forecast weather station weather station

It's Saturday June 15, 2024

News From The Village Updated Almost Daily

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.

Sam Rouse and SV Nortena
Eagle Scout to Viking deckhand to solo sailor
February 18, 2022

am Rouse had only heard about Oriental when he began his journey south from Newport, Rhode Island. What he’d heard was that it was good place if you wanted to live frugally and stay on your boat. “I’d heard it mentioned a lot.”

Sam Rouse
Sam Rouse

What he didn’t expect was that his six day voyage south on his 1962 Pearson Triton 28 would include a storm, a malfunctioning engine, and broken gear. It wasn’t the first time he’d encountered challenges while sailing, but it might have been the first they all happened at the same time.

“I bought the boat in October of 2020,” said Sam. “My longest time at sea [before that] had been one and a half days. My idea was to sail south to Norfolk and try to make money. I definitely learned a lot of lessons on this trip.”

Sam Rouse
A medal from the BSA – Boy Scouts of America.

Sam was 45 miles offshore of the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay in November. A low-pressure-system blew in gale force winds and 20-foot-seas. A few days into his offshore solo-voyage, and still at least 10-12 hours from safe harbor, Sam hove-to aboard Nortena for the night. Sam went to sleep.

He woke to a vessel with no electrical, a broken manual self-steering gear, and waves higher than the spreaders on the mast. Salt water intrusion caused a short in the ships’ batteries. As a result, the engine was now useless.

Sam Rouse
A suspiciously tidy V-berth, with drill press and banjo to starboard.

With the third reef in the main sail and storm jib already set, Sam was able to lash the tiller. He kept the boat on course into the mouth of Chesapeake, and finally to anchor.

“It was a complete disaster,” Sam recalled. “I was bailing the bilge with a little plastic bucket into the sink. Things were everywhere. All over the boat. It was very stressful. I was in contact with the Coast Guard and they knew where I was, but I ended up being fine. I made it.”

Sam Rouse
From the forepeak, looking aft.

It wasn’t the first vessel Sam had purchased – or crewed on. That one came when he was about 17 – and an Eagle Scout. He’d been accepted to a few colleges but decided not to go. He considered electrical engineering, forestry, and studying seamanship toward a high tonnage captain’s license in Finland.

“That was a five-year program that couldn’t hold my interest,” Sam said about the collegiate maritime program he’d considered abroad.

Sam Rouse
On a small boat, the aft deck does double duty storage space.

Instead he and four longtime friends – also Eagle Scouts – pooled their resources, deciding they would find and sail a boat. The ‘captain,’ Sam says was the oldest and had paid the most money—earning himself the nautical title and the boat’s title. Together, they purchased a Dreadnaught 32.

“But none of us really knew anything about boats.”

Sam making tea. It’s a main staple of his live-aboard life.

Sam and his crew of friends learned to sail as they port hopped from Massachusetts Bay to the Gulf of Maine. They had no working engine aboard, and it took them about three months to travel 150 miles.

Maine has light winds in the summer time and big tides year round. They were stuck in one harbor for weeks, encountering wind over tide breaking waves. They’d also run out of funds.

Just about that time a reproduction Viking longship – the Draken Harald Hårfagre sailed into Portland, Maine.

While attempting to leave the dock (without an engine), the boys almost crashed into the old world replica. They weren’t the first and certainly not the last boat full of sailors to bump into another boat of sailors and become friends. All five crew applied to join Draken as unpaid volunteer deckhands. All were accepted and given room and board. That ‘room’ was a hammock on the open deck.

Most importantly, however, was the sailing experience Sam gained during his two months aboard Draken.

Sam Rouse
Sam’s library. What he doesn’t know, he learns to do himself – either by book, by experience, or both.

After his stint on the Viking tall ship, Sam ventured into solo-boat ownership, including a rotted out Bristol 24 and an 18-foot day sailer he re-rigged with Dyneema. After finding one boat too far gone to repair and others too small, he’d almost given up sailing altogether. Until he saw an ad for Nortena, a Pearson Triton 28.

Nortena’s previous owner sailed her from Florida to the Caribbean, then up to New England where Sam found her. She was in need of upgrades and repair after such a long journey in the tropics, but lacked the extensive rot of his previous vessels. Sam, deciding he would give it another try, bought the boat.

Over the course of a year, Sam repaired and upgraded nearly everything aboard by himself. He still travels with small drill press with which he has a love / hate relationship. He loves it when it comes in handy – like making his own chainplates out of stainless steel and not having to be bound to riggers and machines shops. But he hates it for the room it takes up when not in use.

A look around the cabin.

Nortena is a small boat, after all, and at 5’ 11” Sam can just barely stand up straight in the main cabin.

The summer of 2021 was spent working eight-hour night shifts grinding steel at a submarine shipyard to pay for boat repairs. On nights he was scheduled at the shipyard he made sure to spend five hours a day working on his boat. On his free weekends, it was ten hours a day.

Sam Rouse
Sam, at work in the rigging on a boat in Oriental Harbor Marina.

“Building weapons of Armageddon never pleased me,” Sam said. It wasn’t just what he was building – it was also the low pay and tough working conditions. “But when breaking waves halfway filled the cockpit a few times during the storm at sea— I was really happy I redid my cockpit drains and scuppers when I had the chance.”

All his repairs, upgrades, and experiences sailing without an engine had served him well on his passage south. Though when he did arrive in Oriental, he got started on the two page list of boat repairs and upgrades he’d made during the journey.

Sam Rouse

He put an ad on TownDock.net for his rigging and boat works services for hire and began work; He had the next leg of his journey in mind. Sam is realistic that he still needs more experience and education about weather windows, winds, and weather in general.

But he doesn’t regret his decision to give up college, or the captain’s license in Finland to go off with his friends and buy that first boat.

It’s a decision reflective of his time in the Eagle Scouts. Sam worked at a Boy Scout Camp in New Hampshire and was tasked with engaging the scouts’ interest in the forest. Instead of taking the easy route and following what others had done before, Sam set about creating a forestry program to inform the scouts about local insects, including the invasive species Emerald Ash Borer.

Sam Rouse

The kids, he says, were really into it. Getting kids “riled up about transporting firewood” was one of Sam’s proudest moments, he says.

Finding an alternate route is how Sam operates – in learning, in the scouts, and in choosing his path in life.

“This way is more dynamic,” he says. “It’s a variety of different experiences for the same goal, but it’s hard. It’s not a thing a normal person would want to do.”

Sam Rouse

Sam is calling Oriental home for the winter, planning to voyage back to new England for summer 2022.

Story by Emily Greenberg. Photos by Keith Smith.

Posted Friday February 18, 2022 by Keith N. Smith

Share this page:

back to top

More Shipping News:
• March 2024 - Wes Barbour and SV Summer Wind
• December 2023 - Pauline and SV Elektra
• October 2023 - The Coati & The Mermaid
• June 2023 - SV White Seal
• April 2023 - SV Sarah G
• March 2023 - SV Pepita
• February 2023 - S/V Surprise
• January 2023 - SV Thunderstriker
• December 2022 - S/V Capitaine Bontems
• November 2022 - Schooner Huron Jewel
• July 2022 - Ashley, Apache, and SV Friends
• February 2022 - Sam Rouse and SV Nortena
• December 2021 - Coastal Conversations
• February 2021 - Brother Sister Dory Story
• December 2020 - Alan, David Bowie, and Blue 9
• November 2020 - Waiting for the Right Time
• September 2020 - Camping in the Creeks
• August 2020 - Solo Cruiser Emily Greenberg
• June 2020 - SV Mudfog Cove Returns
• March 2020 - SV Beyond
• February 2020 - Shahid & SV Safina
• January 2020 - Electric Vessel with Historic Roots
• May 2019 - SV Misto Circumnavigates
• April 2019 - MV Sea Glass
• March 2019 - Steve Chard: Kayaking the Great Loop
• January 2019 - Holly Martin and SV Gecko
• November 2018 - Sean D'Epagnier and SV Alexandra
• August 2018 - Army Landing Craft Hit Oriental
• June 2018 - Susan Elaine
• April 2018 - SV SkinnyDipper
• March 2018 - Eider
• February 2018 - Pirate Ship Owl
• January 2018 - Benediction