Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Adventure ∩ Dream Boat (part 3)

Please see part 1 for general background on this story. The crew of the St. Barbara have made it through the Straits of Mackinac and their first night on the water, only to find what Lake Huron has in store for them.

September 16 . . . What this journey gives us it also can take away. It is a kind of barter that we can never predict, much like the weather, which defies the radio reports from the National Weather Service and the Internet.

Patrick has decided to use the engine, rather than risk damage to the sails in the dark as we traverse Lake Huron. It is raining and the wind has picked up to 25 miles per hour, while the waves have grown to 15 feet or more in height. Steve has discussed four-hour shifts with the crew but not with Robert or me, for our job is to record this journey. I realize that I am not part of Steve’s circle of friends, and he wants this adventure to be theirs.

Most of the men stay up all night, and I think they love it, this facing down of the elements and blazing a path with a boat the likes of which the Great Lakes have never seen before. When I stir in my berth, awakened by the pitching, I see Pat sitting at the navigation table, reading charts in lamplight. I hear boots on the ladder and then Steve, Aidan or Niall talking at the helm. They communicate in snatches of Gaelic and a constant “Eh? Eh?” No matter what one guy says, the man he’s speaking to asks him to repeat himself with “Eh? Eh?” Cigarette and cigar smoke wafts into the cabin.

By early morning, we are about 50 miles off course. The waves hit us from multiple directions, the rough movement taking its toll on everyone.

Each of us has a way of staving off seasickness, which can be a minor annoyance or incapacitating. Pat’s approach is to keep busy, while Steve suggests we sing. Does anyone know a sea shanty? Niall, who is in his 40s, chooses to eat nothing for the first several days of the voyage, drinking only beer when we pull into a port. He seems a bit reckless but superstitious, too, with the steps he takes to ward off harm. He carries in his wallet St. Patrick’s prayer for protection. His copy is handwritten by his aunt in Gaelic on a long piece of paper, which he has folded into a small square. It is so worn and brittle that it is illegible. I am not a religious person myself, but when I sought out the prayer in English, I found it comforting, as many people do. Here is an excerpt from one version:

I arise today

Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Brilliance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.

I arise today

Through God's strength to pilot me:
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to secure me

It goes on to say:

Christ protect me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come abundance of reward.

A cloth scapular with an image of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus hangs from a string around Niall’s neck. From his back pocket a green plastic shamrock dangles on the chain that runs from his wallet to a belt loop. He will tell you a story in a deep, growling voice or make a boyish joke.

“You can read an ocean but not these lakes,” he says. “They are like reading Chinese.”

Niall seems to relish his long shifts at the tiller. He is in shirtsleeves, a look of importance on his face. He is rail thin, his face almost gaunt. I wonder if he eats well, living alone in Chicago, where he has a job finishing concrete. He flirts with me almost constantly, but I do not really take offense. I sense he does not have much experience with romantic relationships. He comes from Connemara, not far from where Steve grew up. Both of his parents died within a year-and-a-half of each other. He tells me this quietly, at the helm. He was nine when his father died. They were being driven home after competing in a contest of traditional Irish dancing, where they had both won prizes. Sitting in the back seat, his father reclined, putting his head in Niall’s lap to doze. Niall did not realize he was dead until they reached home.

Steve’s father, Coleman Mulkerrins, had been friends with Niall’s father, and took the boy under wing. Coleman organized dances across Ireland and often took Niall along, giving him the job of collecting tickets at the door.

“He was almost more of a son to my father than I was,” Steve says.

“A gentleman,” is how Niall describes the elder Mulkerrins, who, as he would with family, hung a framed picture of Niall in his home. “Steve is the spitting image of his father,” Niall tells me. “When he says he’ll do something, he does it. He is a great man.”

Niall left Ireland for England when he was 11 years old. He met Steve there two years later and then again in Chicago when he moved to the US nine years ago. Steve was established in Chicago by then and gave him work. Now Niall is part of this crew. He pours strength into his current task as human lever, his chest leaning into the tiller while his legs angle outward, his athletic shoes pressed against the gunwale.

There is no letting go of the tiller, for there is nothing else keeping us on course but the 18-foot-long rudder it controls. The St. Barbara has no polished steel captain’s wheel or steering system driven by rack-and-pinion or hydraulics, let alone autopilot. Every minute we sail, every broadside blow from the waves, and every shove from a wind gust transmits through this length of oak. The guys will maintain direct contact with the boat and the elements this way for every moment of their journey through these lakes and across 4,500 miles of open Atlantic until they reach Ireland.

Against the current we crawl for several hours at five knots (just under six m.p.h.) deep into Thunder Bay. The bay, which is both 10 miles wide and deep, is a bathtub compared to the ocean to come, but this is no leisurely soak. Everything is a miserable shade of gray: pale sky, steely water, hazy tree line. The rain whips around like airborne needles as I watch the waves peak above our heads. The story-telling stops; Robert and Tom have hunkered down. Aidan, Patrick and Steve help Niall at the tiller.

I sit just behind the cabin roof, tense and hating where we are at the moment. To fight seasickness, I have taken Dramamine and am wearing pressure-point bracelets on both wrists. But queasiness sneaks up. I am cold and wet despite wearing three pairs of pants (including a waterproof pair Niall has lent to me, as well as my own), fleece, a life vest, my ski jacket, a rubber-coated jacket (also from Niall), a hat and hood. I train my eyes on the thin strip of land to starboard, each rise of the waves corresponding with a horrible upheaval in my gut. I am shaking and decide to stay quiet, sipping from a water bottle. But filling my stomach with water is the worst thing I could do. I lose it several times over the side as Niall, who has given the tiller to Steve, grabs my ankles. I am oblivious to this as I feel myself turn inside out. I am supremely embarrassed, but the best antidote to seasickness is giving into it, at least for a bit.

We lurch forward, passing three ports because their harbors are too shallow, even for the St. Barbara. Alpena, an industrial town on Michigan’s east coast, is our only hope at this point for finding fuel, potable water for the tank and a hot lunch.

“You have to have patience on a journey like this,” Steve says.

And then, hallelujah, Alpena appears! Not much is happening along the waterfront, where a hardboard manufacturing plant anchors a series of blank-walled buildings. By the time we moor along a seawall, the sun is out. I can still feel the waves in my legs as I struggle to keep pace with the men, who walk into town looking for Main Street and a restaurant for lunch. The streets seem abandoned and too many storefronts are vacant. But we find a steak joint on a corner, decorated like a Western saloon.

The guys let out a cheer – red meat is what they crave! We pass through heavy wooden doors and glance at the animal-head trophies mounted on the walls. We take their biggest table, a circular one that seats ten with a lazy Susan in the center. Everyone feels how tired they are now and says nothing, staring off in different directions as we wait for the food.

Niall has three beers while most of the others devour T-bones. I still have not learned my lesson – despite my returned appetite – and modestly order a hamburger, which does not stave off the lake’s cold and wet like steak and potatoes. But our mood rises, the joking starts up and we talk of reaching Lake St. Clair by first light the next morning. We have 160 miles to go down Lake Huron and the St. Clair River to get there. Steve talks about how well the boat is holding up. When he and the crew discuss sailing the St. Barbara home, they always say they are bringing her “back to Ireland,” as if she had been there before, rather than a gal born in a warehouse on Chicago’s South Side. Back at the pier, she has her fill, too, of diesel and fresh water for her tanks. We will now have running water in the sinks and toilet.

Lake Huron is gentle with us this afternoon. It is hard to believe this is the same lake we knew this morning. The deep blue waves are just a couple of feet high and the breeze is warm and light, so we must use the engine again to augment the sails. We don't like its drone, but we are cruising at a leisurely seven-and-a-half knots. The only distractions are the rush of water splaying from the hull, the leathery flap of sail and the pulleys’ rattle. This boat does not creak; it is still tight from being so new. There isn’t a soul in front of us for miles. Not a person, not a building, not a car nor a billboard. There are no phone calls, pop-music radio stations or demands, except to move forward.

And to sleep. Finally, the guys can sleep. Steve takes a long berth by the engine and puts plugs in his ears. Patrick takes a second long berth behind the chart table.

I sit with the other guys on deck. We are now running with the waves. They keep pace with us and then drop away, like a dog that races a car and suddenly wheels around.

Then I notice a ghostly moan coming from somewhere inside the hull or the water. It goes up in pitch as the St. Barbara pushes great volumes of water out of her way. It falls as the boat settles lower in the water again. Could the waves’ friction on the hull be humming? Perhaps it is mysterious lake whales calling. Later, Patrick tells me it is the dual propellers rising and submerging as the waves roll beneath us. We are carried southward toward ocean freighters, Detroit and a human manatee.

Coming within the week – the next installment of “Dream Boat,” with more photos from the journey.

Above photo by Ardis Berghoff.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Adventure ∩ Dream Boat (part 2)

With the St. Barbara stocked and ready to go, we resume our story. Please see Part 1 for an introduction to this adventure, the boat and her crew.

September 15 . . . Lake Michigan pushes back as we launch the St. Barbara from St. James’ pier. Waves roll right for us as a headwind blows the 20-ton boat toward the pilings. The lively talk that preceded our casting off turns to silence as Steve, Niall and Aidan plant their hands on the pier’s posts and push. Pat runs the engine to maneuver the heavy boat while he steadies the tiller with one foot, a cigar in his mouth. With a bit of persistence and help from the 150 horsepower diesel Ford, we are free of the pier, then free of the harbor and heading out into Lake Michigan.

It is nearly five o’clock. The men decide to raise the staysail and jib, which they have brought up on deck, along with cigarettes and coffee. Nicotine and caffeine will be the choice human fuels for this journey. I soon understand why they need the boost.

A Galway hooker relies on rope, wooden pulley blocks the size of cantaloupes and muscle to raise the sails. The mainsail is lashed to the mast – rope sliding over wood – not run through a metal slot or along a track as on more modern boats. The jib must be clipped to the tip of the bowsprit, which extends 18 feet beyond the bow. The boat’s mast and spars (the gaff, bowsprit and boom, which essentially run perpendicular to the mast and help support the sails) are as heavy as tree trunks, because they are red pine logs that Steve purchased in northern Wisconsin and outfitted for the boat. Finally, the boat is carrying more than 1,600 square feet of sails. While they are made from Dacron instead of the weighty cotton calico that would have been used in 19th-century Ireland, their size makes them heavy. The red color is traditional and comes from the boiled tree bark and butter that the Irish boat builders would rub into the cloth to keep rats and mice from devouring it.

Raising the staysail and jib takes Steve, Niall and Aidan fifteen minutes. It is not easy as the boat pitches about while they try to figure out which line is which. They are not yet used to working together, let alone sailing this boat. This is no sleek, hyper-designed racing boat in the America’s Cup! The guys simply take it as it comes, using their weight to haul on the lines. They crank and hoist until the rusty cloth billows and catches the wind. We are sailing.

Steve puts a tape into the stereo, and Irish ballads blast through the built-in speakers on deck. The volume is high to compete with the engine’s growl, but the enormous blue sky, the sunlight and the rhythm of the waves against the hull quiet us. Steve and Aidan look west across the water, while Niall sits at the stern with Patrick, who is still at the tiller. Tom sits beside me on the other side of the tiller; Robert lies on his back on the cabin roof. Their smiles could be from squinting at the sun or from a new sensation: the weight of every worry and responsibility back home in Chicago falling away as we head into open space and water.

Steve hands me an empty plastic bottle. “Write a message and put it in,” he says. I take a page from my notebook and write, Hello from the St. Barbara, an authentic Galway hooker built by Steve Mulkerrins heading home to Ireland from its birthplace in Chicago. Good luck to her crew and the person who finds this message. I draw a crude shamrock, fold up the paper and toss the sealed bottle overboard. It bobs away on the waves.

We catch our first glimpse of the Mackinac Bridge, which spans the five miles of water between lower and upper Michigan. It is barely a sketch on the horizon, but through binoculars, we can see its towers glowing pink in the setting sun. A line of birds snakes up and down above the waves. There are lots of migrating birds now, but the wind is warm.

Niall and Steve take turns at the tiller while Patrick checks the charts below deck. He has decided that after we pass beneath the bridge we’ll take a southerly route through the Straits of Mackinac. The water is shallow and riddled with rocks, but the distance is shorter. The charts mark each known shipwreck with an X. The Stalker, Cedarville, Barnum, Clay and Andrew. In fact, throughout the Straits, there are 41 known shipwrecks, while another 43 are believed to be in the area but have not yet been located. Most are wooden 19th-century schooners. Some are steel-hulled freighters. Fortunately for us, Galway hookers have a shallow draft by design.

“These boats floated on their bellies so they could deliver cargo in water as shallow as nine feet,” Steve tells me of the traditional hookers, which regularly navigated the natural harbors and rocky shores of Connemara to reach isolated villages 100 years ago.

The men lower the sails at Patrick’s request. We do not want to rely on the unevenness of sail power and wind gusts near the bridge and the shallow water to come. The engine drones. It is about 8 p.m. when we finally pass under the Mackinac Bridge. Its deck, 199 feet above us, arches gracefully like a spine. I can see cars and trucks, their headlights tiny points, gliding along like toys on its roadway. Lights dot the girders and great cables arching overhead and sparkle in the dark. It feels like we’re passing beneath a mighty skyscraper sleeping on its side.

Minutes later we have a job to do. Standing at the bow and along the weatherboards that run the boat’s length, we scan the water for rocks and other obstacles. There are dozens of buoys that come at us out of the dark. Each one corresponds to one of those Xs on the chart or some other hazard. Patrick has the tiller. Steve looks nervous. Niall eyes a gauge at the helm, calling out the water’s depth to Aidan, who’s at the chart table below confirming our course. “Sixteen feet!” Niall calls. “Fifteen feet!” “Seventeen!” We churn past a buoy, its white flag flapping to warn us of its charge, a big wreck lying on the Strait’s mucky bottom, just feet of black water and a century between it and us.

By now, the temperature has dropped and spray has made a seat at the stern a wet place to be, but we all gather there, fascinated by the night. Most of the guys have put on their foul weather gear – bulky, waterproof jackets and pants pulled on over their jeans and t-shirts. I wear my ski parka and nylon ski pants to stay dry. Steve still wears his windbreaker, a logo for the bank that provides the financing for his condo projects embroidered on the front. Dinner is deli meat, cheese and bread.

Lake Michigan recedes into blackness while the 206-mile length of Lake Huron stretches in front of us, equally as black. Turning south, we face down a strong headwind and waves that crash over St. Barbara’s bow, once again trying to force her back from whence she came.

I turn in at this point. It is my first night in a narrow berth – one of the benches beside the galley table. It is too rough to try brushing my teeth in the head, so I dive into the berth, clothes still on, and shut my eyes against the tossing cabin and queasiness, my leg braced against the table to keep myself from falling to the floor.

Coming within the week – the next installment of “Dream Boat.”

Photos by Ardis Berghoff.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Adventure ∩ Dream Boat (part 1)

For nearly four years I followed the story of Steve Mulkerrins, a contractor and condo developer by trade who built an extraordinary sailboat in a warehouse on Chicago’s South Side. It was a Galway hooker, a traditional wooden sailboat used along the western coast of Ireland for much of the 19th and early 20th century to haul cargo and for fishing. Steve’s boat is the biggest of its kind: 47 feet long and made of oak and larch. It took him nearly four years and $500,000 of his own money to build, he says. In 2006, he and a few of his friends set a world record by sailing the boat from Chicago home to their native Ireland. I published feature stories about Steve’s undertaking in WoodenBoat magazine (July 2006) and Lake magazine (July 2007).

The following sketch comes from notes I took as I sailed with the crew during their first Great Lakes journey in 2004. We traveled from Lake Michigan across lakes Huron, St. Clair, Erie and Ontario and up the St. Lawrence Seaway to Montreal. Later posts will recount storms and idyllic days, describe the boat’s massive construction and tell you more about the men, who prove that achieving the American Dream – while maintaining ties with one’s heritage – is alive and well.

September 15. . . “You’re overdressed!” Steve says to me as he enters the terminal at Chicago Executive Airport, an airport for small aircraft northwest of Chicago. He is referring to a call I made to him a couple of days earlier. “Steve, I need your fashion advice,” I joked with the no-frills, self-described carpenter. “What type of foul weather gear should I buy for the trip?” Dressed now in a t-shirt and cargo pants (a duffle bag by my side is packed with a ski jacket and nylon pants instead of expensive sailing gear), I had arrived at the airport at 10:30 a.m., as Steve suggested, for an 11 a.m. chartered flight to Beaver Island in northern Lake Michigan. The crew left the Saint Barbara there three weeks earlier during the first, brief leg of their Great Lakes journey. Steve and his friends now saunter toward me through the departure lounge, smiling and laughing. It is 11:08 a.m.

Steve* is the stoutest of the group and wears the same stained (but laundered) jeans he wore to tar the boat’s hull months ago. A native of Connemara on Ireland’s west coast, he is hard working, fast-talking and our captain. By his side is his skipper, Patrick*, from the Aran Islands. He is handsome, six-foot-plus and has a melodious way of speaking English. Yet he is so low-key that you would never guess he possesses ninety percent of this crew’s sailing experience and skills. Niall is first mate and a boyhood friend of Steve’s. He is wiry, has a weathered face and tends to call women, including me, “Baby Doll.” Aidan, the youngest crewmember, has a wife and baby at home. He also is from Ireland and works in Pat’s Chicago plumbing business. Tom, who is American-born but of Irish heritage, is a former Chicago cop and Steve’s neighbor on Chicago’s northwest side. Robert is Irish-American as well. A Vietnam vet and retired network television cameraman, he is filming the voyage for a documentary.

A twin-engine pulls up on the tarmac. We pile in, with the guys insisting that I take the front seat beside the pilot. We are in the air by 11:30. It’s a sunny, hot day, the deep blue lake below us smudged with white cresting waves. White horses, sailors call them. They are a sign of rough weather that a sailor will often note to decide if going out that day is worth whatever lies ahead.

The mood in the cabin is high. The plane’s engines roar, so I cannot hear what the guys are saying behind me, but their tone is light and joking. Whenever I turn around, I find Tom, with his large green-blue eyes, staring at me. While I knew most of the crew from gathering at the boat’s construction site and its launch, I had never met him before our boarding the plane and smile at him politely. Maybe he wanted the front seat, I think.

Our pilot, Paul, gives me a set of headphones to wear. He lives on Beaver Island and often flies people between there and the Chicago area. Between his radio communications with the airport, he tells me about flying over Lake Michigan.

“The waves are big, even from up here,” he says, eyeing the whitecaps. At this point, the water seems as abstract as the aeronautical map that lies in my lap. I trace our progress with my finger, comparing the map’s figures with various bays and islands I spot in the hazy distance. Paul tells me that in 2001 he flew back and forth over Beaver Island, helping to look for a downed plane that contained a man, his wife and their three children. Of all the searchers in the air and on the water looking for the family, he was the one to find them. They had crashed in a cedar swamp on the island. The two pilots and the family’s dog perished.

“We’re now best friends for life,” he tells me of his relationship with the husband and wife. “She calls me monthly to see how I am. She must relive that crash every day.”

Beaver Island lies nearly 300 miles northeast of Chicago and is known as America’s Emerald Isle. Mormon leader James Strang tried establishing a kingdom there in 1850 but was later assassinated. Irish fishermen and their families then settled the island. Today, the summer homes of people from Milwaukee, Chicago and other cities dot the island, whose population dips to 551 residents in winter.

An hour later, we land on Beaver Island’s grass runway and taxi to two sheds, one clad in silvered, weathered wood, the other built of logs. As soon as we step out of the plane, many of the crew light cigarettes and take quick, deep drags. The pilot gives us a ride into town. St. James is quaint, with clapboard-sided houses and inns for the tourists. The place has a getting-ready-for-winter quiet that resort towns take on once the summer residents have deserted.

By 1 p.m. we are at the harbor and the boat. I have not seen the Saint Barbara in a couple of months, and she looks good, if not a little lonely alongside the gravel quay. She is named in the Irish tradition after a saint and also for Steve’s mother, out of love and perhaps a pitch for good luck. Her black hull sits low in the water, her hatch is battened down and locked, the open cockpit already a bit sun-beaten and her single mast bare, the deep red mainsail bound to the boom, the jib and staysail stored below in the front bulkhead. Her name in white script graces the bow in English and the stern in Gaelic (Naomh Bairbre).

The guys go to work. There is no organization; there are no orders given. They load their gear on board and open up toolboxes full of clamps, pliers, brackets, hammers and screwdrivers. These are men used to working with their hands, building and fixing things. They talk to one another in bursts of Gaelic and English as they install, adjust and tinker. Pat and Steve check the bilge, which is dry, then the engine, the oil, antifreeze, battery and generator. Steve checks the ballast in the hull, the gray bricks he cast one winter from scrap lead lie there in neat rows. The diesel engine fires up and settles into idling as Tom goes through the small refrigerator in the galley, throwing out old food. Pat sets up his laptop on the chart table. He’ll use it for accessing GPS and weather reports. With a few mouse clicks he demonstrates to me how he’ll chart the course from Beaver Island to St. John’s, Newfoundland, where he and Steve plan to store the boat for the winter before attempting an Atlantic crossing next spring. It is 1,800 miles to St. John’s via water; 1,600 miles as the crow flies.

The cabin is still a mess but the men are satisfied that we are ready to sail when someone suggests we head into town for lunch. All seven of us walk down the road and find a restaurant with a big covered porch. They are just closing up for the day, but a woman lets us inside. I order a cold, plastic-wrapped sandwich from the refrigerated case. Steve and Pat appeal to the waitress, who confirms that the cook is willing to fire up the range. Most of the crew is keen to have a hot sandwich or hamburger. I learn why later.

After lunch we head to the town’s small supermarket. Breaking into two groups, each with a cart, the guys roam up and down the aisles, pulling stuff off shelves. My mind goes blank about what to buy – will we cook, what kind of supplies are on the boat, what do the guys like to eat, and when will we replenish supplies again? As an avid cook at home, I am accustomed to asking such questions of my own larder. But somehow, I don’t think I’ll get answers from these guys, so I wander the aisles with them. They are searching for summer sausage, and they find one, a foot-and-a-half long. It will turn out to be one of the most delicious things we buy, eaten in chunks on deck in the cold wind. We load the carts with deli meats, bacon, cheese, milk, jugs of water, lots of bread, rolls, mayonnaise, baby wipes, paper towels, Styrofoam cups and cartons of cigarettes. Health conscious, I grab yogurt, Grape-Nuts cereal, nectarines, apples, grapes, a cucumber and carrots.

We push the two carts of supplies back toward the boat along the asphalt road. Locals, mostly graying men with their hands in their pockets, have gathered around the boat by this time and watch us approach. There’s talk of three weeks’ worth of dock fees owed. Steve says nothing. A few minutes go by and whoever is in charge of the marina lets it go. I help unload the groceries and store them in the galley cabinets and mini-fridge.

“Ah, someone to do the cooking and cleaning!” Niall says, coming below deck. Another crew member made a similar comment earlier, looking at me, the only woman on this crew. “Careful!” I warn him sternly. He pulls back. I am not sure what to do with myself, though, as the men fall into their work. I have to make myself useful, although my “job” is to write about the journey. I eye the galley and the recently upholstered seat cushions, which are already stained. A jumble of things fills built-in shelves. Washers and screws lie scattered on the galley table. A life-size blow-up doll – Jenny, one of the guys tells me – lies deflated behind one bench. Her mouth gapes, her blonde wig is a mess, a baggy t-shirt covers her torso. A dog leash is around her neck. The guys laugh as I eye her.

“That’s Niall’s girlfriend,” someone says. Niall grumbles and denies it. He heads for the boat’s front-most bulkhead to stash diving gear that the crew may need during the journey if they have to inspect the hull beneath the water line. The boat is an unknown quantity during this journey. While the crew has sailed her during daytrips on Lake Michigan, no one knows how she will perform during prolonged rough seas, or in salt water.

I laugh over the inflatable doll but wonder what I’ve gotten myself into. My guard is up, feminist defenses deployed, yet I’ve spent enough time with most of these guys to know there is a lot of teasing and tall tales in store during this trip. I am happy to be part of this crew, and they have been kind enough to invite me along, even though I am female and do not have a drop of Irish blood in my veins. Certainly, their wives and girlfriends did not beg to come along – this I know from talking to two of these women. Yet, the crew and I know we are about to begin a very special and unusual journey.

Coming within the week – the next installment of “Dream Boat.

*To respect crewmembers’ privacy, I have changed all names except Steve’s and Patrick’s, due to fairly extensive media coverage that they have received in the past for building and/or sailing the Saint Barbara.

Above photo by Agnes Loftus.