Friday, January 27, 2012

Ode to the Ladies of Yachting

As I sit here, proud and humbled by my little cruising yacht I know the one thing I will truly miss. I know that I've let go of something that I will miss dearly. It's all the wonderful people I had around to take care of my domestic inabilities.

You, the laundry girls, you are at the top of my list. The way you pressed and folded my sheets was a luxury that was often overlooked. As many times as I would insist that it's silly to press my sheets, you would do it anyway, never taking advantage of my gesture. I wish I had you here to do my sheets now... They are in a ball in the foreward cabin, and I think some rain leaked on them last night. But you didn't just do sheets, it was all the laundry. I'd put my dirtiest clothing in your handy little bins and it would show up, folded, outside of my door by the end of the day. How I miss it. At the moment I have a really smelly pair of black socks that got wet 2 days ago and are still sitting in the cabin waiting for me to do a load of laundry. I can throw them in with the whites right? No, of course not! At least I know how to separate my colors from whites! But you know, I learned that from you lady of the laundry.

Not only would you wash and iron, you sewed as well. You did, all the time. I'd come to you with a sad puppy face and a missing button or ripped pants and you'd turn my frown upside down. With a smile you'd grab your needle and thread and mend my abused and mistreated garments, making them like new again. Your skills are not forgotten nor taken for granted. You were always there when called upon. I miss you laundry girls.

The interior crew. You. You made my world sparkle. You'd take time away from making my whites the whitest to wipe down every surface imaginable. Everything was clean. Spotless. The floors mopped daily, the vacuuming done, the coffee machine topped up, and the fridge and cupboards filled with goodies I could consume at a whim. On top of all this, you somehow managed to set up and clean up every meal. You'd take pride in how nice you were making my environment. I love that about you. Now I sit in a cabin of squalor. Sawdust from todays project is still on the floor, and a dirty wine glass is threatening to attract fruit flies. I'm lost without you.

Let's not forget to mention all of the food! Ladies, you kicked out some awesome food. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, I would just show up in the crew mess and there was my meal, hot and ready for enjoyment. How I miss it. I haven't had breakfast in days. I paid $12 for a burger and beer today and it wasn't near the quality that you'd have prepared for me. You did it all, from the grocery shopping to the maintenance of the galley.  Every day there would be something fresh and delicious on waiting to satisfy my hunger. I wish I had you now miss cheffy, I'm craving those delicious lamb shanks you used to make me.

Let's not forget the ladies on deck, as they are too often forgotten and overlooked. You've managed to live amongst men. Your feat could easily be compared to a man going off and living with apes. No matter how many fart jokes were told, and sexual positions mimmicked, you laughed like one of the boys. You've managed to somehow convince someone that you can do the job just as well, and then you've gone off and done it two-fold. You've had to work twice as hard to prove your worth, but you have, and it hasn't gone unnoticed. I always knew, that if I needed a knowledgable level head, that it's you I could go to. Miss lady deckie, your perspective will be missed, I hope you're still mothering all those boys on deck.

That's what it's all about. Mothering. Each and every one of you, with your many diverse skills took care of me in a special way. Nobody other than my own mother has done all of the things that you have done for me. You've filled in the gaps that my own inadequacies have left. I know that sometimes your skills were overlooked, or your services merely expected, but I cannot describe how much you are appreciated. You're doing good work on that yacht, I hope you're still there when I get back.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Gone Cruising

I've made a bold decision to take a hiatus from the life of big money, big boats, and many crew. I've signed off as bosun from S/Y Athena, and signed on as captain of a 38' yacht named Echo. I've saved up enough money to finally go out and live one of my dreams, to sail my own yacht across the  vast Pacific Ocean.

I bought Echo, a 1957 38' Stephens Brothers Farallon Clipper. She's an absolute classic, one of 19 ever built, with a strong pedigree in both racing and bluewater crossings. She's mahogany planking on oak frames, and a real testament to her builders. Her varnished topsides and fine lines make her a nice piece of eye candy for any discriminating yacht enthusiast. Just have a look, she's absolutely gorgeous.

While she is more than capable of tackling the oceans ahead of her, she is not set up for bluewater cruising. She needs lots of gear to make the trip, and I am in the process of outfitting her now in San Francisco. Solar panels, autopilots, storm sails, new standing rigging, lots of electrical, carpentry work, and a whole lot of varnish are in my near future. I got what I wanted, a beautiful classic, and up ahead comes all of the work associated with owning and sailing one. It's all worth it though. An old captain of mine once said to me, "Life is too short for ugly boats." Then again, when I told him I wanted to buy a wooden boat he said to me, "My best advice? Lie down until the feeling goes away." Fred always has a way with words.

The itinerary is a very loose one, but I have a rough idea. Over the course of 10-12 months I'll be taking her across the Pacific Ocean, starting in San Francisco and ending on the coast of Australia. It will be a voyage of adventure, discovery, and of course, yacht maintenance. I plan to visit the places that are only accesible by boat, the types of places with no airports, no supply ships, and no tourists venture. Every little island along the way is a potential stop. I only know what countries and island groups I wish to visit, otherwise I'll just be going where the wind takes me.

First I need to sand, paint, wire up, and seal up Echo, then it's off to sea.