Megan Mayhew Bergman is an award-winning journalist, author, and new owner of a Ranger Tug R-23. She’s excited to share her lifelong dream of boat ownership, along with the new adventures and challenges aboard the Night Heron. Find out more about Megan and her writings on her website, http://www.mayhewbergman.com/.
When I was younger, I walked the docks of Beaufort, North Carolina with my family - mint chocolate chip ice cream dripping down my wrist. I stared at the yachts and sailboats tied up in slips. Sometimes there was a faint glow in the berth window of a sailboat, a dog on board, friends laughing together on the deck with a glass of wine.
I knew I wanted that life for myself one day, but it felt out of reach. When I was thirty, life took me to land-locked Vermont. Ten years later, when the pandemic hit, I could hear a loud, inner voice - and this voice was massively homesick.
Get a boat, it said. Stop delaying your own dreams.
I’d been looking at boats for years, saving photos to my phone, dreaming. But the first time I saw a Ranger Tug, it was like falling in love - I knew it was the boat I wanted. Not only were the classic nautical aesthetics appealing, but reviews mentioned these tugs were dependable and easy to drive.
I wrote a letter to Ranger Tugs, explaining a little about who I was and what I was looking for - a safe and beautiful boat that I could maneuver solo, and also spend time on while writing my books. To my surprise, I got a kind note in return - and a long and delightful conversation began that I sense will be in progress for years. I made the decision to go forward on December 23rd - my 41st birthday.
It was terrifying for me to make the leap to boat ownership. One bank wondered why I, a woman, was applying alone for a boat. The first marinas I tried were booked. Some asked me questions I didn’t yet know the answers to: did I need 30 or 50 amp power at the dock? What was the draft of my boat? There were moments when I felt awkward and out of my depth - but soon I discovered how generous the boating community can be.
When I looked for it, support was everywhere. A friend bought me a silver compass and engraved it with a meaningful quote. The Ranger Tug delivery driver sent me thoughtful updates via text as he drove through horrible storms from Washington to North Carolina. A local ecologist and boat captain, Jess Hawkins, met my boat at the marina to help me launch it. My parents drove in from Raleigh and my father stood with me, masked, in the cold rain to unknot the transit cover. The Boathouse Marina staff docked my boat when the current made me nervous. A sailing instructor who happened to be walking his dog helped me re-tie my dock lines in advance of a big storm with gale force winds.
The Ranger Tug staff - particularly Sam, Andrew, Ivan, and Tim - were literally on call for me. Ivan and I spent hours conducting a virtual tour and training of the boat. When I found water in the bilge, he helped me troubleshoot - never once striking an exasperated or condescending tone. Everyone was friendly, open, and encouraging - making me feel like, despite the enormity of my undertaking, owning, driving, and maintaining a boat is something I can do. For now, it feels like learning a new language, but I’m determined to do it.
Because I’m a writer, I’ll be sharing a little about my journey of being a woman and owning a boat for Ranger Tugs. I have always been interested in expanding my life and challenging myself, and I know there are other women out there who feel the same way - some have already started reaching out to me.
I hope that by offering some insight into my undertaking, more people - particularly women - can imagine themselves doing the same.
There was a moment when my father and I were waiting for the boat to arrive. Rain was coming down. I felt nervous. Then the truck and tug came into view, rounding a corner and driving toward us. “I’m so proud of you,” my dad said. And to be honest, I was proud of myself.