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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.

Pauline and SV Elektra
Powered by wind, sun, and music
December 20, 2023

P
auline Salotti is a small woman. Petite. But her smile – her enthusiasm – make her seem ten feet tall.

When talking of the music she plans to make, Pauline is shy and vague. But when explaining the restoration and electrical refit of Elektra, Pauline is animated. The slight accent glazing her words becomes a little more pronounced.

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Pauline Salotti onboard SV Elektra, a Ranger 28 sailboat.

Pauline, originally from Brazil (and more recently from Patchogue, Long Island) made her way down the east coast this summer. Like many, she was Bahamas bound. But Pauline’s journey was unique, she was actually sailing most of the way.

She wasn’t born to the water, didn’t have much interest until a friend introduced her to his houseboat in Bellport, Long Island. She was immediately intrigued. Her friend gifted her old sailing magazines.

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Pauline painted Elektra herself, throwing her own style into everything on the boat.

“I’m like, wow, people who live in marinas, who can be from all walks of life. You know, they’re doctors, lawyers, artists, and they’re all kind of in the same space. And everybody wakes up with waterfront property. And that just sounded amazing.”

For Pauline, it is. She’s gregarious, makes friends easily. She says surrounding herself with different people appealed to her. The sailing community she wanted to join is very welcoming to those who want to learn.

And Pauline really wanted to learn.

During her sailing research, Pauline discovered she could learn sailing by signing up to be crew. Soon, she was on the water learning the ins and outs of being a crew member. “And I’m like, ‘Oh, yeah – definitely,” she says, “I like this. I like this for sure.”

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Elektra’s restoration included decorations, substitutions, and some non-standard equipment.

Wanting more, she began searching for her own boat, while also looking for more opportunities to get on the water. She spotted the Ranger 28 on Craigslist and made the purchase. But she didn’t yet know how to sail on her own.

So she hired someone who did – a local captain who, like others had and would, became a sailing buddy along with his wife and grandson.

As Pauline honed her skills on the water, she was also figuring out how to restore her boat on land. What she didn’t know when she bought the Ranger, was it had been dismasted. It damaged the deck, eventually resulting in a few soft spots in the balsa core.

Determined to keep going with the restoration, Pauline used online forums and the expertise of Weeks Yacht Yard in Patchogue, where she kept Elektra.

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Pauline sits in the companion way, recounting how she dealt with a soft spot in the deck.

During initial repairs under the previous owner, a reinforced bulkhead and a compression post had been installed. Pauline says he didn’t notice the water inundation into the core until it was too late. Epoxy injections fixed most of the issues, but there was one spot that went unnoticed.

“That probably took me a half a year just to remove everything that was on deck. I practically built another deck on top of that, blasted over everything. And then I started putting it back together.”

While disassembled, Pauline took time to personalize the interior of the cabin. Using resins, metallic pigments, and paint, she painted blue-green swirls on the overhead. The colors also made their way onto cabinet doors, the floor in front of the head, and the companionway steps.

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Chart clamped to the companionway door, Pauline guides Elektra to the dock.
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Inside the cabin, Pauline used paint, resins, and vivid fabrics to brighten up her space.

“One part of the boat that really stole my joy for a while was the engine. I was never an expert at all.” She contemplated having someone else come work on the engine, but reasoned that if she were going to be sailing it, she needed to understand it. “The captain needs to know the boat inside and out.”

The motor had taken damage from saltwater early on – she thinks a tear in an exhaust hose may have been a contributing factor – and acknowledges that she didn’t know to clean it up completely. “I was not great with the maintenance because I did not know what to do.”

She continued to work at the engine, finally deciding it needed to be rebuilt. While taking it out of her boat, she found the head gasket had exploded. Exasperated, Pauline took the engine completely off her boat and started contemplating other options.

“Around that time (2019) I used to drive a little electric car. I was hooked on that, you know? Linear acceleration is so great. I’m like, ‘Do people do that on boats?’” Turning to YouTube, Pauline found several cruisers that were refitting their boats with solar panels and battery banks.

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Pauline changed the nautically themed pillows and cushions, and added nautical elements to smaller details – like the door pull.

She got a quote for an install, but then needed to go back to work for a while to make it happen. And, as it does, life happened, and “maybe I abandoned the boat for a while.”

While going back and forth with the boat, Pauline continued to find opportunities to sail. Her biggest cruise was the one that sparked her interest in The Bahamas. It was the one that pulled her back and told her exactly what she wanted to do.

Pauline met a sailor heading for The Bahamas on a Tartan Ten (33.15 ft overall). He’d grown up sailing Hobie Cats off Long Island, but hadn’t done a long cruise on a larger vessel. Pauline went along for the experience, intending to fly back later.

He was a great sailor, she said, but the trip made her realize that she didn’t want to be crew – she wanted to be the captain. “It was a learning experience,” she said. “I learned a lot.”

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A shark lamp for nighttime…
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… and a matching headlamp for going on deck at night.

That passage included rough weather off Cape Fear and a stowaway picked up in Norfolk. The uninvited hitchhiker prompted a stop in Oriental.

“It was a little mouse,” she says, “it started eating all our food. And we were tearing everything apart in the Pamlico Sound and as we were moving and we didn’t have a place to stop … and it was winter, we didn’t know of any places. And somebody just told us, just go to Oriental. There’s a free dock. You can hang out there and take everything off the boat. And that’s what we did.”

They never found the mouse, believing it must have disembarked with the rest of their things at the town dock. It didn’t make the passage south.

Pauline and her friend made it to The Bahamas, sailing most of the way. “We didn’t like motor-sailing. The noise, the smell, no.”

Another strike against the motor on her own boat.

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Little details decorate her space, while her daughter’s cat hides in the stern storage berth.

She could only stay a week, but that trip – and a return to The Bahamas – kept her moving forward. “I was so obsessed already with just my mind and working on my boat and bringing it back there.”

By this time, Pauline was looking for someone to come out and look at the engine – anything to make it work again. But she couldn’t get anyone to come out. And then Marc showed up at the Marina where Elektra was docked and they started talking. Marc knew the person she’d gotten the first installation quote from, and they began discussing an install for her boat.

She had Marc install an Electric Yacht QuietTorque 10 motor and two lithium batteries. Elektra has a 48 volt bank producing 200 amp hours. The solar panels came from her job at Brooklyn Solar Works, where she sold residential solar panels.

“They’re big, but they’re good.” She says they’re 405 watts (each).

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Elektra’s solar panels on the stern arch.
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Pauline packed up most everything, and plans to spend at least a year in The Bahamas.

“We shoved off June 8.” By ‘we’, Pauline means herself and Marbles – her daughter’s two year old cat. The only evidence of the live aboard cat is a small dish of food and a felt toy or two.

They cruised around the coast off New York for a while, getting the feel of things. “I just had to go out and experiment.” And then they jumped off and headed south, eventually landing in Annapolis in time for the October boat show. Pauline stayed over for two months, working for the next leg of her trip.

She also tracked down information about her boat – and one of the men who used to build Rangers. He helped her figure out the hull number – it’s 36 – and has been helping her understand more about sailing and trimming a Ranger.

While in Annapolis, Pauline also bought a small Honda generator as a backup. “I think from Annapolis to here, maybe 40… yeah, just $40 on gas.

“But also I did make the commitment to sail this boat. And before my anchor is even up, a lot of times, if I know I’m gonna go, my mainsail goes up.”

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All systems – even cold storage – are electrical.

The idea is to get to The Bahamas. Maybe spend a year there. But also, to get back to her music.

“I’ve performed in Brazil. I used to have a band there. A few different bands, I guess. And then I ended up in the States to learn to study audio music production,” she says.

“I ended up making an American baby. And I’ve stayed for over half my life now.”

Elektra carries two guitars, a small speaker, and some spare recording equipment. When pressed about the kind of music she plays, Pauline laughs. “That’s an interesting question. It’s a great question that I do ask other people, but I don’t know if I can answer it myself.”

She lands on eclectic as a descriptor, but is quick to say the cover songs are how she makes money at her music gigs.

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SV Elektra departs Oriental.

But as for her own music, “I have, at this point, at least a good dozen songs that I’ve written and they don’t have a proper recording yet,” she says.

“So I’m bringing recording equipment – to give them a proper home.”

Posted Wednesday December 20, 2023 by Allison DeWeese


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