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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.

SV Beyond
Two women, finding their way on the water
March 19, 2020

T
hey were sailing south, bound for Florida. Their windlass broke. The next town south was at ICW mile marker 181.

And thus just a few days before New Year’s Eve, two young women sailed into Oriental’s harbor aboard their junk rigged Freedom 40 ketch. Rheannon Lyons and Kay Stahl tied up at Oriental’s free town dock.

Next, a search for a repair.

As many cruisers do, they exited the dock, turned left down Hodges Street and wandered into the Inland Waterway Provision Company. While looking for more dockline, Rheannon encountered manager Pat Stockwell.

SV Beyond
Buffy, a rescue cat, uses the crew (Kay) as a perch. Buffy likes to be pet, but doesn’t like to see hands.

Pat “was very generous,” she said. “I told him that I was trying to fix my windlass, so he started giving me names and started texting people on my behalf.”

Soon after, several residents stopped by SV Beyond to offer advice and help. Someone dropped off beer and water, announcing the delivery with a knock on the deck before continuing on their way.

SV Beyond
College friends Rheannon Lyons, owner of Beyond, and crew Kay Stahl explain their decision to head south, when they wanted to go further north.

“A couple – Annie and Neville Clement – stopped by, not even an introduction really or anything, just ‘We’re here to see your windlass,’” said Rheannon. Ann took the two young women under her wing, providing them with local knowledge of the boatyards and welders, as well as as the use of her laundry and showers.

The crew had sailed in from Glenburnie, Maryland where Rheannon had been living aboard Beyond for a little over two years. Kay, a college friend looking for a way out of Illinois, took up residence in the guest cabin during that time. They’d only been sailing on SV Beyond about a month before reaching Oriental.

SV BeyondSV BeyondSV Beyond
A few personal touches added to Beyond.

They’d had plans to sail north to Rhode Island to visit friends in Providence. A long list of projects, and a turn in the weather, delayed their start, forcing them to sail south instead. Despite living on Beyond for years, they’d only been sailing her a month before reaching Oriental.

Prior to then, Kay had never been sailing. Rheannon, however, grew up on the water. As a toddler, she sailed with her family in Central America aboard a 25 ft vessel constructed by her parents. At four years old, the family came ashore to build a bigger boat, eventually constructing a 40 ft ketch and moving to Wisconsin.

There, they were sailing in less temperate waters. But Rheannon had grown into a reluctant passenger. “I was a miserable pre-teen. I was hiding below, reading.”

SV Beyond
In the head, a candle and list of things to remember.

“I loved the feeling of living on a boat, but I did not want to be in a 40 foot space with my parents, and I had other things I was interested in,” she said. “I don’t know that I raised a sail a single time.”

Though she loved being on the water, Rheannon had no interest in being at the helm or in the particulars of sailing. Yet at the end of college, her view had shifted. “I decided I kind of wanted to run away, to have a home I could take with me.”

Her parents began searching with her. Originally, Rheannon was looking for something in the 30 ft range, taking trips with her father to scout for suitable vessels. While they were coming up with duds, Rheannon’s mother was searching online. She found Beyond for sale in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.

SV BeyondSV BeyondSV Beyond
Other residents of Beyond make use of the amenities.

It all happened within a month, she said, and the process was in a haze. But by the end, she had a boat that not only felt like home, but had room for others.

“My plan always was to have a friend or two friends come and travel and live with me. I wanted company, and I liked the idea of being a place that someone could escape to,” Rheannon said. “I didn’t want it to be something just for me. I felt really, really lucky and I felt like the only way I could sort of justify my ability to go cruising and have a boat, was to share it.”

So when Kay wanted to move out of Illinois, Rheannon had a place for her to land.

SV Beyond
Notes, reminders, bits of text are everywhere. This one says the most used tools – and the drill – are in this toolbox.

Originally, Kay had been looking for a simpler life, but on land. “I was mostly interested because it’s like living in a van,” she said. Van life was a move Kay had been contemplating. “You have to be very self sufficient and know what you’re doing and be able to take care of things… you have limited space. I kind of moved on Beyond thinking it was prep to see if I really wanted to live in a van.”

But that was before they decided to sail south. Kay, who’d never sailed, had planned on skipping the sail, electing to drive to their final destination and meet Rheannon there. But since the direction of travel changed, so did Kay’s plans.

Rheannon praised Kay and her willingness to tackle tackle the new endeavor. “She hopped on all the forums, and has been looking at charts and trying to read all the books.”

SV Beyond
Sailing and maintenance books, with a small question.

“I’m still learning a ton. There’s more anxieties for this because I’m not used to being on the water,” Kay said. “I’m learning a whole new realm of potential problems and solutions. It’s really lovely.”

There is no lack of information for the women to study; Beyond came well stocked with Nigel Calder’s cruising books and maintenance manuals, courtesy of Rheannon’s parents.

“I got as lucky as you could get with my parents and my dad,” she said. “He was an auto mechanic. He knew what he was doing and he was someone who taught himself everything. So I did learn that from him and now, I’m trying to do that. And I’m like, all right, how much can I fix before I try and call him and get his advice?

SV Beyond
Red, the nesting dinghy Rheannon built with her dad when she was 12.

“I have no cell reception in all of North Carolina, so we’ve had to fix problems – lots of problems – by ourselves. But I was given tools that I didn’t have to search for; that made it easier for me to find, teach myself.”

Beyond, built in 1978, had a few problems, ones Rheannon believes were a result of their time in the marina not sailing her. The previous owner took care of the Freedom 40, and Rheannon believes it was well-loved. She found monogrammed towels, a bell with the name Beyond etched into it, and a small treasure chest that lit up when the lid was opened. So when the question of renaming the boat was raised, Rheannon didn’t.

Rheannon chose to acknowledge the care and affection given the vessel by retaining the name. “I was looking up all the naming and renaming rituals and stuff and it just… seemed wrong. He loved the boat so much, I didn’t feel like changing it.”

SV Beyond
Rheannon thinks the original owners had an affinity for tie-dye paint, as evidenced by the peeling walls in her cabin.

There is evidence in the aft cabin, where the paint has begun to chip away, of an even earlier owner: blue tie-dye paint. It’s plausible, Rheannon thinks, as the boat was built in 1978.

Transitioning from a live-aboard in a marina to a full-time cruiser has instigated repairs and upgrades beyond the paint. Several larger repairs have been needed, several while underway. “I’m trying to read all of Calder’s mechanical systems for boats,” Rheannon said. “Basically every chapter has suddenly become necessary.”

SV Beyond
Rheannon carries the box of new windlass parts to the foredeck.

Completed items on the upgrade/fix-it list include: the starter on the motor, the raw water system, patching the sails, changing the rig, adding solar panels, adding a stove, and repairing the broken windlass. “Right now we’re reading, we’re learning everything. It’s all been kind of on the fly,” said Rheannon. “I’m learning from stuff that’s familiar, but I’ve never been in charge of it.”

SV BeyondSV BeyondSV Beyond
Windlass repairs get underway.

In addition to making repairs, the women have also been making the boat into a home. Books and personal trinkets line their cabins and the salon, signs and hand-written lines of text on paper scraps are pasted here and there. Hatches have been insulated and covered over with fabric, and custom curtains decorate the windows in the cabins.

Two rescued cats, Stella and Buffy, roam freely above and below decks.

It’s comfortable and inviting, but Kay is unsure how long she’ll live aboard. “We’re just rolling with it,” she says, “We’ll see how it goes.” Rheannon would like to continue for years, taking Beyond to grad school, if possible.

SV Beyond
Rheannon on deck.

When the women passed through Oriental, their goal was Florida. The plan was to find work – Rheannon has been a barista and bartender, Kay a photographer and baker – and continue to repair and insulate Beyond for the trip back north.

This year, Rheannon would like to sail north to Rhode Island and visit friends there, eventually making her way further up to Maine and then The Maritimes in Canada.

Though her teen years were spent wishing she were anywhere but on a boat, sailing the junk rigged Beyond has changed her mind. “I love the feeling of riding in the cockpit and being under sail; it’s both very familiar and very new,” she said. “It’s just a good place to make a home.”

Beyond, like the young women learning to sail her, is a work in progress, still finding her way.

SV BeyondSV BeyondSV Beyond
SV Beyond rests at Oriental’s free dock #1.

Posted Thursday March 19, 2020 by Allison DeWeese


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