Well, it seems like just yesterday I was driving everyone crazy at Svendsens and Nelson’s boatyards in Alameda, California….in the rush to get Ocean Planet ready for her trip to the Atlantic.
Now I’ve found another great bunch of guys to push over the edge, Charleston Boat Works, run by Teddy Turner (the son of you-know-who) and America’s Cup vet John Spence. These poor guys have had the misfortune to attract not one, not two, but THREE crazy singlehanded sailors in the midst of frantic preparations for the Around Alone. Aside from myself and Ocean Planet (we are the only American entry in Class 1), there are the Class 2 entries Brad Van Liew’s “Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America” and Tim Kent’s “Everest Horizontal” just boat lengths away!
It’s great fun to be around these great guys and boats, but the atmosphere is pretty serious most of the time with the impending deadlines looming. We are all in the same boat, no pun intended, with more to do than is possible in the time we have. Brad has four of his own guys going full on in addition to help from the boatyard. Meanwhile, I’m mostly on my own, mainly relying on the boys in the yard to attack the long lists of prep and modifications needed to be done.
There is less than one month(!) to prepare my boat for the required singlehanded transatlantic qualification sail. Also, by June 14th we must raise the rest of the donations needed to meet the matching grant of $50k put up by a group of my supporters. If we don’t meet the matching, grant I may have to call off the qualification sail and consequently my entry in the Around Alone! We are doing well, but still have about $20k to raise, so, uh, send money…and/or at least talk someone else into it… 😉 OK, enough worrying already, I know that somehow we’ll pull it off!
Meanwhile, being near Charleston is great. The city no longer hosts the Around Alone (that is now Newport and NYC) but there is a great association with the race here. I meet people everywhere that just love to talk about the sailors who were here four and eight years ago! They are super friendly. In fact, I have been invited to stay at several homes, which is nice since I was staying in a very questionable fleabag hotel near the closed naval base….I had to go to the hotel office the other night to get TP and towels which were slid to me under a protective window….
The economy here has been somewhat depressed but is apparently rebounding. As a Californian used to exorbitant real estate prices, it is hard not to drool at the really nice homes here for less than half the price! And I really like downtown Charleston too, hmmm……but I’ll wait until Charleston Boat Works has a new travel lift instead of the crane they used (see the attached pics) to haul out OP! In one pic you can see John Spence coming to get me….just kidding!