Victory's Voyages

A Sailing Adventure

At Last

It was time to go. Our 1979 Shannon 38 ketch, Victory, was tied up to a working dock in East Boston where, a few days before, the boat yard's travel lift had splashed her after nine long months on the hard. Our good friends Sadie, Dan, and Scarlett were working overtime with Monica and I to stow all of our remaining worldly possessions onboard and to wrap up at least some of the still unfinished projects.

Believe me, we will always be deeply grateful to the Rosethorns for dedicating a sizeable chunk of their summer vacation to helping us launch ourselves into our new liveaboard cruising lifestyle.

So it was that the good old boat Victory set out with five aboard for a quick shakedown cruise from Boston, MA to Salem, MA on August 1, 2022. I was beaming like a lighthouse as we set sails and galloped along. Somehow, I have never lost the joy and awe I feel when a boat heels over and runs driven by nothing but the wind. And after a long, cold winter, and a feverish spring and early summer of boat work, it felt good to sail. Really good.

However, by the time we tied up to a mooring in Salem Harbor, we had learned first hand why shakedown cruises after a major refit are a good idea. The engine alternator was not charging the batteries. The reefing lines, which I had thought to be of ample length, were too short to work with the new, deeper reef points we had added to the mainsail and mizzensail. And so on.

The next day, with the most pressing issues solved and our shipmates fortified with a hearty breakfast from Red's, we set out on another shakedown cruise - this time for the crew. Sadie, Dan, and Scarlett had never sailed overnight, and had never been out of sight of land. A passage to Maine was the perfect opportunity for them to collect some experience in preparation for the more ambitious passages all of us are dreaming of in the future.

We were favored with good winds and the shoreline eventually thinned, grew hazy, and disappeared. Scarlett and Dan saw a whale, probably a Minke. Hours passed and the sun dropped slowly out of sight while painting the sky with all of the colors on the fiery end of the spectrum.

On the first night watch, I amazed Dan and Scarlett by falling asleep during a game of Twenty Questions, then waking up suddenly and picking up the game again as if nothing had happened. On the second night watch, the wind quietly died, so Sadie and Monica took down the sails and quietly talked with Victory's engine humming in the background. Both watches marveled at the bright swath of stars above, undimmed by the light pollution of modern civilization. For a time, the crew of Victory seemed to be all alone in the world.

By the time the second day had yawned and stretched and got about its business, we had made a long tack out into the Gulf of Maine. The sea was glassy, with no prospect of more wind any time soon. We reluctantly decided not to continue on to a harbor within Acadia National Seashore as planned, but to make landfall at Boothbay, ME instead. But first, the crew put the swim ladder over the side and took a dip in the open ocean. Only then did we turn Victory's bow shoreward. Later, at last light, we tucked into Boothbay Harbor to finish the second passage of Victory's new voyages.

Our adventure had begun. At last.


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