Pissing Into The Wind

Tags

, , , , , , ,

It took little more than one miserable, cold and wet induced temper tantrum to change the entire course of our existence.  Once the universe got hold of our plans everything started falling into place.  Wait for us Caribbean, here we come.

Falmouth Cutter

Several years ago on my way to Alaska I stopped for 5 minutes in Bellingham Washington, a town I had never heard of before that day. Before the sun set I had spent every penny I had on a sailboat one month before winter hit and the rest was history.

Were scratching our heads, rubbing two nickels together and trying to figure out how we can possibly afford to ship Sookie 3500 miles to the south coast of the west coast of the east coast of America.

I think getting the boat there is almost within our reach but getting two of us and the dog might be a stretch.  6 months ago before Chloe got sick we would have just hitchhiked and we still may.  We don’t know a single thing about Pensacola Florida other than thats where a very generous Shipper has an empty trailer headed.

If you want a real adventure sell everything you own to pay for a reduced rate to ship your boat across the country.  Hitchhike in winter for 3500 miles.  Arrive in a strange and foreign land, penniless and yes still in the middle of winter.  Add in a few alligators and hurricanes to the scary mix, shake well and you have what we are staring down the barrel of.  If only I had something to write about.

“The journey is the destination.”
― Dan Eldon

Voyaging On $500 Per Month

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

!8 months ago I cut the dock lines without a single penny to my name.  I had enough charts to cover a small portion of the Salish Sea and a few months of provisions.  I didn’t know where I was headed or how I would survive but it didn’t matter, I chose life.

Private Beach

Looking back it seems like a lifetime ago but feels like it was just yesterday.  Hundreds of setting suns, storms and calms both in life and on the water.  Slow days, fast days, days I can’t remember and days I’ll never forget.  Sailors come and go but new friendships made in the Islands will last forever.  This body of water has become my home, her mood swings guide my life. I could spend a thousand years exploring her endless coastlines but the time to move on is near.

It never gets any easier but it does become routine.  Family affairs, work, money, boat maintenance, like the seasons, life’s little challenges come and go.  It’s all a constant but also manageable.  I have no cell phone or internet.  My tide book is my calander and my pocket my bank account.  Today I have cream in my coffee so it must be a good week or maybe I’m just being a bit careless with the budget.

When you come from nothing, something seems pretty wonderful.  I started outlining a new writing project today but its roots stem back nearly 30 years.  You can’t voyage forever on nothing but you can get out and live and when its time to swallow the anchor for a few weeks or months you do it knowing its only a matter of time before you pull the anchor and set off again free as a bird.  Today we are holding on to this chapter of our lives as hard as we can but as it slips through our fingers like the sands of time we know change is coming.  The barometer will eventually bottom out and start climbing and when it does we will slip the lines for the hundredth time and drift off with little more than each other an and an unquenchable thirst for life.  It isn’t just another year coming to and end but another decade.  Where does the time go…

From the Log of Sookie, December 2014 San Juan Island~ All our ducks are in a row, Sookie waits patently tugging at her dock lines.  I can’t help but to wonder where we will be floating at this time next year or even next week.

Nobody Puts Baby In The Corner

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

We are experiencing a changing of the guard so to speak.  While I have settled a little now its Emily’s turn to go batshit crazy.  She wants out and she wants out now.  Her job is suffocating her and coming home to the same place every day is proving to be more than my little wandering hippie can take.

Falmouth Cutter 22

The storms have slowed their pace and now tis the calms haunting us.  We have both agreed to be on the water every second we can to fight the winter blues but with our opposite schedules and painfully short days this is easier said than done.

Falmouth Cutter 22

Drifting through a sea of despair Emily has started looking for a shipper to take us somewhere warm TODAY!  The cold has gone but the condensation literally has our cabin sole buckling and our ceiling boards are warping faster than our minds.

Falmouth Cutter

We fight winter and as usual its one step foreword two steps back.  Ventura is still number one on our list but its actually cheaper to ship to Florida and just a quick hop across the Gulf Stream to Paradise.

Falmouth Cutter

We want to swim and prefer to do it somewhere where we can see the bottom.  I don’t know where this temporary insanity will find us next week but the wheels are in motion.

 

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again  and expecting different results.  Albert Einstein

Go Big Or Go Home

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

I’ve never once wished for a larger boat while out sailing and voyaging but living aboard at the dock in winter is an entirely different thing.  I should be writing, or working on the boat or… but I’m not, I’m surfing the web for my dream 50’er.

pocket cruiser

The Crealock 31 is the largest boat in the small boat spectrum I would ever consider owning.  It also happens to be the smallest boat in the large boat spectrum I would ever consider owning.  There must be something very special about that boat to be dead center of all boats that I love.  Or is it simply the most mundane of choices when it comes to extremes both large or small.

I have officially started my annual winter descent into madness.  If I can just hold out 10 more days I may survive but its going to be a long 10 days.  Emily thinks my brain is starved for oxygen from my 8 day beer and pop tart diet but now 4 days off the blueberry delight I find myself well beyond the withdrawal symptomms and feeling as normal as a person can who has been locked in a small box for the better part of 60 days and nights.

I have two jobs, my real job is as doggie nurse and caretaker but I have also been moonlighting as an unpaid intern for myself.  Cabin fever is at its extreme but the weather has been fun and exciting keeping me on my toes as 50 mph squalls roll through almost twice daily.  As I sit here waiting for the next blow to attack, my mind turns towards serveral larger boats that I am seriously considering purchasing despite Emily’s best efforts.

I recently got to sail a very large new Nauticat and fell in love.  Pilot houses, diesel stoves and enough space to have every person I know aboard sounds delicious.  A huge square bed would put an end to our nightly kicking wars for that prime real-estate where our bed goes to a tiny point.  Why not make it an aft centerline berth so Emily doesn’t have to steamroller over me every 5 minutes all night long for emergency midnight potty breaks.  We could carry not only a real dingy on deck but would also have room for a real life-raft and maybe a few kayaks.  I dream of an 80 HP 4 cylinder inboard diesel engine so quiet you never need to shut it off and a cruising chute with a foot print the size of a mansion pulling us along in the light zephyrs of summer that I miss so much.

The thing about losing your mind, I’m talking put me in a straight jacket and lock me in a padded room nuts is that you never see it coming.  It feels totally normal despite the fact that the ones closest too you see it and feel it coming.  Despite their most dedicated efforts nobody can help you, you need to hit rock bottom before you can start your climb back to the top and see the light.  A good friend once told me, you can’t dig your way out of a hole, if you have dug yourself in stop digging.  Say what you want but it just may be too late.  By a week from tomorrow I may be laying my head in my new Crealock, falling asleep to the muted hum of my diesel furnace and enjoying ice cold beers from her reefer and fresh hot and gooey chocolate chip cookies from her full size oven.  I’m not teetering over the edge, I’m shooting the falls.

“THE EDGE, there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.”

~Hunter S. Thompson

She’s Only Half Right.

Tags

, , , , , , ,

Three and a half years ago standing in an obscure storage area deep in the bowels of The Port Of Los Angeles I made a hand shake deal on I boat I didn’t have the money to pay for.  I couldn’t afford to ship her home, let alone to a complete refit on the then 27 year old boat.

falmaouth cutter 22

In hindsight I should of moved myself to Southern California with its 340 days a year of golden sunshine, dry weather endless summer.  I brought the boat to Washington because of the access I had to good do-it yourself boat yards, reasonable long term storage rates and of course the best sailing the world has to offer.  Unfortunately for us little guys the days of the do-it yourself boatyards are coming to an end.

Falmouth Cutter 22

As much as we bitch about the weather around here winters in the Salish are pretty wonderful and short enough that we can sail a full 9 months of the year in reasonable comfort.  We had hoped to hang the boat in Port Townsend for the winter of 2015 to dry her hull out while we stomped around the tropics looking for winter employment to build our kitty for the last and worst part of our refit.  Sookie needs a new barrier coat,  and her 30 year old stainless steel pintles and gudgeons are begging to be replaced along with her original cockpit thru hulls.  We also want to fill in her prop cut out.  This is an easy 6 months on the hard, six winter months would be ideal.

falmouth cutter 22

We’ve been hearing rumors for quite some time but it seems 2015 will be the year dragon so to speak.  If the rumors are true we won’t be able to afford to leave the boat in Port Port Townsend nor will we be allowed to do our own work so our eyes are looking south.  For us its a damned if you do and damned if you don’t.  We are both really excited about sailing south down the west coast but not until we have our steering system rebuilt.  We have found only one yard in California where we can afford long term rates so Ventura may become or home for next winter.  If Southern California fails it will be straight to Mexico, back on the hard and finally the last major piece to this puzzle will be complete.

Falmouth Cutter 22

Neither of us are ready to leave these beautiful waters but both of us desperately want year round sailing and  prefer to live off the hook rather than the dock.  So our calendar has three big red question marks on it.  One on July 1st, one on September 1st and one on October 1st. Only time will tell how and when we set off to start the next phase of our refit but we both are ok with a half fished boat carrying us from boatyard to boatyard in search of endless summer and crystal clear waters.

1977443_828461483848069_5208245560784904691_n

Our search for a wind vane continues.  The constant fight with condensation and mold continues.  Winter storms are stacked one on top of the other, but this system is almost warm and balmy and a full 40 degrees warmer than the last, summer is coming and life is good.

“A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.” ~ John Steinbeck

When The Cats Away The Mice Will Play

Tags

, , , , , ,

Emily has flown the coop leaving me to my own devices for 7 straight days now.  I haven’t showered once since she left, have been sleeping less than 4 hours a day and have been living off of pop tarts and beers.  I’ve  literarily torn the entire boat apart on a risky but daring mold hunt.  Now I have less than 24 hours to put it all back together before she comes home.

living in the boatyard

She is actually only a block away, her mom came to visit and the two of them have been out doing whatever it is that little girls do when they get together.  Her parents have adopted an ostrich strategy when it comes to our relationship.  Their heads are buried deep in the sand completely ignoring the fact that I exist.  While I don’t blame them for their issues with our age difference I simply don’t let it or them get to me.  There is an old saying no man can serve two masters.  I learned a very long time ago to live by life by my rules regardless of what others think, life is just too short.

I have been playing my own ostrich game  when it comes to our now 30 year old stainless steel pintles and gudgeons.  They are the bane of my existence, nothing would make me feel like a bigger douche than to loose my rudder.  While it may seem like a little fix its not.  Having custom hardwear fabricated is relatively easy and almost affordable but there is more too it.  When I replace them I also want to fill the prop aperture cut out and replace my now aging barrier coat.  Sookie doesn’t have a single zit or void on her hull and before we take her into warmer water this needs to be attended to.  Sure we could haul out for the summer dry and strip the hull and be on our way but neither of us is willing to forgo summer in the San Juan’s.  We discussed sailing all summer then shipping the boat somewhere warm to do the work but shipping would kill our yard budget.  The beauty of stainless steel is that it rots from the inside out so while they look nice and shiny on the outside they could be completely effed on the inside.  Its a good thing we love this area so much because at the rate we are going on our refit we will be sailing these waters for quite some time.  I’ve been banging on my calculator all day.  When ever I put together a project I make an estimate double it then add 50%.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Benjamin Franklyn

The Meaning Of Life

Tags

If you could have anything you want in this world what would it be.  Would it be money?  A bigger house?  A new car or boat?  Not me, no; I don’t want for anything.  When I lay my head down at night it isn’t things that fill my head its people, faces, smiles.

the meaning of life

I have good friends I have never met.  My family is as close as it can be yet we are all far away from each other.  I know complete strangers through nothing more than a smile.  I say hi to every person who’s path I cross even though I may never see them again I want them to know I see them.  I may not say it often enough but if you know me we are friends.  I’m right here and I would never say no to any request you ask of me.  My hand is out, arm extended, reach for it.  Don’t wait too long, one day you, like me will be gone.  All we have is what we make of this life, what we give and who we touch…

I spend my life chasing rainbows, who cares whats at the end of them.  Log of Sookie. San Juan Island, December 2014

The Perfect Storm

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

Within minutes of my divorce becoming final I called my title agent and told her to push the button on Sookie.  She was a gift to myself and to new beginnings, a new life and a new adventure.  Deep down I knew I wouldn’t be making any far off voyages in the near future with my aging dog but I needed a life raft and a therapist and this little old boat seemed to be the perfect diversion from me.

falmouth cutter 22

As much as I hated the thought of going it alone deep down It made sense.  Relationships came and went and with each one I turned closer and closer to a life as a solo sailor and began to embrace it.  By early spring I had cut the dock lines of life completely and headed towards my new existence of a solo life and was quite happy to stay that way.  I had taken myself off the market and was completely embracing my oneness.

sailing singles

Like a perfect storm all the elements came together and Hurricane Emily knocked me flat on my ass.  I pushed her away as hard as I could, not because she wasn’t awesome but because I had become quite accustomed to being the most irresponsible person on the planet earth.  I didn’t have to answer to anybody and I was loving it.  My life had no bounds, no schedules and not pre conceived notions of future, the present moment in time was all I could see and all I needed.  There is something very powerful about a man and his dog.

sailing dog

Having not a care in the world also meant I could live my life by my own terms and take what ever risks I felt reasonable and nobody could fault me for living true to my own nature.  Those days are gone and now there are two souls on this boat to contend with but it isn’t just the two souls on the boat that matter, there are is a very long line of family members on her side who I am now responsible for and with this unexpected new family comes unexpected responsibility.  I have always attended the school of self reliance and that means If I’m foolish enough to find myself in trouble out on the big blue I damn well be capable of undoing what ever fool hardy mess I have gotten myself into.  I have never once considered a life raft or EPIRB but now that Emily’s name sits inked into my log book I’m changing the way I think.  Sookie is as safe as any boat on the high sea’s and that has always been fine for me. Sookie is my life-raft, from the sea, the nations massively failing economy and the complete insanity of the world.  She is my master and servant, home, insurance policy, savings account, and escape pod all rolled into one.

Montgomery 6'8"

My new Montgomery 6’8″ hard dingy was meant to be my last ditch effort at staying afloat but no amount of trying would find her a way to safely mount on the deck of Sookie.  I studyied every dingy known to man and came up with a total Loss and here is where the traditional sailor in me turns an eye towards the future.  If you see the name Switlik appearing around here in the near future its because I’m hoping to find a way to add her as a new crew member in the very near future.  They say the spots on a leopard never change.  I’m not a leopard, I’m a sailor and now you might say a modern traditionalist.

May you live in interesting times.  ~Chinese proverb, curse

In Like A Lion Out Like A Lamb

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

Hot water scalds my naked body and for the first time in 48 hours I’m warm.  The water burns my pale skin but its a luxury I only get twice a week, 5 minutes of pure heaven.  I wash myself as quickly as I can so I spend the remainder of my shower rations soaking up the heat.  For the winter live-aboard there is no pleasure greater than a hot shower.

DSC_8588

The calendar knows nothing of the seasons, there are 21 more days till winter officially begins.  We woke up early to the first of many 50 knot gusts, with the windchill its well below zero and the boat needs attending to.  I drag myself out of our warm cocoon and Emily protests, stay and keep me warm.  I put on hot water for coffee, pet the dog and start pulling on cold stiff layers of clothes.  I have to check Sookie’s lines and give her the once over, then its off to check all my friends boats in the marina.  I own every piece of technical clothing imgineable yet nothing is as warm as my hand me down wool sweater.  My best friends wife shrunk it so he passed in on to me, a perfect fit.  I make it 5 minutes with nothing more than my half gloves, wool sweater and thin cap.

Falmouth Cutter 22

The sweater is warm enough but the wind cuts through everything else.  I pull out my new Gill OS2 Foulies  and am greatful for the many days hard work I put in to afford them.  Layered up with my expedition cap, neck warmer and glove liners I head out again.  My gloves, now 12 years old are great but don’t stand up to the cold, I tuck my hands into the jacket pockets and set out to explore the marina.  Two hours later all is well and all boats have been checked, re-secured and a bit of chaffing gear added.  I’m still warm enough and happy I’m not at sea on such a crisp and cold day.  Half way around the world my friends are battleing the same conditions at sea, I’m not as tough a them yet I wish I was.

winter liveabaord

The water is shut off at the dock and we have no on board tanks so we layer up grab our water jugs and search out this liquid gold that can never be appreciated enough until you have none.  Yes we are suffering.  The cold cuts like a knife but it isn’t the cold.  The short days bring on depression and cabin fever but its not the absence of light.  Condensation hangs over our heads and rains down on our computers as we tell a story we don’t like but it isn’t the damp moldy conditions.  Its not going anywhere thats bleeds the soul.  Stagnation is a slow painful death to those afflicted with wanderlust and we are trapped by the seasons, by circumstance and by our own stubborn will.  They say winter comes in like a lion and goes out like a Lamb.  Every day we do our Sundance, spring is closer than you think and we are here ready and patiently waiting. Like my old friend Larry once said, if its this difficult it must be worth it.

“There was a moment when I changed from an amateur to a professional. I assumed the burden of a profession, which is to write even when you don’t want to, don’t much like what you’re writing, and aren’t writing particularly well.”
― Agatha Christie

Celebrating Black Friday

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

Black Friday is among the most celebrated of all national holidays.  It’s a day when we can leave our families home alone on one of our few days off during the year.  We can wait in long lines for grand openings. Shove, beat and murder our neighbors to support mass consumerism, and save lots of money on cheap Chinese shit we don’t need, can’t afford, and won’t last much longer than the factory farm tortured turkeys we ate for Thanks Grieving Day.

Black Friday

We set off to the superstore early, we shop in nature and consume it heavily.  Vitamin D is at a premium these days and we stocked up for the winter.

Black Friday

We rode in circles looking for a premium parking spot and finally, after miles of winding country roads, found one right up front.

black friday

We didn’t know what we wanted but ran around in a greedy frenzy trying to get it all in before it was snatched up by the desperate souls like those in Costco fighting over free samples.

hiking san juan island

We didn’t have any money with us so we maxed our wild cards to the limit.

hiking san juan island

Hiking skirt from the local thrift store.

san juan island naturalist

Old flannel mountain shirt, hand me down.

hiking san juan

Endless youth and perfect health.

hiking san juan

Flying like Peter Pan.

trail running skirt

I can fly, I can fly.

girl in a tree

Climb a tree.

hiking san juan

Run run as fast as you can, you can’t catch me I’m the ginger bread man.

trail running

You might be fast but I have stamina

Smiling so hard your face hurts

Smiling so hard your face hurts.

san juan island

There are some things that money can’t buy, for everything else theres a really good commercial put out by the spawn of the devil to make you indebted till death do us part.

“Our economy is based on spending billions to persuade people that happiness is buying things, and then insisting that the only way to have a viable economy is to make things for people to buy so they’ll have jobs and get enough money to buy things.”
― Philip Slater

We’re Having A Baby…

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

Are the last words we ever want to say. The only thing more important than keeping a clean and tidy ship when you’re a live-aboard outfitting your boat for cruising, is not getting pregnant. (Obviously we are not married so therefore remain abstinent and this scenario is entirely hypothetical…hi, mom!)Cruising with kids

Disclaimer: I know some very successful parents who live this lifestyle and love their kids almost as much as their boats, and I mean no offense. We both think kids are okay, but prefer our dog.

We are transient, working sailors with the intention of cutting the dock lines. Bringing a baby onboard, for us, is not an option. A baby would both literally and figuratively suck us dry, and probably mean we had to move back to land, and pick up that 9-5 lifestyle.

However the current health system has proven difficult when trying to achieve this. If you are lucky enough to be suitable for an IUD, you are pretty much home free when it comes to birth control and sailing away into the deep blue yonder. But what about those of us where this is not an option?

Birth control has come a long way with the IUD, the shot, the patch, etc. Making it more convenient and affordable for women to choose their own destiny. But aside from the IUD (which believe me is NOT right for everyone: think hair loss, debilitating cramps, bleeding 3 weeks out of the month, severe emotional instability, and I’m not just talking about crazy people (like me) experiencing these symptoms), all of these options pretty much have a six month expiration date. Meaning every 3-6 months you must visit your doctor or pharmacy to obtain more medicine.

For me, the only option is the pill and I can only get it three months at a time. This leads to other questions when building an offshore medical kit. Like how do you get your doctor to prescribe you antibiotics for a myriad of infections from the simple UTI to gangrene?

My partner is a real do-it-with-less kind of guy. But this girl is a hypochondriac Jew from New York.

Please, ladies and their gentlemen; help me solve this birth control conundrum. Any doctors out there who could provide me with a BC prescription I could pick up 12 months at a time? How about Mexico, I know dental work is cheap there…

Any responses about how to get your doctor to give you a year supply (or more!) of BC pills at a time, and a cruising medical kit are greatly appreciated.

 

A Three Hour Tour

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

I do some of my best writing while on my bike, the long slow mythodical push through the woods helps quiet my A.D.D. and focus on the thoughts at hand.  Like sailing our little cutter, cycling is simple, natural and as clean for the environment as we can get.

Topo designs klettersack

Life is pretty busy these days as we push for our spring departure date.  The new blog is going well and already a full time job with lots of surprises coming.  I had no idea that I would get such a warm welcome and so much support from day one and I’m loving it.

topo designs klettersack

Our workload is up to 12 hour days and with a the winter chill in the air its hard to sneak out too long before the boat gets to cold for Chloe.  We can easily schedule in in a three hour ride and be back in time to crank the heater to warm her chilly bones.

surly cross check

Like the sea in her warmer moods, the woods are our sanctuary during the months that its too cold for our thin blood out on the water.  The bikes are also a necessary break from the insanity of stage two of our refit.  Picture two A.D.D/O.C.D. misfits trapped in a 4’x6′ box that gets torn apart and put back together every day.  Now add in 18 hours of dark, a sick stinky dog and ever shrinking budget all packaged up in a dank terrarium, thats life in a nutshell.

surly cross check

As with with any boat, first we make it a safe boat, then we make it a comfortable boat, then we make it a pretty boat.  The new cushions are coming along as fast as we can pay for them and the new design for our galley is almost done.  Unfortunately it looks like we will sail another season without water tanks or lifelines but like all good things they will come.

Kona Paddy wagon CX

Cabin fever and winter exhaustion are easily broken by a heart thumping ride playing cat and mouse on single and double track trails hidden deep in the woods.

bike porn

In a few short weeks Emily has turned into world class cyclist which is a far cry from where she started crippled with fear of her bike.  Our skinny tires carried us through  the trail except for the most technical sections and once again I have been rewarded for my patience with her.  I tried to buy Emily new CX tires the day her bike arrived but in her ever penny pinching way she refused and I didn’t push.  Now she is asking about gravel tires and showing more interest in her bike and its mechanical workings every day.

surly cross check

We raced on the tarmac all the way home and while I’m still faster, she is giving me more of a run for my money everyday.  This summer getting her to walk up a flight of stairs was like trying to convince her to climb Mt Everest, these days the first words out of her mouth are when can we ride and how far can we go.  She is even scheming to bring the bikes with us on our summer sailing adventures.

topo designs klettersack

We finished our long fast ride at the local beer store and true to form my new Klettersack swallowed a 18 pack of beers along with all my ride warmies.  Life is good and very busy but we always make time to play with each other.  I never could have imagined how far this city girl could come in such a short period of time.  Looks like my Peter Pan Syndrome is contagious.

topo designs klettersack

A new world is opening for both of us and as we continue our trials and tribulations of surviving winter, we are learning to not only survive each other and our shortcomings but to thrive and embrace them.  A little bit of patience goes along way in a small boat.  If I have relearned anything this year its to lead by example and never ask for anything.  Whats meant to be will come your way when the universe deems you worthy.

“All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Launching A Dream

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

I feel like I’ve been given a life sentence of solitaty confinement.  Slower than the molasses in January the days creep on, cold, dark, damp and lonely, cabin fever has set in.  I’m envious of Emily as she packs up for her morning ride to the office everyday, I wave goodbye wishing it was me heading out into the world.

sailing singles

Chloe is on her final glide path and while its hard to watch her wither away I’m fortunate that since I found her we have been together every second of every day.  Emily is our savior right now and chief bread winner.  These are hard times but also a blessing.  I sit and write all day every day snuggled up with my furry best friend.  Her body is old and tired but her eyes tell me a different story.

Salty Dog

For every story that ends a new one begins.  I didn’t have to think twice about ending this years voyage before it began, Chloe has always come first.  Sailing into Cougar Bay to become a live-aboard ended more than one chapter in my life but it also began many new ones.  For the first time in as long as I can remember , I have a committed crew “Emily” and the boat in is rare form these days.  When Sookie arrived on her trailer three and a half yard ago she was pretty rough but her bones were strong, now a world class yacht she is coming together well and while we have only just begun with our refit the hardest work is behind us.

blue water pocket cruiser

So a new journey has begun as we we share the sail so to speak.  Our new sailing blog Boatyard Pirates will be a very different monster than this, our personal journal.  It is a new site featuring pocket cruising sailboats for sale, yacht delivery, sailing lessons and personal consultations.  Its a place where we can review products we love, techniques that are tried and true and anything else we feel like without changing the original direction of this journal.  In 1987 I brokered my first boat sale, did my first offshore delivery and started what would become a lifelong love of helping others achieve their sailing dreams.  Now nearly thirty years later as we wait for our own window to open so we can head back out again we hope to share our experiences and passion with others.  My hope is that Boatyard Pirates will become a never ending book of knowledge for sailors new and old.  There are thousands outlets for finding your dream yacht but not a single one stop shop for high end salty pocket cruisers.  As of today we are still putting the pages together and don’t have a single listing but like the old saying goes, every journey begins with a single step.  From dock to hook please join us on our new journey, Boatyard Pirates.

“The job is what you do when you are told what to do. The job is showing up at the factory, following instructions, meeting spec, and being managed.

Someone can always do your job a little better or faster or cheaper than you can.

The job might be difficult, it might require skill, but it’s a job.

Your art is what you do when no one can tell you exactly how to do it. Your art is the act of taking personal responsibility, challenging the status quo, and changing people.

I call the process of doing your art ‘the work.’ It’s possible to have a job and do the work, too. In fact, that’s how you become a linchpin.

The job is not the work.” ~ Seth Godin,

Man Tacos

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

I had Emily pinned in the corner of our v-berth, she screamed with delight.  We were having a tickling war and I was winning, abuse she cried, abuse, tickling is abuse.  I collapsed into our unbelievably comfy nest content to end another impossibly perfect day.  In a very heavy spanish accent Emily cooed; if this is torture, chain me to the wall.

Man Tacos

Winter is aways a struggle, while living aboard but on a 22′ sailboat it can be downright torture.  We live a vegan diet most days but come Monday its meat day and Emily finally got to experience my signature recipe, Man Tacos.

small sailboat galley

Simple, yummi and loaded with much needed fat to keep us warm through the coming winter.  Every Monday is a culinary experiment as we try to make use with the dregs from three and a half years of provisions that we have in all this time refused to eat.  Rusty label-less cans get pulled out, opened and if not completely rotten consumed.

sailing with dogs

It doesn’t matter what we are cooking sad dogie eyes conspire for a taste of what the humans are eating and those sad eyes always win our hearts over.

Provisioning

The budget is tight but come Mondays we make it walk the plank and I head of to the local food store with a crisp twenty spot clinched firmly in my hands.

Bacon love

Someday I may actually grasp the knack for cooking but for now its always filling, hot and there is plenty to go around.  This time of year the invitations start flying, everybody we know worries about us in our tiny boat.  We don’t have a lot but we have each other and that goes a long way.

They say we’re young and we don’t know
We won’t find out until we grow
Well I don’t know if all that’s true
‘Cause you got me, and baby I got you

They say our love won’t pay the rent
Before it’s earned, our money’s all been spent
I guess that’s so, we don’t have a pot
But at least I’m sure of all the things we got

I got flowers in the spring
I got you to wear my ring
And when I’m sad, you’re a clown
And if I get scared, you’re always around

Don’t let them say your hair’s too long
‘Cause I don’t care, with you I can’t go wrong
Then put your little hand in mine
There ain’t no hill or mountain we can’t climb

I got you to hold my hand
I got you to understand
I got you to walk with me
I got you to talk with me

I got you to kiss goodnight
I got you to hold me tight
I got you, I won’t let go
I got you to love me so

I got you babe  ~ Sonny & Cher

Topo Designs Klettersack 15

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

I got an email from Emily; get up here this box is too large to carry home on my bike, I want it so badly, I’m jealous.  My mind went bazerk, what could it possibly be, food? a gift? boat shit?  I love suprises but she knows better than to shop for me, I’m impossible.

topo designs klettersack 15

I ran all the way the office grabbed the box and made a break for it, she screamed and chased me down the hall.  I zigged where I should have zagged and in my confusion made a fatal error, in the office maze I had gone the wrong way and was trapped like a rat, she caught me and we both laughed as I shook the box wondering what treasure could possible be at hand.  I tore through the packaging and there it was, my head nearly exploded as I pulled out a Brand spanking new Topo Designs Klettersack.

topi designs klettersack

I had a tear in my eye as I hugged her, kissed her and ran out the door to play with my new soon to be best friend.  This thing was made in the good old USA and is spot on for quality.  Every stitch is perfection, the design is old-school, simple and clean.  Its nothing more than a sack with a small top lid and a few lash points, to me there is absolutely nothing more sophisticated than simplicity.  My very first pack was an old Torri Kletter climbing pack, tough as nails, simple as dirt and oh so stylish.  I carried that pack on every adventure I went on for years and was never let down till that fateful day when someone smashed the window of my car and stole my fully packed bag ready for my departure for Cabo the very next day.  I had been hired to sail a 30′ sailboat from Cabo to San Diego and had booked my flight two weeks early to get in some great spear fishing.  All of my most valuable possessions were gone.  I had one day to replace everything from my collapseable Hawaiin sling and dive knife to my trusty pack.  I went to every mountain shop in San Diego but failed to find anything even close.  Its amazing how the things we love the most get the least amount of thought.  My old pack could not be replaced. Its been over 25 years and I’ve never been able to find a suitable match for my trusty and tattered old long lost friend, until today.

topo designs daypack

It seems to get harder and harder to find a simple pack when every company out there is trying to turn the once ample rucksack into a super padded and heavy mobile office capable of carting all your tec gear and the kitchen sink to the top of Mt Everest.  Straps, buckles hip belts water proof covers, millions of pockets…The day of the daypack is dead, or at least it was.  I crawled into bed last night with Molly my newly named and already well loved pack, Emily protested but Molly got tucked in right by my side.  Emily’s last words before the sandman came and took her away were if I wake up and that thing is between us I’m throwing it overboard.

topo designs made in america

The design of this pack is simple clean and elegant.  There are two flush pockets on either side that will hold a Kleen Canteen or in my case my 4 oz flask and Moleskine journal on one side and a slim digital camera on the other.  I am on writing/photo assignment 24/7/365 and while there is a wonderful slim line pouch for my Mac Book Pro I rarely carry it with me, I prefer to hand write everything and transfer it later.  There is something so simply wonderful about writing my stories in my journal.  Laptops have earned themselves a place in this world and that is at home where they belong.

topo designs daypack

This Klettersack is smooth, simple, streamlined and built like a brick shithouse.  It carries like a dream and is just the right size for everything from carting an 18 pack of beers and snacks to your friends house to a world journey.  My motto has always been take half as much stuff as you think you will need and twice as much money.

topo designs

This pack is simple perfection in every way shape and form, you can easily find them at Topo Designs or hope to be as fortunate as I and one day soon the post man will come knocking for you.  Unlike my last one, if you want this one you will have to pry it from my cold dead hands.

topo designs

Disclaimer, I am in no way shape or form affiliated with Topo Designs.  On the rare occasions that I come across something truly amazing I like to share it.  The fact that it is Made in America is icing on the cake, these guys rock!

topo designs

A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.  ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

The Hull Truth

Tags

, , , , , , ,

We wake up to frost-covered docks. Fog collects above the Pacific Northwest water, however notoriously cold, is warmer than the air. Sookie thrashes back and forth violently in 40 KT winds. She heels over to the port side and our dinner tumbles to the floor.

winter liveaboard

The old, frayed dock lines squeak and stretch, and we hope they’ll hold, always prepared to jump out of bed at the sound of anything unusual. Poorly secured halyards slap against the masts of boats whose masters are warm and dry on land, who’ve abandoned their vessels for the winter.

I’ve been lied to, by all those that said winter here “wasn’t that bad,” and it’s only November.

The heater now runs 24/7 (except when it overheats and shuts off at the coldest moments), warming us and the old dog, and keeping the condensation at bay. Night comes on at 5 p.m., the temperature drops and we assume the only available positions in our 4×6 living space–lying down in the quarter berths.

Snuggling into the v-berth at night his arms wrapped around me, he’s snoring thanks to the cold I gave him. My mind drifts into the future; warmer weather, longer days, more adventure. How did summer escape us so quickly? Like an unrequited lover she’ll return only when she wants to, when she’s grown weary of her escapades in the other half of the world.

“Don’t believe everything you read or hear, remember a large part of our world is made up of fiction!!”
~ Victoria Addino

The Three Year Itch

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

They call it living the dream but what is the dream?  Is it sailing?  Is it a life of self sufficiency?  Is it simply telling your boss to take this job and shove it?  Regardless of what our end dream is we all share one massive hurdle in common, financing the dream.

Falmouth Cutter 22

I could spend the rest of my life studying golf with the best coaches in the world but I will never be the next Tiger Woods.  Just like sailing engineless wont make me the next Larry Pardey, there is no amount of writing I can put in that will make me the next Hemingway.  There is nothing original in this world, we simply take old principals and make them better for the constantly changing world.  I remember giving a speech to a board room full of business professionals.  I started out with a single statement that I have lived by for over 30 years.  If you run your buisiness this year the way you did last year, next year you will be out of business.  I spend very close to 365 days a year on the water, you can’t be that close to this lifestyle and not see a hundred dreams lived a hundred ways.

In 2005 I started this sailing blog as a very private outlet for my friends and family to follow me on my travels from surf to turf and a way for them always to know where I was and what I was up to.  Somehow over the last ten years it has grown to something larger and just like all the letters I receive form readers around the world I spend a fair amount of time working on how I will continue to finance the dream.  Do a simple google search and you can find hundreds of sailing budgets and thousands of different boats out there right now all doing it different ways.  Follow these blogs lang enough and you will soon learn that your super heroes sooner or later will be struggling just as hard as you to keep the momentum going.  I can’t say for sure why but it seems that there is about a three year window for excellent sailing blogs, then they seem to crash hard, the close intimate writing turns into a sales pitch for all the XYZ products we simply can’t safely or happily sail without and the journal becomes yet another sailing advertizment page.

I’ve been courted and swooned for years with these offers for so called sponsorship and advertising revenue and while I have held firm and held out I too have to keep beans and rice on the table for my family.  In a few weeks I will launch a new blog in an attempt to save this one from the preverbial thee year itch.  It will be a dedicated to small full keel blue water sailboats for sale, in this day and age there is simply no reason to pay a yacht broker a 10% surcharge.  As the new site grows I hope to turn it into a one stop shop for the go small go simple go now dreamers and sailors alike.  While there is no right or wrong way to go about funding the dream, I continue the search for my way.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
― Thomas A. Edison

Damn You Summer!

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , ,

My reality check just bounced, I feel like a groom left at the alter. I have committed to my true love, summer but she has left me here standing alone. I miss her dearly, all the good times we had together, her gentle warm caresses. I mourn the loss of her and while I know I will find another I want her back, I need her, she was my soul mate.

the summer wind

Our entire living space is 4’x 6′, throw a stinky old dog in the middle of that and you have a pretty small living space for two souls to share. We still have over a month till the first day of winter and Emily is already going stir crazy. Our relationship is a steady as a rock for exactly 33.33 percent of the time. The other 66.67 percent is an even split between being petrified of her and wanting to strangle her. This is the time of year I start fantasying about my beloved Hallberg Rassy 42, at 750k she is affordable and the perfect size to keep my millennial bride snug as a bug in a rug. Hot showers, diesel heat and a real square bed are all luxuries we can easily live without for a full 8 months of the year but come November we start to pace around a like two caged animals, wild and ready to chew our own foot off to escape the cold confined reality of living aboard a very small yacht during the Pacific Northwest winter.

mistress summer

Winter may test our resolve and commitment to this lifestyle but she won’t beat us. I was once asked how I do things like paddle into a 20′ wave or ride my bike off a near vertical cliff without giving it a second thought. The only answer I can ever give is that you have to be 100% committed. If you hesitate for even a single second that wave will chew you up and spit you out. Perched on the cliff I could focus and try to pick my line, I could look for every obsacle that could send me to the ER and waste and entire day trying to get the nerve to pedal over. If I did any of these things I would be focussing on failure not success, instead I know I’m 100% committed, drop in and do my best.

“That which does not make us stronger kills us” ~AEO Redneck Soup

When I threw a dart at the board of life and being an adventure travel writer/photographer I only knew one thing and that was if I didn’t give it my all I would end up like the rest of the competition out there working a full time job to support a hobby. Well I don’t have any hobbies, just a singular lifestyle to eek out every drop from beginning to end and somehow find a way to regurgitate a few words that match the feeling I had in the snapshots we take of our lives. To somehow share something that can’t be shared, emotions that can’t be replicatied and singular experiences that literally will only avail themselves for a split second in time. During the long warm days of summer there are more stories to tell than there are stars in the sky. We fill every second of every day and even nap-time is exciting. For all of our thousands of differences we share even more in common and warm weather tops the list. Like innocent children we run down long empty stretches of beach shedding our clothes and our inhibitions. We share a joint suffrage of a total and complete lack of forward thinking. Warm balmy breezes fill our lungs to capacity, we breath in life and exhale out stories with less effort than it takes to blink our eyes.

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”  ~ John Lennon

Then one day without the slightest inkling of warning it hits us like a blizzard to the soul, winter… Bone chilling, wet, dark, short days. The walls close in on us, tempers are short and patience is shorter. In all my days on this earth I have never been a winter person, two winters in Wisconsin and 7 in Tahoe haven’t been able to convert me. I have skied countless hundreds of days, snow shoed thousands of miles and explored every inch of winter without finding a single spark in my heart for her.  Now standing here alone, left at the alter my only choice for survival is to embrace her. To find beauty in her grey eyes and warmth in her dark soul. To make winter my mistress is the only way to survive, if I think about it too much I will fail. I must throw my arms around her, strip naked and dive in head first, If I don’t commit 100%…

“There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” — Sir Rannulph Fienness

Pa Chomp Pa Chomp Pa Chewy Chomp

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

Thats the sound it makes when you are being ripped to bits by a Tiger shark. When I lived and surfed the Hawaiian Islands to locals taught me that it wasn’t the sharks that you could see that you had to worry about, it was the one’s you don’t see that could ruin your whole day. clark attack Mckenzie Clark, little sister to Liz Clark had a tragic encounter with a Tiger and needs a bit of that good old salty love we sailors seem to be so famous for.  Its really simple, click on this link, give her a few bucks and you have done your good deed for they day.  Please share this link or her gofundme link with everyone you know.  Like many of us she doesn’t have proper health insurance so every donation will make a huge difference.  If you know anything about the Clark sisters you know that they are stewards of the sea and that Mckenzie will spend her lifetime paying it foreword. “The wise man does not lay up his own treasures. The more he gives to others, the more he has for his own.” ― Lao Tzu

Walden On Water

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

As plans are written in the sands of low tide, is an old saying I have come quite familiar with.  It all started with a very generous donation to our beer fund a while back.  This wonderful addtion to our social life might have seemed like a small gesture but to us it wasn’t.  It was a potential life altering event and no the sky doesn’t have to fall to change the entire course of ones life.Lyle Hess 24

Turn the clock back 21 years, I was a young budding drone working in the field of solar engineering.  I had been given the task of telling the entire manufacturing department that they wouldn’t be receiving Christmas bonuses.  These guys were upset, the best I could tell them was that their reward for a hard days work was an opportunity to work another day, needless to say it didn’t go over well.  A few days later I discovered that all the suits received their annual bonus and I along with all the other guys that made them rich were nothing other than peasants.  In my youthful naïvety I decided I would never be a peasant again.  I wrote a mission statement to Corporate, sold or gave away all of my worldly possessions and made a new life for myself.  Change is a good thing but also a scarry one when you are 25 years old.  I had made a twenty year plan to work hard, save all my money and eventually sail away.  Two months later I was getting the crap kicked out of me in the channel between Maui and Hawaii known as Alinuihahawa wondering if I had made a mistake giving up the familiar security I had grown accustomed to.

Lyle Hess 24

On our way to the bar to celebrate the Halloween weekend we took a 8 mile sidetrack ending up at a haunted marina.  The short stout double spreader mast caught my eye and my curiosity.  I never would have discovered this little gem if it wasn’t for the kindness of a stranger.  This is the fourth wooden Hess that has fallen into my lap in the last 6 months and a reminder of how fortunate I am in this life.  If you can’t appreciate the beauty of wooden yachts you might take lesson from Carol Hasse or Lin and Larry Pardey, if these interviews don’t strike a chord in your heart nothing will.

DSC_6754 copy

Its cold and windy today, easy to want to hide away in my warm dry cabin but Sookies bowsprit needs painting.  Its easy to lose motivation to write, or do maintenance at this time of year when the last of the warm sunny days of summer has sailed away.  Twenty years ago I could never imagine that I would be passed the torch to keep the romance of old traditional boats alive but here I sit caretaker of one of the last of the Mohicans.  They say that life is a concentric ring, that we are all connected to each other through this ring.  If I only reach one person through this journal and they pick up the torch and keep these old wonderful boats alive I have done my job.  Winter is marching in here, we have battened down the hatches and are ready for all that mother nature will throw at us.  We don’t have much be we have everything we need, we feel like Walden on water.

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

My Eyes Have Seen The Glory

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

I’ve been cycling for a lifetime but I’m not a cyclist.  I don’t own any spandex or a shiny jersey, I don’t have a helmet or fancy gloves and my bike isn’t for exercise.  A lot of the same can be said about my writing, I’m not a writer, I’m a storyteller.

surly cross heck

I hope some day to have the skills to share our journey but I don’t know if they exist.  I can write a few carefully crafted words and put up my favorite pictures but they will never convey the endorphin rush pulsing through our bodies on a daily basis.

Kona Paddy Wagon

Pink noses, fingers slightly numb from the cold, lactic acid building in our quads and Iron lungs pressing hard as we laugh and play follow the leader down any road we may come across.  We carry no map, there is no itinerary, nothing but huge smiles and  laughter following us down deserted island roads.

bicycle touring the San Juan's

Every day seems the same yet no two days are alike.  Emily finished putting the final coat of wax on Sookie and I was able to paint half of the bowsprit before we both started getting antsy to escapee the fall prison of a damp wet boat.  We piled on our warmies and set out on an adventure, destination unknown.  I don’t know how to describe the constantly varying scenery combined with the wind in my hair and the ever present island smells that change as often as the light with each bend in the long and winding road.  Our bikes may carry us down each hard earned mile but its our bodes that do all the work.  Hard labor is good for the mind body and soul, simple repetitive tasks such as turning the pedals frees the mind of everything but the present.

Surly Cross Check

Emily is small and timid, insecure and afraid of everything in this world but with a little encouragement she will hop onboard and give it her all.  Her new bike scares the hell out of her and she screams as much as she laughs.  She may not understand it right now but the miles she is putting in on her bike are toughening her up for the next adventure.  The mileage is creeping up and with her time in the saddle each new day she is becoming more and more one with the bike.  I could push her but I don’t, I pull her with my constant enthusiasm.  I laugh and play, bunny hoping over road kill, involuntary whoops sneak out when my back tire slips on wet road debris and I’m always looking for the next hill to coax her up.  Down hill is fun but I live for the climb.

kona paddy wagon

I’ve never once asked a single thing of Emily I just do my thing and live and love in every moment of every second of every day.  Its hard for her not to want to join in on the fun even if its new and scary, cycling is a premium rush that can’t be bought or sold, it can only be earned.

“Don’t say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream.”  ~ Mark Twain

My Old Sea Boots

Tags

, , , , , , ,

There is very little in this world more important to a sailor than his old sea boots.  Warm and comforting, always there when you need them and ready to go at a moments notice.  Once shiny and new these old boots wear with you, they show their age as well as yours.  You can tell a lot about a man by his boots.

salty dog

They will happily splash through the mud and follow you everywhere you go, down lonely stretches of deserted beaches that go on forever. Through canyons and over mountain tops and into deep snow covered valleys without complaint.  A quick blast with the hose and they are clean enough to come back into the boat and settle in the corner untill the next adventure.

sailing Dog

Eventually these boots will become a part of you, but like you they won’t last forever.  I have hiked a thousand miles in my trusty boots, now old worn and battered I know the end is near.  You do everything you can to patch them up and keep them going but eventually the time will come when putting patches over patches doesn’t help anymore.  You remember better days and all the adventures you had together.  Laying in a crumpled heap where they once stood proudly your boots are tired, they try but they are tired.  You want to let them sleep but you know when they eventually do a part of your soul will die.  Deep down all you really want is one more hike, one more adventure one more…

salty dog

“It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing. It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive. It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain! I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it, or fix it. I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human. It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; if you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy. I want to know if you can see beauty even when it’s not pretty, every day, and if you can source your own life from its presence. I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!” It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up, after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children. It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back. It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away. I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.” -Oriah Mountain Dreamer

Best Sailing Blogs 2015

Tags

, , , ,

Bring me that horizon, the last line from Pirates of the Caribbean.  I was going to make a post of my favorite sailing blogs but changed my mind.  I do enough sharing around here, today I’m asking for something back, if you know a great sailing blog please share it with me.  Please don’t share the usual crappy boring blogs like this one.  I’m searching for the most excellent blogs in the world, if you know of one do tell.

Blue-water pocket cruiser

“The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.”

— Vincent Van Gogh

blue-water pocket cruiser

“It is not that life ashore is distasteful to me. But life at sea is better.”

— Sir Francis Drake

West Wight Potter 14

“The wind and the waves are always on the side of the ablest navigator.”

— Edmund Gibbon

Flicka 20

“It is not the ship so much as the skillful sailing that assures the prosperous voyage.”

— George William Curtis

falmouth cutter

“The cabin of a small yacht is truly a wonderful thing; not only will it shelter you from a tempest, but from the other troubles in life, it is a safe retreat.”

— Francis Herreshoff,

blue water pocket cruiser

“A sailor is an artist whose medium is the wind. Live passionately, even if it kills you, because something is going to kill you anyway.”

— Webb Chiles

blue water pocket cruiser

“Never in my life before have I experienced such beauty, and fear at the same time”

— Ellen MacArthur

Peace on earth is all it said

Attitude is the difference between ordeal and adventure
- Bob Bitchin

Trekka

There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.
- Old Norwegian Adage

Seraffyn

If you can’t repair it, maybe it shouldn’t be on board.
- Lin and Larry Pardey

Trekka

Being hove to in a long gale is the most boring way of being terrified I know.
- Donald Hamilton

westerly 22

If you are going to do something, do it now. Tomorrow is too late.
- Pete GossVertue 25 titanium bowsprite

The planning stage of a cruise is often just as enjoyable as the voyage itself, letting one’s imagination loose on all kinds of possibilities. Yet translating dreams into reality means a lot of practical questions have to be answered.
– Jimmy Cornell

TheBoyWhoSailedAroundtheWorldAlone

“At sea, I learned how little a person needs, not how much.”

— Robin Lee Graham, Sailor

falmouth cutter

If you are going to do something, do it now. Tomorrow is too late.
- Pete Goss

falmouth cutter

“Not all who wander are lost.”
- JRR Tolkien

falmouth cutter

“He that will not sail till all dangers are over must never put to sea.”
- Thomas Fuller 

melody

“The sea finds out everything you did wrong.”
- Francis Stokes

Falmouth cutter 22

Some years ago – never mind how long precisely – having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.
H. Melville, Opening Line from Moby Dick

Will Work For Food Or Money

Do or do not. There is no try.
- Yoda

cutting the dock lines

I just thank God I don’t live in a trailer.
- Jimmy Buffet/Stormy , Son of a son of a sailor

My Morning Grind

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

Rain is falling in buckets, wind lashes at the boat, we hear the gusts coming before they hit, then WHAM! Sookie lays over, spills the wind, and settles in. We laugh and snuggle in deeper to our warm cocoon. I tell ghost stories to spook Emily ensuring that she will snuggle in tight all night, its starting to get colder around here.

the daily grind

Morning comes early for me these days as there is much to do before the first frost settles on our tiny decks. I tuck Emily into a human taco and reluctantly crawl out of our nest, its cold as hell in here. My naked body tightens up covering me in goose bumps. I need to heat the boat, make coffee and walk the dog. Rain pounds our decks like a thousand Indians beating their drums. I light the stove and the smell of butane is a familiar one, it means coffee and a new day has arrived.

We finally did it, we dropped a years cruising budget on brand new cushions for the whole boat. This is going to be an expensive year but every upgrade will pay us back 10 fold. When we came home from the canvas shop I muttered, “I can’t believe you choose Teal for the cushions.” I had wanted blood red to match the new red enameled wood burning stove that as of yet is nothing more than a pipe dream. Emily asked why I let her choose if I had wanted something different. “I would have let you get pink and blue poka-dots if it made you happy,” was my simple response. Most things in this life are a compromise, downsize to a 22′ sailboat and everything is a compromise, everything but freedom that is.

So we keep reaching into our pitiful savings, bikes, foulies, warmies, cushions, rigging, stanchions, batteries, waters tanks…the list goes on. Once a week we have our money meeting, this week it was at the local watering hole which is a very special treat as we rarely go out. Its a lot like running a business, this whole sailing verse working thing. We’re ok with the long hours now, but there has to be a logical end, a place in time where we say enough is enough, cut the umbilical cord and move on. Being tied to one place too long is annoying but it also has a sense of safety attached. In our local waters we can always find work regardless of what time of year or where we happen to drop our hook, we have real marine chandleries and the vet is only a stones throw away. Our simple bikes can get us across town in three minutes, the ferry and airport are as close as the local pub. Home is a good thing but also a temporary one, for us at least.

Sitting at the pub with ice cold beers and snacks we laugh and scheme about how to get paid for sailing without getting paid for selling our souls. Time and time again we come back to our writing and photography , it comes easy for both of us, is fun and takes up very little of our precious time. From pen to publishing I have never spent more than a few hours on writing a feature article, although it can take weeks of travel and fun to actually have something to write about. It seems that everybody is a writer these days, yet there is very little quality writing out there. The question we always ask of ourselves is do we have a story to tell?

Back to my morning grind the dog has been fed, Emily is squeeking to life and the storm has momentarily broken, I barely had enough time to snap a single picture before the next squall hit. Storms like life move on pretty quickly, if you don’t pay attention you just might miss them.

“Everything you can imagine is real.”
― Pablo Picasso

Rogue Sailors

Tags

, , , , , , ,

“It’s better to swim in the sea below  Than to swing in the air and feed the crow,  Says jolly Ned Teach of Bristol.” ~ Benjamin Franklin  It wasn’t that long ago that a motley crew of sailors plied the 7 sea’s on small well found simple boats, today we call them Rogue sailors.

Rogue sailors

Fiercely independent, these sailors still exist although their numbers are smaller today. Sailors like Brycen and Brenna, young couples with all the skills of the ancient mariner drift from port to port bringing with them a reminder that there is a simpler way to go about this lifestyle.  The romance of a small ship properly maintained and smartly  sailed is alive and well.  Paper charts and compass are still all you need to safely explore the Salish Sea.  More and more I am meeting these rogue sailors, a small band of modern day pirates connected through shared lifestyles.

Rogue sailor

Big boats, blogs about sailing around the world and fleets of sailing craft moving from place to place are the norm these days.  These rogue sailors do it a bit differently.  On their own with a sort of quiet dignity, they travel in a style most would turn their noses up to.  Scavenging the sea for food, making do with the bare minimum these sailors quietly come and go mostly unnoticed.  In a world where you can still live well off $200 a month these sailors are modern pirates, their booty is life.  While there is no right or wrong boat or way to go through life, these Walden’s on water have tapped into something attainable for anybody.  You can achieve this lifestyle on a minimum wage income or simply live it with millions in the bank.

rogue sailors

Revolt I tell you, heed the call of the wild.  Quit that job, buy a small sailboat and discover the life you were born to live.  At sea the only rules are that of nature, eat, sleep, live…

“If sailor tales to sailor tunes,

Storm and adventure, heat and cold,
If schooners, islands, and maroons
And Buccaneers and buried Gold
And all the old romance, retold,
Exactly in the ancient way,
Can please, as me they pleased of old,
The wiser youngsters of to-day:

-So be it, and fall on! If not,
If studious youth no longer crave,
His ancient appetites forgot,
Kingston, or Ballantyne the brave,
Or Cooper of the wood and wave:
So be it, also! And may I
And all my pirates share the grave,
Where these and their creations lie!”
― Robert Louis Stevenson

Rolling With The Taco

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

A wave crashed into the boat sending a rumbling shudder as spray flew across the deck.  The swell wasn’t large but it was powerful from the long fetch and the wind was building.  I looked out the window of the ferry at a beautiful little Dana 24 and was envious.

Dana 24

Hard on the wind in a steady 20 knots and gusting much higher these guys were working too hard, if they would have tucked a reef in the main the boat would have much better balance, still I wanted to trade places with them.  I was supposed to be sailing this weekend but life and Emily had different plans for me.  Sunday was my 4, 5 or 6 year anniversary with going car-less.  Its been so long I can’t remember but I can still remember handing my last set of car keys to the new owner, I was petrified.  Not only was I going car-less but I had also just moved aboard for my first winter in the Pacific Northwest.  Now older and wiser I have no fear of either.  Emily on the other hand is growing into her first winter aboard and trading her car for a bike.  She looked so cute heading off to work today in her new fluffy fleece warmies and Xtratufs.

bike touring the san juans

When I lived on the North Sore of Oahu the big wave surfers would go into a sort of depression when there were no monster waves to frolic in.  I think Emily was the first to notice my downhill slide.  A change in plans and a very tender knee facilitated the sale of my bike and with it went a part of me.  Like a perfect storm I have hit the exact place in life where everything has started to fall apart, my parents aren’t as young as they used to be and their health is a constant concern.  Emily came down to the boat in tears, she had just spoken to the Vet and was very shaken.  Chloe is looking and doing better than she had been all summer but more tests and more bad news has us all a bit down.  Everywhere I look I’m reminded of my own mortality.  The best way to cheat death is to live life, simple shit here folks.

Kona Paddy Wagon

Selling my bike hurt but it was far too nice to spend the winter sitting in the perpetual rain and now that my bike tour has been postponed far too expensive to be a simple Island bike.  That bike was my outlet for everything not perfect in my tiny world, I would just jump on her and pedal my troubles away.  First Emily suggested I get a new bike for the winter, then she insisted.  I love spring and summer rides through the sunny countryside but its the winter storms I love most, fighting headwinds, the swoosh of snow separating as my paper thin tires slice through it and the wide open roads as the last of the tourists have all gone back to work.

Kona Paddy Wagon

Sunday was as perfect as any day I can imagine.  I woke up early and could hear Chloe breathing softly in her quarter berth.  Emily slowly wiggled to life quietly chirping that she needed more sleep.  I slipped out of our v-berth, fed the dog, made a cup of coffee and packed my pack for an Island Adventure.  Boarding the Ferry alone was the first time I have ever gone on a journey without Chloe, I missed Emily but the excitement of my new bike kept my mind occupied.  I was reminded how small my world is when the first person I saw on the mainland Was Chris, I hadn’t seen him since the spring.  The wind must have been up to thirty knots by the time I got my new bike but it was warm and balmy.  I had a few hours to kill so I dialed the bike in right there in the parking lot, changed out the flat bars for drop bars, changed the brakes and switched from fixed gear to freewheel.  My days of riding a fixie aren’t over but I have to take it easy for now.  I forgot to bring my patch kit and spare tube, not wanting to chance missing my ride back to the Islands due to a flat I did a hundred laps around the ferry landing.  When I re-boarded the Ferry this new little steel bike felt like I had been riding her my whole life.  Fast, light and and simple she will get me through the winter and the storms that are sure to come.

San Juan Islands in the Fall

When I arrived home I found Emily and Chloe waiting for me in the park and had to smile, home is a word I haven’t known in a very long time…

An aging master grew tired of his apprentice’s complaints. One morning, he sent him to get some salt. When the apprentice returned, the master told him to mix a handful of salt in a glass of water and then drink it.

“How does it taste?” the master asked.

“Bitter,” said the apprentice.

The master chuckled and then asked the young man to take the same handful of salt and put it in the lake. The two walked in silence to the nearby lake and once the apprentice swirled his handful of salt in the water, the old man said, “Now drink from the lake.”

As the water dripped down the young man’s chin, the master asked, “How does it taste?”

“Fresh,” remarked the apprentice.

“Do you taste the salt?” asked the master.

“No,” said the young man. At this the master sat beside this serious young man, and explained softly,

“The pain of life is pure salt; no more, no less. The amount of pain in life remains exactly the same. However, the amount of bitterness we taste depends on the container we put the pain in. So when you are in pain, the only thing you can do is to enlarge your sense of things. Stop being a glass. Become a lake.”

Ebola Bugout Plan

Tags

, , , , ,

I keep reading articles about how difficult it is to contract Ebola and that there is nothing to worry about.  Lets get one thing straight, you actually have to fornicate to contract AIDS yet over 36 million people have died of that.

Bugout boat

Call us nuts but we are preparing for bad things to happen and Ebola is only one of the Many things it could be.  I’ll never understand why people insure their houses, cars, boats… yet they won’t have a simple plan to insure the safety of their family.  One must only back to go back to Hurricane Katrina to see complete and total failure of how to prepare, react or in the worst case expect a government agency to to take care of you.  If you don’t have a boat buy one.  If you have a boat stock the crap out of it.  The worst thing that can happen if you have a well prepared bug out boat is that you get to have a lot of fun with it and it will always be stocked with yummy food.  Were not paranoid in the least, we don’t have to be because we are prepared.  Better yet once we have the boat fully stocked we can take off anytime we want in a moments notice to go out and play, its a win win situation.

bugout island

Aside from our paranoid delusions of grandeur we have finally gotten rid of all superfluous items on boat in order to maximize our toy and booze capacity without compramizing our existing stores lockers. Now all we need to do is figure out how to have 10 cases of wine and a case of scotch delivered from Bellingham. Every fall I reread Aesop’s The Ant and the Grasshopper, pull your head out of the sand winter is coming!

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
― Charles Darwin

Old San Juan

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

My first glimpse of the San Juan islands was from the air.  The charter company I was working for had a 40′ sailboat stranded in Friday Harbor with a broken transmission.  I offered to fly over and deliver her home.  It was sitting right seat in a Cessna 210 that  I first discovered this tiny Island paradise now a part of the Salish Sea.

xtratuf boots

Sailing home that day is still one of my more memorable days in the islands, even with a full size chart book and plotter I was lost for the first hour, everything looked the same yet very different.  It was also my first lesson in the local currents and the havoc they can play on the unprepared.

dog carrier

Now that we live aboard full time we don’t call any one place our home other than Sookie.

lime kiln state park

We don’t have any bills or a home mailing mailing address.  If you want to find us General Delivery is the only way.

dog beach

No phone, no keys, no time table, our lives are directed by the seasons, the sun, the moon and the stars.

Flap Jill Pack

Our jobs take place behind the lens of my Nikons and on the keys of our Mac Books.

xtratuf boots

I needed some footage for a feature article I’m writing for Outside Magazine and had just finished laying my last coat of varnish just hours before the rain set in.

san juan wild life

We laid around drinking hot coffee and chatting about where we wanted to sail next when the weather broke.

san juan cattle point

Chloe was loaded into the dock cart, I grabbed one camera with my 18-55mm lens and the three of us hit the road.

san juan fox

We didn’t have any plans or itinerary, we just wanted to see everything.

Flapjill pack

You don’t have to go far or look very hard to find the beauty of old San Juan, its everywhere.

xtratuf boots

Driving home that evening we both decided that we could spend the rest of our days exploring this magical world lost in time.

xtratuf boots

While we have no plans to set any roots I know that someday down the road , I will build my tiny home and Emily will have her own goat farm.

magic mushroom

In the meantime we are content living everyday for what its worth, always eyeing the next journey but content to be where we are.xtratuf boots

“You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.”
― Ansel Adams

Hibermating Season

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

Voyaging sailors in the north like all mammals in the wild will crawl into thier warm Cabins to sleep the darkest coldest part of the winter away.  I always give myself till November first to have all of Sookies outside winterizations complete.  Once we reach November its only a short 51 days till winter solstice and the official end of our winter.

hibermate

Once I move inside its all about storing lots of food booze and snacks to sustain us for months on end, should winter actually find its way to the PNW we will be ready.  New cussions have been ordered and I’m in desperate search of a big puffy fluffy blanket to keep my hibermate warm and snuggled up before the first flakes of winter fly.

sailboat provisions

The days of short sails, hot buttered rum and finding good friends to hole up with and dry out are upon us.  Each day when Emily heads out to work I dive into the next project.  I’m still finding high paying pickup  work but on a tiny island like this it could end any day.  Our food rotation is going well but we can’t seem to exhaust the provisons I loaded aboard in the spring, some of it now several years old and still barely showing any signs of rust.

Falmouth Cutter

When you live aboard such a small boat with three souls condensation is a constant battle, locker by locker all winter long I will fight the good fight with mold, mildew and the constant cloud of condesation that hangs in the air making us wish for the lazy days of summer.  We seem to accumulate quite a bit of salt down below so once a year I clean every inch of the boat, its amazing how much dryer she stays once she is salt free.

Ground tackle

Cleaning and drying our primary anchor rode is a gross job but worth the effort.  Every year I flip the line from end to end.  After the rode is two years old I switch it to my secondary anchor rode that never gets used, then to my stern anchor that rarely gets used and then it all gets cut and spliced for new dock lines.  This insurance policy costs me 100 bucks a year and always guarantees that I have fresh strong line on my bower.  Dock lines never last more than one season around here and this practice that I have done since I owned my first boat costs less than replacing the lines once a year with pre spliced store bought dock lines.  Its always the little things that help you sleep at night.

Brightwork

My last coat of varnish has been laid and I’m praying it won’t rain till later this evening, I still have to paint the bowsprit and seal all the raw wood as Emily is waxing the whole boat, then its on to more fun projects that involve drills, taps, and lots of shiny new hardware.

Maxpedition Proteus

Sookie isn’t just a sailboat or our home, she is also our ticket to the world, bug out boat and just about the most fun you can have with your clothes on.

Why is the rabbit unafraid?  Because he is smarter than the Panther.

Simplify Your Life

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

A beggar had been sitting by the side of a road for over thirty years. One day a stranger walked by. “Spare some change?” mumbled the beggar, mechanically holding out his old baseball cap. “I have nothing to give you,” said the stranger. Then he asked: “What’s that you are sitting on?” “Nothing,” replied the beggar. “Just an old box. I have been sitting on it for as long as I can remember.” “Ever looked inside?” asked the stranger. “No,” said the beggar. “What’s the point? There’s nothing in there.” “Have a look inside,” insisted the stranger. The beggar managed to pry open the lid. With astonishment, disbelief, and elation, he saw that the box was filled with gold.cutting the dock lines

Several years ago I was fortunate enough to meet the builder of my Allegra 24.  When he asked if I had found the safe I was dumbfounded, I thought I knew every nook and cranny of that boat but when I returned home there it was with all the construction notes from day one to finish of that beautiful boat, it was a goldmine.

Living aboard a pocket cruiser

For the last three and a half years I have been trying to figure out why there is a dead space in my bilge with no access.  I have been getting ready to add a new water tank and started drilling exploratory holes and there it was under my nose this whole time.  I don’t know exactly what it is but there is something secretly tucked and sealed   patiently waiting to be discovered.  Its a sealed box but I have no idea what could possibly be in it.  Whatever it is, its surely a special treasure that the original builder went to great lengths to seal away in a hidden tomb.  All these years its just been sitting there, my imagination is running wild.

San Juan sailing

There have been so many times since I started this project that I have run into brick walls, financially, emotionally and intellectually.  Too many cold lonely winters, too many days all by myself in a windy wet boat yard, and far too many days as a solo sailor.  Now that the worst is behind I’m in no hurry to unearth this special hidden gold mine, whatever Sookie holds for us it can wait.  We have our annual refit budget refined and 6 months to finnish as much as we can before setting off to drift about the Salish Sea.  I needed a break from the insanity of beating winter and pulled out Ocean Passages for the world.  Were too busy living in the now to plan our future but it doesn’t hurt to take a secret peek at tomorrow.

Neah Bay to Westport, WA 100

Westport, WA to Columbia River, WA 40

Columbia River to Newport, OR 100

Newport, OR to Coos Bay, OR 75

Coos Bay, OR to Crescent City, CA 100

Crescent City, CA to Eureka, CA 65

Eureka, CA to Bodega Bay, CA 175

Bodega Bay, CA to San Francisco, CA 65

San Francisco, CA to Monterey, CA 90

Monterey, CA to Morrow Bay, CA 100

Morro Bay, CA to Santa Barbara, CA 100

Santa Barbara, CA to Newport Beach, CA 100

Each day we cross off yet another project, reduce our personal possessions to the bare minimum to make way for the new and come up with new ideas to make the boat more comfortable.  We got the new batteries in and I did it without electrocuting myself which was a big one off the list.  All new cushions are next followed by lifelines and then finally I’m going to put in real reefing gear and a topping lift.  I still can’t sail to windward in 25 knots of wind but thats all going to change.  I don’t know how we ended up with so much nice crap on this boat but eventually we will simplify to the bare minimum of everything we need and want, yard sail.

“Edit your life frequently and ruthlessly. It’s your masterpiece after all.”
― Nathan W. Morris

Counting Sheep

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

It was 3:00 am on a sultry Hollywood night, I was sitting on the set of Austin Powers; I had been hired as a disco dancer.  The gentleman I had been talking to excused himself and immediately a crew member walked over to me, do you know who that was?  It was Richard Branson!

Wake Surfing

I had just spent the last hour discussing public relations and how I was going to be the best PR agent in the world.  Richard has always been a mentor to me but in the dim light of the Warner Brothers backlot my poor eye sight had let me down, I had even used him as an example in everything I strive for in my business life.  Later that night I cornered him at dinner and we all had a good laugh, I was so young and naive in those days.  Even back then I had three full-time jobs.

I get some pretty entertaining comments from my troll fan base but this one especially  made me smile.    That’s awesome ! ;between college and age 36 ( when you left the corporate world ) you were a model an actor a photographer a jet set publicist to the stars a banker you ran some ( 3 , 4 ,5 ? )fairly large corporations were a journalist a photojournalist started many ( 4,5 ,6 ? ) small companies travelled the world by private jet and hitch hiking ” spent a lifetime at sea ” sailing the South Pacific , west coast of Central America , Hawaii and you ( in other posts , ) flew planes ; (no problems with double vision ? ) and set three Guinness world records ? ( don’t be so modest , what were your “silly” world records ? ) Really ? That’s freakin amazing ! How does a dyslexic college drop out get to run several large corporations and be a banker ( as I remember you were also in advertising ) while having a dozen or more careers in about 15 years , before the age of 35 ? Really I’d just like to know how you did it ? Sounds like a Leo de caprio movie . You could teach Forrest Gump a few things about life .  His math is a bit off but over the corse of that 28 year period I did many things and while life was good I felt like a total failure, like I wasn’t utilizing my life to the fullest capacity.

I get negative comments all the time, usually by people who want to live a lifestyle similar to mine but are too busy feeling sorry for themselves or trolling the internet spreading hate to ever accomplish anything meaningful in this life.  I always hear people tell me they don’t have time but it simply isn’t true, there are 24 hour in every day.  The famed Gettysburg Address was written in 5 minutes, the question is you don’t have time for what?

I always get made fun of for wearing my lifejacket when I swim but I’m also always the first one in the water.  I am absolutely petrified by water but I’m also drawn to it like a crackhead to his pipe.  Obstacles have always been my stepping stones to the top, you need dozens if not hundreds if you are going to be able to climb all the way out of the hole you have fallen into.  If you stick with it eventually you will run out of obstacles but not until you have reached the top.  Its the obstacles that give you the ability reach your goals and the experience of climbing over them that helps you retain them.

I recently found a series of videos and a book about a very young sailor girl who was sleeping in her car, lost and had just spent her last dime on her last warm meal.  Now three years later she has circumnavigated the Atlantic, put her paper to pen and published her first book and has a very entertaining series of videos on you tube.  I’m guessing this little sailorette has no knowledge of the meaning of the the word quit.

The world can’t hold you back.  Obstacles can’t hold you back.  Life can’t hold you back.  The only thing we fight in this life is ourselves.   I feel like the last 28 years of my life were reasonably well spent but now older and wiser I know the next 28 years will make my life up until this point look like counting Sheep.

Come on in friends, the water is fine.  O Brother Where Art thou

Zombie Apocalypse 2015

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

I reached into the locker and pulled out a can of pasta sauce, the lid read best if used by 2013, i wondered where and when I purchased that old can, didn’t matter dinner was delicious.  Unlike most Americans who are still paying for food they charged in 2013 were still eating food we bought in 2013.

Zombie Apocalypse

Sookies lockers are filled with edible souvenirs from all over the islands, every meal is like a time capsule.Doomsday preperation

I can’t believe how much food this boat holds.  I loaded the boat at the end of April for my cruise to Alaska, that was before Chloe became ill and I thought I would need a full six months of provisions to get us through.  Now 5 months later I’m down to my last case of wine and bottle of rum and a few pulls of whiskey.  Chloe still has nearly 80 lbs of dog food and I’m guessing there is still a good month or two to purge while we prepare to restock for the long cold winter.  I know I can drop half a year of food for two into this husky little cruiser but what about three?

small boat provisioning

Sookie was a cold and alien to me when I pulled her out of wraps last March.  It didn’t take long to bring her back from the long harsh winter.  Back then I never could have guessed that all my planning and preparation was for not but life works in mysterious ways.  Now half a year later Chloe is making a slow recovery, Emily has taken over as first mate and While we won’t be sailing to Alaska with the dog, adventure abounds everywhere.

boat stores

Emily is finally completely moved aboard and as I purge each locker in an attempt to put in better ventalation we have already started with our hoarding ways.  When I found natural peanut butter for $2.99 I bought 15 jars, this weekend is a canned food sale and we will get everything we can to keep this little escape module going.  I’m always asked why I’m buying 15 cans of this or 20 bags of chips or hot sauce by the case, my simple response is that I’m preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse.

San Juan Islands

By the time our food hoarding spree is complete we hope to add over a thousand pounds of stores plus another 300 lbs of dog food and of course our standard 500 lbs of wine.

IMG_1558

I’ve never been able to fully load all my lockers or get this little ship down on her DWL but she does seem to sail better the more weight she is carrying as long as we keep her ends relatively light.  People like to make fun of us for our hoarding ways but its just food and eventually it will all get eaten.  Emily wants me to teach her how to fish and forage, food is free for the taking everywhere and thats where our new journey begins.

“Make requests, not demands.

example: “please” kill that zombie honey, I’m out of bullets.”
― Jesse Petersen

Keeping Her Happily Aboard

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

I’ve spent the last hour Googling how to write fart sounds.  thbbbb, pffhhhtttt, zchtttt,  Pthddddd.  None of them can recreate the hilarity of my night with Emily.  Smack dab in the middle of cooking dinner I looked over and saw Emily doing the potty dance.

sailing mates

She noticed me noticing her, Oh my god Alan I need the bucket right now its an emergency.  The trouble with living aboard while doing the refit thing is that your home is in a constant state of construction.  She sat on the bucket and instantly let out a shreek.

Emily, Akk, Alan I just accidentally pooped in the bucket what to I do?

Alan, Go with it.

Emily, In front of you?

Alan, Isn’t it a little late to ask silly questions?

I went back to doing what I was doing while Emily happily sat on her bucket humming her favorite song while having her first pocket cruiser potty training.

living aboard

We all go about things in this world differently.  It didn’t take long to realize Emily had the right stuff.  When I did I hit her over the head with a club caveman style and dragged her into my cockpit by her nappy dreadlocks.  While neither of us are in any way shape or form perfect we are finding through trial and error that we are pretty damn right for each other.  When you live is such a small space as we do you better get pretty good at forgiving the others quirky behaviors.  My best advice is to choose your battles wisely.  Every day when Emily sets off to work I am curled up in the Saloon writing, as soon as the coast is clear I dive head first into the days projects but always have the boat spotless and put back together so when she returns I’m in the exact spot she left me.  For the first time this year we have a real battery on the boat and a second one is on the way. ukulele sailing

I have a little ships book and every single request Emily has made has gone into the book, one by one I cross them off the list and as each new addition finds its way into this boat she becomes a little more comfortable.  Sookie is like Aladdin’s Lamp.  She looks impossibly small from the outside but is quite large and comfy inside, perfect for the three of us.  Basking in the warm glow of our incandescent lights Emily seranaded me.  The warm tone of her ukulele set the mood while I cooked a huge pot of pasta.   Content that all is perfect in the world I looked over at Emily and loved her for loving all of my many imperfections.

blue water pocket cruiser

I’m selfish, impatient, and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I’m out of control, and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.  ~Marilyn Monroe

Sailing On A Shoestring

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

Emily picked up the cast iron skillet in a menacing manner and turned to me.  We both know she doesn’t know how to use it in the galley, yet she held it with all the skill of a Samurai Warrior. The entire scene played out in slow motion, every scenario ran through my head and they all finished with the same news headline.  Disgruntled sailing mate serves up a can of whoop ass for breakfast.

Falmouth cutter 22

Lets get one thing straight Alan, we can’t do everything.  The bike trip is off, Costa Rica is off, the winter road trip is off, everything is off.  We are going to get this boat right and comfy for our most basic sailing needs and you are taking me away!

Falmouth Cutter 22

Lets start at the very beginning, Money.  The average human being spends over 50% of their lives earning, managing, spending, saving and complexing over money.  Were not broke anymore but we are far from being retired.  I wanted to store the boat, pack the car, drive to Costa Rica and spend the winter as a cycling guide.  The only thing Emily cares about is making this boat our perfect little home, caring for both me and Chloe and learning every single thing she can about this little boat and how she moves and how to keep her moving.

Falmouth Cutter 22

 

The whole frying pan incident started and ended with the boat budget.  We sail and live on a shoestring budget but neither of us are suffering.  The challenge of finishing the boat, outfitting for blue water cruising, and tucking enough away for a year to two of freedom keeps us challenged and happy.  Keeping the boat simple is our biggest challenge but also are largest reward.  The icy bite of showering in the cockpit only lasts a few minutes, but the endorphins created last all day.

DSC_7557

Like Sookie, Emily is both my master and servant.  We jumped straight into this and both still have much to learn about each other, both our strenghts and weaknesses.  Together we learn when to push, when to pull and when to silently support the others needs.  There is a great deal of love and laughter on this boat but there are also the growing pains of squashing three souls into a 6′ cabin.  There are hundreds of books on how to buy, outfit and sail.  This blog isn’t isn’t a guide or how to anything, its just our story and how we are learning to do all the little things that keep our relationship happy, healthy and fun while we plot our course to adventure.

From the Log of Sookie.  Love is a word I never thought I would utter again yet here it is, like a storm at sea both frightening and beautiful at the same time… Salish Sea 2014

Schooner Or Later

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

Sitting in the Saloon of Siren by the warm glow of her lanterns surrounded by happy chatter I felt at peace with my decision, at home in a new space but mostly humbled to be ocupying what is truly one of most finely fitted yachts I have ever been aboard.

sailing small

Last week I was offered a straight across trade on a steel Colvin Pinky Schooner 36.  At 50 LOA she is not small or simple, she is a sailing machine.  I had spent countless quite evenings going over the listing and all her brand new gear.  This ship is ready for sea today and literally needs nothing but a crew of two with a large appetite for adventure.  She was launched in 2008 at a cost of over 300K not including labor.  Every inch of her is pure perfection from her hydraulic auto pilot to her diesel range/heater.  Radar, water maker, full electronics, offshore life raft…  Every detail down to her silk sheets called my name.

schooner or later

When I received that fateful call my heart sank.  A complete stranger was offering me my dream schooner, I hadn’t made a single inquirey as I could never afford such a ship but now she had found me and all I had to do was trade Sookie and she would be mine.  I’ve spent a lifetime at sea on on every boat from my 14′ West Wight Potter to multi million dollar mega yachts.  Not once in my life have I ever been on a boat that was such sweet perfection, her hand polished joinery so tight it would be better fit in a museum than on the salty brine.  When I first stepped aboard she instantly reminded me of the dream chalet I built on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe.  This boat was built for me in every way.  I would finally get to walk the decks of my own schooner, her new name Skank instantly came to mind, her long sleek black hull and new crispy sails would carry me up the inside passage in style, All I had to do was say yes.

Falmouth Cutter 22

I’m sitting in Sookies Cabin pecking at my keyboard less than 50 yards from Skank the cool of fall is in the air, the damp morning fog is burning off and my decision to keep Sookie was the easiest one I have ever made.  We all get two foot itis, want bigger better things, nicer things, more things.  That ship would have easily lasted me a lifetime but it’s not my style, big ships like fast women can’t keep my interest.  Sure its fun to dream and look and think and contemplate the infinite possibilities of the future but deep down we all have an internal reality check that if we listen to our hearts keeps us straight.  I have to admit there is a pang of remorse turning down such a fine yacht but it went to a good friend when I turned her down so she will always be in my family.

falmouth cutter 22

I wanted to do something special for Emily, to create something that is ours and ours alone.  I thought that that meant a new boat but it doesn’t.  Back to the drawing board  I put the Dana 24 at the top of my list, backed out of the offer I had made on it, what will some day be my last boat and pulled out my log book.  I knew I couldn’t afford this little Falmouth Cutter the day I bought her, pound for pound they are the most expensive boats ever built. I found Sookie alone and in pieces half way across the county, she needed everything but her bones were strong.  I took a chance and gambled my future on owning the finest boat ever designed or built.  It has been a frustrating and painstaking slow process and there are times when I feel like I will never finish.  I needed Skank to come into my life to remind me whats possible, she was 15 years in construction, you can’t rush it.

Falmouth Cutter

I think the hardship is what keeps me going, the on going challenge not only to my mind and body but spirit as well.  It wasn’t that long ago sitting in my air-conditioned office, being strangled with the boredom of security that I begged for freedom, adventure, adversity but most of all the ability to live my precious life before my few allotted days on this planet are over.  It was Sterling Haydens words that haunted me till the day I set myself free.  When I first read his book I was quick to judge that he never lived up to his own words.  Soon I learned that I could know nothing about him, a book, his book is nothing but a snap shot of his life.  It has taken me years to understand his words, perhaps a lifetime, somewhere out there between shadow and darkness we all find our adventure.  It isn’t about a boat, or a conquest.  It isn’t found on top of Mt Everest or in the middle of a raging hurricane.  Its the small daily challenges, rising to the occasion suppressing our fears and knowing that no matter how small our accomplishments were today that we are being true to ourself and doing what ever is is that we desire most in life.  The best medication for the tired, weary and sick is a life well lived, SYOB…

falmouth cutter

“To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. Otherwise, you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind known to yachtsmen who play with their boats at sea… “cruising” it is called. Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in. If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about.

“I’ve always wanted to sail to the south seas, but I can’t afford it.” What these men can’t afford is not to go. They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of “security.” And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine – and before we know it our lives are gone.

What does a man need – really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in – and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all – in the material sense, and we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention for the sheer idiocy of the charade.

The years thunder by, The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed.

Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life? ”
― Sterling Hayden, Wanderer

Simple Sailor

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

Sitting in the morning drizzle enjoying a hot cup of coffee I watched a beautiful 40′ Schooner back out in the calm of the morning.  The captain and crew couldn’t have been a day under 80 yet they did it in complete silence as they disappeared into the morning fog.

Falmouth Cutter 22

I crawled into the boat to fry and egg and there was a rap on the hull, I poked my head out and there was tom, when are you leaving for the horn he said with his salty crooked smile.  I met tom in Panama after sailing down the west coast of America.  I was a line handler on his canal transit.  Still recovering from food poisoning I fell asleep on the fore deck of his Tiny 28′ ketch, it seemed like a toy compared to the Islander 36 I had been sailing for the last year.  Tom had picked up my journal and was reading through it when I woke up.  You should publish this stuff Alan he insisted.  We sailed locally for a few weeks, it was on that trip that I truly fell in love with small simple boats. I also wrote a 5,000 word essay for Tom to put in a book he was writing.  I guess that trip was where I found my calling in this world.  Catching up was fun today but watching him walk away down the dock left an empty spot in my heart, winter is coming and with it the long, dark, cold and rainy nights.

falmouth cutter 22

Living a simple life leaves us with endless options,  The call to sail warm waters is so strong yet there is something so magical about sailing the Salish Sea that I just can’t bring myself to leave.  When I arrived in Washington 6 years ago it was with the express intent of purchasing a small world cruiser and immediately leaving, these days it gets harder and harder to see the forrest through the trees and we both wonder if the grass is really greener.

Falmouth Cutter 22

Emily accidentally left the hatch partly open last night and we woke to a wet boat that stinks like an old dog.  I didn’t do the dishes last night so the galley is a wreck and I’m still wearing the filthy cloths I spent the last two days in laboring to clean a children’s fun house.  Our bilges are now cold enough to keep our beers ice cold, the transition to fall has started.  Its all part of living aboard in the PNW, winter is coming.  One of the best things we both find about sailing a small simple boat is that there are so many options open to us.  Emily wants to sail to Alaska, I want to go around Vancouver Island, we both want to get back to the South Pacific where we each have special memories of perfect passages, fresh fruit and crystal clear water.  Our new best friend is ocean passages for the world, we have made an offer on a wind vane and a new used main sail is on the way. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter which direction we go, we have each other and share the same dream.  Today is my five year anniversary with canceling my private web page and starting this blog.  I have shared every up and down, openly and honestly, a new story is unfolding.  It isn’t anything fancy, its just a story about how a little boat, a ragamuffin globe trotter and a hyper enthusiastic sailor who all came to be in the same place at the same time.

If you build it they will come. ~Field Of Dreams

Wax On Wax Off

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

I have always loved the song from Mary Poppins, Just a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down.  Now that Emily has her own boat I have the fun of teaching her to maintain it.

bright work

Sookie takes only about two weeks a year to maintain, one in the spring and one in fall.  Wax, woodwork, polish, check the rig, check the sails… We always pride ourselves on having the finest maintained yacht wherever we go, Sookie is our calling card after all.  The payoff is that there are never any surprises, we never have any failures other than the engine but thats always exciting and as long as we stay ahead of ourselves all the work is in small fun doses.

falmouth cutter 22

Now that the dust has settled we have gone back to being live-aboard day sailors.  The weather has been perfect and its busy as ever here which makes it hard to get anything done.  There is always something curious going on in the harbor and we feel the need to investigate anything that smells like fun.   We have slipped back into our simple routine and are really getting excited for the wind to show up again, sailing season is upon us.

sailor girl

I’ve been ignoring things like a proper topping lift and reefing gear, now that there is a smaller set of hands working the boat I may also need to add a few winches to the mast.  Sookie may only be 22′ on deck but her rig is sized more like a 30’er so everything needs to be made for a smaller framed person.  The only thing on this boat I really worry about as far as Emily is concerned is the ground tackle.  I always do all the anchoring but in an emergency she will need to be able to handle everything.  We have given ourself till November 1st  to get as much done on the rig as we can then we move inside to the galley, plumbing, new cussions, batteries and solar, I have even considered having GPS onboard, go figure.

falmouth cutter 22

We’ve come along way as a team in a short amount of time but we have only just begun.  You see it far too often the chauvinist sailor who only lets his wife steer the boat and he does everything else never really teaching her anything, it seems such a lonely way to sail through life, I will never be that guy.  Each day Emily gets small doses on everything from engines and docking to the finer details of navigation and seamanship.  Before you build a skyscraper first you must build a firm foundation.

falmouth cutter 22

“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.”
― Phil Jackson

It’s Her Boat Too

Tags

, , , , , , ,

Sitting in the morning sun the smell of potatoes and onions wafts out into the cockpit. Today is a special day, we have farm fresh eggs and veggies to add into the mix.  Chloe is already napping in her shady spot on the dock, another prefect day in paradise.

Small boat provisioning

Our meals like our lives are simple yet nourishing and fulfilling.  Chloe has turned the corner and seems to be getting a bit better.  My mother has also turned the corner and seems to be getting better.  Its been  a trying summer and we both hope the worst is behind us.  Ive read Lin Pardeys words a thousand times about choosing your window of opportunity but until this summer I never understood how important it is.  It was a tough decision with so many options but we have decided to winter over in the San Juan’s.

This week has been the craiziest of the summer with so many amazing options and new boats to choose from.  We were offered a straight across trade on one of the most amazing yachts I have ever seen but in the end we both know that small and simple is more fun, for us anyways.

We still have about 6 more weeks till winter rears its ugly head and the clock is against us, Emily still needs to paint the bowsprit and wax the topsides and I still need to finish all the woodwork before we can retire for the winter and hunker down a like two little rabbits in our cozy little rabbit hole.

The process of putting Sookie up for sale and finding a newer more affordable boat has been a fun yet daunting process.  In the end we learned a lot both about our needs verse our wants and also were reminded of how simple little Sookie is and now that all crisiss seem to have been averted “knock on wood”  we can go back to doing what we do best which is being lazy yachters enjoying all that this big beautiful world provides for us.

I could have gone about this whole process in many different ways but in the end I knew if I gave the total responsibility of choosing our new boat to Emily that she would know that it’s her boat too.

“The right thing at the wrong tme is the wrong thing.”
― Joshua Harris,

The Venerable Dana 24

Tags

, , , , , , ,

In the late 90’s I came as close as you can possibly come to owning the best Dana 24 ever built.  The difference between buyer and seller was painfully close but I couldn’t muster the difference and I refuse to finance anything in life no matter how small.

Dana 24

Not much has changed and we are in the position to acquire a sail away version of what can only be described as simple perfection.  The Dana 24 came in many flavors and this modern classic will always always be on my A list.  The late model yacht fitted out with stainless steel hand rails, an aluminum toe rail and just enough wood to ingnore was nothing short of everything I have dreamed about over the years.  Her wooden bowsprit and teak rub rail adding a very traditional look and feel to her modern lines that can and will take you in safety and comfort anywhere you can dream of.

Dana 24

So why when I own one of only a handful the beautifully built classic Falmouth Cutters would I ever dream of letting her go?  Lin Pardey said it best when she told us you will always be missing out on something when you choose your path.  I don’t have a single complaint about my little Sookie but she is far from being ready for her intended purpose.  I purchased this little yacht to a do a solo west to east rounding of the Cape Horn and thats how she is built and outfitted.  For three and a half years I have put every ounce of my energy into her and she shows.  I try and make this whole process as much about Emily as I do about the boat but the truth is this boat will likely never be hers.  With a new boat it would be ours and the creation would grow together.  Each journey would be our first with the boat, each new addition would be done together and every time we bump dock or ding the boat it would be ours not mine.  I left the ultimate desision up to Emily because the truth is I can happily love any and all of these boats and each one represents a new opportunity to grow as a sailor and many new challanges of eking everythng out of a new boat.

Dana 24

We both equally love the Dana 24 and Her layout will grow with us in our golden years.  Her interior design is genius and having had the same interior on my Allegra 24 I know it and love it.  We talked and made lists deep into the evening till the sand man came and took Emily away but I am a night owl.  Sitting in my bunk listening to the wind scream through the rigging I quietly climbed into the cockpit to enjoy the balmy night air.  25 knot winds made the evening magical as we sat comfortably in our new winter slip.  Our little electric hearter plugged in keeping the cozy interior warm and dry.  The contours of Sookie lit by candle told me what I knew almost 4 years ago when I risked everything and spent my life savings on her the day my divorce was final.  I never expected to find a companion so truly perfect for me as Emily but in her I have found a new home, a new purpose and also a new level of patience.  Her youthful carelessness often has me pulling my hair out but each and every day we are growing as a couple, a team and mostly as a single unit.  Yesterday was the first time she took over as captain of Sookie and some day soon it will be her full time job.  The only remaining question is which boat will she choose, or more importantly which boat will choose her.

dana 24

Which ever boat she chooses its a win win situation I will just have to patiently wait.  Who knows, maybe that Schooner will be the wild card.

Why Is a Ship Called a ‘She’?
A ship is called a ‘she’ because there is always a great deal of bustle around her; there is usually a gang of men about; she has a waist and stays; it takes a lot of paint to keep her good looking; it is not the initial expense that breaks you, it is the upkeep; she can be all decked out; it takes an experienced man to handle her correctly; and without a man at the helm, she is absolutely un-controllable; she shows her topsides, hides her bottom and, when coming into port, always heads for the buoys. – Robert Young

Kibosh

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

Rarely have I ever seen a boat as finely designed or built as the Nor’sea 27.  Each and every hull pulled from a sparkling clean mold and hand built to the most exacting standards, they are a pure example of how to built an impossibly perfect ship.

Nor'sea 27

Emily has been on several Nor’sea 27’s and fell in love with each one in its own way.  Having a finished boat with no debt is my dream and this little 27 we have been seriously considering is just that.  I was a bit surprised when Emily stone cold threw the Kibosh on the deal sending us back to square one.

Nor'sea 27

There wasn’t any single feature that that we didn’t love, in fact saying that this is one of my all time favorite boats would be an understatement.  In the end we decided we weren’t ready to give up our super simple and elegant layout, wide decks, a private V-berth and huge galley.  The Nor’sea 27 would give us a longer water line and more speed off the wind but also a cut a way forefoot and a substanially more complex and expensive boat.  My love affair hasn’t ended but for now we have placed this fine little ship as third on our list.  The Dana 24 was the last and on top of our list until the opportunity to own a brand new 36′ schooner fell onto our laps.  I wouldn’t want such a huge boat forever but the thought of doing a winter cruise up to Alaska is a very real dream of mine.  I already named the book Schooner or Later but that will have to wait untill we ponder all the excellent attributes of the Pacific Seacraft  Dana 24.

For every complicated boat problem, there is a simple and elegant solution – which is almost always wrong. – Mike Bennett, Cupertino

The List

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

Sometimes I feel like a marionette being controlled by the universe and all the little attached strings that propel me from here to there.  We all have strings, some may call it baggage but those tiny dock lines of life that keep us secured and safe at the dock are also the chains that bind.marionette

Every path leads somewhere, the age old question is which path to follow.  We have put the Bristol Channel cutter at the bottom of our list for now, not because we don’t love it but we are seeking the path of least resistance and its just more than we currently need.  I have put Emily in charge of The List, each item added crossed off or removed brings us one step closer to a new path.  We try not to look too far ahead of ourselves as life is constantly changing but we know we have at least two years of cruising ahead of us in local waters so the prioritys on that list are geared towards local sailing rather than passage making.

If our current goal was pasage making we could suffer a bit and go but that isn’t what either of us want, not yet anyways.  Winter is coming which means cold, wet sailing, slippery decks and lots of moisture below.  It also means entertaining friends in our cozy little cabin, hot buttered rum and long romantic winter nights.  Little things like new cussions with water resistant fabric will keep the boat drier, warmer and more comfortable.  I say drier because when it rains 25 hours a day and you walk your dog 8 times a day the boat is never dry inside.  We have been making good progress at completely emptying the boat of all food and non necessary items so we can tackle the job of improving ventilation in our lockers.  The whole boat is insulated from the waterline up and a few small improvement should make a huge difference.  The drill is coming out and it will be a fun but scary job.

We fell into a beautiful late model Nor’sea 27 but we are both wondering if its the right move.  Its turn key and has everything we need for blue water sailing.  Buying this boat would be the easy route but is it the proper path?  Emily loves our bucket and doesn’t care about a flush toilet or the hot shower.  I love the wind vane and new tanbark sails but the inboard diesel seems overkill on a 27′ sailboat.  Its always bothered me that a diesel engine is the heart and soul of a boat designed and built to run free with the wind.  I’ve gone to great lengths to make Sookie unstoppable and while we are always barely one step above camping her beauty is in her simplicity.  The Nor’sea has 12 thru hulls Sookie has three.  The Nor’sea is faster off the wind but slower on every other point of sail.  Her decks are skinnier than Sookies and she has an offset companionway that has never really seemed safe to me.  Her cockpit on the other hand is the most comfortable of any boat I have sailed and can be made into a double hooneymoon bunk for sleeping under the stars.

Our list grows, shrinks and changes daily. It’s fun to think about the infinite possibilities but the more we look the more we appreciate the layout and simplicity of our tiny ship.  Tonight we will decide if we move foreword or push the Nor’sea into third place and move the Dana 24 into second.  I have always loved the clean simple lines of the Dana 24.  At the end of the day we want to own our boat, not the other way around.  Last night we were offered a straight trade for an exquiste 36′ schooner built in 2008. She is steel and turn key with everything from a diesel stove to a water maker.  At 50′ LOA and 22,000 lbs this is a huge boat and as fun as it is to dream about its simply not our style.

Sitting in the morning sun with a piping hot cup of black coffee the rythmic pulse of sanding my taff rail lets me drift off to where I began.  This quiet time is much needed as everything else around here is a whirlwind of activity.  Its my time on the water and lessons learned at sea that present all the facts to Emily but its her youthful way that reminds me of the difference between needs and wants.  At the end of the day she will choose our destiny… with my approval of course.

“The hardest thing to do is simplify your life. It’s so easy to make it complex.” -Yvon Chouinard 

Finding Your Sailing Mate

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

When I first met Emily I was deep in a boat project, chatted for a few minutes, piled a bunch of sailing books into her arms and shoed her away. I had spent the last few years quietly waiting for the perfect mate to come along but on this day both it and her were the last things on my mind.

DSC_6731 copy

A lot has changed since that day but I’m still here still doing projects for that some day when the stars align and my time comes to make the metamorphosis from a transinet working sailor to a voyager.  For now sailing from port to port in search of work and play fills me with enough enthusiasm to keep moving foreward but every day the itch grows a little stronger.  When Emily asked if she could move aboard I said no, still living in constant fear of what I desired most, a sailing partner.  Summer slowly came to an end, Emily quit her job, accepted a new one, packed her bags and said her goodbyes to all of us.  Like Emily I was ready to move on, hoping to winter over in Port Townsend to earn a few freedom chips while I wait to see what the universe has in store for me.

Falmouth cutter 22

 

Emily spent the last night on the boat before her departure.  I wanted more than anything to ask her to stay but she had her life and I had mine.  I make it a very serious habit to not ask for things from other people, I always figure what’s meant to be is meant to be.  It wasn’t difficult to see where the evening was going.  She was desperate for me to ask her to stay but it wasn’t in the stars.  Emily went for a long walk to sort through her feelings and when she came back let loose on me.  I listened to everything she had to say and while I wasn’t comfortable giving up my man cave to a tween novice fueled with an ever growing dream of a lifestyle she new very little about, I made her and offer.

Falmouth Cutter 22

I laid out the ships rules, my rules and everything in-between.  I told her I wasn’t willing to commit to anything but that I would be willing to take it one day at a time and that if she stayed either of us had the open option of leaving at any point period.  Moving a novice sailor onto such a small boat took time.  We had been together the whole summer but she would always leave giving me my much needed space to write and chill.  We have survived our first month together and small, well thought out projects make the boat a little larger each day.  We are also both learning to live together in such a small space and learning to read eachothers ever changing moods.  When it all becomes too much which can happen easily in such a small space I either crawl into the V-berth to read or sulk or I send her to bed so I can write in the salon.  This is a big and slow process for both of us but its also working out quite well minus the ocasional head butting that would happen anywhere, but is much more likely to happen in the confines of a small yacht.

True love

Finding a larger boat is often the topic while we share small simple meals by candle light in the cozy saloon but one by one we keep crossing the Other Boat off the list. The final three on our list are the Bristol Channel Cutter 28, Nor’Sea 27 and Dana 24 and while we can easily find reasons why all these boats might be good for us we can also find many reasons why the small boat we already own is better for us than the alternitive.  I’ve been going about this solo for so long I had forgotten how fun it is when you are doing it with your best friend.

Falmouth Cutter 22

We always learn so much at boat seminars.  The underlying them always seems to be that people who marry their best friends always make the most successful cruising partners.  Spending time with so many couples who have been through so much together but still look into each others eyes the way they did during their honeymoon years tells volumes about the benefits of being incredibly patient and flexible when it comes to finding your partner.  We’re still taking it all in one day at a time, its just that each day becomes significantly more important when we live them together.  It’s not always easy but it’s always worth it.

I never expected it to be easy.  ~ Lin Pardey

Cultural Collateral

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , ,

Sooner or later in life everybody will accomplish something great.  My aspirations might be less than the next guys but somehow I have managed Forrest Gump my way through the world.

Taleisin

What is it that I seek in this world?  Friendship is what makes me tick. Not paper friends or the kind you have at the office or down on the docks, or your weekend riding buddies. I seek out truly great people who love me as much as I love them and Port Townsend was affirmation that I am truly blessed in this department.

small craft advisor

From the second I set foot on Terra Firma in PT I was pushed pulled and dragged in every direction north, south, east, and west.  I don’t go to the show to see pretty boats and fancy gadgets although those are always fun.  I go for the people.  It doesn’t matter who you say hi to, everybody there has their own story and this years boat show lived up to its rumors and was without a doubt the greatest show on earth.

lyle hess 32

The number one reason I went was to see Karen and Jim’s presentation on lessons learned from sailing a 24′ sailboat from PT to NZ.  Not only did they offer their beautiful yacht to us for the weekend but they insisted that we accept their unbelievably generous offer.  Their presentation was hands down the most fun and enjoyable show I had ever been to and I’ve been to all of them.  Karen tried to introduce me to her good friend Cathy which was awesome because I sold the most beautiful Crealock 37 in the world to Cathy and her husband Bill years before.  The boat is now in South Africa having gone two thirds of the way around the world and they have no intentions of ever stopping.  An hour later Bill showed up hugged me so hard my brains nearly squished through my ears, kidnapped us and poured ice cold beers down our throats.  Bill started talking about how before setting off he needed his emotional sponsors, now a seasoned world cruiser the tables have turned.  I was the blue water guru walking him through every step of his new boat, now Bill is my emotional sponsor.  We talked and laughed and listened and  again I was reminded through the evening and the weekend how much there is to be relearned in this constantly evolving art. I’m not talking electric gismos but good old canvas and all the different ways we use it to propel us driven by the wind from here to there.

Emily

I got to introduce Emily to Lin and Larry Pardey and true to form she told us secrets that somehow have never made it into print.  I wanted to kidnap Larry for the whole afternoon and talk about little Sookie but there is never enough time.  I ran into so many friends, new and old and while our conversations were always cut short as I was yanked from place to place it was truly special to see so many smiling faces, to receive so many giant bear hugs and to know that I was exactly where I was supposed to be, we all were.

friendship

Overwhelmed and tired we chatted on the way home as we rushed to make the ferry and pick up Chloe and for the first time Emily and I had a conversation about our future together, but thats another story.

sailing singles

“Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”
― Albert Camus

Failing Failing Over The Bounding Maine

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

I had spent the last several years traveling on an open ended journey of discovery.  The day I ran out of money wasn’t the end of the journey but the beginning of a new one.

040 (2)-2

I woke up in a hammock with my best friend Colette, the night before I had spent my last 20 bucks on a 12 pack of beer and box of cigarettes.  She rolled over and asked me what I was going to do next, my answer was simple.  Well Im flat broke, homeless and own nothing more than what I carry on my back.  I don’t think I can get any lower in life so I’m going to Hollywood to be an actor.  No matter what happens from this point on the only direction I can go is up.  

Little did I know that this moment in time was one of the most defining decisions of my life.  I laid my scant few possessions on the front lawn in the small but crowded town of Mission Beach and wrote garage sale on an old piece of white cardbord. I literally sold everything I owned with the exception of my daypack, an old flannel shirt my shower kit and a few tee shirts.  I spent a few days tramping around La Jolla before buying a one way train ticket to Los Angeles.  Within 10 days of arriving I was an actor on the set of Picture Perfect.  I was hired as a non union extra but it was paying work, they fed me and clothed me and it was my toe in the door.  It took me less than a year to get my first real acting role and with it came my SAG card and my introduction to the Screen Actors Guild.  I did an average of 100 auditions to get a single role that would usually film for one or two days and then it was back to auditions again.

I’m not good at anything, any success I have in this world has been gained through attrition.  Holding Emily in my arms this morning, tears in her eyes I don’t have any thing brilliant to share with her so I just hold on like I’ll never let go.  The world can be a cold frightening place but it doesn’t ever have the power to crush us.  She bombed her interview with her dream job as a journalist on the Islands.  I know full well what it feels like to fail at virtually every attempt I make in this world at following my dreams, but I also know the feeling I have when against all odds I conquer the world.  One of my favorite sayings is You haven’t done enough laps around the track.

If you don’t have all the success you desire in this world its because you haven’t failed enough. From the Log Of Sookie… Headed to Port Townsend 2014

Folding Bike Love

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

I’ve always had a bike on my boat, usually a folder . I have never once rowed it to shore, but from the dock dwelling prospective they are awesome. I’ve been a dock queen out in the islands all summer as the most I can get away with right now is short day sails. It always makes me smile to see people walking their bikes down the dock as they are the best tools for exploration, provisioning or just a ride to a  new pub.dahon folding bike

A couple of years ago an a snowy Christmas Eve I strapped my panniers on my Dahon and rode up to the local co-op, only a few miles away but too far to walk. All bundled up with pink cheeks and a pink nose it felt great peddling through the brisk evening.

Cicely Alaska

I saw a friend driving in circles in the impossibly crowded parking lot when I arrived. I locked my dog and bike to a pole and did my shopping. I found everything I wanted and everything fit in nice and snug with a french roll strapped on top. My friend was still driving around looking for a spot to park in when I unlocked the bike and treated Chloe to a snack. Next was the chocolatier for a good bar of chocolate and then the video store for a christmas movie. It was down hill all the way and I rode right to my boat. I unclipped the saddle bags and put them in the boat folded the bike and stowed it in the aft locker and put everything away. This took about 5 minutes.

brompton

When my then wife got home I had hot buttered rum, fresh rolls and home made cream of mushroom soup waiting. I’m guessing by this time my friend had done her shopping and was fighting traffic to get home.

I love my bike

Like boats bikes come in all shapes, sizes and price ranges.  If you don’t own a bike but you have the means I highly suggest you go out and find a perfect match, it just may save your life.  In a few short weeks I will celebrate my five year anniversary with going car-less.

Bike Friday

“When you’re turning the crankset, you’re riding the bike. When you’re coasting, you’re just along for the ride.” ~ Ned Overend

Rode To The Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival

Tags

, , , ,

I’ve heard rumors that the 2014 Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival is going to be an absolute once in a lifetime event.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve been to 10 shows or this is going to be your first, you don’t want to miss out this year  and if you do you will forever regret it.  Drop everything, clear your schedule and please do come say hi, we will be looking for you.

falmouth cutter 22

“A sailor is an artist whose medium is the wind. Live passionately, even if it kills you, because something is going to kill you anyway.”

— Webb Chiles, Sailor

Falmouth Cutter 22

“Never in my life before have I experienced such beauty, and fear at the same time”

— llen MacArthur, Sailor

sailing to port townsend

“I wanted freedom, open air and adventure. I found it on the sea.”

— Alaine Gerbault, Sailor

sailing

“When a man comes to like a sea life, he is not fit to live on land.”

— Dr. Samuel Johnson, Writer

lyle hess

“Yea foolish mortals, Noah’s flood is not yet subsided; two thirds of the fair world it yet covers.”  ~Herman Melville

living the dream

I hate storms, but calms undermine my spirits.  ~Bernard Moitessier

sailing

The cure for anything is saltwater – sweat, tears, or the sea.
-  Isak Dinesen

carol Hasse

There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.
- Old Norwegian Adage

lyle hess

I just thank God I don’t live in a trailer.
- Jimmy Buffet , Son of a son of a sailor

port townsend wooden boat show

To young men contemplating a voyage I would say go.  ~Joshua Slocum

lyle hess

 “The cabin of a small yacht is truly a wonderful thing; not only will it shelter you from a tempest, but from the other troubles in life, it is a safe retreat.”

— Francis Herreshoff, Boat Designer

Xtratuff

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

The words cancer were the last thing I ever expected to hear, my heart sank as the emergency room vet checked over Chloe with great concern.  She has really been having a tough time.  It’s hard to imagine that this is the same dog that chased a squirrel 10′ straight up a tree, saved me from a charging bear and has literally sailed all over the country with me both east and west coasts.

xtratuff doggie

When I adopted her 12 years ago we both made a pact that we would live forever and play and explore every inch of this country together.  In all that time she has never failed to wake up with a wagging tail and a lets go play attitude.  She is never grumpy and always has a glass half full personality no matter what the situation is.  When the Vet said the word cancer I knew she was wrong, I know Chloe far too well and she is a fighter and a surviver and this is not the end, nowhere near it.  It turns out I was right, she doesn’t have cancer but we still don’t know whats wrong with her, she is going down hill fast.

Bristol Channel Cutter 28

Chloe was laying under the shade in the cockpit drugged up and content when I heard my name called out across the marina.  I don’t know what it is but the bond between Jessie and Chloe has been as tight as it gets from the moment they met.  Chloe couldn’t get up but her little tail was wagging so hard as she struggled to get closer to Jessie.  Sometimes all any of us need is a little love to brighten the day.  I left the two of them and went back to boat work.  I peered out to check on them and Jessie was curled up around Chloe laying on the dock and gently stroking her.  It was the best medicine she could receive.

DSC_7151Lyle Hes 26

When Chloe first started going down hill I made every effort to make the boat more dog friendly and safer for her new condition.  I haven’t been very successful, while the layout on the boat is perfect for two adults, it is not very good for a 12 year old dog that still thinks she has the agility of a pup.  My first instinct was to sell the boat and get the dog on land but a sailing trip on a friends boat that is much safer for Chloe had me rethinking this.  She can barely walk up to shore to potty but what if I had a boat with bulwarks to keep her safe, the larger boat would be her new yard.  She has always loved sailing on both the Lyle Hess 26 and the Bristol Channel Cutter and they both offer her space to roam, and the safety and security that lets her make her way around the boat.  A flush cockpit with no hole to fall into also makes sailing more fun for all of us. Chloe has always loved living in the marina, she knows every person on every boat.  I have to say I have honestly never had the need or want for a boat as large as the Bristol Channel Cutter but I have started to search for one.  The 26 would be more ideal for all of us but with only 9 built I doubt I will ever find one.  I don’t know if finding a larger boat will be the answer but all I can do is try.  If it doesn’t make it any better I can always loan it to my brother.  We always have options but until you try you will never know what may have been.  As with all things this will pass. Chloe is Xtratuff.

My goal in life is to be as good of a person my dog already thinks I am.

The Last Days Of Summer

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

I can’t say for sure what the most important piece of gear on our boat is, but the most used one for sure is our shiny, white bucket.  Today was a day for ice cold baths with crystal clear San Juan rain water.  First it was Chloe’s turn, then mine and last but not least, Emily’s.

sailor girl

We discovered a funky smell in the boat and were sure it was one or all three of us put together.  What ever it was we were confident a good scrub would rid the air of the nautilus funk, it didn’t!

DSC_7356

I went through our lockers one by one till I found the culprit, one bad apple spoils the bunch.  One of our cans had rusted through and the carnage was puke inspiring; enter the magic bucket.

img_1734

Buckets are indeed one of the most valuable tools on a boat, read How to shit in a bucket.  They are great for potty emergencies, puking as mentioned above, laundry, and emergency blood removal.  You can use them to store ice and your ice cold beers, hauling oysters and crabs.  You can hang them off the side of the boat to clean your clams. They are cheap, last forever and you can store a bunch together is a tiny small space.  Not only will they save your sanity but they just may save your life and your boat if you need a fool proof bailer.  Emily was like a little girl splashing and playing naked in the cockpit, which also proves that a bucked can be more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”
― Plato

Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

I had never heard of Port Townsend on that fateful day that I drove into the Boat Haven Boat Yard.  The very first boat I saw was John Guzzwells Endangered Species, I was so excited I literally jumped out of a moving car and ran over to touch it.

Port Townsend wooden boat festiville

I have been fortunate enough to make it to every show since including last year when I had to hitchhike to PT and couch surf.  Things are a bit different this year, I will be arriving in style and staying in the Port Hudson Marina for the festival.

Pot Townsend Wooden Boat Show 2015

PT isn’t just a show, its a festival for boaters both sail and power, young and old.  An opportunity to see the ships that plied the seas before GPS and iPads.  The classics that young adventurers explored on before the modern world had taken over.

Falmouth Cutter 22

Karen and Jim will be my first show, followed by Lin and Larry and Steven Callahan.  Its about learning, sharing and meeting new friends who all share a love for the sea.

Port Townsend Boat show

Every year I have made wonderful new friends, the carnival atmoshpere is the greatest show on earth.  Keep your eyes open you never know what famous sailor will be sitting next to you.

Port Townsend Wooden Boat festival

There will be pirates and swashbucklers, mermaids and sirens.  Last year we found our way onto a tall ship on a warm balmy night, it was the rhythmic beat of the drums that lured us down to the wharf and the belly dancing bilge babes that kept us there.

Port Townsend wooden boat festival

I’ve always dreamed of spending a winter sailing out of Port Townsend with all the crusty old salts that have forgotten more about sailing than I will ever know.  Maybe this is the year I find work in this beautiful town and fulfill yet another dream.

Falmouth Cutter

 I love you Port Townsend

You Don’t Have To Sail Around The World

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , ,

I am the direct descendant of Indiana Jones, the real one not Harrison Ford. Nothing has been lost through the generations.  I have spent my life swashbuckling with pirate’s, fighting Nazi’s and in search of the Holly Grail…The last real Woman.  Its been over a year since I cut the dock lines and sailed away from Bellingham without a single penny to my name.  I haven’t made it very far, as of today I am less than 30 miles from where I set out from.

falmouth cutter

Lost in time on some tiny island I wrote Thats my story and I’m sticking to it, not much has changed.  I’m still out here very slowly exploring the islands, I still don’t have two pennies to rub together and yes this just may be the best damn day of my life.

DSC_7430

The honeymooners invited us out for a sail, three pulls of the outboard engine and nothing.  Our captain untied the dock lines and shoved us off the guest dock we hoisted the sails and were on our way.  The weather was perfect as we caught up on each others lives, each taking our turn at the tiller, the flush cockpit piled with good food and good company.  I looked back at all the boats in the marina and wondered where all the people were, we had the whole ocean to ourselves.

sailing couples

In six weeks of cruising the islands on an open-ended honeymoon our partners in crime have still used less than 2 gallons of fuel, I guess some people still sail.  We kidnapped them for a round the island tour topped off with a world championship round of bowling, we all won.

dingy girl

back in the harbor Emily has been learning to row her dingy and I can’t remember ever having laughed so hard as I watched her flailing about.  The weather here has been impossibly perfect.  I hear the eastern two thirds of the country are in for a record setting bitter cold winter but the the forecast for the islands is unseasonably warm, looks like its gonna be a winter made for sailing.

DSC_7385

Our good friend Jill dropped off fresh veggies from Waldron Island.  To celebrate we did nothing but eat all day long.  Every time I bite into this island goodness I’m shocked at how fresh and tasty everything is.  I don’t know how but we are both getting fat!

DSC_7355

Chloe didn’t approve of me spending the balance of our savings on Beer and snacks but her secret stash of treats is still full as are all of our bellies.  Every day around here is a miracle.  Last year when I wrote that there is magic in these islands I could have never imagined how much cutting the dock lines would change my life.  I may not have sailed around the world but our fun meters are pegged.

“At sea, I learned how little a person needs, not how much.”   ~Robin Lee Graham

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 836 other followers