Launching Day, 2014

Launch day was set for Thursday the 26th, right at the same time USA was taking on Germany for the World Cup. It was bad luck, set a while back before we were thinking about the World Cup at all, and so when we went down to the boat yard on the 24th to see about having the mast moved from storage, Brooklin Boat Yard’s great people were already moving it, and boy howdy surprise, were going to come get the boat within a couple of hours.

Cue Eye of the Tiger. Cue fast montage of driving across the peninsula, hurriedly putting tools away, tying things down, all that jive… and she was getting hauled down to the yard to be splashed the next day. Everything happened so fast this time around, no sitting in the sling overnight, no great anticipation for a whole day knowing the truck might come but not at what time… my feelings were of general relief rather than excitement. It’s got me thinking maybe this is becoming commonplace.

Launching day went smoothly. #sailboat #sailing #brooklin #maine #brooklinboatyard #woodenboat #weloveuneventful

It was still a bit magical to feel the boat go from swinging to floating, if not because it was thrilling and new, but rather that the boat belongs in the water and not on jack stands, and everyone likes to see a thing in its proper environment.

Here are some other exciting things going on at Brooklin Boat Yard.

The fun shapes possible with cold molded wood. #woodenboat #sailboat #brooklinboatyard #brooklin #maine

Those are some scrap pieces from the production of the Frers 74 project, check their facebook page for more information, because their updates are top notch.

Strip-planked construction in progress at #brooklinboatyard #brooklin #maine #sailboat #boats

They’re also building this strip-planked double ender, which is looking mighty pretty.

And then there was the dinghy launch.

Dinghy movin' time. #woodenboat #sailing #sailboat #tender #ORANGE!

It's a good color.

Colin and Pepper, launching the dinghy. #brooklinboatyard #brooklin #maine #rowboat #sailboat #marshallcovepaint

It’s a good color. I’ve been pleased with the Marshall’s Cove Paints.

Buddhist Teachings, Joyful Effort, and Boat Work

When we came back from the ICW last year and the boat was finally pulled, it was easy for me to walk away from the boat shed and leave that to-do list firmly on the back burner. In fact, it felt good to spend a winter- a long, brutal, dark, land-based, car-trouble-infested winter- in a state of hibernation.

Ferns. #bluehill #maine

But here we are, back in the boat shed grinding things, running wires, and putting a shine on things that were very well used during our year away. I can hear the voice of our friend we met in Brunswick, Georgia, a woman who has many more nautical miles under her belt than I have. “It’s a part of it,” she said one afternoon, “You have to learn to like it.”

It’s not separate from the rest of the sailing and adventuring. The work you do maintaining a boat, for most cruisers and people with budgets, is a pie slice of the time you spend. Luckily, I DO happen to like it. I’m proud of the boat and of the work I do on her. They’re long days though, the ones where I’m working on “work work” and then going directly to the boat shed to keep charging forward toward launch date.

I started thinking about this a little while back, and it came together a little better when I learned earlier this spring about the six perfections of Buddhism. One rings in my head like a tuning fork: Joyful Effort. The application of your efforts, especially ones done to benefit other people, done with joy, zeal, and energy, is behavior befitting an enlightened being.

I’ve been meditating on that as I’m bent over for an hour painting the dinghy, or as my face gets hot under a respirator as I sand. My joy comes from the gratitude I feel that I have the equipment I need and that when I’m finished I’ll get to use the boat. It also comes from new skills and pride when a project is completed. And of course, it comes when she’s finally launched and we get to know what it’s like to float again. Joyful effort can only go in one direction, and that’s toward success.

At first I just amended the way I was moving while I was working. Mindfulness and meditation crept into the way I hold my tools, the way I breathe, the way I move as I work. Straight back, fluid motions, a bit of artful dancing, an occasional stop to admire what’s been done, smile, repeat. If someone were to look at me, I’d want to appear joyful, and to me in my motions, truly BE joyful. And then, eventually, the joy was louder than the grind.

I figure it also helps to enjoy more than just the work itself, but to really revel in making fun decisions. That means the colors are getting crazy:

My dad seemed really disappointed that I was painting the dinghy the same color again. "You could paint it any color! The SAME?" Ok, Dad. I'll go orange.

And the results are pretty rad:

Dinghy painting

What are your projects this spring? How are they coming?

Winter Projects: Splicing Wire Rope

Colin splicing wire rope. #rigging #sailing #cruising #diy #boats

The time has come to replace the standing rigging on Mimi Rose. As Colin practices splices, we come upon this great quote. Brion Toss has a way of writing that adds levity to difficult tasks around the boat, and his words about fairing out a bumpy splice are pretty darn funny. From The Rigger’s Apprentice:

It is difficult to describe in print exactly how hard one should strike to fair different-sized wires, but the matter is important, so as an aid I will tell you a little story. A sailmaker and I once had a loft on the top floor of City Hall in Anacortes, Washington. Ours was the only unrenovated room in the old building–below, city employees typed and filed away in carpeted, fluorescent-lit comfort. Trying to work quietly, I discovered how little muscle was actually needed to fair a splice. Since gentleness is a good thing for wire, imagine, as you fair, a nest of bureaucrats below. For wire up to 5/16 inch in diameter, the noise will not bother them at all; pounding 3/8-inch wire is noticeable but reasonable; 7/16-inch can be tolerated anytime except first thing Monday morning; 1/2-inch should be done only during lunch or after hours; and 5/8-inch and up will drop plaster into the typewriters, so should be done in the parking lot.


Women Who Sail and Why We Work

WWS Members are from EVERYWHERE!

The WWS Interactive Map- One Pin Equals One Member!

I’m a member of a closed group on Facebook that plays a big role for me when it comes to sailing and living aboard. I was invited by my friend Sophi who has lived aboard for a few years now, and she was really excited to add me to the ranks of the amazing group of women known as “Women Who Sail.” When I was added, we were at about 700 members. As of now we’ve busted on through to 1185 members and counting.

The conversation is enlightening, detailed, technical, supportive, and inspiring. I can’t get enough of these people. I really feel as though they’re friends, and we meet up with each other in the real world when our paths cross.

What makes the group special is perhaps the spectrum of its participants. We are old and young; we are new and experienced. We are single-handers out on our own and timid sideline sitters whose partners carry the bulk of the boat tasks. Many well-known bloggers and book writers are among our ranks. Lin Pardey chimes in from time to time, as she’s a member, too.

A good number of the members are at the dream stage of the boating/cruising life, however, many conversations are driven by women live aboard in remote places and have many nautical miles under their belts. I’m in awe of them, I respect them, and they respect me.

As we add new members, most give an introductory post about themselves and comment on how refreshing it is to discuss boat matters in a forum and format so open and accepting. I think this says more about the environment outside of WWS than it does about us, and so for anyone who’s curious about what goes on in our little neck of the internet woods, I’m going to lay it out. Here’s why I think it works. I’m sharing this because I hope it inspires other people with like minds to build their own beautiful webs.

1. Our membership is vetted.

Not just by moderators, either. New folks who come to WWS are typically added after meeting in real life with people who are current members. Sophi is a friend from Portland, and she added me. I’ve invited women I met at potlucks and random anchorages all up and down the eastern seaboard of the US during my first trip on the ICW. This creates a membership that cares. There’s a real feeling that we have a stake in how great the group is and what its inherent value is. We all bring that to the group, not just any particular one of us.

2. Posts are monitored and discussion is moderated.

We have our moments where the moderators have had to remind people to curb their tone, but really, for being over 1000 people I’m going to boast that we’ve got some really peaceful, mindful, thoughtful folks here. I don’t think it’s because we’re women, I think it’s got something to do with the vetting AND with the clear guidelines about the purpose of the group. Some posts about electrical maintenance or ideal finishes for teak could potentially get heated. Ever read a post about the holy act of anchoring in other forums? I won’t name names, but I mean really, if you ask a question a certain way in certain places the sharks come out. I daresay WWS is proud to be shark-free.

3. Conversation flows freely from engine parts to lady parts, and it’s all good.

When it comes to living aboard, there are some serious questions from a broad swath of potential topics that most folks on a wide open forum would not be willing to post. I think that the fact that conversations float at the top of the page and then slowly sink down while new posts are created and discussed makes for fresh, lively back-and-forth banter, advice, and opinion.

Right now, just browsing the page quickly, our group is discussing internationally documented vessels and an anecdotal experience off the coast of California, optimizing a new iPad so the Active Captain app renders a chart properly, how to make your dinghy a little safer for your dog that loves to hang out right on the bow, and what we can do with beach trash if we’re in a remote place and want to do something about it. There have been many discussions about healthcare, remote family relationships, and how to report abusive partner behavior we see in anchorages. We’ve got this one conversation that has gone into the mental archives as the “bra rant.” We’ve got a handful woman who could solve pretty much ANY of your engine issues with just a couple of pictures and a description of the problem. Don’t even get me started about how crafty, creative, and self-sufficient these people are.

Other forums have big lists of topics and so many places to poke around and stick your head in, leave a comment, and then leave, maybe never to return. Facebook might have one up on the traditional forum approach when it comes to talking about big things that really matter, and that might be because the posts flow down from a spotlight position at the top of the page and they move down as things become resolved.

4. Like-minded individuals just might have the most productive conversations.

We’re all women and most of us live aboard or have dreams about living aboard. We’re coming in at a particular angle and have some pretty major things in common. Our politics, our backgrounds, our incomes and therefore our approach to cruising might be slightly different, but fundamentally, we’re coming at this with a lot to offer each other. For example, folks who daysail or go on short cruises have a very different opinions about using marinas or anchoring than we do- we have to anchor or this lifestyle isn’t possible for us, financially speaking. There are many kindreds in WWS.


So that’s about it. If you’re inspired to join Women Who Sail, please send a message- we’ll chat it up and I’ll see if I can get you in! Maybe you’re inspired to start a group of your own, you gents you, who seek to raise the level of conversation or who maybe want to stay in touch, easily, with people you meet or with acquaintances of acquaintances.

The Tally

Here are my classmates and all the great stuff we made! #diy #boat #canvaswork #woodenboat

Well, here we are. In the photo above you see various cushions, bags, handy tool holders, a dog bed, some repaired dodgers, and a couple o’ flags.

Not enough flags. DARNIT.

About midday today, even though I’m tired from a full week of focusing on this, I was really wishing we could have three more days of this class. I feel like I’ve only just started understanding all the mistakes I’ve been making with the machines so I can get more sewing done than fixing. Less ripped seams by the end of the week, less feelings of being out of control or that the sewing machine was going to eat my hand, or worse yet, eat my project. HA!

It’s one thing, and a good thing, to learn something on your own but classroom learning is the way for me. I envy the people who can read about knotwork and splicing rope and all that jazz who can learn straight from the book. That’s just not me. And like a lot of people who have been out of school for a while, I figured for a long time that if I couldn’t learn something on my own from a book, then maybe I just didn’t get it or wasn’t going to be good at it anyhow. I’ve changed my tune on that, thankfully.

I made canvas bags! #woodenboat #woodenboatschool #diy #salty

All in all I made a couple of salty-lookin’ canvas bags, a spirited pennant flag, a darn fancy cover for a flotation cushion, and I repaired the beat dodger, possibly giving it another season’s worth of oomph.

I also learned how to wield a seam-ripper like a champ, but then again, I’ve always said my epitaph will most likely be, “SHE WAS A GOOD SPORT.”

If you could take a class, what would it be?

WHAT HO! A Name Pennant!

Today's project I did at Woodenboat School- a pennant for the top of the mast! #sailing #boats #flags #diy

I have, in all seriousness, been thinking about making this one simple thing since about a year ago. A whole year of pulling in somewhere close to a boatyard and not even thinking of asking someone for some flag material and some insignia cloth. A whole year of excuses and procrastination, but I’m telling you, when I got the “MIMI” from MIMI ROSE onto this little shiny red thing that I sewed, I was in the corner of the sail loft, grinning at it. I was completely beaming right at this inanimate object.

I love flags and have a nice collection of them aboard. I love them because they invite conversation. Yacht club burgees say something about where you’re from or what you’re proud of. Our SSCA burgee says we’re proud to be a part of such a great organization and that we’d like to meet more members. Letter flags, spelling the name of a guest aboard, makes them feel so special. At the new year I hoisted up the four flags needed to proclaim “2013.”

They’re a moving decoration, alive with motion and bright in color. They’re attention-grabbers, and I suppose their land-based counterpart would be a brightly colored front door that says, “HELLO! YES PLEASE, WE’D LIKE TO SEE YOU, COME ON BY!

And that’s what this hot little number is. I made this at Woodenboat School and am so proud of it. Read more about Woodenboat here.

Holy Carp, I Made Something

That’s right, I made a cushion cover. Our old one was beat, but we still had the foam part which floats just fine. I picked a couple of cheerful colors and BAM! Jaunty new cushion cover. Of course, these photos are like the “magic of television” type cooking shows from the 80s that would leave out all the bad trial runs and the mistakes and give you a beautiful reveal at the end that’ll leave you thinking it was real easy. It totally wasn’t. It took me the better part of two days’ class time, which is embarrassing to say, but only a little bit.

I made a cushion cover with piping and everything! The first thing I've ever sewn. #sewing #beginner #woodenboatschool #diy

I’m really new at all this, and I’m enjoying that squirming, uncomfortable feeling that you get when you’re learning something new. There’s danger in it. There’s wasted time and wasted material. There’s seam-ripping and surprise. There are multiple attempts. There are slow starts.

Some people who really hate learning don’t relish that discomfort, and that’s probably the only thing between them and that thing they’d really like to do. But think of the stuff that could hold you up from doing! (How to speak a new language, how to play a new instrument, how to bake that complicated cake, how to navigate a new city.)

If I have only a couple of talents, they are these two things: I enjoy the discomfort of newness and I enjoy the journey as much as I enjoy the place I’m trying to get to. Are those talents or attitudes? Well, I’d hate to think that anyone would willingly adopt an attitude that would make them miserable most of the time, so let’s call them talents. Talents that could be learned.

Here are some photos of the process and our great space, but just a few.

Working on my piping.

My zipper panel and the cushion top, ready to attach.

Oh man, that thin is ready to turn right side out so I can see the magic!

James working in "the pit" with the machine named "Robin." #sailing #sailloft #diy #woodenboatschool

John at his beautiful old machine, Ann in the background working on her beautiful flowery cushions.

Oh heck, it’s Woodenboat School. One more photo. Here’s a picture of a wooden boat on campus.

ELATER out of the water for the season. #woodenboat #beetlecat #catboat #sailing

In the Sail Loft

I’m at Woodenboat this week, learning about Canvaswork. I hope these musings about taking classes to learn skills so I can do DIY projects around the boat are helpful, or at least fun.

These beautiful machines are a means to an end, but are beautiful in and of themselves. The heavy industrial sewing machines at Center Harbor Sails are imposing, heavy things that at first pulled the sunbrella material from my hands with such force and speed that it was as though it knew better than I did what to do with the stuff and that it was yanking it from my control.

A sewing machine in the sail loft.

The attitude was from my imagination, but the force and speed is no joke. As I was working with some scrap pieces of fabric, I was mostly concentrating on very basic things like finding a good way of holding my hands or where the pressure of my foot on the pedal was just the right amount of speed for me to keep control. Meanwhile, I really feel like pretty much all of my classmates already have a grasp on all this jive turkey. For the first time in any classroom experience I’ve ever had, I’m feeling a little behind. Sweet. I suppose that makes the tuition feel well-spent.

Singer Sewing Machine logo

Logo from a Singer sewing machine in my class at Woodenboat School/Center Harbor Sails. #design #font #vintage

It’s the access to both my instructor and to the entirety of the sail loft that makes taking this class special for me, but also, any week-long intensive class is an opportunity to focus on something as though it were your job. Focus is the operative word there, because otherwise, I’d be dabbling around, screwing up my sewing machine trying to figure a lot of this stuff out were I left to my own devices.

Spike walking around on SHENANIGANZ, a pretty catboat at Woodenboat. No pun intended, seriously. #cat #woodenboat #sailing

As a local, I’m lucky. I can only imagine what these classes mean to people who are from away- the jaw-dropping beauty of the place, the amazing hospitality and food of the school, and the access to tools and people like I mentioned above are the trifecta that draws people back multiple times to take more classes.

Woodenboat School, the Sunday Intro Dinner


I’m taking a class at Woodenboat this week, and all of their classes start with a dinner on Sunday night. You meet your instructor and your classmates, you get a deluge of information about Brooklin and about the campus.

Oh, and you get a really kickin’ dinner.

The kitchen at the Woodenboat School always KILLS IT with their food. Tonight it was a choice of chowder or roasted tomato soup with salad. I had wasabi cucumber dressing on that. Then it was blueberry lemonade to drink and apple cake to round it all out. It’s like that every night of the week, too. Not fancy, but totally solid mainstays that are well-made and lovingly delivered. And there are always choices for vegetarians and gluten-sensitive types.

Normally I’m the sort of person who is ok with sitting with strangers, introducing myself, and whatnot. Today I decided to hang back in the room, to sit by myself, and to just take it all in while observing the other people in the room.

Eventually my instructor came in and chose to sit with me. A benefit of sitting alone, maybe? I should try that more often. It was nice to make chit chat about how we share the same first name, to let her in on what I wanted out of the class and where I’m coming from.

The class is Introduction to Canvasworking, and I’m in awe of the reputation this great lady has. It’ll be a good week, for sure, and I plan on sharing my projects and my experience with you throughout.

Salsa! Or, Alternatively: Abundance Demands Action


Here’s a potluck item or a nice little crafty gift for people you meet. At the end, I’ll get to what I was doing there with the packaging.

There’s a great farm stand in Oriental, NC that’s a good bike ride away, a 5 minute drive, or a very long walk. We had the luck of meeting someone at this cafe who offered us a ride to Paul’s Produce stand, and when we got there, we picked out a bunch of stuff and all of it was very fairly priced.

“See that box over there?” said, I presume, Paul himself when we brought our things to the counter to pay. “You can take the whole thing off my hands for a dollar.”

So we did, and when he tallied our bill up it came to $7.50. Whoa. We walked out of there with two huge bags of produce and this box, that was mostly made up of long-in-the-tooth tomatoes.

“Does that sound fair to ya?” Yeah Paul, TOTALLY.

Paul's Produce

SALSA. That’ll use these up. We wouldn’t eat them all in time if it was just the two of us cooking with them. We were in Oriental, where every day you meet new people, other boaters, cruisers who are now living on land… I had salsa ready for every social occasion, including a great time aboard s/v C:\[esc]. This recipe goes out to Ellen!

Now, just like all the other recipes on this blog, I’m laying this out like a roadmap, not a set of directions. You can double this or back off on some of the flavors. However, to get this to taste like what we shared in Oriental or what you’ve had at one of my Dia de los Muertos parties, then you need the first 5 ingredients on this list. The rest is variation and you don’t necessarily need it.

2 tomatoes, chopped (about 2 cups, yeah I know, tomatoes are all different sizes)

2 scallions, in nice small slices showing off their little ring shapes. Don’t just use the greens, cut right down into the whites where the flavor is. (Only have onions? COOL. Do a nice dice to 2-3 tbsp of them)

juice of 1 lime (No limes? Put a few dashes of apple cider vinegar or wine vinegar in there. about a tablespoon or so. Lime is key. If you think this should be more zesty, throw in more juice or vinegar. Too much? Balance it with the oil.)

salt to taste, start with a teaspoon

2-3 tablespoons of olive oil (count that? we’re to 5 ingredients. BAM, simple salsa.)

about 2 tbsp cilantro (more if you love it!)

1 finely diced jalapeño, or a few tablespoons of diced poblano or anaheim peppers, or a chipotle pepper from one of those little cans of chipotle

a clove of fresh garlic (If you do this, have it pickle with everything overnight so the garlic isn’t so pungent. Garlic powder is also pretty good if you’re in more of a rush. More garlic tips below.)

mango, pineapple, black beans, corn, or somesuch fancy thing chopped and added. Adjust your dressing (you know, your citrus and oil and salt) to cover this extra stuff. But yes, this is is one way you could make any salsa you’d like, really.

I don’t think I need to write directions here, because you just mix these things and put them in a bowl so you can proceed to delight your guests. Having it chill or pickle in its juices for a little while is nice but not necessary.

When I made this in Oriental, I made a batch with cilantro, then ran out of cilantro, so to get a nice distinctive flavor I took the couple tablespoons of oil that I’d be using and put it in a pan first. On a low and slow temperature, I added a couple of cloves of minced garlic to sweat into the oil, then when I went to dress the salsa with it, I poured the garlicky oil in there. Boom. Garlic salsa.

Jars to Leave as Gifts

Above in the picture you can see that I made some labels for jars of the stuff.

I collect a couple of things that makes this easy. I always have magazines on hand that have colorful photos in them so I can make tags or wrap small gifts (these came from a diving magazine) and I always have glass jars saved for all kinds of uses around the boat. I pick a page that I think will work, with some space in the photo that gives an opportunity to put words in, and I fold the paper and bend it around the jar to approximate the lines where I’ll have to cut so it fits around the jar. A bit of tape at one end, pull the strip of paper around and neatly tape the other end, then write on it. Write on it ahead of time and you might trim some of the lettering off.

If you don’t process the cans give your gift receivers a heads up that it’s fresh salsa and not for the cupboard. It should be eaten within a week.

Also, don’t process salsa that’s made from tomatoes like the discount ones we got. Canning and preserving should be done, always, with the freshest ingredients for the best results and for your health.

Salsa is easy, do play with the flavors. It’s just enough work and it’s so nice and fresh that it’s always received with a lot of joy. Mix and taste, add dashes of what you think might be missing, and make it your own.

Tell me where you take it, I’d love to hear your salsa tips!