I realise that the title suggests that I have met someone else, but I’m afraid it relates to a my boat and not an actual person. She is a high maintenance lady that has undergone minor plastic surgery even though she is not even a teenager yet. And she just made me buy her a complete new wardrobe. For a while, I considered replacing her before this trip. To do what men at my age have done for a long time, go for a younger model with less mileage. This is why I didn’t.
I bought Saoirse new and specced the order myself. But I have also continuously upgraded her to make her into a home and a capable blue water cruiser. She is now able to generate her own water and electricity, has a sail wardrobe fit for any occasion and she has been kitted out to take care of both my comfort and safety needs. More importantly though, I know everything that has happened to her. Her weak points and what has broken in the past. This means that I now have quite an extensive set of spare parts onboard for things that I think could break or will just need replacement at some point. I really don’t want to start all of that again with a new boat. It would take me a long time to get back to where I am now.
I also know how she performs in most weather conditions. Her flat bottom, high mast, deep keel and limited weight makes her quite fast. At times too fast for her own good. On my way to Lanzarote she was surfing on her flat belly, generating speeds up towards 15 knots. Making it very difficult to control the course, so I had to ask her to slow down by reducing the sail area to almost nothing. And if you want to do this, you start with the mainsail as she always prefers the jib to the main if you only allow her one piece of clothing. Oh, behave!
Her flat bottom also makes her deceiving. She can go from a comfortable lean to a broach with very little warning. A broach is when the boat heels over to the extent that the rudder no longer is in the water and the boat spins into the wind. A very uncomfortable experience, particularly in large following seas. All of this is easy to prevent, if you know her temper and reduce the sail area in time.
Equally, she can be really frustrating. Like when you want to do a simple thing like pull a cable through the interior or change the heating element in the water heater. Simple jobs that can take days just because of where they are located and what is in the way. We certainly have our moments when we wish we parted company, but I have continuously been getting better at handling Saoirse. All boats have personalities and will retaliate when treated badly. And in doing so, they express less remorse than an actual person would. But she is fun, comfortable, capable, caring, beautiful, temperamental and well maintained. What more could you ask of a partner?
8 thoughts on “35. The Woman in my Life”
Hi, Tomas ~ Loved this post so much! I can completely relate to how knowing one’s boat, inside and out, creates such a special bond with our ship. I have been seriously contemplating getting a larger sailboat, for various reasons. However, even after having only one season — and not even an entire season as we splashed Sunny in July — of sailing Sunny, I feel that I have learned so many things about her.. and well, to start all over again with a new boat, I am not sure that it’s what I want to do. I have developed this deep affinity and affection for Sunny and, more importantly, I’ve come to trust her. The pics you posted are awesome — I especially love the one of the drone footage in which you can see Saoirse’s shadow, offset below her, in the sparkling aquamarine water — fantastic! She is a looker, Saorise! ❤
Thanks for the nice comment, Chelle. I guess this post was like second wedding vows but it is nice to stop dreaming and work with what you have. All boats are compromises. But she is mine and she is improving as she gets older. More than most of us can say. Best. Tomas
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Hi, Tomas! Your comment “stop dreaming and work with what you have” really struck a chord with me. I have also heard many other sailors make the same comment about boats being compromises. When my mind wanders off to thoughts of a larger sailboat, my heart feels heavy as I do love my Sunny so much. Yet, I also do see many benefits of a having a larger sailboat and by this, I really mean only slightly larger as I’m considering 22-23 ft. Boats in that size range will likely not necessarily offer the simplicity that Sunny does. There is something to be said for that, I think. If I move to a larger boat, I will most certainly lose some of those simple nuances which make Sunny such an easy boat to sail as well as to maintain (especially since I purchased her brand new earlier this year). Compromises, indeed. All the best to you, ~ Chelle
Hi again Chelle. Most sailors dream of a larger boat. But I would only upgrade if it gave me something more than just space. If it allows you to go further or indeed live onboard longer. I don’t think having space for friends is a good enough reason unless you live on the boat in remote locations. Most of my friends that love boats have their own. And if I was to buy a larger boat, I would go two sizes up to make sure that I am not in the same place next year. For what it’s worth. Tomas
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Thank you for sharing these words of wisdom, Tomas! I am so appreciative! Part of the issue that I have with finding a new boat is location. I live, unfortunately, in an area of my country that’s not particularly well known as ‘sailboat country’ — not surprising given that I live in the Midwest. My search has taken me all across the States, and while I have found a couple of prospects, for one reason or another, things didn’t pan out. I’m not in any rush and I won’t let FOMA (Fear of Missing Out) push me to make a rash decision. I know that there is no such thing as a perfect solution, but I can make an educated one with patience, due diligence, and doing my homework. When you mentioned getting a boat two sizes up — curious, what size would that be then? Again, just curious! 🙂 ~ Chelle
I would love some more storage space, particularly outside. For things like spare sails, SUP, fenders, ropes and pumps. Right now the clean stuff ends up in one of the two aft cabins when I don’t have guests onboard. I use the anchor locker for waste and extra diesel and the two lockers in the cockpit are filled with the watermaker, generator, snorkelling gear, spare parts, oils, bbq, propane bottles, petrol for the outboard etc. If I was to upgrade, I would look for a big locker at the bow and probably also another large one aft.
I guess that would bring me to 45 feet. Following my two sizes up logic, that would mean that I would go for 50 feet. Which is probably somewhere around the limit for a solo sailor. I am talking about the length of the hull. Saoirse was just measured and she is 46 feet now if you include what sticks out at the front and at the back, and even more when the tender is lifted. Either way, I am certainly not changing boat to get a couple on additional lockers. At the end of the day I will probably convert one of the three cabins into a more permanent storage area. Best. Tomas
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Hi, Tomas! Thanks for letting me know re: the size question I had asked — the storage thing is something that, even someone who primarily day sails like me, is challenging. In my case, it’s mostly that I need storage that helps me organize ‘stuff’ on the boat. I really would love to get the hanging gear hammocks that are often seen in cruising boats, but in my current situation, I am not sure how to install them as the ceilings and overhead are carpeted in my boat. A fellow sailor I know online mentioned cutting the carpet in areas where the hardware could be installed underneath, but I am not quite confident enough yet in my craftsmanship/workmanship to carry that job out — at least not without worry that I could booger something up. Eeks! That wouldn’t be good! I admit, though, it drives me nuts when I don’t have ‘spots’ to place/store things — and in a boat, if one doesn’t have that, then ‘stuff’ inside the cabin is likely to go a bit haywire when conditions get a little nutty on the water. Even at my house, I get a bit OCD about having everything situated where it should be — clutter drives me nuts. 😀 Hope you and Saoirse are doing great and getting all the more closer to ready for departure on your trans-Atlantic voyage — will you have your son with you or any other crew? All the best, ~ Chelle
Hi Chelle. Yes I will have my youngest son and his two friends with me. They arrive in a month or so and we should be ready to cross at end of November/early December. Storage space will certainly be needed after provisioning! Al the best. Tomas
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