I hadn't seen Jane Clegg in nearly twenty years when I bumped into her on the deck of Richard Hudson's Issuma a couple of months ago. Clegg has the skills of a quartermaster and keeps a tight ship. as one might expect from a former stage manager. A veteran of the Women's Royal Naval Service she surprised me when I first met her and told her about the 15' Snipe I had sailed from a silted in marina -the Light House Boat Club just across the river from the 79th Street Bot Basin. "Oh, she said in her British boarding school accent, I too learned on a Snipe - in the Great Bitter Lake! Which I soon learned is a wide spot in the Suez Canal. The Times has a nice profile of one of the highlights of the New York waterfront - Captain Clegg, - gwc
A Tiny Home That Floats - The New York Times
By Kim Velsey
As far as places to live go, Jane Clegg considers hers nearly perfect.
“I have a beautiful view and no one bothers me — it’s just sometimes hard to get back on,” said Ms. Clegg, who lives aboard a 39-foot schooner docked for much of the year in one of the choppiest, if prettiest spots, at the 79th Street Boat Basin on the Upper West Side.
On a recent afternoon, a light wind was rippling the Hudson River, jostling Ms. Clegg’s schooner such that pens and cups and visitors slid about the cockpit. But she seemed oblivious, moving nimbly around the cabin in search of her outdoor seat cushions.
“Oh, this is nothing,” she said, popping her strawberry-blond head out of the hatch. “Sometimes I roll!”
Ms. Clegg, who is 83, started living on a boat in 1987, at the age of 54. She had been residing in a large rent-regulated studio on 75th Street near Columbus Avenue since the late 1960s, paying just $300 a month. But after new owners bought the building and moved aggressively to vacate it — they even sent a private detective to Albany where she was stage-managing a theater company one winter, she said — she decided a buyout was preferable to being trailed every time she left town. She received $23,000 and a year to leave.
She funneled the money into building her boat, the JFS Salignac, which cost about $90,000, designing a two-masted schooner that she could sail alone and lining it in mahogany — Honduran, as opposed to Brazilian. “I wanted it more red so that it would be cheery,” she said.
Ms. Clegg, who was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, and spent part of her childhood in England, learned to sail in the early ‘50s in Egypt, on the Great Bitter Lake in the Suez Canal Zone, while serving as a wireless operator in the Women’s Royal Naval Service.