If you want to find out
exactly who you are, head offshore alone. That's the key
word: Alone. Do not take anyone with you. It doesn't matter
where you go, either - just go straight out for 7 days, then straight back. You
will not be the same. Chances are you have never been completely
out of touch with other human beings for even one moment during your
entire life. There is always a phone, a television, or other
people within reach. Alone, at sea, in an incredibly hostile
environment, you strip away all the layers and are
forced to face someone you've never seen before: you. I
don't think there is any other way to experience this today.
mentioned that the sea is a hostile environment. Forget about the
romance of the sea. Sure, there are magnificent sunsets, starry
nights, and fascinating marine life. There is also an unforgiving
environment unlike anything you have ever experienced. No second
chances, no "I'm Sorry". It is a place where you can be
truly afraid. Not just scared, but actual terror. Imagine
lightening striking all around your boat, imagine waking to a crunching
sound hundreds of miles offshore and knowing, and I mean knowing,
that you are dead. It is an environment of extremes. Part of
me worries about many modern voyagers.
buy anything" - My name is Todd Chocholaty and I'm
currently an auctioneer and bankruptcy liquidator based in Dallas, Texas.
My day job is IT Director for a fairly large company. I have a degree in Chemistry from the State University of New York
at Binghamton - Harpur College, but never worked as a practicing
Alone - my little boat has the whole
started and owned several businesses ranging from environmental
services to furniture, and, in 1993, I sold my environmental
business and moved aboard a Lyle Hess 28' cutter Solita of San
Francisco. After cruising the west coast and Mexico for
2 years, I returned to Northern California and became the
principal engineer for USCG certification of the s/v Kaiulani.
I even had the opportunity to live aboard the schooner with my
future wife and two step children.
Kaiulani was certified to carry 49 passengers and began her
charter boat career, I moved to Dallas, Texas (you have to go
somewhere!) and sold the Hess cutter.
interested in boat design, and armed with some experience in
vessel construction, function, and needs, I began a search for a
simple cruiser that could be hauled back to the Sea of
Cortez. The Hess 28 was without question a most seaworthy
and attractive boat. She was fast, she survived a nasty
collision at sea, and she kept me safe. I learned to sail
her without an engine (not recommended), and I rebuilt everything
myself - including the addition of an inboard diesel engine.
She was, however, complex and a bit of a maintenance burden with
all of the brightwork. Additionally, they are very expensive
and difficult to construct. I am not a fine craftsman - but,
I can handle engineering and building a functional machine.
I was looking for my first boat, I read everything, ordered piles
of study plans, and did everything everybody else does when they
have the dream. It's different today - I have no interest in
reading sailing adventures or pouring over study plans - they just seem a bit hollow after
actually voyaging. I remember running across the Aleutka in
a few sailing books, but I never seriously considered the
design. I was madly in love with the lines of Lyle Hess'
designs, and nothing could pry me away.
Race Week - Caleta Partida, 1996
Sunset at anchor, south of Agua
|The Aleutka 25 is an
attractive, functional ship. After you voyage for a while, you
acquire a focus on your goals and what type of vessel can help you reach
those goals. I won't be crossing oceans - it's just not my
thing, and the world is a far different and more hostile place for
American singlehanders today.
family also has less than no interest in floatation of any kind, so I'm
on my own. A small, simple work boat that I can tow where I need to go
narrows the choices a bit. The work boat standards narrows the
field again, and eliminates many capable small cruisers. The boat
may need to be left in drydock for months, it may be battered by
hostile elements or vandals.
am also fascinated by reverse engineering a boat. Take a shape and
a memory and turn it into a functioning machine. The original
Aleutka hull was laid up in one month in a backyard, with no lofting -
the entire boat was built in under 18 months. Nostalgia is a
dangerous thing. We want to keep the best of the past, without the
mistakes. Almost nobody builds a boat for voyaging anymore.
There's just no time in our lives. For me, it has always been
about the journey, not the destination. This project may never see
completion, but it doesn't really matter. The point, of course, is
to enjoy the process and keep learning.
Sunset 300 miles offshore - a conflicted
time for any singlehander - a beautiful harbinger of a long night.