We choose this

Aug 20, 2014 by James in James' Blog, Life Under Sail

What a week!

I show up at 4:30 in the middle of the fucking night after a six and a half mile bike ride to find I still have a trashcan full of water on my desk, I’ve asked my “team lead” four times to fix the leak in the ceiling above my computer… It still isn’t done. There’s a box on my desk it’s addressed to Dena Hankins, C/O James Lane, C/O Whole Foods Market. It’s Dena’s advanced copies for her novel Blue Water Dreams.

I do my job, I let my country steel my tax money, I smile, I work like all the rest and then I step out of my wage slave gig, it’s Friday afternoon, my Monday and I notice I have two voice-mails on my phone.

I dial up the VM and of course I get the second one first…

“Everything’s okay, I got the boat anchored in the little cove in front of the rehab center, we’re fine. If you want to go to the gym to work out,  go ahead, really, we’re fine!”


When I get to our new anchorage Dena is sitting in the cockpit, she rows out to the water-taxi dock and I pull the box out of my pack and hand it to her…


She did it! She published her first novel, they printed it, put ten of them in a box and sent it to her and when she opened that box this is what she looked like!!!

Everything else instantly became insignificant, well, for the moment anyway.

We went out for a very nice dinner and showed the copy she gave me to our waitress and we got a free desert out of it, it was sublime.

What had happened was, the Coast Guard had to bring a giant propane tanker up the Mystic River, just a few hundred yards from where we were anchored, evidently, to make some kind of emergency repairs and they had to clear the area of any potential hazards… That would be us I guess.

Anyway, we ended up staying in that anchorage through the weekend and on Monday evening just as we were settling in for the night a Harbor Master boat came up along side of us with a po-po woop-woop. The guy that did all the talking was over fed, under exercised, lightly educated and seriously late for his tea party, in other words: the dude had missed his calling as one of Ferguson’s finest and ended up getting stuck hassling us that evening, an unfunny clown, armed to the teeth.

Him and Dena had a few moments of absolute misunderstanding before he gave us the bottom line, which was… “Because of 9/11 you are only allowed to anchor in designated anchorages and this is not a designated anchorage.”

Because of 9/11?! You fucking piece of shit, that was 13 years ago!!!

We did not get shot that night and the reason being, I (James) did not open my mouth. I stood there in the companion way with a smile on my face the entire time, making him very nervous by not showing my hands.

“You need to pull up anchor and leave, right now! Do you need assistance?”

“No! (We said in unison, okay I did say something), we’re rather good at this, thank you, goodnight.”

After the “Dock-Boys-with-Glocks” motored away we made reservations at one of the pricey Boston waterfront marinas, pulled up anchor and sailed away. After grabbing a mooring ball we caught a water-taxi back to where our bikes were and rode back to the Boston waterfront, rowed the dink back out to the boat and very quickly went to sleep.

About an hour after going to sleep I woke up violently sick to my stomach so I ended up working the next day on about an hours worth of real sleep. My only explanation: Yes, fascism makes me ill.

We left the waterfront the next day Tuesday, my Friday, and motored back to “our” anchorage up the Mystic River where we’ve been now, unmolested, for two beautiful nights.

Yes, we choose this, this is the way we live! We are free citizens of the planet Earth and we are not going to give up that easily.

Hook Down in Chuck-Town

Aug 13, 2014 by James in James' Blog, Life Under Sail

One last sail! What was I thinking!?

Okay here’s what I (James) was thinking: If you’re a fan of this site you probably know that we’ve had our boat for sale for quite some time. Well, we’ve had some pretty serious potential buyers as of late and this time I really thought that one or two of these guys just might put some money on the table before we even had a chance to move the boat to another location. Well, two days after we blogged “One Last Sail” one of the women from the office of the Boston Ship Yard caught up with Dena in the marina lounge and told her that if we were going to “take advantage” of all the amenities that the marina had to offer we were going to have to pay like all the rest, the going transient rate… $75.00 per day


There is no way in hell that we’re going to pay 75 bucks a day to park our dinghy on the end of a (falling apart) dock just so we can use a (shitty) shower three times a week!

That evening we went for a bike ride to spot potential anchorages and found a few promising sites that looked to be a little closer to my new job so we decided to weigh anchor the next morning. The two potential buyers that I’d been talking to just kind of evaporated into non-responsive-email-land so we pulled up the hook and went exploring for our new digs.

We sailed east from East Boston into Boston Harbor proper with two reefs in the main on a starboard tack in about 18 knots of freshening breeze, it was incredible! It was a warm Saturday morning so of course there were boats all around us. There were packed ferries with pointing gawkers with plastic-destroyers jumping their wakes, there were multimillion dollar cruising sailboats going out for their one sail this year and there were tons of pretty little sailboats over stuffed with friends-of-the skipper wearing type-I PFD’s and looking a little purple.

About two hours into it we decided to get out of the summer traffic and get serious  about finding our new home. We went back into Boston harbor and looked over the one site that we found that was most promising, a snug little spot right next to a water taxi dock in front of a large rehabilitation complex in Boston’s Shipyard Park.

The day before when we were riding by on our bikes we spotted a guy rowing up to the water taxi dock in a very nice little home-made dinghy. We waited for him to tie up and as he came up the gang plank we asked him where he had rowed from. He told us he’d rowed across from a marina in East Boston and he never had any issues with parking his dink on that dock. We ended up talking to Jake, the guy in the dinghy, for quite a while getting the low down on a few potential sweet spots in the area.

…Anyway we sailed straight back to that snug little anchorage and buzzed in to check the depth and it looked pretty good. On a whim we figured it couldn’t hurt to sail up the Mystic River, being as though it was so early in the day, to see if there were any other sweet spots before anchoring. We found a little spot just behind a college in Charlestown that had a dock that looked like it was never used by anyone but fishers so we pulled up, tied up and went up to the top of the dock. We found a sign that told us that this used to be the site of a sailing club that had moved a few years back… Perfect!


In less than an hour we were anchored and settled and that was three weeks ago!

We’ve been Hook Down in Chuck-Town using the free dock at the college as a base and a bike rack for all this time and no one, cops or legal types, have come by to ask us any questions.

It’s good to be home again!



One last sail

Jul 24, 2014 by James in Dena's Blog Posts, James' Blog, Life Under Sail

After a month of West Marine wage slavery, interviews upon interviews at Whole Foods and living on a mooring at the Wessagussett Y.C. I (James) finally got the call from Whole Foods…

“Congratulations Mr. Lane, we’d like to offer you the job of lead-receiver at the Brighton, Whole Foods Market! Now, let’s talk about money and when you can start…”

My answer to them about cash was so far out of their range that all I got was abject silence, followed by a clearing of the throat and… “The pay scale in Boston is a little different from that in Manhattan.”

So we dickered. They said one number that almost hurt my feelings, I said another that made them gulp then I sat down and wrote a long email to the manager (or rather, Team Lead) of the store and finally we settled on a number that was not quite in the middle.

I took the job.


While James was negotiating like a fucking pro, I was booking my West Coast tour for Blue Water Dreams.  I’ve contacted dozens of potential venues (literally, and not in that modern sense where literal means figurative) for readings and workshops.  I have a pretty full schedule now, about as full as I’m comfortable making it.  There are only a few days of chill between flying to Seattle and then flying back from San Francisco.

I’m confirmed at Good Vibes, for a reading and workshop on consecutive nights (San Francisco), the Gay Romance Northwest Meet-up (which started it all, Seattle), Orca Books (Olympia), Blow Salon (Berkeley), the Gender Alliance of the South Sound (Tacoma), the Ingersoll Center (Seattle, for a visit), and a radio interview for People You Should Know.  I have tentatives at Art of Loving (Vancouver, BC), Gender Justice League (Seattle), a social justice book club by my friend Molly (Seattle), and In Other Words (Portland).

Hell yeah!

I’ve also written a few articles I’m going to pitch to Good Old Boat and other marine magazines.  The photo of James, above, is fruit of one of those efforts.

All in all, we’ve both gotten a ton of shit done since leaving Sheepshead Bay.  Vacation, hard work, long bike rides, and good progress.  Now we’re entering a new phase.

Throw off the lines!  Goodbye, Ratner mooring ball!

The Boston Harbor, including all the islands, isn’t as big as I thought it was.  We looped around Peddocks Island and sailed in good company across the Nantasket Roads.


We came up close on Georges Island before gybing at Gallops Island.  We headed northwest through the Nubble Channel between Long Island and Nixes Mate (still loving these names).  Crossing the President Roads brought us up the southwest side of Deep Island.

Once we had enough of the flats off Point Shirley, we tacked back across President Roads to the west of Spectacle Island.  Rounding the south end, we tacked three times between Moon Head and the Sculpin Ledge.  Not everyone has managed as gracefully as we did.


All this travel took only five hours, so we had a lovely evening anchored off Long Island in the Sculpin Ledge Channel.  I love anchoring in places other than the sanctioned anchorages.  We did our mariner’s duty by putting up the anchor ball and setting up the dark-to-dawn light.

Our trip into Boston Harbor proper was marked by furor.  A huge cargo ship was being tugged into the Mystic River and it was escorted by four local harbor police, two 50-cal Coast Guard gun boats, and a helicopter.  The cops harried the other boaters to keep them out of the way, but we were well outside the channel and attracted no attention.

We are now hook down between Piers Point Park and the Boston Harbor Shipyard.  Another perfect surgical anchoring experience, although setting the stern anchor was a bit of a calamity…nothing we couldn’t handle.  We’re still waffling on heading a little further out.  We have never anchored this close to land.  At low tide, we’re in 24 feet of water, but it still appears that we’re about to touch the hard stuff.


The row to the shipyard is short, and our relationship to them is uncertain.  We talked to a couple ladies in the office and neither gave a definite yes or no on using them as a dinghy dock.  We’ll just keep doing it until we hear otherwise.  They did give us the shower code, so it feels more welcoming than not.


A walk, ferry ride, another walk, and a 20-mile bike ride got our bikes to East Boston from North Weymouth.  We’re good to go and ready to explore the town.