11/21/2010, Carolina Coast Hospital
Take Cover it's gonna blow, may be the words I may need to express. Or maybe there are seasons when the boats are best left on shore to rest. This fall has been a difficult one with more physical ailments than I can count including a 5 day stint in the local hospital overlooking the southern Outer Banks. Interestingly it is ironic to me to say that the wind that sustains my life became the very thing that became difficult to come by. Breathing in the very life-force of a sailor became difficult and strained as I had caught the dreaded pneumonia. I firmly believe that some of us have to be laid up for repairs by the forces of nature in order to drive home the fact that we're not made of stainless steel. Yet, I liken this weary body to a beautifully restored wooden vessel, our maker has graciously provided internal systems to handle most invaders but without the hands of skilled craftsmen, she will still go down to her ruin.
It is this caring component that I wish to give thanks for today. While in the hospital, I had the pleasure of an attending nurse from England, whom had been a live-aboard sailor and had settled with her husband in Beaufort, NC. While her hands were busy about coaxing my small rolling veins with sticks and drips and antibiotics, securing a flow of oxygen to course through my straining lungs, her voice of calm determination quieted my soul. She and I became friends as we shared stories of our days under sail. It was a sisterhood we shared, a breath of fresh air she was in the often sterile environment of a hospital room. Her being at my bedside seemed more than a coincidence, as no family comes to visit, only concerned friends. The spirit of a sailor is realized in the hearts of other sailors whom understand the freedom of the sea and so she enlisted other sailing nurses to stop by and tell their stories.
One young nurse came by to share her family story of acquiring a fixer-upper 25' Helms from Oriental, NC, the place of many refugees awaiting rescue. Her family was from Swansboro, so they brought her down and commenced her restoration in the tiny Flying Bridge Marina, a place I knew well, having kept my 'le petite voyageur', a 23' San Juan there many seasons ago. Her telling of it, helped my mind turn to the joy of restoring beautiful swimmers and the camaraderie of crew a vessel requires to bring her back to life. I felt like that vessel, sorely neglected, battle scared and forgotten as the shifting crew of nurses swarmed my cradle~bed determined to poke and pinch every part of my hull. Having frustrated most of them with all my blown-out veins, they had to call in a critical care male nurse whom also failed on the first stick. Feeling remorse for the battle-scared bruises covering my arms, he said, let me try one more time. I turned my head and became quiet as he gently probed the needle into my forearm and found a flowing vein, in his relief, he asked, "are you alright?" and I replied, "the Lord and I presented that vein for you" and he agreed, "well it certainly wasn't me, that needle guided itself right in" and in unison we said, "AMEN".
Over the years, I can recall many times when vessels under my care and charge have presented with frustration. Seemingly impossible odds, if only we ask for that guiding assistance, the calm will overcome and the joy of accomplishment allowed to surface!
Witnessing the miracle of life in the hands of skilled craftsmen is truly a source of spirit restored, when two are gathered in his name...(there is love) amen!
|Cabin Fever Musing||
08/01/2010, N, E, S coasts
Sacred July began with a return to the North Winds of the Great Lakes to sail with my father and family. He was delighted to have so many hands to help with some needed maintenance and repairs on the 'ARIES'. After 30 years of continuous service, the standing and running rigging is beginning to show wear and components are needing replaced. She's still a solid boat and comfortably handles a boatload of folks with stout grace. I was glad to see him enjoying her and not giving in to his overwhelming circumstances of care-taker for Mom. The 'ARIES' is his balance, he need not give her away until he can no longer sail~
The middle passage of Sacred July was filled with small boats on the Carolina coast from Beaufort to Bogue Inlet, either sailing the 'HEATHER JANE' sprits'l skiff or paddling my 'MAGIC' kayak through the marsh. The highlight of the summer is sailing long-distance rallies with the Traditional Small Craft Association fellows from the NC Maritime Museum fleet. I picked up a stand-by crew on the docks, and he and I sailed the 'HEATHER JANE' like we'd been sailing together for a while. I had forgotten what it's like to actually sail with another sailor, that was refreshing. Most often, I make a point to bring folks whom are either water-challenged or don't have access. Either way, it presents with a huge learning curve, but also the potential for an awesome introduction to sailing. Sailing with a large fleet of wooden boats, making beach stops along the way, swimming, lunching and generally messing about in boats, makes for a WONDERFULLY spent summer day!
The final days of Sacred July were spent once again returning to past sailing waters off of Clearwater, Florida, where we once lived aboard and had two babes. This was a special return to Pinellas County though, my brother had recently purchased his third big cat and this one was french, an Athena, Fontaine Pajot 38'. Bringing along plenty of crew, we sailed out Clearwater Pass into the Gulf of Mexico and up to Honeymoon Island and anchored for the night off Dunedin causeway, a place where we spent many days windsurfing and sailing in my early married life. Of course, Florida is VERY HOT in July, so we spent most of the time in the water and I volunteered for 'grill master' off the port stern. She felt very big after all these years sailing small boats and yet our live aboard trimaran was wider and longer. She is a beautiful boat and I'm sure my brother will have many adventures aboard her. And he does have an available Gemini 105MC just a waiting in the wings~
2010's Sacred July was one of my personal favorites because of the wonderful variety of sailing craft I had access to. But the added joy of sharing it with my family and friends, makes the voyaging all the better~
bon voyage Sacred July~
|small boat adventures||
06/16/2010, Duck~Corolla, North Carolina
First sailing weekend coincided with my release from school and boy did I need a celebratory release this year! As with all things during the summer respite, I choose to take my time and consciously awaken to the blessings of the day! Having packed three bags: clothes, food and gear....we were on our way up to the northern Outer Banks. Hobie kitty and I pulled into Nor'Banks Sailing Center pretty late, but excited to see other folks already camping and a yard full of catamarans there on the waterfront~
Saturday morning, the sailors were up and busy about gearing up for the days challenge...a leMans start from Duck up to the Currituck Lighthouse near Whalebone and Corolla...supposedly a (approx) 30 mile distance through the seabed grass and marsh islands. The wind was coming from the south, running north with a 'wing n' wing' most of the way, the other boats chose to downwind tack the distance. But being quite familiar with sailing between marsh islands on tidal creeks, I was able to make some ground against the much bigger, hotter, faster cats...I was clearly staying ahead of all the Getaway cats and the two-handed Hobie 16's, which put me in the middle of the pack. One Hobie 16 actually seeing my advantage, came and sailed neck n' neck for a while. It was a LONG downwind run, but I kept thinking how even longer it would be upon rounding the mark and having to sail back upwind into a headwind and rolling sound. Waving at the lighthouse, we rounded the mark and started needling our way back, I did not realize how long we had sailed and how tired I was....the school year and night drive was catching up with me and the exhaustion set in as the wind started to pick up over 20-25 and the wave action was getting bigger. I noticed Hobie kitty was taking it hard and burying her hull in the 4 foot crests and thinking she may be taking on water. So I sailed into a small beach along shore to check and thankfully heard no water inside her hulls, since I was already there, I decided to take a short power-nap....yeah, crazy...in the middle of a race....but I needed something to get me through the rest of the battle windward.
By the time I awoke, the last two boats were sailing by my position, so I had a quick drink and an apple and headed out. The rest of the race was literally a battle between tacks in high wind and high waves with short frequency causing Hobie Kitty to fly off the top of one wave and bury like a submarine into the next.....and that was the scenario for miles, with an occasional rudder kick-up due to either sea grass beds or sandbars...not to mention the beautiful blue sky & sun blazing down on my already burnt face. What kept me going was the challenge of keeping up with the other two boats. As I kept my eye on the big BLUE water tower I noticed upon leaving the beach, it became apparent that I had not gotten a better look at the Sailing Center beach before I left, it was very difficult to identify in these conditions. I spied a blue building, and trusting my intuition, that must be it, I took my last tack towards the outer bank and after riding the bucking bronco wild ride, for several hours, I had chosen correctly. Upon crossing the line, quite a few sailors had gathered on the pier and cheered as I was acknowledged with the sound of the gun~
All the veterans were surprised Hobie Kitty and I had gone the full distance, had even taken a nap, kept hard-on in the building conditions and ALAS, I didn't finish last. It was nice to hear the fellow sailor behind me in amazement as to our pointing ability and recap of the tacking battle upwind.
My only disappointment was that I decided to not sail the second day, it was a sleigh ride, beam reach, down to the bridge and back (6 miles) with winds in the 25-30 range...all the single-handers regrouped and doubled up on each others boats. I was satisfied with Hobie Kitty's performance, with the making of new/old friends and reconnecting with a spirit of competition, endurance and the LOVE OF SAILING~
|small boat adventures||
06/06/2010, Great Lakes to Carolina Coast
I knew this day would come, and that didn't make it any easier. Upon my weekly conversation with my elderly father, whom is saddled with caretaker of my mom's alzheimers, we spoke of inevitable plans of passing down the Wallace family treasure~ their beloved Bayfield 32C "Aries".
My father and mother's love of the water started a family legacy of spending the summers as camp counselor's and water safety instructors...so all of us 5 kids were ducklings. With a growing family, they knew a canoe would just not be big enough for their 'water dreams' and 5 swabs weighing the boat down. So they decided to utilize their own natural resources and bought their first small sailboat. Over the years, as most sailors do, the boats got bigger and the knowledge gained grew until Dad was using his skills for profit on other people's boats and reaping the financial benefit in support of a sailing addiction. As the wooden sailing vessels got bigger, the voyages got longer and the kids began moving on. Being the youngest of the 5, I witnessed a lifetime of sailing adventures before I was 18, so it only logical that I follow in my father's footsteps and began a professional sailing instructor career as well. As my own life began taking off, my parents knew their retirement from 37 years in the public school/university system as a teacher/professor/coach and 10 years as an LPN at Kaiser Hospital was eminent. They sold their John Alden, Malabar Jr. 32' marconi rig sloop built of oak, teak and mahogany, the 'VIKING' and had their first and only fiberglas boat built in Canada.
|small boat adventures||
04/18/2010, White Oak River/Longpoint Landing
Sunday Sanctuaries has officially become an expeditionary field guide. New paddlers joined us this weekend to explore the White Oak River and it's peace. A friend of mine had some friends visiting whom are dealing with the hardship of terminal disease and wanted a relaxing, peaceful, therapeutic experience for everyone. 'Peace like a River' was the prescription for the day. We paddled up river investigating small tributaries, farm field landings, old-growth cedars, columns of cypress and hydroponic gardens. The coolness of the river and the heating of the afternoon sun provided the perfect environment for laughs, stories, song and river whistling. Upon arriving at the end of a tributary filled with whirling butterflies and whiz-by insects we paused for a treat of our trademark 'fruit of our labor' zip-lock tradition. Each paddler was gifted with a bag filled with 7 fresh fruits: raspberries, blackberries, green grapes, globe grapes, raisins and nuts.
I noticed the difference in the mood of the river from morning to afternoon and commented that the wildlife were much more active and vocal in the mornings but must have been napping in the lazy, hot afternoon.
It was great practice to guide new-comers to the paddling world and gift them with a calm-soothing experience.
My love affair with Multihulls began so long ago when I was invited to a collegiate race in Toledo, Ohio sponsored by the local sailboat dealership that was attempting to market beach catamarans to rising college graduates. It worked. Although I had been raised on traditional wooden hulls, designed by some of the best names in yacht design and was transitioning to small dinghy racing, I had no idea something quite so glorious as flying & skipping across the water was possible...until the day I flew a hull~
Nothing in my mono-hull, one dimensional upbringing compared to this....this was beyond exhilarating.
The winds were light the morning I grabbed my crew and set out for a wonderful day on these new fast-cats. It took us some time to figure out how to make her go in light air, but it became apparent that our weight and agility had everything to do with finding her 'sweet spot' of power. In our exuberance, we took her to the edge and promptly fell over, which was the greatest learning curve as a skipper....'one must learn the delicate balance of unleashed thrust and then reining her in for maximum velocity'.
When everyone had given up for the day and headed for the showers and libations in the clubhouse, I remained on the beach, watching and waiting. Scanning the horizon for a breath of air and gazing upon the line-up fleet of potential energy sitting at rest on the beach. Ah-ha, it finally rose, a warm-evening off-shore breeze caused a clatter of halyards on the steady group of masts. One rocket-boat was still rigged and was rocking in the new breeze, awaiting someone to reach her in time for lift-off. Another sort had been waiting for the breeze at the other end of the beach, our eyes met and we knew we had to set off to feel the sensation of catamaran flight. I will never forget that first evening flying a hull in a trapeze over the cool Lake Erie waters as the sun set and the off-shore breeze connected two strangers and took them aloft~
It is with that same feeling of pure aesthetic adrenaline that I watched the 33rd Americas Cup and remembered that first time. Multihulls are pure potential energy and I was honored to see the spectacle for my first witness to an Americas Cup match. And beyond the international venue, the multihulls of the world trembled in their amas as the attention was focused on their magnificent power, beauty & grace. The Americas Cup has been won back to American shores by a multihull~
|Cabin Fever Musing||