Islander chases her dream to sail the South Seas
The television series “Adventures in Paradise” ran from 1959 to 1962 featuring a tramp schooner running small cargoes and charters among the islands of the South Pacific. It inspired a dream in the heart of a 10-year-old girl growing up in Minnesota.
Now, 58 years later, Carolyn Reinfeld is almost ready to follow that dream across the Pacific.
When she finished high school, Reinfeld left Minnesota to join the U.S. Marines.
“I wanted to see some of the world, and I needed a job,” she said.
For the Marines, she worked as a bookbinder, a trade she learned as a teenager.
“The Marines did all their own printing — manuals, order forms, everything — and I put them together,” Reinfeld said.
She spent three years of her four-year hitch in Okinawa. Then, returning to the States after her discharge, she pursued her craft in various places.
Her transportation was, and still is, by motorcycle.
“I’ve been riding motorcycles for maybe 55 years,” Reinfeld said. “Where I can’t sail, I ride my bike.”
Her Harley-Davidson, a well cared-for hog, gleams.
“Polishing all those little spokes takes a long time,” Reinfeld said.
She settled finally in Dallas, working for the Dallas Independent School District, which also did its own printing.
“I worked in that business for 45 years,” Reinfeld said.
All the while, the dream of sailing the South Seas remained alive in her, and in the 1990s, she began to search for the perfect boat to do it in, she said.
Reinfeld found it in Gypsy Rose, a CSY 44 designed by Caribbean Sailing Yachts and launched in 1979 in Hampton, Florida. The boat was designed for the Caribbean charter trade out of Florida, but the class quickly found a market among those who wanted a comfortable, roomy boat with good sailing qualities for extended ocean cruising.
The CSY 44 draws 6 feet, with a full keel and a skeg-hung rudder. A broad, high stern gives room for a master cabin with its own head. The saloon, forward of the single Perkins 4.154 engine, original to the boat, contains a quarter-berth, a galley and navigation station, another head and a separate small shower. Forward are a V-berth and more storage.
The boat’s relatively high freeboard and raised stern gives generous headroom below and plenty of space, but the graceful sheer line, leading to a clipper bow with scrolled trail-boards, gives her a kind of classic, retro look.
“And she’s strong,” Reinfeld said. “She has 2 inches of fiberglass. Caribbean Sailing Yachts went out of business — people say they were a victim of the quality of their work.”
Gypsy Rose is rigged as a cutter, with a single 55-foot mast just forward of the central cockpit, a large roller furled masthead jib, a smaller forestaysail and a tall mainsail. It is an adaptable configuration, meeting the fundamental requirements of blue-water cruising — the boat makes good speed in the long passages with the trade winds nearly astern, works efficiently against the wind and withstands the worst storms the world’s widest ocean can present.
“All the sheets and halyards lead into the cockpit, so I could actually sail this thing by myself,” Reinfeld said.
But Reinfeld still has to learn about how to handle her, she said. Reinfeld has been taking classes with South Coast Sailing Adventures, which is accredited by the American Sailing Association.
Still, single-handing such a boat on a long ocean crossing might not be advisable.
“It’s possible to pick up a crew at marinas around the world, people who just want to make a passage, or a leg of the trip,” Reinfeld said. “After working for so long, I was tired of being around people, and that was part of the idea of long ocean cruising. But marinas are friendly places.”
This one, the Galveston Yacht Basin, makes a comfortable home while she finishes a few upgrades for her upcoming trip. She lives with her two cats aboard Gypsy Rose.
“You have to learn how to move aboard a boat; it’s always in motion,” Reinfeld said. “But the cats seem to like it.”