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"Don't forget the boy, too, who will be halfway through his teens this summer ... Maybe you can remember your first sail and its thrills .. Yes, the sailing dinghy is the best moving thing to start him off in - his early studies of space and time, we might say. There is nothing like a sailing dinghy to make a man of him." - Herreshoff, L Francis. Sensible Cruising Designs. 1973.
“The world was simple – stars in the darkness. Whether it was 1947 B.C. or A.D. suddenly became of no significance. We lived, and that we felt with alert intensity. We realized that life had been full for men before the technical age also – in fact, fuller and richer in many ways than the life of modern man. Time and evolution somehow ceased to exist; all that was real and that mattered were the same today as they had always been and would always be. We were swallowed up in the absolute common measure of history – endless unbroken darkness under a swarm of stars.” Thor Heyerdahl. Kon-Tiki. 1950.
I am 24, a year and a half out of college, and in possession of a halfway-built Toon 2. I have student debt, and ten summers' sailing experience, including three, five-day raids. But most importantly, I identified a window of opportunity. I decided to sail this Toon 2 for three to four months (depending on when it all comes together) this summer in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I hope, in reading this article, someone, somewhere will realize that all they have to do is change a few things, and they too may have a similar window of opportunity.
Why the Outer Banks of North Carolina? I know the Outer Banks fairly well, as two of my three, five-day raids were in the southern portion of the protected waters there—one in my Piccup Squared and the other in several different kinds of boats. Both of these raids were in the OBX130 event put on by my brother Paul Moffitt. My experiences there range from rescuing a capsized, fellow raider, to learning to reef and push through the eighth hour of tough sailing in my 12 footer. The water there is warm and popular for boaters. I have friends who live near the Outer Banks in case of emergency. In other words, from my experiences I know that I would have to be trying to kill myself in order to do so. However, the biggest reason for me to sail in the Outer Banks is that I have seen and experienced some truly exceptional scenes amongst those islands.
After college, I was a full-time volunteer at a rural homeless shelter in Colorado for Americorps. I was awarded enough money to have my loans paid for a little more than a year. I am living at home where I have room, board, tools, and a father and brother who are living vicariously through me – I mean, supporting me. I have a worried mother who’s fears were teased when I explained that I would be fine and then eased when I explained what a Spot was and that if she was really worried she could provide me with one. I am asking my friends and people I know in the boating community for used gear at reduced prices to help me out. A part-time job is in order to help supplement the gear I need to buy after the first plan doesn’t really pan out. Finally, and most importantly, I learned on Facebook that Tom of Buildboats.com had to move and give away his half-way built Toon 2! Luckily I was in a position to pick it up in the next week and Tom generously gave it to me! After this long, short term coastal cruising experience, I plan to move in with a friend in either Asheville or New Orleans to get on my feet and onto the do-what-everyone-else-does-and-pay-bills bandwagon with my lovely I’m-not-living-on-a-boat-but-you-can-for-a-while girlfriend.
The opening Herreshoff quote is a little past my age, but few can say they have all the grasp they need on time and space. I certainly do not claim to. And I realize that camping on an island with a Spot and fisherman buzzing by will not be like floating on the open Pacific waters on a raft truly on my own. But I am certain that there will be moments where the feelings that the Heyerdahl quote brings up will happen to me, and this is really what I am after.
How am I going to make sure I don’t miss these moments? Strawberry farmers lay black plastic over their rows of strawberry plants in order to, among other reasons, allow just the strawberry plants to grow and stand out. I would like to replicate this, in a sense, to get the most out of my time on the water. So, I intend to live simply and intentionally in order to prime myself to be able to easily spot the fruits of my labor. I am going to meditate, exercise, focus on nutrition, practice Yoga, sail, and write. All of these things, I think, will help me keep my eyes open for what is actually important while minimizing useless distractions.
||First moment in my possession
Now to the task of planning. I have broken this project into three main areas: Construction; Gear; and Sailing
The only interesting parts for this audience to know about construction would be the modifications to Jim Michalak’s Toon 2 design. The boat has a 5’6’’ cabin and I am 6’1’’. So, in comes the addition of, what I am calling, a foot-locker – a beam wide, cockpit bench high, 10”-12’’ deep box attached to the aft bulkhead of the cabin. This will allow me to sleep in the boat comfortably. However, I plan to mostly sleep in a tent on the beach and sleep on-board only in conditions deemed necessary. I prefer the dry, solid ground to the rocking and enclosed cabin. I will reinforce and cut a foot hole in the aft cabin bulkhead to allow access to the locker from inside the cabin only. In the middle of the locker I will keep my bedding and on each side I will lash down three, one-gallon water jugs to store as ballast that will help right the boat in the event of a capsize. With a water-tight hatch design the footlocker will act as extra sealed flotation. In addition I will seal a little over half of the forward anchor well for additional flotation. Having rescued a capsized boat several times, both planned and unplanned, I know the importance of being able to easily self rescue when the inevitable happens.
Another modification will be changing the sprit rig to a balanced lug rig. This will give me greater familiarity with the rig and a much more manageable mast. I plan to use the AF3 balanced lug sail plan in combination with a mizzen. The mizzen will just be used to weather vane in more serious conditions, so I will expand the AF3 plans by 10% as I was advised that the original plans were a tad undersized.
Built onto the aft cabin bulkhead I will add two boxes which will go forward to my knees and up to elbow height. On one side will be a removable galley box and on the other will be a solid storage area to keep a few days worth of food or whatever I come to realize it should really be used for. In front of these ‘tablettes’ will be netting to hold in place 3-4 drybags. Above that and below the windows will be strapped my charts. In addition I plan to have the biggest windows possible that will not sacrifice the strength of the structure.
For the cabin hatches I intend to have a fixed cross piece across the slot and in-line with the mast. Hinged off of this piece will be the fore hatch that will run out to the end of the slot. The aft hatch will be built similarly but not fixed to the boat. Instead it will have two ‘L’ shaped and spring loaded arms on either side to pin the hatch down. They will be turnable from the inside. The fore hatch can be propped to allow for some airflow and the aft hatch will have an extended ‘roof’ that goes over some portion of the foot locker to create what I am calling ‘the porch’. This will allow for airflow even when its raining. I can flip them up for entry on the aft side and setting the anchor on the fore side and then can be quickly returned to seal the cabin in rainy weather. On nice days, I can swing the fore hatch vertical, lash it to the mast, and enjoy the open cabin to get some writing or route planning done on the aft hatch resting on the two side tables.
||Mock up of companionway for testing
I went to the Water Tribe website, another resource for great sailing events, for their list of necessary gear and then added what I wanted to bring. My favorite addition being sprouts. They are easy to store, even easier to grow, and they are all super foods. They taste like freshness and provide almost every vitamin and mineral we need and provide fiber and protein. I will have three to four emergency MRE style meals for extreme conditions and a store of canned foods. I am planning to bring several penny stoves which are efficient and cheap with fuel I can buy in most drug stores. I will have solar power to recharge batteries and a cell phone. Of course, I will bring books. I am thinking The Odyssey or The Lord of the Rings, something long and adventurous (suggestions greatly appreciated). I will bring fishing gear: casting net, rods, lures, etc. Lots of paper for writing. The Outer Banks are a bird-watching paradise so binoculars and a bird watching guide are key. I don’t want to bring too much. Remember the intentional living?
I am still researching, (and probably will up until the night before), all that there is to see and do, and any input would be greatly appreciated. There are many shipwrecks to see that have been brought closer to shore for people to explore. I intend to Geocache as well which should lead me on very interesting adventures, and I plan to leave a Geocache or two that will be very hard to get to. There are a lot of hiking trails around the Outer Banks because most of the land surrounding them is National Park land. I’d like to focus on picking up trash as we all should on our adventures. I need to research ports where I can recharge with a shower and a meal, refuel my stoves, buy more food, and meet friends for extended weekend sails, etc. I will also scout the current and future OBX130 camping locations for usability. Finally, I plan to sail in this years OBX130 from September 10th until the 14th.
With all of this well on its way to being thought out, I need to execute! My next article will cover build and trials on a lake before the big jump to the sea.