We Quit Our Jobs!

Jun 04, 2015 by James in Boat Projects, Dena's Blog Posts, James' Blog

Life on the Wanderer Ball was pretty exciting!

Right after that last post, we went to a movie (can’t remember which, so now you know how good it was) and stopped by a WM customer’s boat to see his progress. The sky got awfully nervewracking, with a big parenthetical black streak too thick to be joking. (Wait – it was the Avengers. Yawn. No, it was great, really. Yawn.) We jumped on our bikes and beat the storm to the yacht club. We locked up and beat the storm down to the dock. We got in the dink and…didn’t beat the storm to the boat. Instead, we got mothball sized hail along with a deluge so intense that we had to bail at the same time I (James) rowed.


Waddaya gonna do about the weatha?

The best part? It kept raining. Curious why that was best? Well, we hadn’t had showers in, um…a few weeks, at least, and so we pulled the soap out and did a fresh-water shower right there in the cockpit. Naked tits and ass (but no cock) and then a brisk dryout below decks and all was right with the world.


We rowed all over the Back River trying to find the best place to put the dink and discovered that every bit of the New England Coast from Cape Cod to Portland, Maine is very sadly for rent.


This little tricky spot seemed like an option, until we came back to the boat an hour before low tide to find the dink hard…and I mean…hard aground.


Those are rocks and they’re not underwater.

We wandered around Hingham and wasted an hour by shagging a shower, finally tugging the little boat free about two hours after the low.

We humbled ourselves to the Yacht Club members of the South Shore for three gloriously free weeks. We squeezed every bit of niceness the good people of the S.S.Y.C could eek out of their squeaky little, over-taxed stores of grace.

They did it. They didn’t want to, but they did. They let two serious cruising sailors shag on one of their empty mooring balls for three weeks before the season started and you’d think it was going to kill the poor little capitalist bastards.

By THEM, we don’t mean PHreD or the unknown owner of the Wandering Ball. We mean the “officers” of the club, those who were so stressed out by things like staining wood (still not finished, BTW) that we represented the real and present danger of stroke.


So we left Back River with a curious taste in our mouths…

…Maybe that’s not the best choice of words!

We made it back to the South Shore Yacht Club after our 16 mile (round trip) bike ride and our 8 hours of “same-ol” to find that some person, a human person had left a hot steaming pile of shit in our beloved little boat! WHAT MAKES A PERSON THINK THAT’S A GOOD IDEA!?


That sucked.

Anyway, the next day we threw off the lines and headed back to Wessagussett.

I (James) could get caught up on the shit-thing so I’d better get back to the story… a-hem.

We motored around the Back River peninsula on a glass water day back to the very mooring we picked up almost a year ago to the date.

Since we leap-frog our boat and our bikes, this meant James walking from the new club to the old one, then riding to work. I (Dena) tried to do the same thing a few hours later and arrived at the bike rack sans keys.

Instead of repeating the same trip, I walked back along the water, including a jumping-skipping part along a broken-down old wall that was supposed to keep the hill from falling down.


Of course, it was built in 1928, so I guess it didn’t owe those houses any money.


Once I succeeded in getting my bike back, I loaded it up with laundry and set off, decked up in my uncertain-weather gear.


At a red light, a car idled next to me until the light changed. I started to make my protected left turn and heard a voice yell, “Get on the sidewalk, weirdo!” Looking over, I was astounded to see a smart phone in the asshole’s hands. He recorded himself hassling a biker…after waiting like a coward for the light to change!




We had shit to do!


The big project that we’ve had in the works for the last year (at least!) has been the Fan Tail Aft-Rail (above, before).

We’ve both been drawing and talking and measuring this cluttered space on the back of the boat for years actually but it wasn’t until we found an aft-rail on craigslist this past winter that “almost” suited our needs that started us thinking in terms of Must-Get-it-Done.

When we first thought about doing this thing, we were in New Jersey. We figured we would just go to the closest Boxy McBoxerson, pick up a shit-load of galvy-pipe, a few 90’s, a couple of bases, and we’d be all set. But then we started looking at the manufactured sort, the kind “they” (the boat manufacturing industry) built to perfectly fit the mass-produced sailing vessels from a once thriving (but no longer) American boat-building industry.

With the discovery of a boat junkyard (never to be ignored), we also discovered a rail that would work. And then they wanted too much money. And then we saved up some and then they had sold it.


But we discovered another rail that would work, with a little reciprocal-saw action. We cut that fucker up, put it in a truck (Thanks Bobby!), hauled it back to the boat…


Removed the old stuff…


And started putting it together.


Not always graceful…


Or dignified…


With the old wind generator gone and the new rail in place, it looks so clean and functional. We have to redesign everything about using that space. We’d planned to put the propane tanks, the folding ladder, the Fortress stern anchor, both of the Siemans 75 watt solar panels, the fenders, and spare lines on that rail while also using it to route the Monitor windvane control lines.

Not going to happen.

We’ll pick the best and make it work – propane tanks, Monitor lines, hopefully the solar panels, and not much else.

Next project!


And oh yeah – we quit our jobs!

Back River Shag

May 12, 2015 by Dena in Dena's Blog Posts, James' Blog, Life Under Sail


Back to our million-dollar view.

Our new digs are much preferable to our old ones.  The boat was safe enough through the winter at Boston Yacht Haven, but everything else sucked.  From the ridiculous price – misquoted to us with no consideration given when we showed up – through the grinding, squeaking aluminum gangplanks, unexpected lockouts due to them resetting our keys, all the way to the bathrooms that started out filthy and degraded to freezing when the heaters broke…and then stayed that way for months, with only a small space heater for the one room in the world we absolutely had to be naked in during minus degree weather, well, we’re happy to be gone.

Just as the toilet seats went above zero degrees, we left.


Our second sail of the year took us out of the inner harbor as a light ebb and easy 8 knot breeze made beating to windward a pleasure for a change.  The only hijinks occurred directly in front of the landing strip for Boston Logan Airport.  The planes were lined up one after another, with a minute or two between.  As we passed the strip, a Boeing 777 flew over us and hit the throttle.  Perhaps they were coming in too low.  It certainly seemed so to us.  As they approached, the wind increased and our heel became startlingly extreme.  As they passed over, the wind backed and sent us over the other way in a crashing pop that freaked us both out but did no damage.

So that’s what jet wash feels like on a sailboat!

The rest of the trip was absolutely perfect.  The wind gently switched angles as our course changed and we could broaden our point of sail for easiest motion.  As we approached the Back River, the ferry traffic picked up dramatically, going the same direction we were going.  As we came into the channel with the promise of a broad reach, we decided to avoid traffic hassles and strike the sail.  Looking at the clock for the tide, we realized that the ferries were carrying the commuters home for the day.

Up Back River, the ferries peeled off to port and docked at the Hingham Ship Yard, a famous WWII ship factory turned into a luxury resort, marina, and shopping complex, all in the last 10 years.  We continued upriver, poking our way along the shallows past home docks and a boat ramp, past the South Shore Yacht Club and toward the Route 3 bridge that connects Hingham and Weymouth.

The chart says the bridge has 36′ clearance at mean higher high tide.  We were 4′ down from high tide and have a 36′ tall mast.  Should be fine, right?

We approached dead-slow with an outgoing current and an audience at the yacht club.  As we got under the bridge, we experienced a first in our adventures.  Our VHF antenna, on top of the mast, hit the bridge, causing a distant, metal on metal ringing.

I, James, was at the helm.  When I saw the bridge make contact with the antenna, I kicked it out of gear, watched how the boat moved in the current (kind of sideways), and heard Dena say, “Hard astern.”  Twice.  I kicked it into reverse and gently glided her out from under the bridge.

No damage done.

I, Dena, said, “Let’s go talk to this guy,” meaning the audience at the yacht club.  As we pulled up, I holler over.  “How tall is that bridge?  My chart says 36′.”

His answer was more to the point that he had never seen any sailboat even attempt to go up the river, from his childhood in the distant past through his semi-retirement in a house farther up.

Yes, yes, we’re amazing.  And yet, we still didn’t make it under that bridge.


He told us we could pull up to the dock if we wanted to wait for the tide to drop further.  He said a short stay wouldn’t be a problem, even though the dock had sustained damage over the winter.  Side note: most marinas in the area are a month or more behind because of winter storm damage.  Some are staring down million dollar repair bills.  Winter was hard.

Guy’s name turned out to be Fred, and Fred, our new friend, offered us the temporary use of his mooring.


Yes, the S.V. Nomad is on the Wanderer mooring.

Sensing a theme here.


The South Shore Yacht Club has bemusedly given their permission for us to stick around.  They’ll be moving us when people put their boats in the water and they say we’ll eventually get shooed off by the cops.  Half of the river belongs to the Weymouth police and half to Hingham, so we can be hassled by each, both, or neither.

At this point, none of the above.


Our first sunset in our new mooring field reminded us why love this so much.  We’re underway, even tied to a ball chained to the bottom.  The motion of the boat is easy and fluid.  No jerking at the end of the rein, no bad-tempered rearing and bucking.


Of course, when it’s this calm, the boat can’t help but be placid.


The only noisy neighbors are the dogs at the park and the power boats putting in at the ramp and rushing out to get some fish guts on their clothes.

AKA We like it here.

Filling the Gaps

May 07, 2015 by Dena in Dena's Blog Posts, Life Under Sail

It’s fair to say we’ve been hibernating.  Winter hit hard and late, then left reluctantly.


There’s not much desire to look back this far, so just one more.  I can’t resist this image.


We haven’t stayed home the whole time.  James’ birthday, for example.


We went to Maine, trying to book slideshows and storytelling extravaganzas.  Slow going at that, though lots of positive response.  We loved Maine.


Here’s the Sheepscot River.


And we found a cute little town between MA and Portland that knows what low tide means.  Name that town.


Also, my book is in the Harvard Book Store.  Check me out.  This is a two-parter – outside and in.



Okay, one last snow pic, just because it was so great to see the snow start melting.


What’s that growing out of my head?  Is it a thought-bubble?  No…


Bonus pics: I’m always looking for the perfect compass rose for a tattoo.  I’ve found some stellar examples of the art, but the next issue is this: where will my skin stay put well enough that a geometrically precise image won’t stretch and skew?




Next, the last few days of newness.