Bohemian Beginnings

02 September 2014 | Elizabeth River, Norfolk VA
01 September 2014 | Currituck, North Carolina

Girly Hands Need Gloves!

02 September 2014 | Elizabeth River, Norfolk VA
Danielle/Great Wind!
Tonight was the Women's Social Sail at Sail Nauticus. When it was first mentioned to me, it immediately went into Google Calendar and quickly followed up by a blocked off section for "MOM" on the family calendar at home. No way I was passing that up!

Having had exactly one previous sailing expedition under my belt, I learned a few things about necessary preparations to go back out on the water:

1. Water Bottle- You might not think you'd want a lot to drink, and you may not, but the wind and the sun are drying elements and before you know it, you feel like you've got cotton balls stuffed in your cheeks. Fresh water, don't leave home without it!

2. Quick Dry Shirts/Shorts- If your captain enjoys heeling that boat over, you might better resign yourself to getting wet in some manner. Quick dry shirts and shorts are lightweight, comfortable on hot days and can tolerate the spray off the bow if you're forward tending to jib lines.

3. Sunglasses- Even at 5:30 at night, the sun is still brightly reflecting off the surface of the water. Buy polarized lenses and get a Croakie to keep them tethered to your person. Protect your peepers!

4. Hat or Visor- Ladies, if you don't mind having your hair flying in your face, then I guess this won't apply to you. Me, I prefer a solid pony tail and a visor with a good stiff brim. My trusty pink Calcutta visor has seen all manners of salt water and keeps doing it's job.

This list was mentally lodged in my head, along with light soled shoes of some kind and thusly I scrambled around the house to hunt it all down prior to my departure. Having no "sailing" clothing in my closet, I settled for running shorts and my quick dry Under Armor Coast Guard tee, all yanked out of the workout wear pile. A Camelback went into the gym bag, visor on my head, extra business cards (hey, I'm a working jewelry designer...who better to network with than a gaggle of women who love the water as much as I do?!) tucked into the outer pocket, and my Vibram shoes for a lack of the requisite Sperry Top Siders. More things to add to the shopping list. ;)

I hit the road, arrived on time and met up with four other women who comprised the group for the evening. We secured two boats to head out and divided up into two groups. Luck of the draw had me (as member number 50) paired up with the very first adult member to join Sail Nauticus - serendipity is always at work in the world! She began the sailing program last year and having worked through it, earned her Basic Keelboat certification and Captain status within the SN program. I did note that she started with no previous sailing experience, so I was really inspired by thinking of what I will be able to accomplish in a year of steadily accruing hours sailing on the water.

We made all our pre-sail adjustments and shoved off the dock into a nice wind blowing across the harbor. The Elizabeth River is an interesting place to sail. The wind seems pretty shifty due to all the buildings and obstacles flanking both sides and being that we're in downtown Norfolk, there's ships the size of multiple city blocks docked every which way. Add in incoming/outgoing freighters, tour boats and general vessel traffic, you've got your hands full for observation duties alone. Add in a jib sheet or two and you feel like a bobble head doll!

Since there were only two of us in our boat, my partner manned the tiller and the mainsheet and I kept hold of the jib sheet. Which leads me to the title of this post. Sailing is a technical sport. You're always monitoring the state of your sails and the wind and making necessary adjustments to trim them appropriately. There's no resting on your laurels; you're easing sheets out and pulling them back in constantly. This can have a rather unpleasant effect on your hands if you don't have the skin of a rough and tough lumberjack. Being that I work in metals, I thought I had a pretty decent tolerance for the abrasions of working with line. Yeah, not so much. Lesson learned and the first thing on the Amazon list of "necessary sailing gear", along with a dry bag to keep any other gear safe from salt spray.

So, we merrily played follow the leader with our other boat of gals and I worked the jib all the way down and felt far more comfortable with the heeling. On the way back, my partner and I switched out and I worked the tiller and learned a bit about the various buoys, channel markers and keeping us on a solid track no matter what she was doing with the sails. The trick of the tiller is learning to do everything backwards, which takes some getting used to, especially when your knee jerk reaction when getting too close to something is to react the way you would with a steering wheel. Lynn taught me a wonderful word play of "tiller towards trouble" and that helped enormously. We passed an incoming and outgoing freighter/barge which can be tricky to spot when leaving the harbor. Thankfully, having spent a lot of time around the water, my eyes are deft at identifying moving objects, even if they move at the pace of a lumbering snail. Lynn tried to teach me tacking skills, but I need more time to work on those and understand how to position the boat and sails just right to swing back around properly.

All in all, we had a marvelous time and she was generous enough to offer her time as a Captain any time I wanted to sail. She may have just bit off more than she can chew!

Fair Winds and Following Seas....

I sail, I'm a sailor!

01 September 2014 | Currituck, North Carolina
Danielle/Clear Skies
"...on a boat, way far away from the dock...with wind and the wind and the sky and everything!"

And THIS (click here) is exactly what I felt like!

As most things begin, it all started with a simple idea. The idea that we could sail off into the sunset. Lo and behold, people actually DO that! An innocent mention to a friend in Nantucket and we suddenly found ourselves at the Unites States Sailboat Show in Annapolis, MD. Three years later, our dream is, incrementally, becoming feasible. In that window of time, we've become boat stalkers. Cruiser chasers. Arm chair sailors. Magazine subscribers. Knowledge seekers. Information gatherers. All this with the intent desire to cast off lines, leave the pier behind and thumb our nose at the landlubber life. Yesterday, we finally got to do just that...although it was only for a few hours. But who's watching the clock?

Truth be told, we don't own a boat. Not even a trailer. A few surfboards, a Jeep that is in the sand at the beach more often than is probably good for the undercarriage, a mid-life Chrysler Challenger, 2 kids, 2 dogs, and a mortgage payment for our 7 acres of solitude along the Outer Banks of North Carolina...that's what we own. But that's not about to stop me from getting my feet wet and so the hunt was on. I needed to find some way to learn to sail and sooner rather than later. Russ, being dutifully dedicated to his job with the U.S. Coast Guard, had less time than I did to figure things out. Being that I'm self employed, I really had the majority of freedom to make things happen. And so, I networked. I read, I watched documentaries, I scoured the internet, I joined forums, I asked questions and I looked at more boat porn than any one woman should have on her iMac. (Disgusting habit, I know...)

After a lazy conversation with a Tartan & Hanse broker I happened to befriend, he mentioned Spin Sheet Magazine (one of the few I don't have on my coffee table) and beer can racing in Norfolk. That tripped the light bulb moment that had me happily meeting the wind in the Norfolk Harbor yesterday evening. An internet search later, I was staring at the website for Sail Nauticus, a community sailing program in downtown Norfolk, VA. I absorbed everything I could from their wonderfully sailboat laden website, threw my family in the car yesterday afternoon and exactly one hour and fifteen minutes later (as the movie goes) they "...had me at Hello."

Sail Nauticus is a non-profit organization that exists solely because of generous grants, funding and donations. As their mission statement reads, they are committed to positively inspiring, instructing and impacting Hampton Roads kids through the use of sailing and maritime sciences. Luckily, this spills over for adults as well and makes learning to sail and immersing yourself in the sailing culture an accessible and affordable opportunity. They have daily Sail Abouts, membership programs with a ton of perks, and corporate outings.

The end result of this is that we finally got our membership to a sailing club. We got our first real and genuine sail aboard a Harbor 20. I got to steer AND handle the mainsail. I'm finally a real sailor!

Tomorrow, I go back for a Women's Social Sail and get to learn even more. We are finally involved with a group of like minded people. People willing to teach, to mentor, to instruct and work alongside of you, no matter your experience level.

And so our journey begins. How very sweet and salty it is...

Vessel Name: Boheme
Hailing Port: Norfolk, VA
Crew: Russ & Danielle Beaty
About: Just a couple of crazy kids chasing our dream...
Extra: Russ is a CWO in the Coast Guard and Danielle is a working Goldsmith. Find more at www.TBJStudio.com
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Boheme 's Photos -

Who: Russ & Danielle Beaty
Port: Norfolk, VA