By Barbara Garland
Pictures by Barbara, the Chadowitz's and the Hills
It would be easier to write this from "Whale's" prospective but the real feelings need to come from me. Right after Roger died, I figured I would never sail "Whale" again. I wasn't even sure I would go sailing at all again.
That's where the wonderful people of NE-TS came to the rescue. First was Bob (and Linda) - "come sail with us for a weekend on the Champlain Rendezvous" in 2003. Shortly after there was Ed telling me the "guest cabin" on his 26X was available for the Winnipesaukee rendezvous. Many invitations followed but by the time the Champlain rendezvous rolled around this year, I knew I needed to do something else.
Champlain 2004 was a conglomeration of many different boats over the 8 days and it was then that I announced that I had made plans for "Whale" to be checked over and I planned to put her in the water in RI for the rendezvous on July 30-Aug 1.
The plan to put "Whale" in the water started when plans kept changing for the Champlain 2004 Rendezvous. I almost put "Whale" behind the car and headed up there myself but decided, instead, to make an appointment to deal with the motor and trailer. That appointment was right after Champlain (mid July). That meant putting the boat behind the car and towing it - something I had never done. Then there were several other things I needed to do; install a rudder, replace a battery, pack the boat, make arrangements to leave the boat in RI. It all got done and I headed out late morning on Friday, July 30.
The boat trailered well behind the Escape. Over the weekend, people told me that people on the internet trailer sailing group had said a Mac 26C trailed well behind an Escape. Boy I wish I had known that before I headed out. I went around every corner reminding myself to take the corners wide. I don't remember much of the drive down Quonset Point - the emotions were right on the surface.
I arrived in RI at about 3pm and my crew, Tony (the Beep), didn't arrive till about 6:30. No problem. Mike and Roger were there - eager to meet "Whale" and willing to help me rig. There were many friends to talk to and new people to meet.
I expected everything to go smoothly but that was not the case.
Problem 1 - the new rudder - thoroughly tested, I thought, wouldn't go down. I needed to sign in at the boat yard and when I got back Mike had solved problem 1 - Thanks Mike.
Problem 2 - it appears the replaced battery didn't solve the power problem. Problem 2 wasn't solved but we lived with it. Only later did I find out the battery charger was on 6 volts not 12 volts when I tried to charge it. The result was probably discharging it.
Problem 3 - the Main halyard was tangled. Tony and I just joked that I needed practice docking and putting the mast up and down - and we needed to start further behind so we wouldn't be so far ahead. Problem 3 solved
Problem 4 - the biggest. The motor wasn't acting properly from the beginning of the weekend and Sunday afternoon as we were going back into the ramp it just decided it had had enough and refused to start. Solution - use my old sailing skills - dating back to when I was 13-18 and just sail the boat right through the mooring field and into the dock by the ramp. I must say that was the icing on the cake of a perfect (well almost perfect) weekend. I needed to reach back into my past sailing experiences and I found I could just do it. I had only docked the boat once (Saturday morning) under motor and here I was challenged to do it under sail - with the wind broad side to the dock and a piling at the end of the dock. Though there weren't loud cheers from the audience, I couldn't have felt more affirmed in my ability to sail.
The plan to sail "Whale" all of August didn't come to pass. Jack Chadowitz spent Saturday August 6 trying to fix the motor with no luck. He (with the help of Cheni and I) had diagnosed the problem to the point where we knew we needed to take the motor apart and replace another part. Sadly , I put the boat behind the car and took it home. It took me another weekend to get the motor fixed but it didn't matter. We had 2 rainy weekends - so no sailing. I had commitments the last weekend in August (sailing with Mike at the Boston Rendezvous) and Labor Day weekend with family.
September 10 arrived clear and bright. The weather report for the weekend was great. The boat was packed and I headed out. I made a quick stop in Wrentham to deliver a computer to my daughter and while heading down Rt. 495 it happened. First the left trailer tire started bouncing funny. I slowed down and it stopped. Then I looked at the right one and - oh no - it was going flat. I stopped and pulled out my Boat/US membership card. I called them and within 1 ½ hours I was back on the road again.
My favorite quote of the weekend was from Bob Ahler when I pulled into the ramp "Whale has arrived. Thar she blows!" Tony was there again - not as much because I needed him - but because his trailer was in need of repair and I offered to return the favor and take him along. I felt in command of the boat and all that involved.
As we left Wareham on Saturday morning I found IT - or I should say Tony did. After Roger died I had a fleeting thought about people who find gifts left after people died - things like a letter, a Christmas present wrapped and put away. That fleeting thought was put to rest with another thought - the one that told me Roger never wrote letters and surely didn't by presents. That's why it was so amazing when Tony found IT. IT was a GPS full of buoy for all over New England. (or at least Buzzards Bay and Narragansett Bay). We were heading out the channel and Tony turned on the GPS. I suggested he keep an eye on the buoys as we left because I wasn't familiar with the channel and missing one could be trouble. As he flipped through the screens, he mentioned I was right on course, he could see the buoys on the chart. I know Roger had heard Bill Brock's talk about adding data from the computer to the GPS, but didn't follow carefully what Rog had done over the winter. Obviously he had downloaded the data. The only way I was able to find his last gift was to be back out on "Whale" in unfamiliar territory - so I would want a GPS on. What a wonderful affirmation of where I was supposed to be.
Other than that, the sail from Wareham to Martha's Vineyard was uneventful and absolutely gorgeous. I/we basked in the warm September sun. The cloud formations were beautiful. I got pictures of Cleveland Ledge lighthouse.
I hoped to head out the following weekend for another sail but the weather, again, didn't cooperate. The weekend of September 24-26, however, was beautiful. I had talked to Jim, a friend from the past who loves sailing and said to me - if you ever need a crew just give me a call. I had called and set things up several times and then had to cancel because of weather.
But Friday the 24th looked good. We both headed out, planning to meet at Allen Harbor at 11am. I drove in 10 minutes early and it was obvious that the fog had just lifted. Jim arrived about 11:15, we rigged, and were under way by 11:45. Out on the bay there was a light east wind, and just outside the channel I handed Jim the tiller and raised the sails. Jim never left the tiller till we went to enter Potter Cove 6 hours later. The sea breeze kicked in about 15 minutes later and we were off to Newport. After watching the 12 meters race we headed to Potter Cove, arriving just as the sun set - 6:30 in late September.
We ate breakfast and were under way by 8:30. We headed South into an ever increasing southerly. Friday we were sailing with a Genoa. Saturday we started out with the little jib. We stopped in Newport long enough to reef the main. The 12 meters were out again, and Jim really enjoyed the sights in the area. We sailed all the way out to Beavertail Light - a 12 mile beat - and then down wind back to Allen Harbor.
You can stop reading here if you'd like. That's the end of the story but I need to add some thoughts for myself. I'm willing to share them with you, so read on if you want to hear them.
What have I learned as of October 15, 2004 -it's a year and a half since Roger died as I write this:
First of all I loved sailing through life together with him. That's written on the tombstone that was place in the ground last week at a burial service.
Second, and more important for me now, I loved sailing through life BEFORE Roger was even there. Jim was part of that sailing life before Roger and also part of that life as Roger came into it.
I have to say over the last 1 1/2 years there have been many people to help and support me. The road to transitioning ones life from a married person (especially 24/7 together) to an independent single person has been hard.
I have a great group of sailing friends. I keep saying that, but you all need to know that each one of you has played an important part in getting me back into a boat. This year on Champlain, sailing with different people, I got onto boats and people had faith that I knew more than they did. I answered questions, took up the challenge when Don suggested that I/we were not as fast as he,