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Lots of boats come to Oriental, some tie up at the Town Dock for a night or two, others drop anchor in the harbor for a while. If you've spent any time on the water you know that every boat has a story. The Shipping News on TownDock.net brings you the stories of the boats that have visited recently.

Alan, David Bowie, and Blue 9
Six legs on a new voyage
December 9, 2020

dog, one eye blue and one eye brown, sat fore on a yellow paddle board. Behind her sat a thin, angular man paddling them through the harbor. New cruising live-aboards visiting Oriental, Alan Konecny and his dog Davie were waiting out bad weather at the Oriental Marina before heading south.

Davie keeps a lookout as Alan paddles.

The paddle board serves as a dinghy, hanging from davits on the back of his Pearson 27 sailboat. The inflatable, backpack style board had been picked up in Dallas, Texas when the pandemic hit. At the time, Alan had been on a months-long business trip in his role as a brand manager creating organic, vegetarian and vegan specialty brands for companies.

In December 2019, before many had heard about the novel coronavirus, he became severely ill. Alan believes he picked up the illness at popular Mexican restaurant in downtown Dallas. It was the place all the international business people would go for Mexican fare, himself included. There was a contingent of Chinese businessmen in the hotel across from his also frequenting the restaurant. Alan says the businessmen unknowingly infected the staff, and the staff in turn infected him.

a dog with two different colored eyes sits in a metal chair outside
Outside The Bean, David Bowie (called Davie) waits patiently for Alan to return with his coffee and her ice cream.

“This was right before everything, and we didn’t know [about COVID].” Half the restaurant staff were calling in sick, he said, saying they were unable to breathe. “We thought it was just a bad flu or something.”

Alan was sick from December 28, 2019 to January 14. “I literally almost died,” says Alan. “I lost 65 pounds.

“The first week you just cough and sweat, cough and sweat fever. And if you don’t have a really hot shower, you’re probably going to die.” Humidity from the hot showers helped with some of the more severe symptoms. Alan says he existed in two states during his illness: in the shower or sleeping, shaking, and sweaty.

a dog walks down a finger pier away from a boat while a man stands on the boat deck
Alan disembarks, securing Blue 9 before following Davie.

His parents lived nearby and his mother offered to come get Davie, his dog. Alan refused, texting her “this one might get me.” She, and his coworkers, didn’t quite believe the severity of his illness until COVID was acknowledged and then declared a pandemic more than a month later.

By then, Alan and dog Davie were stuck in Dallas in the middle of a shutdown and not much idea of what to do next. So he rented a paddle board and decided to take it to the most out-of-the-way places he could.

A hand holds a nautical chart flat on the table. Purple marks show the boat's route.Alan stands in his cabin, pointing out a page in the map book.Coast Guard clothing patches line the back of a chart table.
Below, Alan shows his accomplishments – on the water and from when he was in the Coast Guard.

While he and Davie were becoming accustomed to balancing on the board in ponds and rivers, Alan made a decision. The uncertainty brought on by the pandemic also presented a unique opportunity: the time to pursue his long-held dream of becoming a live-aboard sailor.

Alan had grown up landlocked in Texas. But there was something missing. “I needed the water.”

a man wearing a hat that says MUFON
Sitting below, Alan discusses how he got the boat and the dog.

During college (decades ago) he joined the United States Coast Guard. Alan spent two years in the Guard and two in the Reserve. His time patrolling the US West Coast stayed with him – it was one of the reasons he chose to instead sail the eastern US.

Alan said the Pacific could be rough, with few available ports or places to turn if there was a problem. “When we towed [the boats] in, most of them were wrecked out. Or we pulled the people out of the water and the boat was gone.”

Between then and now, Alan has had many roles. He was in corporate finance, ran an art gallery, and started his own business.

But the lure of a life on the water had held through the decades, including marriage and raising two kids. And nearing 50, having survived COVID-19, and with most businesses on hold, he had time and space to think about that life again.

Davie stands on the deck, looking down into the salon below.
Davie looks expectantly through the companionway.

Alan went looking for the perfect live aboard. His first find was a Jeanneau near Connecticut, with a second possibility of a Catalina 320 near Savannah. Both came with too many complications, he said, and mostly from their owners. So he triangulated between the two locations and landed near Oriental, saying “I think there’s less nonsense around.”

The slogan, “The Sailing Capital of North Carolina,” made the area an easy choice. Alan and Davie drove down and began walking the docks.

the transom of Alan's Pearson 27
Blue 9, named for the number of years since Alan adopted Davie.

He eventually found a Pearson 27 with a picture of Snoopy on the side in Little Washington. It was perfect – enough room for him and Davie.

“It was super original,” he said, and needed little modification. They called the docks of Little Washington home for a few months while moving aboard and adding a Garmin and depth sounder. Inside, Alan placed sculptures and artworks from a previous stint when he ran an art gallery, including a few of his own works. Davie had her own space with her toys and room to curl up.

a painting of a cowboy with a watermelon instead of a head hangs in the head
Alan’s own painting ‘Watermelon Cowboy’ decorates the head.

While making the small vessel livable, Alan knew it needed a new name. Charming as Snoopy was, it didn’t suit. As the boat was home to Alan and Davie, he knew the name should represent them both. He settled on the number 9, written in blue, for the nine year anniversary of Davie’s adoption.

Davie is Alan’s first dog. He’d been wandering a shelter in McKinney, Texas, surrounded by barking dogs, wondering if dog ownership was really for him. He found Davie on his second pass through the facility. She’d been exercising in the yard on his first walkthrough.

“She was the only one not barking at me.” He turned around and spotted the dog with two different colored eyes quietly looking at him.

“And I was like, ‘What’s up with David Bowie?’ ‘Cause she was sitting in a cage, sitting there like, ‘Whatever, man.’” When told that David was in fact a girl, Alan didn’t said it didn’t matter. He told the attendant, “I’ll call her Davie. I’ll take her.”

Alan and Davie sit in the salon below deck. Both are looking up.
Alan sits with Davie in the salon. The MUFON hat is from AlienCon 2019, when he attended with his mom.

Despite his unfamiliarity with dogs, Alan and Davie bonded quick. He says he learned a lot just by watching her. “I’m sure other dogs are great, but this dog is exactly what I needed.” Davie went dirt biking with Alan and his kids, took yearly trips to the mountains, and eventually learned to calmly ride the yellow paddle board from Blue 9 to shore and back again.

Davie was a calm influence, something to take care of, someone with whom he could sail. And that’s Alan’s plan: to sail. Up and down the coast for the next 3 to 6 months.

He muses that he may one day open an art gallery again, in one of the small coastal ports he passes along the way. Or maybe another kind of business. Alan’s not sure, but he’s also not concerned.

This is a sailor excited about his new live-aboard life and the possibilities. And if he finds a nice little town along the way, “any port that might be a cool place to live,” then he says he may buy a slip that he and Davie can call home.

Posted Wednesday December 9, 2020 by Allison DeWeese

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