Ride like a girl

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

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

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

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

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

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

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

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.

Tags

, ,

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

Tags

, , , , ,

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

Tags

, , , , , ,

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

    Tags

    , , , , , , , ,

    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

    Tags

    , , , , , , , , ,

    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

    Tags

    , , , , , , ,

    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

    Tags

    , , , , , , , ,

    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

    Tags

    , , , , , ,

    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

    Tags

    , , , ,

    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

    Tags

    , , , , , , , ,

    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 

    Carnal apple

    Tags

    , , , , , , , , ,

    Two ships passing in the night, soft lips, strong hands. Scars, tattoos, day drinking, dirty feet… pirates come and go, pirate ships come and go.  This isn’t a lifestyle, it’s who I am, it’s who we are, my water tribe.  Her siren voice serenaded me while she plucked on my ukulele.  I could easily fall in love with her if she let me but the ocean is a vast place with strong tides and dangerous rip currents.  The last words I said to her before she returned to her ship was that there is nothing wrong with being single. There is also nothing wrong with chasing the wind…

    Carnal apple, Woman filled, burning moon,
    dark smell of seaweed, crush of mud and light,

    what secret knowledge is clasped between your pillars?
    What primal night does Man touch with his senses?


    Ay, Love is a journey through waters and stars,
    through suffocating air, sharp tempests of grain:


    Love is a war of lightning,
    and two bodies ruined by a single sweetness.
    Kiss by kiss I cover your tiny infinity,
    your margins, your rivers, your diminutive villages,
    and a genital fire, transformed by delight,
    slips through the narrow channels of blood
    to precipitate a nocturnal carnation,
    to be, and be nothing but light in the dark. ~Pablo Neruda 

    No land is an island

    Tags

    , , , , , , , ,

    All the planets are aligning, the eclipse is near.  Sparks of phosphorescence fill the sea and reflect the stars when they peek though the humid haze of this late summer night on a sea of moulton glass.  I gently closed the hatch, my favorite tunes setting the mood. A single match dragged across my striker board flickers and glows dancing across Sookies rich wood interior setting the stage for wine and chololate with a puff of sulfer and a slow burning desire…

    I roll a spliff, not bad for my first ever attempt. Smoke swirles to the warm breeze blessing Sookie and the night. I dig my short nails into the skin of a blood orange, nectar fills the air dripping down my fingers and into my naked lap. I bring the fruit close to my lips, I’m in sensory overload…

    Followed by the deepest sleep I’ve ever known the sun brings a new day, clean and fresh and ready to try again.  Hot coffee, a ciggi in the cockpit and damnit another day of voluntary slavery.  I’ve always loved the quiet of early mornings aboard Sookie but today I have a special spring in my step.  Fresh eggs on a bed of steamed potatoes, one more cup of coffee and I slip off into the real world, the one with a very clear end date circled.

    I find the words solo in the log of Sookie and then scratch them out and smile.  I think I’m gonna like this journey away from here, the place I call home.  The place where every journey ends and where each new one begins.  I’m not leaving, I’m just getting ready to come home…

    “I’m not crazy, my reality is just different than yours”
    ― Lewis Carroll

    The last Samurai

    Tags

    , , , , , , , ,

    Call it post traumatic stress disorder or post travel stagnation dysfunction either way I’m afflicted. I suffer from A.D.D., ADHD, PTSD, CRS “can’t remember shit” and virtually every other disorder under the sun including many that haven’t been discovered yet.  I’m easily distracted by pretty girls and shiny shit.  I’m slow, lazy and pretty uninterested in most things in life.  I’d forget my own name if it wasn’t printed on my Ralph’s card, my only form of ID. My only plan before I blow my brains out with a shotgun in a few years is to give Hunter S Thompson a serious run for the worlds most fucked up book, the kind that will change people’s life’s.

    This was my house last year. Not too many complaints when it wasn’t raining, of corse this is Washington.

    I’ve been a bit in edge lately.  When I was 17 years old at my high school graduation party I made blood pact with my best friend that at a predetermined age we would both drop everything and hunt the other person down and kill them.  We were young and stupid, our brains weren’t fully developed.  Putting each other out of our misery seemed like a good idea at the time. Well in less than one year I hit that age but I can’t remember his birthday, he may already be on the hunt.  I’ve lost all contact since that day and to be honest my newly developed older age still feels pretty damn young.

    I could ignore this as silly children’s games or get on with my few remaining days or double down and get him good before he gets me.  The plan was that he would head east in his search and I would head west.  The orient seemed a good place for the last battle. I spent half my life training for this and have no questions about my ability but still, he could sneak attack at any point. On the plus side when you know the almost exact date of your big dirt nap there is no reason to save for the future, to build a nest egg, to do any of that crap we are brain washed into. Just live the fullest life you can and the end will come when the universe determines it.

    On the down side I have massive travel PTSD.  The more I live through the more fear based off that knowledge it generates to the point where I just want to crawl into a dark hole, curl into the fetal position and suck my thumb. Sailing has always been my safe place, at 5 knots there really isn’t much that can go wrong. Cycling 1700 miles solo through the desert certainly could have its challenges but is a hundred times safer than cycling the coast.  I remember when I bought my first Harley my dad was so freaked out about my safety and the fact that I refused to wear a helmet.

    Bikes on the other hand are a completely different monster.  The motorcycle had thick wide sticky rubber tires, I only rode it on reasonably good roads, my disc brakes were massive and it was really loud so people heard me coming.  Bombing down the side of a mountain with nothing between you and an 800′ cliff other than a paper thin pair of dapper deny, a foam helmet and some sick shades isn’t what I could call a fail safe insurance plan.

    With each passing year the need for adrenaline is drastically reduced.  I annoy the shit out if my friends because I’m not doing what they are but they always fail to realize that while I may look thier age I’m actually 20-30 years older than them, when I was thier age I was doing the same shit they are now. Not that a single one of them can hold a candle to me physically but inside my finely chissled Adonis body I’m rapidy reaching middle age.  Things hurt easier, pain lasts longer, injuries take longer to heal and my body is starting to feel like an old wooden schooner in a storm, creaking and groaning. My mind is filled with doubt and fear and loathing, oh wait… that’s some other guys story, I’m going to fucking rock it.

    “Make no mistake, I prefer peace, but not at the cost of safety. I know the face of the enemy, even if some deny it. I am tolerant, but not in the face of hatred. I respect my fellow man, but I won’t ignore that some may hate me. I am not fearless, I’m just not afraid of fear. And if it’s a fight you’re looking for, I will give you one – your last one” 

    A midsummer nights dream 

    Tags

    , , , , , , ,

    Up before the dawn I wasted my precious day off for a long run along the beach rather than sleeping in.  Somewhere out there, toes squishing through the cool wet morning sand I shed my skin like a chameleon and found my rightful place in this world.  Never feel sorry for a man with a Falmouth Cutter.

    I had cookies for breakfast, ice-cream for lunch and cup of noodles for dinner.  I scrubbed Sookie from stem to stern throwing out little pairs of pink panties that seemed to be everywhere.  The well used sheets went along with those tiny scrapes of cotton and my new super purple snuggler came out, home sweet home. Between laundry and cleaning every nook and cranny I dropped another 500 on bike shit and a cute cyclist at the public shower invited me for a sunset beer and of corse I said hell yes; I might even let her pay ;)~

    Back on track and it feels good to have my feet permanently planted in the clouds again.  In a month I set out for a much needed break from boat work and dock work.  A good friend dropped by, actually many did, the island is worried about me, it isn’t often they see me so sad but today I’ve got bigger fish to fry while the sands of time heal my tender old ticker.

    The sky is bright and eerie due to fires in the north.  It’s hot and muggy and finally I’m not cold. I hate the idea off packing Sookie up but she patiently will wait as long as takes until I return reinvigorated and ready for the next adventure which may have already begun. Be daring, love boldly and live every day as it’s your last, it just may be…

    From the log of Sookie. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, William Shakespeare wrote, “Though she be but little, she is fierce.”

    Unforgetable 

    Tags

    , , , , , , , ,

    I woke up and she was gone, her sweet voice is nothing but a distant memory. Nothing remains but her familiar smell. Maybe I’m unlovable… I spent the morning editing my journal, cancalling orders and going through my gear for the upcoming ride.  Loneliness has engulfed my life but so is the nature of the long and lonely open road.  Humans always want and talk about achieving thier dreams but in the end the dream is always more important than the reality.  Having something out there to hold onto helps us pass the time from cradle to grave in the perceived safety of routine.   I’m a bit different, my dreams are my reality, my constant drive to live free is exhausting.

    I’ve been writing this journal in one form or another for over ten years now.  I’ve said this before, telling the truth and being completely honest and sharing it with the world is like standing naked on a pedestal for the whole world to judge you. This is where so many writers fall short. I’m reminded of Hans Christian Anderson and his short fable The emperor has no clothes. So many writers are so full of shit that they actually begin to believe their own misrepresentation, they live in the Achilles heel of the fable of thier myth.  My story is different, it’s true and often it just plain hurts. Sharing it hurts, living it hurts, and the constant failure hurts but not enough to give up.

    I’ve never done a crowd funding for myself, I often need to or at least would like to but the truth is that I’ve failed so many times on such a monumental scale that I just can’t put it out there, I can’t take the risk at others expense so I do what I have to to fuel the journey, to keep a bit of food in my belly and a roof over my head. I highly support crowd funding and occasionally support ones that I believe in here on my journal, maybe I just don’t believe in myself.  Yesterday I sold my most prized posseion, my beautiful and much loved Brompton. Today my camera gear goes and tomorrow my ukulele.  That’s the cost of the expedition, a small price to pay and the knowledge that I’ve created my life through my own constant struggle and occasional hardship makes the pie that much sweeter. It makes it real and on those soggy windy days with one too many flats, far too many miles and more cold and more suffering than I bargained for… I know deep down that everything I have is through my own creation, through my hard work, dedication and the many long days where I’ve traded my life’s units to fund the next semi adventure. I owe nothing to anyone.  I suffer fools and critics more often than I should, more often than anyone should.  I don’t beg, borrrow or steal, I own my life and live it on my own terms. I simply live the best and most honest life I know.

    I have a small pile of C-notes.  Most of my projects are done on Sookie for the year and she is ready for her spring expedition. I’m never ready, I always wake in the middle of the night with a pit in my stomach and a wild fear of the unknown. If I know anything it’s that there is always much to fear but not enough to keep me from stepping of the cliff of the next journey.  Through my constant failure I’ve found solace in this life and it’s given me what so many writers lack, an authentic story.  My eyes are red and puffy as the gravity of my situation gently pulls the tears of loneliness down my cheeks, my heart hurts, my brain hurts. I can’t help to wonder if there is anyone out there or will I just die alone and if that’s my story then I’ll live it and write it and share it because that’s what I do; for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health…

    From the log of Sookie. Hurt…

    Goodbye cruel world

    Tags

    , , , , , , ,

    You won’t find it on any one beach or mountain top. It flows through every river but can’t be found in any. it’s not about boats or sailing, tiny homes, travel or simple living. It can’t be bought sold or negotiated. It’s everywhere and in anything and while it exists in every inch, ounce and cubic foot of this big beautiful world, it is by far the most elusive of all desires. If you posses it you already know what it is. If you don’t you very well may never taste this eternal nectar. 

    “Your living the dream” I hear it countless times in any day. My little yacht is on display in the center of the marina. Late nights, early mornings and the slowness only island time can know. My Mooring lines are fast with no plans to untie them. That little umbilical chord that charges my batteries and cranks out warmth in the chilly evenings is starting to grow cobb webs as is my engine. Spring and fall bring the best of our seasons here for cruising. Summers are meant for slow lazy days exploring ashore. 

    Our options are overwhelming. I’ve  made all the lists with a yes, no, maybe so. In the end ive thrown all plans out the window. What ever happens will show us the way soon enough. For now it’s work hard and play hard. Save most of my pennies but spend enough to make it all right. My morning lattes are a subtle reminder that I’m still part of the one percent. A glass of wine at sunset, meals made from scratch and always enough time to derail from it all for a nap on some secluded beach far from the noise and crowds. 

    My hair is turning blond, long, wild and locked in tight curles. Skin tanned and softened by the lazy summer breeze and my feet, bare and always coated in salt from the cool waters of the shallow bay I call my home. The ring of my bell as I pedal past yachters coming and going. My watch twinkles and shines in the hot afternoon sun, I like shiny shit and that little hunk of Swiss steel is all part of my uniform. My non existent name tag reads Dock Master and that’s what I am today.
    This place was simple to find and easy to make my home. All I did was cut the dock lines and sail away with out anything but a half finished boat and a pile of lentils. That’s the thing about security, it’s far greater than any anchor for keeping one held fast in that little holding pattern we call life. Always working towards some imaginary place where all our dreams will manifest before our eyes.

    They say that life is what happens while we are making plans. To know this freedom is as simple as to take it. Today is my four year anniversary with the day I cut my lines. She is exactly 26 miles from the place we left behind but it feels like more than a million. Thousands of miles have passed under her keel since then but we always end up back in this little utopia just a hop skip and a jump, exactly one world away from where it all began. Happy anniversary Sookie…

    In the present sea

    Tags

    , , , , , , ,

    One of the many things I love about sailing is that it forces you to live in the present. It doesn’t matter where you came from or where you hope to get to, the sea doesn’t care.  You are forced deeply into a realm that never stops moving, never rests and more often than not will force you to work for every single hard earned mile. There is a zen to the massive amount of work it takes to maintain a boat like Sookie, the payoff can’t be described with a few or even a million data bites.

    There is no image that can reveal how cold and wet that whole week was.  How angry the sea was right before Aeolus shut down leaving you engineless in a confused sea with a tanker bearing down on you.  Sunsets and pretty pictures are fairy tales.  You can’t smell the morning fresh air thick with salt from a place your experiencing for the first time by the dawns early light.  You can’t feel the salt being washed off your weary soul after a week of stink.  The taste of a warm beer after a hard days journey, the fiftieth consecutive one.   These things that only exist for a brief moment in time are better than sex, …well shit, ok let’s just say it’s unmeasurable in the depths of ones imagination.

    To experience a life at sea is not all ocean crossings, bad weather and broken gear. The people you meet, the lessons you learn.  Challenges bested, experience gained and lessons relearned again and again. You can stand at the waters edge for a million years and never catch a single glimpse at what a sailor sees just 100 yards from shore as the land slowly slips away. Nothing can prepare you for the levels of fear you experience or how fast you will adapt and turn it into nothing more than a passing moment in time.

    I was recently asked if I was afraid to die and the answers were hell yes…hell no… dying is something that doesn’t actually matter, it’s something no human can ever realize. So we are faced with choices, I’m dying, your dying, this ride is almost over for every one of us.  Tonight, my jam box is rocking, the wine is as deep as the ocean and here I am ending yet another day of my life that I’ll never get back.  Yep, I made 350 bucks, money, life, money, life, your money or your life…

    If I owned the ocean I’d give her as freely as the air I breath but no man owns the sea, no man owns anything but his right to choose, or not to choose his destiny and how much he has of it. I can’t help but to wonder if some, perhaps including myself have set such a far off date for our someday adventures that we will actually die of old age before ever realizing them and maybe that’s the point. Something to occupy the mind and keep it alive while we toil a way in a misery that we’ve convinced outselfs isn’t that bad.  Making other people rich with our life’s units, it’s all a voluntary slavery that we begged for after 21 years of preparing and working toward the ultimate goal of lots of little pieces of green paper to wipe our asses with when we are too old to do anything else.

    From the log of Sookie, We all have one single talent, I’ve always wanted to be a rockstar or an inventor. Of corse I’m not a rockstar or an inventor. All I have is a boat and a bike, camera, iPad and um yes there is that on way ticket to Tahiti, like my life it’s non refundable and non transferable. I have to use it now or lose it forever.

    Uh Oh!

    Tags

    , , , , , , ,

    It’s 7:00 Am, I’m setting up my bar, it’s an assembly line of fresh this and that for my Island Famous Bloody Mary’s. I plunge a metal scoop into the ice machine, the cold crunch is nostalgic, a luxury I haven’t known in many years. My mind drifts off to my extensive travels as a child.  Ice machines, the smell of jet fuel, crisp desert mornings in camp.  Back then I couldn’t do anything without making fire.  Bus fumes and dank musty motels, being broken down in our old VW van in the middle of summer and the dessert, nowhere… I was made for travel.

    Rich people can’t afford to travel, they go on vacations but on a budget like mine travel is easy.  There is a girl in tears in front of my lodge, she is bawling, her hands buried in her face. She keeps repeating the same words “I just want to go home” while rocking back and forth like a three year old in a full blown temper tantrum.  They flew in by sea plane, but they made lodge reservations for the wrong dates and we are already at full capacity.  We offer the camp grounds, employee lodging, the hostel on San Juan. The more I try and help the angrier they get. I’m appalled by them, embarrassed for them and Intrigued with their 100% inability to adapt to the situation, there is a new breed of humans roaming this planet.  Hours later we find them a place to stay and the light switch is flipped, smiles come out and they skip away with thier ice cream, tears still drying on their cheeks in the hot afternoon sun.

    Last week two friends arrived from Oregon by bike, tired, near broke and hungry.  they have a new boat waiting for them.  it isn’t a cleaner upper, it isn’t a fixer upper.  its a cut the deck off, gut the interior and build a boat type of project.  they dig their heels in and start swinging.  Their ice cream is found in the process, an unbreakable mutual love for the sea, for each other and for living every day to its maximum regardless of what the universe throws at them, and she has been merciless.

    Walking up the hill for my first peek I call out, you need to slap some red panties on that chubby little bitch, swat her ass and throw her in the water.

    A short ride on Brompty brings me to the peninsula.  I carefully lean her against a tree that has washed up on the beach in our most recent storm and sit in the sand at the waters edge.  I’m surrounded, water in front of and behind me. its falling on my head and swirling in the sand around my toes. I’ve finally let go of and happily i may add, my new 26′ Hess. I’ve rearranged Sookies interior for the hundredth time and her new wind-vane is stored here and there in the boat, all out of eyesight until I start the installation process.

    I’ve done the unthinkable, the proud new owner of an iPhone. I purchased it for bike touring.  a one size fits all blogging tool with video and imaging but I’ve been sucked down the rabbit hole.  Navionics, internet 24 hours a day, the power of all the knowledge in the world at my fingertips. You cant ask for my phone number cause I dont know it, I hate phones but this little gadget is blowing my mind, it does everything but butter my toast, not that ive had time to eat with all the new learning going on.  I cant help but to wonder if this will ruin sailing for me.  Having weather and full blown charting at my finger tips just may ruin the whole experience. I’m not too worried, it wont be the first phone I’ve hucked off the back of the boat should it piss me off.

    A group of sailors stand on the hill drinking whiskey, commenting and complimenting and criticizing this little gem, the words slip out of my mouth, I’d fuck her!

    My new iPhone tells me its going to blow 40 today, joy of joys. Whats one more cold, wet and rainy day, we’ve had three good ones so far this year so I’m still hopeful that the sun will come out, that my brain will defrost and Defog and that somewhere is all of this ill have something interesting to write about. In 8 days my gravy train will end. My brain is lost in a cold fog, I don’t know where I’ll go or what I’ll do but there is no shortage of options. I’m not making any plans, it’s pointless, the tides are powerful enough to pull me when the wind won’t and my little kicker has 4 gallons to get me from here to there should Mother Nature turn her back on me. I’ve got food, booze and everything but a plan. Shit, and oars and a pump…

    From the log of Sookie Bebe Gilberto is cranking through Pandora on my new iPhone, my glass is full and like my life, my schedule is free…

    Voulintary simplicity

    Tags

    , , , , , , , ,

    I’ve never really liked sailing on lakes, no matter where you go your always on a Lee shore. My constant desire for a larger boat has little or nothing to do with dissatisfaction with my current boat, it’s more of a manifest destiny style of thinking.  More accumulation, more assets, a bigger piece of the pie and should I be one of the fortunate few to meet my twilight years a bit of a nest egg.  Not the type that sits on paper patiently waiting for the next crash to wipe it out but the kind I can enjoy while I’m young and strong and healthy and free. Not an investment as much as a hedge against inflation and dying of boredom

    Ask any billionaire and I have asked many.  All so called investments are little more than gambling for people who are really bad at math.  For some the gamble pays off, for others it will simply destroy them.  A good boat on the other hand serves many purposes better than most and is an investment in personal happiness and freedom.
    In the 70’s the baby boomers could easily purchase a really nice house for under 20k even with those era wages and historically the highest priced interest rates of mine and their generation it was simply hard to fail.  Times are a changing and I’m simply not interested in a 10k a month mortgage payment.  Boats on the other hand can be easily purchased by any reasonably gainfully employed part timer.  I pay 1700 a year to store Sookie including power and water and many fringe benefits such as a spa and gym.  Add 500 for full blown kamikazee insurance and that leaves me almost a grand a month to blow on anything I’d like while still living below the national poverty level.

    Many would consider me to be an extreme minimalist making most that like that title to look like crazed hoarders. Yes I am a hoarder but I prefer to stockpile consumables.  Things that make my life impossibly perfect like excellent coffee cooked dark and black.  Exquisite wine and cheeses and fresh fruit to go along with it.  Read this blog long enough and you might think I’m a lush but I couldn’t be any further from that.  I drink two glasses of wine a night, every night.  I hate hangovers, no I find them intolerable and avoid them like the plague.

    When a mid 90’s Hess was offered to me the only logical answer was yes. Bigger yes, better, yes, faster, yes, yes, yes, yes. The last few weeks have been a tidal wave of personal reflection and what it is I need and want in this world.  It’s been years since I’ve done any extremely long distance cruising.  In fact after the last one over 15 years ago I was pretty much done.  My ex wife begged my to sail around the world with her but I was very reluctant.  I’ve done enough of that style of sailing to last a lifetime.  I prefer to gunkhole, I love docks and plugs and easy access to things I need like part time work and supplies and more than anything I truly love living in the good old USA.  I also like ditching the boat and taking a nice 75 day vacation every year, god knows i need it with my insane 20 hour work weeks, I just plain old get burned out.

    When I pulled my vberth cushions that space was instantly transformed into a huge storage unit, my new windvane still sits in its box that is literally bigger than me. I’ve been camping in Sookies quarter berth and I’m loving the change in space. I have high tastes that come from my previous life. I don’t need a Rolex but I enjoy it.  I could easily use a $200.00 folding bike but I prefer my Brompton. My uke is a work of art but a five buck harmonica would get the job done.  I’ve found that by having less I can have the best for my use tools and it all costs less in the long run than the fuel I used to pour endlessly into my SUV.  Not only have I come to terms with the fact that I can’t afford a bigger boat but I’m also beginning to wonder why I need one as large as the one I currently live aboard and sail. Yes she is quite extravagant and much more than I need but I know her well, she is paid for and I love her. I’ve started a new study and am searching for the smallest and best boat on the planet for what I love most, exploring my inland sea, living aboard and dropping in any boatyard I choose for my next mini adventure.

    I don’t just like small boats, I love them and everything they represent. Freedom comes in many forms, choosing the right boat is no easy task.  Old boats usually cost more than much newer ones in the long run.  The same can be said about most things in life. My Brompton wiped out my meager savings account but now almost two years, 2 bike tours and over three thousand miles down the road she has proven to be a very wise buy.  I could sell her for exactly what I paid for her or ride her another 10,000 miles bringing her cost down to about 10 bucks a month.

    It’s true I don’t have anything socked away for retirement but that’s mostly because I retired broke 14 years ago.  I don’t mind working part time here and there and I get to live my life the way I choose now as opposed to having a really nice car and paid for home with a few mill in the bank when I turn 75.  The new boat was worth the chase and in many ways letting her slip through my fingers has reminded me if nothing else that a bird in the hand is always better than two in the bush. My journey into voluntary simplicity continues am I’m rapidy learning that  I actually do have a bit to offer the world through my experiences and trials and errors.

    From the log of Sookie, the doobie passed from hand to hand, as usuall it was passed around me.  I really wished I smoked herb, maybe this will be my year. The conversation was loud and merry, we all debated the merits of boats and designs and what truly is the best boat. The red wine flowed, it was one of those nights that just scream, we’ve all arrived at our final destination, the place most will spend a lifetime searching for, always searching.  In the end we all came up with nothing new but still the wisest words ever spoken.  The best boat is the one that you own…

    Witchy woman

    Tags

    , , , , , , ,

    A late afternoon thunderstorm washes my senses clean. The evil spell of winter has dwindled to nothingness.  Cool cloudy days make me lazy, early mornings, hot coffee and late nights with big red sundowners.  Sookie and I have been in a lovers quarrel but we’ve kissed and made up.  I’m a lover not a fighter so I’ve been giving her the silent treatment while I hide from the weather and shirk my responsibility to love her in good times and bad. Living aboard year round has made my skin thick and my short term memory nearly non existent.

    More packages have arrived, Sookies interior is what I would describe these days as cozy.  There is exactly enough room for one but tonight I will be entertaining. I’ve always preferred a neat and orderly ship but I’m getting used to the anarchy of constantly shifting from zone to zone. For the first time in 9 months Sookie is clean and fresh inside and out and it feels good to have a clean platform to work from. I haven’t unpackaged the new wind vane yet but it’s in the list.

    Today saw lots of hard work and lots of BSing with local boaters, uke jam sessions when I felt like I was losing concentration and a nice long nap under the protective shade of my canopy. I’m tired but not sleepy, a perfect night for wine sampling with lots of snacks, good music and great company.  This is the calm before the storm, I keep reminding myself that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Sorting and shifting through the packages I found a mysterious one, I don’t recall where it came from but written on the side in big black ink are the words, open only in case of dire emergency…

    I’m never sailing again

    Tags

    , , , , , , , ,

    Or getting laid at the rate I’m going.  Sookies v-Berth is a heavenly lair lined with beautiful butternut. Her bed is more comfy than any I’ve ever slept in, the aroma of aromatic cedar always wafting from the hanging locker. Squishy pillows, fluffy blankets and a constant flow of fresh ocean air though her always cracked and giant forehatch, Sookie is a full blown aphrodisiac.  Open the hatch which measures almost 3′ square and you can watch the stars blow by or get a nakebutt tan in the privacy of this little slice of heaven.

    I pulled and chucked the mattress for the new temporary one I have which is even Squishier than the last.  The survey turned up some tabbing that needs to be done in the anchor locker and the foam was a bit moldy.  Once I replace all the ceiling boards that line the hull I’ll pull the trigger on a new custom bed but for the short term a 4″ topper will do.  My mouth was watering with all of that extra storage and now my bedroom is filled to the brim with big heavy boxes all ready to go on an expedition with me.  They keep coming and I keep shoving them in that cavernous hole all the while I still can’t get Sookie down to her LWL.

    I’ve been camping in her quarter berth and her new cushions are spoiling me rotten.  A laminate topped with 2″ of natural foam rubber and they pull me into the dream world within seconds.  For a 22′ boat they are huge and can sleep two with proper spooning but I much prefer the vast and delicious space of my v-berth.

    Taday a package arrived that was so large and heavy I could barely lift it into the boat.  The packaging is a work of art and the size of me.  I’m afraid to open it because I’ll never get it closed again but it just may contain my new tri-sail among other things.

    I’ve pushed Sookies haul out date back again. The plan is simple, put Sookie on mothballs. Fly half way around the world, sail the new boat back to WA and mothball it, sail Sookie back to warm water and viola, endless summer, I get to always have a boat here and another roaming the planet. Well shit, on paper it was genious but in reality I’m a moron, it’s a complete cluster fuck. Then again Every brilliant plan A has a plan B-Z backing it up. I could sell Sookie and have the new boat.  Throw in the towel on the new boat and spend my summer sailing. Chuck all boat projects and ride my bike into the sunset. Shave my head and move back into the real world or just hit post, pour a glass of wine and enjoy living in the present…

    From the log of Sookie – Sex, drugs and rock and roll. Minus the sex, minus the drugs and… Damnit!

    Bay watch

    Tags

    , , , , , , ,

    I put my ukulele down, my fingers are toast.  A glance at my watch tells me I’m almost late for work.  Ten minutes later I’m back on the boat, I’ve been given a reprieve which I need, the weekend was insane.  I watch the guy coming into the slip next to me in a huge powerboat, he’s coming it hot, then his engine quits 40′ and on a t-bone collision course with my new boomkin at full ramming speed. I pause for just one second admiring the fear in his eyes, yes we were that close.  Sprinting around the dock I throw myself between the two boats, his trolling engine roars to life now in full reverse, a man on the bow extends his legs to my boomking I shove with all my strength.  Sookie is slammed against the dock by the force but we keep the two boats from colliding by 1/4 inch.  I’m shaken but just walk away.

    I don’t insure my boat against myself or the weather, it’s against other boats or should I say people who own boats because it’s a rarity that I see any form of seamanship these days.  For him it’s little more than an insurance claim on his plastic boat.  I don’t want an insurance claim, Sookie is my home.  There is no way or any amount of money that can fix a boat back once its crunched.  Sure you can patch it and paint over it but it will never be the same… I get hit by boaters who don’t care all the time.  Last year on this weekend it was in a one mile long bay, I was the only boat anchored out yet I was hit.  People these days just don’t care about or respect anything, most people that is.  Get a bank loan and crash into everyones dream that’s what boating has turned into, yachters and yachting has been killed by easy financing.

    There was no known damage this time but the season hasn’t even started yet.  I look at my fenders, three sizes too large for Sookie and I smile. Its  a battle zone out here.  Everything is overbuilt but within reason on this boat.  All fasteners are one size up, everything has a backing plate and is sealed tight and good for another 25 years.  I’m drilling holes through the deck, a local know it all, or should I say read it all try’s to tell me to over drill my holes, idiotic and promising future deck rot I smile and ignore him.  It will never cease to amaze me how much miss information there is out there, how few people know anything about their boats or how to use or maintain them.

    I go back to my simple project, I don’t like the stainless steel carriage bolts but it was all I could find on the island.  I need 4, 3″ and 4, 3.5″.  When I get a chance I’ll shop for new bronze bolts.  Sookies interior is filled with boxes yet opened, I have no idea what’s in them but there are many more in the mail and many more yet to be ordered, for now I work in circles while I wait for the next piece of the puzzle.  I’m supposed to board a plane for Tahiti in a few weeks, I can’t help but to wonder how I would do or pay for any of this in the middle of the South Pacific. It’s a staggering amount of work to do all the while Sookie will be waiting for my spring return in 2018 if I actually get on the plane.

    Im getting cold feet, second thoughts and rapidly realizing that I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. A second boat isn’t always as delicious as the carrot dangling at the end of the stick promises. The task at hand on Sookie alone is a major undertaking but there is no time constraint or limit, the new boat on the other hand is a time bomb of weather windows, the elements are against me and it’s a very long windward voyage to bring her home all so I can have heat…30 years of cumulative working and dreaming have brought her to me but I’m learning that some dreams are best realized only in the depths of ones mind, it’s good not to have every thing one may desire.

    Sookie is loaded to the hilt with snacks, treats and an endless supply of sundowners. I have beans o pleanty and her new sail bags will arrive within days of her windvane.  Half way through a spring cleaning and giving lots of my crap away but barely touched her exterior list.  I have 22 days till I’m kicked out of here and between the weather and my work schedule I’ve yet to remove, inspect and paint my bowsprite, the one thing that has to be done at the dock. Time is not my friend. I’m reminded of Parkinson’s law, the adage  “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. If I’m not careful with my time and resources, I’ll end up with nothing.

    From the log of Sookie. I’m finding I have far too many loves but not enough love to go around.  If I was a cat this would all be easy enough to accomplish in nine lives but I only have one and like my tired old body this one is mostly used up…

    Building a better Brompton

    Tags

    , , , , , , , ,

    I was up early and ready for my sea to summit ride.  I packed water and a few snacks in my light day pack.  Adding a sweat shirt while sweltering in the tropical stink seemed un natural but I knew all to well that it snows in Hawaii and was unsure of what weather I would get.  As long as I kept moving my body heat would keep me safe.  Of corse every journey I’ve ever taken has thrown me for a loop and freezing rain was one of today’s many lessons learned.  I didn’t make the summit of Mt Haleakala but the ride in general was a success. My little Brompton, was straight out of the box and pure riding perfection.

    A year later I had learned quite a bit about touring on these marvelous bikes.  That’s the thing about bicycle touring, you have all day to contemplate things.  I consider my stock Brompty to be the best of the best but the titanium model keeps calling to me.  With this upgrade and if I lose the rack I can drop almost 5 lbs.  nothing else will change, the six speed with 12% gear reduction is perfect for my body.  I love the fit and feel of my two 16″ wheels and love the people I meet on my “clown bike” as it’s often referred to.

    My tent order has failed twice and I’m beginning to think this is the universes was of telling me to cowboy camp, with a small emergency tarp and ground cloth. My end game is fully self supported touring with just my Brompton T bag but for now the Relevate Designs Pika will be joining me.  It’s absolute perfection on the trail but in transitioning from bike to public transportation it’s one too many things to carry.

    Today I’m taking a break from Sookie to give Brompty a little loving and lashing care, after a bombing ride that is.  I have to mentally prepare for tomorrow, were drilling 8 holes in Sookies deck, the $10,000.00 piece of string continues.

    Size doesn’t matter

    Tags

    , , , , , , ,

    To begin” implies “to search for some kind of ending” – Lin Pardey.  I’m  knee deep into spring cleaning for my upcoming marine survey.  I’m continually shocked at how much I can cram into this little ship, everything is out of eye sight and has its place. I’ve never actually loaded her to her LWL but I’m sure someday I will.  My dream is for an empty BCC to pull up next to me and see if it can pile away all my stuff, I doubt it can.  I fear my grog alone would be a challenge.

    Storage on Sookie is everywhere, under her berths all lockers are beneath the water line and it’s easy to distribute her weight, I usually have a minimum of 1,000 lbs of moveable ballast in the form of water, booze, books, beans and…I tribute this to serveral key factors, the biggest one is that Lyle Hess intentionally designed the boat to be 700lbs light in the lead department. She also has lockers under her deck completely surrounding the boat with the exception of her anchor locker.  This is where I store clothes and Chips and toilet paper, anything light. Lastly here is the garage, it’s far too large, I have my ships batteries wedged in under the aft end of the cockpit and a few other heavy items like fastener boxes and huge barrels of all things stainless steel. She is like Felix’s magic bag of tricks, I can reach in and pull anything out.

    It’s not so much that she is some kind of giant monster, she just doesn’t have all the things most people need that take so much space.  I’m pretty sure she will swallow everything from a Flcka 20, Dana 24 and Nor’sea 27 combined. When the apocalypse hits come find me, we’ll be fine ;).  It is a bit of a puzzle, my bike goes where the engine should be.  My backpacking and cycle touring gear tuck into that spot designated for the head right next to a hundred paper charts and my foulies. And my two moonshine smuggling lockers are, well… that’s none of your damn business.

    Unlike a fin keel where the weight starts at the keel joint and extends to the bottom of the keel, all of Sookies ballast is in the very bottom.  I don’t know if this has anything to do with her motion but I am continually shocked by her pleasant ride.  When the shit hits the fan I’m always waiting for it but it never comes.  Sookie handles like a lady… UM except for the death rolls which absolutely suck ass but a bigger sail budget could help in that department.

    Still, she is a light boat that only displaces 7400 lbs full. There are three schools of thought. People that have never sailed them believe they are some golden chariot based off of all the hype and sensationalism they have read.  Then there are the true blue water sailors who think they are cute coastal cruisers.  There is a third opionion, those of people who have owned and sailed them thousands of miles, we tend to be the maniacs.  By design she was intended for blue water cruising and while I’ve never crossed an ocean in her I wouldn’t hesitate if that was my choice.  For me she is the perfect gunkholer but even more importantly has proven the be a delightful writers lair which is what most of her time is spent as.  Small enough to tuck in anywhere but large enough to point her nose out when all the big boats stay in. The question is can she ever be a real home without the homey festures that her big sister offers, I’ve been living aboard for the better part of six straight years.

    I never have understood the definition of what makes a boat a yacht but I would guess Sookie has her bowsprite through the door.  She always has enough booze and beans to feed a crowd, does everything I ask of her and this year is seeming to have the proud distinction of changing that old acronym  B.O.A.T “break out another thousand” to “break out another ten thousand”, sheesh. I’ve never really looked at Sookie in terms of cost, she is what she is.  When I turn my eye towards her sister who is much younger than her I can’t help but to wonder in terms of cost, not only monitary but in time.  If I had the money I could easily drop a 100K on her by sunset, yes she is a yacht but I’m no yachter…

    From the log of Sookie, I watch a 50’er with two screws and bow and stern thrusters struggle to dock on the end tie in 15 knots of wind with 5 crew members. I was always astonished at how much fun Chloe could have with a fucking stick. Like my ex girlfriend always used to tell me, size doesn’t matter… 😉 or does it???

    Occam’s razor

    Tags

    , , , , , , ,

    My sailmaker has Sookie lust, eveytime we set to work another of her finely fitted appointments catches his eye. There is no other like Sookie, she is one in a million. He’s as bad as me but somehow we get to the task at hand.  A good friend writes “I need the whole ocean to feed my dreams.”  I close my eyes and see him st the helm of his ship, he belongs there. Im content here sitting in my boat, I had the hose out by 8:00am with the I intent on doing something productive when I stumbled across my ukulele, there went half my day.

    I irk people I know I do but I simply don’t care, my intent is to be content which I am more often than not.  Sookies sister is calling to me and this is what I can’t settle from the confines of my massively oversimplified mind.  Why? Why would I possibly want more than I already have.

    People always try and tell me I need a Diesel engine.  For all of my displeasure with all internal combustion engines I love mine deerely.  Call it bragging rights but I love when I sail past other boats that look obviously faster than mine for them to see my outboard up and out of this water, proof that I’m sailing unassisted.  Proof that my little brick just kicked thier ass across the bay.

    My neighbors at the dock are always teasing that I need a larger boat, the truth is I don’t need it, I may at times want one but need has nothing to do with it. Due to the fact that I’ve kept Sookie simple she has enough and then some.  Personal living space has yet to be an issue, for me at least, I can’t speak for the young lasses that have shared my space.

    My sails are so small they almost seem a joke. Small and easy to handle yet large enough that I’ve spent hours on end watching the sheets attached to them strangle my winch wondering at what point that tiny sail will literally rip it from the deck. The wind scares me often, it’s shocking how much power can be derived from it, certainly more than the wimpy 30hp Diesel I’m contemplating adopting.

    Removing Sookies bronze ABI windlass and her 200′ of chain was I think the most difficult decision, one I don’t regret, again simplicity and she sails a hell of a lot better now having removed nearly 300lbs from her bow.  Regardless of what the system is systems piss me off and that’s why you won’t find many on my boat.

    My dad is a bit bent on my cruising direction and the fact that I don’t  carry a life raft or any form of distress signaling device.  It’s true I could die at sea without these things but earning the money to pay for them just may insure that I die of boredom in some damn cubical under a flickering fluorescent light.  Christopher Mc Candles wrote “I don’t like money, it’s makes people cautious” brilliant but also the opposite applies, poverty also makes one conscious, Occam’s razor.

    The islands are exploding, the winter suffrage has been mentally blocked. I have  much to do but find laying around like a lazy dog to be the biggest achievement as of yet today.  A friend pulled up in his new flicka, we don’t know what for sure it is but it’s beautiful beyond compare, maybe it’s an old Norstar. It’s for sure the most distinctive flicka I’ve ever laid eyes on. He bought it for a friend who plans to sail it to the South Pacific, Occam’s razor… the signs are everywhere as is the lure, the constant battle for more at the expense of having less time to use the more.  Occam’s razor, I say it again and again and again…

    Sea of love

    Tags

    , , , , , , ,

    A girl I know sent me these words. “Just today someone asked me if I knew of a poem filled with free winds and small gusts and thin moons that pulled the words easily over the water. Did I know of such a poem? I thought of you standing by the mast, hair blowing, and sent your name.”  I’m expecting company but right now I’m alone with the still of the night.

    A flock of tiny birds fill the rigging of all the boats. Seagulls Perched on every piling, eerily silent as the sun sets to a dead calm, rhythm exits even in the silent places. A lone eagle circles the bay but soon my resident owl will show up to take over the night shift. I’m going to miss this place but something deep inside me is calling to pull my anchor and let the tides carry me to my new home, wherever that is.

    My exit date is etched in stone, I’m almost retired and it feels good.  Freeer yes but not free, the second I clock out for the last time the clock starts ticking backwards until the cruising kitty is depleted.  I’m not sure where I’ll haul Sookie but I need to install her new wind vane if it ever arrives. Too many projects not enough time or money but that’s the nature of this beast. I haven’t said no but I’m starting to waver on oppertunity that has been generously handed to me, it scares me as much as it excites me.

    Sometimes it freaks me out how much I’m attached to Sookie, I talk to her often. Some people believe that boats have a soul, some don’t; I know they do.  My box wine tastes especially good tonight as we gently bob around on a cloud of good music. The ocean never stops moving, she is my blood sister. The tides of my heart rise and fall, sometimes calm others with a tempest of emotion. I’ve been tied down too long but moving is as easy as untying the lines, hoisting my sails and watching the horizon come to me like a well trained puppy. Keep your lantern lit, I’m coming to find you.

    Society, have mercy on me
    I hope you’re not angry if I disagree
    Society, crazy and deep
    I hope you’re not lonely without me – Eddy Vedder

    White squall

    Tags

    , , , , , , , , ,

    The rhythmic swooshing of sandpaper on varnish soothes my mind.  I’ve always been good at simple respetitive tasks.  Golden varnish streaks across bare wood, l often feel I’m alone in this world with such simple pleasures. My bush stokes are never perfect but they are mine, my art, my contribution, my way of showing how much I love these good old boats that have all but fallen from grace.

    I Spent the day with a sailmaker, Sookie is getting a third stitch on all her sails and a third reef in her main.  The staysail is getting one or two Reefs, still undecided and I orederd new sail bags.  I went with linen Coler, it’s one shade darker than Sookies hull and very plain as these boats should be as to not detract from her impossibly perfect lines.

    logic would didctate that I save every single cent right now but nothing going on in my life is logical.  It’s fun and easy to dream of winning the lottery but what happens when you actually do? Will it make your life any better or destroy it.  My every want and dream in the world has been handed to me on a silver plater and while my mouth is saying yes, yes, yes there is this part in the back of my brain saying WTF.  Either way I can’t say no, I don’t want to say no, the challange alone is worthy of a great novel.

    Six years of sailing Sookie and I still have not a single complaint.  Sure she can’t muster the power to drive into a gale and still has no water tank.  It’s true, I’m still using a plastic bucket and cooking on a camp stove.  Her lack of heat sucks but her warm and inviting interior makes this one easily overlooked.  She needs many things which give me a purpose in life, she just may be the greatest boat ever built, I certainly think she is.

    So why? Why am I about to jump a plane and fly half way around the world when I have everything I want in the world floating under my tanned bare feet?  Maybe I will, maybe I won’t.  It’s no longer up to me, I’ve said yes and if it all works out great, if it doesn’t, great.  You know the old saying a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.  Well I have no plans of sailing Sookie out of the PNW but my goal of turning her into the perfect little offshore racer and voyaging yacht is still my number one goal until my future changes.

    The last 6 years have been a monumental struggle for reasons I’m not at liberty to share here, the emotional roller coaster of first losing my wife and then my dog has worn me thin but life goes on.  I’m feeling reborn and ready to move on and start living a little.  I’m not rich but I’m free, free in a way few will ever know.  Free to move half way around the world, dust of my captains credentials and secure a crew of film makers and misfits. I’m also free enough to simply pass on the opportunity and continue on with my own little ship and my simple life.

    The day Sookie arrived in Bellingham a fellow Hess owner said to me ” you have no idea what you have there” I smiled and said yes I do.  My words couldn’t be further from the truth, until you have set out on an open ended voyage on one of these little ships you can never understand how close Lyle Hess came to perfection with this design.  I wouldn’t expect any less from a guy that never sold out to make money, he designed boats he loved, the Falmouth was 52 years into his designing career and built to his own personal specs for the hypothetical what is the perfect yacht for a couple to sail around the world in.

    Her perfection is not measured by the size of her engine or how many berths she has, it’s measured in her pure sailing elements.  She wasn’t designed with an enclosed head or a hot shower but has the perfect spot for a brass lantern within reach of her day berths where I often nap between wood working projects.  Each and every one of her spaces was designed for safe, comefortable sailing.  No she’ll never have a depth sounder or radar, her interior will always smell of hard woods, not Diesel and holding tanks.  She is everything a sailor needs but nothing more.  She is perfection but her sister keeps calling my name, sometimes you just have to experience it all to know not where your headed but where you came from.

    There once was a beggar who sat on a box by the side of the road for many, many years.

    Day in and day out, swarms of strangers would pass him on their way and the beggar did what all beggars do: ask for money.

    One day a traveler was passing through town and the beggar shouted “Please give me some money!”

    The traveler said “Sorry, I don’t have any money to spare, but I am curious about your box.”

    “What about my box?” the beggar replied.

    “Well, what’s in it?”

    The beggar responded, “I don’t know, it’s just an old box I found here that I’ve been sitting on for years.”

    Persistent in his inquiry, the traveler once again asked what was in the box. The beggar replied, “I’ve never looked.” The traveler said “Why not?

    “Because there is nothing there!” the beggar howled back. The traveler said “Well let’s take a look, shall we?”

    Finally, to appease the traveler’s insistence, the beggar split the box open and amazingly, a treasure of gold burst onto the ground. He’d be sitting on it for years and never even knew it.

    And off the traveler went.

    What treasure are you sitting on?

    And what will you do with it?

    Seeking crew, meet me in Papeete

    Tags

    , , , , , , , ,

    The lure of pilot boats, sailing and blue water. I’m not talking crossing oceans, I’m talking blue water.  The kind you can see your toes through and the kind warm and inviting enough to keep you in and out of it all day.  Balmy trade winds, fresh fruit and… The dream is as real as the reoccurring nightmares I have of nearly starving to death on my last trip to the tropics.

    I found this picture while creeping a wooden Falmouth cutter 26 for sale on the east coast, then a glass 26 Hess appeared for sale, one of 9 built, I know of 4 others out there, none of them for sail.  Why look if you aren’t going to buy?  Perhalps I was just listening to my instincts, some inner feeling that forces me to walk away from every pilot boat that crosses my path but still I’m hooked.  Hooked on sailing them, living on them and it goes without saying working on them.

    If I sell everything I own that won’t fit in my backpack I can scrape enough money to fly one way to Papeete mid June.  I’ll arrive flat broke and hungry after 24 hours  of travel by thumb, bus, train, ferry and 4 flights.  Why would I do this? Did Hawaii teach me nothing?  Well all I’m saying is opportunity only knocks once and my destiny is calling me. On a piece of scratch paper I have two lists, pros and cons.  I’ve been staring at it intently for days but have not put a single word on either side.  I’m leaving this one up to the universe. If I’m still aboard Sookie  by the middle of June I guess I’ll know the answer I’ve been seeking my entire adult life.

    I’m scared, really scared and excited, really excited.  Every experience I’ve had up until this point has been preparing me for the next voyage.  The thought of selling Sookie makes me want to throw up. I could just sail her there but then again I could just arrive by plane. Sometimes I think I’m like the dog looking at the reflection of his bone is the water.  He opens his mouth to bite the bigger one and loses both. I have to contain myself, I’m freaking out.

    “There are winds of destiny that blow when we least expect them. Sometimes they gust with the fury of a hurricane, sometimes they barely fan one’s cheek. But the winds cannot be denied, bringing as they often do a future that is impossible to ignore.”
    ― Nicholas Sparks, Message in a Bottle

    Nowhere man

    Tags

    , , , , , , ,

    Sookies dimunitive cabin the cleanest it’s been in years but I keep on with mold patrol, It just feels fresh inside and makes me smile.  I half expect a little mouse mouse to show up but somebody must have moved her cheese. One glass of wine an apple with sharp cheese and a small piece of chocolate, the evenings spoils.  I unplug everything on the boat and crawl into my little cocoon, I’m beat, the wind rocks me to sleep.

    There are no answers but an extreme calm has come over my life.  Memories keep flashing into my mind, years gone by, places, things, people. They are all good and they all make me smile.  I’m starting to realize that I haven’t taken a step back since I was 17.  Always moving foreword, my hands in many baskets, always taking care of something or someone.  The writing is on the wall, I need a break, a sabbatical with nothing to do but exist.  This new slowness feels right and I’m letting it flow.

    The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes.
    —Marcel Proust

    I sold everything for my tiny home and got paid but that’s one thing that doesn’t feel right.  A square bed for the winters, a small heat source, books and light perfect for reading and writing.  Natural by day and the soft amber glow of my lantern by night. I sit on the dock staring at a full moon rising, I’m lost… it’s not a bad thing, it’s just where I am. I need change and change is a good thing.  Bare feet, hot summer days, a cold stream and time, lots of time to ponder, space to wander…

    To the man who only has a hammer, everything he encounters begins to look like a nail.
    —Abraham Maslow

    Messing about in boats

    Tags

    , , , , , ,

    In my eyes pilot cutters, hookers and workboats are the most beautiful of all yachts.  I silently rung in the New Years alone and with it entered into my 30th year on the water front.  I’ve been fortunate enough in those years to skipper all manor of boats from my little Potter 15 to 12 meter AC yachts. While being mentored by one of the top racers of the time a chance meeting with a salt crusted voyager changed everything my young eyes saw when it came to beauty of sail.

    I found this while researching a 26′ wooden Falmouth cutter, perfection

    Tan bark sails, perfectly oiled and varnished teak, full bodied hulls, plum bows and long water lines. There is no right or wrong way when it comes to boating but to me comparing a modern design to those of the old days when sails drove our boats is like comparing a bottle of Jack Tar Cab to a bottle of bud light. I understand the appeal of huge engines, massive interiors and boats without a splinter of wood but they just don’t meet my needs.  Its the love, commitment and more often than not the frustration of these old bags that form the bond between a sailor and his ship.

    Wide decks, cozy cabins, the rich aroma of teak.  These are a few of the things that match my calloused and weathered hands. The smell of burning surfer triggers something magical in my brain as the soft warm glow of my kerosene lantern sets the mood worthy of a blood red cab and loaf of fresh bread. I’ll take a tiller over a wheel. All my halliards terminate at the mast.  A bucket for a toilet and a lead line for depth have never failed me. Marlin spikes and shackle keys hang within easy grasp.  The bowsprite and staysail are two of the most traditional elements you will find on a yacht and now considered to be the most modern tools for sail performance.

    It all starts with a brilliant design, a quality build and simple yet efficient sail plan. I prefer a deck stepped mast with a solid post beneath it.  Balsa cored decks are great for saving money in construction but good old hard wood laminate is my preference.  A stern hung rudder is not only beautiful but reliable, virtually maintenece free and easy to remove in or out of the water.  Outboard hull mounted chainplates are a must as are big working bits and dual purpose cleats. Sookie carries the tall rig preferred by her designer Lyle Hess, a rudder larger than most 40’ers and no inboard engine.  I can fully appreciate the convienience of a good inboard diesel but I’ll stick with a skulling oar and kicker for the occasional times when there isn’t enough wind to keep the boat moving.

    I love all sailboats, large and small, plastic, wood and metal. It isn’t that I think any boat or design is particularly better than the other, perhalps practical is a better word. achieving my theoretical hull speed, my hand gently nudging the tiller, working into a small cove under sail.  Perfection and beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  I think Sookie is the finest boat on the planet when it comes to all these charicteristics although I could easily have said that about all of the boats I’ve owned over the years. Time on the water has been my greatest teacher. I’ve taken a step back from my life, my plans and my someday dreams to regroup.  Lately I’ve been feeling like a slave to the almighty dollar and while I can fully appreciate its value I know deep inside of me there is a better way.

    I had been living in my car far too long, traveling and exploring marinas from Mexico and slowly working north towards Alaska.  Boat ownership was the last thing on my mind, I was burned out and wanting nothing more than to crew on other people’s boats.  To discover and appreciate the last of a dying breed, to become one with the world of classic wooden boats. I love crewing, cooking aboard, making coffee for crew undersail.  Taking my turn at the helm of a boat I have no responsibility in maintaining and walking away at the end of a long day on the water wanting more but knowing I was blessed to have what I did.

    In 1995 I sold my yacht photography buisiness, it wasn’t that I was burned out on boats or photography back then, it was just that the the whole industry was boring me.  I set off to sail the South Pacific  and find all those old elusive trade schooners.  Over the last few years I’ve noticed a huge surge in interest for wooden boat restoration, classic yachts are still one in a million but they are out here. If you happen to own a Vertue and sail her locally in the Salish I’d love to chat and an opportunity to sail and photograph her for a new writing project I’m muddling through although I’ll jump at any opportunity to sail on your wooden boat regardless of design.

    From the log of Sookie Row row row your boat, gently down the stream. This surely was written by a great sailor, one who lived life according to the wind and tides.

    I hate boats!

    Tags

    , , , , , , , , , ,

    The Pacific Northwest is literally killing Sookie.  It was bound to happen and today I finally woke up, dug my heels in and started my spring outfitting.  I’m shocked by the destruction from the jet fuel, two dozen more gel coat cracks have appeared and my wood is looking like miserable hell.  It’s almost like starting the race over but from ten miles behind the starting line.  I’ve been doing this far too long to be bummed about the whole of it.  Its far easier to dig into my winter stash, pull a stack of C-notes and dive in. Today the local pirates, um chandlery gave me 5 gold stars and greedily took my winter in the tropics away.

    This is what it feels like when every thing is going your way

    The only thing I can get on the radio is sports, I fucking hate sports.  I can’t imagine how so many people waste so much of thier time watching and listening to sports, I’d rather shave my ass with a dull cheese grater.  I walk to the shower, the stream of hot water washes the salty brine from my tired body, it all ends too soon.  I return from what was a clean and shining boat.  In less than twenty minutes it’s covered with bird shit, it looks like it hasn’t been cleaned all winter.  I’ve been dealing with this daily.  This was the most brutal and isolating winter of my life, spring sailing was the only thing that got me through, now it looks like I’ll be working for an eternity to make this right.  Another summer of my life I’ll never get back, another year of…

    This is what the world feels like today.

    Winters are atrocious here, my cabin sole is buckling from the constant wet. The ceiling boards lining the hull in my V berth have completely buckled.  Black mold grows faster than I can keep up with, I wake up every day coughing up a lung, wet dank, dark and crewel, that’s how I’d describe winters aboard around here.  Add another 5k in costs to the list.  Whatever, it is what it is.  I spent the day scrubbing and flushing my bilges from stem to stern.  I was hoping my anchor line would last another year but a very close inspection says add new line to the list, the top of the list.  I have 42 days till I get kicked out of here and far too many decisions to make. My bosprite needs to be pulled inspected and painted before I leave the dock.  This is better done in the yard but I don’t have time if I want to ride south in September.  By that time of year every day counts with winter riding me like a monkey on my back.

    With one email I sell all the supplies I’ve been gathering for my tiny home, if I actually get paid I’ll make a few hundred bucks in profit. The tiny home is scratched for now, the plane is scratched for now, Sookie is always my priority.  If it sounds like I’ve been necgleting Sookie I haven’t she is always the most loved and maintained yacht wherever she goes.  Old boats and bad climates is what is, it never stops. The northern climates literally eat your boat alive, the winters swallow your soul whole.

    I’ve got the best fiberglass guy in the world in Bellingham but need to have the boat in Port Townsend for the winter to take care of all the wood and rigging projects. I’m an hours work away from completing the boom fix and can sail anywhere but work might be more easily found here and there is no chance of moorage in either Bellingham or Port Townsend which would mean pulling Sookie and no sailing.

    I had asked a young sailing couple to sail south with me in August, now I’m thinking I’m better off staying here where I know everybody, have all the tools I could possibly need at my beck and call and a network of knowledgeable sailors to share my scotch and join me in my thinking chair for the have to do, should do and would like to do lists.  I’m exhausted, the sun has set and tonight my biggest choice is do I pull a glass of wine from my secret stash or the box.

    From the log of Sookie, one step foreward two steps back.  As much as all of this sucks it beats the shit out of sitting in my cubicle, surfing YouTube and counting the days of my twenty year plan. Today I erased my entire future and put all my eggs in one basket, maybe I should have done this Twenty years ago.

    The minimalist traveler

    Tags

    , , , , , , , ,

    To say that I live a minimalist life on Sookie would be a bit of an overstatement, simple yes, minimalist no.  I could probably raise 15k if I sold all the crap I have on this boat.  Travel and bike touring is a different story. My first Brompton tour was on a whim, half hazard and zero planning went into it.  I landed after dark in Maui to a damn near hurricane and torrential down pour.  I would wake up with less than $400.00 in my pocket and no return ticket.  My heart was raging with pain and I needed some serious living, I got it.

    Getting all my ducks in a row

    That trip would have been more successful had I brought nothing but the shirt on my back, a three ounce daypack for snacks and a hammock.  My pack was way too heavy and I literally used less than 10 percent of the contents.  I just took what I had and left.  The set up was less than ideal and most days were spent in stages. The early mornings were for making art in the sand and nibbling on coconut.  I’d spend a few hours searching for the perfect stealth camp and ditch my gear for the day.  Usually by 10:00 am it was just me and Brompty out exploring, always searching for the next day’s camp area based on my days findings. Dark came early and fast, I’d be in bed by 8:00 with a tin cup of wine, it was always warm enough to sleep naked.

    This set up was less than ideal but got the job done, I spent less than 50 bucks preparing for this trip.

    I nearly starved to death on that trip but learned as much about touring on a Brompton as I did about myself.  My tent was useless against the elements but as small as it was it held me, the bike and all my crap. My main staple was coconuts so I never has to carry too much in the way of food and most of my dumpster diving treasures were eaten on the spot.  I did save one can of beef for my thanksgiving dinner which I shared with a local kitty I wanted to adopt.  I was more than ready to leave the islands when I finally had an opportunity and regretted leaving the second the plane touched down in a frozen land.

    This tent held in more water than it held out I literally almost drowned in it one night

    9 months later I was back out on the Brompton, on the road and while I still brought way too much crap the second time around was much freer, and with my better, lighter set up it was much more fun as I wasn’t always backtracking to find my crap.  My daily mileages averaged 50 give or take but sub 40 days gave me the most latitude for side exploring.  I didn’t have any way go gauge my day to day runs other than the very old guide book I carried but I would guess an easy 20 additional miles a day were spent exploring side roads, these side journeys were one of the best parts of the trip.

    Taken on IPhone with a bit of heat stroke after 25 miles of hot tropical sun and headwinds, day one

    Certain pieces of gear like my DSLR, ukulele and way too much in the way of just in case stuff turned out to be more of a burden than a boon.  Still, most of the cyclists thought I was bat shit crazy carrying so little gear.  If my budget was different I’d buy a titanium Brompty with no rear rack which would save me over five lbs.  in addition to that my load on the next tour will be 10lbs lighter.  My iPhone 4 worked in Hawaii, it was all I had.  I’m thinking about 5se for the next trip as they are cheap and have a better camera, im pretty sure the DSLR and iPad will not be coming.  It’s hard to not carry a real camera as the images it produces are very important to me but the weight, space and complexity are a nightmare as is the risk of theft or damage.

    My second tour would have much more adverse conditions but also top end gear for the most part

    The blog is too much effort for the minimal return so it will be all but abandoned on my next trip and the few posts I do put up will be easy enough with a smart phone.  I’m also leaving all my extra warm clothes behind and potentially my cooking gear but more about that later.  I’ve added a gear button to the top of this page where I will very slowly add all of the contents for my next journey.

    This stove works well enough but was expensive. Advertised at 3 ounces it’s useless in any breeze without the heavy windscreen not included. I spent a fortune on a ti pot that I never used save to boil water. It’s also an awkward shape to pack in my small bag

    For me bicycle touring is about a very slow exploration with minimal distractions. The Brompton is part of the genious of the journey and makes friends every step of the way, my complete lack of anything helps to make the cycling more enjoyable and a lot less work in camp.  I’m always up before the sun, shivering and attempting to make hot coffee to compliment a few pieces of fruit and my morning stretching session.  I’m on the road within 15 minutes of the rising sun as that’s where I prefer to be.

    Taken the last day of my ride, everything I carried is pictured here minus the uke I dropped off. My tent blew up the previous night and split wide open drenching my down bag, almost froze to death

    Today was set to be my first short tour of the year but I got jacked out of it.  Either way, the season for both bikes and boats is at hand.  A year from today I fully expect Sookie to be ready to point her bow anywhere in the world but Brompty is already there.  Now that my boat budget is busted I’ve pulled out the envelope with bike penned on the side.  It has $300.00 in it and that is more than enough to add the last few articles that I killed on my last journey.

    “If your not cold while wearing everything you own you brought too much stuff” unknown but the truest words ever spoken of minimalist travel. 

    I could tell you but then I would have to kill you

    Tags

    , , , , , , ,

    There is a price we pay for freedom and sometimes freedom is that price. Winter has done me in time wise, the ticking clock has me wondering if it’s time to throw in the towel for this year, re group and start the process all over again at a later date. I love a good challange but I’m on the line and ready to back out.

    If I put every ounce of my effort, every minute of my spare time and every last dollar I posses and earn in the coming months I have a chance of breaking free and a potential residual income to support my freedom.  It’s six ways this, half a dozen the other.  If I fail I’m trapped on the boat for another winter in a merciless and hostile environment.  This past winter took its toll and I don’t think I can take another. Desperation is the best of motivators but change is the best desperation eraser.

    I could call it off now, work the summer and continue to install all my new gear with a few good months for sea trials.  Heading out on Brompty September first is always a very exciting option and one that would wind my way south to warmer climates but again find me broke with a 10 page list of must haves for Sookie in the spring. My commitment level to either of these options is as high as it is low.  I’m feeling lost, burned out, tired and fairly unmotivated.

    Brompty sits collecting dust, Sookie sits patiently waiting for her spring outfitting, and the clock of time is backspinning at an alarming rate.  It’s been exactly 2 years since I set off on my last long cruise on the boat. I still deal with daily bouts of depression over the loss of Chloe and even though I have every option on the planet, I can’t seem to commit to a single one of them.  I’m so sick of being cold but it’s the very nature of why this is the most magical place on earth.

    “Until the lions learn to write every story will glorify the hunter.” – African proverb

    Overkill

    Tags

    , , , , , , , , ,

    “look at those girly chain plates” I poke as I’m helping a friend measure for new cruising sails.  His boat weighs over 40,000 lbs and his chain plates are the same thickness as Sookies.  None of this matters but it’s fun to tease. Back on Sookie I’m hitting it hard. Tomorrow is opening day, a day I usually spend paying my last coat of varnish for the season.  This year has been so horrible I’m just getting started today.

    I bent Sookies main back on today, I’m still working in her boom but I couldn’t stand one more day with bare spars.  I need to add a third reef point and also a third stitch to all of her sails which I’m slowly coming to the realization will be with me for quite some time.  Her total sail inventory is main, Yankee, staysail, storm jib and cruising chute.  All my sails need a bit of love but they are all in great condition for a person on a small budget.

    I took measurements for my new sun awning and jib bags.  Pulled tool bags, rigging bags, line bags, all my fastener bins and stared to prepare this boat to sail.  I’m not shooting for day sailing but I will.  I’m not shooting for gunkholing but I will.  I’m getting Sookie ready to fly to the moon.

    Yes 1/4 backing plates through a section of deck that is over an inch thick is overkill but my life depends on these baby’s keeping me on board.  Every single addition to Sookie and there have been many have this same and completely insane level of finish.  Upsizing to 1/4 inch rigging only added 11lbs to the entire system but now each fitting is strong enough to lift the entire boat out of the water as is each of the cleats I’ve added.  New chainplates will be stronger yet and prettier although I’m still torn between bronze and titanium.

    Now that’s a flat sail, I’ve wished for a third reef on more than one occasion.  My staysail will get two sets and then I can sell my storm jib, when you live on a 22′ sailboat every inch of storage counts.  The days are long, the nights quiet and new sailors are starting to swing through on their way north, I truly hope to follow in their wake but right now all my attention is on how to navigate solo with my shit eyes, I’ve actually contemplated a 5″ chart plotter but that’s just crazy talk.

    I love the quiet of night, time to pull the logbook and remind myself not only how far I’ve gone but how far I’ve come.  Today was one of those days that make the bitter winter nights worth it all.  I never feel alone or lonely but when I start to get Sookie all dressed up and ready to go I can’t help but to wonder if all of this is better shared.

    This lovely pocket cruiser is owned by a young sailorette on her way north.  I met both her and her husband earlier this year, both good people, sailors and touring cyclists, they have 60 days off and a fine boat to chase the wild of the north.  I’m not the only one out here with multiple loves but on days like today I’m equally pulled between my bike and Sookie.

    From the log of Sookie, I write  a bunch of private numbers in my log, lat and long if you must know but this journal entry is very private and my next personal goal…

    Fish lips

    Tags

    , , , , , , ,

    It seems a bit idiotic to have a perfectly good boat but to be chasing the hustle and bustle of inter-island travel on the ferry system. Sookie is still winterized, taken apart and in general a complete shambles but that is about to change. Well, at least head in the right direction.

    Any day now her bow Sprite is getting pulled for inspection and paint. The new boom is not coming along well, looks like I may have to do this one on my own as all the manufactures are putting out amazingly strong and beautiful booms at a very reasonable price but that would completely ruin Sookie. For now I’m going to rebuild my frail gooseneck again and pray it holds together till I can create a boom worthy of putting on my fine little ship. Making one out of wood is easy enough but I already have enough to maintain so Ive started shopping for a used mast with the right proportions that will be cut down and powder coated to match what was just a few years ago a freshly painted mast section. If I had a million dollars I’d replace that also with a tapered mast for both strength, beauty and a bit of weight savings. Boat restoration can be almost as volatile as drug addiction at times.

    Either way I’m hoping to bend the main back on this week, service my engine if I can find a outboard stand otherwise I’ll slap one together with 2×4’s and I need to schedule a haul out to install the new windvane once I have completely rebuilt it. All fun projects but today I’m playing tourist and chilling on the ferry with a black cup of coffee on my way to pick up my new cushions.

    The money dance continues, I’m hoping to have all the stove parts and new water tank parts on the boat by June first, even if they aren’t installed it will give me something to do during the lazy windless afternoons of spring and everything can be done with a simple hand drill, add that one to the list. The real water tank and new cabin sole won’t come yet but a 6 gallon installed tank under the companionway will give me a real faucet for the first time in six years and clear my galley counter. With this and 4 portable 5 gallon tanks I have enough water all out of eye sight to cruise anywhere from here to Glacier Bay without a worry in the world. I have an additional four 5 gallon tanks and could add two to the cockpit if necessary giving me a total of 55 gallons of water all of it mostly out of the way. Everything on a small boat is like a puzzle, I can’t image how wonderful my real tank will be but I’m a patient man.

    Running north though the Straights of Georgia was the wrong place to realize I forgot to add a preventer but it was easy to jury rig and my new one will cost about 25 bucks, be simple and very efficient, another thing on today’s shopping list in the big city of Friday Harbor I love how if you time it right it’s down wind all the way to Alaska and downwind all the way home, just one of the many reasons I love it here so much.

    I look out the window at  Shaw island, last time I was here we were buried in a blizzard of snow, where does the time go. I arrive in Friday Harbor with a long list and a pocket full of money. Going home I have a pile of sailors gold and empty pockets but it’s the only way when your trying to do this stuff on minimalist budget. Another week of lentils and onions but now I have a killer bottle of habanero and lots of fresh spices to fancy it up a bit. It was hard being back in Friday Harbor, so many memories and everybody asking about Chloe, she was loved by all. I walked up the steep razor sharp ramp and wondered how many times I carried her up and down that horrible thing, I feel my time growing short in this part of the islands…

    The days of my life are slow, boring and predictable, just how I like them. Fall will be here all to soon but for now it’s one thing at a time, working in circles around my spring varnish and paint and lots of lazy afternoon naps after a mid day cool beer pulled from the bilge. It’s Island time kids, climb aboard your spaceship and come find me, I’ll cook you an average meal, pour a fresh glass of wine from my box and do my best to entertain you in this little place we call the Islands…

    From the log of Sookie Note to self, don’t walk into the county office with your sailors knife on. You’d of thought I was wearing a bomb vest, what has happened to this world???

    My last blog post

    Tags

    , , , , , , , , ,

    Who are we kidding, I couldn’t stop now if I wanted to, the gauntlet has been set.  We don’t choose our boats, they choose us, Sookie certainly choose me. Despite the thousands of unloved boats littering the planet there are still a crazy few who love their boats and who are loved by their boats. Let’s face it, it shows. How we care for our boats is a reflection of how we respect and care for all things that matter in life.  Like the love of a good woman a well loved boat will keep you safe, she will shelter you and carry you through the storms and the tests that life throws your way, commitment is something few in this world will ever learn or know the power of.

    I just ended another 14 hour day in the bar, by 7:00AM I told my company was quitting, at 10:00AM didn’t have a chance to say goodbye to a stranger who feels more like a friend, and at 5:20 I felt the pangs of loosing what I never had. I clocked out at 10:00PM bought a friend a beer and another friend bought me one. But those are just bullet points. I stared into her eyes welled up with tears, I know her pain all to well but I couldn’t say a word, I just listened helplessly . She mentioned wanting to sail away to Baja, I bit my lip. I’m 600 years older than her, have nothing to offer but a piece of pocket link, a half finished boat and a button. Her heart has been shattered to pieces I don’t know how to pick them up and help her piece them back together.

    I just want go sailing with a friend, nothing but two kindred spirits exploring in small leaps and bounds,  I could have done a thousand things but I didn’t, she appeared and disappeared with the suddenness of a broken shoe lace. Fuck it life goes on, I’m headed to Port Townsend the long way, I have friends I need to sail with, to drink with and boats to inspect, boats my hands have changed, boats that are as much a part of me as they are their of thier owners.

    Sookie is too small, too old, too simple and flawed in as many ways as I am which is what makes her so special to me. The hands that have contributed to her, Roger Olsen built her hull and deck, a man I’ve never met finished her out, Larry Pardey deigned and built her cranz iron, Mike Anderson designed  and built all her finer fittings. I rebuilt her mast, I literally took her apart and put her back together only better, a handful of friends and sailors have helped in the process and I’m saving the glory of drilling the last 8 holes in her deck for my big bro who has lived on her, sailed on her and contributed greatly to her moveable ballast, wine., it takes a village to raise a child and to build a proper boat.

    Im alone tonight but not lonely, my life is far to complete to ever believe those feelings that occasionally try to break through. The universe has been slam-dunking good people into my life, she has always been good to me and hard on me.  I guess what I’m saying is fuck yeah, let’s go sailing…

    From the log of Sookie.  Let’s get down to brass tacks, my time is worth more than your money…

    Take this job and shove it

    Tags

    , , , , , , ,

    I was more than a little shocked to hear the words coming out of my mouth.  Hearing them both in reality and in my brain was sort of like an omen. My life is pretty cush and I could stay here forever and chill but once again as I get to comefortable I’m reminded how little my life’s units are really worth when it comes to employment.

    It had been an incredibly long week and quite a rewarding one in so many ways.  I had more or less come to the conclusion that sucking it up for the summer would earn enough freedom chips for a nice winter bike tour but then what? I sure as hell don’t want to enter into a potential cycle of working the tourist season, I’m far too old for this shit.  Without crew sailing would be a lonely boring afair.  I could store the boat and have an amazing summer of bike touring but that would lead right back to another winter on the boat.  What about… I scanned my brain till it hurt wrote a few notes in my log book and put it to rest for the night.

    Perhaps  it was a 14 hour day of bartending that had my brain scrambled but when talking with one of the visiting sailors the words slipped right out and as I heard them I wondered if they were my only real choice. I’m usually the most laid back guy in the room but some things just get to me and this was going to be one of those weeks.  The easy way forward is just, well never mind, I hate talking about what I’m going to do as opposed to what I am doing, let’s just say my priorities are changing faster than the weather around here.

    The month of August is etched into my brain, I’m not sure why as July seems an all together better month but… The words totally unprepared could describe every endeavor I’ve set out on in the life but somehow now more than ever even even with a lifetime of travel under my belt they seem to fit today like a glove. By the light of my lantern I make a list of all the stupid shit I’ve done in my life, it’s a long list and takes all night.  Have I learned anything, or nothing? I ponder it all night; really, there is only one way to find out.  The words penned into the cover of my journal, every journey begins with a single step. For the first time in my life I’m feeling a bit uneasy, maybe I have learned. Thing or two.

    From the log of Sookie. All work and no play make stormy a dull boy. All work and no play make stormy a dull boy. All work and no play make stormy a dull boy. All work and no play make stormy a dull boy. All work and no play make stormy a dull boy. All work and no play make stormy a dull boy. All work and no play make stormy a dull boy. All work and no play make stormy a dull boy. All work and no play make stormy a dull boy. All work and no play make stormy a dull boy. All work and no play make stormy a dull boy. All work and no play make stormy a dull boy. All work and no play make stormy a dull boy. All work and no play make stormy a dull boy. All work and no play make stormy a dull boy. All work and no play make stormy a dull boy. All work and no play make stormy a dull boy. All work and no play make stormy a dull boy. All work and no play make stormy a dull boy. All work and no play make stormy a dull boy. All work and no play make stormy a dull boy. All work and no play make stormy a dull boy. All work and no play make stormy a dull boy. All work and no play make stormy a dull boy.

    Dumpster diving

    Tags

    , , , , , , , ,

    I pull the contents from my pocket, two crisp dollar bills, twenty some odd cents a piece of Pocket lint and a button.  I’m not sure where the button came from but certainly it’s a sign from the gods.  A windfall of cash came my way this week proving that not only can writers make money but sometimes they can make good money.  Like the sands of time through an hourglass it’s all slipped through my fingers…

    The glass half empty crowd will see this as a foolish expenditure of resources but the glass half full type like me, well; I feel like the richest man in Babylon. I think I have enough food on the boat to last till the end of September, my new windvane parts are in the mail or at least being lovingly packaged and all my ducks are almost in a row.  If I can complete the whole boom gallows I’ll actually be able to have a sun and rain awning under sail. I’m not a fan of not seeing my main but there are times when you just need protection.  I still dream about a Iverson Dodger but today it’s only a dream.

    For the life of me I can’t figure out how I’m still alive having been more or less unemployed for the better part of the last 14 years but it’s been more of a dream than a nightmare as far as I’m concerned. I’m beginning to think this writing and photography hobby of mine might have a future in it for me.  It’s not that I think I’m a better writer or photographer than anybody but being there is 90% of the battle and I’m living on the front lines.  I’m sure there are a thousand better ways to do it but I found diving in headfirst worked best for me.  I have so much more to write about but an email from a old friend just popped through and…

    “Every dream has a process and a price tag. Those who embrace the process and pay the price, live the dream. Those who don’t, just dream.” Unknown 

    48 north

    Tags

    , , , , , , , , , ,

    The sun is setting on another perfect day somewhere but here it’s just rising.  My life is a product of its design and it’s almost all mine. In six weeks I get kicked out of the marina for the summer, a good thing in my book.  I pour a pinch of whiskey in my coffee and survey my surroundings, I’m the only human in the marina. My life is stretched, my constant drive for financial freedom has taken its toll on me.  I package up all of my project books except  for Sookies log book.  I flip through the pages, they are far better than any book I have read but unfinished.

    Everything in this picture has been replaced, all the wood is new, the ABI blocks, the cleats, the motor, the haws holes, pad eyes, everything…

    The morning was spent going round and round on my new anchor rode, another year of 1/2″ by 300′ of three strand with 30′ of 5/16 chain. I’ve been staying on top of my boat bills but this month has been a real killer, the joys of owning a traditional sailboat.  I’m still working on the boom design but it won’t be from Le Feill… if I can’t pull it off by the end of the month I’ll push it to fall, Sookies going to Port Townsend or Bellingham for the winter but I haven’t flipped that coin yet. Water tanks, stove, restitch all my sails till the new ones can be cut, cushions, lighting, solar, it never ends.

    I stop everything, crawl into my quarter berth and take a nap.  The stainless steel backing plates will be here by the middle of the week which means I’ve got lots to do. When I replaced Sookies standing rigging my budget fell short so I rebuilt her lowers instead of replacing them, their done.  Add new lowers and inner and fixed backs to the list, six weeks, shit. I haven’t even begun her annual maintence but Im almost ready to start.  At some point I have to pull Sookies pintles and gudgeons which means another gallon of bottom paint and through hulls, add that to list also right next to lifelines and boom vang and after send watch to Switzerland for cleaning.

    My electrical panel is failing rapidly as are all the switches to my light fixtures.  Lots of gel coat work also, all those tiny cracks in the corners are growing fast up here form all the moisture, the longer I wait the more it will cost.  All the cover boards need to be re cocked as do the bullworks.  I plan my day’s and the hours of the day around the weather.   You can’t push it, these things can’t be rushed.  Properly maintaining a boat like Sookie is easy but every season I’ve pushed projects back so I could sail and it’s all caught up to me. Oops, dingy pump and oars, flares, my Herschoff is close but I don’t have time to get it, maybe that should be my priority.  A quick pb&j with a big glass of water and I’m off to find where I stored my varnish, paint, brushes, sand paper, steel and glass polish, it’s all here somewhere.

    A package arrives is the mail, it says peanuts but it’s a new down poofy, an early b-day gift from my big bro and my now most prized possesion.  It’s blue and squishy and warm and crazy light, perfect for travel, perfect for PNW spring sundowners and perfect for bike touring.  My taxes are paid, my slip rent is payed it’s all payed.  16 years ago, standing in my office with my face pressed against the glass dreaming of a better life as the snow fell.  Face shaved, hair cut neat and combed wardrobe from the cover of GQ.  All I wanted was to live on a small boat, to live a slow life attached to an island to have time to sip my coffee and ponder life.  I traded my leather attaché for a canvas tool bucket.  My gold watch for a steel one and my fancy leather shoes for dirty bare feet.

    The  boat  smells of fresh teak, stinky boy and black coffee.  My feet are filthy, my hair is sweaty and covered in saw dust, my hands dark with grease and sealant.  I should be doing many things right now but I think a glass of whiskey with the sunset and the realization that dreams can come true but they won’t come looking for you. Sixteen years ago I had a dream and made it happen, there is a new dream in the making but just like everything in my life it can’t be rushed…

    My new red G-string

    Tags

    , , , , , , , , , ,

    I look down the long road ahead and can’t help but to wonder if this is going to kill me.  My eyes opened wide a full hour before my 6:00 alarm.  I feel like shit, I’m so comfy and snuggled up I try and close my eyes and go back to sleep. It’s futal, I pull myself from my warm fluffy cocoon, my back hurts so badly that I hunch over like a caveman.

    Coffee black, a huge glass of lemon water and morning news. I stretch and breath, in the corner I spy my pink running socks, I was packing my bags last night and now there they are calling to me. I find it odd that having spent the better part of my life as an ultra endurance athlete that I can’t even remember the last time I ran. It was probably to the liqour store for a six pack and ciggies trying to beat the winter early closing hours, or maybe running from the sergeants in Hawaii as they chased me into the jungle, whenever it was it certainly wasn’t for fun.

    I pull out my ukulele and try to avoid the inevitable.  Yesterday I snapped my G string and after replacing it with a new wound low G I accidentally clipped my C string while trimming my G and replaced it with the only one I had, A white one, its stiff and unnatural.  I pluck a new tune I’m working on but my brain isn’t there, it’s in my running shoes.  The morning is quiet, cloudy and humid with just a slight chill.  This could kill me so I put on my Sunday’s best running clothes just in case they find my stiff corpse on the side of the road.

    I walk slowly to the restroom, wash my face, scrub my hands extra well, stretch, I’m doing everything in my power to prolong the pain.  It doesn’t take long to find my stride, my tired rumply body glides down the side of the road.  Even on this quiet morning the exhaust of left wing wackos driving their Subarus with bumper stickers that say keep America green piss me off to no end.  I know all these people, they complain about the state of the world non stop while shoveling piles of red meat down their throats, buying everything from China and those damn cars, they think somehow they are saving the environmentment and have all the bumper stickers in the world to prove it.

    I fucking hate cars, the noise, the stink, they are everywhere. God forbid these Subaru pilots ever feel the cold or the burn of human power, or take a little time out for themselfs to simply slow down and walk somewhere. No fucking way, these bumper sticker protesters are convinced that a their Subarus will save the planet, stop climate change and free Tibet, oh wait, what… I miss the mountains where I could run for six straight hours and not cross paths with anything other than a deer, or bear, or lion.  Everything out there makes sense, nothing In society makes sense to me. I keep running, there is a tiny barrier between me and the cool of the morning,, I strip my jumper and keep on down the road, I’m in my groove.

    23 munites amd I’m back at the boat, I feel like I’ve just run a marathon.  I feel good, endorphins flowing, my head clear and back to the dock where I’m safe from all the traffic on this little island.  I ponder this blog, why do I even write it, I’m ruining people’s life’s, you can read the words look at the pictures and they might even make you feel good, those little endorphins of hope but is that a good thing.  You can read about it but you can never feel it.  Not how hard my 23 minute run was. Not what it’s like to wake up at 200 am to 10 degree temperatures and 60 mile per hour gusts.  You can’t feel the cold of setting extra lines in these conditions.  You can never feel how hungry I was when I was literally starving to death in Hawaii or how good it felt to share my tiny meals with my adopted kitty.  You can’t feel the adrenaline of almost being talken out head on by a truck doing 70 pulling a 40′ trailer and trying to pass a car at the near expense of your life.  Or what it feels like to be lost in the dark on a lee shore while the wind is over powering you boat, these feeling are real.  These feeling prevent cancer, premature aging and make our minds strong and capable of more. Outside is where we are meant to be, cold, tired hungry, free. My coffee is empty, it’s time to go, I have to ride my bike to the ferry to meet a person I’m selling some shit to, then it’s back to the resort to play bartender to a pile of unhappy, stressed out tourists who don’t know how to leave the city behind and I wonder to myself, do I…

    The 80’s called, they want their shorts back

    Tags

    , , , , , , , ,

    When I returned from my bike tour just a few months ago I had 2% body fat and was fit enough to climb Mt Everest. Winter has crushed me and my 30″ waist is now more like a 33, front butt and back fat included.  Thanks to the joys of eBay I’ve found these relics that went out of style in the late 80’s and yes they are that short.

    Thats the great thing about being a Gen-X pre hipster, dirt bag drop out, I actually owned these things when they were in style if that’s even possible and yes I couldn’t fucking care less what anyone thinks about me and I’m going to rock these things like an 80’s hair band. When I can actually fit into them that is… yes, that’s right, yet another reason I am single, short shorts, a daddy belly, hair that hasnt seen a brush, shampoo or scissors in over a year and a half and… I fear the 80’s might want their hair back too.

    Spring has exploded here but my pasty white skin still resembles the color of a zombie rather than a bronzed Bay Watch life guard. Um yeah, among other things I’m a life guard for the summer, I’m pretty sure I’ll take as many jobs as I’m offered because I have a date with Bali and my continued search for treasure and head huntreses at the end of the summer.  I’ve been too careless and need to restock the kitty for my next travel disaster.

    PS For all you judemenatal cubicle dwellers who are bent because I’m not living the life you wish you were, here is a bit of spring gold to keep you warm at night… ;)~

    The death rolls

    Tags

    , , , , , , , , ,

    The death rolls are the most annoying part of sailing to me.  Take steep breaking short period swells and a low aspect keel with a 21′ water line and your in for the ride of your life. Looking back through the years I wonder how I ever sailed this boat without lifelines. The only thing to hold onto is her tiller and with no combing I always wonder if I’m literally going to be hurled into the sea when we find these conditions. My $10,000.00 piece of string is coming along well.

    For all the days that I feel like I’ll never get this boat the way I want her I have my ships log to remind me of all the shenanigans I’ve put Sookie through.  When I was engineless it was more out of poverty than tradition.  Spending my first winter with no heat sucked ass.  Try and reef a boat without a topping lift or winches, sail without proper charts or anchor in a hundred feet without a windlass.  Boat love is a twisted and sickening affair but hey, I’m single, don’t do drugs, Hookers or gambling so my money has to go somewhere.

    Ive had installing a boom gallows on my list for six damn years but now I’m almost ready to start drilling holes in Sookies deck, yum!  To complete this project, I need the new longer boom and a higher cut main with a longer foot, this is going to be a bank breaker for sure but in my log book worth every penny. Not only will it make the boom clear my head but it will also clean up the angle of my main sheet making starting the outboard easier.  The Lee clothes will give a bit of privacy for showers and a chill spot to lean into while sailing.

    Sookie has the tall rig mast and the extra squares on the new sail will be much appreciated, for those light winded days we find between the summer gales. Sure there are lots of benefits to this but feeling all cozy and safety tucked into the cockpit is my number one goal.  Over the last 30 years I’ve sailed all over the world and this place is by far the most challenging.  I’m constantly sunprised when world class sailors lose their boats up here but getting back out into the thick of it every spring I’m reminded of the old saying ” if you haven’t been aground you haven’t been around”. We’ve had many close calls but so far Sookies bottom hasn’t so much as kissed anything other than an errant deadhead.

    By design, I have been rebuilding her slowly are surely to be the best of the best. Her lack of instruments can be frightening at times but it forces me to be a safer sailor and raises the bar for satisfaction on every trip. I fully enjoy the labor of sailing, the sound the chain makes as it rattles out the pipe.  Canvas fluttering in the wind.  The eerie moan in the rigging.  Corse calloused hands pulling thick sheets and the rush of water as it races past my bunk while I’m rocked to sleep in my comfy quarter berth.

    My hands on approach to doing things right as opposed to doing them.  This long tedious process has had the hands of many fine sailors involved, each project that is over my head adds the experience of one more set of hands and a bit of sailors karma to my trusty little ship.  In a world where everything has to be now I take great pride in the slowness of my life.  A good bottle of scotch and Sookies lantern have been my soul mate for over 2000 nights while I slowly sketch each new  addition to this wonderful little ship. The next project on the list is pulling the cabin sole and adding a water tank which will also add a few hundred pounds of extra ballast when it’s full. Bare teak floor boards will top it all off.  Most people will never get why I do all this but I’m not most people.  If your reading these words I’m guessing your brain is aligned pretty closely to mine and that’s where these words come and go, in a tiny water tribe of people who still actually care about the wind…

    Outfitting for blue water

    Tags

    , , , , , , , ,

    When I was a broker I would tell prospective clients to get three quotes on the upgrades they need.  You notice I said need and not want, the wants come later.  Take the highest bid, double it and then add 50%, this is half of what it will really cost.  So why am I outfitting for blue water when I have no intentions of blue water sailing? Options I say, I like options and besides, a ship like Sookie should be whole.

    I’ve been working with Brian Toss on my new boom, it will be 16″ longer and give me the space to install a proper boom gallows on Sookie and finally have full coverage in the cockpit including lee cloths. The real delema is my new head sails.  My preference is a roller furling lapper and staysail. Roller furling instantly ruins the sailing performance on any boat, add two and your doubling your trouble.  Not just with added windage aloft but also added weight to the rig, poor sail shape if furled and a measure of fragility. I love my hank ones but due to Sookies narrow beam there just isn’t room in her rat lines to work up there so I’m always riding the bowsprite like a bucking bronco, very exciting at times.

    When I replaced all my upper standing rigging and spar shrouds I went with 1/4″ wire.  This is complete over kill for Sookie but only added 11 lbs total to her rig, a very acceptable compromise in my opinion.  In the fall Sookie will get new chain plates, she has split lowers unlike the factory single.  When I do this I’ll be replacing all of her cover boards and re fastening her deck.  Because the deck is fiberglassed to the hull she doesn’t leak a drop but I’m redesigning her toe rail so this is a great time to do it.  I don’t know of any other boat that has a sealed deck joint like Sookie, just one of the many brilliant additions that makes her one In a million.

    I’ve never considered things like electronics, liferafts, engines… to add to the seaworthiness of a boat, in fact they detract from it. I’m still waiting on my quote for pintles and gudegons but they will be installed this year and well worth the beans and rice diet that will pay for them. Some day I may add fancy things to Sookie but this year it’s all about blue water safety, and all new cushions but hey, a guys got to get a good nights sleep, both in the bed and in the head…

    I’ve borrowed this from landlpardey.com enjoy

    You Can’t Buy Safety

    This chapter, from our book the Capable Cruiser, 3rd edition was originally written in response to a magazine editorial. It was printed in Latitudes and Attitudes several years ago but nothing has changed as far as the heavy marketing of so called Safety equipment. So Larry and I think it is worth sharing it with folks who getting ready to set off cruising.

    The list of safety gear you “should” buy is endless; the potential to sink your cruising budget by buying it is definitely real. Some safety gear is essential, some is useful, most of it will never get used so where do you draw the line? It’s a hard call even for experienced sailors. The only way to make wise choices is by getting out sailing and racking up lots of sea time in lots of different weather situations so you can truly evaluate what equipment you need. In the rush to ready your boat and shore life so you can get out cruising, it is hard to gain this experience/sea time.
    Here are some thoughts to keep in mind when you consider safety gear:
    The first and most important piece of safety gear you have on board is a partner who has the knowledge and skills to handle the boat. There is not one piece of man-overboard gear that is going to help if the person left on the boat does not know how to get the boat back to you.
    Your boat is your life raft. That rubber thing in a valise or canister is an abandon-ship raft, a flimsy replacement for the strong boat you are thinking of leaving and only a hopeful last chance. The vast majority of boats abandoned by their owners are later found drifting crew-less and afloat.
    The harness you may or may not use on deck is just that, a harness to back up
    your hands. It does not insure safety, nor is it a substitute for learning to move around on deck using the old fashioned sounding seaman’s adage; one hand for you, one hand for the ship.
    The only sure way of avoiding collisions at sea is by having someone stand watch in the cockpit. A watch keeper on deck will be able to spot that violent squall approaching in time to drop sail before it hits. Because he/she will have lots of time to look around the boat the watch keeper might notice a potential gear failure before it causes a serious problem. The more reasons (or excuses) you have for staying below deck, the less safe you become.
    Gear that is used only in emergencies may not function properly if you and the crew have not practiced using it. Inflatable items like liferafts may also fail to inflate/deploy/work due to ingress of salt water, exposure to sun and heat or human error when it was originally packed or repacked.
    Think prevention instead of cure. I.e. improving the non-skid on your deck and cabin-top could prevent crew from skidding overboard. Improving your
    boomvang/preventer-tackle-system could prevent an injury-causing accidental gybe.
    Over the past few months we have had the pleasure of rendezvous with some highly experienced cruising sailors, folks who have each circumnavigated twice and sailed far beyond the normal routes including Noel and Litara Barrett winners of the Blue Water Medal, Alvah and Diana Simons, Beth Leonard and Evans Starzinger. Interestingly the topic of safety brought the same reactions from each of these master sailors, “it’s far safer at sea than on the freeways. Car’s whizzing past you at 60 miles an hour, only three or four feet to spare. Out at sea you are rarely moving more than 6 or 8 knots.” But we all agreed; with experience comes confidence, with confidence comes the ability to access safety or accept risks. Almost everyone who sets off cruising has far more experience on freeways than at sea. If you had a look at the boats each of these remarkable people sail you’d be surprised at how
     Spartan their “safety gear” list appears. Each of their boats is highly geared towards efficient sailing, each has very clear deck areas and an extensive system of handholds throughout the cabin, in the cockpit and on deck, and each has all essential systems independent of electricity. Each carries a plethora of back up rigging and sail repair equipment. Each has an abundance of anchors, anchor-rodes and a powerful windlass.
    If you are outfitting for your first foray offshore, consider spending some of the funds you put aside for safety equipment on a learn- to- cruise charter. Invite that salty old guy who sailed around the world ten years back to go out sailing with you for a weekend and assess your gear, or lack of it, through his eyes. Hire a professional delivery skipper to join you for a day or two of sea-trails before you invest in any more “safety” gear. You will be buying something far more dependable than a piece of gear that might theoretically save your life in a theoretical situation; you’ll be buying first-hand experience that could prevent that theoretical catastrophe from happening in the first place.

    Sailing around the world?

    Tags

    , , , , , ,

    I hobble back to Sookie, I’m wrecked.  I barely have enough energy to pull a cool beer from the bilge and tuck into my quarter berth.  I wake early to a half finished beer and a beautiful day.  An early morning spending spree and my bank account has run dry and I couldn’t be happier, Sookie is covered for another year and her registration is payed till June 2018.  I have enough boat supplies to keep me busy for a month but the paint for my bowsprite is still AWOL.  I need to pull it and inspect and paint under her cranz iron.

    The number one letter I get from this site is how do you afford it.  The plain and simple truth is I can’t but I do it anyway.  I’m a minimalist for sure but between the boat, my Brompton and my Nikon there aren’t enough hours in the day with all the mini adventures I find my way into.  Last year I had a boat full of food and less than $150.00 to last me from February till the end of June, it was a struggle but I did it.  Having just come off a sailing trip up the inside passage and straight into a bike tour of the Hawaiian islands I doubt anyone felt sorry for my predicament, I certainly didn’t, it was all just part of the dirt bag life I live.

    I feel like a millionaire these days but unlike last year when my only choice was basic survival I have too many now and too many choices is a bad thing.  I’ve been promoted to lead bartender at the resort I work for and they want me to stay forever… it’s interesting watching kids in the restaurant melt down at all the choices on the menue but when given only one they are instantly happy again.  I wonder if we ever grow out of this.  When I set sail north I had few choices.  When it was cold, I was cold.  When it was stormy I dealt with it.  When I was lost, I found my way.  It was all so simple because it was my only choice and I loved every second of it.

    Freedom is a lie, we are never free, it isn’t the tax income the big wheel wants from us, it’s our labor.  We are trained from birth to be endentured survants to the system.  I fight this battle every day but if I want new paint for Sookies bowsprite I have to sign over X amount of the best days of my life in exchange, my youth slipping through my fingers as quickly as my dollars slip though my checking account and the cycle continues.

    I’m constantly asked if I’m going to sail around the world and the answer is no, I simply can’t afford it and to be honest I don’t want it badly enough to trade my remaining life’s units being a slave to society to earn the money to accomplish the task.  I’d much rather sail in my current region when I can and travel on my Brompton when the weather turns cold.  Returning to Sookie at the end of a long journey is pure heaven.  She does everything I ask of her and each year gets a little better and more comfortable.

    Over the last decade Ive become increasingly disallsioned with the prospect of budget long term voyaging.  I wonder if it’s even possible to cruise on the mini budget I used to do it on.  The abundance of big boats and big budgets has raised the prices of everything, everywhere.  I’m currently living in one of the most expensive places in the United States but according to friends I have out there, I’m living cheaper here than they are in Mexico.  I’m beginning to see through the illusion and the more I do the more I love this wonderful area even if I do freeze my ass off 4 months out of the year.

    It’s a shorts and tee shirt day and while I should be scrubbing the daily barrage of bird shit off of Sookie I’m still in the boat sipping on coffee and exploring a paper chart of the northern islands.  I cleaned and oiled Brompty after my morning ride and am content with the world.  The headline news is nuclear war, its interesting how little I care about what I hear on the news, Sookie isn’t just my home and bug out boat, she is an island of her own.  I have loaded enough food and booze aboard that I could sail her half way around the world with 5 minutes notice.  Yes it’s nice to know that I can but there is a secret little anchorage about 5 miles from here that seems much more enticing and after a few days out I can come back to my little world, plug in my heater and trade a few more days of my youth for a new roller furling unit.  It’s all an illusion…

    “Today as always, men fall into two groups: slaves and free men. Whoever does not have two-thirds of his day for himself, is a slave, whatever he may be: a statesman, a businessman, an official, or a scholar.”
    ― Friedrich Nietzsche

    The Dove

    Tags

    , , , , , , ,

    The Dove, by Robin Lee Graham was the first book I read, I actually learned to read from that book.  When I was 9 I tracked him down and called him to interview him about his trip.  Over the years I collected all of his articles that appeared in National Geographic.  Many years later, in 2001 I was living in my truck traveling around America when I decided to pay him a visit.  I was having nachos amd margaritas in his town when I found a full article on him in the local daily paper, I decided it was time to let go and drove straight to Ventura California to sea trial Mariko, the Falmouth Cutter I thought I was destined to own.

    My life has thrown me a thousand curve balls since that beautiful day on the sea but I never gave up and soon enough Sookie literally fell into my lap just shy of about 12 years after first meeting her.  It’s warm tonight, my kerosene lantern is burning bright and the music is draining my last bits of energy from a long day and lulling me to sleep. I can’t say I have the best life in the world but I have the one I’ve chosen.  I’d choose it again if I could go back in time…

    I love my tiny space, the freedom she represents and the hard work she commands to keep her looking and sailing smart.  Both my master and my servant she is a good home and a brilliant travel companion.  It’s been a few years now since I discovered a mysterious box sealed under an un accessible spot under her floor boards.  I was drilling holes for an exploratory mission to create a new water tank when I found it but still have no idea what’s in this mysterious treasure chest.  With a little luck her old sole will be removed this summer reavealing the mystery of a thousand dreams.  I can’t even begin to wonder what could be inside.  A new water tank and bare teak floor boards will replace the hidden treasure with an even more valuable treasure, water…

    “Life would be pretty monotonous if the sky was always blue.”
    ― Robin Lee Graham, Dove

    Pin It on Pinterest