Gandalf

May. 14th, 2011 03:34 am
i_id: (Voyager)
So, April 30th, I happened to be checking my bank account and browsing craigslist at the same time. "Huh," I said to myself, seeing the price of the most recent listing in one window, and my balance in the other. "These numbers just about match." And then I saw what that price was attached to.

A 1974 Albin Vega 27.

A sturdy little blue-water boat already famous for being a handy circumnavigator the perfect size for a single sailor. In sailable condition. For less than $3500. The listing was barely an hour old, and I leapt on it. Called the man and left a message. He called me back, and after some scheduling mishaps, I arranged to come out and see the boat the next day. It was in Deming, a little town some miles Northeast of Bellingham.

I may be ambitious, but I'm still pretty much a boat novice, so I took Dad up with me to see this too-good-to-be-true boat, trying to rein in my hopes. I needn't have bothered. Despite having been up on sticks for somewhere between three and seven years, and lived aboard by a nonsailing family of three before that, the boat was in better shape than I could have hoped. Save one strange through-hole on the transom, I could stick her in the water today and sail her around, if the rigging is as sound as it all appears to be. She even comes with three usable sails, and an engine that turns over, which means it's repairable. The original 1974 engine, I think. The owner, an older man with a jack-of-all-trades sort of demeanor (thoroughly supported by the massive workshop on his property, the barn, the co-op school, and the 40' wooden sloop being used as a playhouse) even had all of her original paperwork, including manuals for both ship and engine. Honestly, my biggest complaint about the Vega is that wasps have moved in and eaten a great deal of the interior woodwork, which I would have been likely to replace anyway.

So I bought the boat. Not quite on the spot; he gave me a night to think it over (a night in which he received three other offers. I'm so very glad I put down my earnest money first), and I brought him a check the next day. He's been kind enough to let me keep the boat on her sticks at his place while I track down a place to keep her while I work on her, which I hope to do in the next few days. I like him. He's a little crazy, but he loves boats and keeps goats.

Her name is Gandalf. I'm not sure I'll change it. The dinghy will probably have to be named after a hobbit.


Pictures beneath the cut.  )
i_id: (Default)
I had a good job, in North Carolina. Well, it was a reliable job. It might have become a good job in another three years, four, five. I was being groomed to become assistant manager, given the long shifts, the late shifts, put in charge of the store's yearly Inventory. It was heady responsibility, really.

I took my lunch breaks alone. There were never enough of us there to have more than one person in the back room at a time, nor was there really room. It was a tiny place, a closet behind the stock room with a broken TV on a shelf, an unclaimed box of pizza rolls in the freezer that no one dared touch, a filthy microwave and a table with a rickety top. The chairs were all various faded shades of orange and had stuffing poking out of them.

I brought books to read each day, for that precious thirty minutes. Feeding my imagination was more important than feeding my stomach. For two weeks, it was House of Leaves, and I scared myself silly. For another week, it was Wicked. And then it was Maiden Voyage.

Maiden Voyage is a book about Tania, an aimless girl in her late teens who is given a choice by her frustrated father; go to university, or take the tuition money and sail around the world. The book reduced me to tears. Here I was, earning easy money telling teenagers they can't buy beer with fake ids and old women they can't buy perfume with food stamps, earnestly looking into moving up the ladder, out of the store and into the corporation, and this book, this travelogue of a scared young woman sailing alone (save a cat) across the Equator and into adulthood made me a sobbing wreck in my own break-room.

I was late getting back to work that day. I spent an evening doing the math. And twenty days later, I quit. I quit and moved across the country, out of my the apartment that sucked my paychecks dry and back in with my parents. Since then, jobs have been scarce. I made the decision to escape a career right at the ultimate downturn of the economy, and since then, I have worked perhaps eleven months out of twenty-five, two of that for room and board and sailing experience alone.

I scour the want-ads, looking for a boat. I need one sturdy and small, with a narrow full keel, a full-stepped mast, and a stern-mounted rudder. I need a steering vane and a storm jib, vaccinations and visas, a life raft and an EPIRB. I need charts and a compass and a nest egg large enough to fly me home if I destroy it all on a reef in Tonga, distracted by blue whales and a storm. I will risk my life, and live in a space smaller than most minivans for three years or so.

When I get back, maybe I'll think about a career again. But it won't be selling beer and perfume.

Links are for those who do not know what these parts of a boat are, as I know I have some landlubbers on my flist.

This is my entry for LJ Idol - 05 Afterthought. Thanks for reading, and remember to vote on Saturday!.

Violins

Aug. 4th, 2009 01:42 pm
i_id: (Breakdance)
What I'd really like to learn to play is the violin. And this one would be up to the rigors of the cruise.

But $130 is far too much for an impulse buy. Perhaps I'd just be better to find a very used traditional one on Craigslist and resign myself to destroying it with tropical humidity.


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