By Kathryn Hennessy
Not every Flagler College student lives in historic Ponce Hall, or for that matter, even on land.
One Flagler student calls a sailboat home.
Claire Loftus is a Flagler College Art student who started living on a sailboat in January of 2023.
She found her boat, a 1984 Catalina 30, on Facebook Marketplace and fell in love with the ship.
“As soon as I saw Persephone, I was dreaming,” she said. “And this boat was way out of my price range. But everything came into alignment, the owner brought the price down by $7,000 and I live on her now. It’s just blessings on blessings.”
Loftus became exposed to the sailboat lifestyle after visiting Hawaii before the pandemic. Her first time on a sailboat was a whale watching tour.
“We saw lots of whales and I ended up becoming friends with all the girls that worked on that boat. I had a job at a vegetarian cafe, so I’d go to those shifts and every cruise that I could make I would go on. And they didn’t make me pay since we had all become friends,” said Loftus.
The pandemic disrupted her plans in Hawaii, and Loftus had to return home to Delaware. At this time she made plans to attend Flagler College to further her education before making her way back out to sea again.
“Being at a big school is never my thing and I really loved the town being by the ocean. Since I grew up next to the ocean, I knew that I needed that close to me,” said Loftus.
Living on the ocean does require extra steps that most students aren’t used to. Loftus uses a dinghy to get to and from her boat everyday.
“I just got the dinghy, so it feels quite luxurious. Before I was kayaking every day, which is an awesome arm workout, but not ideal if you have friends with you. Once we capsized while fully clothed in all of our winter stuff. We were about to get some tacos at Mojo’s and the kayak flipped us. The current was ripping us down the channel, but we were just laughing our butts off. So I’m grateful for that memory and we had a dry bag so our stuff was good,” she said.
Logistically living on a sailboat is sometimes difficult, but Loftus has found strength in her tribulations thus far.
“I’m able to self-sustain myself,” she said. “I mean I always have been, but now I have to work to get my water. I have to like work to have a working bathroom. I have to work to get food back, you know, it’s like I have to work with the elements if it’s raining or there’s a hard chop. It’s taught me to just be more in the present moment.”
Despite currently being moored next to the Bridge of Lions, Loftus plans on traveling far and wide on her sailboat after college.
“My intentions for sailing in the future is going to be the Bahamas, and then all those islands down there, and make it to Puerto Rico. I spent some time in Rincon and I would love to go back there. I see myself teaching yoga there for a little.”
Since living on her new sailboat, Loftus has fallen even more in love with the waves.
“I see a lot of marine life. It’s beautiful. Which is why I love being out here, you’re just so much more connected to the Earth and her ways. Since the Earth is mostly made up of water, and we’re mostly made up of water. Water is very important,” she said.