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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.

MV Sea Glass
Pushing the limits
April 24, 2019

ea Glass, a 1981 Grand Banks trawler was odd enough – owned 36 years, only 2,000 hours on the engine, and in near perfect condition. But the most recent owner, Will Gardner, may be odder yet.

A former Marine and electrical engineer by trade, he had no sailing or boating experience whatsoever until he decided to buy Sea Glass. He didn’t bother with any formal education in the beginning, either. “I was always adventurous,” he said, “I decided I’m going to have an adventure.”

MV Sea Glass
Sea Glass in the evening at town dock #1.

That was four years ago. Before then, Will lived outside of Asheville and was known locally as the owner of the Black Mountain Folk Music Festival. He made local news in 2008 when he broke up a knife fight on the side of the road, tending to one man’s injuries until help could arrive. Gardner, a veteran of the Vietnam War, was 56.

For the last four years, Will has lived alone on his trawler, traveling the rivers and the coast. Alone, that is, except for Reicher; a Schutzhund (German for protection dog) trained German Shepherd with a European Union passport.

MV Sea Glass
Will Garner talks to TownDock.net in the evening, after returning from Cape Lookout.

“My life revolves around him,” Will said. Reicher doesn’t like being on the boat, and Will makes accommodations. They stop every 80 miles or so and take the Zodiac to shore so Reicher can stretch his feet. If the seas get rough, Will has medication to help. If the waves get too rough, Will and Reicher go ashore. “He’s the reason for breathing,” Will says. That devotion is why Will gave away his immersion suit. There was no need for it, he explained, because Reicher doesn’t have one.

If something were to happen to the boat, Will wouldn’t be able to leave Reicher behind. It’s why he made sure he understood the boat systems and navigations so thoroughly. He made his electronic systems redundant. He has an AIS, an EPIRB, radar, everything he can think of to keep the boat safe. It’s a good thing, too. Will enjoys pushing his limits.

MV Sea Glass
Reicher, ready to go ashore.

The friend who recommended the Grand Banks to Will said, “‘you need something that will get you into trouble and get you out of trouble. You need something really solid because you’re the kind of guy that goes places.’”

Take the first day on his boat. When he arrived at the marina in Plattsburgh, NY he noticed law enforcement at the marina. Being unfamiliar with the Grand Banks, and boating in general, Will set about figuring out the controls. He took less than an hour, then headed out to Lake Champlain.

MV Sea GlassMV Sea GlassMV Sea Glass
The Grand Banks Sea Glass

A call came over the radio for the Sea Glass. It was law enforcement at the Marina. A search was on for a prisoner, escaped from local lockup. Will was told to return to port for the search. The problem is that Will didn’t know where port was.

There was no one on his boat other than Reicher. With that small adventure over, he headed north to the St. Lawrence River and to Canada, learning about boating on the way.

MV Sea Glass
Will keeps a statue of St. Francis, hung with photos of his previous German Shepherds.

He noticed as he was going through what he called the “French canals” of Quebec, he was beginning to attract the attention of other boaters. “I would get sideways, I would get backward, I would do everything possible in the French Canal because I didn’t know I had a bow thruster.” Will, laughing at the memory of passing though Quebec, continued. “Awkward, yes? So I learned about the bow thruster, but only because some guy told me.”

He also learned how to say le chien est gentil – the dog is nice – as he went north, headed to Labrador. He was surprised by the icebergs; it was June and not what he’d expected to see. “An iceberg with the moon hitting it – it’s huge, It’s as big as this town – and you seen the green. It’s just gorgeous.”

MV Sea GlassMV Sea GlassMV Sea Glass
The necessary navigation equipment: plotter, paper charts, and a road atlas.

In addition to his Furuno plotter and paper charts, which he uses to navigate channels – Will also carries a Rand McNally road atlas. That’s where he looks for his next destination. From Labrador, the next stop seemed obvious: Greenland. “You ever get close to a state line and then just want to go across, to say you had?” The Labrador Sea was the proverbial state line.

Will found a used bladder (tank) in a Labrador fishing village, put it on the forward deck and filled it with fuel, and set out for Greenland. When he arrived, he only spent a few days. He was more impressed by the icebergs, and the Greenland dogs which he said, “would eat Reicher alive.” That’s as far north as he went. After refueling, Will headed south for Prince Edward Island.

MV Sea Glass
Reicher keeps an eye on Will.

Will keeps near the coast, and while in Canada, he stayed in the coves in and around Nova Scotia. One day he heard a distress call that had gone unanswered. The sailors were unhurt, but their rudder had been broken off when they hit an ocean sunfish. Just as he had stopped on the side of a road to stop a knife fight in North Carolina, Will set out to see if he could help.

On the horizon, Will saw why there had been no immediate replies. He said the sailboat was huge, particularly compared to his trawler. It was a Morris 45 sailing sloop called Next Boat. Will rafted up with the sloop and began the journey back to land.

The crew’s New York sailing club honored Will for the 12 hour 57 nautical mile rescue with a plaque and a glass memento. Etched in glass, are the words: In recognition of extraordinary effort in helping a Corinthian boat in distress off the Coast of Nova Scotia. Will says the rescue earned him a sponsored membership in The Corinthians sailing club.

MV Sea Glass
Will’s commendations for rescuing a stranded sailboat.

From a different encounter, he also earned himself a pink mooring ball in a Maine harbor. He had taken Reicher ashore for a break, and met a group of lobstermen. They became friendly, swapping stories and skills. They taught the novice how to dock his trawler. As he likes to travel the coast, the men put out a mooring ball just for him.

A novice no more, Will has since earned his captain’s license.

He likes Sea Glass, and concedes his friend was right about him getting into and out of trouble. “It’s hard to screw up. If I hit something, usually it gives way.”

Will bought Sea Glass as is, teak and all. He has a paraffin lamp he likes to use in the evenings, despite the convenience of the trawler’s generator and ready supply of electricity. “It takes a lot of effort, but it’s civilized.”

MV Sea Glass
Will prefers the lamp light.

He mentions mad dogs in the noonday sun and the importance of civility. “If one’s going to wander, one wants to wander in a civilized manner.” The lamp and the teak, the way one looks in the light of the other, he says, is lovely.

Will and Reicher stopped in Oriental on the way to Cape Lookout. They took in the beach and lighthouse on a cool day in February, and had it all to themselves. On his return, Will said they will head back to their permanent mooring in Elizabeth City.

On his next trip, Will is considering heading back up to Maine, maybe further. He says Reicher prefers the cooler weather. So does he.

MV Sea Glass
The name has stayed the same from one owner to the next.

Posted Wednesday April 24, 2019 by Allison DeWeese

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