Columns

Gear Lust

by Peter Nielsen, Posted June 18, 2012
After writing last month’s note about minimalist cruisers Thies Matzen and Kicki Ericson and their exploits in the much-traveled 30-foot sloop Wanderer III, I was overcome by some uncharacteristic soul-searching.
My dad came from a long line of sailors and seafarers, but he didn’t start boating himself until he was nearly 50. I was 12 years old when he bought a 14ft Rhodes Bantam. Together, with some trials and errors, we set about learning to sail it.
In the early 1990s, my husband, Monty, and I took early retirement, stepped aboard our Gulfstar 39, Salsa, and didn’t come back to our home in Marblehead, Massachusetts, for five years.
I watched through stinging spray as my fiberglass dinghy was swamped, turned into a sea anchor, and then quickly snapped its painter as my O’Day 31 surfed down 6-foot seas on Long Island Sound. It probably was unwise to be out on the water that day.
I am lounging in the cockpit with a lemonade in hand, sunglasses on my face and flip-flops nearby. The boom above my head drifts from side to side in perfect time with the small waves.
My wife and I were aboard Eftihia, our Beneteau 331, sailing from Jost Van Dyke to Beef Island one beautiful afternoon in the British Virgin Islands. Our plan was to rendezvous with friends for dinner at The Last Resort in Trellis Bay, which lay a few miles to windward through restricted waters.
After over five months of sailing from the Pacific Northwest, down the west coast of North America, through the Panama Canal and on into the Caribbean, we were finally approaching St. Maarten. We were only 100 miles from our final destination, and a giddy feeling of anticipation had begun to set in. 
“Wake up! Wake up! I think we’re dragging anchor!” Peg’s words pierced my sleep like a needle popping a balloon. In an instant I was standing in the cockpit, face to face with the bowsprit of a large Island Packet that had been anchored three football fields away the night before.
The impetus for anchoring restrictions, particularly in Florida, comes from waterfront homeowners who object to people anchoring “in their backyards." Barb Venturi, a town commissioner in Oriental, North Carolina, is jazzed. New dockage for transient cruisers is being installed on the popular sailing town’s waterfront.       
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