Getting ready to sail south with Cooper Newton

Jun 15, 2021


That’s both the name of recent OR graduate and Mattapoisett resident Cooper Newton’s recently restored 1967 Bristol 27, and his attitude toward sailing her south this summer.

Pretty far south, actually.

Newton was accepted to University of Rhode Island for engineering, but he decided to take a gap year to sail solo and explore. He plans to sail as far south as he can -- hoping to make it to Antigua or Barbados -- before heading back home from the nine-month trip.

“I don’t really have any concrete plan,” Newton said.

The lifelong sailor does still plan to head off to college after his expedition, though.

“I’m not like going off and hermiting,” he said.

Newton works as a sailing instructor and in the Mattapoisett Harbormaster’s office. Between that and his life savings, he was able to buy Why Worry from a seller in Portland, Maine.

He said the boat was a “fantastic deal,” buying it right after his 17th birthday.

From there, he commuted between Mattapoisett and Portland on weekends and days off from school to work on the boat and get it sea-ready.

He said the biggest job was painting the bottom, and one stanchion on the boat had been hit, and left a two-by-one foot hole in the deck.

“Still haven’t made it look good,” Newton said of the repair, “but that’s secondary to it being functional.”

After getting the boat ready for the water, he sailed it back to Mattapoisett -- a 34 hour trip.

“That was a hell of a sail,” he said. “We were taking on some water for sure as we were coming down.”

Newton took an even longer sail a few weeks ago, back home from Rockland, Maine, delivering a friend’s boat with a five-man crew.

On that trip, he said he “got pretty much every type of weather.”

This summer, he’s planning frequent weekend trips -- two days out and back. Newton said he’s going to keep that schedule for the first few months of his trip down south.

“I feel like I’m pretty well-versed in the everyday aspects of sailing,” he said. But it’s when a certain expletive “hits the fan,” that Newton said a sailor really proves himself.

For times like those, Newton is working on safety prep for his voyage -- “doing a lot of mast work and systems work,” he said.

Newton said he’s under no false assumption that there won’t be risk involved with his voyage, and that he’s appreciative of the support his parents, Peter and Marley Newton, and friends have given him as he prepares for the journey.

“I’m doing everything I can to ease their minds,” he said.

Newton said one gripe he has with society as a whole is the perpetual availability of information, so he’s excited to be away from internet access and to face the unknown.

Although, he said he’ll have to figure out how to cope without as much music as he’s used to -- he listened to around eight hours of it a day last year.

“I hope I’m not too bored,” he said. But, “people make friends on the water,” he added. “So you’re never alone alone.”

While he’s not going to be able to have thousands of songs available to stream, Newton will be bringing power to Why Worry with solar panelling.

“I actually think I’m gonna be very green on this trip,” he said.

Newton said among the things he’s most looking forward to is collecting flags from the countries he’ll visit.

Newton doesn’t really have a set plan for his departure -- sometime in mid- to late August, he said -- but one thing he knows for sure: He’s looking for new experiences.

“I also kinda want to be an interesting old person,” Newton said. “I want to have stories.”