Beautiful Disaster


Alright, it’s finally become clear: I might not be totally right in the head. I, along with my two closest friends, just bought a 90 year old wooden boat. Ariadne needs a lot of work. We are planning for a 3-5 year restoration before she returns to her normal self. I’ll try to record some of the process in periodic blog posts.

Sailing (rightfully) has a reputation for exclusivity, whiteness, and general douchebaggery. Some of this will never change, because fancy boats are expensive, sometimes absurdly expensive, and serve as giant proxy phalluses for the mega-rich. This is unfortunate on so many levels. On the positive side, sailing is a powerful way to be in the natural world - to learn how to work with the weather and to respect nature, to build self-reliance and self-confidence, to learn the skills of a craftsperson (in this case woodworking and composites), and to witness and appreciate the diversity and beauty of the earth. And there are ways to enjoy those benefits without the awfulness. But yes, you have to have a boat to go sailing, and somebody to teach you the basics really helps. I’m very grateful to have had the privilege of both these things in my youth.

My buddies Jay and Scott and I have decided to become stewards of Ariadne, a wooden boat built almost entirely of mahogany in the late 1920s in Sweden. The boat was owned by a neighbor of ours who rescued it from ruin in the 1980s, and kept it alive until his death about five years ago. It was a labor of love for him, as it will be for us. The boat has next to no financial value, despite her great beauty and pedigree. We were granted the stewardship of Ariadne for $1 with the pretext that we would respect and revitalize the boat, consistent with the memory of her previous owner. This is our dream and our intention. A boat like this is an interesting endeavor as old wooden boats are a place where the rich dingleberries of the world overlap with the dirtbags - people who own and maintain their own boats with their own skill and limited resources, choosing a life of freedom and self-reliance over any sort of stability. Of course if you are unable to do the work yourself, an old wooden boat is an extreme expense.

There’s no such thing as a free boat. But the three of us decided to take on this project as a way to strengthen our friendship in the face of the pressures of adulthood, and to keep this boat as a centerpiece for our community in the years to come. We estimate it will take us about five years and a lot of elbow grease to get her back on the water. Anyone is welcome to come help with the woodworking, or come for a ride when she’s back in action.