Sailors Helping Sailors

12/13, 63/55, cloudy, E10-15 - Another routine morning of cereal and dog walking followed by writing. I continued working on the 1x19 wire estimate for the Tartan TOCK; next will be the synthetic option for comparison. Meanwhile, Dobbs practiced using the sextant to take sun sights to calculate local noon and our latitude.

Patiently waiting for the clouds to clear and estimating the horizon.

Patiently waiting for the clouds to clear and estimating the horizon.

At 1pm, we met with our first Hilton Head client, J. of an Island Packet 31, for a basic rigging inspection. J. was a pleasure to work for - she was actively interested in learning more about her boat and rigging and sailing in general, and asked great questions. That we are able to answer them is why we’re constantly pushing ourselves to have new experiences and learn more. Yachtsmanship is a skill passed from person-to-person. No book will teach us as much as two knowledgeable hands showing us how to move our own.

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I’m still sailing because, in 2004, at a time when I was ready to give up from fear and frustration, a friend invited me out to race Sunfish, got on a boat with me, and worked her hands and body with mine until I gained confidence. Then she went to sit on the beach and let me feel the joy of sailing alone - the tug of the sheet in one hand and the tiller in the other as the little boat skimmed along under my control - and my whole being was rejuvenated. Later that day, I flipped that same borrowed Sunfish - planted it hard, mast-down in the sand, which until that moment was my greatest fear in sailing (heeling too far - I know I’m not alone here). A support boat came over and helped me right my craft, and I eagerly climbed back aboard and took off sailing again.

That’s me with the neon pink clew, racing in the 2012 Harker’s Island Regatta - 2nd Place in “Beater” Class!  Photo credit: My Own Bloody Yacht Club

That’s me with the neon pink clew, racing in the 2012 Harker’s Island Regatta - 2nd Place in “Beater” Class! Photo credit: My Own Bloody Yacht Club

Dobbs had a similar experience - in 1998/1999, working together and separately, we’d gotten our Venture 22 all the way to the Upper Keys from Port Deposit, MD (on her own keel), but we were running very low on money, and our outboard was acting up, and we hadn’t really had much in the way of good sailing. Dobbs was prepared to “just get the boat home” and write our adventure off as a life experience and lesson learned - this sort of thing wasn’t for him. One morning in Hollywood, he was rowing around looking for a public landing and spied a man at a private dock working on his Dickerson ketch. The man said Dobbs could tie up right there, at his home, and they got to talking. Later on, Dobbs taught this fellow how to juggle and the fellow shared his love of roller blading (and gear) with us. We became fast friends, and I think that R. could sense that we hadn’t had the adventure we were hoping for, and R. knew it was out there. After I left to drive back up the coast to my apartment in PA (I ended up taking 3 jobs to keep us solvent), R. whisked Dobbs away on his Dickerson ketch for a whirlwind sailing tour of the Keys (R. generously funded the entire expedition). Dobbs got to navigate and steer and sail; in fact, they left Hollywood around 11pm at night, so he had his first real experience night sailing. They arrived in Marathon the following afternoon (and went to Dockside for dinner, then a late night tour of the harbor on the water taxi) and then on to Key West the next morning. R. introduced Dobbs to Captain Tony’s, Blue Heaven, Sloppy Joe’s, Mallory Square, and Pepe’s. Dobbs called me from Key West with a spirit renewed and ready to tackle the sailing lifestyle head-on. They sailed the Dickerson home to Hollywood and Dobbs started on the long trek of bringing “Whimsey” north to Maryland, with a different perspective and new skills - instead of perhaps the last voyage for our Venture 22, the trip home was the beginning of many years of great sailing.

A Dickerson 37 Center Cockpit Ketch.  Photo credit: SailboatData.com

A Dickerson 37 Center Cockpit Ketch. Photo credit: SailboatData.com

A chilly sail on “Whimsey”, our 1971 Venture 22.

A chilly sail on “Whimsey”, our 1971 Venture 22.

We each have the power to reach out to a fellow sailor when we see they need some help in an area where we have experience - Don’t hesitate! It could change that person’s life, or at least let them know that they’re not alone in facing the challenges of seamanship.

The days have been warmer and there’s a bit more activity on the docks. Our live-aboard neighbor has been fishing for sea trout, red drum, and stone crab claws. For us, tonight’s dinner was the left-over fettucine alfredo with fresh ham, onions, garlic, and peas (from dried). It’s 8:30pm and we are ready for bed. Murph may or may not get an evening walk, depending on if the rain holds off.