I don’t typically write about men. If I do it’s about my dad and if not him than it is highly unlikely that eyes other than my own would have permission read it. I think readers come back to this blog to scroll through a few colorful pictures and get a good laugh at something that Katie and Jessie did wrong on a boat.
This blog has been a merry-go-round of few participants – a kook named Katie, a clever mutt named Reggie, a combat tanker named Louise, and myself (The girl who records the facts) The four of us went in circles for two years, literally playing the same playlist over and over again, starting and ending in the exact same place. Allow me to stray from the merry-go-round and its minions and shift gears to what it was like to be on a small boat …with a dude.
As you can imagine, being on a merry-go-round for two years was nothing shy of e x h a u s t i n g. When the carnival ride was over, I didn’t step foot on a sailboat for over a year and a half. Land’s creature comforts snuck in with incredible stealth and my feet became heavy with dirt. Undoubtably so, electricity and flushing toilets had stolen my heart right up until just weeks ago, when I dusted off the dirt and stepped foot on a sailboat again. But this time it was not with a kook named Katie.
It took a 6’2’’ British man named Luke who very much resembles Jude Law (or maybe just sounds like, I haven’t sorted that out yet, anyways let’s just call him Jude) to remind me that living on land is not all its cracked up to be. It’s too easy. A life at sea…should unquestionably be in my near future (I’m sorry mom). I met Jude last October at the Annapolis Boat show. Actually Katie will kick me if I don’t credit her for the first conversation between the two of us – which began at a bar over several tequila’s and it still hasn’t ended to this day. Clearly I was intrigued by the celebrity dopple-ganger and combined British accent but I was most intrigued to learn he holds a world speed record for sailing a 18 foot catamaran around Great Britain. Ha! Little did he know I hold the world record for who can sail the slowest around America. Let’s just say we have been chasing each other across the Atlantic ever since. Because dating the boy next door isn’t all it’s cracked up to be – it’s too easy.
This story takes place on the south coast of England. Hamble-le-rice to be exact. A quaint seaside town where at least 5000 sailboats alone are concentrated. If you are not a sailor, married to one, or work in the sailing industry, you probably don’t live there. This town defined the word nautical. There are a handful of reasons I ended up there about to board “Falcon” a 1971 28 foot Viking. That’s a lie. There was one reason. Jude.
“Falcon” is a cute little thing. Narrow in the waist, and her bow points in whatever direction the finish line is. Her cockpit sits low to the water generous in size. The large companionway leads you into a space opposite of large. With no standing room in Falcon’s cabin it felt similar to the interior of my Toyota Tacoma. I believed time and again I was small enough to stand fully upright but the cabin ceiling continued to prove me wrong. Jude’s torso was bent well past a 45 degree while navigating the cabin. Falcon has more miles under her belt than I even knew a belt could hold. Impressive for a 45 year old gal, her poise is right on par.
The forepeak held us horizontally just fine and I insisted on taking my side – the starboard side. The right side. The best side. Oddly enough I had missed sleeping in this awkward kind of space and found comfort in its shape. He definitely had some sorting out to do as far as his cushions, pillows, and sheets (or lack there of) but I didn’t care. I was intruding on his man-cave after all. Heads towards the bow and toes towards the stern was a new concept. I had always slept with my feet towards the bow and a dog to separate me and the kook. What can I say? Different circumstances call for different supine positioning.
The toilet (why do people always ignore this subject?) located right in the center of the forepeak, just below the cushions on which we slept was actually operating. I don’t know why its operation surprised me as the makings of a marine toilet are not very complex. I used the loo cautiously not because I was embarrassed but because my hollywood movie wouldn’t have ended very charmingly if I were to become an impromptu plumber…which has been known to happen in the past. And so I remained slightly constipated.
Jude is a racer. Everything about his life revolves around not just sailboats – but racing them. I can confidently say that his racing tactics overflow to every aspect of his life. From the moment he wakes up in the morning, to the moment he falls asleep at night, I am convinced he is racing but doesn’t even know it. Myself on the opposite spectrum, take my time in most things I do, especially while on a boat. Everything about my former boat life demanded more time – and so I started giving and taking more of it and applying that to all aspects of my life. Apparently I carry this with me today. Living on a boat forced me to slow down. It literally changed the pace that I eat a sandwich. Its doubled the time I take to form an opinion. Its tripled the time I take to make a decision. And this is where Jude and I differ. This is when he teaches me how to properly sail a boat and when I teach him how to stop and smell the roses.
F A C T : racing, and cruising – are completely different subjects.
race 1 (noun)
1 . Jude won the race: contest, competition, event, heat, trial(s). 2 . the race for naval domination: rivalry, contention; quest.
2 Jessie cruised past: drive slowly, drift; informal mosey, toodle. 2 . a cruise to the islands: boat trip, sea trip; voyage
When I was at the helm, Jude was down below taking fixes and old school navigating (while I was upstairs cheating with Navionics on my Iphone) he would relay to me the course which he wanted me to hold. Right. What he meant by that was, within a 2 or 3 degree error not a 10 or 20 degree error. I did my best to hold course and made sure he wasn’t looking when I was completely off. BUT being the racer that he is… he could feel every degree that I was off course because a tiny part of the sail would flap or make a noise and without looking at anything but me I received the “are you on course” question mark eyes or “nice job darling” heart emoji eyes. I continued to strive for the latter.
We spent three days cruising (I was cruising, he was racing) alongside England’s south coast and I certainly learned more sitting at the helm watching Jude hustle around the deck making constant adjustments to this and that, than any youtube video my dad has ever forwarded to my email. It was fascinating. What was second nature to him, was a lesson for me. Amidst my admiration, I knew my level of interest to make Falcon go 1 knot faster was minimal, but I admit to it sparking my interest. I could have cared less how fast we were going. Mostly because I enjoyed every minute of simply helming a boat again. Getting there faster was not on my mind. But it should have been because we were actually crunching minutes and miles to enter the Solent before the tide changed. If we did’t make it through in time, the venturi would have spit Falcon right back into the sea. Part of me that was okay with that option.
Jude hates engines. Sails are his engine. Sometimes I don’t fully appreciate the concept of a sailboat. I quite like engines as they are similar to my relationship with most men – they piss me off and I will relentlessly attempt to figure them out. I still firmly believe that if I stare at one for long enough I can fix it (works better with engines – not so good with men) His grin turned south when cranking over the engine where as mine turned north because its’ purr alone brought instant nostalgia. I went out of my way to make sure he saw that it was making Falcon go faster. Isn’t that what he wanted?
Having someone else, other than Katie, witness my strengths and weaknesses on a small boat made me re-think what they are… I think Jude would agree with me on this one:
Strength number one – to sit at the helm in silence and not give a damn where I am. My quietness is not to be mistaken with discontent. It is directly related to sorting out thoughts that I don’t have time to sort out in my normal life on dirt. Next comes putting on my cheekiest smile when it stars pouring rain and not bitching about it.
Weakness number one – sailing terminology. I was tempted to write down my personal sailing glossary so he and I could be on the same page. Like when he was setting us up for “wing on wing” all he had to say was “two dogs f&%$ing” I would have totally understood. Next comes the handling of fenders, lines, and of course relying on electronics.
Jude is completely tenacious. I don’t know what I am. I yam what I yam. A dreamer who has a lot of nightmares. But it didn’t take more than a few days to taste the boat life I once had. In comparison to my current life on land – one is not better or worse. Land and sea, similar to racing and cruising are two c o m p l e t e l y different subjects. It’s just a matter of figuring out which one you thrive in. Maybe there is a way to thrive in both? I think I need to become more tenacious.
Let me attempt to bring this full circle real quick because writing about Jude does indeed have a purpose. The difference in our boating experience, our motives, may be black and white. But it didn’t matter. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. We drank warm Budweiser, ate stale noodles from styrofoam cups, got caught in pissing down rain time and again, stuffed ourselves in the soggy dungeon to have picnics at anchor, sailed with the ripping tides, and found ourselves one mile shy of National Geographic caliber bolts of lightning. Not once did I feel uncomfortable, timid, worried nor did I feel I needed anything else other than what was right there. I a b s o l u t e l y loved it. Every little bit. I felt safe. Was I actually safe? I don’t know but safety is nothing but a matter of perspective anyhow. Jude even boiled me water for coffee before I got out of bed in the morning – Katie please take notes. I completely forgot about those assholes (electricity and plumbing) who had once stolen my heart. Didn’t miss them one bit. What had stolen my heart was the joys and ease of simplicity, and that, I missed madly.
P.S. If anyone wants high quality sails at a good price… I know a guy. H Y D E S A I L S.
I am back in Michigan gawking over the Wizard’s (my father’s) 1962 Pearson Invicta. At the end of this month, that kook named Katie, that clever mutt named Reggie, the Wizard’s 37 foot castle named Desiree, and myself (the girl who records the facts) will be sailing to Canada. For too short a moment, the band will be back together – I know, best news since Budweiser cans have been relabeled “America”. Hah. Stay tuned for that story and pray for us not to hit any rocks like the last time. If we do I will make sure you all hear about it and that the Wizard does not.
I should probably mention we hired a Morgan, and in it we toured Cornwall. Ahhhhhhhhh.