All the Single Sailors
Kate Bolick, writing in the November 2011 issue of The Atlantic:
“Indeed, my single friends housed me as I flew around the world to research this article; by the end, I had my own little (unwritten) monograph on the very rich lives of the modern-day single woman. Deb gave me the use of her handsome mid-century apartment in Chelsea when she vacated town for a meditation retreat; Courtney bequeathed her charming Brooklyn aerie while she traveled alone through Italy; Catherine put me up at her rambling Cape Cod summer house; when my weekend at Maria’s place on Shelter Island unexpectedly ballooned into two weeks, she set me up in my own little writing room; when a different Courtney needed to be nursed through an operation, I stayed for four days to write paragraphs between changing bandages.”
I’ve spent the last four months sailing Mon Tiki up and down the Atlantic seaboard. I started out in my hometown of Montauk NY, sailed as far as Isla Morada in the Florida Keys before turning back north, and presently Mon Tiki and I are in Oriental NC, guests of a local fishing packing operation, tied to their dock on this raw and rainy day.
At this moment I am in a nearby coffee shop, using the excuse of having bought a cup of coffee to sit for several hours, enjoying being inside where it is warm and there is free internet.
I have had many wonderful experiences this winter, but overall this winter has had more than it’s fair share of tough sledding. The weather, as everyone knows, has been awful, and that has effected every aspect of the trip, dampening expectations at every turn. Then in February my very beloved uncle had a catastrophic stroke and a month later my wife’s mother died. Very close friends’ families have also been visited by illness and death. So yes, lots of beautiful moments and good sailing this winter, but also no small measure of anxiety, sadness and just plain loneliness.
Last month, somewhere around Ilse of Hope Georgia the above quoted passage bubbled up from the depths of my memory. When you are singlehander you are – paradoxically – in situation of rather pronounced self-reliance, but also dependent on the kindness of strangers. As you move from place to place your life is shaped by favors you will never be able to repay, by kindness you long for to degree that is often discomfiting.
Another storm is sweeping across the eastern part of the country. The wind is 25kts out of the south right now, then will switch to north when the front passes by later today. Then, frustratingly, a northeasterly pattern will settle in for the rest of the week, pinning me and Mon Tiki right where we are. After I hit POST I’m going borrowing a truck to drive to a hardware store in the next town to buy some paint. With some luck there will be some dry days while I wait for southerlies to carry Mon Tiki back to Montauk and me back home to my family.
Above: The author on an uncomfortable cold spring day. Below: Sunset on Mon Tiki in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.