By: David Hogg
Dear Frannie C readership,
My name is Dave & I will be your guest blogger for today. A bit about myself:
To read the rest of Dave's guest post - click "read more" below!
How I ended up as temporary crew for Frannie C
My story with Frannie C starts with a sciatic pain running down by left buttock into my calf and foot. I have been off work for some time now due to a troublesome disc bulge in my low spine. Unfortunately, this injury has limited me in many ways for the past few months. But, with nothing to do all the time, it also makes me prime boat-crew material for an 8-day ferry from Toronto Harbour to New York City (spoiler alert: as per the title of this post, we did not make it that far).
Jamie had asked me to join Trevor for this initial stage of their voyage to the Caribbean, as she had to stay back in Toronto and work. At first, I was ambivalent to this request: would sailing be a wise health choice? Would it be foolhardy? I decided to ask one of my trusted healthcare practitioners. His advice was as follows... "Dave... if you had the chance to have sex despite the state of your spine, would you?" ... [a moment passes as I muse but he chimes in before I can answer] ... "This boat trip is the exact same thing and you should definitely go." Although this made little sense & I wasn't convinced it was sound advice at all, I decided it was good indeed & had made up my mind.
Fast forward to the day we leave Jamie standing on the dock in Toronto & start to pull away under full sail. It was an idyllic, warm, sunny day complete with delightfully puffy clouds & a decent 15 knots to harness. While it was very exciting to be embarking on a new adventure, turns out boats are relatively slow (I'm used to travelling 360+ knots - Frannie, at full speed, could hit 6 or 7 ish). In my mind, we had an epic Hanz Zimmer score à la Pirates of the Caribbean driving us forward to grand adventures! BUT, when after 1 hour of sailing, I could look back and still see Toronto in quite a bit of detail, I decided I should, like Frannie, slow down, soak up the moment, and simply enjoy.
Boats: Not the same as airplanes
This part of the story should be called "How Dave ran Frannie C aground". Let me tell you, it's actually a lot easier to do than it sounds. You see, when you're under the impression that you always keep red canal markers on your right, it's only a matter of time before you hit something when you're headed downstream.
At this point in the story, I want to emphasize how great Trevor is with his boatery: stellar acumen, very sharp, ever moving efficiently around the boat. It really is a pleasure to see somebody thrive in her/her environment, enjoying the work that they do. Trevor is one such person to see. He looked very much at home on his boat (perhaps because the boat is, in fact, his home). As a Captain, he was always one step ahead, thinking downstream and making clever little fixes for this and that as we moved along. Very quickly, I perceived that I was in good hands... so I became very lazy. I reckoned I would be just lazy enough to not be completely useless (see Trev? Take it as a compliment). Anyways, in the end he kept us & his boat safe from peril many times. By peril, I of course mean myself and also some hairy weather. On top of this, he kept his calm demeanour with a dash of good humour through it all.
This part of the story should be called "How Dave ran Frannie C aground a second time", but luckily Trevor saved it from happening again. Yes, I know what you're thinking, this should be a little harder to do a second time (especially after being taught about canal markings)... I don't really have a good excuse honestly, but under Trevor's watchful eye he quickly realized what was going on, took control, and did some boat stuff so that we didn't hit anything. Thanks Trev!
At this point, you're most definitely wondering why a lazy boating-hazard such as I was asked to join this crew. That is a good question. As far as I know, it was because Jamie wanted someone to keep an eye on Trevor, but mainly to take pictures for her @sailingfrannie Instafeed. She figured that was something I would do well? In fact, I did a mediocre job at best (see below) - I'll once again blame the fact that I was on a boat...
This is the part of the blog where I mention that thing that happened that Trevor and I agreed to never to tell Jamie about. It really could be anything.
Back to the story of our journey...
Our first night on Lake Ontario was pitch dark, cold and rainy. The wind picked up to a gusty 35 knots. This was Frannie’s test. She was creaking furiously and the VHF picked up a distress call about an elderly man in a dinghy. Things were getting a little wild and it wasn’t long before I needed 4 points of contact just to stay standing. Due to my ignorance, I felt safe. I had a moment where I thought I’d be seasick but I held my shit together. As ever, Trevor remained calm and on point while I was drunk on wine. We were trading 3 hour night watch shifts to make sure we were clear of other traffic and to keep our course true. Time flew by on watch and sleep was most welcome when we relieved each other from duty. Frannie was constantly kicking sideways and groaning under the stress but holding up like a champ. As I finished my final shift at watch I wished the distressed dinghy man good luck, and was rocked to sleep by the heaving 6ft waves. I wish I had a picture of the situation, but taking pictures was the last thing on my mind. I found a new respect for those who work at sea. Here are some medicore cell phone photos of the "calm before the storm":
Morning finally came. After 26 hours of chugging along with only half the staysail out, we reached the calm waters of Oswego Inlet. We made our arrival to the Empire State where Trevor cleared customs and we finally had some time to relax at the marina. I went into town to search for some ice cream. I stumbled upon a quaint little bookstore where I bought some books for the days ahead. The next morning we unstepped the mast in preparation for the cruising through the canal system that would take us to the Hudson River. Before we left, we met a man named Larry who was also preparing to navigate the canals. He invited me to help him crew his boat which was objectively much more swanky than Frannie. I considered mutiny but decided to stay with our good Captain Trevor. I may be lazy, but I’m no traitor.
By our first morning on the canals Trevor figured we were behind schedule so we decided to run through as many locks as we could during their opening hours of 7am and 5pm each day. We fell into a routine of motoring through foggy mornings and warm sunny afternoons. We occasionally dropped a trawling line in the off chance of catching a meal.
At 6am on the fourth day of canal running, Trevor rolled out of bed and broke the morning silence, “this is beginning to feel like work”. I agreed. We were pulling some pretty long days trying to gain way. Depsite the grind-like schedule, life on Frannie was growing on me. There was lots of good food, drink and literature to enjoy. Plus, the scenery wasn't so bad either:
As it became more and more apparent that we would not reach New York City on schedule, Trevor had Jamie do some recon work for us. She was tasked to find a marina along the Hudson river where we could moor Frannie so that we could make our scheduled flight out of La Guardia to Toronto. Although it was Jamie that found Poughkeepsie Yacht Club, an affordable, safe, and very welcoming joint, Trevor pretended like it was his great idea to stop there and exclaimed “I’m very pleased with myself”. I thought that was hilarious, because it was. I’m laughing even now as I write this. That night we had pizza delivered to Frannie and had some hot showers - twas nice.
The next morning we left Frannie here. We hopped on a train to Grand Central Station where Trevor made the astute observation that there are so many different types of noses in NYC.
Later that day we caught an early flight on standby to Toronto. Jamie came to pick us up. When we finally met her she was in the middle of cussing out a young man who was trying to give her an idling ticket. Classic Jamie. By the time she was on the 401 East she was doing her best Morgan Freeman impression and making us laugh.
In conclusion, I sincerely enjoyed my time on Frannie C. I will never forget it. But even more special than spending some time on a boat is getting to share a small slice of life with Jamie and Trevor. If you are reading this, I’m sure you also appreciate and love them in your own personal way so please join me in wishing them a safe, beautiful, and exciting adventure together. Salut!