M o n t r e a l

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MONTREAL  // MAY 14

We ate and drank our way through Montreal. My mother, sister and I. The city was alive. Cultured. Historic. Flavorful. Our taste buds navigated the streets. I didn’t want to ever lose my appetite. I didn’t want them to leave. I thought I was looking forward to a few days alone. I’ve changed my mind. Let’s stay here and eat and drink, and learn French – forever.

ROYAL ST. LAWRENCE YACHT CLUB 

They are gone. Everyone is gone. I viciously chew my fingernails. I sit alone indian style mid-ship. My back against the starboard hull, eyes darting bow to stern, floor boards to deck, and again. Alone on this boat for the first time this month. The cabin feels spacious, almost too big. The callouses wear away. Ruminating. Raw. Sensitive. Soft. I can finally feel. Even a little bit more than I’d prefer. Sailing does the oddest of things. Processing the last 1100 miles. Where did everyone go? Come back and distract me from my self.

I continue to chew my fingernails until I pry them out of my mouth and place them on the keyboard. This requires a vice grip. And glue. Up and down they argue until the glue secures them to the keyboard.

Luke arrives in 4 days. Now I wait. How in the world did I arrive ahead of schedule? I have a long list of projects to do before he arrives. But today I will do nothing. Absolutely nothing. Maybe jot down some more choppy sentences. Recognize all the things I haven’t been able to. My mind shifts to the next leg of the trip. The part where Luke and I try to sail across an ocean. I’ve only made it 1/4 of the way without him. The other 3/4 is Luke and Jess on a boat . com. He is our new main character.

I do a lot of one-sided writing. Which is all I really know how to do. People might feel like they know me. Might be able to relate. They might wish I used more commas instead of periods. They might wish I wrote less introspection and more statistics and logistics.  But I can’t speak for other people. I can’t summarize my crew’s experience. I like full stops better than half stops.  I can’t speak in numbers. So before I start writing about Luke without his discretion, I want to tell you a few things about the protagonist before he arrives. He is a great story, a fascinating human, and the very reason my  world has shifted.

Luke Alexander Yeates. Also referred to as Jude Law.

He is English. He is tall.  He is a sailor. He is a racer. He is a helmsman. He is a tactician. He is a navigator. He is a weatherman. He is a boat-builder. He is live-aboard. He is precise. He is thorough. He is sarcastic. He is a rule-follower. Sometimes he breaks the rules. He is a risk taker. He is a salesman. He is a deal closer. He is ambitious. He is tenacious. He doesn’t believe in sympathy. He is a history buff. He is wikipedia. He expresses opinion purely to get a reaction. He is inventive. He loves to try new things. He is well traveled. His passport is full. He listens to BBC every morning. He is a minimalist. He lives very simply. He is an older brother. He pretends to be cold-hearted. He’s not. He is cold-blooded. He is deeply in love with Jaguar XJ13. He splurges on Negroni’s. He can’t sit still. He needs to be reminded that it’s not always a race. He wants to sail around the world non-stop. He will sail around the world. We will sail around the world – and I will probably make him stop. He dreams of building  a sailing lobster boat. He sings a great sea shanty. He has two left feet. He is not shy. He is motivated by all the right things. He is a chef. He is a teacher. He is creative. He does not get embarrassed. He writes me letters. He has a way with words. He is my biggest motivator. And at the end of the day I am convinced I am the only human who has ever had the pleasure of knowing his sweet and sensitive side. That side is a secret which I will keep.

Six months ago this was an implausible idea – sailing across an ocean. A year and 7 months ago we didn’t even know each other. To take what was once an idea and move hastily forward into action – we’ve had to learn together, to rely on, to trust and to believe in the other. Everything we are about to discover about each other good or bad, by the time we make it to the other side… will be our greatest reward. I can’t promise it’s going to be pretty. But it will be one hell of a story.

We have pushed and shoved the itineraries and safeties of our daily lives…to be completely self-reliant together…to be in the middle of a roaring sea together…to be ugly and exhausted together…to be our worst selves… to be our best selves…to experience emergencies together… to see that many stars together… call me a romantic, call me mental – that’s fine. I have never been more exhilarated about anything in my entire life.

Four days couldn’t come sooner. Our tandem existence has revolved around count-downs. This countdown feels like my hand is in the shredder. Hurry up Luke. I don’t have any fingernails left.

The Royal St. Lawrence Yacht Club has welcomed me this week. I have acquired a new family. The employees and the members have offered their assistance time and again if needed. I will be sad to say goodbye. Anyone transiting the St. Lawrence Seaway needs to stop here for some fish & chips, fancy showers, and a fantastic community of sailors. I would be happy here if this were the final destination.

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Where is everyone?

Mom-17

May 7 // 1 0 0 0  I s l a n d s //  “Anchored snugly in a beautiful quiet spot amidst multiple islands. I am loving Navionics, which makes cruising so much easier. Jessie and I have switched roles. She is the mom. She is in charge. I like it ” – Claire. My mother.

May 8 // Departing 1 0 0 0  I s l a n d s // The olive oil has congealed. Snowflakes rest on my Gill gear. The lines wrap stiffly around the winches. The northerly air sears the side of my face. I ice skate on the frosty deck to hoist the anchor. My nostrils are smokestacks.

I knew leaving this early in the spring was questionable. I knew it would be brutal. I knew it wouldn’t be a joy ride. I’ve always been a believer in having control over my attitude in awful conditions, and do trust greatly that bitching is a waste of energy. Don’t get me wrong – I do bitch. I bitch most often in the form of writing but very little in the physical presence of other humans

It’s snowing. Not just a little bit. It’s actually snowing. When it began to fall this morning it looked like specs of glitter. We motor through Islands, mansions, cottages, all appearing to be unoccupied. It’s beautiful.  For a moment I think to myself how amazing this is – cruising the St. Lawrence River in the snow. There is absolutely no one. Just us.

The wind picks up out the North. Glitter morphs into wet bullets. We have over 30 miles to go and my enthusiasm turns to panic. That moment I had with the remote islands, mansions, and glitter is history. I am wondering what the hell we are doing out here.

Where is everyone?

MAY 9 // En route to C h r y s l e r  P a r k // The river is flooded. Cabins look like they are floating. Trees, branches, and pieces of dock float down-bound alongside us. Marinas are closed. When we phone ahead  to find out if any docks can accommodate us – voices are weary. This is the highest anyone has ever seen the river.

 I am inside warming up while mom is at the helm. The current is moving us swiftly. An easy two knots accelerate our progress. Rain instead of snow today. When cold days stack on top of each other I find there is only way to distract myself from the situation. Taylor Swift. By default it is her album I turn up loudly.  I look up to see my mom swimming in her multiple layers of foul weather gear, but it’s more than just a swim. She is dancing. She is smiling. She is getting rained on. All by herself. She looks so happy. I can’t help but think to myself – w o w – there she is, a prime example of how to shift your mind in unpleasant situations. I must have learned this from her. I am instantly proud of her. Proud to be hers. I join her in the cockpit for a Taylor Swift dance and we float on down the river on auto-pilot in the rain. I am not cold anymore.

Where is everyone?

May 10 // En route to C o r n w a l l // We slept like babies who were given sips of whiskey. Borderline comatose. This morning we took turns taking hot showers in the marina. By the time I was done with mine, mom had banana walnut pancakes prepared. Role change again. She is the mom. I am the daughter.

The river is glassy today. Everything mirrors the surface. Double Desirée. Double clouds. Double birds. Double ships. Double me. Again, no one is around. Just us, the cormorants, and the swallows floating on a surface of mercury.

Mom is nervous about the locks because she has never been through one. As we drift up to the cement wall painted with colors scraped off  large ships, she wraps a line around the floating bollard. We begin to go down. Down. Down. Down we go. Looking up at the colossal cement chamber surrounding us, her eyes widen. Here we are at the bottom of a water elevator, sinking deeply into its’ engineering. The leaky gates open. We are released back onto the mercury river. Mom isn’t a “lock virgin” anymore. Her confidence is immediately restored.

MAY 11 // En Route to V a l l e y f i e l d  // I like rivers. I like locks. I like shoreline. I like the birds. I like the houses. I like the floating debris. I like talking to ships. I like waving to fisherman. I like watching the clouds pass from one tree line to the next. I like not knowing whats around the next corner. I like seeking the next buoy. I like that they lead you to oceans. But I am scared of the ocean. It’s not that far ahead of me. I wish this river would take me all the way to England.

May 12 // En Route to M o n t r e a l // Sitting at the helm eating cookies, unsure how else I should spend this time. Driving in circles, being ignored by the Valleyfield bridge operator.

Forty minutes later we are acknowledged by the bridge man, who grants us special permission to pass under the next two bridges, and through two locks. They do not technically open to pleasure craft until tomorrow. I was supposed to be given permission by the seaway ahead of time to pass through – but like the bridge man – they never responded to me. We are only the second sailboat to transit the seaway this season. Where is everyone?

The bridge opens. We stop traffic. We pass under and thank the bridge man for making an exception. We arrive at the next bridge and wait. I eat more cookies. Do a few push-ups. Forty minutes later a ship comes roaring by and the second bridge opens. The ship ignores my call. The bridge ignores my call. We follow in his wake. We arrive at the first lock. Tie up to a floating dock. I eat another cookie. Do a few dips. Mom calls the lock master. We wait. An hour and  half later, two ships have locked through and we get the green light. It’s out turn.

We lock down. Motor through a canal 1/2 a mile long, and pass another up-bound ship. The ship is from Holland. The men wave. We wave back. They wave again. And so do we. This goes on until we are out of sight. I imagine what it was like to cross the ocean on that ship. I imagine what it will be like to cross in Desirée.

We lock down again. The gate opens.

I CAN SEE MONTREAL! The city skyline… It’s right there in front of us.

I REPEAT : I CAN SEE MONTREAL ! I would like another cookie please.

WE MADE IT TO MONTREAL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There everyone is. 

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Spice Girls

Leg 2-39

In 18 days I have had 3 sets of crew and together we have traveled 902.69 nautical miles, averaging 64 miles a day at 6.1 knots.

14 of those days were traveling, 4 of them down days for weather and maintenance.

A fraction of Lake Michigan, and the whole of Huron, Erie, Welland Canal and Ontario are complete. I am pleased to say they are behind us now.

We have made it to the gateway of the St. Lawrence seaway ahead of schedule. I repeat – ahead of schedule. Unheard of.

 

We arrived in Kingston, Ontario at 7 am after 128 mile overnight from Whitby, Ontario. That day, I couldn’t even muster up the energy to stand up, to eat, to drink water, until 5pm. It had all caught up to me. The Lakes. The wind. The rain. The unbearable temperatures. The tight quarters. The change of diet. The lack of sleep. The sense of responsibility. The maintenance. The heightened awareness. The constant anxiety of making the right decision. The friends. And maybe some of the beers. All of it caught up with me. I was defeated.

This was however, exactly what I wanted. This was what I signed up for. I paid money for this. And when I was hit with total exhaustion I thought – Hell yes. Just let me sleep for a second. I’ll be ready again. I promise. Just let me rest.

This is only the beginning.

The perfect person showed up that evening. My mother.

Leg 2-16

My co-captain and celebrity guest Katie Smith, AKA Katie Girl, flew all the back from California to help me sail through Lake Erie and the Welland Canal. Two of my other closest friends signed up to be cold, wet and miserable with us. One whom I’ve known since kindergarten Olivia, AKA O- Dawg, found herself as a very creative chef, a galley genius to say the least. One of my other bestest from college Erica, AKA E-Money, researched and delivered the history of each landmark we passed and expressed genuine interest in life aboard.

Leg 2-14

We wove through hundreds of fisherman and a handful of ships southbound on the Detroit River. I do guarantee we were the only sailboat with a chock-full of women in the cockpit listening to the Spice Girls. I was bound for England after all, figured if I knew some classic English pop by the time I got there the locals would accept me. We spiced our way to the mouth of Lake Erie.

O-dawg and E$ both got sea-sick on day one. Bless their little hearts they toughed it out and learned how to avoid it there-after.

We sailed into Put-In Bay and docked in an empty marina where there was no one to greet us, or charge us any fees. What is known as one of the hottest party spots in Ohio,  was shut down aside from one bar. I considered it my bachelorette party.

A lovely gentlemen by the name of Jake Byers welcomed us into his local yacht club in Cleveland, with a slip and cold beers waiting. Thank you so much Jake, for your hospitality.

Our first overnight sail was 138 miles to the entrance of the Welland Canal. The girls did awesome while I hid my nerves, which I tend to do well. Katie and I helmed through the night. For hours we had a consistent 35 knots of apparent wind at our back, gusting to 40, in the pitch black. Wooo baby.  Focused. On a mission. I was so tense I could barely move my neck and shoulders the next morning.

Waited a day and half in Port Colborne to lock through the Welland Canal. At 17:30 we hear a knock on the hull – it was time to go. Canal traffic called for us and two other pleasure craft to lock through together. The canal is 28 miles long, with 8 locks that drop you 326 feet into Lake Ontario. It was almost a perfect night time operation. Until we waited for 2 hours for an unbound ship to pass, when of course, I couldn’t start the engine. There was a problem with the starter. Traffic control requested we get towed through the last lock and to a safe place to tie for the night. The sailboat in front of us kindly towed us through, and released us near a cement wall to tie up. It was not the most graceful pass off – but it worked. The following day we sorted out the problem. The starter was dangling from it’s bolts. One of which was stripped.

My Spice Girls hopped off in St. Catharines. But not Katie. Katie booked a later flight so she could stay on for 5 more days. When we sailed overnight and found ourselves keeled over laughing and exhausted at sunrise, I realized I needed her. Who else could make me laugh that hard when I am cold, tired, and nervous? God we laughed so hard. About absolutely nothing. My abs hurt.

Leg 2-18

In 18 days I’ve begun to learn most everything I was hoping.

I’ve learned and am still learning the boat. How 18,000 pounds moves through the water. How to get her perfectly balanced. How to maneuver in small spaces (still scared of reverse) I am learning to adjust my course depending on where she wants to go not where I want to go. I am learning her systems, from plumbing, to electrical, to mechanics. I have been forced to dabble in each subject.

I am falling deeply in love with Desirée. I feel proud of her.

I am feeling self sufficient. Feeling self reliant. Feeling resourceful. Feeling well prepared.

I toggle between thoughts ” I’ve come a long way. I think I actually know some shit.” and  “Who in the world do I think I am? This is not wise.”  It’s constant. I sit right in the middle. Which could be a good place to be sitting. On the edge of my seat at all times, even in my sleep.

I’ve needed to build confidence before Luke is on board. I’ve needed to know that this is something I can handle on my own if anything were to happen to him. I’ve needed to feel like a captain, not a passenger. I’ve needed the time to be scared and not able to ask for help. I’ve needed the time to make tough calls. I’ve needed to be so cold that 50 degrees felt like summer. It’s working. I have a long way to go. But it’s working.

My mother and I will cruise the next leg. 163 miles, 7 locks and a favoring current. Montreal here I come.

See you soon Luke : )

We are looking to have 6 sails shipped to a reliable address and contact in Montreal, if anyone has any suggestions or could help us with this please contact Luke or I ! Jesszevalkink@gmail.com // luke.yeates@hydesails.co.uk

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“It’s just a lake”

APRIL 22 // 2017

It’s been 6 days since I have showered. Not really bothered about it. In fact I smell Fantastic. Literally. I’ve been spraying myself with Fantastic.

What’s been worse is that it’s taken 6 days for the sun to shine. When the temperatures rise above 40F, sunshine feels like god. Today sunshine is god. It is Earth Day after all. I could go on and on about how cold it’s been this week…let me rephrase – how arctic it’s been this week. I don’t care for anyone to worry about or sympathize for the crew and me, so I will spare you the weather details because it’s boring and that’s what people talk about in elevators. I will say it once and be done with it… from frosty decks to snow flurries and 20 knot winds out of the north I am happy to be alive today. Happy to get a few freckles. Happy to gain a few wrinkles. Wrinkle me up, make me a raisin. And when I am older, leathered, and decorated with cavernous wrinkles – I will remember today.

Monday morning, April 17 we waved Northport goodbye. Jason Thibedeau my (right hand sailor), Cody Brown the (deck bitch), and Mallori Sheets our (galley dude) courageously on board as team-mates until we reach Detroit. Each of us hyper, myself in particular with red-bull wings. I don’t know if my crew understood what this week was going to be like. I don’t know if I understood either. Together we would figure it out.

“It’s just a lake” as my fiancée Luke likes to say, purposefully angering us Great Lakers. I stood there at the helm, Northport got smaller and smaller and I thought to myself “It’s just a lake. It’s just a lake. It’s just a lake.”

For seven days, three humans looked to me for answers, for direction, and to make good decisions. I’ve never been a captain before. Only a co-captiain. The hazards that go along with sailing through the Great Lakes in the middle of April begin with 37 degree water temps, freezing nights, arctic and unpredictable winds, harbors that have yet to be dredged, buoys and markers that have yet to be placed. My crew was trusting me. I was trusting Desirée.

I have felt heavily weighted with responsibility this week. To keep the boat safe. To keep the crew safe. To make smart decisions. To understand my experience level and stay within those regions. I’ve exited those regions a few times this week merely because there is nothing sensible about sailing the Great Lakes this time of year. I’ve kept my chin up, been a bit ambitious, a bit exhausted and am grateful for the three people keeping my morale high and to have push-up, dip, and plank competitions with me just to stay warm. Did you know that the world record for holding plank is 8 hours and 1 minute? Seriously. Two minute plank in a rocking cockpit and I thought I was going to die.

I didn’t cry when we waved goodbye. Which I kind of expected to. I can be such a child in that way. Not ashamed. Okay, Mallori may have caught me glassy eyed. But I will admit to crying the day before, Sunday afternoon the 16th. It was unexpected. The Wizard was helping me rig up the mizzen. He knew it was our last day together for some time. He was calm. Giving me diligent direction and walking me through yet another hourly lesson. All of the work, all the time, the money, the persistence… it extracted a puddle of water from somewhere unknown in my body and shoved it out of my eyes. I just couldn’t believe what he had done to make this happen for Luke and me. I couldn’t believe he was letting me take his boat. His Desirée. I lost it. I thanked him. I told him I loved him. I wiped my eyes dry. And that was it. We carried on rigging the mizzen boom.

Day one :  Covered 65 miles with light headwind and anchored off of St. Helena island just west of the Mackinac Bridge.

Day two :  Woke up to hoist the anchor in 25 degree temps and frosty decks. Took Jason and myself to get the anchor on deck while we ice skated on deck. Tacked into 20 knot head winds and 5 foot waves while passing under the Mac bridge. Called it quits after 25 miles of hell because the weather continued to build. Docked in Cheboygan.

Day three : Ran downwind 96 miles to Alpena. Trying to cover 96 miles in daylight was a questionable maneuver. Huge rollers and 20 knot wind at our back was humbling. A few accidental jibes, and a handful of engine issues as it continued to shut off. To say I was nervous every minute of that day is an understatement. We prepared to dock under sail just after sunset, but decided to bleed the fuel lines one last time, got her fired up and she stayed on.

Day four : Waited out nasty weather in Alpena Marina. Heavy sleet and 30 knot winds all day.  Bled a bunch more air from the fuel lines. Went on a mad mission to top off water and diesel tanks. Found a bar to self medicate. Befriended Aplena Locals.

Day five : Made a run to Port Austin, 65 miles and across Saginaw bay. Bitter cold. Never warmed up despite desperate attempt to exercise in cockpit. Beam reaching all day, Desireé was happily balanced. The auto-pilot, whom I have yet to name drove us the entire way.

Day six : Today. 85 mile run to the mouth of St. Clair River. The sun shines. Wind is at our back. Wing on wing (two dogs f&$i*g as Katie and I used to call it)  Everyone has energy. Mallori prepared us a full pancake, egg, and bacon breakfast. Cody is dancing on the bow with a cocktail. Jason is basking in the sun. I can’t sit still. I am feeling wildly motivated. Motivated enough to write a few things down for the first time this week. I’m warm. I mounted our super sexy B&G chart plotter and geeked out over first use of the AIS when we saw ships.

It already requires focus to piece the days together. It took one week to remember what it means to simply exist on a boat. Only a handful of things matter. Food, water, shelter and Luke’s favorite quote, “Take care of the boat and the boat will take care of you”. He is right. His little obnoxious comments sit on my shoulder as if he himself is sitting there. Which must be the case cause my shoulders are sore and I don’t know why. I am sad he is not able to be here for this epic delivery to the sea and I know he is too. All of this is for him. Because of him. For us.

The crew and I have found our rhythm. Jason sweats positivity. He breathes gratitude. He understands sailing. Together we discuss scenarios and situations. He helms with confidence. Cody became a sailor for the first time this week. He holds a course like a boss. When he is not busy being the easiest going guy I have ever known, he shocks us all with a wild dance move. Mallori and I became sisters this week. She took over the galley. Prepped meals, and cooked in shitty conditions. She is the cutest button who flew all the way back from California to be freezing cold with me.

I am really proud of everyone. I don’t want them to leave.

Satisfied from the inside out.

My next crew arrives Monday in Detroit… AKA the Spice Girl crew (starring Katie Smith)

Next leg – Lake Erie & Welland Canal.

It’s just a lake. It’s just a lake. It’s just a lake.

On the edge of my seat and paying attention at all times.

One eye is always open.

I can’t believe I am where I am. Doing what I am doing. Going where I am going.

P.S. Just because the following photos depict rainbows and butterflies doesn’t mean that it is always butterflies and rainbows. But every once and a while – it is.

T e e t h S h a t t e r i n g

lifesuit-6

MARCH 25 // NIGHTMARE

I hear an earsplitting “pop” inside my starboard side molar. I can’t see anything. I reach into my mouth to feel what just exploded and my molar has shattered. I feel around to collect the slivers of tooth swimming through my saliva when my port side molar shatters. I hang my head, cup my hands under my mouth and my entire set of chompers explodes, one tooth after another. Thousands of tiny pieces pile into my hands and overflow onto the floor. I have no teeth. The lights come on. I look at my ceiling sprawled with charts of the North Atlantic.

Good morning Jessie.

My nightmares are in full swing. In conversation I portray confidence. On social media I portray bravery. In daylight I portray proficiency. Should have been an actress. But when it’s dark and no one is around the pressure builds exponentialy. And all of the sudden k a b o o m it all explodes in my mouth. Shattering my teeth. N i g h t  t e r r o r s  s u c k.

MARCH 30 // THIS WEEKS LIST

Solve the worlds problems . Re- run halyard through mast . Chain plate investigation . Finalize crew .  Measure battens . Flake sails . Bleed fuel . Mount solar panel . Instal inner forestay . Put track back on foredeck . Stop drinking Monster . Instal Hydrovane . Ignore Luke’s socks on floor . Find correct alternator belt . Check all rig dimensions . Find radar reflector . Instal mast fitting . Remove all the gunky messes I made . Blog this week . Instal U-bolt fitting . Paint the bottom . Stop making so many trips to the hardware store . Draw a seacock map . Create a bumper for steering quadrant . Polyester hull at new seacock . Buff. Buff some more . Wax . Wax on . Wax off . Polish . Sand . Varnish . Sand . Varnish . Repeat 8x . Stop cleaning up the Wizards’ and Lukes’ messes . Just let it be . Make smaller goals .

APRIL 4 // BYE LUKE

Luke flew home today. Back to England. Back to HydeSails office. Our time slipped away as if I sprayed it with WD-40. I had a borderline panic attack morning of departure.  This is not our first rodeo, we say farewell every month. But this time around, I lost it at the thought of having to start this voyage without him. Before he arrived last month I was convinced I had this all under control. By the time he flew out I was convinced I couldn’t do it without him. My teeth just about shattered for the second time. See you in Montreal love.

APRIL 6 // SPLASH

We launched the boat today. As the truck backed Desireé down the ramp and into Lake Michigan I was beside myself. Crazed. The arctic air blew down from Canada, stirring up tomorrows predicted blizzard. And there we were – splashing a boat into the last of the ice melt. Like crazy people. Were crazy.

APRIIL 7 // MIND-SHIFT

Desireé.  She is floating. Water drips one drop every ten seconds from the seacock in the bathroom sink. Water falls a baby sized waterfall at the engine water intake valve.  Looks like we have some leaks to fix. Rest assured, the Wizard is a fantastic plumber and I’m not a horrible apprentice.

Lake Michigan is more beautiful today than I have ever seen in my entire life. Could be a simple change of perspective. Could be the fact that I am having a complete mind-shift into living and breathing water and weather. It’s 50 feet deep and I can see the bottom with clarity. It’s jaw dropping.

Wizard’s on the helm. He looks like a kid. He is happy. I am happy. I make a promise to him inside my head that Luke and I will do everything in our power to take care of Desireé to the best of our ability.

I start the next list. We have so much to do. I don’t have time to be scared. Right now – I am incredibly excited.

APRIL 9 // FINAL WEEK

Solve the world’s problems . Complete plumbing . Re-wire alternator. Fix battery charger . Collect medical kit . Order engine spares . Edson pump on a board rebuild kit . Order inflatable kayak . Pick up battens . Re-arm life jackets . NMEA2000 starter kit . Make a tool box . Fit 3rd reef on boom . Glow plug / starter switch instal . Connect VHF / AIS . Mast head light connection . Instal stern light . Leaky sink . Calm down stop panicking .   Reef lines . Rig mizzen . Balance rig . Mount propane tanks . Mount generator . Find a home for life-raft . Store books / charts . Put together ditch bag . Set up Delorme Inreach . Register EPIRB . Download charts for B&G plotter . Sand . Varnish . Silicone all leaks . Oil cockpit teak . Fill water tanks . Fill diesel . Talk with crew . Provision . Try saying the F word less .

APRIL 10 // HAIL

It hailed big style today. Shit.

APRIL 15 // I DON’T KNOW

Today. Right now. I don’t know what to say. Hard to sum up the past two weeks. Still attempting to sail out of here Monday morning. I should probably not be typing. I should probably be packing. However I have had handfuls of lovely humans stop by the marina this week to wish me luck, to tell me they will be following along. I want to thank those of you for that. I have had a few of my closest friends drive far out of their way just to come lend their time and helping hands. I have a father who has been working day and night to make this happen. I have a mother who despite her worries has taken on a handful of responsibilities with a smile on her face. I have a brilliant sister who is busy being a professor but always finds time to check in with me. I have another half who might be all the way over in England but who talks me through every project, who can answer all of my questions, and who trusts me to make all of these things happen, all in a British accent.

Okay. I am off for now. Thank you for following along. Please contact me if you have ties to any marinas, yacht clubs, docks, mooring balls, anchorages etc. We will be passing through Lake Huron, Detroit river, Lake St. Claire, Lake Erie, Welland Canal, Lake Ontario, and the St. Lawrence Seaway… Montreal, Quebec city. Any connections help !

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SO MUCH LOVE TO B&G MARINE  BOB & JODY @ CRUISING OUTPOST YEATES @ HYDESAILS  ADAM @ EDSON  ANDY MOLESTA & FAMILY . KATIE ARIEL SMITH .  ANNA SHRIFT. MICHELE GRANTHAM. ASHLEY BUSH. MOLLY THOMASMA . TOM & DEB BECKER . DAN STEFFEE . SAM CARTER . GILL NA . FELICIA KAS .

 

 

 

HOW DO YOU AFFORD IT ?

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Hi everyone. I have endless updates for you about the current status of S/V Desiree, my number one sailor / tactician Luke Yeates…my mechanic / plumber / electrician / wizard father…my seamstress / logistics manager mother and how we have all been working together.

Trying to sail out of here on Easter. That’s in one week. It’s okay, I never remember when Easter is either.

I’ve been busy. My entire life has shifted.

I am a boat slave. Tomboy. Dirty finger-nailed and and borderline dreadlocked. Sometimes I want to wear pink to make up for it. I don’t even like pink. Then I realize I just pondered wearing pink so I open a Budweiser to make up for the pink thoughts. I drink it fast.

If you wouldn’t mind exercising a “wee bit” of patience I will follow up this post with details on boat prep, our itinerary, and of course some relationship dynamics because that’s my favorite.

But today is Sunday and it’s beautiful out and I have a very long list of projects to complete. I have something else for you instead.

A podcast by great guy named Teddy who interviews young sailors all around the world to find out how exactly they can afford to sail away. A lot of people wonder this about me and if they don’t ask are quick to assume what might not be true. We touch base on how it all began… how I saved, budgeted, and created flexibility in my life to be able to do these weird kinds of things.

Grab a cup of joe… or two or three. Have a great day.

SAIL-LOOT // HOW DID YOU AFFORD IT ?

P.S. Desiree is in the water. She floats (with minor leaks). She sails (exceptionally). She shines (after 3 days of buffing and waxing) She self-steers (Penny, the sexy Hyrovane) She purrs (after countless hours of bleeding air from fuel lines)

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46 days and trying not to count…

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SINCE LAST TIME WE SPOKE :

I am running up walls and doing back flips like Jackie Chan. Electrified.  I’m ready.

I am sweating in the panic room like Jody Foster. Paralyzed. I am not ready.

I’ve spent the last two and a half years saving without knowing what I was saving for. This is it. My savings is being hacked away at to put it lightly – for those of you who have had something to loan it is oh-so-deeply appreciated.

Can’t thank those of you enough who reached out with items to sell or pass along, your enthusiasm is felt from all corners and it is outstanding.

We are checking off the list. The never ending list. When we check off one thing we seem to find yet another thing in need of checking. Trying to break this cycle. Keep it simple. Keep it simple. Keep it simple. How many people have crossed oceans with  n o t h i n g  but a hull? A lot.

Knee deep in mud studying with no teacher. Head just above water in projects I can’t do on my own. Swimming in a sea of emails. Trying to understand my priorities even when they differ from others.

I know this feeling. This feeling of “never being ready”. I tell myself what I have so easily been telling everybody else for the last 5 years, “You will never feel ready, you just have to go.”…. thanks Jess easier said than done.

I am officially taking the St. Lawrence Seaway out to the Atlantic. Learning as much as I can about it. Please email me with any first hand advice on traveling this water-way in the month of May. Anchoring? Licenses required? Currents/tide? Ice bergs in the Gulf of St. Lawrence? South coast of Newfoundland? St. John?  TELL ME EVERYTHING.

It’s March today. 46 days until my goal departure date. It’s a full on northern Michigan white-out today. Fuck. The boat is an hours drive from home in a storage unit. The Wizard (dad) and I are commuting often as possible to complete projects. Pardon my fuck this afternoon I am just in no mood to be censoring.

The only time the Wizard ever says the “F” word is when we are working on the boat. It brings me great joy when it slips. Just in case you were curious.

If all goes to plan Katie Girl will be making a guest appearance as we sail this ole yawl out of the Great Lakes next month. She always raises my moral in the crappiest and coldest of “shit-uations”. I know you all miss her, cause I do too.

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CURRENT SITUATIONS :

The engine has been rebuilt. After many struggles we lowered it back into the kitchen where it hides under a secret door and rests. In theory lowering an engine back into it’s compartment is a simple task. All I have to say is that nothing is a simple task on a sailboat. 

One step forward. Two steps back. Everytime.

The engine is not running yet. In fact the alternator and spacer to connect the transmission to the propeller is missing somewhere in our garage. Big problem. However it’s freshly painted and looks brand new and I just want to kiss it.

VHF & Seatalk instruments also missing somewhere on our property. How could this be you ask?!?!  I  l i t e r a l l y  do not know. Probably because our property would qualify for the next episode of “Hoarders”.  Another big problem.

A new head is being installed. No more stinky bladder from the 70’s. Surprised I just used the word “head” that was very nautical of me.

Luke is drawing plans and will be installing an inner-forestay as soon as he is state-side. Not to mention 37 other projects he is taking on while working a full-time job. Thanks babe.

Set of bullet proof  Hyde Sails are currently being manufactured in Philippines.

We are rebuilding the entire steering system. Edson Marine you rock.

I’ve purchased a HYDROVANE. Bye bye savings and hello to what I think is going to be the greatest investment I’ve ever made. I’ve already named her – Penny. We haven’t met yet, but I am already having conversations with her.

We have locked down a SWITLIK  life-raft god forbid we need to use it.

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QUESTIONS :

Having trouble finding valuble information on the Gulf of St. Lawrence… Ice bergs, tides, trade winds, anchorages, shipping, fog, etc. If you or anyone you know has sailed the St. Lawrence out to the Atlantic, I would love to hear from you. Anyone have charts?

We will have a Delorme InReach, and possibly an Iridium-Go as well. Advice on  communication and receiving weather with either of these devices would be helpful.

Anyone have a Hydrovane? Just tell me how much you love it please cause I already sent the check.

Still in search of an appropriate medical kit / contacts who might be of assistance or have any loaner kits.

Does anyone have a drogue appropriately sized for a 37′ yawl ?!

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SIDE NOTES :

Desireé is currently in a yard sale state. Bit and bits (so english) tossed everywhere. Clutter is my claustrophobia. I put on my blinders every time I go out to the boat and focus on exactly what we need to work on that day.

Luke will be here in two weeks. I didn’t think I was needy. I am getting needy. And right now – I need him.

Doing my very best to live this romance novel on international engagement but I am stuck on an extensive chapter about boats. Since deciding to cross an ocean together one would think we were business partners, not lovers. I remind us to take breaks in this chapter and turn back to the romantic pages because I am complicated and seek a scientific balance that has not yet been discovered. That being said – we do make damn good business partners.

The more I expose this experience to the world wide inter-web, the more difficult I find it to write. When I think about the people who may be reading I question every sentence. I do my best to just type to a screen. To nobody. To outer space.

I am understanding the power of a simple blog. How it has connected me in unimaginable ways. It’s wild. 

Every night I lay down I think to myself – there is no way we can pull this off in the next month and a half.

Every morning I wake up I think to myself – we have every means, every ingredient, to pull this off in the next month and a half.

So here I am. Doing backflips up walls and then sweating in my panic room. Just trying to sail across an ocean.

Okay. Thank you. That’s all. Bye now.

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