What comes next: the plans between

There has been a lot of activity around here, most of it mental. I’ve been presented with challenges, signs from on high, and options. Signs from on high? Oh yes. Since the totaling of my Islander, two powerboats have since dragged anchor and nearly hit me, thankfully both times I was on my boat.

In the first incident, the yacht was at least 60 feet long, (probably worth a few million dollars, I’d guess), and the owners were not on board. I didn’t see the name on the boat. I yanked up my anchor, shoved off the MV (leaving two sets of my muddy handprints on their port side) then went into dock, where I cursed. Jerry, a perfect stranger who helped me tie the dock lines, was courteous enough to listen to me rant about powerboaters. He’s a fellow sailor and listened with a grin. The owners of the runaway power yacht went back to their boat that evening, hours after it had come loose and nearly hit me, to “reset” their anchor. It’s my deepest hope that, once they returned to their home port, someone pointed to my muddy handprints and the morons figured out what happened. If you saw the massive power yacht with my handprints on it, please comment or send me a message, and let the idiots know their negligence almost took out my boat.

The second occurrence happened over Labor Day weekend. I watched the MV Awesome* make its slow and disastrous progress across the bay, its owners on shore and clueless that their boat had lost its grip. It hit at least one visiting sailboat before finally being stopped by a police boat. Since it seems many boat owners are unable to anchor their boats properly, I kept looking around me and my vessel, checking for other offenders. It was then that I saw the MV Here’s To Ya* in front of me, coming closer to my boat. It almost hit the SV Arctic Loon before heading toward me. I was on deck pulling up my rode when the owners of Here’s To Ya came to their boat to move it.

Three incidents in six weeks. Needless to say, I do not feel safe aboard my boat, and I think the universe is telling me to get out of it. When I talk of the above to boaters who’ve been in the game for years, they’re all in awe, which tells me being hit and then almost hit twice thereafter in a short period is not normal.

In the midst of the above, I’ve been boat shopping, and even put an offer on a beautiful Union 36. The sight of the teaky, stout boat awakened in me a desire to sail to the South Pacific, a desire I didn’t know was there. With all the cash I had plus a loan, my offer was a few grand short, so I was declined. No boat I’ve seen since has measured up to the Union, nor the sailing adventures or brightwork maintenance it would have provided me.

Perceptions

Because I didn’t get to cruise as much as I would’ve liked this summer, it sometimes feels that I’ve lived on the boat from winter to winter. Living on a boat has perks: summer. In Washington, the sun is precious but shy and seeks refuge behind clouds after being out for a few days at a time. In winter we rarely see it, and must remind ourselves that the glowing orb is there, just hibernating. Had I been out all summer, anchoring different places, basking in the sun, winter would’ve been relaxing. Alas, it is now looming over me like the giant wet cloud that it is.

And then there’s the unsettling part: what if I can’t find a new boat by winter? I’m not going to drop anymore money into my Islander. Because a woman’s home is a huge part of her–why most women style their home to their needs and tastes–so Libby is a reflection of me. Tarping her last winter to keep the rain out of the cabin hurt. In winter she was an ugly boat, and I felt ugly with her. Logical? Of course not, but true nevertheless. I must vacate the boat as soon as possible. I cannot jump from one boat I no longer want into another one I do not want.

I have one thing right now that many don’t: cash from the settlement, giving me options. Could I buy another boat? Yes. Could I then sell the Islander, or part it out, and add to the fund? That’s the plan. Can I move back to shore? Yep. Could I relocate to North Dakota and get in on the massive oil boom? I thought about it, until thinking of all the snow. Brrrrr. Could I move to Hawaii? Heck yes, but I don’t think Riley would approve, and we’re inseparable.

It’s been a balancing act. Despite what I write here, a place I try to keep as happy as possible (the boat incident being a hiccup), I have stressors too. They’re of the regular variety, but the feelings are real, no matter how common they might be. My boat being hit made my life issues feel larger, and amplified my emotions of loss and displacement more than I thought it would.

Pre-boat being hit, I had at least one thing to rely upon: home. Someplace whole, dry, comfortable. A place where I could relax, unwind, sleep, eat, and all that. Post-boat being hit, the boat is no longer whole, it’s just another stressor.

I’m eager to move past this, and I’m tired of dealing with it (and writing about it! You must be tired of reading it, right?). Because there have been two near misses after the ramming, I no longer feel safe on the boat at anchor, nor welcomed in the bay. Bringing the boat into port for winter, while more convenient, also signals the onset of a long, wet winter after a not-so-fun summer.

Therefore I have decided to heck with it–I need a break, I need to be able to go to a home that is whole, dry, secure, a place where I can feel safe and comfortable. Where that is, I’m not sure. I know, though, that for the winter of 2012 and into early 2013, it probably won’t be aboard a boat. I must get out of the live aboard lifestyle for this winter. Will I return for spring? Not sure. I’m keeping my options open, but it is entirely possible.

Future sailing

I’m not giving up sailing! My plan for the immediate future is to crew, crew, crew. I’ll be logging hours, learning the ins and outs of navigation, perhaps taking a few classes about engines, though this is lower on the list. I’d like to think that at some point I’d go out for my USCG captain’s license, but that’s not a high priority right now, either, just something I’ll prepare for, should I want to get it later. It’ll be great to learn tricks, to rack up nautical miles, to foster new friendships. I’m interested in racing and daysailing. I can learn about other boats, how they move and perform. I love sailing, and I want more of it.

Regards crewing, I feel I must make a special and personal note here. I’m interested in crewing for the above reasons, but I am not seeking romantic liaisons. Yes, I am single but I’m not interested in romantic relationships with men over a certain age. No, I’m not saying that if you’re past you’re mid-thirties that you’re ancient and you should contact a lawyer to complete your final will and testament, then go shopping for walkers. I’ve always said that age is a state of mind, anyway. For me it’s a generational thing, it’s wanting the same things from life, and being in similar emotional and maturity phases. A man in his forties is in a different place, and wants different things than I, a woman who’s 28. Simple as that.

Future living

My plans are fluid right now, which is both scary and exciting. I’m sure that I must do something different, and not fall back into something I’ve done before. I’m not sure where I will live, but what I hope to do for winter is to care for a vacant home, one whose owners are wintering in warmer climates: house-sitting. Because I’ve never done it before. Ideally I would like to stay in an apartment above a garage, or mother-in-law house on the property, a place of my own that isn’t subject to a locked-in lease agreement (because my plans are so fluid, I don’t want to buy property), and watch over it. Since I’m good with horses, I also have the option of watching over ranches, boarding facilities and the like. If that doesn’t pan out…well, I have to have faith that something else will.

Future writing

For sure, though, I’ll be investing in myself, spending as much time as possible working towards the largest goal that I have any control over: my career as a writer. How this takes form, I’m still not certain. Having funds will give Jaden Baker the cash infusion it never had but always wanted and needed. I’m still in the research stage of this plan, but eager to get it going. I’m now combing my way through the novel and will probably be releasing a second edition, one that is clean of errors. And while giving Jaden his much deserved professional promotion, I will hopefully be penning novel number two, or at least planning for it.

Adventure takes many forms. Living aboard has been a great one, but I’m being told by the powers at be that the aboard-a-boat chapter is temporarily over, and a new one awaits. Life aboard was a short stint, and I wasn’t ready to give it up–I desperately wanted the Union 36 (for I have great, expensive taste), but perhaps it being denied to me was a blessing. My path may lead me back to life aboard, I’m not sure. And who knows, perhaps it’s not over at all. Facing the unknown is difficult for someone like me, for I love to plan. But really, we just don’t know what life will throw at us. Life threw something at me, and I’m going to do my best to turn it into a flying cupcake, and not a brick. It’s that darn silver lining everyone blabs on about. Lights and tunnels, turning the long, winding corner. I’m anxious to see just how the ramming of my boat will lead me to my next adventure, and I wonder every day if I’ll be able to connect the dots looking back and say, “Ah, now I see.”

 

* Why did I mention the names of the offending boats? Was it rude of me? Answer: because they got too close. Childish answer: they were rude first. For the owners of the boats, I’ve also done a bit of research, for when they next decide to take a boating trip. If you know of the boaters (or different boaters who have trouble anchoring), send them to this link about anchoring.

Second note: In the two occasions mentioned at the opening of the post, the boats were powerboats. Sailboats pull up anchor, too, though, as I wrote about in Windy Tales. So far, a sailboat has not dragged anchor on top of me. I have been hit by a sailboat while docked, which I discussed in Hodge Podge. Negligence can cause so much damage to other people’s property. We all make mistakes, to be sure, but in an age where information is a click away, there sometimes is little to no excuse.




'What comes next: the plans between' have 6 comments

  1. September 11, 2012 @ 5:12 pm The Cambrians

    Courtney,

    Sorry to see that you won’t be around the docks this winter (not that we will, lol). But glad to learn that you managed to navigate your way through the insurance claim successfully.

    Just a couple of things … some of our dear friends have their sailboat insured with Boat US and were hit by another boat during 70 knot winds in Mexico. The bowsprit came within inches of Mike as he helmed the boat trying to keep it on its anchor and the owner had the nerve to deny it was him the next morning. Long story short, Boat US stepped in and took care of everything for them very quickly … even overpaying for damaged solar panels. And as far as power boaters go, I know you’ve had a bad experience or two, but they’re not all bad people (and sailboats drag too! Our friends were nearly hit the other day while the owners were lounging by the lake. Lucky for them, Jeff managed to raft their boats together and saved them from going on the rocks).

    As upset as you are about what happened, it was an accident. A very unfortunate, inconvenient accident. I’m not going to go into details here or anywhere else but, yes, I do know what you’re going through because we’ve been through much, much, much worse. As you pointed out, this is your blog and your deal but as someone who’s made the water their home for eleven years, it helps not to paint everyone with the same brush. We’re not all the same, nor are we meant to be. D and I have met some exceptional people in our travels and, believe it or not, many of them are on launches.

    Good luck to you and whatever you decided to do.

    Reply

    • September 11, 2012 @ 5:50 pm Courtney

      I don’t think I ever said that what happened to my boat was done on purpose, but it was the result of negligence, and because it was my home and I didn’t have anywhere else to go, I had to treat it with urgency, which the insurance company didn’t seem to understand until I got a lawyer involved. I’m glad that BoatUS served your friends well. I’ve heard from other folks who are insured by BoatUS and have had no issues filing claims on their own boat. All I know was my experience, and how I reacted to it got it resolved in three weeks, rather than being dragged out. I simply couldn’t afford to let things happen at a snail’s pace.

      As for power boaters, I know plenty of nice ones as well, and I’ve also seen sailboats drag anchor, which I blogged about last September. In fact, Jonathan went to rescue one, just as a sea plane came in to land, fairly close to him. I made the comment in that blog post that I wished I had snacks. So far no sailboat has dragged on top of me. If they had, I would’ve pointed it out! I believe I said that a lot of boaters don’t know what they’re doing, I didn’t isolate power boaters as the only people who didn’t know. Isn’t the golden rule of cruising “Never assume other boaters know what they’re doing”? Heck, in June I ran aground! We all make mistakes, but some put other people’s property at risk. I’ve seen a few sailboats come way too close to me, but so far I haven’t been hit by one this summer (though one did hit me while I was docked for winter, and I blogged about that as well). Most stories, whether mine or someone else’s, are about things going wrong. Can you imagine the news programs beginning with “Today, all planes made it to their destinations. No cruise liners ran aground, no oil was spilled by tankers. No one famous has died.”

      I’m not painting everyone with the same brush, so I’m not sure where you see that happening in this blog? I’ve met a lot of great people, and a lot of great people have contacted and helped me through this (which I’ve also acknowledged). As for powerboats vs. sailboats, that’s part of our tribal instincts, one that marketers have exploited over the years (Mac vs. PC). It’s the same with horses: english vs. western riding, and can be seen throughout any sort of passion or hobby. Ringers vs. Pottheads vs. Twihards. Dead tree books vs. ereaders. People who live aboard vs. people who live on land aka “landlubbers”… Too many to list. We all have our teams and our tribes. Over on Cruising Anarchy there’s a friendly debate/discussion about tillers vs. wheels! Dr. Suess’s The Butter Battle Book, though an allegory of an arm’s race, deals with this phenomenon a bit.

      Reply

      • September 12, 2012 @ 2:32 pm The Cambrians

        Glad to hear that you don’t paint every one with the same brush. I’m sure understand the confusion … or not. Regardless, good luck to you and we hope that any future experiences you have on the water are more positive.

        Reply

  2. September 12, 2012 @ 9:40 am What comes next: the plans between | Courtney Kirchoff

    […] comes next: the plans between Posted on September 11, 2012 by […]

    Reply

  3. September 12, 2012 @ 1:06 pm Michael

    Hi Courtney –

    You probably already know this, but I’ll say it anyway in case you don’t…

    Back when I was closer to your age (ie much younger…) I found that one of the best ways to get lots of crew time in on a variety of sailboats was to just show up at a race skippers meeting with sailing gear in hand. Most boats have a hard time getting all their regular crew to show up for every race and are thrilled to pick you up, especially if you have any experience at all. I found a ride on a boat that way, often having skippers sort of arguing over who got you for their boat.

    I also found the best some of the best sailing and learning to be the longer winter races like the Southern Sound Series. Highly recommended and a lot of fun. They’re long enough that race strategy includes tide and current issues more so than the shorter races. I never did do Swiftsure, but I understand it’s awesome. Some of the guys from our boat did the SanFrancisco-Maui race and had a blast. I still kick myself for not going along on that one.

    Young and single is a great time to do lots of racing and cruising – travel around and do as many as you can in as many different places as you can.

    Sorry to hear about your misadventures in Liberty Bay! Good luck going forward and finding a place to drop anchor for the winter so to speak.

    Michael

    Reply

  4. September 15, 2012 @ 12:20 pm Jerry Armstrong

    Courtney,

    That is the first time I believe I have ever been referred to as “perfect”. Even though it was as a “perfect stranger”.
    Thanks.

    Jerry

    Reply


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