Winter Quarters (and a bit of wrotten luck at the end…) – Southern Pines, NC

Back in the early nineties I had this madcap dream.

I was going to become a steeplechase jockey!

Well, I moved back to Southern Pines, dieted from 165 to 125 pounds and lived out that crazy notion.

Win Number One circa 1992 (Hobby Field, Southern Pines, NC)

But the weight loss came hard so to keep my mind off food, I built a sailboat.

At the time I was galloping horses for my friend Mel Wyatt. “Hey Mel.” I asked her one day as we were walking a set of race horses we’d just galloped, “Can I use your garage for a bit of a project.”

“Sure!” she said, not knowing.

And that winter, I built a sailboat in her garage.

How it all started…

The Garage Sail. The boat that came out of that pile of plywood
(Georgian Bay, Canada)

I kept at my steeplechasing a few seasons until I bunged up my leg and decided that now I had a sailboat, I could run away to sea. So I sailed down the Hudson River, continued down the East Coast and ended up in the Bahamas. (But that’s another story… See “The East Coast in an Eighteen Footer” at

Ok. Now flash forward to the present.

It’s Sunday morning. The sides and roof are bolted onto my wagon and it’s raining outside. Mel Wyatt and I are doing the crossword at her kitchen counter. “Hey Mel.” I ask “Can I use you garage to finish” and she knew what was coming and replied “Sure!” almost before I could add “my wagon.”.

This time I measured though.

When I built the aptly named Garage Sail in Mel’s garage, I’d forgotten to measure the distance from the floor to the bottom of the garage door. So when the time came to pull the hull out, well, it wouldn’t fit…

So I threw a Bojangles biscut party and after everyone had eaten announced that.. well… there was this boat I was building in Mel’s garage that needed moving… And since were were all here already we might as well work off those biscuits by…. you know… getting that boat out…

We finally extracated the Garage Sail. On its side.

So this time, with the wagon, I wasn’t about to repeat the mistake.

I measured, and sure enough, there was an inch to spare under the garage door.

So with the help of Mel and another friend, we put a bunch of steel pipes under the wagon body and rolled it into her garage.

The wagon in the same spot occupied by Garage Sail all those years ago

And this time I didn’t have to spring for a party.


PS Thanks, again, Mel, for letting me use your garage and tools. I owe you a few rides…!

PPS Mel broke her hip this week so I’ll be taking a break from wagon building for a few days to help out on her farm… Mel, I sure hope you get well soon. Bernie

PPPS Today a dog Mel’s had for ten years attacked Boots, the barn cat she’s had for fifteen years. It appeared one of the lungs had been punctured so we took it to the vet.

PPPPS. The vet said the damage was terminal and had to put Boots to sleep. Not a good day to work on the wagon.

PPPPPS While I was burying Boots behind the barn, Zoro, Mel’s other barn cat, wandered up with a gash on his shoulder. I put the shovel down to look closer at the wound and saw the muscles in his shoulders through the hole in his skin. He definitely needed stitches.

My last visit to the vet hadn’t gone well so I stitched him up in the tackroom with Susan and Melissa. I don’t know if I got the dose of horse painkiller right but I reckon I’ll soon find out…

I’m definitely taking the rest of the day off.



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