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post #3 of Old 01-17-2013
The most female moderator
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Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: SE Pennsylvania
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Meet the Mods

I suppose since I’m still a moderator after five years, the others decided to keep me around so I should update my post.

Let me clear up a few things first: 1) My initials are D and R. I am not a doctor and 2) I am a female. Really. Sorry to those who spent time in the chat with me thinking they were talking to a man.

I started boating around 1999-ish. I was already kayaking (touring) and at some point I made up my mind to learn how to operate larger boats. No lightning hit, no AH HA moment flashed, I just drifted into the thought. I didn’t know whether it would be power boats or sailboats. A guy I knew took me offshore on his powerboat so I could see what that was like. Meh. It was fun, but my world wasn’t rocked. I wasn’t as interested in the boat as I was the ocean around me. When we returned to his dock he spent a good bit of time adjusting his dock lines to account for the tide. Now THAT intrigued me.

My next step was to take a United States Power and Sail Squadron (USPSS) boating course. I loved all nine weeks of it. The instructors were engaging and helpful. There was a group of USPSS members sitting in the back of the auditorium and they were introduced as the sailors. The instructor’s tone implied that they inhabited a culture all their own. I wanted to be them.

Near that time I also thought about joining the reserves. I was interested in either the Navy or the U.S. Coast Guard. Unfortunately, I discovered that I was too old. That’s when I discovered the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. The Auxiliary is the volunteer part of Team Coast Guard. Cool. I had a history of volunteering: ten years with American Red Cross Disaster Services, ten years with a land SAR team (I started their swift water rescue unit), various other organizations. The Auxiliary seemed like a natural fit so I joined. Since 2000 I’ve been an Auxiliary boating safety instructor, member training instructor, and coxswain.

When I started kayaking, took scuba lessons, water and ice rescue training and then sailing lessons my parents wondered what motivated me. But I started swimming before I could walk so the water is what I love.

Today I volunteer with other boating organizations such as the Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA) where I am their Rock Hall, MD Cruising Station and through one of the sail clubs we belong to, I am a delegate and board member of the Chesapeake Bay Yacht Clubs Association (CBYCA). Update: John and I now belong to Cruising Association based in the UK and are full members of Ocean Cruising Club.

My first sailboat was a 1972 Venture 2-22 with a barely working Tohatsu outboard. I found the boat for sale on the front lawn of an RV dealership near my home. I asked an experienced Auxiliary member to look at it and see if it would at least float. He crawled in and around it, gave the thumbs up, I wrote the check, and I hauled it home. I had never towed anything in my life so thank goodness I live in the country.

I bought how to books which was the start of my sailing library. My father helped with the woodworking as he was a carpenter and had a garage full of tools, oils, varnishes, and wood scraps. I spent many a summer evening after work and weekends listening to jazz while I scrubbed, scraped, removed, painted, fiberglassed, and generally gutted the boat from the inside out. Big materials fail: while the mahogany rudder my father copied from the original looked awesome, it’s HEAVY. But, my father made it for me and I don’t regret it. Besides, the boat had not yet left my driveway so I wasn’t at the point where “performance” was part of my sailing vocabulary.

Then I got to the electrical system. I bought a book, of course. A week into reading it and wondering if I’d turn the boat into a ball of fire on the water, I was introduced to John, a former electrician’s mate in the Coast Guard. Instead of courting me with flowers and fancy restaurants he offered to re-wire the boat. KEEPER!

Six months after my parents, John, and I towed the boat to Rock Hall, MD to its new home in a slip, my father died of lung cancer. Before he was diagnosed I asked him if he was going to sail with me. His response was that while he had fun working on the boat, he was not setting foot on a boat where he had to depend on wind to get him back to the dock. He had dragged home his own derelict boat to work on, a powerboat. My father had also joined the Auxiliary so we had some fun times and I have great memories.

John and I sailed the Venture for two seasons before deciding that we were tired of stooping in the cabin and wanted a boat with more comfort and range. We gave the Venture away to a couple that took one of my sailing classes and who I knew had the skills to keep it up. He is a carpenter, she is an accountant. All bases covered. We’ve since become friends.

There are a few things that I always tell my students during the first class:

Always carry a notebook. Sailors always have information they like to share. Sometimes good, sometimes bad, but write it down so you don’t forget and can investigate further later. Besides, you’ll kick yourself for not writing down that potential nugget when you had the chance.

Never think you’ve learned everything there is to know about sailing and sailboats. There is always more. It’s kind of like getting to the end of the Internet: It won’t happen unless you’ve closed your mind off to new information. I’ve learned from novices asking questions, from an old sailor with experience to spare, from books, from people in this forum.

Now John and I are several years into owning a 1980 Catalina 30 and I have started our Next Boat research. We love Halcyon and it is perfect for Chesapeake Bay and coastal sailing. We sail frequently with friends and family. My now 82-year old mother has become the perfect boat ballast, er, guest: she doesn’t get nervous sailing in heavy weather (pops her head out of the cabin every so often to make sure neither of us has fallen overboard), sleeps better on the boat than at home, and is willing to go anywhere. During her first sail when she claimed her cockpit seat, she quickly hosed my idea that she’d be our galley wench when on board but, oh well.

John and I did our first charter in 2012 and fell in love with the British Virgin Islands. We had made a goal to return as often as possible. We also have offshore plans (Caribbean and the eastern coast of South America) for the Next Boat. Update: Since I wrote my original post John and I have returned to the Caribbean several times to charter. We've also sailed offshore from Annapolis, MD (in January scraping ice and snow of the dock and deck) to the Virgin Islands via the Atlantic Superhighway: Head to the 65th meridian and turn right until you hit an island. Our offshore plans on Next Boat have changed to start with Grey Goose Island in the Hudson Bay (drink a shot of Grey Goose vodka and get the hell out because: cold) and Tristan da Cunha in the south Atlantic. The latter was a challenge issued by a retired British Navy captain with whom I had too much to drink. We decided that Next Boat will be a Malo in the 40-42 foot range.

I work in IT and John does industrial calibrations and electrical work. Our jobs keep the boat floating and good food and beverages in the galley but unfortunately our vacation time doesn’t allow for a lot of weeks away. We live in southeastern Pennsylvania with a two-hour drive to the boat.

Being a SailNet moderator has been fun but not without its challenges. Just like real life. There are many different personalities in this forum who don’t always get along but for the most part try to respect each other. Almost like real life. My forum mantra is: Attack the idea, not the person. My sailing mantra is: Be safe, have fun, make friends.

Darn. I left no room for pictures. Again.


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Catalina 30 TRBS
Rock Hall, MD

If you're helping someone and expecting something in return, you're doing business not kindness.

Last edited by Donna_F; 09-22-2018 at 12:05 PM. Reason: Updated.
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