Hello, and welcome to my blog. I’ve created this as a space for musings on low-budget sailing, DIY sailboat repair, and to follow the evolution of my sailboat, a Cape Dory 28 which needs rather a lot of work. I’ll be introducing her in my next post but I suppose I should start with a little about me, and what got me into this boat project.
Though not quite born at sea, my sister and I have lived on sailboats, on and off, since we were just a few months old. Until high school when we were no longer allowed to simply drop in and out of the school system a typical year would be spent six months in an old farmhouse in Maine and six months on Nada, the Ingrid 38 which my parents built in the 70’s from a bare hull.
As you might imagine, this led to some rather exciting childhood memories – catching barracuda, swimming with dolphins, riding out storms at sea. But what you’re probably not thinking about is all the time in between these exhilarating but rather short moments. Imagine, if you will, being an exuberant youth and having to spend months and months on a small boat with no one but your parents and mean older sister (or bratty little brother, I’m sure she would have said!) to hang out with. Then there’s getting seasick for a week or more at a time and going for months without meeting someone your age who shares a language. It’s a mixed bag, growing up on a boat. I didn’t hate it but I wasn’t exactly thrilled about it either and for quite a few years after we stopped these half-year trips I certainly didn’t miss them. I went to high school, enjoyed making friends and being able to hang out with them all year long and rarely sailed, or even thought about sailing.
photos: exciting and boring moments on Nada
But the sea has a certain pull to it, especially during long, cold winters and as my sister and I finished high school and moved onto college (and finally began to enjoy each other’s company) we started scheming about one day getting a sailboat of our own and heading south on it. It was mostly idle talk and then we somewhat unexpectedly moved to New Orleans together.
Now any port city is bound to have some beat-up old boats floating (or sinking) around, but in a city with more busted houses, cars, and streets than just about anywhere in the U.S. it’s not surprising that the same is true of boats. Even six years after Katrina New Orleans and Lake Ponchatrain are still inundated with broken boats, forgotten and slowly filling with rainwater. It’s not exactly the sunny, sandy eden most sailors are chasing but for someone looking for a boat with little money and equivalently low standards it’s just the right kind of port city.
,When I realized a few months in that I was surrounded by boats in various stages of disrepair I idly began checking online ads and walking the local docks. I was not even half serious about buying a boat but the more I looked the more time I spent thinking about boats and my half-baked idea rapidly became an obsession. Before long I was in a regular boat-buying frenzy until inside of a month later when I was roughly yanked back into my senses by the logistics of what I had gotten myself into. I was the somewhat surprised new owner of a 28′ sailboat. Which happened to be in Florida. Not really part of the original plan.
I’ll save that story with for my next post- an introduction to the boat I’m working on- and then with that out of the way we can get into the nuts and bolts of getting her shipshape. They’ll be some asides of course, mainly about about New Orlean’s wild sailing culture so I can keep things interesting for you when I’m stuck sanding, fairing and painting. I’ll be posting a couple times a week and hope to keep things entertainging and maybe even a little informative for those of you who like a side of DIY work with their sailing (or vice-versa, as it sometimes seems to be). At the very least, I can keep you from repeating my mistakes of which there have been too many already!
This article was syndicated from Safe At Harbour But Meant For The Sea: DIY Sailing with Paul Calder