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The Accidental Sailor by Linda Kenyon

I never really expected to find myself on a 43-foot sailboat in the middle of the North Atlantic, but sometimes these things just happen. I was living in a tiny condo in Waterloo when I met Chris and decided to quit my job, sell everything I owned, and sail away with him.

The first time Chris took me out, I’d never been on a sailboat before, was baffled by all the ropes, as I called them, not knowing a sheet from a halyard. Chris had me take the wheel as we motored out of the harbour and went forward to remove the sail cover. I watched him working on the foredeck.

“Ready to raise sail?” he asked.

“What do I do?”

“Just keep the boat pointing into the wind.”

I could do that. In no time, he had the mainsail up. It fluttered weakly in the gentle breeze. So this is sailing? He came back and took the helm, and as we rounded the lighthouse and left the shelter of the harbour, the sail suddenly filled with wind and we picked up speed. He handed me a rope—“Make sure that feeds out and doesn’t get caught on anything, especially your foot” — and reached over and unfurled what I now know is the genoa, sheeting it in with one hand as he steered.

Then he switched the engine off and the only sound you could hear was water rushing along the hull and the occasional cry of a gull. We were galloping through the sparkling blue water, wind in our hair. Free, I thought. I’m free.

“You like it?” he asked.

“I love it.”

Two years later I found myself at anchor in a sandy bay on the southeastern tip of Antigua, making lunch while Chris gave the bottom a final scrub before setting out to sail to the Azores, a passage of roughly 2,300 miles.

Sure I was apprehensive—who wouldn’t be? Okay, maybe slightly terrified is more like it. But after the first few days of easy sailing, I began to relax, to savour the feeling of being stretched out in the cockpit, water chuckling along the side of the hull, a gentle breeze wafting over me. The morning sun was shining right through the broad yellow and green stripes of the spinnaker, bathing the cockpit in soft, warm light.

Of course the easy sailing didn’t last. We’d been out about a week when the weather began to deteriorate—and so did my courage. Then it got worse. Just two days before making landfall in the Azores we were clobbered by not one but two big gales. On the morning of the third day, the wind died, and as it started to get light, the island of Flores emerged from the gloom. I felt a surge of pride. I did it! I sailed all the way across the North Atlantic. Not too bad for an accidental sailor.

I’ve just written a book about my first ocean crossing. Sea Over Bow, it’s called, and it’s for anyone who has ever wondered what it’s like to sail across an ocean. It’s an adventure story, but it’s also about finding the courage to begin again.

Linda in the rigging spinnaker portrait landfall in the azores
 

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We’re Hiring!

The Nautical Mind Bookstore

The Nautical Mind Bookstore is looking for a new crew member to work a couple of days a week, including weekends, starting in October extending ideally for several years, depending on circumstances.

The job involves helping customers in the store, on the phone, and online find the right books, charts, and cruising guides for their needs, and getting said items to them.  Detailed knowledge of boats, books, the implacable heart of the sea, and navigation would be a great boon, as would a facility and comfort with computers, and an ability to learn and problem solve, specifically with respect to fiendish logistical problems. An interest in writing blog posts and/or engaging in social media would be nice but isn’t mandatory, as would comfort around scrappy little sea dogs.

The Nautical Mind is a positive and inclusive workspace where the traits, skills, and contributions of all are acknowledged and respected.  It’s a unique local niche bookstore focussed on a deeply fascinating subject matter.

If you’re interested, please send your resume and a cover letter to books@nauticalmind.com

 

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Project Coastline: A Spirit of Reconciliation is Launched with a Legacy Canoe

Coming Together

Since times immemorial, the canoe has been an enduring symbol of the spirit, identity, skill, imagination and knowledge of the First Nations People. It was an essential means of communication and transportation, not only for the First Nations, but for the European settlers who came to this country, a land where the only roads were lakes and rivers, distances were far, and portages were many.

If ever there was one single invention that made the exploration of Canada possible, it was the canoe. It was a vessel perfectly adapted to meet and overcome the challenges of our geography, with speed, grace, and practicality.

Finished Legacy CanoeIn a project designed to foster a spirit of reconciliation between the First Nations and Canada’s non-indigenous peoples, teen members from The Canadian Association of Girls in Science, and students from The Etobicoke School for the Arts worked together to create a professional grade Legacy Canoe. Their work was guided by the mentorship of three adult Master Boat and Canoe builders, with additional encouragement provided by a Golden Retriever named Rover!

By engaging their hands, hearts and minds, the construction of the Legacy Canoe has allowed the youth involved to discover how much value a canoe truly represents – in terms of the skill, ingenuity, and sense of practical and spiritual beauty which the First Nations demonstrated, every time a canoe was launched on Canada’s rivers and lakes. In that process, an essential part of our heritage was brought to life, as a symbol that brings cultures together in the present, just as it did in the past.

The physical work of building the canoe was completed by the teen members of The Canadian Association for Girls in Science, while the artistic work on the design and painting of the hull was created by students from The Etobicoke School of the Arts – whose students submitted almost 400 proposals for the hull decorations!

Project CoastlineThe winning artistic design was based on the concept of the flowing lights of the Aurora Borealis, but the fluidity of the many colours involved could also be seen as a quiet symbol of the diversity of our country, flowing together with a vitality that moves in a common direction.

Upon completion, the Legacy Canoe was blessed by Whabagoon (Flower Blooms in Spring) Patti Phipps Walker, an Ojibway Elder.

The Legacy Canoe will be launched on Sunday, 25 June 2017 at the National Yacht Club in Toronto, starting at 5:00 p.m.

This Canada 150 Project was an initiative of the Broad Reach Foundation for Youth. Videos showing the construction of the Legacy Canoe can be viewed at here on projectcastline.ca. For additional information, please contact info@sailbroadreach.ca. or Marguerite Pyron, Executive Director, at 416-850-5755.

 

— Randall Withell, volunteer with Broad Reach’s Project Coastline

 

Attaching Ribs

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Tall Ship Inspections and Exams from Transport Canada

STV Pathfinder and her crew of teenagers prepare for her 55th summer of adventure on the Great Lakes.  Before she and her sister ship, TS Playfair, can set sail, both the vessels and their crews need to pass muster on a rigorous set of standards established by Transport Canada.  The inspections include:Re-rigging the topmast

 

  • general condition of structures, equipment, and their operation
  • lifesaving, fire-fighting and fire detection equipment
  • watertight and fire-resisting door/window systems
  • quick-closing arrangements in fuel system
  • main and auxiliary steering gears
  • bilge-pumping arrangements and oil record books
  • navigation and radio equipment
  • ship-side valves
  • crew accommodation
  • Much more, detailed here at Transport Canada

Her crew must be certified with 150t Master, 60tL Mate, and Marine Emergency Duties level A2.

Pathfinder's crew preparing the tops'l yard

Find out more about the Brigantines and their summer sailing adventures for teenagers at torontobrigantine.org

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Visit Booth G545 at the Toronto Boat Show for Bargains Galore and More!

Come see us at the Boat Show, Friday Jan 20th – Sunday Jan 29th!

Nautical Mind Boat Show Booth G545

New Racing Rules Books

The Rules in Practice 2017-2020

Racing Rules Companion 2017-2020 (300dpi)

Understanding the Racing Rules Dave Perry 2017- 2020

 

Bargains:

Chapman Piloting & Seamanship (67th ed.) — only $35!
Franklin’s Lost Ship only $9.99!
Making Paper Boats – only $6.99!
Your First Atlantic Crossing: A Planning Guide for Passagemakers – only$8.99!
Reeds Diesel Engine Troubleshooting Handbook – only $5.99!
Adlard Coles Nautical Quiz Book: With 1000 Questions – only $3.99!

Up-to-date Cruising Guides:

cruising-guide-virgin-islandsbahamas-waterway-guide-2017

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Marine Charts

-Explorer Chartbooks for the Bahamas, charts for Intracoastal Waterway,  Richardson’s for the Great Lakes, Trent-Severn
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Behind-the-Scenes Bookstore Trivia for 2016

A of peek inside our nautical minds —
a few behind-the-scenes notes and numbers from the year so far

Farthest we shipped a book in 2016:
11,415 km. It was Bulk Carrier Practice, sent to Shanghai, China.

#1 Seamanship title, 2016:
Stress-Free Sailing: Single and Short-Handed Techniques

Longest book in the shop:
21st Century Seamanship, a whopping 1,300 pages.

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#1 bestselling chartbook since its first edition:
The Explorer Chartbooks to the Bahamas (1st ed, 2000), thanks to word-of-mouth praise.

2016’s most surprising cruising guide tally:
Three copies of the South African Nautical Almanac, tripling last year’s count.

Most exciting customer request:
“Please send a set of Canadian Arctic and Greenland charts for our east-west Northwest Passage expedition.”

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Most intriguing 2016 book/event:
Dragon Harald Fairhair: The World’s Largest Viking Ship. The book’s half in Norwegian and the ship itself docked just outside our doors in July.

Longest (and most beloved) series:
Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey–Maturin novels, at 7,000-plus pages. Would it were 10,000….

Unsold book we can’t bear to de-list:
Haunted Lakes: Great Lakes Ghost Stories, Superstitions and Sea Serpents. A 1997 first edition (!), but we just can’t mark down those Great Lakes sea serpents.

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Most extreme customer-service delivery:
Two books carried this fall to Cap-aux-Meules, Magdalen Islands by a travelling staff member.

Most books bought by a single customer:
317—possibly more (records only go back to 2005)—purchased by our best all-time/long-time top customer. The runner-up is at 200 titles. Our sincere thanks to them both— and to all our supporters.

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We’re Looking for Part Time Help in November & December

Become Santa for some sailors! Join our dynamic team of salty dogs and an actual dog for the holiday season as we distribute books, charts, and cheer from our Toronto storefront and across the internet. Familiarity with books, boats, and selling things is necessary for this position. Comfort with nautical charts and paper cuts an asset but not required. Available shifts will likely mostly be on weekends from mid November through the end of December with the chance of further opportunities at the Boat Show and beyond.

Please email or phone.
books@nauticalmind.com
416-203-1163