Meet Raine Ellison and Devon Gorden. The couple restored a 1981 double ended wooden schooner, SV Moondrift, and officially relaunched the vessel in May 2022.
Raine and Devon live aboard their boat and have been traveling up and down the east coast since last year. We chatted with them about sailing life, adventure and living sustainability on the water.
Raine, where are you both from and how did you two meet?
R: We’re both from Camden, Maine. We met working on the Schooner Olad, a day sailing charter boat that runs trips around Penobscot bay. Devon was the captain and I was the mate. We were work friends for most of the summer, but by fall grew quite close and ended up buying a teardrop camper trailer and road-tripping around the perimeter of the US during our months off. After a successful road trip and many hours spent working on and caring for wooden boats, purchasing our own boat made sense. We both fell in love with Moondrift right away and had all the confidence in the world that we could restore her and call her home.
When did you both get into sailing?
R: I began sailing when I first moved to Maine as a little kid. I really loved being on the water and it quickly became an all consuming passion. I dinghy raced in high school and taught sailing in the summers. I took some time off sailing in college, then, with no intention of having a life around boats, found myself back in our hometown and working on the Olad. I’ve been on the water pretty much ever since.
D: When I was 7 or 8 years old I started in a summer sailing camp in Rockland, Maine. I didn’t take to it very well as I had a strong fear of sharks, mostly thanks to watching shark week as a kid. Luckily I had an amazing instructor who swam underwater with goggles on to check for sharks after many days of my stubborn and scared self refusing to get into the boat. After he deemed the water to be shark free I got in the boat and loved it ever since.
Tell us a little about Moondrift, she is such a beauty.
R: Moondrift is a 1981 staysail schooner designed by Allen Farrell and built by Greg and Lynn Sager in Victoria BC. Greg and Lynn sailed her down the pacific coast, through the Panama Canal, and up to New England where she was then sold. She’s since had three other owners (besides ourselves) and we’ve been lucky enough to connect with each of them! When we found Moondrift she’d been out of the water for 15 years and required a good amount of restoration, but her bones were strong and she was built so well, that after relaunching, it was like she’d never left the water.
Sailing is one of the most sustainable methods of travel, how do you feel about that and does it inspire you to advocate for the earth in other ways?
R: Sailing, and traveling slowly in general has definitely impacted the way we look at our environment. When you slow down, you start to notice how we interact with our environment and what imprints we can leave. Being that we spend so much time on the shore, we can’t help but notice and do our best to clean up, all the trash and debris that gets washed ashore. I think when you travel, be in to close places like the next town over, or far, it’s important to think about how you can impact those environments and to try to make the impact a positive one.
We also work hard to live a simple and self sufficient life. We hold 240 gallons of water and with a foot pump sink that lasts two(ish) months. All our electrical power is drawn from our solar panels. We use a composting toilet. Waste really needs to be kept to a minimum since we don’t have lots of space to store garbage. We sail most places that we’re going to and try to keep our engine use to a minimum.
Before living on a boat, we definitely worked hard at being environmentally conscious is our life. Moving onto such a small floating home, you’re forced to make even more sustainable choices sometimes based on values, sometimes based on financial reasons. Fuel, shore power, dockage, water filling, all those things become really expensive when you’re living on a boat, so being self sufficient and using natural energy just makes sense.
Who is that adorable puppy on the ship with you? Tell us more!
Our dog's name is Dipper! He’s about two years, we adopted him from a rescue when he was around 5 months. He’s a funny guy, loves swimming and playing in the water (but doesn’t jump in from off the boat), watching dolphins, and barking at boats that go by.
We really enjoy watching your cooking reels on Insta, If you could make any meal on the ship for you and Devon what would it be?
I think the most ideal boat meal would be a rice bowl with fresh fish and veggies. It always is a treat to catch something then prepare/eat it the same day.
Devon, What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve done?
Besides what we’ve done with Moondrift, I traveled to New Zealand to hike the Te Araroa trail in 2018. The Te Araroa is an 1,800 mile trail that goes from the top of the north island to the bottom of the South Island. It goes through dense forests, over volcanos, and huge glacier covered mountains. It even winds down a long river via canoe. Not only was it wild and beautiful to travel over all of the different terrain, but being on the other side of the world from my family added a layer of homesickness to the adventure that was hard to overcome.
Raine, Where is your favourite harbour?
I’ll always have a soft spot for quiet villages in Midcoast and Northern Maine. Monhegan Island is a favorite, as are Deer Isle/Stonington and Lubec.
If you could only have three personal items each on the ship what would they be?
R: My crochet projects (we’ll count that as one item), my sketchbook, my recipe notebook.
D: My film camera, an instrument that’s not a drum set (right now we have a baritone ukulele and a mandolin), my skateboard.
Follow Raine and Devon's adventures on SV Moondrift on instagram at @sailmoondrift
All photos provided by Raine and Devon