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Old 14-06-2013, 16:57   #1
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Add Another Dreamer to The List

I wonder if we're all great dreamers, we who are drawn to the sea and sail.

My dream starts with my name, Meredith, Welsh for "guardian of the sea" or "great chief. I'm called "Mer" by those who love me, "Meri" by those close to me. I was almost "Emily Jane," but my father saved me and my mother chose well in her second try. I was born in Orlando, under a strong water sign.

My father's father loved the sea, was in the US Coast Guard during WWII, always had boats of one sort or another and lived in Florida. Regrettably, he was a drunk, so I never sailed with him, never knew anything of boats except for his never-completed houseboat that sat on stilts on Florida's Atlantic coast until after he died in his eighties.

But I grew up close enough to the sea to love it, visiting my grandparents regularly enough through my childhood to make it to the ocean or the Gulf at least once a year through my nineteenth year.

I've always lived close enough to some major body of water: Lake Lanier, in Georgia; the Ohio River, when in Cincinnati; Lake Ontario, while in Canada. I always loved watching sailboats from the shore, always loved walking around marinas, always thought of sailing "one day" - with never a hope of realizing that dream.

Until, one day, I met a man while serving at a local restaurant who was moving onto a sailboat in Hamilton Harbor. Instantly excited, I asked him all about it - and we became fast friends.

A year later, I visited his boat for the first time. It was love at first step - with the boat, not the man. We shared a couple of beers on deck and all I could think was how much I wanted to see below, wondered how it must feel to sleep on this gently-rocking creature.

Two weeks later, I learned. I brought dinner, a bottle of wine and a movie this time; we started with beers, drank the bottle of wine more quickly than we realized, sampled his impressive Scotch collection as we settled below for the film. My eyes roamed the warmly-golden interior of this sweet boat; I imagined taking her out, freeing her in the wind, of spending days and nights on this beauty. What a lucky man my friend was.

Not sober enough to drive - or walk - home on this chilly night, he settled me on a narrow berth with a sleeping bag and hopped onto his berth. I slept better than I had slept in years, better than I have in years since, waking early to the occasional ringing of steel on the mast in the gently-blowing wind. I was excited; this was bliss.

Everything changed, from that moment forward. My perception of the town changed, my life opened up suddenly, and I finally knew why I had never been at home in any apartment, in any house on land: My home was not on land; it was on the sea.

It was not long before I started looking for a sailboat of my own, through which I found a skipper seeking crew for weekly races in the bay. My enthusiasm trumped my lack of experience; I was immediately accepted, along with two more experienced sailors, and - in the two seasons we raced - went from last place to second and then first in our class, winning the title of "Most Improved" for the year.

I never missed a race. I loved being "The Main Babe," loved hauling in taut lines as I grew quickly stronger each week. I loved the camaraderie of our crew, the instantaneous friendship that came of working towards a common goal, of simultaneous enjoyment of full sails and rushing water beneath our bow. Every moment was complete; this was everything.

The dream led me to shed almost everything I owned, led me back home to rebuild my long-neglected relationship with my family, led me to meet and crew on a trimaran at speeds I never knew one could make under the force of the wind. Led me to a new skipper whose great knowledge of sailing and of boats will aid to the final realization of my dream.

Amidst all this, I write. I love the experience of sharing food and drink with good companions, love the brilliance of chefs smitten with the creation of delicious, beautifully-presented substance.

Mine is The Dream: Sail and write and travel, enjoying new places and foods and people, sharing all I can with those I meet, with those who read my words and view my photos.

So, why am I here? Why am I not yet on the sea, sailing from coast-to-coast?

I'm still looking, still sailing through my life, still learning.

The journey is so important, and those with whom one travels are equally important. I'll find the ones with whom I'll travel next, or they'll find me - the ones who give for the sake of giving, who love for the sake of loving, who expect little and learn much. From them, I'll learn; with them, I'll sail - on the sea, and through life.

To be plain: I'm looking to learn what else I need to know of sailing, of traveling.

Looking forward to meeting more dreamers, here and on the seas.

-M.
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Old 14-06-2013, 17:15   #2
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Re: Add Another Dreamer to The List

Hi Meredith (Mer, Meri)

Sorry but I think we have already accepted our quota of dreamers for the month. Come back to reapply next month.

Kidding of course and welcome to the forum. Always room for another dreamer.

My background is somewhat similar. Lived all around Atlanta for years, ending up on Lake Lanier. Never been on a boat bigger than my fathers 14' jon boat until one summer when I went to visit an old college friend in FL. We planned to go camping in the keys but ran into a charter company that was looking for a crew to take a 37' sailboat from FL to their base in the Bahamas. My friend was a sailor, we called another friend who also knew boats and took off. The minute we hoisted sails and turned off the engine I was hooked, completely and totally.

Went back to Atlanta, read and studied everything I could find about boats and within a year I had sold my business and had a job working on a boat in FL. The rest is history.

So good luck and hope you enjoy the life as much as I have and still do.
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Old 14-06-2013, 17:25   #3
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Re: Add Another Dreamer to The List

Meredith,

Great intro, probably the best I've read. I too am a dreamer for sailing but at my current age and lack of fitness, I'm not sure I'll get back out there. I hope fitness will slowly return, just keeping balance during sailing. The only small vessel passage was from Long Beach, CA to the Sea of Cortez on my old Cal 40 almost 30 years ago. Since then I've been all over the world, but on ships. The one thing I learned is I'm slow to learn other languages so don't get the most out of distant ports. Good luck with the dream, most of us on CF at least have that in common, some are living it, some have bailed on it http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...rs-105618.html, and others are in the planning stage. Some cruise for 6 months on and off for years and keep their home.

What are your plans?
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Old 14-06-2013, 17:34   #4
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Re: Add Another Dreamer to The List

@deckofficer: Glad you enjoyed my introduction.

Presently, I'm in the plan-and-sail-while-you-can stage.

My next step is onto a boat on the ocean -- if I can find the right person on the right trip. I'm looking into moving to the Atlantic or to the Gulf, possibly back to Florida or to Annapolis (my current skipper suggests this, since there's work to be had in the sailing industry and a large, active sailing community); but he suggests looking for work on a charter in the northeast, since there are more "professional" crews there and I've had some... "disagreeable" encounters with sailors seeking crew out of the Caribbean.

I need to get more sailing hours, preferably on blue water; and I'm aching for salt air.

Those are the plans...

Any help or suggestions are quite welcome!
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Old 14-06-2013, 17:46   #5
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Re: Add Another Dreamer to The List

I can't suggest the route I went, minimal experience before I bought the Cal 40, sailing a Flying Junior as a kid. As for maritime work, many doors will open if you graduate from a 4 year maritime academy, but that would be on ships, Unlimited Tonnage and may not be your cup of tea. The pay is quite good and food is top flight, and the typical work schedule of month on / month off would allow personal sailing. I did this route in my mid 40's, was the oldest graduate of California Maritime Academy.

There are many on the forum that have worked in the pleasure maritime industry and will be a better source of work suggestions than me.
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Old 14-06-2013, 18:01   #6
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Re: Add Another Dreamer to The List

@deckofficer: The suggestion of a maritime academy isn't bad: my dad is constantly saying how he'd pay for me to get a degree in something.

...I wonder....
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Old 14-06-2013, 18:02   #7
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Re: Add Another Dreamer to The List

You are clearly a talented writer. Welcome to the forum, and hope to hear more of your sailing adventures.
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Old 14-06-2013, 18:03   #8
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Re: Add Another Dreamer to The List

@shorebird: Thanks so much.

If you're interested in reading about my food adventures, I'd love for you to check out my blog: mi tenti senza pietà | (tempt me mercilessly)
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Old 14-06-2013, 18:21   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MeredithMcGuire View Post
@deckofficer: The suggestion of a maritime academy isn't bad: my dad is constantly saying how he'd pay for me to get a degree in something.

...I wonder....
Your degree would be a BS in Marine Transportation along with your Unlimited Tonnage Any Ocean USCG license. It is a tough program that includes fire fighting, vessel handling, meteorology, celestial navigation, a dose of maritime law, Navel Science, flashing light (this small requirement is responsible for the highest percentage of not graduating), two semesters of stability, knots, and of course watch standing, radar, and a freshman and senior cruise semester along with a commercial cruise. Plus the regular college courses, i.e. chemistry, English, math, etc.

Here is the Training Ship Golden Bear 499' at the college's pier in Vallejo, CA.


The campus.

Still interested?
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Old 14-06-2013, 18:22   #10
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Re: Add Another Dreamer to The List

Welcome Ms. Not Emily Jane! We're on our third day in a motel while on a road trip with our ketch left in North Carolina. When you speak of your comfort sleeping on the water, I'm reminded of what accomodates us best. We can last well for a term up to two weeks before we begin real suffering ashore. I expect us back aboard and cruising again in another eight days! We moved aboard the very day of the "Watergate Break In" and we're living like camels in the rain forest out here! Welcome to the community and keep us posted of you adventures.
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Old 14-06-2013, 18:32   #11
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@CaptForce: Thanks for the support! Yeah, I get off of a boat and feel dizzy - isn't it supposed to be the other way 'round?? Love that you've been sailing for so long; the sailing community, as I've seen it so far, is so full of passion. I love it.

@deckofficer: So VERY interested! What better way to learn all of those things, when they're what I want to learn any way I can??! I think it's almost time to talk to Dad...
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Old 14-06-2013, 18:47   #12
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Re: Add Another Dreamer to The List

Welcome to CF. Good intro.

I'm just starting out in sailing myself. I've had a boat for a year and it should finally be in the water soon.

Good luck to you in everything you do.
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Old 14-06-2013, 18:50   #13
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Re: Add Another Dreamer to The List

You're too talented to not start a blog. First, we will enjoy reading it. Second, once you spill your intentions, it's harder to back out when this "dream" becomes inconvenient, uncomfortable, or really scary. I don't want to scare you away at all, it's just that many dreamers remain dreamers for any number of reasons and it takes a lot to continue some days.
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Old 14-06-2013, 19:02   #14
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Re: Add Another Dreamer to The List

Steve,

Thanks.

I have started a blog - though not yet about my sailing experiences, since I'm having precious few of them. Would love for anyone who enjoys my writing style to peruse my food-and-beverage experience blog: mi tenti senza pietà | (tempt me mercilessly)

(For those who don't know Italian, "mi tenti senza pieta" translates to "tempt me mercilessly". The explanation of the title, and how it came to be, is a story of itself.... )

As for backing out: Thank you for the feeling of wanting to put me into a position where I can't. I keep a couple of good sailors around me who keep pushing me, when I get slack; I'm on this (and another) forum to keep up the tension. And follow quite a number of Twitter accounts involved in sailing....

I'll continue my request, generally: Please, please, please, if anyone knows of decent folks with whom I can learn to sail, PM me or respond to this thread. I'm getting pretty itchy to learn all I can about sailing, navigating, repairs, cooking, lifestyle... and to make some good pals with whom I can safely travel, both while I'm working towards my own boat and once I have it.

Thanks so much!
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Old 14-06-2013, 19:06   #15
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What beautiful prose Meredith!


You could pen the next "Eat, Pray, Sail"...
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