When… not if

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Timing is everything, for now and yes again I’m taking a step back from the BCC I don’t know how I’ll fit a life raft on this boat, or a BCC for that matter but I’ve decided I’m just not ready to move up in size. How the hell Im going fit a dinghy, life raft and ditch bag I don’t know but it will all sort itself out. Food and gear on the other hand I know will all tuck away just fine. I may have to resort to fishing and spear fishing but I’m going to avoid that until I have no choice. I continually remind myself that I have achieved every single goal in life I’ve set my sights on. I will have a BCC, it’s a matter of when, not if…

This is an old picture and the interior has been changed a bit but it gives an example of her size

I’ve made dozens of drawings and try as I might there is no better set up than I already have. Just a few little tweaks. When ever I get off my ass and buy a video camera I’ll make a basic tour inside and out and share all this nonsense in greater detail. I don’t have crew but I will. I do have to load 90 days of this and that for two. I also have to add a few niceties that sweeten the package. For lack of ability to do any other work on the boat my current focus is on the v-berth and a new real bed, with a black out/ privacy curtain ” I’m thinking Hawaiian flowers” and new sheets, pillows and big squishy blankets.

I just bought a brand new Herschoff 6’8″ dingy by Montgomery marine, I’m thinking about cutting a hole in the transom and mounting it on deck as a dinghy/dodger. Mostly I really just miss having a fine rowing dinghy. I have lots of ideas. A manual water maker and in reach will round out the ditch kit. No AIS, no Radar, no chart plotter. Paper charts my iPad and a small gps. It’s all a matter of how much time, money and space I’m willing to invest. I won’t live on land again unless I’m on the bike. the water is my home.

Ok I’m not an artist but this gives an idea of what I have to work with.

I love Sookies 5″x6″ mast compression post but it’s does take a huge amount of space.

The stem from deck to ballast has a 7″ laminate for massive collision strength and it also cleans up the interior very nicely. She is bow light but 6 cases of wine solves that one just fine.

Every inch of her interior under the deck has storage boxes for light stuff like clothes and tp and paper towels.

All her lockers are below the water line. Lyle Hess intentionally under ballasted this boat almost 700lbs to account for long term cruising. In his 50 year carrier, this was the only design he did that wasn’t based off somebody else’s needs. He designed the FC from the ground up for himself as a hypothetical if I was going to sail offshore with my wife what is the best boat I can come up with. He’s mentioned it a million times that it was his best design. I have to remind myself of this when I get frustrated by…

Yes she is small, very small, gigantically small but to date I just can’t find a boat that is better suited to my personal needs and current solution. Now all I need to do is get her to Cape George and blow every penny I have saved multiplied by many factors. With a little luck there will be a few new videos posted by spring.

Insomniac

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My eyes open and I’m wide awake, it’s pitch dark and I say a silent prayer twice, please let it be at least 6:00AM please, please PLEASE! I get up and turn on the light so I can find my glasses, it’s 2:38 DAMNIT! I spend two hours tossing and turning while my mind torments me. One cup of coffee down and I decide to walk to the water, ok hobble. It’s cold as hell, a lone car is coming towards me on the road I have to cross, is slows, swerves and then floors it screeching the tires as it speeds assay. What the hell? Oh shit, I realize I’m wearing a Shemagh to stay warm. I laugh out loud and re-tie it a little more appropriate for the simple minds of the islanders.

Sipping hot coffee from my thermos at the edge of the water it’s dark, really dark. I pull my Shemagh also known as a Keffiyeh or a Shesh a bit tighter and light a ciggi, I’m trying so hard to quit and failing at every turn. With all the advances in tech clothing this is still my go to 9 out of ten times. My smoke drifts across the bay and I drift back to the first time I was introduced to these wonderful Arabic treasures. It was almost exactly 30 years today. I had nothing but my camera bag, a pile of snickers and some film plus developer, fixer and a little metal bowl to process my story. Yes it gets freaking cold in the jungle.

I think about photography and how much it’s changed over the years, perhaps not as much as me but still. Back in the early eighties I had a small film camera and took it everywhere I went, we didn’t have Instagram or Facebook or even an answering machine for the one phone in the house. Still I documented every one of my trips of what would eventually become known as mountain biking. Just a few short years later we started carrying plywood boards up into the mountains, it would take hours of hard labor for a few precious minutes of fresh virgin powder. We had the first batch of what was then called snow surf boards and would shortly become just snowboards. A few years later ski slopes started letting them in but it would take another 30 years before backcountry skiing would become mainstream. I had a Better camera by this time and we stared setting up for the best shots and I started to write about the overnight trips we made into the back country. I was discovering a new passion and starting a new life as a dirtbag journalist. the mid 90’s I started bike touring when I was living in Hawaii. A road bike with drop bars and the biggest tires I could fit for all the janked roads. This would eventually lead to touring on a mountain bike and then by the late 90’s bikepacking with ultra light loads. Shortly after the millennium I went to a rigid single speed for a more indestructible ride and used the Tahoe back country as my training ground for bigger and more remote journeys. I remember sending my then wife to the bike shop to buy tubes for the 2.4 tires I had just found. At the time they were just released for down hill racers but I figured all that rubber would be a godsend on the trail and add a
Little suspension at the same time. The bike shop guys tried for 20 minutes to convince her that she couldn’t possibly be running 2.4’s. The norm back then was 1.75 and 2.1 was wide. Today the norm is 2.5 and the wide is a definition we have yet To define. Our loads were pared down to small daypacks and a stuff sac on the bars with a second under the seat, it was feral but got the job done.

It amazes me what advances in toys I’ve witnessed over the years and can’t help but to wonder if it was technology or the lack of it that fueled the fires inside of us. Boredom is the devils best friend. Back in my cabin I’d be crawling the walls if I wasn’t crippled. I pull out my tools and cleaning equipment and start to pamper Chika, she truly is a marvel of simplicity and while the quality of all of her components is much better, she is far simpler and more reliable than any bike I’ve ever owned. Maybe I need to switch back to single speed for my next bike tour. I wonder if anybody has ridden the Dalton HWY on a single speed plus bike.

I pull out my journal and start to ponder with my pen. There are so many of us out there with this collective thinking. I can’t help but to believe all these thoughts are connected as are we even if we only communicate on a subconscious level. We all have a tribe that we belong to. It’s through doing what we love that connects us although I guess it’s a little easier these days with social media, maybe technology isn’t such a bad thing…

Basic instinct

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Earth, fire, water, steel and wood, these basic elements of life are never out of arms reach. Each one of these can save your life and just as easily end it. Yet another injury, I don’t know if it’s a muscle or a tendon but I can barely stand up. Just below my knee on the bone in one tiny area. When I gently touch it a sensation of fire occurs. My health insurance was cancelled the day before I left on bike tour so now all my medical attention comes from a vet and she’s a damn fine one.

If I do have to operate on myself it won’t be the first time. My opioid receptors measure both pain and pleasure on the same scale so with a steady hand and a sharp knife, a bit of duct tape and a few tears of joy I’ll get through this one. The five consecutive days of low level trauma caused by the fire on the other hand doesn’t seem to be manageable. The only way I can describe it is as compared to being a war journalist. While nothing particularly bad is happening directly to you the potential is always present and inevitable. You don’t think about it or dwell on it but there is a small portion of your brain that is always aware of the situation and creates a form of stress. After the first day I was safe but I didn’t know it, for 5 straight days I could get no information, the color of the sky and how much ash it was raining was my only mode of forecasting.

I haven’t faced what I went though yet. Just like I did what I had to do to get though it I’m still just doing what I have to do. At no time did I sit down and actually think about what was going on. My body was operating on my most basic instinct, survival. Now safe and secure that basic instinct is again at defcon 5 ie fight or flight. I can’t get the divide out of my head. Those long days pushing towards what is only an imaginary border until you cross it which I never did. Every mile was made good with the starting line in mind which I wouldn’t reach till Mexico. There were many trying days out there where I wondered why hell I didn’t just fly and get on with it but I needed those days to get mentally and physically strong.

I don’t believe in bucket lists, I never make any firm plans, I just always seem to know where I’m going and while i most certainly know what’s in at least part of my immediate future I also know deep down that I need to complete a special ride, to start at point A and end at point B both dictated by me. This isn’t something I’m doing for bonus points or to have something to write about. It’s something that I am so passionate about that I lose a bit more sleep everyday, my mind is mainlining on the freedom I had on the open road and how quickly it all went away. For people who haven’t been on a long bicycle tour, or hiked the Pacific Crest trail, or made a pilgrimage to Tibet, or sailed vast tracks of open ocean, this feeling, this place is impossible to describe. I’ve done all of these things. Each journey in one way or another altered over the course to become something entirely different. You can’t focus on the end without robbing yourself of the journey. You simply live in the present, it’s something we were all born with but tragically most will go though life without experiencing, basic instinct… No this journey hasn’t ended, it’s barely even begun, I just need a better road map, some might call it a chart.

The shipping news

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I take it as a sign from the gods, the seller of my trailer has vanished off the face of the earth, I hope he is ok. I get another offer for sponsorship for the blog. I try to explain that nobody reads these words, they up the anti, I respectfully decline it. This is my journey, I don’t want to do it that way. I flip on the VHF, weather guesser says 30-50 knots, oh joy of joys.

Some days I go to the boat 10 times doing this and that, grabbing tools or a piece of wood or… others days I forget I even have a boat, winter is like that. I gave the boat yard guys huge tips when they hauled Sookie and requested she be put close to water and power, they gave me the best spot in the yard. As soon as I left they moved me to the exact spot I asked them not to. I’m right next to this dipshit who has half his rigging removed, one of his spreaders pulled, he hasn’t touched the boat in two years. A ladder hangs from the top of the mast swinging in the wind. If the 30 year old forstay goes the mast will fall straight back crushing a Sookies new boomkin and taffrail. I brought this to the yard managers attention three days ago, nothing. The mast flops and sways in the wind. It’s all my fault. If I hadn’t gone on bike tour I’d have 20k in my pocket, could have fixed all the little things and be shipping her east today. No regrets on my decision, just a little bummed how it all turned out.

I’m tired, maybe a day off is in order. Haliards clank and clink outside my cabin. The view of the bay is excellent but not like living aboard where I’m part of the view. I get a text from a friend, he is half way down the Baja peninsula surfing and fixing all the broken shit on his 50’ boat. I suspect he’s doing more surfing than fixing and it makes me smile.

Yesterday was rudder day but a snafu had me behind the bar all day serving hot food and cold drinks to hunters. I’m not really sure where you would hunt on such a small island but they are everywhere. My view from behind the bar is of Sookies empty slip, I’m closer than ever to just saying screw it and launching her, this is why I never get anything done, every year I flip out and splash her and the work gets pushed back, this is winter in the PNW

For a lack of anything better to do I sweep the pine needles off my deck, it’s cold outside, too windy to ride. I look across the bay, there is a boat on the beach. She is the loneliest most neglected boat in the world. Twice a year she goes aground on the rocks, a testament to her strength. All summer vagrants fought over her stealing her from each other but now it’s winter, nobody cares. I’ve fallen into a deep depression, I have to get out of here.

Sookies log sits untouched, blank pages waiting for my pen to touch clean white paper and fill in the void of my life. To record the passages of my youth before it’s gone…

The abyss

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The one mile ride to town leaves me winded, this is making me crazy but I focus on strengthening the parts of my body that I can. Early to bed early to rise blah, blab, blah. My mind is a torrent. It’s obvious I won’t be riding the Baja divide this year. All my attention is put to a few simple tasks, to be as strong as I can, to save as much as I can and to to focus on Sookie, where to start and how to utilize every aspect of winter and the confines of my tiny home.

It’s dark by 430 now, I’m a natural night owl and going to bed before 2:00 am has always been near impossible. That leaves 9:00 hours of silence, even just sipping on a glass of wine can turn into disaster in those dimensions. I force myself into a lights off by 10 and lay in bed tossing and turning for hours. My alarm gets set earlier each day. I’m pirating the cabin next door to glue up a custom laminate mattress for my v- berth. I’m still shopping foam and studying how to do this without the sewing looking like a blind person did it but I can make it for $2000.00 less than the locals want and that will pay for my new roller furling which I am 100% committed to.

My pedals turn slowly and methodically, natural power pure and simple. How to make sookie as self Sufficient as I can without destroying her clean lines feels like an impossibility. I watch a few videos of pacific crossings and these guys are bringing over a hundred gallons of auxiliary fuel, I don’t ever want to be that guy but I’m not planning on crossing any oceans on this boat. My amazon basket is full of video cameras, mics and sound recorders. A new laptop is on the list but I’m being cheap on this one. Rowing a $1500.00 laptop around is always a risk. I still can’t push the checkout button which tells me I haven’t found the best way, so I continue to study.

New lighting is still thwarting me, what size panel and where. I need to pull the ceiling boards lining the v-berth but not till Feb as the weather starts to settle, I only have so much space and don’t want to rip the boat apart all at one time. The boat needs to be in Port Townsend by March to beat the spring rush. The seller of my trailer has gone AWOL I’m skitso trying to make time for a spring cruise. The earlier I leave the further I can get. I won’t sail these waters from mid June to September, too many credit card boaters and charter boats crashing into everything and everyone.

I take a deep breath, my three hour shift starts in 5 hours, I’m out of food, laundry needs to be done. I really want to make a short video of sookie in and out, I need to find a second set of hands for the camera I’m afraid to commit to. Maybe I have time for one more cup of coffee and some more contemplation.

There are 168 hours in any given week, I spend 148 of those in total isolation, I’ve started talking to myself out loud. Maybe I do have what it takes to sail solo again, naw, not my thing. I fight cabin fever, sharpen my pencil often and move forward, slowly and deliberately. Each forward movement is a critical one, one missed step and I can fall into the abyss.

Sailing gurus

Below is part of a correspondence I received from Sookies previous owner. After sailing her for 13 years and truly taking magnificent care of her, he set off and sailed half way around the world on his Bristol Channel Cutter. He probably has more mixed experience between the two boats than any other person, although some day I hope to top that list.

Offshore, huh, in a Falmouth. I have had your boat in some pretty festive conditions and there was never any question of survivability in my mind. That said, here are some thoughts.

• Space. Space is a big issue with the Falmouth both for provisions and essential equipment. On the plus side you have all the space that the engine would normally occupy. I wouldn’t go offshore again, especially single handed, without a good quality life raft. Even on the BCC it is difficult to stow something that bulky. I carried a Honda 200i generator, which is a very handy item in many ways – where would you fit that, for example?

• Fuel bladder. Would rig a bladder to free up cockpit space of gas tank. Maybe you already have this set up.

• Rig. You must have a roller furling headsail IMO. Too dangerous to be up on the sprite dealing with the Jibtop or Yankee. And you need to be able to reef that headsail incrementally and quickly.

• Boat motion. Consider a 15 foot swell in decent wind. That means the top three to four feet is potentially cresting and breaking. When that hits the BCC off the aft quarter or abeam the boat launches so to speak. Not comfy. Often that motion will momentarily and drastically effect the boats coarse and hence sail trim. Problematic to auto-correct using the windvane or tiller pilot.

• Refrigeration. Not a issue, I guess, in northern climate. But Mexico or the tropics forget about it. That would be a serious drawback in my opinion. Obviously there are some good, affordable, electric coolers that could work.

• Electricity. Even keeping it very simple you need juice. I didn’t have the cash to set up a good solar panel array so we used the motor to charge which is a waste of engine hours. Also the Honda generator helped big time in this regard. I could get a half assed charge on the batteries as well as charge the iPad, phone, InReach, etc.

• Get a InReach. Worth it’s weight in gold. Seriously.

• Dodger. Even though the Falmouth is a dry boat a Dodger is necessary to keep water out of the cabin and to shelter the crew. Allows for bimini to be rigged on the gallows.

When we were in Mex we ran into these “kids” on the Falmouth Coconutz. It was completely set up. Sweet. And I thought to myself at the time; What a waste. So much cash for so many compromises. They just looked so cramped all the time. Keep in mind I love these boats.

I realize you have reservations about trailering the boat. But in my mind that is how a Falmouth really shines. With a trailer you can easily move the boat anywhere opening up sailing options that most people would never experience. As in tow it home from Mex. Or sail on Lake Tahoe. Or go to Maine for the Summer. You name it.

You know all of this shit, Bro. I know you do.

Wise words, every one of them from a guy
Who has slipped 20 years under his keel sailing these boats, but still… Sookie is my baby and I know how much she loves me.  Ahh sigh, it must be winter when all I can so is contemplate this size and scope of the universe.

PS add dodger to the list

Sailing La Vagabond

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The kids on sailing La Vagabond have literally ruined my life. Their cat an Outremer is an absolute masterpiece, the use of space is far beyond any cat design I’m aware of. I watch theirs and many other sailing videos to pass the long lonely nights of winter and fall deeper and deeper in love with all aspects of this modern ship. Coming from a serious traditionalist and small boat sailor this is a huge alteration in thoughts.

I’m blessed to be surrounded by dozens of blue water sailors with a combined bagillion sea miles. It’s always fun when we gather around the bottle for sea talk. Sometimes we talk about the weirdness of the sea like when a whale completely lifted a friends Crealock 37 from the sea. Another was tormented by a pod of pilot whales who kept false charging him. If your unaware no glass boat will survive being rammed by a pilot whale. Usually though we talk about sail configurations, navigation, ground tackle systems and boat designs, we all do it very differently and each in our own way has perfected the lot.

This summer when I got to sail a giant cat I was smitten with every single aspect. Sailing Sookie is like being on a magic carpet ride, that big cat was like having our own island. It made electricity from the sun, water from the sea and had multiple hot showers. The indoor helm station was insane. I felt more like I was piloting the space shuttle than sailing this rocket ship. We circumnavigated San Juan island and in the straits I got to sail her in lots of wind and water, I don’t know how to describe the level of comfort we were experiencing, it was just pure magic. I swear I’d sail one of those things everywhere.

Yes a cool mil will get one of these dream ships, hell they look fast just Sitting at the dock. Far out of my range I know, way more than I’d want to sail solo which I very reluctantly do, I just get lonely and quite frankly bored when I’m not able to share the sail.

Back to all my blue water buddies, when the talk of a potential voyage to the South Pacific comes up and I can assure you it’s only talk… they think I’m insane. The BCC displaces twice that of the FC but is still only 28’ long and 14,000 lbs, a mere spec on the sea yet triple the size of Sookie by comparison. None of this matters as my only current plans are for gunk holing and tripping around the inside passage. Easy sailing, amazingly protected Anchorage’s and an endless supply of coastline to explore, but still… those far off distant lands continue to call my name. Yes they have ruined my life and I will eternally hate them for it 😉
PS, I love you guys 🙂

Needs got nothing to do with it

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A steel tape, sharpened pencil, my sketchbook and a pile of cardboard to mock up small changes and the possible instillation for a wood burning stove. This is how my week started and how it will end. The night was spent shopping drones and I’m pretty smitten with the Karma drone why a drone? Why not!

When the economy tanked I spilt to go do a bit of sailing leaving Sookies refit on hold. It’s finally time to get back at it. Half will be done by me and half will be done by Cape George who is building the Falmouths. A quick scan on Yacht World showed 2 for sale and man the prices on these things have really dropped which is a bit surprising to me. It’s clear I won’t get my money back from the refit but with sailboats it’s never about the money, it’s about the experience.

She is perfectly fine as she is but all the little things will be done once and for all. The most exciting part will be a new water tank under her cabin sole which will be replaced with bare teak floor boards. There is also a useless space in her aft bilge where I could add an additional 15 gallons glassed over and move her two group 31 batteries foreword about three feet. Currently they are built into a shelf under the the aft end of the cockpit footwell. Sookie could roll 360 degrees and these things won’t move an inch or take a single drop of water. On a small boat every single inch must be given careful consideration.

For fun I’ve decided to add 285’ of 5/16 grade 4 chain which will be stored in the empty cavity at the base of her mast. This and the water tanks will add an effective 600 pounds of ballast as all the weight will be placed centerline directly on top of her 2500 pound lead keel. If the balance is off I’ll slowly remove sections of chain till I find a perfect balance. I have no idea how I’ll actually pull the chain off the bottom.

As much as I love my Rocna I’m in the process of writing Spade anchors a letter to see if they will make me a 25 pound anchor so I can do a proper review of the spades performance vs the Rocna It’s a widely held belief that the spade is the best all around anchor on the market. I’ll post my letter and response her. It should be pretty interesting as I have a way with words for companies that piss me off.

When entering into a major refit like this a serious amount of time and planing should be put into the actual costs and the cost verse value of each addition. The one thing I know is that other than Sookie there are only two boats on the planet earth that I would consider, the 26’ Falmouth Cutter and the 28’ Bristol Channel Cutter. There were only 9 of the 26’s produced in Fiberglass and I’ve yet to find a 28 that I can obtain. Rather than waste my time with budgets I’ve decided there will be no limit. She will get the best and I’ll continue till I’m satisfied.

If I can finish her steering before April 15th we’ll go on a quick 75 day voyage north and then straight to Port Townsend which will be her new home base. For now it’s lots of measuring and cutting of templates. I’m moving incredibly slowly on each new purchase making sure I’ve found the perfect solution to each modification. Sookie has always been a proper home, she just needs a bit of spit and polish.

Depression

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A huge low is forming off the coast. Sky is grey, raindrops hang in the balance not quite ready to form as it patiently waits for its constant companion the wind. A gale is brewing out there, perhaps one is brewing in here are well. How the hell do people live on land, it doesn’t move right.
My grandfather was 16 when he lost his farm during the Great Depression. One of the many things I learned from him is that you can always make do, no matter how little you have to work with.

My one year with nothing but a “35” 50mm EQ lens is coming to an end. For me nothing ruins my creativity faster than a zoom. I prefer to shut my brain off and let my half blind eye do the painting. I’ve been spoiled by its super fast aperture and light weight. I’m thinking of adding 17 or 18. It’s a fine line when going wide not to distort reality. I have neither the budget nor the desire to go full frame. In my opinion the little D7200 is a true workhorse and one of the best cameras Nikon has ever come out with. My primary function is photography, an online network keeps me in at least one portrait session a month which is about as much as I can take. Spontaneous candids is where my creative soul is centered.

None of this matters as both my iPad and camera are lost in the mail but they will return soon enough. For now I’ll have to remember the lessons grandfather taught me and this old iPhone can get it done well enough for now. The universe keeps teaching me to think differently but my mind is stubborn. I have my new boots rated to -40, three down jackets, 2 scarves, my follies and a pile of wool expedition weight socks. I’ll still be cold but I just can’t take the indoors.

The price on the trailer is very reasonable but shipping it here nearly doubles it. Shipping east will triple the cost but I’m desperate for change, desperate to make progress on the boat and more or less just desperate. I have it too easy here and that is never a good thing. Last night I pulled an OCD research all nighter, made more lists, added and subtracted zeros. I’m not any closer to anywhere but it kept my mind at bay.

I few checks arrived in the mail, I put them into a pile, for once money isn’t the problem, it’s time and distance. The sun is almost ready to rise, my coffee is as dark as my mood. Stolen dance by milky chance pops up, I crank my speaker and muppet out letting the beat drown my soul with hope. I remember back to when I was cast as a 70s disco dancer in Austin Powers. I love auditions, you get to completely let loose. There was no chance I wouldn’t be cast, not because I’m a good dancer, I’m not. I got the roll because of my constant ability to let loose if everything and dive into the moment.

I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free. ~Michelangelo

The opposite of normal

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Just like a skier can’t ski without Snow and a surfer can’t surf without waves a sailor can’t sail without wind. Of corse there is always wind, you just have to be a good navigator to find it. My wind is in my journeys but shackled in the boat yard I feel as lost at sea as a sailor could ever become. Winter came and left. The temps are hovering at the exact temperature where I literally can’t get anything done. I don’t think I’ve ever felt this caged in my life.

The long lonely nights completely isolated, no internet, no little projects to work on, nothing. To many days like this and I fear I’ll turn to the bottle. There was a time when my videos filed the lists on YouTube, I pulled them all because my story was missing something and I had to find the proper recipe. Years have slipped by, when I don’t have the proper ingredients I just jump on the bike and take a break. I don’t know why but now I feel ready to dive back in and make some sailing videos, now that I’m in the boatyard. Now that it’s winter now that…

No matter how I chalk it up the next 2-3 months are going to be very slow and tough ones. While I try and put it all together it’s time to start shopping computers and filming gear. Any tips would be greatly appreciated. What ever I choose it has to be charged by my ships batteries so that’s also a consideration as is the right minimalist gear. Easy to use, tough as nails and smallish and lightish. All I have no is an iPad and a Nikon D7200 with a 35mm 1.8. Last year I decided to go a whole year with just this lens and it has changed how I look at photography.

If you know any links that will help. Have experience on what gear to use, or even charging tips I’ve worked hard and saved to pay for this next chapter I’m just not sure where to start. It seems all the videos out there use the same boring cut and paste style. My desired format is simple 8 minute clips, nothing more. To create the exact opposite of what is out there now.

On my last journey for some strange reason 90% of what I shot came out as sound bites only. I just put together a bunch or raw footage when I returned from that voyage before I left the boat. I posted this two years ago as not to impress but just as a few raw files to share a small piece of that journey.

Although I Write Screenplays, I Don’t Think I’m a Good Writer.
– George Lucas

Gudgeon diary

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Gudgeons, that’s the girlie parts in case you are wondering, pintles are the boys parts, it all makes sense now right? The boy part goes inside the girl part and they fit together perfectly, sailing is sexy. The very first time I saw Sookie, back then she had no name, this was a big red flag. Well shit, those aren’t going to work., thought to myself. I had looked at and sailed many Falmouth Cutters and up until this point none of them sang to me. Sookie was different, she was exactly what I was looking for. Now six years later they are really starting to cause concern. Before I can install my new wind vane I need to re engineer these things. My quote for bronze from Port Townsend Foundry was $1200 back then, now it’s above $1600.

My options are to remove and re fabricate what I have, maybe $600-1000 bucks. To install the bronze ones that I prefer will be a little more. On top of the P&Gs I will need to fill 24 holes, drill 24 new ones. Have new rudder cheeks made and cut three slots out of the rudder so I can move it closer Inboard. Oh and fill that damn prop cut out cha Ching. My overly optimistic mind says 6k no problem. Of corse I can’t get that shit done on this island and while I’ve done some pretty extensive fiberglass work in the past my finish work leaves something to be desired. When I say something I really mean everything.

That’s ok just write a check and while I’m at it I can finally strip her bottom and install her new thru hulls, I can do that for myself for $2500 bucks. Yep they call it yachting for a reason. You see all those boats held together by a shoe string and this is why, yachting is damn expensive.

I’ve actually found a trailer for sale and it’s a perfect fit. It’s 1000 miles away and I don’t know the price yet but the stars are surely starting to align. I’ve calculated my total minimum at about 25k I think I can do that by August if the wheel of fortune keeps rolling for me. That isn’t anything fancy, just stuff to bring her back to date. I know a guy that just spent pennies under a million bucks refitting his 10 year old 50 footer. All of the sudden sookies relative small size is starting to look pretty ok. So that’s this years work load. Next years will be much more fun and with a little luck it will all happen in Florida 🙂 It may sound like a lot but I knew exactly what I was getting into when I took over stewardship of a boat that has less than 25 sisters floating about the world.

Holy water

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Serval years ago I received a letter from Roger Olsen saying “I’m not sure you are aware but the FC is my favorite of all boats.” I first met Roger in San Diego when I was working as a delivery skipper and forming some pretty firm observations when it comes to boat size and design. After sailing his home finished BCC across the pacific he sold her and bought The Sam Morse Co. it was Lyle Hess who designed the boats, Sam who started one off semi custom production but Roger who refined them into what they became. I could have never imagined way back then that I was talking to the man who had just laid up what would some day be my home and dream boat.

My keel would see many more miles before I would fully realize and appreciate how much I love and am suited to small boats. Having said that the battle is growing. I’ve never been close enough or in the right frame of mind to shop life rafts. For the better part of my sailing career I detested them and all other forms of abandon ship at sea devices. I always figured self rescue is the proper form of seamanship and I still do but on a small boat I simply can’t fit a hard dinghy that could be sailed on in a disaster.

The dimensions of even the smallest life-rafts simply won’t fit anywhere board, not even the smaller aviation ones. It’s a fact that Sookie was built stronger than any other FC and a smidge lighter but still… The hulls coming out of Sam Morse were considered to set the industry standard by which all other boats were compared. On a cloudy day off the Aleutian Islands a BCC sank less than three minutes after a collision with an unknown object. The go pro was running, a very slight shudder was all the could be seen and then nothing but water surrounded the men in their life raft.

No boat is bullet proof. A friend recently sailed to Hawaii and among other things he saw a 25’ propane tank and flipped over 30’ powerboat. Shit happens and now as my beard turns a bit salt and pepper the arrogance and invincibly of youth has me pondering when enough is enough and how prepared can I really make a 22’ sailboat. It isn’t weather I’m worried about, it’s all those things that go bump in the night and the fact that no matter how prepared I ever am, the universe always has one more wild card for me.

As much as I detest the thought I’m coming to terms with either stepping up to a BCC or setting off after a long talk with my family that I may be going down with the ship should a disaster strike. Explaining anything about the ocean to people who haven’t lived on it is nearly impossible. It’s that or swallow the hook and sail locally and be cold for the rest of my life. Nothing pisses me off more than people sailing around On unfit boats knowing a mayday call can save them. My little cutter is as strong as they get, well maintained and capable but my mind is torn. There is a very fine line between adventure and disaster.

Roger stated that the FC was his favorite boat, Lyle Hess said it was the design he was most proud of and the one he would want to take to sea. Fernec Mate called it one of the worlds finest sailboats but the three of them together didn’t have half the miles on one that I do. So back to the drawing board and the constant challenge of putting a 10 pound parcel into a 2 pound sac. I know I can do it, I just haven’t learned how yet…

The story goes that “Thomas Edison failed more than 1,000 times when
trying to create the light bulb”. When asked about it,
Edison allegedly said, “I have not failed 1,000 times. I have
successfully discovered 1,000 ways to NOT make a light bulb.

Emily

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I could hear the water rushing by the hull, gurgling and bubbling. Hot, humid but somehow impossibly perfect. Somewhere out there on my dream ship. It felt strange almost as if it weren’t real. Suddenly I woke from this dream. Lost in a square bed, in a square house in a square life. Then it happened her name popped into my mind Emily…

 

I hadn’t heard of or thought about her in years, she just had sort of fallen off the map. Did she swallow the hook? Sink? Captured by pirates? No maybe she moved into a grass hut to take a break. Last I’d heard of her was years ago. A friend was anchored next to her on Papua New Guinea. He had long since finished his pacific circumnavigation.

It’s still pitch dark out but now I’m wide awake. I quick google search and I found her alive and well. I pause and wonder why some sailors succeed in cutting the lines while others fail. How some people sail on and on often penniless while others who are handed the world can’t seem to keep the ship rolling.

I put on my head lamp and pour a cup of coffee, walk through the dark to find Sookie, this place is creepy after the sun goes down, a graveyard for lonely and forlorn boats. I walk around her and then climb up into her crooked cabin. The boatyard had safely nestled her right beside water and power. As soon as I left they moved her. She is bow down with a 3 degree list, it’s so in natural.

I flip though my log book, no regrets but if I could do it over again I would of left her in CA where it’s always warm, she’d be done by now. Up here you get one of two choices. Spend the season sailing or work on the boat. Covered and heated sheds are few and far between in this region. I could have just stayed at work and payed somebody to do all the things I need done, I’ll still end up paying for some of them.

Is this an island paradise I’m living in or a spiraling vortex of non productivity. There are few young people here, no jobs, very little way to earn anything unless you want to squirm though crawl ways under people’s houses cleaning rat shit. But still… endless summer is close, a bit closer each year.

If I could just sail 75 days each spring. Work the summer and ride the fall. That leaves 3 months a year for drifting about somewhere warm, maybe just my daypack and a hammock. I’m so close yet so far away from it all. The constant grey is nice but those cold blue sky’s we’ve been having eat away at my soul. I have it good here, too good. Some days I feel like a frog in a pot of slowly heating water.

Back in my cubicle I surf the web looking for anyone out there sailing on a budget. Seems everybody has swallowed their anchor. My mind needs feeding so I pull out a book but it bores me. I put on the radio, nothing but static. Down to the restaurant for a hot breakfast but I stop dead at the door, I can’t afford this if I’m going to escape. Back in my little kitchen chopping garlic and cheese for a breakfast burrito I think about Emily. I guess we all have our reasons for pulling the plug…

Somewhere in the middle

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Ten years ago me and my bat shit crazy ex wife, girlfriend at the time got a wild hair up our collective asses to drive to Alaska and build an off grid cabin. We were well on our way when we pulled into a little town I had never heard of to buy gas. Before the sun set that day I had accidentally purchased a sailboat and become a resident of Bellingham Wa. Flat broke and with winter bearing down fast I needed to find work.

Day one as a yacht broker I walked into the door to a flustered office, seems one of their sailboats threw its transmission in a place called Friday Harbor. I had never heard of that place either but offered to sail it back. 20 minutes later my small plane was climbing out over a very boisterous Bellingham Bay. Seeing the islands I had never heard of from 1000’ aloft blew my mind. So many little nooks and crannies to explore. I had a great day on the water, learned about the psycho tides that were never mentioned to me and fell as deeply in love as a human can with this region.

It was on the long challenging sail back that I decided I would sail my boat to Alaska at any cost. Now single with a different boat and minus the love of my life, Chloe I still haven’t made it north of the Discovery Islands. The set backs have been many and often, I just pick up the pieces and keep plodding foreword nose always to the ground. Setting sail from Bellingham without a penny to my name was the smartest thing I have ever done. Now again with my back to the wall I think I have exactly enough to get the boat. Somewhere between Port Townsend and Florida. My only question is blue Caribbean waters or snow capped mountains…

The very first thing I did when I got back on Island was take everything out of storage and put it back on the boat. As usual the amazingly warm weather sidetracked me and the thru hulls didn’t get ordered in time to beat the wether. Then it got really cold so I unpacked the whole boat, and then repacked and…

Today was even less productive than my packing escapades. Finding a solid three axel trailer isn’t an easy task. Studying, measuring and remeasuring I’m determined to build one if I have to but now timing has me playing the mental packing games over and over in my head. The sailing season with a good heater is a full six months up here, 9 if you push it but certainly not 12. Moving the boat to Ventura would see all the little things that add up done once and for all but as much as I love the Channel Islands they are pretty damn boring compared to the Salish.

I love the challenges this place serves on a near daily basis but the cold is going to kill me, hell Im freezing here in July. I just sucked it up and ordered boots rated to -30 but they still won’t keep me warm. My first ride in the snow almost claimed all my digits to frostbite, yes it’s going to be a long cold winter. No I’m not putting sookie in the water till her bottom side is done. Yes I want to ship her to Cape George Yachts and blow my life savings on her. Yes and no I’m shipping the boat to Southern California. Why yes and no? Because if I find a trailer I’m shipping her to Florida and sailing her somewhere warm so I can haul her out and do her right.

My work who is also my landlord has kyboshed Windy and time is of the essence so I have to figure this all out fast or let go. I’m not good at doing anything fast or letting go. My mind is a pretzel but it makes sense. I worked a whole year for my ride, timed it to be back here in the spring and left enough money buried in the Forrest to pay for a summer of sailing. Now I feel like I have nothing, or nothing to lose.

Tayana 37

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The email reads, if you had to chose a boat any boat around thirty five feet for cruising. Anything not designed by Lyle Hess what would it be, price cap 100k. Without giving it any thought, I replied Tayana 37. My first question was if you have a 100k burning a hole in your pocket why wouldn’t you buy a BCC. Back and forth we go, I’ve spent days racking my brain, this is an unbelievably difficult task as there are so many deal breakers.

I love boats like the Bristol 32 and Seafarer 31 but both have iron keels as does the Mason 33. Wetsnails would top the list but tend to be used hard as they were built for and in need of much love and a big checkbook to make them smart. They are also fast, have nice wide decks and delicious interiors.

Quality and integrity of both design and construction. They must be easy on the eyes and sail exceptionally well. Things like cored hulls, balsa decks and inboard chain plates are personal dealbreakers as are wheels and poorly laid out decks. As much as I love the lines of the older boats in production in the late 60’s and early 70’s I’m partial to newer builds with all wood interiors. Boats like the 33 Hans Christian may top this list but 30 year old teak on a balsa cored decks are a disaster.

The dumbest thing I ever did was turn down a Baba 30 that I was very familiar with and she was near perfect other than her rounded cockpit which makes it hard to nestle in on long watches, this drops the old Pacific Seacraft 31 off the list as well. While I’m bashing teak decks I should add that too much wood on any boat will make you a Slave to paper and brush.

Simple, strong, tall rigs. For a cruising boat I want to add 10’ to the mast, not subtract. I prefer cutter rigs with real bowsprits but a powerful sloop will do fine for me. I think the Crealock 31 is as close to perfection as one can get minus the ugly bow. He was brilliant when he stole the interior design from Fred Bingham, too bad he didn’t study the hull lines a bit more as the Crealock could have become a heart breaker like the Cape George 31 which would be at the top of the list if it wasn’t for a wood deck which is solid and beautiful but tend to leak at the joint in the older ones that fall in this price range.

It’s been a very interesting few days as every boat I scrutinized had at least three deal breakers while I’ve yet to find a single one in the designs by Lyle Hess although price may sink the cruise they hold their value insanely well. In a day and age where the average joe spends upwards of a grand for a cell phone, pays 5 bucks for a cup of coffee and doesn’t flinch at dropping 50-100 bucks on dinner and drives a 50k car… well reasonable boats seem to be a bargain no matter how you slice it. Below is a copy of the last letter I sent.

My 2 cents which is all it’s worth is that you buy an old Dana 24 for 40k drop another 20k in simple upgrades like stout rigging and ground tackle and a new suit of sails. For 60k you will have a great boat that’s near perfect and a pocket full of money that will easily last three years living quite well. If your still out there after three years you’ll have figured out a way to continue. Should it turn out that the reality wasn’t quite as sweet as the dream you can get almost all of your money back in short order.
PS please start a blog because you will be one of the few out there living and writing about a dream that is attainable to everyone from CEO’s to the French fry guy at Mc Donald’s. Cheers.

The eye of the storm

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I write to serve, not to impress; it’s the same way I live my life. Simple, humble and always to the point. I drink the water everywhere I go, I’m sure I have more parasites than capital hill. All I can Say is thank god for my Terry thermal kilt. At the edge of the woods on my hands and knees in the cold sand with smoke wafting through the air. The kilt pulled up around my waist while I projectile vomited all night long from both ends while trying to defend my tent from the raccoons. Those little rat bastards are relentless and gave me a run for my money trying to steal my fruity snacks. On this night it was from smoke poisoning.

Sailing into Panama was the second sickest I’ve ever been in my life. If it wasn’t for the worst case of montezumas revenge it surely would have been sea sickness from the passage from hell. I spent 36 hours Straight near death at the helm because knock on wood I don’t get sea sick, my crew would have had to die to get any better. As soon as the boat was secure I announced that I would never sail again and was leaving. I’ve said it before, sailors have the shortest memories.

Back in the tent curled in my down western mountaineering bag my body was in uncontrollable convulsions. My dexterity was so far gone I couldn’t zip the tent. This may sound like hell but it beats the shit out of the snow blowing sideways past my deck while I’m not on the Baja divide. I should be pedaling across the border today.

My feet are burning from running around barefoot in the snow, the wind is blowing, it’s a tempest. I am the eye of the storm, the calm, potential energy ready to go kinetic in a nuclear fission with the flip of a switch. It’s cold as hell but I’m warm in my wool onesie now soaked from making snow angels. My long hair frozen and caked with frost swims with the wind fanning like kelp in a running tide, feral, wild, free…

I get a text from my brother “do you have enough red wine?” My plate is full, I may not be where I was heading but it feels weird to be living after all the drama of the fire. It was a close call but they all are. The life of a nomad is a dangerous journey yet far safer from the stress of rush hour traffic and the zombies of the cities. I’m feeling pretty fortunate these days but also restless, I won’t be working though the winter. The only question is where and when.

I’m willing to push my bike through every inch if I have to. The divide is all I can think about, sailing season is months away but it’s perfect cycling weather south of the border. I need a few new stories, they are all out there I just have walk out my door, although I am ordering bottom paint before I close my eyes just in case…

My broken heart

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Tonight I threw my heart into the universe. This little rescues name is Windy,, a natural born sailor. Don’t know if I’ll be the lucky one buts it’s never really up to us, you can’t choose love.

Every night lately I’ve been having the most vivid dreams about Chloe. I figured it was because I was dying but I’m still here so I can’t figure it out. Being so close to the fires, yet so far from a real road really fucked my brain up. Convincing a rescue to hand over a precious soul is never an easy thing. You do what you can and hope the pup finds a warm safe home with lots of love and snacks.

Once again I’m sitting on the edge of a 180 degree u-turn. I’ve already timed how long it takes to walk to the vet, plugged an emergency vet in my phone and started shopping for beds and puppy chow. Dog toys are almost as much fun for me as the pup but still haven’t figured out why they love the stick so much. This sailor is ready to start a family…

Worlds most beautiful sailboats

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This is without a doubt one of my favorite pictures I have ever seen. Everything about it describes the quiet dignity of the true romance of sailing. Hank on yankee cut jibs, batten-less main, tan bark. Every sailmaker on the planet will tell you the error of your ways using this set up. Slow, tender, shorter life… the interesting thing is that rumor has it that Ron never lost a race to a BCC in his life.

My dream is to pull the mast and paint it mahogany yellow. A new suit of tan bark yankee cut sails, no battens in the main, no headboard and a teeny tiny tri sail. My. Bonus sail would be a drifter or a new asym.

We all know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What I find beautiful is simplicity. Minimal electrical systems, simple sail set up, wide decks and soft curvy lines. I understand the necessity for an inboard engine but seriously doubt I’ll ever have one. To me the heart and soul of a sailboat lies in her rig and design. Clean, simple interiors, rich wood, lantern light and a cozy layout. Systems make me crazy, I hate installing them, paying for them and maintaining them. The most complex system on Sookie is her galley sink, a few clamps and a hose.

Water comes from my 2 gallon gravity feed tank. Hot water comes from my tea kettle. Light comes in many forms from my soft white incandescent lamps to bronze lanterns, 12 hours a day it comes from the sun. I don’t live in my boat, I just sleep in it, I live on the planet earth and it has plenty of space for my needs. I chucked the cedar bucket years ago and went modern with a plastic one which I have grown to love.

There is an old saying measure twice, cut once. On sookie it’s more like measure 100 times and then think about it for a few years. She is perfectly functional as she is so any changes take me a very long time to get to. Her sails fill dozens of pages in my log book. Sookie isn’t just a boat, she is a work of art, so slowly and surely I make progress.

I’ve wanted to add a roller to sookie now for years, that 5’ bow-sprite gets pretty exciting at times. The staysail and tri are no brainers. The jib and main have me torn. Yes I know tan bark stretches more as do batten-less sails. I know roller furling makes sailing easier. Again size is a huge factor, that roller is heavy and adds quite a bit of windage aloft. It also makes for easy reefing and sail storage, keeps me on deck and in a pinch can help sookie point a bit higher. On my flicka I would roll out just a smidge in higher winds to help keep her nose up. Everything is a trade off but it’s almost time to start writing checks so I need to figure it all out.

When I get lost in it all I refer back to this picture and all the things that made me fall in love with this lifestyle. To be on the water, to see and feel things I’ve never experienced, to live a ferrel and wild yet civilized life. I’ve always loved living as close to the edge as I can, close enough to peer over without falling. The challenge has always been in less stuff more experience.

When it comes to outfitting sookie money has never been factored in, if I can’t afford it I’ll live without it till I can. It’s hard to think about but I might be hanging up my bicycle for a little bit so i focus on the blurry aspect of the refit.

Any damn fool can motor around on a ship. The ocean from the deck of a small boat will instill in you both fear and beauty that can’t be realized in the depths of your mind. There is no movie, there are no books… your all alone out there and nobody is coming to get you. The sea is indifferent to your suffering. Heavy weather can be a challenge yet the closest I’ve ever come to loosing my boat was in the calmest weather I have ever seen. You never stop learning, while it may get easier it also becomes more difficult. When I was younger I thought that with experience my fear of the sea would diminish. What a fool I was, with each and every mile I learn more about what the sea is and her cruel nature. The challenge isn’t in avoiding it, this is an impossibility. The challenge is to flow with it, to live so close that it flows through your veins. This is where I live.

Red Dawn

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Another perfect sunrise ride, but what else would you expect from these islands.  I stuff Chika in the corner, strip off my salty Chlothes, make a piping hot cup of coffee and listen to the morning news. Its odd how the more money I have, the poorer I feel.  I guess when you have nothing to loose is when you experience the truest freedom in this world, I'm at a serious cross roads.

In hindsight my little Brompton would have made it just as far as my Surly Minus a few hundred Miles of Dirt.  It would have saved me 2K on the Front and another 1500 on the back.  The Brompton truly is the best all around touring bike and easily fits in my little boat.  Chika on the other hand is an Apocalypse bike and a nuclear explosion of fun. Try as I might I just cant fit her in the boat, even in a hundred pieces. Still none of this matters as she easily fits in my Tiny Home.  On the other hand the rent on the tiny home Is 3K a year which would easily pay for any Brompty on the planet. Not that its about money but it all adds up.

I love my new house and its only 50 yards from the boat, my work is 100 in the opposite direction but still I'm far too tempted to launch Sookie even though I've promised myself I wont till her bottom job is done in the spring. The sail quote came in and is easily affordable for all new sails.  I'm still waiting for the quote on the boom and Nylon mast track. My little Boat world is busy but so is my bike life and I've never been more torn.

Deep in the middle of a midlife crisis, I've had many and each one was amazingly fun in its own way but this one is different.  Seriously how many good summers remain in the log book, 10? 15? doesn't sound like much time left. I've been in the battle of attention between boats and bikes my whole life but now they are both anchors in their own way. I have it good here and very easy.  I could just spend my final glide path as a weekend warrior and do everything I want but deep down I know sooner or later my life will be Plus one and that opens the doors for long distance sailing, I just hope it happens before the universe has me wearing diapers and calling everybody laddey. Either way I've got to finish the boat now so we are both ready, willing and able.

Winter will be here at any moment so all I have to do is keep piling boat supplies and pray for an early spring, then again I could ship her south tomorrow and start the real work on her. Something about this quote resonates so much when I think about how much we take our youth and time for granted.

"When the last tree is cut down, the last fish eaten and the last stream poisoned, you will realize you cannot eat money." Cree Indians

Sailing for Fucktards

Yes this is the title of the book I'm never going to write. Chapter one Don’t be a dick! Having spent the better part of my life on the water there is no end to the stupid shit I have witnessed. Running the marina I get about 10 new stories a day, living in Friday Harbor I got about 20 a day. It’s almost as if these fucktard boaters had never tried to dock a boat before. Thrust and drift, it isn’t rocket science.

Rocna anchors is in my sights today. Go ahead google search Rocna anchor review, when I do I’m number one on the list. My words are all over their website and I’m the one who coined the term Rocna’d to sleep. When I asked to borrow a new Vulcan for my 100 day trip they told me to stuff it. On that trip at 50 degrees north I ran into every type of holding ground on the planet. Due to my shit engine I only set my anchor one time, all the rest it was just laid out as 99% of the anchoring was done with the engine off. I can’t image a better test but that’s not what’s pissing me off.

My log book has some pretty interesting
entries lately which all add up to the necessity of more chain. When I write about a larger boat it’s not because of any short comings in Sookie other than the sheer physics of her size. She simply won’t carry 300 feet of chain and a windlass and still sail properly. I’m not ruining my foredeck and v berth by placing my windlass by the mast so I’m stuck. I love the throaty sound of 5/16 paying out the chain pipe, it’s one of my favorite things in the world. 1/4 HT sounds so girly but I need more, I’m thinking 100’ max and that shit is heavy.

Go to Rocna’s website and they have this awesome idiots guide to chain and anchor and rope sizes. “ before you embarrass yourself by telling me there is no rope on a boat I can assure you there is”. So they spec a whole pile of anchors with 1/4 HT and appropriate spec rope sizes. Of corse there is no shackle with a corresponding work load or max load. if you use this method they suggest with 1/4 you may as well fasten your anchor with a zip tie. Why can’t the best damn anchor company on the planet figure this shit out, I’m just a dumb fucking sailor and I see the fatal flaw. BTW if you can’t tell I’m having a raging nic fit, yet another reason I’m single 😉

While I’m bitching about small boats there is no dinghy I can find that will fit on my dog house and for the life of me I can find a new Avon Redstart for sale on the planet so excuse me if I keep all avenues open for the bigger boat. I curse myself for getting rid of Sookies windlass but she just sailed like shit with it and it’s 200’ of 5/16. On a plus side it’s on a good friends boat so it’s still in the family.

Yes I can and more than likely will stick with 5/16 but this I can tell you. Pulling my 30’ of chain with my 22lb anchor from 100’ is almost enough to kill me. I simply don’t know if I could pull 100’ of chain. I do my best to anchor in less than 40’ but shit happens and I always know I’ll have hell to pay in the morning.

Honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever get a bigger boat, I like that I can paint her bottom with a gallon of paint, fend her off with a little shove and sail her easily and efficiently even in very tight spaces without the need for a motor. She has big beds, small sails and wide decks. Her split head sails create two slots instead of one and she is easy to reef down in the most challenging situations, she is also payed for…

I’m going to go bang my head again the wall for a bit but we can pick this all up in chapter 2 Why ropes don’t control sheets but sheets do control sails. Speaking of sheets, three to be exact. Sobriety sucks.

This blog post was brought to you by the geniuses who invented the water ballasted anchor.

When stupidity is a sufficient explanation, there is no need to appeal to another cause.- Ulmann's Razor

Natures way

I’m the epitome “damn that’s a hard word to spell” of a Walmart cyclist. Stretching in the morning with a hot cup of coffee and a ciggi hanging from my mouth. I’m determined not to gain 50 lbs this winter like I do every winter. No bike ride today, I’m a bit hungover from a little too much partying last night. I hate this feeling. I was so on my game on the road but the near solitary confinement of winter could spiral down a slippery slope fast.

There’s no denying I have the fitness level of a 20 year old Olympic athlete but am I healthy? I’ve decided to find out but I fear I’m probably not as close as I think. Out the door is booze and ciggis to start. Ok don’t get carried away, I’ll still allow myself one glass a day but damn the smokes, they cost too much anyways.

I put a beginning yoga video on youtube, forced a huge bowl of muesli down my throat and tired to tune my body up. This is going to take some work, I’m a water addict so at least the toxins will purge fast. I’m a bit surprised at how stiff I’ve become since ending the ride but each day my lungs feel a bit better from the drama of the fires. My short rides have my legs crying out for a quick 100 miler and my new saddle is pure perfection.

I’ve never been a breakfast guy but that’s all changing, fresh food bought daily and lots of it, I don’t eat enough ever. I haven’t run in years but I’m thinking about using it to warm up for my dawn rides, I think it may give my lungs a big kick in the ass, I really miss being able to push myself to the limits.

The space in my tiny hone is perfect and the big covered deck is a nice space for my cool downs. I don’t know what’s going on with me but I’m actually showering every day. One of the girls at work has already commented that I smell fresh unlike my usual hippie funk with a smattering of sandal wood oil to keep it at bay. Shit it just may be time to give up sailing and become a yachter in that 50’ cat I can’t seem to erase from my mind. It’s so alien for me to be warm and dry while sailing and those electronics. Shit you don’t even have to try, the boat is magic.

On the menus tonight, lentil tacos with red onions, sunflower seeds, cilantro and garlic wrapped in kale leaves. Holly cow I’ve gone mental and just in case your curious no I’m not going to chop my wig or shave my beard off. I have to try my best at not looking too presentable, the islands are desperate for good little workers so while I may smell like a bed of roses I still look like a dirtbag surfer.

But what about the mind? Yes it’s natures way that we are only as healthy as our minds so that will take a little bit of bending also. I may be trapped in paradise but the days are full as is my plate.

“The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition.” – Thomas Edison

Funding the dream

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Freedom comes in many forms. It’s been a scooch over two years now since I’ve taken Sookie on a long journey. Somewhere out there the notion of sailing and freedom morphed into one singular definition. Walking through a small Canadian town in search of affordable cabbage and stove fuel the smell of cold beers and hot burgers was equal amounts of torture and temptation. By the time we got back to the boat that temptation was little more than a memory both for us and for the fortune ones consuming them. Beans and cabbage on the other hand, served with a warm beer from the cockpit of my tiny ship was the reward for keeping within our $400.00 a month budget. Sailing off at dawn to destinations unknown was no longer the dream but the reality.

There are a thousand ways to do it. While the folks over at Sailing La Vagabond have made their name through videos others like captain Fatty Goodlander and Lin land Larry Pardey made their way through writing and both in the beginning very hard work from port to port. Others like Bob Bitchin started magazines to find the dream. I have friends out there who worked their whole lives and now live off retirement while others have small reoccurring investments or incomes to keep the ball rolling.

Six years ago when Sookie came into my life my plan was simple, save 25k a year for five years and split. That never did happen, when the boat industry took a dunking I threw in the towel and sailed away without a single penny. I knew I wouldn’t get far but in this part of the world 5 miles may as well be 500. There are so many nooks and crannies to explore, the constantly changing weather and currents and moods of the ocean that one can never grow tired of sailing the Salish.

I haven’t in any way shape or form lost my love for these waters but all the pictures of the boat I may never own have sparked something in my brain, a deep desire to cast off the lines in search of warmer weather, clearer water and greater challenges that surely lie ahead on a journey of such magnitude. In having so much in this world, in being so close I still have to ask myself if I can afford it. Sookie needs lots of little things, I’m not talking fancy things but still she is an old boat in excellent condition. Her bits and pieces many of them original are tired.

Back to funding the expedition I have to remind myself that with the freedom money delivers the means can be a prison. I’m fortunate to be old, fat and ugly, no chance of YouTube or Instagram funding the journey. I’m overly fond of
My anonymity so writing for the big rags is off the list. I don’t believe in sponsors or sponsorship so that’s out as well. My brain is mush so doing it the old fashion way isn’t even worth attempting. Still there are always ways, things no one has thought of yet. Maybe I just have to go back to my old star fish method which is to find 5 small forms of income that equal almost enough income to not die.

The new boat which I’m not getting has a writing career built in but so does Sookie. A few videos here and there won’t kill me but I really prefer to keep all my eggs right here in one small basket. The biggest hurdle is my absolute love of two lifestyles that have absolutely nothing in common other that freedom and exploration. All my cyclist friends can’t see why I waste my time writing about sailing and my sailing friends, well…

Then there is the time factor. Seasons are short here both for sailing and for creating an income. Mid September locks the door on my cell and won’t unlock it till spring. Jail break is impossible during the winter so planning the big escape really comes down to timing. Having Sookie in the boat yard is killing me, I can’t work on her, I can’t live on her and I can’t sail her but if I don’t suck it up and do some major little upgrades I’ll never make it to distant waters which start just around the corner.

Sitting on the beach watching the sun kiss the lands I want to see I know I have to make some serious choices and commitments. I just don’t feel ready to give up what I have, to have what I’m giving up. The answers are all out there I just have to keep moving till I find them. Yes all first world problems and good ones at that.

What’s you method, I know it won’t work for me but knowledge is power…

A testament to the sea

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I’ve truly loved each and every boat I’ve had the good fortune to sail and there have been many. Each new boat has been specifically sought out for one reason or another. I can say that without a doubt I love Sookie more than all of them put together. All boats have their limitations. Sookie will sail rings around the Roo my old Allegra 24 and the Roo would sail rings around S/V Dangerous my old Flicka. The end of this path that started over 30 years ago is the next one size up. I’ve worked my whole life to gain the knowledge to be worthy of this mistress of my mind.

Like a bad penny she keeps coming back to me and I can’t help but to wonder why. Sure she is a more capable boat as is the 34 more capable than she and the 40 and so on. I can’t help to wonder if I’ve been brainwashed by all the people who have been brainwashed that bigger is always better. Sookie is very small indeed but also carries a pedigree in her old bones that stretches back to when sailors used seamanship not credit cards to safely navigate the water ways of the world.

This summer I got to sail on a 50’ cat and in some fucked up way became very smitten with size and speed and a warm boat where my coffee will never spill. Thank god it cost over 3 million dollars or I might actually have changed my thirty year old boat list with just one name still not scratched off.

The last few days with Sookie have been nice albeit very chilly as she has no heat. I’ve missed the season to replace her thru hulls and pintles and gudgeons but I’ve also putout word that I need to borrow a sturdy trailer to move her indoors just long enough to set up a perfectly waterproof seal.

It spooks me to no end thinking about the bigger boat but still… a sit down toilet, heat, hot shower and that huge powerful rig, I’m not getting any younger and all
Of these things will be a necessary evil sooner rather than later. Tomorrow morning I’ll begin the project of removing her bowsprit to Bring home with me for paint and inspection.

I’ve promised myself a stove of some sort on a proper gimbal will be installed before Christmas. All her bronze bits will also be in my possession by then as well. Those blood red sails I’ve been working on should be bent on by spring but to accomplish all this means I’ll be here through the summer working to pay for it all. Again the slip in Santa Barbara is calling to me as is her sister who sits patiently on the other side of the planet.

While there may be many larger boats out there. Boats that are faster, boats that are more powerful, boats that make little Sookie pale in size comparison, there are few on this planet that are a testament to the sea like Sookie is. Big sailors on big boats will always tell big stories but when the dawn arrives blowing cold and fowl their stories stay in the harbor while Sookie always a slips her anchor and preforms like the lady that she is which sometimes is with a mighty tempest.

She’s not my lover

But she is going to light up somebody’s life. If you can’t justify spending nearly double the amount of your bike on a good set of carbon wheels it’s ok, your simply not a cyclist. They have to be strong and light, stiff and agile with just the right stuff. Deep into my very frustrating search I found Grape Ape, or simply Ape as I’ve been calling her for now and knew just the person who needed 16.5” of cold hard steel to lighten their life.

Yes I can live without the upgrade, maybe some day I’ll find those magic wheels but I fear they simply don’t exist today. What does exist is a banging purple Karate Monkey with a pink bow all ready to be picked up, muddied up and ridden hard. Lucky is the soul who knows the magic of good old steel and rubber. As for me well Chika and I have been putting down some miles and while my legs are like two well oiled titanium pistons, my lungs are not making the cut. More slow miles, fresh air and lots of food that comes in its own wrapper.

I sent out a letter begging for company on the Baja Divide in January. Ape is a little bit of bribery but either way Im beginning to wonder if I’ll make it there or have to postpone being free again till the spring. My little tiny cabin is warm and dry and it’s nice to have a real kitchen and hot shower for now. I’m tweaking my Gear list, shaving a few grams and still have a full winter of projects lined up for Sookie just Incase I end up sailing to Alaska instead of riding there.

I put in an order for 5 cases of Butter Horn, my new favorite wine and ordered a new saddle. A trailer for Sookie is on the list so I can plop her over with a few of her sisters for a pile of the larger projects I have in mind. I won’t be wasting a single millisecond of my time as 2018 is the year of Ali, my birth name before I fucked everything up by being born in the wrong body.

Thats my boring life in a nutshell. One step forward, two steps back but it’s always a fun journey regardless of which way I’m headed. “Destiny is not a matter of chance, it’s a matter of choice”

Reunited.

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We’ve all seen the stories where a guy goes out these by himself and never comes back. It’s been like having a limb missing from my body. The separation anxiety has been beyond words. A thousand miles later and she performed absolutely flawlessly. The gear I chose to bring was nearly spot on. Her bags by Revelate Designs were impossibly perfect but what would you expect from a small local company where all the gear is made in America. As far as the solo aspect, it is what it is.

We’ve learned a lot together. I’ve already Ordered a new saddle to replace the torture chamber I had onboard. Other than that and replacing the shit bottom bracket and I can’t really see making any more changes. A mix of mid line spec parts works for me. At about 31lbs she is lighter than the Brand new trek 520 we met somewhere out there and most of not all other touring bikes on the trail. Built specially as a bike packing bike she falls right into the perfect groove of light-ish, durable as hell and the funnest bike I have ever ridden.

I didn’t necessarily have any budget restrictions when I started my search. I started at the Karate Monkey and ended right back at the beginning. All my pictures were stolen with my phone which is a tragedy as I was saving the best for last but they are all locked away in my brain forever. Seeing as I was born in the Chinese year of the monkey my choice seems pretty fitting.

With the exception of a few little fancy bits the only thing that could make this bike any better is a new 2k set of wheels. My tent that I’ve hated for every bit of the 150 nights and two models has become my new best friend, perspective.

My next trip will be smaller and lighter still with a few high end pieces of clothing added in and a few of the now decade old items retired. Tomorrow she will get a proper bath, her first but today is meant for riding. I feel complete again and now all I have to do is wind into a new journey. A journey of dirt and sand rather that one of asphalt.

She looks naked sitting in her corner but will be dressed up again, packed up again and ready to roll out the front door. This begs the question of when and where we will go. I’ve never been one to drive my bike to where she can be ridden. I’m a two day ride from the Blue Canoe and that can only spell one word Alaska!

Popping a plank

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The novelty of a warm dry house that doesn’t move and endless hot showers has taken all but a few days to wear off. As is usual with my life Fed-ex has lost my bike, what can go wrong will go. I’m tired, not from doing stuff but from inactivity.  Sitting back behind my desk for three hours a day now feels like a life sentence in prison. I’m scattered and have way too much going on.  all I really want to do is take pictures and write but about what???

My third bike tour in two years and not a scratch on me. its like when I watched the proud new owner of my Harley drive away I was like wow, “I made it through that one alive”. and so the soul searching has begun anew. the age old question of how long can keep this up before I flip my wig.  I’m not a good little worker Bee.

I have money, more than I’ve had in many years but we all know how that goes.  Sookie is an expensive date, to make her even remotely ready to leave the Salish will cost twice what I have saved leaving me broke and that’s  just the bare minimum.  I pull out my magic little note pad and spend the night scribbling furiously, numbers cover dozens of pages and all come up to 00.00 which is exactly what I have to lose, nothing.

I start to wonder if I can fit the bike in her Lazzerette and spend the summer sailing North in search of real wilderness and fresh trails yet to be discovered.  I’ve become a full blown hermit, I need nothing or anybody anymore, just time and a bit of freedom.  On the other had I could buy a pole spear and head south where there is no place for a bike, shit! I don’t have a dinghy.

I’ve been offered a slip in Santa Barbara, its warm there year round, maybe I have enough to ship her there and start over, I love cruising the Channel Islands, throw in great mountain biking and real Mexican food and its starting to sound like a dream come true even if it does kill my budget.

Why am I so reluctant to sell my writing? I ask myself this question day in and day out. if there is an answer I cant find it. I look out the window, its raining sideways but I’m warm by the fire in the lodge, the coffee is brilliant today and in a few hours there will be a box of wine and crackers waiting for me.

All my friends are setting their anchors, that’s what you do in your thirties. Not me, been there done that.  I can set my Rocna anywhere and it will hold fast until I pull it and move on.

I met a girl, cute and free, a bit of a gypsy.  There wont be a second date, I felt like I was being sucked in by Medusa and couldn’t get away fast enough. My definition of free must be pretty big because I cant seem to find it between the pages of any of the books I’ve brushed through lately.

I’m rapidly learning that I am a very willing victim of my own circumstances and happy to finally be finding a bit of meaning in all those lessons the universe has been bashing through my thick sckull.  One is not the loneliest number. I spend an hour staring myself down in the mirror and then I pop the question…

“There is but a plank between a sailor and eternity.” – Thomas Gibbons

We’ve come a long way baby

Sitting in Sookies cabin sifting through my winter clothes I found my old logbook and started reading through it. Stuck in the inside was a little cutout drawing of Chloe with a caption one hand for you, one for the boat. I read though often laughing out loud at some of our mis adventures, I really need to start writing about some of this stuff.

The day before our first launching

Our first trip together was up the west coast of Vancouver Island. We had no lifelines, no reef lines, no topping lift, oh and no motor. The wind was less than desirable on that trip, always way too much wind or even worse a dead calm but we made it just fine. Somewhere on that journey we become one. I can sail her in my sleep and know every inch of her from how many and what size fasteners she has to exactly how much food I have I have in her 26 lockers. I don’t need lists, she is a part of me. 

I’ve only put her mast in the water once but it was a memorable experience. We’ve been lost more times than I care to admit. Nearly run down by a pissed off ferry driver who kept changing corse right at us. We’ve dragged anchor but only once. Never run aground but I did run over a full dock floating in the middle of the ocean one dark night.

She is too small, too slow, too antique and too much work but still a far better bargain than I am. With her wide side decks and deep cockpit she was the safest boat I could find for Chloe, you see Sookie was never mine, she was Chloe’s. It’s been two years now since she took her last breath cradled in my arms. Two years I’ve been running. Two years of a broken heart and missing her every day. Without that stinky fluffy monster Sookie just hasn’t been complete and either have I.

I never did ride across the Golden Gate Bridge but I did close the gap and now have cycled the full length from Canada to Mexico, just a drop in the bucket of my cycling adventures. I’ve sailed all over the world. Section hiked the PCT from Mexico to Lake Tahoe. And a million other journeys.

With the end of each journey comes the question what next? Where is the next great challenge, not that it takes much to challenge me greatly. I’m not getting any younger and know that each of these new journeys is a blessing and could very easily be my last. The clock ticks faster with each passing year until it spirals out of control.

I stand naked and dripping in my warm bathroom, I don’t have an ounce of body fat, my muscles are cut and ripped, skin dark and healthy. I’m strong enough to do anything but what? In 2018 I’ll cross into my 50th year on this planet, I need something bigger, harder, scarier. Like Dr Rachel says think Big Alan. I need to cross into the next realm of adventure travel and I need it now.

I’m sitting on my bed with clean sheets, a glass of stellar wine and a small pile of chocolate chip cookies. ‘This is all so nice but I miss being out there, scared, cold, alone and as usual hopelessly lost. I need to feel alive without the walls of safety closing in on me like an Iron Maiden. My lonely soul is that of a wanderer, an explorer on the road less taken. I take in a deep breath and cough a little, my lungs are healing just a bit. Chika arrives in two days which means I can test them on Mt Constitution. I feel lucky to be alive, not because I survived the fire but because I put myself out there to experience it. One more notch in my weathered old belt…

Self insurance

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Standing on the foredeck of the ferry the cold nights wind blew straight through me. It feels like many years have passed since leaving this place. There was no conscious effort put into my escape, it was all instinct, pure survival and days lived off nothing more than Adrenalin. I haven’t had second to process any of this but now in the quiet darkness in the middle of the ocean the winds whispered into my ears and all the emotions of the last days rushed in.

For the first time since I ran out of money while on a decade long travel binge with Chloe I actually was smart enough to insure myself before setting off. I buried several thousand dollars in cash in the woods. My eyes opened with the sun, first order of business was to go see sookie but she was gone. I stood there blinking at a the now occupied spot where I left her, scanned the boatyard and nothing.

By 8 am I had secured a reasonable paying. Job, 12 hours a week at night , just enough to keep me alive and in free coffee, found Sookie and gave her a big hug and re established my little cabin. With nothing but time on my hands I’ve already started a boat list. First order is to pull her bowsprit, strip, reseal and paint. It doesn’t need it but that’s how I take care of her, always trying to stay ahead of it all. I have some tabbing to do and then install a new stove and custom v berth cushions. Looks like my work for the winter has already begun. My little 12 x 15 shed is warm and dry with a covered deck and will make a perfect indoor outdoor work shop.

I’m feeling rich, free and happy for all the world has given me. Another journey has come to a close and now its on to the next adventure whatever and wherever that may be. For now I’m time rich but the clock has already started ticking on my next journey. There is no amount of money that can buy these experiences, you will never have enough and you will never be ready. You simply have to untie the lines and go before it’s to late. As I was yet again painfully reminded life can change with the suddenness of a broken shoe lace.

The big red button

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Years ago I created a board game by which through a series of questions and answers you would be tempted to hit the big red button destroying all of humanity. It never did sell, go figure. The only way to win the game was by hitting the big red button in which case you also lose. The whole exercise of the game is that you just can’t win, ever… still though it is all worth playin the game.

I’ve spent the last 24 hours in a bus with my ass or face glued to the toilet seat. By 9:30 I’ll be having a cold one at my local watering hole and yes it will be on the House.

Headed back to the one place I really don’t want to be I’ve started praying for the one thing I always pray against, snow! I’ve done the ski bum thing to death but with winter creeping in and my plus bike I’m ready to rock the local trails and there are many.

I’m 100% committed to selling the boat and moving to the mountains, well a nice mountain town where I can build a small in town flat because as I have said before, I hate nature. A sort of half way house where I can bang a few trails or hit slopes and be captain of my BBQ before the winter sun melts into my Bloody Mary.

With the exception of her saddle which is miserable hell Chika is flawless. 1000 miles on and off road and I think we are well bonded. Now the fun part, it’s BLING time. Time to add and subtract and make all the micro tweaks we chatted about over those many amazingly beautiful miles. As usual I’ve yet to
Mention virtually anything that actually happened on the trail but it’s all water under the bridge, it’s time to start banging nails and make her a comfy little home next to the wood stove. Chika is still on vacation but will be joining me in the islands soon enough, I feel so detached without her by my side.

Felonious monster

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I’ve spent more money in the last 24 hours than the previous 24 days. Alive, yes but barely. Waking up deep in a canyon just miles from the Santa Rosa fire has taken its toll on me. I’m crushed as a human being, shaken, rattled and sicker than I have ever been in my life. My health insurance was canceled the day before I left on a journey that is little more than a distant memory as I sit glued to a filthy toilet in the San Francisco Greyhound terminal. It’s over.

One day faster or slower and this nightmare never need come to fruition but there is no use crying over spilt milk, no matter how sour it is. I haven’t stopped puking in 3 days, from either end. My body is shutting down. It may have been fool hardy but I made my break, just shy of 60 miles through the hell of thick smoke. I woke up drained having eaten or drunken very little in three days, my body felt like I had just been run over by a Mack truck but in true fashion I passed every single rider that had left camp before me.

The night I arrived relatively safe from my back country ordeal I fell violently ill. The next day my lifeline to civilization was stolen, my iPhone. I know who took it, they were shipping in people from the local fire shelter. The same ones who were being fed, clothed and given free showers. They were very well taken care of but not well enough to steal my phone, the only way to communicate my situation to my family and the only source I had to navigate the fires. I won’t go on a tangent here but when you let people get away with felonious acts it sends a clear message, a very bad one.

Through the whole ordeal I couldn’t get any response from anyone for help, or info or anything. This changed when the rangers and camp staff learned of my illness, they treated me better than words can describe but I’ll thank them all in my own way when I’m safely home and fully recovered. Getting to Marin was a struggle but I’m in the best shape of my life regardless of how sick I am. With no phone to navigate Marin I was hopelessly lost but no humans would give me the time of day, I felt like a ghost as I tried and failed on so many occasions for any form of assistance. It’s kinda funny I ended up at the gates of San Quentin prison, a place that thieving bastard that stole my phone will never know.

Several hundred dollars later I found the only hotel I could and settled in for a sleepless night. I asked to be moved from the third to the first floor but was given the second. It’s funny how a guy who has spent the better part of the last decade happily phone-less is now so dependent.

Yes my ITB gave me issues but I learned to deal with it. Everything else worked like a dream but in the end, when you least expect it, expect it. There will always be a monkey wrench thrown into the mix. Finally after feeling so invisible for so long I met a really nice guy on the ferry to the city, a fellow cyclist. I was trying to talk and remember spending almost a minute trying to pick up a rubber band I had dropped, thats how far gone I am. He stayed with me till he put me in a cab, my faith in humanity restored. REI shipped my bike and apple sold me a new iPhone 8 yay 🙂 in 24 hours I’ll be in Seattle for a night at the Tortoise and then home to pick up the pieces and start planning the next ride, I’m thinking the Dalton HWY in the spring but for now it will be a a slow recovery with lots of big red to thicken my blood.

I look down at my naked wrist, of all the creature comforts I’ve done without the only thing I really missed was my Rolex. Shaken, not stirred…

Fire on the water

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It isn't often that we are presented with a situation that gives us a personal observation and introspection to have a stone cold epitome of every single moment of our life's condensed into a fraction of a life's of personal failures. Let's face it, I fucking hate nature!

I woke up to the very evident realization that this could easily be the last day of my life and who fucking cares. I'm a 49 year old chain smoking alcoholic on a plus bike riding the coast to a destination only madmen would consider. A sleepless night in the creepiest stealth camp I've ever set had me wide awake at 5 am as opposed to the other 10 hours of sleep deprivation I had just experienced. Every animal from Noah's arc came to visit me in the night to add to my tortured soul. The morning brought it all together like the last piece of a masterful puzzle FIRE!

Even in the early dark I could see the red sky, I coughed and choked. Either way I was 25 miles from anything resembling a town or something otherwise semi civilized. My choices were simple, north or south. I chose south, big mistake. The rising sun had me witness to something I haven't ever experienced out side of a hurricane. Mass pandaemonium, fear and anxiety in everyone. Drivers heading both north and south were crazed, traffic was nonstop. It's was like a heard of ants constantly bumping into each other, pandemonium. 15 miles down the road I found a gas station in the middle of nowhere with a one mile line of cars and so many people inside I couldn't walk through the door. The miles of hills and smoke, no shoulder and frantic people driving like maniacs wore me out, lungs bleeding I found a place without refuge. Were all trapped in the same place but hardly he same situation.

I woke up disheveled feeling a bit deprived and homeless. When I finally pulled into Bodega Bay everything changed. Thousands of people parked along the HWY with nowhere to go. All these secure people living secure life's, reduced to frightened children. I on other hand woke with no security but I have my tent and my stove and even scored a bit of food and grog before the local grocery was ransacked. I truly feel like the wealthiest man in the world simply because I'm prepared and trained and equipped to endure.

I can't say if I'll live to see the dawn or if this horrible fire will ransack my little oasis but no matter. I've always lived true to my self and deliberately and there is no price or time frame that can be put on our freedom. We have it till it's gone or we are, it's an act of faith…

America

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I’ve noticed a disturbing trend lately, most of my friends actually get their news from Comedy Central. Rolling down the coast I’m appalled by the absolute poverty, homelessness and despair. I can’t help but to wonder if our economy is so strong which I hear around every corner, then why is it that the fed keeps saying they will raise rates when the economy is strong enough. Measured by today’s overnight rate, our economy is worse than it was in 2000 and it pretty much sucked then???

The miles roll by, my mind is my playground and my search for a new home so far has been fruitless. I’ve been blessed with addresses like Ocean ave and E. Bay street from Malibu to La Jolla and everywhere in between. I’ve lived on Maui, Hawaii and Oahu, Lake Tahoe , Madison and most recently the San Juan islands, all of them. Fortunate yes but where do I want to live now?

I know this, I don’t want to live on a boat, not in the PNW at least. I’d prefer to either live coastal or at altitude but where. I’ve pedaled over a thousand miles from the Canadian border and still haven’t found a place I’d like to hang my helmet. I just learned that a bridge is out just south of Monterey which means I won’t be riding he coast any further than Than than so now my big search is for a map and a new direction.

They say that familiarity breeds contempt. It’s not that I haven’t loved every inch of my life but now I’m looking for more. A place to write my book and it will be a good read. A place where my anonymity keeps me safe. I can’t walk a block in the PNW without running into readers of AOH. It’s time to move on, to move foreword and to start a new. For now the bike is my home and a good one but these short mileage rest days are getting to me. Patiently I’m working through my ITB and a few other things that have been creaky but all and all I feel good.

Ten years ago driving north to Alaska with my girlfriend but soon enough to be ex wife, we we’re going to build an off grid cabin in the woods. We stopped in Bellingham for gas and accidentally bought a sailboat. I know my next accidental adventure is out here somewhere but until it arrives ill
Continue a very slow and beautiful journey, destination unknown.

White line Hwy

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My threshold for pain is obviously quite small. It took me less than 60 seconds to strip my scanktified clothing off leaving a hazardous waste pile on the floor. Still though, it took over an hour and a half to actually climb into a piping hot bubble bath, something I've been fantasizing about for days. Layers of salt scrubbed from my body removing days of hardship, torture and pain till my pink naked body was as pure as the driven snow. I didn't bring any soap, shampoo or deodorant… not because I want to do without but because I want to live without.

The now 4 day long search for stove fuel had me hopelessly lost and turned a grouchy morning in town into a 70 mile heat stroked, head wind battle to my campsite which was closed for the season. All I can say is thank god for Olive, my cute bartender and savior. When I uttered the words I love you hear smile opened up and engulfed my soul. Salvation comes in many forms, on this day it started in a bottle but like I said, it comes in many forms.

For 16 straight days I keep promising myself a rest day, I've long since past the half way mark from Canada to Mexico. Taken a dirt side trip every day except for my day from hell and completed the most grueling and dangerous part of the coast, not that there aren't many challenges daily out here.

I've blown my body, my quads are mush and finding the strength to ride two passes today, the first one 1900 feet at dawn has come with a price. That price would be a very expensive hotel room and a $30.00 pizza. As of today I've stopped logging my budget which has been an easy $25.00 a day, $10.00 over my goal but hell, man cannot live on bread alone.

When my campsite went missing I was at my physical wall, the extra 2.8 miles almost killed me. A first world temper tantrum was in order as is the jacuzzi I'm about to visit for the second time now that I have a few ice cold double IPA's in hand. The day started with a good Oman, I found a crisp 20 on the side of the road. Life is good out here but at times lonely and isolating. I think that's why I tend to latch on so much when I do. Still there are no plans for a rest day but the next 5 will be very short yet challenging with lots of personal care and some good dirt time for Chika.

I'm feeling good for the most part, managing my ITB but it is bad and mostly just finding my groove. With my full time double vision the constant shoulder-less conditions have been a real struggle and I constantly ask myself why I chose this route over another. Basically there is one white line at the base of my tire, it opens up as it extends down the road creating a giant V shape. All I have to do is stay in the V. Throw this all out on Bridges where my vertigo has me at the brink of a fear induced stroke the entire time. To date there have been about 100 bridges including he highest on the west coast. Being so lost, so often has me rethinking a solo attempt at the divide and now I don't know where or how to spend my winter but none of that matters because there are many miles of road ahead of me, many more challenges and many more chance encounters I know 😜

Chika is a machine and while I'm constantly thinking about or changing out my gear choices, she is as she was the day I left perfect, although I think I've somehow wrecked her bottom bracket. Pizza time :).

180 degrees North

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I'm cycling north, it seems sac religious to cover ground I already have but that's the way life turns out sometimes. My body hurts, some of the pains are from the bike, others from a summer of wrecking my body to earn a few freedom chips but how free are you if your too wrecked to cash them in.

Three days of oppressive heat with a total of 23 hours in the saddle are followed by what should be several short but challenging days. Nothing is ever as it looks on paper. I'm not sure what is causing me more pain, my quads or my ass but my neck is sore, my fore arms, palms and back. I'm still learning to ride this bike but I must say we are crushing it when we're not being crushed. As usual I'm the odd man out based off of what bike I've chosen for the task. I'm called crazy 10 times a day but just like on the Brompton, they ask a million questions.

With hydraulic brakes and all that rubber it isn't uncommon for me to keep up with the cars on the downhills, throw in even a slight headwind though and it's over. It's only been 10 days but I still can't find my groove, although I am
Close. I've easily stayed within my $25.00 per day budget so far but I'm not putting in half as much fuel as I'm expending and I can feel it. I really wish I understood food better.

The curse that pulled me off the trail last year showed up before I even left the island. I never should of tried this but I'm desperate not to live my old life anymore. I fantasize on the big climbs of buying a shit banger Subaru and driving straight to southern Colorado for some real bikepacking Not this pavement stuff. A logging truck blasts it horn though my soul bringing me back to reality, brrrrrrnnnnneeeeeewaauueee. It's so wet with fog I can barely see through my glasses, I've been shivering for two hours, I'm hungry, tired and soaking. I didn't know it could be this cold and damp. I pull over for a ciggi and a short nap on the side of the hwy. a quick check tells me Chika is in top condition but I'm not, I pamper her but put her through the ringer at the same time, now I need some more pampering.

Being too cheap to pay $31.00 for a camp site I continue down the road against my body's wishes. I find a gem deep in the redwoods but something doesn't feel right. No, his place is the spawn of the devil, hair Stands on the back of my neck a chill runs up my spine but I don't know why. I feel eyes on me like I'm being watched because I am. The deeper I ride the worse it gets. Trash piles, rotten tents, no cars… shit I'm in a homeless camp for prison castaways. I'm deep now, trapped in a maze of desperate people. There is no way back. I hear a loud yell, I'm being summonsed. I turn and two thugs are coming at me fast, I have everything I own in the world on this bike. I throw them the bird. Let out a ripping cakaaawww and down shift. I pedal off the road and into the forest. Hoping and jumping roots involuntary whoops of joy escape between deep focused breaths. We are in our element, running from the devil and unstoppable. A big drop in and we find the road, I turn left, north because that's what I'm familiar with and that's what I need today, a little familiarity.

I end up paying $38.00 for a crap site in a KOA campground, get the worst nights sleep so far with drunk and stoned hippies keeping me up till well past three. I wake up and feel like shit, it's cold and I hurt. I saddle up and continue the ride in search of my new home, this obviously isn't it…

Riding bikes

Some people ride their bikes to work, others as sport and some for the sheer joy of quiet efficient propulsion. I do all these things but mostly I ride bike to get places. When you arrive by bike it makes a very simple statement. The bicycle, my bicycle was the first freedom I knew as a child. I could explore as far and wide as my body would carry me. Simple and efficient I could fix anything that broke with a few simple tools. Roadside tire repairs, long breaks when I needed them and water… the single most precious commodity on the plant earth.

My cycling journeys can easily be explained as the quest for water, no matter how much I carry I’m always on the search for more. Long slow climbs, eye watering descents pushing the bike to the brink of terminal velocity. I can bitch and gripe about tunnels, bridges and commercial trucks all I want but every time I enter a small town in immediately seek to get back to where there are no stop signs or traffic lights.

To escape the hustle and bustle Is an impossibility, traffic is my constant companion but it’s different out on the open stretches. All I need is enough water, enough energy, enough time and light mixed with a very small amount of my remaining guide book from the 90’s. I ritually tear the pages out after I’ve used them. The size and weight of this little treasure map is a sign of my progress.

 

The days unfold as I chase the last remnants of summer, there is no daily goal, no schedule nothing but the constant whirr of my tires. The sounds change with the elements but they are always there. The constant barrage of cars whizzing by.

This came from a Mc Donald’s spigot at the soda fountain. Didn’t notice it till I got sick, if I die it’s because of this

The familiar smells are what I find utterly pleasing, different scents take me to different places, places from my childhood. And perhaps others to my future. The double whammy, I’m not talking about the shoulder less bridge that led straight into a tunnel. I’ve poisoned myself twice since leavening, well it wasn’t all me. I didn’t bring any blogging tools so doubt I’ll write as often if ever on this journey but so far it’s been amazing. Just in case you are curious the Brompton was a far superior bike for this type of touring but I’ve had many secret side tracks. I covered 180 miles of hot, hilly, head windy road in the last three days. I’ll cover a third of that in the next week but tonight I’m squeaky clean, have a pile of pizza and beers, chips and chocolate and my laundry is being done for me. I love being pampered #icouldtellyoubuttheniwouldhavetokillyou.

 

Riding bikes
Diving into an ice cold stream or lake
The ocean, sun on my naked shoulders
Getting lost, being found
Storms
The sounds of night
Sharing and exploring

There is something to be learned from a rainstorm. When you are resolved from the beginning, you will not be perplexed, though you still get the same soaking. This understanding extends to everything. From the Hagakure “The Samurai Manuel

Ride like a girl

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Scurrying around like a little mouse I couldn't bring myself to leave the warm sanctuary of the box I've been living in for the past few weeks. Slightly larger but just as confining as a coffin, I longed to be free of it but little niggling fears and doubts kept me at bay. Always one last thing to do, check or recheck. I didn't actually finish my kit till 12 seconds before pushing my behemoth of a bike out the door and down the stairs, I'm now homeless.

Fear is an interesting emotion. While I readily admit that I am afraid of everything on this earth I am not afraid of fear itself. My fears all of them are based off of my own personal experiences, not the boogie man the media inflicts on us. I know people so crippled with fear I wonder how they walk out their own front door, many don't. When people try and tell me all of the dangers that lie ahead I roll my eyes, these are the people who have never and will never experience the true freedom of life, they have too many excuses based off of fear. They project their fears on me not to protect me but to protect themselves because if I do what they fear then it makes them a failure by default of trying. I'm wild and can't be contained in any box, you can't scare me anymore than I scare myself. What I do know is that shit happens out here and you work through it one pedal stroke at a time.

I have things I'd like to do, places I'd like to see but as of this second I don't have a single destination or plan, I'm just going for a nice little bike ride. My budget is $4,000.00 I know people who couldn't last 2 weeks on this and others who could easily stretch it into 2 years and have and do so consistently. This freedom of thrift is the key. To ask myself how wisely I'll spend my hard earned bounty is a question that will answer itself in its own good time. Somewhere in the middle of all of our different styles of life lies the true freedom of choice. Ahead of me could lie an endless journey if I want it badly enough. On the other hand I could be broke in a month or two. I'm retired for now. The big unknown even to me at this point is how badly do I want it, how far am I willing to go to not come back and how skilled am I at life. Only the future has the answers to these and all of the other unknowns that await me on this journey.

I have one more gift to myself before I strangle he coffers of my budget, a warm long pair of wool tights, all I have now are nickers and there will be many long cold mountain passes ahead. My slow journey has begun but first there will be a few days of rest, mindless activity and lots of water and stretching. I almost missed my ferry hunting down the legend of the moose crossing. I was promised it didn't exist by many, again I have proven that if you believe in something enough in your mind and heart that you will find it.

I'm no athlete but a very good friend of mine is, she is better known for running ultra marathons. Her last bit of advice before hanging up the phone was "ride like a girl Ali"

Rubber tramp journal. I'm sitting on the ferry waiting for it to bring me the mainland, I start every journey with a hot latte, it's my tradition. I delight in every sip as this may be my last store bough luxury, budgets you know…

Here kitty kitty

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I was about to pass out from delirium in the hot afternoon sun. Tarping Sookie off is major ordeal. So I'm on the for deck with a razor sharp knife in my teeth tripping over the spiders web of lines I have put up while trying  not to be engulfed in the real spiders webs which are everywhere, light headed and feeling like I'm going to pass out but there is no water to break my fall. One missed step and I'm in dirt nap territory. This is how the letter started and the picture below is how it is shaping up, I'm 99% ready to go.

Perched at the edge of insane drop in I egg my friends on, clearly we are all idiots being there in the first place but I just can't help it, I'm dropping in. I've sent more of my friends to the hospital with these simple words, here kitty kitty…

Well first I have three days from hell opening and closing the restaurant. 14 hours at peak capacity with only one other bartender who doesn't come in till 4:00. No severs, no busseres, not a prayer. There is a football game and the whale boat that drops a quick 50 lunchers just to add to it, I'm doomed. My plan was to be gone on the 10th. Only a few days earlier but the rain and cold is coming fast, winter will be chasing me the whole way so those few days really mattered. I'm too nice, I should have just told them to suck it when they asked me to stay but I like it here, it's been a good home so I stayed, I seriously regret my decision. Oh well, it's more fuel to fan the flames of why I'll never work for another again. I've already penned the intro to my new book. I don't care if nobody buys it I'm writing it.

I've envisioned this bike and the journey for longer than I care to admit but was having issues as usual with commitment. Back in June a very fragile creature gave me these good luck panties to set the wheels in motion. When say fragile I don't mean like fine crystal or a new born baby. I mean fragile as in a nuclear bomb! For as long as I can remember Ive always been given a pair of GLP's and they have always kept me safe. Superstitious is a freaking understatement.

Now it's just hurry up and wait, survive the best I can and hope I can recoup some of the idiot taxes I've been paying lately. I've packed away, mailed away and given away everything. All that remains is a special bottle of J.scott and a bottle of champagne to celebrate my early retirement. I'm feeling a little lost without my toys and saying goodbye has been harder than normal but I think that's because I have no reason to come back to the islands anytime soon. T- 4 days

Nothing matters

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It really is that easy. I could go back to California, back to my carrier and back to the crazy California dating scene. It’s simple, in LA girls under 25 only care about sex  from 26 to 40 they only care about making babies and finding that sperm donor with a constant  and impressive paycheck  Somewhere around 40, divorced and still living off of thier ex husband financially they seek healing from the trauma of mating with a paycheck. Bewildered and jaded they will spend the rest of thier lives seeking mythical gurus, start to refer to themselves as goddesses while  attending spiritual healing retreats, spending all thier divorce proceeds on books like the power of now and will eventually land on San Juan island seeking a new life with a younger mate. We call them cougars, they are real and they are frightening.

Chloe was a reservation dog. Area code is from when we lived with the Apache. We were both born with deep Native American blood.

It could be this or many other things that have me living on and island where I’m the only single person who isn’t either widowed or a tourist. It’s my safe place, just today one of my girl friends commented on how she really wants to find me a nice girl. Please don’t, I think I said it twice.  More and more I’m getting those comments about how lucky I am to be free. I don’t necessarily see it that way but it does beg for explantaion from all of those I love you smoochie Facebook posts couples insist on shoving down our throats while behind the secret doors of Matrimony they are in relationship counseling.  Let me be the first to tell you that if your relationship needs counseling it’s over!

But this post has nothing to do with any of this, or anything at all and thats the point. Yes I’m a privileged white male living in America but I also create what ever privilege or lack there of that I experience in this life. When I started Art of Hookie it had nothing to do with playing hookey hence the spelling. It was going to be about a boat that never got named Hookie.  I don’t really care what other people do or how they do it. Personally I do everything on a level that screams this is going to be huge! And sometime it actually is. So along with my life of privilege comes the privilege of choice, my choice because it’s my life.

More often than not I choose the road less travelled I say less because I’ve never done anything original in my life, rather I fall with a collective few who have strayed from the norm. My bike is already pretty freaking minimalist, she is perfect for me, for today. To better my ride and my experience I now have the challenge to take away from it as my experience allows.  When it comes to travel and exploration the less you have to haul around the more you are given in return of adventure. Today it’s my brand new leatherman that’s getting chopped, tomorrow it may be my only warmie bottoms and at some point who knows, maybe the trip will end with a bike stripped as naked as the day I was born.

Each and every day I seek more out of this life, the less time I have remaining on the planet the more each new endeavor means to me.  My learning curve, the understanding and constant evaluation of how little personal possessions mean to me or effect my happiness is slowly setting me free. Yes I am slowly being given the freedom that nothing affords because like the title says, nothing matters.  To get to this place on my own was a huge challenge, I’ve asked nothing of anyone because it’s something I wanted badly enough to create on my own. I’ve been  on this path for over ten years and again I’m learning something new.  I have a list of companies who want to help me along on my journey.  My ride may be solo but I’ve got backing the whole way, a golden parachute if you will. To share the journey will be a new adventure and again in many ways will let me carry less of a burden both physically and mentally as i will always have a group of angels watching my back.  I’m feeling pretty lucky these days. Come ride with me, er-um… us 🙂

Minimalist bicycle touring

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I’m spazzing out on the phone with my brother when he blurts out, how do you eat an elephant.  It took me a minute and I was like, wait; what??? Um, I dunno how do you eat an elephant? His response, one bit at a time, just get on your fucking bike and ride.  I’m not sure if he’s A) always trying to kill me, B) truly believes is me ” I have no belief in my own abilities, or C) just loves so much that I have the freedom to oh I don’t know, just clear the schedule and walk out the door for a six month ramble to anywhere. I’m kinda thinking its a bit of all three, that would be D) but I’m too lazy to type that one out on my iPhone.

I clocked out at 9:00pm 2 minutes shy of 70 hours for the week, I’ve put an equal amount of work into Chika.  I’m physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausted.  I have 8 more days, one of them is off to wrap my life up and move into the bike, my home for the next six months.  If all goes well I will ride as far as Banderas Bay where I’ll board a sailboat as second skipper bound for the South Pacific to meet a girl, well it’s a boat but you know what I mean.

This is where I start to get really freaking, well… freaked out.  I was born with the girliest brain in the planet “this would explain my new pink mankini” and am literally afraid of my own shadow.  My time in the jungles of everywhere from Costa Rica to Panama have me shrieking like a 12 year old girl at a Lady Gaga concert when it comes to bugs, creepy crawlies and all things that go bump in the night and fuck yes I’m scared shitless of the dark. On a brighter note I’m bringing one luxury item, it’s my super power but I’ll talk about that some other time, or did I just do it now? My iPhone is stacked with Regina Spector and other songs that will add to the lonlieness on this solo journey. I’m armed and dangerous with my iPhone as I was too cheap to buy a mirrorless camera and my Nikon simply won’t fit.

Seriously, I’d rather shave my ass with a dull cheese grater than confront a night alone in the dark but it is what it is.  Im mailing my micro GPS to my brother in law so he can download the base maps and lat and long coordinates as I’ve failed miserably at the task, I literally get lost in the grocery store.  Without this little modern gem of navigation I’m doomed although I guess I can just hope to folllow the tracks of some other poor soul as foolish as me in attempting this ride. I haven’t spent a single second training, I simply don’t have the time.  My body is wrecked but I have 6 months to Unweck it. Seriously, I have no buisiness doing this and am sure I have no idea what I’m getting myself into, NONE. I’m totally unprepared as usual.

Yes, blogging from an iPhone sucks but it’s the only tool I have so you are stuck with my shit images and massive amount of short sparatic posts for now. I’m pretty pleased with the bike and it’s set up. If I could do it again the only change I would make would be a Vische seat bag by Relevate Designs instead of the Pika but since I already had it from Brompty it’s what I’m using.  The bike is freaking amazing to ride and I couldn’t of made a better choice but since I’ve previously owned a KM was an easy pick. If your reading this and contemplating a new ride I can honestly say that with a lifetime of mountain biking under my saddle the Surly Karate Monkey is one of the best designs on the planet and don’t let’s its relatively inexpensive price fool you, it seriously is the most fun MTB to ride on the planet. With my budget of $15.00 per day I won’t be adding anything at this point but I most certainly will be taking away.  I’ve got an easy 1000 miles to figure it all out before it gets real.

Famous last words.

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On my wall is a sticky note with the remaining days till I leave. Each day I cross off a number replacing it with a smaller one. Today I should be writing the number 10. I pull the note off the wall, wad it up and throw it in the trash.

My last piece of gear came in the mail today. Sure there is a bike tool slowly crossing the Atlantic but I've written that one off, I have what I need and I'm sure that one would show up about an hour after I've left the island so I'm taking something I already have, well that was the plan.

The bike is dialed, packed and ready to go. My anemic budget, I have decided will work. The boat is almost packed away, my company and family's braced for the inevitable. I even have a ride to drop me off at the exact spot where I threw in the towel last year. It's official I'm doing a solo 1700 mile unassisted off road ride through Baja, nothing can stop me.

Looking back the weather was exactly as it is today? Cold, wet, damp and very uninviting. Perhaps it's a sign from the gods but sitting here I can feel it getting worse by the second. I refer to it as my knee but the ITB actually has nothing to do with the knee. You can't train or ride through it? It only gets worse and today it's about as bad as it was a month after I returned and the first sign of anything amiss. 30 minutes ago I was deep in my mind going thrown all the things I may have forgotten or over packed. Now I'm wondering just what the hell I'm going to do all winter and where I will store my unused bike.

Nothing can stop me, I repeat the phrase in my head followed by another one. Famous last words…

Inspired insanity

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The cold wet air hurts my senses, my bones and my mind. I'm fed up, worn out and damn near ready to chew my own foot off to escape this place. I've been here too long and it's dragging me down. Exhaustion has taken over and now that the crazy of summer has drifted away with the warmth, the boredom is killing me, slowly but surely it's taking me down.

I've been sailing two courses over the last year. My primary objective was to ship the boat somewhere semi tropical where I could finish all the little things, Florida or San Carlos. Then I would simply get on my bike and ride it there meeting Sookie refreshed and ready to dive in head first. Simple yes but a few snafus killed my shipping budget, big deal right, I'll just ride and figure out the boat issues in the spring.

I've been having some serious bigger boat itis ever since that beautiful Hess 26 fell into my lap. Not like I'm dumb enough to buy a bigger boat but damn Sookie is so small at times. Ok so I've successfully not made any attempts to move forward with the larger boat, not in the last month at least but now I'm burned out by boaters. So called yachters leaving their dogs shit on the docks, piles of trash everywhere and the bitching and whining non stop for 100 days. You'd think these people actually hate their good fortune to be able to live this lifestyle but maybe they aren't? You can't fit it all into a week or even a month.

Hurricane Irma has rocked my world, I hate leaving Sookie and now it's for a very long time. As usual indecision is pulling against the tide. I don't want I come back here, not to work at least, not to waste any more of my days dealing with all these whiny little bitches. I'm stuck on the tread mill and maybe that's all this bike journey is but I need to get away. My Nikon and iPad, my two most precious belongings aren't making the cut, not by a long shot and thats strike two. Without my camera and a writing instrument my life is without purpose. I try and console myself that a portrait photographer on a solo journey needs no tools. I shoot people not landscapes but still I already feel empty handed.

The boat is nowhere near ready, the bike is as ready as my budget will allow and then there is me. I'm done, I just want to crawl into a cave and sleep it all off, maybe a 3-6 month nap can shake all of this. My constant companion these day is the phrase I have to keep moving or I'll drop. I'm starting to get a bit weird, I'm already bat shit crazy but the neurons are now firing in uncharted waters.

I've done the one thing I never though possible. I've hit my own wall. I hobble around like a crippled man, my body is broken. My mind is mushy and weak. I have to many anchors holding me fast, if I can't let go I'm doomed to go down with the ship.

From the log of Sookie. The dark circles under my eyes have moved into my brain. A world filled with despair is trying to infect me with its mediocrity. There is no such thing as true freedom? That's what they tell me but I am a non believer in such trivial matters as belief. There are two types of people in this world. Those who believe in entities greater than all and those who create a life greater than beliefs.

Hurricane Irma

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The All wooden boats have souls, they are built in with the extremely labor intensive commitment of the creator but not all boats have a soul. it’s with the blood sweat and tears that we create our mistress of the sea. Not until your ship has carried you safely across storms and calms alike can we become one with our vessel. I’m still highly traumatized by my last long term sailing partner to the point where I simply need to walk away from the water front and create enough distance to shake the curse. My love for Sookie was formed over the many miles we’ve shared at sea, a bond that can’t be broken. I’m not leaving her, I’m just leaving.

    I’ve set every jack stand perfectly, gone though every inch of her and will be leaving her as safe as I can. I always get this sick feeling when I leave her behind, like I’ve forgotten some incredibly important part of me. I can feel her pulling me home from the distances I travel but still I must leave until I feel whole again and worthy of her. When a boat is your home its not just some toy or piece of property.  I don’t know what Sookies soul is made of but what ever it is, hers and mine are the same.

    My heart goes out to all the sailors and landlubbers alike as hurricane Irma is building her destructive path across the Atlantic  Brittany has become one of my favorite writers and photographers over the many years. We read people blogs, look into the snap shots of their life’s and with time they become part of the family, part of my family.  Millions of lives and livelihoods are in danger, strangers most of them but not all. I’m uneasy inside, everything her family in has worked and struggled for is in the direct path of a Cat 5 monster.  I have many other friends in the region as well and I’m sick with worry for them, I hate nature.

    All of these these thoughts and worries go through my mind every time I leave Sookie.  I do the best I can but there is still a huge risk.  It’s what we sign up for when we join the few who make this life thier homes, it never gets any easier but still we do it.  When the time comes I’ll pedal away but between now and then I’ll spend all of my free time making sure she is as safe and comefortable as I can make her until I return .

    My tiny little home has been an absolute chaotic work zone but I’ve been noticing less and less gear strewn around each day as I get in as many short rides as I can, packing a little better each time I do.  Chika is really getting dialed in and her ride is amazingly well balanced. Slowly but surely the late nights and hard work are paying off, she is becoming part of me. All of these things are telling me it’s almost time to go.

    A writer is a person who cares what words mean, what they say, how they say it. Writers know words are their way towards truth and freedom, and so they use them with care, with thought, with fear, with delight. By using words well they strengthen their souls. Story-tellers and poets spend their lives learning that skill and art of using words well. And their words make the souls of their readers stronger, brighter, deeper.
    ~Ursula K. Le Guins

    Mothballs

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    Freedom comes through many forms, most of which I haven’t known for a very long time. I put in my official 2 weeks notice today, the first question was when will you be back. This little hideaway has been good to me, they even gave me a cabin so I can reassemble Chika and her luggage every day till the early hours of dawn. I can assure you of this, you can’t fit a 10 pound parcel into a 2 pound sack. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that this journey is open-ended so I just pedaled around the question.

    Before I leave, Sookie will be completely emptied and put on mothballs. I have no intention of using her again in the coming decade. The smart thing would be to sell her but she is un replaceable so I will lovingly tuck her in for a much needed nap. I’ve been on the water to long and need a good bit of inland travel to settle my wounds. On some level it almost feels idiotic to have spent the last 10 months preparing for a trip that may only last one day. My knee… well, we will have to wait and see. While the potential for failure looms heavy on my soul, not attempting this ride would be the largest failure by default. I’ve never once in my life let fear get the best of me.

    I’m leaving too late in the season, the budget is wrecked, my body as well. I have new knee pains completely unrelated to the old but couldn’t care less, this is my time. Every second of the day will be spent wild and free, solo and without a real destination or timeframe. I have ideas but they are in a state of chaos floating around in my head. I simply won’t know where I’m going till I arrive which will happen with the first turn of my pedal.

    If you want me to structure a 600 million dollar revolving line of credit I can do that in my sleep. To properly prepare for any sort of expedition on the other hand, well my brain just isn’t programmed that way. I need freedom to roam, chance, risk and above all the unexpected. This is where my heart lies, in the unknown, uncontrollable universe of random exploration. Safety nets are for pussies, the hipsters of the world that can’t make a single move without a reservation, travel insurance and a itinerary with every possible outcome covered. My itinerary is to enjoy a well earned and most likely warm beer at the end of the day. To sleep like the dead, even if it’s on thick roots and jagged rocks because my body simply turns itself off due to exhaustion. To watch every sunrise engulfed in the sounds and scents of nature and to be wholly tuned into the environment and my senses on a prehistoric level of consciousness.

    We are a dying breed.  Sailors these days have made so many efforts to completely  remove them self from the act of sailing that they no longer experience the craft. As soon as the boat speed falls below the designers theory or the wind turns slightly unfavorable they make a bunch of excuses and turn on the engine. It’s not thier fault. We live in a world where every one is in such a hurry to get there that we get lost and never arrive. Like sailing engineless my bike is about movement, the time, speed and distance doesn’t matter. To keep the bike unstoppable, always finding new challenges, to be self sufficient and free enough to point in any direct I choose for as long as It’s fun, fuled by nature, desire and tenacity.

    I found this on Instagram and it made my day. You guys are ruining my beard fetish. Ever since I was a little girl, I loved a man with a beard. To me they meant strength, power, MANLINESS. Someone who could protect me. Unfortunately you guys have turned it into a fashion statement. The beard has turned into the padded bra of masculinity. Sure it looks sexy, but whatcha got under there? There’s a whole generation running around looking like lumberjacks and most of you can’t change a fucking tire.

    Useless

    Bombing through the woods minding my own business I had fallen into a trance.  With nothing to guide me but my lame ass head lamp, the sun had long since gone to bed but I was having way too much fun learning the subtle nuances of my new ride. I followed the beam banging through the turns, nothing but the sound of dry crunching earth with the occasional pop of rubber when I caught a rock just right.  Chika is a full blown touring machine.  Nothing in the world could have suprised me more than being body slammed by a deer, a first In my book. Laying in a crumpled heap of agony I was sure my foot was broken, I could feel blood running down my now cold skin as I got up and let out an absolute roar of delight.

    They say that pain is only weakness leaving the body.  For some reason I get such a massive high from shit like this.  I tried to stand but I couldn’t, I hobbled over and picked up my fully loaded steed and inspected her for anything out of the ordanary, maybe I should have inspected myself.  I praised god in her infinite wisdom for creating the bicycle and rode into the night bleeding as I went, walking is so mundane. I made it home and pulled my two ice cold beers from my piss bucket and shoved my foot in. I swear there is such a huge part of me that wishes I would meet a nice girl and settle down so I wouldn’t have to go through this anymore; although that part of me is completely fucking retarded…

    Sitting on the deck of my bayside cabin I pull the last of my porter. The sun has set but the western horizon is glowing pink and purple with dark clouds hanging on till the end. Bats whizz by feasting, it’s warm and I’ve fallen in love with land lubbering. I contemplate my useless life, I have so many stories to tell but no time to tell them, I’m failing as a writer. I can’t possibly fit even my minimalist load into my tiny gear bags. My Nikon sits on the floor under my bike hopelessly waiting like me to be included. Without a camera this journey is for not. I could buy a small used camera but my budget is as anemic as my body. I simply don’t care to write without images to show the light.

    I’ve pushed my departure date up a few days just to screw myself out of the much needed time to work on Sookie, to work on my load and to earn a few extra bucks.  My feet are getting itchy and it’s time to move on, well in a few weeks that is. I’ll never be ready, my bike will never be ready, I’ll never have enough money. Maybe that’s why I always leave, because I know I’ll never be ready. To take everything away that doesn’t matter, this is to be complete, to be whole and free. To be honest at my age I don’t want to be free. Trapped in a endless limbo of debt and obligation feels so safe, to stay here in my warm house with hot food and a job that pays the bills.  There are people who will always say just go, they are ones who never have, who never will, but still they will offer to just go.

    All I can do is hold on, scream at the top of my lungs and enjoy the ride. I worked hard and paid for my ticket, patiently waited in line and now it’s my turn. The roller coaster is dropping, my stomach is in my throat and adrenaline is surging through my veins. It’s only a matter of time till the roller coaster comes to a stop and it’s all over.  Hold on, no matter how scary it gets, hold on. Hold on, no matter how desperate it all may seem hold on. Hold on because now is the only thing you will ever have in this world, hold on. It’s only when you stop bleeding that your life comes to an end.

    “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
    ― Ernest Hemingway

    Easy money

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    Taking a hack saw to your new bike is akin to  drilling holes through your boat but that's just what we did. Chopped 3" off the stem, hacked 1" off each side of the bars and dialed this little girl in till she fits me like a glove. We converted her wheels to tubeless with rim tape and 4 ounces per wheel of stans sealant. She is now virtually flat proof. I packed away and extra 4 ounces for later and just in case. My only job left was to bomb the island smashing into every damn thing I could to make sure the tires are well seated to the rims.

    As usual I'm guided by dumb fucking luck and met Tom a fat tire enthusiast / fanatik and possible ride partner for the Baja divide. He took the whole bike apart, and put her back together with love and precision. She is absolutly dialed and ready to start adding frame bags and banging out some trial miles.  I freaking love the guys at Island Bicycles on San Juan, they have always stoked me and my rides.

    I have  have a few C-notes left for last minute additions and then I'm flat broke with three remaining pay checks to fund the journey. That's how it works when you live a minimalist life. Food and money take a back seat to what ever carries you through the next journey be it boats, bikes or shhhh a bush plane, no that one still hasn't been scratched off the list. Somehow I will survive the next 27 days and then it's bangarang! and a long slow bike ride. On Toms advice I'm running 30 psi till I hit the dirt and then dropping to about 12 give or take. I have absolutely no clue when it comes to plus bikes.

    Most of my gear is carry over from the last few big journeys but all my frame bags are new, expensive and yup, made in America. Hiding from the heat of the day I've found a tall cool drink of water to help pass the time till my ferry arrives. I'm celebrating by filling my piss bucket with ice and indulging in some really good beer I have on the boat. Less than a week ago bike-less and in despair I could have never imagined how fast this could all be put together. Like they say, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

    Chupacabra

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    The last of the cars off the ferry disappeared into the night leaving me on a pitch black hwy with nothing but the sounds of night.  I didn’t pass a single car on the long winding road home but I did have to dodge a few deer here and there.  Glowing eyes stared back at me from the woods as I ticked off the chilly miles bringing Chika home with me. It was a miricle of high speed reckless driving and unlimited optimism by Seatrout who picked me up from my train. The ferry was 25 minutes late as he had predicted and so came an end to my 40 straight hours of travel.  I’ve got a pile of the bare essentials and an appointment with a world class cyclist to help me dial this bike in for optimal performance and minimal knee disturbance.

    I like fat tires and skinny girls. Slow rides and fast descents. Epic times, small budgets, big hills and red dirt. I worship water, gravity, exploration and a good dose of fear. Im always down for good beer, really any beer to be honest. Sleep is my cocaine. Love is my drug of choice and like the fabled Chupacabra I’ve been mistakenly identified more often than Sasquatch. This is my nature, I can’t help the way I am and I wouldnt try to change if I could.  Small mankinis, big stories, sun kissed living and yes, like you have to ask I am old enough to know better but young enough to do it again.

    I ran into an old lover of mine today and she asked me. ” Jesus Ali can’t you ever do anything normal?” I shyly looked away with that Cheshire cats innocent grin. I took her for a ride and her smile was as big as mine, I don’t know what it is about riding bikes but even when it sucks ass and it does at times. Its still the most fun you can have with your clothes on.  We shed the bikes with our inhibitions on a private little beach.  I shared my secret spot with her, a cold beer and the hot afternoon sun and dead calm weather, today was made for Lovin.

    I don’t  know how many smiles my journey will last with my ongoing knee issues but it doesn’t matter.  This ride is about the journey, not the destination. In less than a month my schedule will be open for the rest of this year and most of next. So much anticipation it’s killing me but there is much preparation to do before I set out, too much for the few allotted days I have to complete the tasks at hand.

    From The log of Sookie Curled up next to me it’s almost as if she has always been here.  Her soft breathing soothes me as I quietly peck away at my key board. We’re both older now but the mark of time has been kind to us.  She smells the same, she feels the same and I can’t help but to wonder why I was so afraid of her. As usual it’s all my fault, I’m not easy to tame…

    The last connection

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    Compared to yesterday this should be a relatively easy day of travel. My last connection is at 8:27 pm if the train is on time. The last ferry to the islands is at  9:00pm about 25 miles away. With a little luck my ride will get me there.  Sitting in the station Chika is getting lots of attention, too much attention when the security guard asks me if I'm traveling with them today. " Sorry, your tires are too big to fit in our racks." I'm screwed!

    Perched on a corner with a latte and a ciggi I watch the early morning hustle and bustle of the city, it's loud really loud, beggars and homeless everywhere. I lock myself into my filthy hotel room strip down and plop in bed. I have one hour to shower and hit the city.  It was idiotic selling my brompton and I've been reminded every second of this trip. Travel was so easy with that bike. I could have just pedaled the hwy all the way to Cabo but no. If I could turn the clocks back that's just what I would do. Now 2k poorer and no where close to home I'm having serious sellers remorse. The Brompton was a Swiss Army knife, made for banging through the city and easy travel. The Katate Monkey is more like a chainsaw.

    Navigating the city streets on my folder was easy, that's what she was designed for. The bars on the new steed are nearly three times as wide and almost take a full lane of traffic. I'm approached everywhere for handouts, sleeping people line the streets, fights ambulances and trouble everywhere I go, get me out of here. My family is scared to death of me riding through Mexico? A place where I was practically raised. Here it's ten times more frightening and the people are literally insane, the crazy ones and the ones who live here by choice. I'm sent to the baggage department waiting to hear that I be pedaling back to the islands, I'm going to get fired, lose my cabin and become desperate like all these lost souls. We measure and remeasure. If I deflate the tires completely it will fit but I've forgotten my pump. I load it on the train.

    Sprinting though the train station like OJ in his old hertz rental car commercials I skid to a stop after clearing a pile of suitcases. A pretty girl with her bike helmet trumps all emergencys as I stop for a bit of small talk before resuming my frantic search for a pump. I literally throw my body in front of a taxi. I get the only cabbie in Portland that has no idea how to navigate the city or her iPhone. I whip mine out and we're on our way. I don't pay her fearing she'll leave me and launch into REI at rush hour. Find a pump and a line with 20 people in front of me. One by one my pleads to cut are granted and I'm back at  the station. I left the islands with a pile of cash but now don't have enough to buy an appetizer for a flea.

    I find a corner stall in the filthy bathroom to hide from the city. I wipe the piss off the seat and now I'm playing chicken with the automatic flush. Every time I try and sit it flushes sucking the paper thin ass gasket with it and covering the seat with toilet spray. It takes me ten times to beat it and I'm rewarded with a wet ass. I pull my iPhone and start pecking away to share my journey with you…

    A train bound for nowhere

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    It's 4:30 AM I blink into the mirror, it's early, too early.  Shivering uncontrollably my nipples proturide through my thick hoodie, they are hard enough to cut glass.  It feels good to up when the rest of the world is sleeping. To have a purpose beyond being a drone and the daily grind of earning a few measly cents a day to buy a bit of freedom, a very little bit. Yes this is a good day.

    I've worked hard but it hasn't come without a serious cost. I'm older now then I was the last time I felt free, my body is destroyed from a summer of extremely labor intensive work. My mind is filled with cobwebs from the monotony and as usual my meager saving is nowhere near where it should be by now, life is expensive out in these islands.  Still though, I've tucked away a small amount of freedom chips and I'll relish in every second of it but I'm not free yet, this journey is but a small necessary reprieve.

    I've saved exactly enough to either buy a mail order bride and have a partner in mediocrity or buy a bike and live wild and free.  I hitched a ride to the ferry which will take me to a bus, a train and a cab and then back to my little bed in my new 8×10 cabin. Sunrise on the Salish was my first of many gifts today.  I spend ten minutes trying to make a broken coffee machine take my money, I laugh at myself and how hard we all work to earn money but even harder to give it way.

    My tiny pack has half a bottle of water, a bag of peanuts and a spair pair, I travel light. The day will be spent making tight connections and chasing outlets to plug the little ambilical cord of my phone into so I can find all of the places I need to in a big unfamiliar city. I have less than 5 hours to get everything done, try and get some sleep and then back into travelers mode for the return trip.

    If it looks like a picture is missing from this space you are right, I just haven't taken it yet.

    None of this matters now, the sun is just peeking from behind Mt Baker, rays of golden light cast their fire like a straight rainbow, the universe is happy with me today. Staring out across the straights the ocean looks cold, inhospitable.  I'm working hard and completely unloading Sookie and buttoning her up. She will be wrapped up safe and secure as I have no plans of returning to these islands anytime soon. I'm taking a long break from winters, sailing and the sea all together. I need terra firma under my tired old dogs.

    So I handed him my bottle
    And he drank down my last swallow
    Then he bummed a cigarette
    And asked me for a light
    And the night got deathly quiet
    And his faced lost all expression
    He said, "If you're gonna play the game, boy.
    You gotta learn to play it right.           ~The gambler

    Curse of the Bromptom

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    I know what you thinking and your right, I did this all to myself; I always do. I sold my most prized posession, my Brompton. I had to fund the expedition and aquire two new off-road touring bikes.  Literally within hours of selling the bike my girlfriend went out for milk and never came back, that same day I was hit by a boat and it’s been going down hill ever since. Today I hauled Sookie out for the winter, I had a very bad feeling in my gut but ignored it and went ahead with the haulout. Half way there there new engine started to sputter and stall, she was talking to me but I couldn’t hear her. literally as we were flying through the air the email came through that infact there would be no bike for me in the near or far future.

    Ive been in touch with the bike shop for a month trying to pull this together as winter comes fast in these parts and my departure day is only three weeks out.  The boat is loaded with hundreds of dollars of bags that are now useless to me and as of noon today I’m homeless.  My little Brompton was bar none the most functional and loved bike I’ve ever owned, I’ve missed her from the very second she left.  That first night when I spent every cent I had on her was pure bliss.  Arriving in the Hawaii islands with her, a one way ticket and less than 500 bucks was a true experience as was cycling the Oregon coast. I miss the bike more than the girl who is still out on her milk run, sorry, I can’t remember her name.

    My new one man tent is set up, my backpack is packed and the options for winter are limitless but I just can’t see going through life under the veil of this curse. Damned are all humans without a bike to love and I’m the most cursed as I let her slip though my fingers. I can go anywhere and I can do anything but not without the love of a good iron horse at my side.  I’ll never be able to replace the beautiful orange frame as they’ve stopped making them but Berry Crush purple will fit my androgynous brain just fine and match my new mankini perfectly.  I won’t be doing the Baja divide on this bike but we will be going somewhere amazing and hopefully tropical.

    Everything in this world happens for a reason. Yes it’s hard to swallow but it truly is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.  There are pleanty of Bromptons in the sea and I’ll find my next one soon enough and love her as I’ve loved all the bikes in my past. The simplicity and freedom of a man on his bike with nothing but the open road ahead, that’s my heroin.  Yes I already miss living in Sookies cozy cabin but I’ll be back and she’ll be waiting.  The traveling season is here and for now it’s time to think about going for a nice little ride. And so I will continue to repeat the words I’ve grown quite used to in the quiet recesses of my mind.  It’s all my fault…

    Written in the sand because I have no log book of being homeless, boatless and bikeless. ~ The weather has turned cold but my little down bag will warm my bones. Loneliness has taken over but the thrill of the unknown will be my constant companion. Yvon Chouinard said it best when he said, “Its not an adventure till something goes wrong.”

     

    Think big

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    You may say that I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one… I was never meant to be a sailor, I was born under the zodiac sign of cancer, a waterbaby, now a waterman. One fateful day the tides turned foul, my limp body rolled through the massive surf like a rag doll, that was the day I died as a surfer and was reborn a sailor. Floating on the surface I watched divers searching for that cold blue body, I specifically remember looking down from the surface of the ocean and thinking oh shit that poor bastard is dead, it was me I was watching.

    My first car was a 1968 VW van, it was also my first house. That old blue hunk of… was the epicenter of my world, I was Just a child but a freeman none the less. Topanga, Malibu, Rincon, the Wedge, Trestles, Blacks and everywhere in between.  Perfect sunsets and dawn patrol ruled my life, there were no clocks, darkness and light turned my sun dial. I look exactly the same now as I did as a sixteen year old surf bum.  Sun kissed skin, bleached sandy blond hair locked in tight ringlets, salt crusted skin and that look in my deep blue eyes that is always searching for the next big Wednesday.

    Once you’ve experienced the true power of the ocean everything else pales in comparison.  Sitting at the edge of dry land I curl my toes and dig them into the sand staring across the horizon always wondering how big it all is, the vastness of the universe pales in comparison to what lies out there in this big blue marble called our mind. Like everything in life for every door that closes another one opens, be it surfing or love and anything or everything inbetween.  Accepting change is the hardest thing we fragile humans can experience in this world. It scares the shit out of me, makes me unsure of myself and it hurts from a place so deep inside of me I’ve yet to discover the location of its origin.

    Guardian angels are real and I have many scattered across this earth, some close enough to touch. I’m nestled in my perch pecking away on my iPad, the light in Sookie is pleasing, the temperature is just right, the music stirs my soul, my glass of wine is full and a beautifuly rolled joint is sitting waiting patiently for me; this is my real job. I’m suppose to be drafting a screen play about a particular time in my life but I’m not, my constant fear of success has me idly writing about nothing, for no reason, my specialty.

    Tonight I was given a book that made my eyes tear up. I read it cover to cover in the blink of an eye, it just may have metaphorically been written about me, or maybe for me.  Inside the cover the authors wrote a note, Think Big… I can’t help but to wonder about reincarnation and if it’s possible that our soul can die and be reincarnated back into the same body that somehow survived and if it can?, no it can’t, I’m stuck with this old vessel. I feel like a plastic water bottle, when I’m full I’m enjoyed to the brim but as soon an I’m depleted I’m thrown in the trash, eventually recycled and used up all over again until I find myself in the garbage bin again, back in the place I came from.

    The source of my internal pain is also my greatest inspiration. My fingers aren’t connected to my brain but they do all hard work while my brain drifts about in and out of lazy consciousness. Maybe it’s time to stop letting myself be recycled and simply repurpose myself into something better than a convienent and reusable yet disposable drinking utensil.

    Can too simple words change a persons life? I don’t think so but each of us has the power to change other people’s life’s and if we’re brave enough to accept the gift of real friendship we can let those guardian angels help us navigate the Rocky lee shores of never never land. Think big…

    You may say I’m a dreamer
    But I’m not the only one
    I hope some day you’ll join us
    And the world will be as one ~John Lennon 

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