19 lbs 15oz, 4 gears, that about sums it up. It’s exactly one mile from my tiny house to the boat if I go the short way. I never go the short way. Our house is small, but each of us has a corner set aside for his or her folding bike. Everything else we share.
Our space is limited but not our imaginations. I wake at exactly 5:30 every morning. First it’s coffee, then it’s the search for real estate. When I kick it, I want to make sure Kim-Chi is taken care of. I’ve been blessed both in and by this world. It’s raining again so no boat work today but its perfect weather for napping and some uke play. I can’t imagine life getting better than this, but it always seems to.
There is no shortage of beauty on this little island. My first trip here was by sailboat. I buried my anchor and this overwhelming feeling of home overtook me. That was back in 2008, moving here has been a long time coming.
I’ve lived on all of the islands, each special in its own way. It was the weather that I first fell in love with in the PNW. I won’t pull my camera if it’s not surly out. No words are needed to tell the story of the northern light. It’s always magical. My camera has always been blessed by its location, not the skills of its handler. Having said that, no one image can fill in the true story.
The first balmy breeze after a long cold winter. The feeling of weathered wood beneath my bare feet. The sounds of nature ravaging us simple humans while the birds soar overheard playing theirs game. The cry of the gull has become my constant companion. When I moved to the city I missed all this white noise. Car alarms, sirens and revving engines… the city is soul less, truly a rat race, it gives meaning to the words quiet desperation. On the flip side, nothing ever happens here. The quiet isolation is everywhere. Its rhythm is wild, simple, free.
Back on our little day sailor, nothing happens fast. We are quick to put the tools down when company arrives. Time well spent is by far the most valuable commodity in this life. The process of bonding with this boat grows deeper with each turn of the screw. It’s a long journey but I’m becoming intimately familiar with every inch of this little boat. Summer’s just around the corner and I’m coming unhinged.
The long dark nights of winter have arrived. Since it’s taken me 4 months to revisit this post, they have also departed. Boxes of marine parts are piling up, its almost time to haul. Every time I go through my checklist I find at least one item missing. My budget is what it is and I’m hoping to spend the last little remnants of spring’s expenditures on a little bling.
Everything on the boat is new, boxes of spares are labeled and ready to be organized. She’s all coming together. I had to leave the waterfront for a bit to earn it but its good to be back. The simple life, my minimalist sailing life… it’s the good life.
The ocean is my safe place. I’ve met all my friends in the boatyard. Honestly, in a lifetime of sailing I cant really remember a single bad experience on the waterfront. I guess my sailor black box is full.
Our time is short here on this wonderful island but we are making the best of it. The boat name game continues as we have marked most off the list. I think we both know but neither has been able to commit enough to say it out loud. She’s CG documented for obvious reasons so we’re running out of time. A huge part of me wanted to go modern and add everything to this little old boat but for now I’m keeping her simple, traditional and easily maintainable.
This life is easy. Take only what you need. Give everything you can. Embrace every lesson. This life will give you many. Sadly, some people never listen long enough to learn. I don’t want a million dollars or the riches of the world. You can keep all those things. I’m happy with a cheese sammich and a glass of clean clear water.
Looking out the window of my hillside tiny house I can see the wind is finally dying. The sun hangs lazily in the west reminding me that this is the time of year for adventures. Whoever said you can’t have your cake and eat it too obviously wasn’t a sailor.
“Why is it that some sailors go quietly about their business, consistently making quick, safe, and satisfying passages, while others lurch erratically from port to port amid a series of catastrophes? Is it luck? No, it’s the Fifth Essential.”
A Beautiful Disaster
I think most have no idea what it means to acquire a dream. Most of them start out as nightmares while only a few end that way. Settling into my final glide path, it’s easier to talk about it now than it was to hear it nearly 4 decades ago when I purchased my first boat from a professional hitman. Let’s just leave that last bit at what it is but somehow I lived through it and learned a very large lesson. If you can’t afford to pay cash, you can’t afford it. That was my first boating lesson. My second was don’t hit anything you can’t afford to buy. Boats aren’t necessarily a worse investment than cocaine, hookers, and fire engines, but they are equally as much fun.
When I decided I wanted a larger boat, I cleared my mind of everything I thought I knew about boats. Above and beyond anything, I want a beautiful boat. I looked at thousands of designs. I knew things were getting out of control when I started getting serious about a 2 million dollar aluminum pilot cutter. Without a large amount of effort, I reduced those desires to a 40′ wood pilot cutter. From there again down to a 34′ plastic Hess.
I sat down with Kimi and a great bottle of Cab and laid it all out on the line. When all the adds and subtracts were done, I settled on a boat that I thought I could have. Turns out the seller had changed her mind. Then this little unnamed cutter came calling. I tend to fall for things that make no sense till you try them on and they do, from what some may say was far too small to what others would call far too large. In the end, I found my goldilocks and she is just right.
We have always called her Ooku, even before she arrived but this little fairy tale of a boat still has no name. We threw around Sookie as she’s kinda sorta a larger version but I just can’t commit. It took me six months to name my last boat only to learn many years later her true name of Starlet.
I may have gently wandering eyes but it’s a rarity for me to fall in love. While the bonding process continues I patiently wait for her name to arrive. There are a thousand ways to describe what all of this is like but for me, it’s always the same: First I make her a safe boat, then I make her a comfortable boat, then I make her a pretty boat. Let’s just call it what it is, a beautiful disaster.
Never say never
Everywhere I’ve never been. I don’t claim to know everything, or even anything. One thing I know for sure is that I anchored in this exact spot with Sookie. I don’t know the name of the bay, or even how I ended up there but I do recall every second of the day I arrived. I’d never seen it rain so hard in my life. Summers in BC are pure magic. I can only imagine a summer aboard a BCC in BC to be pure heaven.
I roll my eyes when Kim-Chi announces she wants to quit her job and sail to Europe. She can’t even swim, maybe that’s what scares me. I know she’ll do it like she has so many times before. Cut and run, not away but to the next adventure. There is no voice of reason in this relationship. We laugh too hard, too often, far too often at the other’s expense. We are two old bags and we wouldn’t have it any other way. The truth is, we have nothing to lose. Still though, I think I’d rather fly but she has my attention.
I’m going to need a wind vane. Old people need dodgers so I could add that to the list. Sun protection, a life raft, lots of wine and a pack of ciggies. That ought to do it. Oh, and two round trip air tickets. Between the two of us we are very well taken care of but not yachters in that respect. I bought this boat for her, for these waters and local exploration. We all have dreams and they can be wonderful but if they all came true… I’ll settle for almost, or most of all. Maybe even all and all or all in one and one for all. It’s been half a year and I’m finally starting to bond with the boat. There is a story in the making here. Until then, Happy Easter friends.
The simple sailor
Sailor, sailboat… what ever. Realistically I should have bought a bigger boat. Maybe a modern 40-50 footer with a hot shower, wide flush decks and his and hers helms. I’m done I say, this is my last boat. Regardless of my catamaran dreams, maxi fantasy and almost achievable reality of a brand new Oceanis; I am done. ‘It’s a fool that looks for logic in the chambers of the human heart.’ We have landed, Ooku is all nestled in. The bay is as still as a photograph today. The dark green water has me wanting my new dink, it hasn’t arrived just yet.
Slowly the boat is being stocked with everything. Next on the list is fishing and crabbing gear. I still haven’t figured out all the fancy boat gear. I think it has a lot of the things most people like but I ignore them for now. The time will come when I have to admit that while still simple, this boat has lots of fancy dressing. She has 6 brand new sails, 4 made by Hasse. I still haven’t explored the for peak, too many sail bags. Spring cleaning will come soon enough but for now I’m just assessing her. She still doesn’t feel real. I need to discover a Brompton parking garage, remove a few gadgets and do a bit of touch up on her interior varnish. Only then can we start to make her our home. New fluids and a quick coat of paint in the engine room is at the top of the list. I’m hoping the new dink will fit on top of the cabin. As much as I hate this location, she is a tiny boat. For now one small solar panel will complement her two group 27 batteries. Maybe a start battery will make the list but for now I’m not adding anything.
Ive loaded the Man can with a fresh, no I like that. A rotten old bottle of whiskey. Were actually the same age but I fear it may be faring a little better than I. Its time for my thinking chair, a blank sketch book and time alone with this old girl. If i haven’t said it aloud selling Sookie was a mistake. She is clearly a better, though smaller boat in every way. Be that as it may the new boat has potential. She will never sail as well as the FC but she will sail well. Every trip fills one more space, she is becoming a home. Her list is short and simple, replace everything. time frame, 20 years. Budget, everything I have. Payoff, priceless. This last part I cant explain to you. Cut the lines and sail engineless up the esst caost of Vancouver island, then you will understand freedom and beauty. There are no pictures that can tell this story, no words. It must be lived. this is why in in over 35 years of sailing ive still yet to share a single journey. when I slip the lines, it becomes my time…