I’ve never been a very lucky person. Most of my life has been a succession of sometimes poor decisions and the resultant consequences, sometimes good decisions and I didn’t even see how well I was doing. I think with age comes a certain outlook, a sense of what truly matters in a world with a never ending onslaught of commercial abundance. Every day we are bombarded with promises of a better existence through this product or that, a cure for any ailment with some oil or pill. All for $19.95 or less. “But wait, there’s more! Call now and double your order!“ I can’t believe people fall for that crap. (Does anyone remember the Ronco pocket fisherman?)
But sometimes you just get lucky. It’s the only way I can explain what has transpired in my life over the last few months, starting with quitting my driving career. Almost 17 years on the road, approximately 1,600,000 miles of driving, and I just walked away. I reached the breaking point on a Monday morning while leaving the state for a trip to Georgia. Something had been brewing in my mind for some time, a nagging thought pushing through from my subconscious. “If you don’t get out of this truck you are going to die!”
No it was not some precognitive image, some knowing of an event before it happens. It was the simple understanding of a lifestyle that was going to kill me from a lack of exercise. A sedentary existence that caused me to gain to much weight without the chance to work it off. I gained 40 lbs over just a few years and it just kept going. My endurance was gone and every joint ached constantly. I should own stock in Advil as It would have paid me back by now.
So here I am almost 6 month’s later. Was it the right choice? ABSOLUTELY!!! I have lost over 30 lbs and 5 inches off my waist! One more inch and I will be wearing the same size jeans as high school! My stamina is close to what it was in my 30’s and I just feel great. With one exception, my hands. They hurt alot now and the strength is not as it used to be. Everyday tasks are more difficult and the dexterity is not there. I sometimes drop things for no reason yet I push on and hope they catch up. It will be hard to sail a boat alone with weak hands. Oh yeah, here comes the lucky part!
As I wrote last time I took a job on a ranch here in Maine. The owner of this ranch is the same man I drove for when I quit driving a tractor trailer. He was OK with it and after I took a few weeks off to finish my Jeep and vacation a little he hired me as a sort of ranch hand, mister fix-it, do whatever kind of guy. For a couple months I lived in my Jeep by a pond on the property and thoroughly enjoyed the respite from the outside world. With the Covid 19 lockdown raging I took solace and refuge in the woods only venturing out for supplies once a week or so. This time only reinforced my seclusional personality, amplifying my want for solitude in nature. I must say my stress level is so low as to be nonexistent. I’m happy for the first time in years.
But as fate would have it, that draw of the sea, that niggly urge to set out on a grand adventure just would not go away. Even though I had all but given up on a sailboat due to the costs, that pull was as fierce as it had ever been. I decided I should not give up on my dream but do whatever it takes to reach that goal. If it meant going back in a truck for a few more years to make the money I was going to do it.
Sadly, due to my mother passing away, I have nothing to hold me to this state so I told the ranch owner of my plans and asked to go back in a truck. He agreed but I could hear and feel the disappointment in his voice. I saw no other way to achieve my goal. A few days went by and my boss asked to talk to me. He said he had a proposition for me. (Ready for lucky?) He said that if I was willing to stay on the ranch for 2 years he would help me get a boat by providing me with a decent salary and free housing. And that’s just what he did.
This little cabin is just what I saw in my mind when I thought of a cabin in the Maine woods. Nestled into the surrounding forest with a footprint on the land just big enough to provide a small lawn, to me it’s the quintessential camp in Maine. Just like the rest of this ranch I am completely “off the grid” with no connection to any outside service such as power or water. This camp has it’s own well and septic, a large generator for power and propane provides the heat and cooking gas. Living here is one more check off my bucket list.
So here I will stay for at least the next 2 years, and I feel content. And so I began a search for a boat that would take me anywhere, a safe haven in the storm of life. How long will it take? About a week! I started searching the usual sites, Yachtworld, Boat Trader, Boats.com etc with no luck so I tried Craigslist here in Maine. Many inexpensive production boats of limited quality but few gems I could afford. But wait! No way! One of my dream boats, but no price. I took a chance and called.
Under that plastic is a Pacific Seacraft Orion 27. These boats are well known as stout, ocean crossing boats capable of sailing anywhere on the globe, and several have circumnavigated. They may be small, considered “Pocket Cruisers”, but the advantage is ease of handling by one person. With a protected rudder, full keel with a cutaway they will track well and heave to easily. For those not in the know, that means they can handle a big storm at sea and keep you safe, if you know what you are doing of course.
This boat was owned by a couple that sailed the coastal waters of Maine as well as trips to Florida. Many years of sailing up and down the Sheepscot River left lasting memories with their children who inherited this boat when they passed away. Between sitting in a barn and on the lawn in shrinkwrap, this boat has not seen the water in over 20 years!
The children were asking $15,000 for this boat. When I looked online the cheapest Orion I could find was $27,000 and the most expensive was $65,000. What a deal!!! Sold!!!
As I unwrapped her after moving her to my temporary home in the woods, I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of satisfaction knowing I had a boat capable of delivering my dream, as long as I can refit her. My initial inspection under the wrap showed no signs of serious problems, so I was thrilled to see it in the sunlight. It was better than I had hoped! No paint job needed…check! That’s $5000.00 or more saved!
As for the interior, no major damage or water intrusion. All the wood was in great shape needing only a little sanding and varnish, but check out the 80’s fabric! The plaid has got to go!
The starboard side has the galley and the nav station, something unusual in a boat this size.
That’s an Origo 6000 stove and oven that runs on alcohol. Much safer than propane on a boat but it burns at a lower temperature. So it will take an extra minute to make coffee, so what. My goal is to have a safe and simple boat and that leads to less cost to refit and to maintain.
The head and v berth is also in good shape, albeit for a good cleaning. I’m sure the plumbing will need to be replaced but that is not a huge cost, just a pain as it is under the sole of the boat and hard to get to.
The area under the v berth will be converted into water storage and a chain locker to hold the heavy anchor chain low in the boat for better stability. The water tank will also act as a watertight bulkhead in case I ever do hit something hard enough to puncture the bow.
I’m sure I will find a few surprises as I start the work, a few ripples in the sea of hope, but I will not let them discourage me. I will be steadfast in my efforts to achieve this lofty goal and make the best of what luck has given me. I will accomplish something every weekend and hopefully in 2 years I will have a boat I can at least put in the water. I may not have all the electronics I will need for long passages by then, I may have to go back on the road for a year or so, but I will have the home of my dreams to come back to. Wish me continued luck!