It’s 6.26am on Tuesday June 25th (2019), and I’m sitting in Dublin Airport waiting for my flight to Glasgow.
I’m off to see my boat.
This tiny step in a big adventure has taken time, effort and energy, and has been sneaking up on me my whole life - from sitting on my mums windsurfer as a toddler, to sailing with my dad as a tiny human in oversized oilskins, to summers sailing in Brittany with my French cousins, to living on a boat at 18 with my family… This day has been a lifetime in the making.
Tiny Sailor MJ in her Oilies off the West coast of Ireland (sometime between the late 1980s and early 1990s)
The desire to own and live on my own boat however, is relatively new, even though it was always a dream - What young girl doesn’t dream of shaving her head and taking to the high seas, following in the footsteps of pirate Gráinne Mhaol?
Last September, I took a proper break from a full year of market research and building a new business - a two day holiday. The second day I spent skating the Waterford Greenway, sitting on a pebble beach in the Gaeltacht, and eating lovely food in Dungarvan. The first day, I took a trip out to the Saltee Islands -
Sitting on the edge - Saltee Islands off Kilmore Quay - September 2018
The Saltee Islands lie just off Kilmore Quay - the main island is privately owned, and has one summer home on it, tucked away, and the owners kindly allow people to visit the island between 11am and 4pm as it is a bird sanctuary, full of gannets and puffin colonies, and baby seals cover the black muddy beaches. It was a wonderful day of sunshine and incredible views. We took a fishing boat out to the island, and hopped off when we got near enough, water reaching the top of our calves as a massive bull (male seal), his head the size of a large buoy looked on. On the way back the fishing boat crashed through the waves and wind and we got thoroughly soaked, and enjoyed every second.
As we drove home we chatted - I was looking for a room to rent, but every option open to me was either incredibly expensive, or sharing in a house with students - neither interested me. Setting foot on a boat again (albeit a fishing boat) had been so much fun, and we laughed at the idea of me buying a boat to live in as we looked up tiny boats more cramped than a garden shed on Daft - It was a great day.
A couple of weeks later I began to do the math… how much would a boat cost? (a proper boat, big enough to live in). How much would the insurance, upkeep, and fees cost? Did boats exist in this price range? According to my math, buying a boat and the costs of year one equated to a year renting a room in a shared house. (Edit: future posts will show that this was not quite right, and my costings lacked some foresight). I presented my crazy idea to another friend, who wisely replied “sure it would be irresponsible NOT to buy a boat!”
So after 9 months of trawling websites, road trips and plane flights, visiting boats, and plenty of research, I finally found her. A Trapper 950. 31ft. With all the nooks and specific bits I was looking for in my first home.
A Trapper 950 under sail - Image from SailboatData.com - https://sailboatdata.com/sailboat/trapper-950 - I found out later that this is actually a photo of MY LOVELY BOAT!
Because she is in the UK I asked family to go check her out for me as soon as I saw her online - Calling the owner as I sold leggings at a Tattoo Convention - Reports came back so positive, that a deposit was put down straight away before someone snapped her up (which had happened to me with previous boats) - And now I am off to see her for the very first time!
My new home
Alerion of Adur