to get propane – which we can only do at Nassau – so that will be our marina stop before the Exumas. In the meantime we wanted to visit the Berry Islands. (The photo at the left was taken at anchor.)

NOTE To Cruisers: (J & D – this means you!) Dave and Linda loved Great Harbor Cay and you can check into the Bahamas there. If you have a 3 day weather window from Florida, I’d go across Mackie Shoals, anchor like we did and clear the country in Great Harbor Cay. You just can’t get off the boat until you check in. Since there is no place to go, that isn’t a problem.

The Explorer Chartbook says:

The lovely cays and harbours of the Berrys are generally underutilized as a cruising area. If the enticement of fewer boats and a better chance of finding a secluded anchorage appeal to you, this is a sojourn to jot down on your itinerary. … Several anchorages are accessible by entering the cut between White Cay and Devil’s Cay. Your draft and the state of the tide will be factors in how far you can go behind Saddleback to the south or Hoffman’s to the north.

EW and I thought we were being very, very cautious on December 31st when entering the cut between Devil’s Cay and the breakers off White Cay.

I screwed up. Big time. I totally misread the directions and the channel. (The key phrase that I misread was in that paragraph above: .. you can go behind Saddleback …

I thought the entrance was south of Saddleback, but we were very, very cautious.  We weren’t sure that this channel would work for our vessel and had contingencies. We discussed it at length and agreed to enter the cut – a nice wide one with deep water – and take a moment to look things over. We knew we could safely go north to an anchorage inside White Cay – but could we get to the preferred anchorage behind Devil’s?

We got here the hard way. And I do mean hard. There’s a coral and rock bar between Devil’s and Saddleback – the direction I had charted for us. EW could see the ripples at high tide signifying a strong current and shallow water, so he immediately knew we couldn’t go through there.  He saw we were being sucked onto the ridge and put the engine into full reverse. The tide and incredible current were against us. At one moment we were in our safe zone in six meters of water and at the next we were swept onto the southern end of the bar off of Devil’s. Crunch!

Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god! EW could look down to port (easily since the boat was over on her side) and see deep water not 2 feet away. We couldn’t get there. He tried using the engine until Pine Top overheated, and then we turned off our trusty Perkins for a rest and sat there, wondering what to do next. Who would we call? How long would it take them to come? What could they (whoever they were) do?

We knew the winds were going to increase that evening and that the safe cut would be transformed into a “rage”. The Explorer Chartbooks talk about “a rage over the bar”.  That is not a good thing. We had timed our entrance for high tide, favorable winds, and calm waters. If we were stuck for four hours all of those would disappear and La Luna would be grinding on the coral and rock in very bad conditions.

(NOTE: This was not living coral. This was rock. No live coral was harmed in this grounding.)

EW knew we had to get over the bar as there was no way the current and incoming tide would allow us to get back to our safe spot and head north to the other anchorage. But how?

He was so calm. He was upset and worried, but he was calm. He kept thinking of the possible ways out of this mess. I could see none. He kept looking at the deep water on the other side of the bar. I couldn’t make out what he was seeing. La Luna would almost float and then fall back on the coral. We had failed her. She didn’t deserve this.

I’m not sure how long we were stuck. EW thinks 40 minutes. How long does it take to overheat a Perkins and let it cool down enough to use again? I truly don’t think it was 40 minutes but it was definitely too long.  I assured him that once we got to deep water, we were home free – though I also said that I had no idea if (or how) we would be able to get safely out of the harbor.

EW could see deep water to our port side, and I could tell that La Luna was pointing toward the deeper end of the bar. If we could get her to go forward and slightly to port, we would have a chance. He directed me to unfurled the jib, and started Pine Top, and the coming tide and very strong current all worked in our favor to push us over the bar into safe harbor.

We anchored.

La Luna at Anchor in Devil's Cay

(At Anchor in behind Devil's Cay)

We calmed down. Gradually.

I didn’t sleep that night until well after 3:00 AM. The winds picked up and I had a great view of the rage in the cut and over the bar. I was sickened. If we had come into the cut and immediately turned up to the right, we would have been fine. I have gone over the instructions and the chart numerous times and discovered most (hopefully all) of my mistakes. Having run aground 4 times between December 24th and December 31 our theme for 2011 is “nothing but water”. La Luna will touch nothing but water from here on. We’ve promised her.

EW was determined that we would find a way out of this harbor. I was pessimistic. We checked tide tables and watched the rise and fall of the water for two days. We poured over the charts. We took the dinghy out with a small anchor and marked the rode at 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 feet. We found the channel along the inside of Saddleback Cay. We hailed 4 young men on a sport fishing boat and asked for confirmation. We went back out in the dinghy at high tide with the GPS and marked over 50 waypoints from La Luna’s anchorage to the safe exit out of this cut.

We took the dinghy to Flo’s Conch Bar and talked with Chester, owner, proprietor, and the “they” who would have appeared had we called for help on the radio. According to Chester and the young guys on the fishing boat, this happens with some regularity. Sailboats come safely through the cut, slow down and get swept over the bar. Chester saw an 80-foot sailboat with a draft of over 8 feet do the same thing. Eighty feet! I don’t think the coral bar is 80 feet wide! Chester had to help pilot that vessel out of the harbor at deep water and there were times he was praying they would make it. (Chester does not take praying lightly.)

EW and His First Coconut

(EW and His Coconut)

 Deep breath. We are in a beautiful anchorage.

 We celebrated New Year’s Eve on January 1st (once we had calmed down) with grilled steak, incredible red wine (a gift from C & L in Maine – thank you very much) proceeded by pina coladas made in part from a coconut that EW had harvested.  Pina Coladas and Tapas

 Life is good. I am very thankful. Every day I am becoming a better navigator.

And the Berry Islands are beautiful. 


Hunkered Down in Cuttyhunk and How We Got Here

Cuttyhunk has first rate wifi -- and I am accessing it with our Wirie antenna. More about the Wirie in another post -- just want to say it's a great addition to La Luna. (And I paid full price for it and he doesn't know I have a blog and I don't yet accept advertising. Yada yada yada.)

Now then. Deep breath. 

This taking off for the rest of (or a large part of) your life is hard work. I'm not complaining, just sayin'. It was hard to get work done on the boat while we were still working to complete projects for our jobs, sell the car, and see all the folks who wanted to see us and whom we wanted to see. It was hard to walk down the dock as we didn't want to be rude to anyone who had advice, ice, or questions.

    EW said yes, to three blocks of ice. Three blocks! We have one cooler on deck that had a block     already. What was he thinking? I found room for two and as things worked out I was glad to have     them. (Guess he was thinking that our new life is unpredictable.)

After my little breakdown, EW decided that we would "sneak" to Jewell Island on Sunday, October 17th and let everyone think we were really leaving. We needed more time to get the stuff stowed and to take care of us. When we entered the harbor I said, "I see a mast." "Yep," said EW, "there's a boat in there." "I hope it's no one we know". I said. I didn't want to talk with one other person or go through one more good-bye. Fortunately, we had a lovely, quiet and productive afternoon and evening. The next morning we "sneaked" to Portland to pick up a part for the furnace and were graciously allowed to tie up at Portland Yacht Services while EW made the repair. 

At 4:30 we left for the Cape Cod Canal, a trip that was expected to take until noon the next morning and the first time we have had night watches in at least three years. It was pretty uneventful. The moon was nearing full so we had great visibility, the seas were quite calm, we sailed for a number of hours and motor-sailed most of the rest of the way. Except after 4:00 AM the engine kept stopping every few hours. I would sail, EW would change the fuel filters and we'd go back to normal watches. EW figures that we sat still so long getting ready to go that finally leaving stirred up sediment in the tanks. The tanks were cleaned last year, so he wasn't worried that the problem would persist and it hasn't.

I had my moment going through the Cape Cod Canal. I had the helm and a very proper powerboat captain hailed us prior to passing. As he powered up, I thought, "Bet he goes south every year." And then it hit me .. We are going south! I wanted to dance I wanted to shout it over the loud hailer to folks on shore. We are going south. On a boat. This is very cool. I am not cool, but this is.

So, we stayed on the hook in Onset, left the next morning with a plan to head past Block Island and turn right for a two day sail to Delaware Bay. The wind was on the nose. EW wanted to sail so the navigator plotted a course for that. We lost some time there. We lost more when we discovered that the bilge pumps weren't working. None. Of. Them. I learned how to heave to. EW fixed one of the three bilge pumps. We headed for an anchorage and found one at Cuttyhunk. We haven't been ashore and may not. 

The wind is 25 knots with 30-35 knot gusts and has been for two days. We've worked on the boat. Well, EW fixed two of the three bilge pumps and I helped. We also worked on better storage in the pilot berth area. Which means that now we know where things are back there.

We attempted to leave this morning with weather reports predicted reduced wind from the northwest. It would have been a wonderful reach and La Luna loves to reach -- so we hauled anchor, and left this lovely protected harbor to meet 35 knots on the nose and big honking waves. We could have continued, but EW decided that we weren't ready for a 40-50 hour passage with in that weather with just two on board and we returned. 

I'm proud of our decisions on this trip and the process we use. Could we have kept going the two times we've stopped? Yes. Do we have to subject ourselves and our boat to this? No. 

There are more (and better) stories about these last few days. I'll write them up as we go and post when I am able. We think we are leaving in the morning. When we go we will be 40 hours out if we stop for a rest in Atlantic City or 60 hours out if we make it all the way to Salem New Jersey -- just across from the Delaware Canal. 


Women Sailors - I Am One!

I learned a valuable lesson at the boat show today.  This is the weekend for the Maine Boatbuilders Show  -- a show that is much better than the web page would indicate. This Portland Maine event began over 20 years ago as the brainchild of Phineas Sprague, owner of Portland Yacht Services. At the time I was selling radio advertising for a local station that attracted boat people (people with money) and EW was selling marine products to area boatyards. He insisted that Phin and I meet with the result being that my station was the media sponsor for the show for a couple of years. After that it was clear that the show was an world renown annual event and did not need local radio sponsorship as much as they needed booth space for boat builders. 

But I digress, big time.

For the past 8 years, we have exhibited at the show as part of Great Island Boatyard and Great Island Yacht Brokerage. I have an active role in the booth.

Since this show is in Portland we see a lot of folks we know - customers, neighbors, members of our yacht club, clients of my business, fellow chamber members ... the list goes on and on.  OK -- I will get to the topic of this post -- really. A couple we know stopped by the booth and as EW was chatting with Him about boats She and I chatted about a lot of things - which led to when we first met over 25 years ago.

As has been (and will be) discussed frequently in this blog, I had never sailed until I met EW. As I have related a lot here and in real life, on our third date, EW looked me deep in the eyes and said, "I sail and all of my friends sail." I said, "I"m sure I can learn."

Twenty five years later I'm still working on it -- though increasingly I realize that I am a woman sailor -- not a woman who is learning to sail. That was brought home once again today. Rather forcefully.

When EW and I were dating, we briefly met a woman who had recently divorced and who had kept the sailboat. She was sailing and racing the boat on her own. My recollection of this meeting was that EW was astounded and agog that a woman like that existed. I admit that I carried inside me this kernel of doubt as in "Wow, he could have met her first -- a woman who knows how to sail and who has a sailboat." Yet here he was, stuck with me who knew nothing.

We later became casual boating friends with this woman and the man who is her husband now. They've been married nearly 20 years and sailed together on her boat, then on a larger sailboat, and now they have a power boat. For over 25 years in my mind I have lifted her up onto a pedestal and have certainly felt she was a better, more accomplished boater than I. 

She is a lovely, fun woman. She is a good boater. She may know more than I about some things but she is not the uber-boater/sailing paragon/holy grail of potential boating spouses to whom I had been comparing myself these 25 years. 

Today She told me -- "Oh when we got divorced, I would sail with girlfriends. But only on sunny days where I knew the area. I can't navigate." I asked her, if she had learned to navigate now. "Not really." 

Wow. We talked some more and there is no reason to go into the differences about what we know and what we each enjoy about boating. Suffice it to say, that this very neat, smart woman is not the perfect woman sailor I had thought her to be. I'm certainly not the perfect woman sailing spouse either -- the point is that at this late post-50 stage of my life I still need to stop comparing myself to others and focus on what I know and on what I want. 

I am a woman sailor and I know a lot. I will learn a lot more. I want to go sailing around the world with EW. EW married the right woman and that woman is a sailor. He's a lucky man. 

Avoiding Many “Avoidable Close Calls” (Listening To and Communicating with Commercial Vessels on Channel 13) by Guest Author Stu Hochron

Avoiding Many "Avoidable Close Calls" 
Stu Hochron is founder and author of the truly excellent sailing online newsletter News From The Bow. He and his wife Shana sail their beautiful Freedom 45 in the Northeast mainly. The image is care of Bowsprite. You should definitely check out this truly original blog. Fantastic water colors. Adam


I found this post on Messing About in Boats -- an excellent resource of good information and great photos:

Learning to Sail and Gybing the Boom (Jibing the Boom?)

So as you have probably figured out by now -- particularly if you have read the opening blog --  that I didn't know how to sail when I met EW. I had never been sailing. I had been on the ocean on a ferry to Nova Scotia and that's about it. Having grown up in Central Maine, I grew up knowing quite a bit about Maine's small lakes and ponds and not much at all about our coastline. Daddy had a 14 foot aluminum fishing boat and he liked Moosehead, Wassookeag, Sebec and China Lakes and a number of small ponds. 

So -- as has been mentioned (a lot) -- on our third date EW looked deep into my eyes and stated, "I sail and all of my friends sail." I said that I was sure I could learn. He didn't have a boat at that time (and frankly, I did wonder if he could really sail or was a "come up and see my etchings" kind of thing). Anyway he got me out on a few OPB's (Other People's Boats) and then rented a Cape Dory 28 for a week. That's all the sailing I had done until our honeymoon. 

So, EW has some great friends (now our great friends) who own a Hinckley - Competition 41. (This is where you all go "ooooooo, a Hinckley!") These friends, F & E, gave us a week on their boat for a wedding gift. Two other couples from the group provisioned the boat.  We all met on Vinalhaven in Penobscot Bay for a lobster feed and to get us checked out on the Hinckley. The next morning after pancakes on board for all, EW and I sailed away for a week. Alone. On a sailboat.  

Two more things you need to know. When he rented the Cape Dory 28, EW was smart enough to know that sailing with only me, She Who Knew Nothing, would get old. So we invited a dear friend of his to join us for most of that week.  This larger boat would be the first time I had been really required to help sail a boat for a period of time. Secondly, shortly after the "I sail and all of my friends sail" speech, EW had suggested that I take a Power Squadron navigating course.  I have a good sense of direction and it turns out that I am quite good at navigating. Back then, (25 years ago this coming July) navigating was all dead reckoning with paper charts and dividers, etc.   So off we go on our honeymoon, two newly weds, one OPB, and lots of food and drink.  We enjoyed Penobscot Bay and headed East for Blue Hill Bay and Mt. Desert. 

One of the challenges of spousal education is spousal communication. EW didn't always remember that I. Knew. Nothing.  about how the boat worked and some of his commands and direction were lacking. On the other hand, I was very nervous about "that heeling thing" and refused - absolutely REfused to take the helm. Ever. As in when he needed to "go to the head" I offered to hold a bottle for him. (That did not go over well at all.) So for the entire trip, EW captained and handled the helm and I was very green crew and outstanding navigator. 

Now finally - to our tale ..... drum roll please. I think I have to relate this as we do when we tell new friends who have not heard this one yet.

Barb: So we were going wing and wing -- down wind on a windy day -- 

EW: The wind was blowing twenty knots and we were having a great sail.  I was loving it, just hummin' along, heading into Frenchman's Bay.

Barb: So I go down below to make lunch and after a few minutes I look out the port and see an island. I pop up and say, where are you going? He says he's going behind thus and so island. I said that isn't thus and so it's such and such and there's a sand bar behind it you can't go this way.

    (Now you would think in 25 years I would have looked at a chart and gotten the names of those     islands. I have not. They've been "thus and so" and "such and such" for a long time.)

EW: So I told her, "You need to get up here, then. We're going to have to jibe the boom. Do you want to take the wheel or do you want to jibe the boom?"

Barb: Well, I still wasn't going drive the boat because I was afraid I'd tip it over so I said I'd jibe the boom. Now this boom had a preventer that was a b.i.t.c.h. The preventer is a line with ptackle used when going downwind to hold the boom so that it will not jibe unexpectedly. I was going to have to release it and install it on the other side of the boat. I hated that preventer as it ate fingers for lunch, but I wouldn't take the wheel because I'd tip the boat over. 

EW: So I told her, "Look it's very important that you control the jibe. You see that line going up and down from the cabin top to the boom? Well you take that line and you pull it in as much as you can and when I say 'Jibe Ho' you let it out gently. You are the brake. If the boom slams over it will take the rigging out and really damage the boat."

Barb: No pressure there, right? So here's the thing. I didn't pay attention in physics class. Ever. Sailing is basically all physics. That line he was talking about was of course the main sheet and it goes "up and down" from cabin top to boom through a series of pulleys. Instead of grabbing one section of the line and using the pulleys to help me. I wrapped both hands around all of the up and down sections and pulled as hard as I could. It wasn't enough.  Now EW is sailing the boat and handling the jib. This type of Hinckley has only one jib winch and it is behind the wheel, so when he is messing with the jib he isn't looking forward.  I got the preventer off, and went for the main sheet (all of 'em) and he turned the wheel, called "Jibe Ho" and turned to bring in the jib. I held on for dear life as that boom carried me all the way across the deck of the boat, bouncing the left side of my body on the cabin top, hand rails, and winches as I flew over them.  I'm tall enough (OK, big enough) that the boom stopped gently right where it was supposed to.  

   EW turns and says, "That was great!" 

    I said, "That hurt!" 

    He said, "You have to expect some discomfort when sailing."

    I said, "Discomfort, HELL! Real people shouldn't have to do that!"

Still Barb:  So we sail a very short distance before it is time to jibe back on course. 

EW: I offered to let her take the wheel and the jib ... 

Barb: But I said that no, I'd .. (well you get the idea). So proving that I am a natural blond AND a good sport, I went back to the boom and again grabbed all of the lines going up and down from deck to boom. 

EW: She two blocked it. (This is said with a touch of manly disgust) She had no leverage at all.

Barb: When we told my folks this story this is where my mother who had never sailed in her life looked at me and said, "Jeesum, Barb. I grew up on a fahm. I know what a pulley's for."  So anyway. Yes, yes I did do the exact same thing as we jibed back. Only this time, I bounced the right side of my body across the cabin top and hand rails and winch handles. And this time, EW got done with the jib more quickly and saw it.

EW: I turned around and there she was, flying across the deck with her legs out behind her. I'd never seen anything like it. I yelled,  "What the HELL are you doing?"

Barb: And I replied, "I'M JIBING YOUR G#*-D*$$ED BOOM!" (Remember, this is our honeymoon.)

EW: It was amazing. 

Barb: So later that afternoon we sailed into the town dock at Sorrento and on the dock is - no kidding - another Hinckley Competition 41. The doctor who owned it was there, tinkering and cleaning her and he very gladly helped us dock. We got off the boat and introduced ourselves and chatted a bit. He was looking at me a little strangely. At one point, EW took our garbage up to the barrel and the doc leaned closer to me and looked me deep in the eyes and asked, "Are you all right?". I looked at him blankly. His eyes dipped lower, to my legs -- both of which were breaking out in the most spectacular bruises you can imagine. "Seriously," he said, "you say the word and I will get you away from him right now!". Of course I just burst out laughing and as EW came back we had to relate, for the first time, how I learned to jibe a boom. 

EW: And then the doctor asks her if she has a sister - cause he'd love to sail with a woman who is such a good sport! 

Choosing Fun

Whee! So yesterday I had a long to-do list and a boat that needed some house work done and what did I do? I went sailing of course!

Within a week we will have La Luna hauled in order to pull her mast. It is time to have the rigging and lights redone. We will then motor back to our home port in South Portland and put on the plastic cover for a 6 month stay on the dock. Yesterday's light breezes weren't enough for our big boat, but it was a nearly perfect fall day for Selene, my 17' O'Day sailboat.

EW had driven to the boatyard in Harpswell in order to show a boat. A couple of hours after he left, I called to tell him I was on my way to take him for a sail. He did not need any urging. "Come on!"

Stew Sailing Selene 10.25.06

As you can see, the leaves were at their peak on the coast. There were very few other boats on the water, hardly any noise at all. We listened to the lapping of the water against Selene's hull, the birds (gulls, cormorants, and roosters - really), and sounds of folks chopping wood on shore. We could have done with a bit more wind -- but we are not complaining. It was a nearly perfect day.

These are things I need to remember: Choose fun. Celebrate. Live.

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Teaching Your Wife/Husband to Sail and Other Secrets of a Long Marriage

On Friday, my wonderful husband delivered a used 17 foot O'Day "Day Sailer" to me at Great Island Boatyard in Harpswell. I am delighted, thrilled, and acting like a kid with a new toy. 

As I write this I am on La Luna, our floating home working and wondering if there is enough wind in Quahog Bay to take Selene for a sail. Since I will not be in Quahog Bay today, the question is moot, but I do want to sail my boat. 

In a normal summer (one with decent weather and a husband who didn't spend July battling cellulitis) we sail/motor to Great Island Boatyard every Thursday or Friday and return to South Portland for the work week on Sunday evening. As a Yacht Broker, Stew works all of Friday most of Saturday and a bit on Sunday, so I am left to my own devices in an area with no cell phone coverage and limited Wifi on the mooring. Last summer Stew (EW - to those who follow @BarbAtSea on Twitter) was gifted with a small sailing dinghy really suitable for one child  or small person. She had one sail, and did not point well, but I had a ball sailing that boat around the bay. 

This weekend Stew purchased the 17 foot boat that can easily take three adult women (Woot) and that I can also sail alone. Unlike the smaller dinghy sailboat, this one has a main and a jib, and a small cuddy cabin to keep things relatively dry. She sails much faster, points to windward better, and is much more responsive than the dinghy sailboat. I will be able to practice maneuvers that will come in handy as we sail "La Luna" to more distant ports. I've named her "Selene" as in goddess of the moon to show that she respects the queen of our fleet, "La Luna". I spent most of Saturday cleaning her, and running down the few parts I needed. EW fixed one broken spreader - he is talented like that - between selling boats and listing boats and showing boats. 

That afternoon, we took her for a short sail and discovered the centerboard wouldn't come down. We fixed that for the season and called it a day. On Sunday, we took the inflatable to shore, got a newspaper, towed Selene back to the mooring in the outer harbor and enjoyed a wonderful breakfast. Stew then went to the office while I puttered and waited for the wind to fill in. Finally, La Luna's flag was fluttering to indicate that we had wind, and I set sail on Selene. Once moving through the water, I called Stew on the marine radio to let him know. He was done with work and ready for a sail, so I stayed in the vicinity until he was ready to join me. 

I love Stew. We have been married for 24 years and I want to stay married to him for at least 51 more. He is welcome on Selene whenever I am not sailing with women friends. (With all of this build up you know what's coming, right?) Yep. We had "a moment". 

I need to learn some things on my own. I don't do well with being told stuff and not being able to try it myself, without interference. Except for one marginal sailing class on a Sunfish 25 years ago, everything I have learned about sailing I learned from my husband. There are many sailing programs and classes just for women for a reason. Spouses (of either gender) don't let spouses make mistakes and learn from them. We prod, we teach, we poke, we gently remind, point out, correct -- we interfere. I do that when I am the "expert". Stew did that as I was handling my new boat on Sunday, telling me I was too close to the wind and to fall off. I made the course adjustment, but also responded with the rolled eyes and snarky manner of a 14 year old. (Hey - I'm not proud of that, but I am truthful.) 

Stew was perceptive enough to say, "Do you not want me to tell you anything or what?" I replied, "No, I don't. You have told me how to sail for 24 years. These are things I need to try myself in order to really learn it. Unless we are in real danger, I want you to be the crew and enjoy the ride." He grudgingly agreed, but then showed he didn't quite get it when he eagerly added, "But do you feel the difference?" I told him he couldn't even ask that, and didn't answer him. 

This is a conversation we have had for over 20 years on four different boats. We both know that I have to sail this boat on my own in order to feel the wind in the sails, make the corrections, and build my confidence. It is past time. We had a terrific day on the water. Yes, I did offer him the opportunity to take the tiller (and total command of the "ship") and he showed me a new way to rig the jib sheet when sailing downwind. I discovered why the sheet gets hung up on the spreader and suggested a fix for that. I am learning to be a better, more observant sailor - because I have insisted on having the time to make my own observations. 

Stew did two great things this weekend. He got me a wonderful boat to learn on -- and he agreed to step back and let me learn. I can take 51 more years of that!