Give me shelter

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The weather guesser was wrong again, it shouldn’t surprise me but it always catches me off gaurd.  Riding twelve miles though the inky black night in the pouring rain with no light was a challange, my body shivered uncontrollably.  I climbed into sookies cabin flung my wet clothes off in a pile and pulled on my warmies.  I left my rain soaked down bag for morning.  I love Sleeping under the stars but there is something so reassuring about having a good dry shelter.

I’m shellshocked from a brutal winter without protection from the wind and seas, it’s been a challange and will be my last winter aboard but it’s spring now so those things are far from my mind, sort of.  In exactly 5 months I will start hunkering down for a different type of winter, it sounds like such a short journey from here to there but it’s easy to stretch those distances. I could drive a car 50 miles in the blink if an eye and see and learn nothing.  By making the same journey on my bike it would easily stretch from an hour to a day or two and I could walk that same distance and turn it into a weeks journey.  My goal as always is to have a slow lazy spring summer and fall stuffed to the brim with fun and new experiences.

My new plane will be a Cessna 150, I’ve given myself three years to save for it and find the perfect grass strip, I won’t be obtaining my air ticket so I’ll need to keep her under the radar.  Anyone can fly a plane, flying well is a different story and that’s my goal. It’s a slow long term project as was acquiring Sookie so while I’m steadily moving forward it’s all research and searching.  The tiny home on the other hand has to be at least a finished shell before the first September rains, I can work on the interior through the long dark nights of winter .

Holly thinks we should build the home around the windows and this makes complete sense, they also happen to be the most expensive part of the build followed by a 8×15 car hauler that will be the foundation.  The budget for a complete build is 10k which realistically could fall as high as 20k again this will be stretched out but these islands are a gold mine of free and cheap building supply’s, construction and remodeling on this island is a year round buisiness and most people throw the old away.

I almost have my build spot secured, it will be within view and a short walk from Sookie, she will be spending her summer between the marina, my morning ball and on the hook.  The ringer is that we’ve started our spring training for a bike tour and hope to do at least two short trips on the bikes each month from now until when and if we set out, my knee will dictate that part of our life. There are only 24 short weekends before winter starts to creep in.

My days of carting around a one man tent that’s alsmost small enough to fit in my back pocket are over but finding a good tent that’s also strong, water resistant and light isn’t easy.  I recently wrote a review of my last tent based off of nearly 100 straight days of use for REI, they refused to post it preferring reviews like… this is the best tent ever, I used it one night in my backyard and I highly recomend this tent to anyone.  Finding anything of quality at a reasonable price is difficult these days but finding something that will last a over a hundred days is near impossible.

The old tarp is hard to beat, small, extremely weather proof and light, they do the job.  Unfortunately I’m like a little girl when it comes to bugs and need a solid shelter to keep the night critters at bay.  It’s hard to describe what it’s like waking up with a tarantula crawling across your face or a rattle snake snuggling up to you for warmth, yes I’ve gone soft. Funnel web spiders, foot long centipedes, scorpions, fire ants… screw that, this homey don’t play that game.

I’ve turned Sookies two full sized chart tables into drafting boards and locked myself inside for the day.  It’s in the fifties and thunderstorms with hail slowly march to the north occasionally hammering down on us reminding me that our painfully short spring is here.  The coffee is hot and I have a pile of fresh fruit to nourish me for the day.  Life in the islands isn’t an easy one but it fulfills my every desire, challanges me on a near daily basis and feeds the ever expanding desires of my A.D.D. Scattered brain.

All of this started with one simple question, can a bicycle truly replace my car.  My plate is full and I feel a bit scattered but all this is only the training grounds for a much bigger journey, one of 100% financial stability without working, freedom to roam but also to come home at anytime I choose. It’s taken years of struggle but I’ve built a solid foundation, it’s time to start banging nails…

From the log of Sookie, I stare at my compass and wonder why it’s always pointed north, unwaveringly; there is much to be learned from this simple device.

First world poverty

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Ive collected my 2016 income documents and again have sucessfuly earned less than the US poverty level in America, score!  To add insult to injury of the complelty backwards ass way Americans live or think they need to live im upping the ante.  My goal is to continue on at this income, I’ve also decided I need a plane, I have access to a grass strip and also Holly has convinced me to build her a tiny home so that project is up and rolling.

You can blame my parents for teaching me the value of the dollar and a litttle bit of income discretion but most of all it’s that while they have thought I was bat shit crazy since the day I was born they have always if ever reluctantly supported my happiness. I’ll have to check but now that their are two of us in this crazy bandwagon I might be allowed to earn a bit more which will help cause Av gas ain’t cheap.

I know so many who struggle financially, not because they don’t make enough money but because they spend too much, often far more than they earn. As an ex banker my number one rule for all purchases is cash and carry.  If you can’t afford to pay cash you can’t afford it and yes that goes for houses and planes. Debt freedom is the truest freedom you will ever know.

So I’ve been collecting treasures for constructing the new house, I have my feelers out for a sweet plane and yes Sookie is coming along quite well but as can be expected slowly but surely.  Land is still unaffordable but it’s not a matter of if the ecomeny will crash, its when will it crash, its inevitable and that’s when we’ll find our land deal.  When the market goes land in these islands is almost free. Statistically a full blown depression is on our doorstep. Yes I live in poverty but I also live in America where living in poverty is little more than a first world problem based off of our personal choices not circumstance, winter is coming…

 “Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” Warren Buffett 

Ukulele underground

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I’m sitting in the cockpit plucking my uke and enjoying my free time in the warm afternoon sun.  A guy walks by with his bongo and it’s on.  The sun on my face, the rhythmic beat of his drums, it captures my soul and takes me back to Little Beach and my naked fire girls.  I rip into Wipeout and he jams with me till I completely fuckup and lose myself, I’m still learning it.  The scotch comes out and we talk about boats, independent travel and freedom.

Boats come in all shapes and sizes, some with big clean and white spaces , others lined with dark cozy aged teak.  I’ve been on a boat that reminded me of the inside of a violin, with every joint fitted to perfection.  Sookie is more like a ukulele, small, easy and ready for anything the world can throw at her.  Her sophistication is in her simplicity and while I never stop dreaming of a larger boat I’ve turned down every offer made on her and some have been pretty amazing.

Buzzed on a tall glass of aged nectar I walk up to drop a load of laundry, my uke strung over my back just in case I find a perfect spot of shade or decide to give an impromptu show at the bar.  My little uke literally saved my life last winter in Hawaii when a made nearly a hundred bucks busking, that night I have one of the most appreciated meals I’ve ever experienced but starvation will do that to a person.

Strapped to the back of my Brompton I carried my uke through the rainforests of Washington and down the wind swept Oregon coast, it made me no shortage of friends and seemed to get the party started everynight.

Like boats ukes come in all shapes and sizes, I like simple ukes, nothing fancy but the patterns of the wood.  I love sapranos as their sound is magical.  The tenor has always felt too large and more like a mini guitar.  My little Koaloha concert hits every sweet spot both for a full voice, perfect sound and playability in the best size for travel.  To prove my love for her she is getting a bath and new strings tonight when my fingers give out and the laundry is done.

Lifes simple pleasers come in many forms, for me it’s on a scale of the smaller side, a good boat, my uke and all the time in the world to do a whole lot of nothing. Should you feel inclined these guys will treat you like King Kamehameha…

Riptide

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One of my very first ocean swimming lessons as a very young child was not to swim against a riptide, go with the flow.  Like a fish out of water it’s the land that seems to tug and rip at us the most, at sea everything makes sense.  With serveral hundred miles, a mountain range and an international border between us, there are times when it feels like the tide is at full rip.

North if the islands nestled in the woods on the edge of the Salish Sea in BC there is a cabin with a dock and it has Sookies name written all over it.  Half way around the world in the Caribbean there is a beautiful yacht and it has our names in it, not a new boat, just boat bumming for the winter.  Inbetween the extremes there as many other options as there are stars in the sky but one thing for sure, that damn border looms.

We each get six months as visitors or we can completely leave the country but I hate running.  I don’t want to feel like the rest of my life is on a time sechedule.  To stop swimming and let the riptide carry us away seems like the only logical choice and who is this magical girl on her Brompton?

Songs from my ukulele, I was scared of dentists and the dark
I was scared of pretty girls and starting conversations
Oh, all my friends are turning green
You’re the magician’s assistant in their dreams 

Oh, and they come unstuck -Riptide

Sea shanties

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I catch myself watching her with curiosity and amazement, I haven’t dated a city girl since before the turn of the century.  I told her to pack light, she showed up with more crap than I own, her rediculesness is part of her charm.  I’d be a fool to share my plans for her with her, if she had the slightest inkling she’d disappear like the late afternoon breeze in July leaving me drifting about on a lonely dead calm sea.

To arrive in a new port aboard a small and seaworthy vessel having navigated with little more than a paper chart under sail alone, this is an experience less than one in a million sailors will ever know. The feeling of accomplishment, the level of satisfaction, seamanship and as always a touch of luck and good fortune. This is what feeds my soul, not getting there, but being there.  Not relying on Diesel engines, high tech weather instruments and  space age navigational systems but to look at the clouds, to plot my course on a paper chart and to make my little ship do what she was designed to do, to sail under the wind, assisted by the tides and to always get me safely there with the same care that I lavishly adorn her with.

Very few will understand why I don’t add fancy conveniences like refrigeration, flush toilets, heat, pressure water, stereo systems and tens of thousands of dollars of electronic navigational aids.  Sure I could get in a car and drive 50 miles but what have I gained? To run that same distance is a near impossibility for 99.99 percent of the population, an experience that can’t be purchased with any amount of money, it’s a truly authentic experience as is a proper journey under sail.  I moved into a boat to escape the convinces of living in a house, not to take the burdens of modern society with me.  Sookie wasn’t designed to be a liveaboard sailboat, she was designed to carry a small crew to her home port safely and in some level of comefort having visited all the places he captain chooses to point her bowsprit.

No, I’d be a fool to try and share any of this with her at this point.  Any good pirate knows that the spoils of victory are achieved through plunder an pillage, if your not willing to take it, you will never have it.  I will continue slowly down the thorny path doing what I do best and one day she will scream at the top of her lungs when she realizes that she’s living the life of all those old sea shanties and filling the pages of the greatest unwritten novel of our generation…

From the log of Sookie, any island will do… Some old fool once told me not to burn my bridges. I prefer to find my way with the fires I set to the past and that only by burning these bridges will I have enough light to find the dawn. 

Cutters

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The late winter sun hangs lazily to the west, we’re trapped on a mountain palteau, it’s beautiful. We are stuck surrounded by wet crumbly sheer cliffs, the sun will set soon, there is no way out of here. We pull out our cameras and start shooting pictures of each other, they may be our last.  We tease and giggle poke fun at our situation, we lost the trail an hour ago and kept pushing through, higher and higher, the million dollar view may just cost us everything.

I glance at my watch, we have two hours of light on our side.  I’ve carried a few beers to drink at the top, decisions, decisions.  We could drink them at the bottom  in celebration of surviving the ordeal or drink them now, a possible catilist to our death by a speedy gravity assisted trip down. We slip and slide making fun of each other, always one arm extended making a human chain to stretch the distance to elusive hand holds.

Sitting safely on  the beach we have our victory beers, walking back to the road a slippery tree I’m scaling takes me down hard, a reminder of how quickly our situation can change. The gods have been good to us today.

Up and down and round and round our Bromptons  carry us through quiet country roads.  Muddy fields with lazy cows paint our scenery, lambs, goats and even a free boat are just the tip of our island forey.

The air feels warmer than it looks, spring has taken hold, daylight savings has generously given us more time in the saddle.  The south end store provides us with cheesy poofs and more cold beers…

Pink noses and brightly colored bikes shine like our smiles, we ride and endless island loop, this could go on forever, I hope it does.

From surf to turf and back again, I’ve explored all these places before but today they are all very different, the island light is magical.

Back at the boat for warm soup, cheese quesadillas and a well earned nap, life is good in the islands.

From the log of Sookie, Sookie looks like a bomb has gone off inside of her. Neatly folded bikes, warmies piled high and tasty snacks lining every inch of available space…

Love on two wheels

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I still haven’t given up my dream of cycling the Dalton Hwy on my Brompton from Dead Horse Alaska south to the San Juan Islands. In the knee department it’s still iffy but even if I have to wait a year to do it I will.  In the meantime I’ve been doing a lot of what Bromptons were actually built for and that’s traveling.  From the boat to the ferry to the bus to the train we’re traveling in style with easy riding, warm square beds and lots of hot running water, Brompty is going from inter-island to international.

Love on two wheels, that’s how I would describe it. Short hops from the coffee shop to wherever sounds like fun.  It’s hard to believe I’ve only had Brompty for 18 months considering all of the adventures we’ve gone on together but so far it’s just been a warm up.  A new ultralight two man tent is replacing the only one man, and now that we can share a bit of gear the bikes won’t necessarily be lighter but things can be snuck in a like a bottle of wine, an extra loaf of bread and chocolate, how uncivilized I was touring without chocolate.

Ultralight down, titanium, and all the fun stuff is rounding out what I now call our 24 hour bikes. Long days of exploring on the bikes followed by sunset picnics with easy to serve simple foods, great wine and a really good nights sleep and back to the hustle and bustle of my island get away.  This is a whole new side of bike touring I’ve rarely visited and never with a lover. She hasn’t figured it out yet but I’m secretly training Holly for bigger longer days and open ended journeys.

Brompty is completely disassembled, cleaned to perfection and ready to be put back together for another 2500 miles of exploration, this bike truly is a fun machine.  I’m on my third set of tires and finally settled on Marathons and my third chain mostly due the the harsh conditions I’ve ridden her though but other than that the bike is still flawless.  My upgrade to new touring grips is the only other non stock part on the bike and for the life of me I just can’t seem to figure any other necessary upgrade other than a new seat and maybe a titanium seat post but neither are priorities.

The big change is that I really want to remove the rear rack and fenders to shed a bit of weight for my summer riding but also make transitions to public transportation even more seamless by carrying less luggage.  Now that there are two of us it’s a much bigger reality as I won’t need as much packing space, even with the larger heavier tent I think I can pull this off.  For me 20lbs on the front and up to a max of 8 -10 in the seat bag is riding perfection.

My gear inches are 29″ to 88″ which is very standard for a touring bike carrying 15kgs but this doesn’t tell the whole story, pushing 16″ wheels means riding in granny gear is much easier than the math would suggest and those small wheels love climbing hills.  For the Dalton Hwy I have to carry more clothing and 13 days worth of food so for that ride I’ll be dropping to a 39 tooth front ring and adding a fully loaded 38 liter pack to the back of the bike, I had this set up when I toured in Hawaii and while it wasn’t ideal it did get the job done.

Today none of this matters, I’m packing for Canada and a secret rendezvous, all I’m bringing is the bike and a pile of cash.  I’ve got a lot of work to get this girl back together but I still have a few days so I’m going slow, cranking good music and eating lots of yummi snacks while my mind is off wandering without by body. Sometimes I feel like I’m the last person on the planet out here and I’m super stoked to be back in the big city with bright lights, noisy traffic and people everywhere, change is a good thing.

Millennial spring

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Dating a millennial is interesting for sure, there is an entire generation gapped between us.  I was learning to  drive a car before she was born, was out making my way through the world when she was in diapers and had retired to travel the world undersail before she was out of high school.  For all the differences we share, we have twice as many things in common.

I’m back aboard Sookie now but now for long, I’m already packing for my next trip to Canada for a romantic adventure in Bromoton land.  I’ve culled and cleaned and donated piles of stuff, Sookie is clean and simple but… I’m still wondering if a city girl can be happy is such a small space, I think the answer is yes, time will tell.  The boat is clean and fresh, piled with chocolate and good wine and tasty snacks, comfy squishy blankets and pillows fill the cozy v-berth.

Within the next month or so our lives will ignite like a nuclear explosion.  We have so many trips on the books I’m beginning to wonder if there are enough days in the year to do them all.  For now none of that matters, this is the calm before the storm, my chance to finish a few projects, continue stocking Sookie and get as much rest as I can and get all my ducks in a row, Sookie may be moving to British Columbia.

I take a deep breath and look at my watch, I have one more backpack load of donations, one more trip to the recycle bin, I need to get to the bank before 5:00 and it’s time to go to the food store for fresh beets, garlic and quinoa, maybe a bit of beer and…

Winter is dead, I can feel spring slipping in and the light rainy days have returned to feed the shire.  This is my favorite time of year in the islands, baby goats, sheep and bunnies will start appearing everywhere.  Wild turkeys will take over my quiet country roads and the island will explode in wild flowers.  Spring in the islands is for lovers.

Bedrock sandles

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My salty dogs are singing praise to my new minimalist Bedrock sandles.  They just arrived, hand delivered and are spot on, even for my OCD brain they are pure perfection.  The icing on the cake is that they are made in the USA and pretty kewl if I do say so myself. I’ve done everything from bike touring to section hiking the PCT for most of the length of California and even running a marathon in sandles, they are as close to barefoot as I can get with my crusty and well worn dogs which are appropriately nicknamed Tom and Jerry. The simple act of strapping them on my feet has me feeling like the Tarahumara in Born to run.

I’m a walker, I walk everywhere unless I’m on my faithful Brompty but even having that amazing steel horse I still love to walk.  People are always pulling over to offer me a ride and I’m like why the hell would I want to get in that piece of shit, planet destroying vehicle on such a beautiful day, or any day for that matter.  Light or dark, rain or shine I’m like Forrest Gump only a little slower in the brain.

I’ve been faithful to Chacos since 2001 but over the years I’ve noticed a very steep decline in the quality, then they moved to china which pissed me off to no end but by then I was addicted and in love even if each successive pair cost more and literally lasted me half as long.  I’m not cheap by any measure but I am thrifty as hell and dropping a C-note a year to China on foot wear doesn’t really meet my values.

I sent a letter to Chacos and while it was nice it was full of questions about quality  and the direction of their now offshore company.  Well it’s been a year and they still haven’t responded, nothing pisses me off more than customer service no service.  I felt as if they had broken up with me and thrown me in the trash, then I found Bedrock sandles and joy of joy I’ve found true love again.

They are light, tough and comfy, not to mention super sexy and they even match Brompty and my Topo designs day pack SCORE!  I’ll try not to get too gushy with all my lovydovy hyper-excitability over these sandles till I’ve dropped a few hundred miles on them but they are pretty cush. On top of all that they are members of 1% for the planet which puts them straight to the top of my I love you list.

Disclaimer As always on the very rare occasion that I actually find a product that I like enough to write about and stand behind 100% I will add that I am not affiliated in any way shape or form with the Bedrock sandles company, although, truthfully I wish I was.  Check them out on Instagram, they will blow your mind.

Minimalist exposure

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Ive finally given away all of my camera gear with the exception on one body and a 50mm lens.  I’d say back to basics but that would have me drawing pictures in the sand with a stick.  I’ve never liked the zoom lens, it seems to steal all of my creativity and lock me down into a technical world of dials, buttons, settings and a complete lack of what I’m really trying to do, to slow down time until it stops for just a 125th of a second.

My aprature is always preset to f16 a setting I never use but old habits die young and that’s where I would back calculate my exposure from 1/125, the old sunny 16 rule.  My life mirrors my photography I’m many ways.  I start with the very basics, some times I add to them and some times I subtract but always I have an equal quality of life to create that perfect balance between shadow and darkness, be-it work or play.

I watch a photographer on the dock pushing and pulling his subjects around, they have shelled out a pile of cash to make them look like something they are not, something they never will be.  He has an assistant with a flash and a reflector and tries to pull emotion out of their dead souls. Techniacally his numbers are perfect but life like great photography has very little to to with numbers, his over priced snapshots will result in digital images of fake people who can’t even bring a real smile and who really cares, do we always have to be smiling?  Why is it that the first word we learn is no, followed by cheese?  Are we being taught from birth that there will be no cheese?

I dry the snow from my camera and drop it back into its bag.  I’m drawing pictures and diagrams to send off to Holly who is very visual.  I don’t really use my camera for any relevant propose, I just use it to document my irrelevant life and often wonder if anyone really cares about images and words or If I’ve just become a 2 minute sidetrack to tedium and boredom.

I look at my watch, I have 2 hours to kill before my three hour work day begins, breakfast, coffee, stretch, ride, stretch, coffee, lunch.  I’ve pruned my life’s possessions to only the basics, time, energy and light.  By taking everything out of my life my most valuable tools now are time and freedom and yes there will be snapshots, with a few meaningless words…

A temple to the sea

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In all my life I’ve yet to sail a boat more fun than Sookie, from our first sail together on a beautiful full moon though all of our rough passages she has never let me down.  I would wait till the world was asleep and push her back from her slip, sailing engineless out of Bellingham bay can be difficult and the first half dozen attempts were unsuccessful but being alone at the helm of my ship even in those short midnight sails I felt like the king of the world.

I always took her at night just in case… engineless sailing certainly has its risks. Eventually I did make it out of the bay and those brilliantly dark inky nights left only the stars to guide us. Always a lady Sookie responds as a ship or a dinghy depending on what you ask her to do.  As much as I love charging along at or above hull speed it’s those balmy lazy afternoons where she gently pulls along always making way but in my favorite lazy fashion that I live for.

It’s hard to believe but today is our 6 year anniversary “happy anniversary baby”. She wouldn’t arrive until April second having literally been stolen by the shippers but six years ago today I was given my freedom and Sookie would be my magic carpet to the tiny world of the Salish Sea, my backyard. Bit by bit over the years I’ve added this and that.  What was to be a 2 year hundred thousand dollar complete rebuild turned into a 30 year scrap her together as I go and sail as often as I can project. The economy literally left me high and dry one day after she arrived.

My friend Sara was the first to spot her in her trailer making way into town but within an hour the whole boatyard was buzzing with congratulations on Bellingham’s newest sweetheart.  I nearly froze to death that week while the snow fell on my new home in the boatyeard and me with no heat but I didn’t care.  I piled on everything I owned and snuggled in tight with Chloe. She arrived on a Sunday, Monday morning three deals had crashed and burned turning my 13k commission into zero and leaving me with a life savings of 13 cents and not a drop of hope in sight.

It’s  snowing today  and chilly aboard, some things never change.  There is a long story about how Sookie found me again but I’ll save that one for later.  Ten years before she found me I found her and would often sit with her and drink wine admiring her beautiful lines while she gently tugged at her bits and as always when I said goodbye to her, I’d place my hand on her bowsprit and say someday… someday.

From the log of Horizon – I’ve found my new girl but today she is with another, I know this will test my patience but someday we will sail together, someday…

The #sailing life

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Somewhere deep in the recesses of Sookie I have thousands of pretty sailing images locked away for a future project I was supposed to finish months ago. The bilge pump is going off again, I’m not sinking and Sookie doesn’t leak a single drop, it’s condensation.  The same condensation keeps everything damp and feeds the mold that has me waking up with sore lungs.  Keeping the boat dry is a constant battle.  Protoecting my camera gear, computer gear, keeping my clothes dry enough that mold doesn’t start to grow on them, this is a few of the many realities of living aboard.

On the flip side, I’m clean and showered.  It’s laundry day and I have piles of warm clean clothes and sheets.  Fresh potatoes and onions are steaming in the hobb, hard boiled eggs chilling in cold water and I have a bottle of whiskey given to me by a very generous sailing couple who came knocking in my hatch at the suggestion of a good friend. The #sailing life can be a good one with the right attitude.

I stand at the border staring north, Canada has built a wall that spans the entire continent, I can visit but I can’t stay.  Standing on Canadian terrafirma staring south I see a different wall, it’s built by the United States, Holly can visit but she can’t stay.  The challanges are there but we are slowly wining the battle. I have Sookie and Brompty and a cottage on the shore, she has her own Brompty and a chalet in her small mountain town, the van is closer to reality than a dream but still, we live as one in two vastly different worlds.  She wants me to come be her house boy and I want her to come be my cabin girl, that damn boarder.  I guess it makes sense, every country in the word has a wall, maybe that’s what keeps us all civilized and free?

I’m always questioning what real freedom is.  Most of us have either comefort and safety or true freedom.  A very small percentage of us might experience both but even for those fortunate few more often than not it’s very short lived.  I push play on my new song list and blast music while I continue in my sketch book trying to create the almost perfect life.  I sidetrack to Instagram and enter #thesailinglife and look at really pretty pictures, snapshots in time and am reminded that those images only represent a millisecond of reality and just like my own pictures there is a ton of hard work and hardship between all the payday moments.

Freelancing has given me the freedom to roam, to go anywhere I want for as long as I want as long as I tote my minimalist digital office with me. I have enough money, enough food, enough freedom, enough… Im alone again for now, I send off a letter and sign it with the L word, patience I remind  myself, anything worth having is worth fighting for…

Some people never find it, some… only pretend.  But me: I just want to live happily ever after, now and then.  -jimmy Buffett 

Somewhere in Oregon

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Today I did my longest ride since returning from the Oregon coast, a very easy 25 miles, my knee is still janked.  I’m seriously considering a bionic knee or getting clipless pedals and continuing on with one leg.  I threw a pity party in the spa and now I have to face my upcoming reality, my long distance cycling career may be over.  I’m a little bent but have nothing but time on my hands to figure this out.

Living in the damp dank PNW my body always aches, funny how just hours off the plane in the tropics I feel like I’ve been given the body of a 25 year old, maybe I should start listening.  My only reason for the new steed is the amount of cactus the Baja divide will offer up to my tiny rubber tires.  Flashing back to my seven flats in one miserably soaking wet and wind torn day somewhere in Washington and I know I will need a different monster for Baja. I’m slightly limping around but the real pain is my potential reality of not making this trip.

To be honest I have felt terrible, like I’m two timing Brompty, my all time favorite touring bike but still, Baja looms.  I love dessert riding, the wild weather and being so far off the beaten path that nobody can save me but myself.  Self reliance has always been one of my better traits, not that I have many.  A gallon of water a day, more stretching and more slow riding will fill the rest of my week.  The winter weather has broken, spring is here in its full glory and Ive got a massive dose of wander lust.

I have all my ducks in a row but one, maybe a bike, train tour of Southern Europe  with short days is in order.  I could train from city to city and just be a damn tourist while sneaking in a few banging rides and ignoring the pain till it’s too much and then hop to the next city.  The thought of traveling without my bike is an impossibility. It’s desision time which is why I have a cup of noodles and a bottle of whisky, I’m really good at ignoring reality.  Either way if I taste defeat it won’t be from my warm perch by the fire overlooking the bay.  It will be out there, on my hands and knees facing the point where I can’t turn one more rotation…

“Passion and drive are not the same at all. Passion pulls you toward something you cannot resist. Drive pushes you toward something you feel compelled or obligated to do. If you know nothing about yourself, you can’t tell the difference. Once you gain a modicum of self-knowledge, you can express your passion…..It’s not about jumping through someone else’s hoops. That’s drive.” -Randy Komisar

Mi gusta tacos muchas porfavore

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The fastest I’ve ever gone on my bike is 65.7 mph.  My biggest air, about six stories and my days best run 135 miles.  I’ve been mountain biking since before it was a sport.  Back in the good old days the rangers would threaten us with arrest and heavy fines but it never stopped me. I pioneered El Prieto in 1984 and have never looked back.  Bikes have grown a millennia from my old custom built 5 speed Schwann beach cruiser but I still ride for the same old reason, because it’s fun.

Ive ordered my new karate monkey but still am working on the build.  I love riding single speed and rigid and have been since 2005 but my cranky old body is asking for a bit of plushness so I’m considering upgrading to something like the image alone which I bamboozled off of the web.  This bike and it’s luggage is rapidly growing in price and since I’ve already gone a cool grand over budget I’ve decided to top it all off with a Chris Bling pink headset, why the hell not.  I’ve also rented a cabana to store it and a place where I can focus on my knee with plenty of space to stretch out.

I’ve invented a new type of yoga, called angry yoga, when I enter my studio there is a yoga dummy hanging by the front enterence, every time I enter I say namaste and then punch the dummy in the face.  Angry yoga is a cross between San Soo and yoga and is great for strength training and relaxation.

I chose the Surly because I’m a creature of habit and my old Surly was the bomb.  Strong, fastish and relatively nimble, it also tracks like a freight train and those big 3″ tires will float through the Baja desert.  Staying true to my now 8 year boycott of cars I will ride my bike to the trail and that’s my biggest fear.  My complete failure at making it to the Mexican border last year is hanging heavy on my mind.  If I fail this trip I’m going to give up everything, grow a daddy belly and make crazy kids in a suburban hell and go back into banking.  What I’m getting at is that I have everything riding on this trip, aging sucks balls!

In the meantime I don’t want any anchors so I’m culling my life until there is nothing to distract me from focusing on making my body unstoppable.  My gear list is mostly complete and I’ll be adding a page here soon enough but that elusive pink riding skirt is still on the top of my list.

Baja divide 2017

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Its on!  It took about 6 hours of soul searching to commit to it.  The choices are simple, spend my summer sailing around solo and in complete isolation and lonely as shit, or jump on my iron horse and hit the road. It’s a really tough choice with so many great bikes out there but I’ve decided a Surly Karate Monkey with a 1×11  gearing will be the bike for the journey. I don’t want to hit Mexico before the end of October so I’ve got 7 months to kill depending on where I start.

If I start from Dead Horse Alaska it will be on or before May 14th.  If I start from Juno it will be early July and if I start from somewhere around here it will be towards the end of August unless I decide to to a quick Oregon tour in which case I’m already running late.  I’m still not sure if I’ll take a stock bike or build one from the frame up.  I’d like front suspension but it’s pricy, heavy and somewhat fragile.  I’ll be rolling 3″ tubeless tires and just like on Brompty all frame bags with the lightest load I can muster.

There is an old saying, if your not cold while wearing everything you have, you brought too much.  I was minimalist on Brompty, I’m going for full maximum minimalist on Monkey.  I’m not sure how to get to Seattle and back to pick up the new steed and all the crap that goes with it but this new journey has already started in the gear stage and by Monday morning I’ll be sending a doposite off on the new bike.

Ive  been in this weird depression induced funk since the day I gave in to my shit knee and that won’t happen again, I’ll be in the best shape of my life before I start this ride and progressively grow from there.  My wanderlust is peaking these days and I wish I could leave today, shit, maybe I will. I’m not much of a planner or a prepper but this ride will be one accompanied by gps, new lighter and smaller camera gear and fuck yes, open ended, I’m done with boats and boating for now. I need me a good taste of terra firma, camp fires and desert sunsets accompanied by my old friend that salty sweaty skank that only a touring cyclist can know.  Warm beers, tequila and cabbage tacos will be my dangling carrot all the way to the cape.

For anyone curious about the Baja divide, search it on Instagram or check out gypsybytrade the creater of this route and the single best blog in the planet earth.

I’m a moron but it was fun as shit

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This is beginning to be my life’s story.  It all started with a shower, a broken shower to be exact.  I wandered from stall to stall, though the boys locker room, the girls and finally settled on a quick dip in the spa as all the showers were broken.  I hadn’t really noticed that I was naked until going back to towel off when I spied my body in the tall mirrors. FUCK, how did I get so out of shape?  When I arrived just a few months ago I had 2% body fat, now I look like a sea monkey.

Ive been contemplating riding the Baja divide for quite some time, the question is when will I start and from where.  Do I take the Brompty or swap up to 650b Karate Monkey. Both have been rocking good touring bikes for me but the truth is the Brompton is more fun on all accounts. The Surly can carry more, as is more water and I don’t have to take care of it, I can just bash my brains out with its 2×10 gearing and fat tires but still.

A new Titanium Brompton will set me back exactly the same as a fully loaded Surly so price wise it’s a wash. On the moron adventure scale the Brompton will be a much bigger challange off road which equates to way better writing, or in my case at least more interesting writing. My last remaining neurons are firing like crazy at the prospect of a new expedition. Minimalist, ultralight and more than likely solo and with a tiny budget, I mean really what the hell could go wrong.

Im thinking Victoria in late August for a starting point but I could just as easily pick up in Newport where my last ride ended.  For me this is a big scary journey, being lost and out of water in the Sierra Nevadas of Baja Norte can be deadly.  I’m always lost so it’s inevitable that this ride will be one of the bigger challanges of my life. You know, the kind that after all is said and done your like, I’m a moron but it was fun as shit.

“Let them get lost, sunburnt, stranded, drowned, eaten by bears, buried alive under avalanches – that is the right and privilege of any free American.”-Edward Abbey

Forty hours of sheer terror

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Of all the things that I have experienced on a boat at sea, being with someone who is loosing their shit in heavy weather is by far the scariest.  It’s hard enough to take care of yourself and the boat but finding myself in this situation is something I work hard at avoiding.  I was solo in the worst Gale I’ve ever experienced and in many ways it was a good thing because it’s the most frightened I’ve ever been in my life.

The mental fatigue wears at you, the motion feels like you are slowly being beaten to death and physically things go south surprisingly fast.  For all my love of the sea, heavy weather sailing has never been something I enjoy although being caught in it has its finer points.  It’s impossible to understand the power and beauty of the sea unless you have been a spec on the ocean caught in her mighty fury.

At some point in our lives we call it and say enough is enough and decide to live a more sedate and comefortable life.  In thirty years of sailing I’ve met thousands of people who call them selfs sailors but less than a dozen with the skills to safely sail solo in Gale conditions in a small boat, it’s a whole different game. It’s a test 99.99% of sailors would fail if they had the courage “read stupidity” to show up. I’ve found my solace in this tiny sea that I dwell in but still the ocean calls.

My desire for a much larger and heavier sailboat is primarily based off of age and experience, I can’t tolerate what I could when I was 25 or 35.  I get fatigued easier, cold faster and my brain goes stupid in half the amount of time, this latter point is the most dangerous place a sailor can ever be and where most bad things happen out there.  To understand my position all you have to do is take your small boat, or any boat into a full blown gale in the straits a time and place very few will ever see.

I sent this amazing journey …continued in part two.

Brompton files

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I was rudely awakened by objects being thrown around the cabin at 3:00AM while Sookie was buffeted with 40 mile per hour gusts, it’s going to be a long stormy week, same as most of the winter has been.  With a poof I lit the hob pulled out my cycling luggage and made another round of cuts in the pre dawn darkness.  My next bicycle tour will be the ultimate in sophistication, minimalism and simplicity.

I’ve spent the last week, scrutinizing every piece of gear, studying every inch of Brompty and putting together the ultimate touring bicycle.  You learn a lot pedaling 2500 miles and my system is near perfect.

There is nothing I can do to make Brompty better, she is already flawless but the idea of upgrading to a titanium version has my mouth watering with dropping another 5 pounds off my load, I’ve already shed 15.  I have everything I need and not a gram more.  My only conflict is that they discontinued the orange frame this year and I can’t see dropping so much cash on a bike that isn’t the perfect coler for me.  As much as I love the rear rack its coming off for my next journey and that alone will save the equivent or two giant beers for the end of each day.

My tent is the other big WTF, I killed my brand new North Face tent in Gale force winds on the Oregon coast and am thinking a hammock might be an option but I honestly loved that little coffin of a tent till they day it died and other than it’s bright yellow color it was so tiny I could stealth camp easily in those creepy thick woods with out a problem.

Im going back to work for real so this may be my last hurrah till I can save enough for the new boat so this is a super big deal to me.  My knee is still not 100% but a lighter load and slower pace should see many beautiful miles out on the road.  I’ll be living very close to the edge without any backup clothing or parts  but I’m not worried about it, I don’t think it’s possible fo find worse weather than I did in my last trip.

Each day is three minutes longer, a smidge closer to our amazing early spring days and and I’m jonesing hard for the open road and the freedom of exploration it provides.  Long days in the saddle with big climbs, nasty headwinds and all those morons in thier cars, I’m so close I can almost taste the next journey.

Working under sail

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It’s hard to believe that my fifth summer in the islands is creeping up on me.  In that time I’ve slowly explored from Bellingham to the Desolation Sound and everywhere in between. While I’ve been on my slow journey I’ve watched friends circumnavigate, sail the Pacific Rim and cross as many oceans as exist on this big blue marble.

My journey has been a little different, than many but for the most part we all have one very similar obstacle, making money while we play.  Ive watched sailors like the kids from Sailing La Vagabond Crush it while others have flat run out of money and turned to scrubbing boat bottoms for 5 bucks an hour to keep their dreams alive. One friend of mine left with 500 bucks and sailed nearly 40,000 miles finding work along the way while others have had to hang up their boats for a year or two and return home to make ends meet.

Creativity and flexibility will get you father than anything.  I have some good friends who circumnavigated in sections always flying home to their real jobs and then back for the next leg. Then there are the ones who found their calling on land half way around the world, sold the boat, swallowed the hook and became expats. We all have different paths and different road maps but one singular goal, to experience the most our life’s have to offer before our fun meter runs out of tokens.

A very long time ago I gave up on the idea of ever meeting someone who adventures spirit can come even close to mine so I let those dreams of distant lands take a back seat to what I do have, the Salish Sea and all of her glory.  I love the challange this area represents with her wild swings in weather, insane currents and bagillions of navigational hazards.  I’m reminded of the old story, Who moved my cheese. If we aren’t constantly adapting to our new enviourmnets  the vortex of time will steal our youth and replace it with regret and stagnation. I literally am afraid of my own shadow but it’s never stopped me from chasing it.

 

Limitless

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It’s been a few amazing years now, but I remember her words like it was yesterday.  “Stormy, you’ve just lost everything you have in the world, what makes you think you can just aquire your dream boat and sail off into the sunset”. I gave her the only response I have ever known. “What makes you think I can’t”.

Sookie is loaded to the brim and trim, I can still drop another thousand pounds of crap in her and everything will find it’s place, I like a tidy boat.  I’m convinced that after the last smattering of bitter cold and piles of snow quietly dissolve  into nothing but a distant memory that spring will be creeping in. Boat maintenance, a few thoughtful upgrades and 9 months of near perfect sailing weather is hanging in the balance.

She is my mobile office, time transport and therapist all rolled into one. I have a date with my destiny far north from here and need to do some negotiating and sea trails.  What I’ve learned this year is that while I love all boats new and old, large and small, that I have become a complete boat snob when it comes to my personal tastes.  As of yet I’ve not sailed any boat that is half as much fun as Sookie and I’ll never call anything short of perfection my home.  I guess I feel that after a lifetime on the sea that I finally deserve what’s best for me.

When done right sailing is of the most romantic ventures in the world and in many ways extremely sexy.  My old sea boots, a razor sharp knife on my hip and my shiny, sparkly chronometer on my wrist is all I need out there, anything else is just fluff. Paper charts guide me with age old tools including my hand me down lead line and puck compass. A good pair of oil skins and super thick wool socks get me through the hard days and my Mankini gets me through the hot lazy days of summer.

Its true, I don’t have any plans to head anywhere but I also don’t have any to stay here.  Spring will guide me to summer and summer to fall. Any day now Sookies main will get bent back on, her jibs hanked and bagged and her anchor line replaced. I’m getting all my ducks in a row for the slow lallygag life I love living as a summer sailor.

Lyle Hess 34

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They slowly sailed by bailing about half a gallon a minute, sometimes you just have to get out and sail, the boat will never be finished.  Last night tucked in two sleeping bags, all my blankets and still cold I pulled out my backup heater, it’s not safe but desperation got the best of me, it was cold as hell and my main heater is shorting out, guess that one isn’t very safe either.

Snow is blowing sideways, the island is a complete white out but soon it will get up to 50 degrees, I pray that this is the last of it and again I’m shopping a wood stove that will do justice to Sookies warm cozy interior.  It has to be artful and traditional as well as functional, Sookie only gets the best.  So another day of freezing my ass of while I contemplate and dream of the warm days of summer.

Life is easy and smooth these days, I have nothing to worry about, not a want in the world, Sookie is loaded down on her lines with good drink, good food, her boom is almost done. I’ve somehow found success in doing nothing more than staying true to my heart and following my dreams.  Her lifelines will be finished this year, finally.  Lee cloths, a collapsible simple spray dodger and a sunshade will have her salty and comfy.

After so many years Packed away I dug out my bible for success, it has taken me a lifetime to write and dates all the way back to my paper route.  While most kids were still wetting their beds I was out pre dawn working and earning and saving, learning, always learning.  Yachting is an expensive buisiness and everything about Sookie is yacht-like.  She sails from port to port in her quiet dignity, every inch of her shows how much she is loved. She always has a skip in her stride knowing she is the prettiest girl at the dance.

My long slumber is over, I feel energized, re-vitalized and ready to crush it again. My next boat will be big, powerful, a true home for half the year.  A Lyle Hess 34, I’ve made my commitment and now the search has begun. Not a fixer upper, not a cleaner upper, a true turn key yacht with a hot shower, heat, and a bed fit for a lifetime of lazy Sundays.

 “Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.” —Jim Rohn

The gold standard

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I’ve never once measured my life or lifestyle with anyone or anything.  From my first day on this planet earth I’ve gone against the grain, finding my own path for reasons I often haven’t known until well into my journey.  When I decided to tone my life down and live well below the poverty standard, half of it to be exact it was a self experiment in what is really important to me in life.

I never expected to continue beyond that first year but it just felt right.  As easily as I slipped into that lifestyle and with as little thought as I had put into it back then I’ve decided to crawl out of the muck and re enter my destined glide path.  Having already lived at the top I have my impressions of that lifestyle and in comparison to my current lifestyle it has its desirable and undesirable traits.  I’ve slipped back into reinventing my life again and now I’m in search of that middle ground and setting some roots.

Possession wise I seek to have very little in this world although if I do aquire something it has be a usable tool, manufactured to the highest standards on earth and must be serviceable for a lifetime, you get what you pay for and each item represents a form of real wealth not only as an asset but also in the quality of life returned through the years of reliable service and fun. This middle ground I’m seeking comes with many risks, most of all to the freedom I’ve been afforded but I’m not too worried about stepping in a slightly more normal existence or home ownership. Sound as it might I’m not settling down, I’m ramping up.

From the log of Sookie – All the stars have lined up in the heavens above, I’ve taken a left onto easy street and from here on out it’s smooth sailing.  

Love shack

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Its snowing buckets but Sookie is warm inside. I’ve been squirreling away yummi treats, carefully nestling my growing wine collection and trying to make the boat just the right amount of comfy without losing the romantic notion of her being the salty vessel that she is.  Each week I hide more dark chocolate, laced with sea salt for those times when nothing else will suffice.

Bags of organic lentils cradle the wine, boxes of salty crackers by the dozen are finding their homes, tall jars of gourmet olives, canned cheese, and butter all being tucked away for those special nights.  I’m down to my last candle but more will come, the light they cast in Sookie is indescribable, my play list is slowly being refined and a few new books of poetry have found thier prospective homes within easy reach from anywhere in the boat.

Sookie may be small but that’s part of her charm, everything has its place and she is almost always neat and tidy, ready and waiting to pop a great bottle of wine and serve up a feast be-it just a few of us or the whole damn dock.

My budget is wrecked but it was worth it.  One van, a small cabin, Brompty  and a yacht fit for an adventure not bad for a guy who lives below the stated poverty line in America. I’m now entering the third of what was only supposed to be a year of living in poverty and finding it quite enjoyable.  Not  just the abondance of free time but also the freedom of it all. It’s a dream come true now that my writing is covering this lifestyle I’m enjoying a new type freedom that Ive never experienced before and it’s only cost is that I continue to live the life I’ve chosen.

“A person is a fool to become a writer. His only compensation is absolute freedom. He has no master except his own soul, and that, I am sure, is why he does it.” —Roald Dahl

Only fools rush in

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In a complete and defiant act of total chickenshitery I postponed our first date but by now that’s old news.  Of all the things I’m afraid of in this world, even more than water its girls. Old habits are hard to kill I suppose.

I’ve been nicknamed the gingerbread man for being able to completely elude the forces of nature and society pressing us flailing into a mediocre relationship based off of little more than mutual desperation.  I guess I’m old school and prefer a life where are no rules, no expectations, no judgements, total freedom, Peter Pan, eat your heart out.

Sky is grey Sky is grey sky is grey

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But I’m dancing in the rain.  Sookie is as clean as she’s ever been, I’ve pulled her winter tarp and now I can enter and exit without getting down in my belly and slithering in and out.  Her acoustics are amazing, I’ve got my favorite play list booming on her new wifi speaker, a hot cup of black coffee and a pile of unfinished writing and editing to do.  Her tiny cabin smells of sandle wood and teak, a steady stream of smoke rises from an incense stick hand delivered to me from India.

My camera bag is packed, I’m down to my two favorite body’s and lenses but half my kit is on the chopping block.  From now on it’s just one body and my 50mm, life is getting simpler by the day.  I understand how all working pros need piles of gear, backup body’s, extra film and mega backups.  My life is far to simple for that.  I don’t work on assignment ever.  If my brick packs it up I’ll pull out a pencil and piece of paper and draw my world, photography is one of the largest parts of my life but it’s a passion, not my day job.  I love snap shots, it’s what I specialize in.  My images are so plain and natural and mundane that they alsmost feel real, that’s my style, controlled monotony, like my life.

My company is shutting down for a while, it’s hard to survive the island winters, not just for us frail humans.  Most businesses on these islands only turn a profit 75 days a year.  If you don’t love this life you better get out because it will eat you alive.  There is a journey in the making, my day pack, one camera and my iPad.  This journey has no start point, no destination and no pre conceived end.  Nothing more than a simple journey for my inner creative to explore a very tiny spec of this planet, my mind and a chance to have a long slow chat with my future.

I can’t help but to wonder what a much younger me would think of how we’ve  progressed in this life. Would she approve of where I’ve  gone or be disappointed at how slow my life is.  I’m exactly where I started.  Way back then I had little more than the contents of my small sailboat, camera bag and as always on old uke in tow.  Now much older and a bit wiser I look back and admire my young determined mind , how someone so young and nieve could know exactly what they want out of this world and why. My one dimensional life has proven how truly wise she was.

Good music, laugher, the love of a good woman when the timing is right and my arts.  My camera and ukulele have shaped my life.  I’ve never progressed beyond those first days of simple chords and simple camera settings but they fit my simple life.  I’ve spent the better portion of this journey watching my dreams manifest before my eyes.  Maybe it’s finally my time to sit back and do a little bit of settling down, to enjoy the simple fruits of my labor.

From the log of Sookie, dancing in the rain.  Maybe I’ve always known this or maybe I’m just figuring out how I made my way here now. One thing I know for sure is that my success has always been controlled luck. I find that the smarter I work, the luckier I get.

Greenhorn

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Sookies deck is covered with blood as are my now mangled hands which can only mean one thing, I’m actually working on the boat.  No work today, I was given a reprieve, it’s actually warm, there is no wind, no rain and I have a few bucks in my pocket, it’s like the perfect storm of yacht maintence.  It’s rare that all of elements align for me but today is that day and I’ve been going at it since dawn.

Exactly two years ago I was doing exactly what I’m doing today, working on the damn boat.  Back then I had a greenhorn and a secret plan.  The boat was scheduled to leave the dock by May to dink around the islands, the secret plan was to sail to Alaska in a trial by fire all inclusive sailing school for the greenhorn, then to abscond with her and sail the boat to the South Pacific via Mexico.  Ahh the finest laid plans of mice and men… I figure I’d be in the South Pacific by now working some shit job to restock the kitty.

Turns out that plan was for shit and I realized it within a few short days, life goes on and about a year later having done very little in the way of upgrades to Sookie I did have another plan.  Along with that plan I had my man drawer filled with fasteners that had literally taken me years to aquire from all over the world.  Special sizes and shapes and…  I knew I would get around to them soon enough and actually had finally aquaired ever single piece I needed to finish all the petty BS projects that never seem to end on a sailboat.  Summer was rapidly approaching, I had a pocket full of money and was ready to rumble.  I came back to the boat one night to find my then girl friend had undone 4 years of my sea proofing of Sookie, completely rearranging everything in to the form of a house, not a boat.

She was so excited to show me how she had made the boat perfect.  I smiled gave her a hug and tried to sensitively explain why everything had to go back the way it was, this conversation didn’t go over well.  The next day when I dug into my man drawer I was horrified.  Turns out she had thrown away everything on the boat she didn’t understand which was, well… everything.  Another year has passed, I’ve more or less lost the desire to go through all the shopping and measuring and… so Sookie sits and waits, I sit and wait, but time marches on.

Pieces of you

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Sometimes a certain smell will take me back to when I was young.  Songs transport me to other times and places I have been.  The unknown has been my backyard for the better part of my life.  I don’t think I’ve actually ever planned anything, ever.  I find it far more exciting to simply dive in and swim around in it. Control is something I’m porously out of.  I’m time rich, far too intelligent to care about the outside world as it has zero effect on my life. Breathing, running, laughing and screaming at the top of my lungs when I’m scared which is often, this is where my heart lives.

I cant imagine how horrible a life it must be to wake up to Facebook and all the lies and hate only to be baraged by the media all day, it’s such a toxic life.  I woke up early with a smile, pulled the body pillow I share my bed with in tightly,  smiled and drifted off into my dream world.  Eventually I did make it out of that wonderful cocoon, I cooked a cup of coffee, cranked my stereo and rocked out on my uke.  There will be time for everything today, to take a few snap shots, read a bit of one of the two books im simultaneously reading, both written about the same boat by two different sailors.

It was being an actor the prepared me to be a writer, you have to be able to strip one hundred percent of your ego until there is nothing left, only then can you step into character; writing is the same way, I often refer to it as standing naked on a pedestal while thousands of people Judge you and that’s what good writing is.  To truly open yourself to love you must do the same thing, strip every layer away until nothing is left but pieces of you. A puzzle that only one person who can make you whole can piece together with thier spare parts.

“-She said “Don’t get to close. It’s dark inside. It’s where my demons hide.”

-And I answered. Get too close, there is a hell inside of me, it’s where your demons can live.”

Choas

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Chaos has an order which is completely misunderstood by those who could never understand it. I’m shell shocked, near or maybe at and possibly past my breaking point. Months of high winds have taken thier toll, I’m done. I’m one of the few inhabitants of these islands that arrivided under their own keel but it almost never happened, it was never meant to happen other than through a random act of chaos.

I had been living in my car filming a documentary, the notion to drive to Alaska and build a log cabin seemed like a fun way to spend a bit of my freedom and so the car turned north and a new chapter was born.  Slowly driving up the coast the trip was far different, less beautiful or interesting than when I was on my Brompton heading south from Canada or on my Fixie heading south from SF.  Not the same but still an amazing migration north. The journey brought me to Port Townsend, a place I had never heard of. Instantly I was in love, I was so excited pulling into the boat yard I actually jumped out of a moving car when I spied John Guzzwells Endangered Species.

What was meant to be a very brief stop later in Bellingham ended with me accidentally buying a sailboat.  I filmed the entire restoration and was rapidly becoming one of the original YouTube sailing channels.  That boat was eventually sold and Sookie fell into my hands.  We’ve been very slowly drifting about ever since.  The spontaneous life can be a hard one but the rewards are infinite.  I always have an idea of where I want to be and where I want to go but the reality is that I’ve thrown my entire life into the hands of the universe.  Who knows what will happen next, I certainly don’t.  What ever it is one thing for sure is that it will lead to an extrorianary experience, at least in the tiny scale of my simple life.

Chatting with a sailing friend from half way around the world be both agree that leaving is the hardest part.  Closing one chapter to open the next, too many people spin thier wheels tidying up loose lines when they need to just cut them.  Eventually the storms will pass, the calms will fill in and if your very lucky you will start to appreciate the chaos you have created, not only in your life but in all of those who know you and who will never, who can never uunderstand this order…

From the log of Roo, living on the Res… This is getting out of hand.  I was just chased down by a couple in a car who recognized me from YouTube.   Ok they actually recognized Chloe who was hanging her head out the window but still.  

Arriving by bike

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I wake before the dawn with a squeak, stretch my body as far as I can and let out a mighty roar.  The sun isn’t up yet and that’s how I like it.  I shine my light across Sookies cabin on Brompty “wake up you lazy so and so good for nothing Hog Wallup”, we’re going for a ride.  The coffee pot steams, my stereo is blaring and I’m muppeting out in the saloon, I’m a total spas in the mornings.

I don’t know what was going through my mind when I packed for my last cycle tour but I didn’t even start to prepare until about an hour before I was ready to leave, that didn’t work out so well.  Having nothing to do but turn the pedals and think for hours a day I had lots of time for hindsight and you know what they say about that.


The big hit offenders where my ukulele, full size DSLR and iPad not to mention bringing way too much food but I couldn’t leave it on the boat so it came with me.  Things that irked me along the way were my uber expensive ti pot which I didn’t really need and did fine without on my Hawaii bike tour.  My steel water bottle weighs 8 ounces empty but always seemed to keep my water cool and was easily accessed but still, if nothing else it weighed my mind down.  It was new before my first tour, now dented and mangled it’s still a good friend.  My stove really pissed me off, advertised as uber light and it was but I needed a wind screen, more money and more weight and I can’t for sure say if it saved me any fuel or not…

My ti cup now 11 years and a hundred thousand miles old has always been a gold mine.  The cream of the pie was my new Western Mountianeering Caribou, at one pound five ounces it packs small and is always warm and fluffy.  Without it I literally would have died this week.  Rather than hyper focus on light weight I just left everything behind.  I’m sneaking in a short tour soon and my new load will be flawless, I know everything I need and everything I don’t.  New mangings as I trashed my last pair and a new bright yellow hoodie Patagonia R1 is all I will need to add clothing wise and an iPhone 5 will more than likely replace all my other electronic gear making photography much easier and more spontaneous.

The Brompton T Bag is freaking genius as is the relevate Pika seat bag. I’d really like to upgrade to a titanium Bromoton and the new bike won’t have a rack, this will save about 4 pounds plus the 9 pounds of other things that will be left home. My goal as always is to pack light, bring only what I need and to get lost and stay lost. I don’t have as much time as I’d like but I need to ride before my big trip starts. Life is short, live it.

From the Brompty journal, Lost.  I don’t know exactly where I am but this camp site is the creepiest to date, I’m too scared to stay here but it looks like 28 miles to the next possibility of a camp ground.  Time for a ciggi and a bit of local knowledge.  Ok, it’s not that I’m lost, I just don’t know for sure where I am.

She loves me she loves me not

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Working my way around the boat scrubbing and cleaning both inside and out these are the words going through my painfully simple mind.  All hosed off, aired out and prettied up I end on the last sentence, she loves me and why shouldn’t she, my love for her is constant, unwavering. She is always at the forefront of my mind. We have both gotten used to the fact that my wandering eye will always appreciate other fine yachts but better than any other she knows where I sleep every night and with who.

Yet another BCC is attempting to catch my eye, this one is already in the South Pacific, could be had for a song and a dance and has been lovingly maintained and appointed with a brand new diesel and new sails.  Sure she’s pretty but she’s not Sookie. Winter is getting tired, I can feel it.  The clock of time stands still for no man and anyday now the islands will settle into spring.

I arrived back from Hawaii and back on Sookie on super bowl Sunday last year, a day I couldn’t care less about other than it was a bitter sweet home coming.  Sookie was as I had left her in my rush to get Chloe to first rate medical attention but we both knew I would be returning alone.  Our last moments in Sookies cabin with treats and a bowl of cool water from the hotel.  I lifted her carefully and spun slowly in a circle giving her one last look at what had been her home for the last 5 years.  Our summer had been a blur of islands and beaches and everything she had loved her whole life but on this trip exploring was done while hanging her nose over the bow of the dinghy or laying  lazily in the shade of a new island paradise every day.

Returning solo was hard to swalllow and that first night back I elected to stay in a hotel not ready to deal with my future.  A year later it isn’t much different, her tag hangs from the lantern bell where I ding it every morning missing her pre dawn shenanigans  of attacking me with her wet nose and playful way until I would kibosh her,  grabbing her and flipping her over me for some morning fun, that’s how every day started.  It’s painfully lonely without her but there won’t be another on this boat.

So another winter is quietly slipping away, another spring growing close at hand and the list is longer than ever. My self imposed date of departure is 76 days away.  All I have to do is add a new water tank and cabin sole, install the new hobb.  Install the wind vane and replace all of my now very old lower shrouds, 7 of them to be exact.  A third reef point is on the list for very good reason and solar and a new panel to replace the ancient and dying one I have now.  New anchor line, a solar panel, a few charts, most importantly the one I needed most, crossing the straits of Georgia from Pender harbor to some other place who’s name I can’t remember and that’s about it.  Shit, rebuild the rudder, new berth cushions and ceiling boards. There must be more, there is always more.

I woke to a beautiful sunny day, the 34 degree temperature felt like 75 and it was finally a day to work on Sookie, her new engine survived the big freeze and runs like a champ as a motor with less than 5 hours on it should.  I almost got to rebuilding the gooseneck and in the morning will design a preventer, something i forgot to do for my last journey and paid dearly for my mistake. My log book has three probable futures for me.  A, just say screw it and leave totally unprepared and pennyless. B, sell everything I have in the world, put it all into the boat and sail away penniless.  C, stay right were I am, work all summer and save enough to ship the boat to Florida where I will arrive penniless. Not sure how to flip a three sided coin but each of these options is very appealing to me although plan B will be the first crossed off the list I’m guessing.

They call it yachting for a reason and after months of misery today I was given a glimpse of why I go through all of this.  A long bike ride, I restocked my empty boat, got a ton of work done and watched  the sunset with a nice glass of shitty scotch.  In like a lion out like a lamb, isn’t that what they say.  The tides are turning if I can just survive a few more weeks.

From the log of Sookie, winter is dead!

Solo Sailor

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I sailed my first boat solo, my second had no crew, on my third I was alone and my forth found me as captain, crew, chief navigator and dishwasher.  It was an important time of my life and one in which I learned the many things that only a solo sailor can learn.  My classroom was the sea, my instructor, the wind-n-tides and my text and tools big sheets of white canvas called sails, controlled with little strings called sheets of all things. That first boat had two motors, one an inboard and one an outboard, neither of them ever worked so I sailed.

Finding a copy of Wandering Under Sail is a goldmine, printed in 1939 the bulk of the first editions printed copy’s were burned by Nazis. ” I sailed alone simply because I was seldom able to find a suitable companion with whom to share the somewhat cramped space in my small boat. I was often frightened and occasionally lonely.  I find that cruising with the right companion who understands small sailboats and apprecites the sea in all its moods is a very much simpler and infinitely more delightful buisiness.  That I bought my first boat on a Wednesday, sailed her away on Thursday and found her wrecked on a Friday, is an unfortunate fact…” Eric Hiscock

We all have sailing heros, mine Lin and Larry Pardey and theirs Susan and Eric Hiscock. Admiring the salty lines of wanderer II, It isn’t difficult to ascertain where Larry fell in love with the lines of what would eventually be the little boat that could, Seraffyn.  Something I find interesting is that all my favorite sailors who started on small simple boats and loved them like no other.  They all also eventually moved to larger boats but were never able to replicate through story telling the romantic notions created on their smaller boats.

It’s  only natural that I’m rapidly falling into a deep depression, the cold, the storms, the isolation, winter is a bitch. I have to be extremely careful not to devour this book.  Like the boat who’s story it tells, this book crossed the Atlantic to find its way into my hands. It was delivered from the place it was created, from the place of Sookies origin and from the number one place in the world I want to sail to.

Its hard bound blue jacket sits waiting to tell me new stories, stories of a time when sailors carried knives and shackle keys, not go pros and buisiness cards.  Their simple message was go small, go simple, go now, not please follow us and don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on twitter and herein lies my quandary. How do I make short simple sailing films that are worthy of the ship they are made from without ending up spending half my life attached to the web, having conversations with a small plastic light box and missing out on the number one reason I do all of this in the first place, to actually wander under sail.

From the log of Sookie, gold comes in many forms, freedom, time, and every once in a blue moon printed on paper, but it’s not currency I’m talking about, currency has no value.  This printed paper is true wealth.

Sianara

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Years ago I moved from the South Pacific to Madison Wisconsin and with my arrival came the longest stretch of below zero temps in the history of the state, I think it was over 30 days. When you live on the water it’s a different type of cold. 25 degrees here is always colder than below zero in the dry Midwest. Sure, it’s not the snot freezing type of cold where your hair crunches up if you washed it that day and your eyeballs start to form icicles. Here it’s a bit more like being slowly beat to death.

I have unsubstantiated reports of the wind topping 70 last night. Sookie isn’t in a marina, there is no breakwater, she is fully exposed the the fury of Mother Nature out here in the islands. The cruising boat takes a beating out here but Sookie took the storm in stride. I tied 12 half inch lines keeping her as safe as I could and can only pray that this is it for our winter storms but history tells me that the worst is yet to come.

It’s all part of being a liveaboard sailor in these parts of the world and for as many times as I’ve made this statement, mark my words, this will be my last winter aboard in this part of the world… which begs to ask what is next, it’s a solid 10k to ship Sookie to Florida and while they may have hurricanes in that part of the world at least it’s warm there. I have no interest in cruising Mexico again, for all of it’s amazing beauty I’ve been there and done that. Florida keeps coming out of my mouth so now the question of how to get there. Shipping a boats sucks and it’s incredibly hard on them but nothing like what Sookie was put through last night.

I can see smoke coming from my fireplace across the bay so at least today will be spent warm and toasty, after a nice bacon and eggs breakfast and much coffee that is. As usual the weather guessers are calling for 10-16 right now and we’re still getting hammered, this place is an enigma, a vortex of unknown powers, we seem to get the harshest weather of all of the islands. Paradise comes at a cost but I haven’t forgotten what summer is like in this part of the world.

From the log of Sookie, Never again…

Sea monkeys 

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I’ve just scuttled through the hatch, a fierce storm is a brewing.  My hands burn from pulling hard on the spiders web of lines I’ve set to keep Sookie fenders from exploding against the dock, another Nor’easter is a brewing. I’ve become a soft boiled egg, my body resembles a sea monkey.  Long, weak, extremities extend from my avocado core, winter is winning the battle but the war isn’t over. I soak my frail unused hands in warm water to cool the burn, I’ve become useless, soft, weak. In my current state Mr Potatoe head could kick my ass.

Cold Arctic air is blasting through the tiny cracks in the companion way floppy doors but it’s going to get much colder.  The wind is nuking making life on the boat less than desirable, the gusts have been topping 40 for the last few hours but the worst will be tonight when temps plummet and the wind peaks.  I’ve reached my limit and gone beyond.

Brompty sits faithful waiting for our next journey, I hope it’s soon.  Where in the world is it warm and how do I get there. The shivers have already started, my mood wanting to ride but not in this wind and cold. Florida, that’s where I should be, tonight when I have internet I’ll shop last minute flights to Maimi, it’s only a short ride on Brompty from there.  One more week of this and I’ll stop threatening myself and really sell the boat once and for all and find summer.  A friend just listed his Falmouth cutter cheap, part of me envies him.

My fun project today is to pack my Brompty bags with what I would choose if I was going to ride away from everything and live a minimalist life on bike tour for a few years.  I’m so curious to see what makes the cut and what doesn’t.

From the log of Sookie, I’m drawing a blank…

The mankini dairy

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I don’t know why my parents gave me the freedom that they did, maybe it was just a sign the times.  At seven years old running around Paradise Island in my little blue mankini with nothing but my third hand flippers, mask and snorkel I made a vow that this was the one and only life I wanted. Decades have passed under my keel and I’m still living every day just like those balmy days in the Bahamas.

My moods are still controlled by the smell and feel of the trades, the sound of palms rustling and clear blue water that is always a shock when you dive in by how warm it is.  Sugar whilte sand sticking to my bum and toes, dry salty water evaporating on my sun kissed skin is still the most natural existence for me as is exploring the unknown. I hate back tracking and can’t see the logic in having a favorite place when there are so many more to explore. Searching the pages of AOH I found this post and while I don’t remember writing it, every word stands true.

https://soundcloud.com/boating-podcasts/libby-purves-june-2016-podcast

If your a lover of small sailboats, simple living and making the dream your reality you really need to stop by Sailing Ontology, he doesn’t post nearly as often as I’d like but when he does, every data bite hits the mark.  Stop dreaming, buy that boat and start the next chapter. Yes at times you will be too hot and others too cold. You will find countless days of perfect sailing, a fair bit of boredom and moments of sheer terror. Your body will become strong and your mind free.

From the log of Sookie, winter. Battening down the hatches for round 35 of winter storms and sub Arctic temps. I hung my mankini on a lamp to remind me why I do all of this, summers coming. 

Wandering under sail

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It’s official, the Ratcliffe windvane is mine, as soon as I can find a way to pay for it and I will, I always do.  One more piece to the puzzle and again I can’t help but to stop to ask myself if I’m crazy for loving such a small boat.  I’m sure they are still out there, young couples crossing oceans in small well found boats but I can’t seem to find any trace of them in the thousands of searches I have done.

I found a copy of Wandering under sail in England and now it’s in the mail.  I also found a copy of White cliffs to coral reef in Australia and that one is crossing the pacific as we speak. Both books written about Wanderer ll a Virtue 24 and both a goldmine I’m hoping for information and insight into crossing oceans in a small boat with a modest budget.

It was Lin and Larry Pardeys books that got me to rethink my Cal 40 and turn my eye to smaller more traditional sailing boats.  Deep in the recesses of my mind I’m always at some stage of trying to convince myself that I need a bigger boat but I don’t know why.  I have 100% confidence in Sookie and know her two and only weak points quite well.  She won’t drive into more than 40 knots and she has no cockpit combing which can be a huge pain in the ass when you hit the death rolls.

I know hundreds of people have happily made do with their small boats.  While I have made some pretty impressive passages in small boats I’ve yet to cross any oceans on one although it is very high on my list.  Small as she is, I’ve never been uncomfortable on Sookie other than in foul weather or from the cold, her tiny cabin is a pretty good fit.

It’s calm today but more storms are forecast, more cold is on the way, this has been a brutal winter.  Up early I cleaned Sookie from stem to stern and now am drawing sketches and trying to decide were to store 60 meters of 5/16 chain. 5 minutes with a 2″ hole saw and I can have it all in the bilge right at the base of Sookies mast.

I think most people believe  that small boats are simple, their  not.  They may have simple systems but it’s much more complex when it comes to fitting each and every piece in just the right spot.  Done right my new chain and water tank will add 400 pounds of ballast right where it should be, low and centered. It was genius of Lyle Hess to under ballast this boat by 700 lbs leaving that extra bit to stores, and water. Every inch of her build mirrors the prime directive of her design, a blue water yacht…

From the log of Sookie,  Frozen bay – I should have bought a bigger boat but I’m glad I didn’t…

Domke F-3x

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Hard to kill, that’s how I would describe my Domke.  By the time I retired my first one it was torn and tattered, covered in blood, both mine and others and had the requisite of a true photojournalist, one bullet hole through the pocket.  It had traveled extensively through third world country’s and told I story I still haven’t writtten about.  Ok I actually wrote an 80,000 word book with dozens of images but I’ll never publish it.

There have been many more since my first.  One was stolen with all my gear, another blown up in a methane explosion and the second to the last one lived to be retired.   All of them have been the F-3x and all have served me well.  I don’t actually carry a camera bag as I prefer the freedom of a single lens but I need something to protect and store my growing pile of gear.  Two body’s, three lenses and there will be pleanty of room for a few go pros that I have yet to push the button on but I’m close.

Ill always be a stills guy preferring that precise moment in time but I’m dead serious about making my 12 minute shorts, 12 a year to be precise.  I’m scattered in every direction building a mobile film studio, trying to figure out what my next computer will be, rebuilding and stocking  Sookie.  Every penny is accounted for and they are flowing like water these days, it’s so fun to finally get to spend a little money on the important things.

I may or may not have that old wind vane that has been handed and unhanded to be a dozen times over the last few years and if I don’t, I’ll build a new one.  I put my order in to the foundary for new pintles and gudgeons, that project will top 6k the way things are looking and I’m still hell bent on double roller furlers for my headsails.  I’m constantly on the hunt for as many side jobs as I can find and using every second of my free time to get the most important things done before spring arrives, it’s literally only days away.  Each evening the sun sets a bit later and I’m hoping to have Sookie put back together and sailing by February.

From the log of Sookie, frozen… I don’t do all of this to make money, I make money so I can do all of this.

The hurt locker

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The only thing worse than the constant damp bone chilling cold is the insult of being able to see the sun without actually feeling it’s warmth.  At 22 degrees with a 40 mile an hour wind that makes a negative 20 windchill and I’m not sorry to be happy to say sianara to you winter, you miserable fucking hell! I’ve been given a reprieve.

It’s been so cold in the boat that it actually hurts.  My skin hurts, my body hurts, my mind would hurt and it will if it ever defrosts.  I’ve been like the stay puff marshmallow man wearing every bit of clothing I have with every blanket and both my down sleeping bags and still haven’t been able to stop shivering for one single second.  All that extra body fat and I can assure you it’s ample, has done nothing to cure the cold.

The wind has been pile driving out of the north east, funneling through the small cracks in my companion way floppy doors and there has been nothing I could do to keep the free and constant air conditioning at bay.  Now it’s so calm it’s erie and up to a warm and toasty 31 degrees but that’s not what’s keeping me warm, nor is it my trusty and useless heater. Today I was given word that everything is about to change and again the suggestion that I split to the South Pacific for a few weeks and that’s just what I’m going to do.

Have you worked for a company that actually gives you everything you want without asking and then with no hinting or hollering up and says hey, bro… the islands are calling your name, take off and go surfing for a bit, get tan, have a few drinks and we’ll have this whole place revamped for you when you get back.  They also offered me a house to live in, I shit you not, my own little studio right on the water overlooking the bay and Sookie.

And here lies my dilemma, fist of all I don’t deserve the rockstar treatment I’m getting and second of all I have to be very careful not to fall into the abyse of comefort and complacency.  I don’t want to be comefortable in life, I don’t want it to be easy and I don’t want security, that’s what has people dying alone of old age.  One wrong step and I’ll be sitting back in my big leather chair in an office that is never half a degree too warm or too cold.

I’ll spend my life saying someday as I stare complacently out the window waiting for the right time which will never come because there never is a right time.  I’ll grow fat with mortgages and credit card debt to pay for my car that never gets driven over 5mph in bumper to bumper traffic and only transports me from the Job that steals my youth to pay for the house that holds me financially improsioned but never gets used for anything other than sleep.  Every year I’ll swear to myself that I’m almost ready and that for sure next year will be my year but next year will turn into decades and before I know it I’ll be too old, too soft, too lazy too…

Yeah fuck you winter, you can’t break me and nothing will send me back the hell on earth I lived, that so called financial security.  I fought hard the gain my independent freedom to roam, to learn to live with almost nothing and to love it.  To wake to a day that I own and to do what I want, when I want for absolutely no reason on earth other than because it’s my choice. Choice is a freedom worth fighting for at any cost…

One of the most frequently heard comments? concerning my boat is that it is not comfortable. It is a very true statement. But I design and build boats and go to sea in them not for comfort but because I am curios and the activity gives me pleasure and excitement.

Comfort diminishes activity; lack of activity leads to lack of stimulation, without stimulation you become bored, fat and tired. You get energetic only by using energy, not by resting.

Eating and entertainment work like drugs or borrowed money, they lessens the boredom ordeal momentarily. In the long run they make the situation worse.

Strive on the other hand is painful at first, but as time passes will bring curiosity pleasure and excitement. The problem with that healthy solution is that it is to abstract for most people. Historically man has never had to worry about to much comfort and is therefore not designed to deal with it. On the contrary lack of food and rest has been the problem.

Modern society has changed that. Industrial and farm factories are now producing more than we need. Few free spirits has survived a new species of man has been breed, the obedient man. He eats not real food but ersatz food. His experiences are ersatz screen experiences.

It is so much easier to watch sport than to compete yourself. It is so much easier to do ersatz sailing and to start the engine when the wind fails than to use an oar or wait for wind. But like all ersatz things there is no thing like the real thing.

A captured animal in a zoo is not a happy animal. He tells us that without talking, still he gets plenty of food and good shelter and his life is without danger. Still he would rather bee free.

Modern man in the big cities are like captured animals. We have all the comfort and food we need, still we are bored. But because we live among millions of equally bored people we do not notice the gloom. Only occasionally do we meet a surviving free spirit and wonder why he is so happy. It is not comfort which makes me happy.

written by Sven Yrvind

Abandon ship

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Ive never been truly seasick, I’m one of the lucky few but I’m feeling really queasy and suffering from my own form of the bout.  My abandon ship bag is packed, ID, medical card, ships documents, knife, camera and iPad.  Nothing else matters, the strain on the boat is amazing but it’s not the boat I’m worried about, it’s the rickety old dock.

We had our first tragedy this week, a boat was beat to smitherines and sunk at the dock in high winds.  These docks are old, very old and the the bay isn’t protected at all.  In calm weather this place might seem like a dream come true but right now it’s rapidly decending into hell on water.  To add insult to injury the power has just gone out and I can feel the chill creeping in rapidly.  It’s 6:00 AM and I have nowhere to go.

Wedged into the quarter berth the VHF is calling for gusts to 60 and 18′ seas in the straits just a few miles from here, Gale warnings are the one thing I find truly annoying about living on a sailboat out in these islands.  There are no breakwaters, no protection, the elements are very real and today the wind is angry.  I peer into the darkness wondering if the gangway will go, the docks are completely awash, it’s hell out there and that’s where I’m headed, to check on all of the boats.

In these conditions, walking is difficult if not treacherous, I’d like to say I had forgotten how bad it gets here but you never forget, it’s ingrained in your mind which is why I have three sets of lines out, why I’m the only person here in the winter.  People make fun of me, the same people who’s boats I pull off the beach in their absence, the same people who expect me to watch and care for their boats, the same people who…

I’m on dry land now, the machine gun fire of pelting rain blinded me as I made my way to the warmth of the jacuzzi room trying to find any feeling in my fingers, I’m bleeding all over my iPad. The wind sounds like a jet fighter zooming in for the kill, close enough to touch, it’s just beginning. When I left Sookie she was in her most dangerous state, bucking hard at her lines from the surge, she is strong but piles of half inch line can only take so much.  I’ll check on her every half hour or as often as I can warm my fingers, there is nothing else I can do.

It’s  impossible to show the depths of weather on film, i snap a few shots in near darkness and am surprised they show a sky I can’t see.  One image for the record, Im reminded I don’t need yet another reminder that the sea doesn’t care, she doesn’t care if your cold, wet, hungry, tired or scared.  Turn your back for one second and she will take everything from you.  In a lifetime of sailing I’ve been witness to many experiences.  Of all of those, honestly and truly, the most scared I have ever been for the boat is when she is tied to the dock.

There is an old quote, the safest place for a ship is in the harbor but ships are made for the sea.  I don’t  know who wrote those words but he obviously wasn’t a sailor. The safest place for a boat in conditions like this are out there where she was designed and built to rein, the docks can be treachery to the sailors craft.

Gasoline is the new green

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My plan was never to have a brand new outboard hanging off of the back of my boat but now that it’s there I would never consider anything else.  It’s surprisingly capeable of pushing Sookie around, light enough that I can pop it off easily and unbelievably efficient.  The key is moderation, it’s an auxiliary form of propulsion,  my primary form being my big beautiful sails, and I have all of the right ones in my minimalist sail plan.

Sailing around the world

This guy, a friend of a friend  recently tried to convince me that electric is the future and that I should scrap my gas engine, add a pile of new batteries and solar pannels and a wind generator and a water generator and a gas generator to pick up all that slack. It was immediately appearant that this guy had never sailed before in his life, I did my best to change the subject. I like my simple traditional sailboat and am just fine with the 4 gallons of fuel a year I burn.

Technology has its place in my world which is usually the back seat as I find candles, a lead line and good old canvas to be the right way for me.  My sailing life is about sailing, not taking all the convinces of land with me.  Of corse I do love technology in some forms.  Literally minutes after giving up on a new PC and camera gear I made a hand shake deal on a camera I had never planned on owning. I didn’t bother to do any reseach, it was higher in the line of what I had been using and wanted to use so I just accepted the price on an almost brand new camera but with a huge discount.

The camera doesn’t matter and the one I’ve been using for years was light years ahead of what I use it for.  I’m not a pixel counter and rarely taken by all the flash of digital cameras.  Auto focus is something that I need as my continually failing eye sight has me shooting more and more Fuzzy images.  A friend recently asked me to snap a few pics of him sailing by the dock, when I handed him my card he was like there are 233 pictures.  I smiled him and assured him there would be at least one good one.

Back when I interviewed for my first big daily they were very impressed with my book and the number of times I had been published even though I wasn’t old enough to buy a beer.  They asked to see my film rolls and when I asked why he said, I can clearly see that you have a good eye and can get the shot but I want to see how many images it takes you to nail it.  Back then it was about 3-5 images per shot and one roll per assignment. Now having to take so many images to get a good clear picture is a nightmare so yea auto focus.

Of corse knowing nothing about the camera I just acquired I watched a few videos and viola Wifi :)~ I can now load my images through magic straight into my iPad and so for now I don’t need to upgrade to the Mac that will eventually be my video editing machine. Life just got a bit easier, one less headache in my life and that image above… it was taken handheld in a damn near pitch dark boat, oh joy of joys I love the low light capability of this hunk of metal.  I’ve decided to sell everything in my bag and my bag and try a year with just my 35 1.8. I did this for a year as a photojournalist and it was a game changer but somehow over the years I’ve continually complicated my life to no end.

So is gasoline really the new green?  In my life it is, that motor will last forever as long as I use it for it’s intended purpose and that is the whole point of this post… moderation… when used preoperly gasoline is one hundred times greener than solar and wind power. From a manufacturing stand point solar, wind and electric power is amazingly destructive to the planet as is the disposal of all those batteries.  Gas is good, Umkay…

One is the loneliest number

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I can’t say that I believe in reincarnation but I do believe in miracles so anything is possible.  It’s cold outside, too cold.  The lows tonight will be around 24 which is plain just not right.  I miss Chloe especially on the cold nights, she was  a snuggle ninja and always kept me warm.  You can never feel lonely when you’re with your four legged companion.  I keep waiting for her to show up in another form so we can continue where we left off.

Sailing around the world

Little reminders of her are everywhere, tiny hairs still waft around the boat, her tag, claw marks in the wood around the companion way.  I still haven’t figured out how to go on without her.  It’s cold and empty in the boat, loneliness and a bit of depression is setting in faster with each of the shorter days, I need to get out of here and feel the sun on my back, the earth between my toes and a bit of liquid sunshine on my naked body.

In a random act of insanity I pulled a pile of cash out of the boat fund and blew it all on good food.  Real nacho chips with Spanish salsa.  Fruit and veggies of every kind, a hunk of cheese, tonic to mix with the last bits of gin and a box of wine for next week.  I’m surrounded with all of the the things I never allow myself, tonight will be a feast for two as I’ll put out a plate for Chloe just in case.

I’ve been waiting and planning all week for tomorrow, the plan was to order everything I’ve been working so hard towards.  My new water tank and all the pumps and fittings, the gimballed stove, a new dslr and Mac book and so forth and so on.  I’ve deleted all my order forms, stopped with everything, deciding that a bit of limbo and contemplation is in order. I could buy a ticket somewhere warm today and leave in the morning or go to the rescue and save a pup or just relax and start living like a normal person for a bit.

Ive grown tired of going it alone so everything stopped today.  A trip to the jacuzzi, a hot shower and a cold drink are all I care about.  In the morning I spin the bottle and see where I land.

“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.”
― Will Rogers

The log of Sookie

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Desolation Sound, June 2015 – it isn’t what you’ve done in this world that matters most, sure memories are there, but often blur with time.  They are valid and have meaning but they have gone.  The future holds nothing for it can change in an instant, a life of planning for some other date can be derailed in a millisecond. Right now, this is it, the gift you have created with your past, leading to your future.  It’s now or never.

Sailing around the world

It’s  really creepy out, I hear the moan of a Sasquatch calling, and then an answer. The sunset was blood red and beautiful but now the darkness is taking over, I’m a bit scared and secure the lifeline as one added protection against things I don’t understand.  I hear splashes that sound like they are being made by something the size of cars being thrown in the water, the moans go back and forth, I try to convince myself it’s just grizzly bears but the chill in my spine tells me that Sasquatch is real and really close.

Its hot, too hot and muggy, mosquitos are eating me alive but I can’t take refuge in Sookies interior, I’m fixated on what lies out there, the sounds are haunting and growing closer, louder, more frequent. I’ve traveled many hard miles to be here and here I am. It’s easy not believe in things you have never experienced but I’m here, now and experiencing them, I’m a believer.  I swat at another dive bombing mosquito and watch the twilight fade as the stars appear one by one.

We should have turned around when the motor started to go south minutes into the journey, we didn’t. They told us our boat was too small, it wasn’t. They told us “you can’t sail the inside passage” we did. They told us we wouldn’t find any secluded anchorages, a picture is worth a thousand words. I sat back enjoying the sounds of night, knocked on the hatch asking for a beer which was quickly handed out before the monsters could invade the safety of Sookies cabin. I cracked it and enjoyed living in the now, a place very few will ever know due to all the limits set by those who never been there, who haven’t experienced sailing from the deck of a good ship with a confident and adventures crew, the greater the challenge the bigger the reward. My Luke warm beer in a completely isolated anchorage was one of the best I’ve ever had. Serenity now…

From the log of Sookie, December 2016. Another brilliant day, found a new secret spot with Brompty, installed the new toilet paper hanger, can cross that one off the list after only 68 months, she is coming along but time is a rare commodity, March is looming…

Lost and found

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Quality, durability, epic design, and fun.  Take a peek though my compainionway and the first thing you will notice is that these are the qualities I surround my life with.  I didn’t get here by accident, I’ve driven boats, bikes, cameras, computers and all of my gear into the ground.  There isn’t one gear company on the planet that will let me torture test their products because they know there is a 99% chance it will fail me and I’ll write the truth about it. I use my shit hard.

Brompton

The things that can survive me, my Nikon’s, Mac’s , Sookie, Brompty, these are the things that I have pushed far and hard, always expecting them to care for me no matter what foolish hell I take them through.  I’ve had a pile of Nikons blown up in a methane explosion when I was on a moving live lava flow. Dropped, splashed and smashed my Mac’s as well as subjecting them to high humidity and freezing temperature.  Sookie has been put mast head in the water as well as literally submarining through a huge wave in the straights of Juan de Fuca. Brompty has been covered with so much mud you couldn’t tell what she was, hit potholes at 40 mph while fully loaded, been off road, through knee deep rivers and ridden harder than she deserves.  All of my gear always shows as new eventually as I care for each item as if my life depends on them and they often do. As a documentary photographer my life is a hard one but one well worth living even though I put my physical body through these same tortures.

Brompton folding bikeI got  letter from a girl in Australia today inquiring about my Brompton and a Essay I was recently asked to write.   I’ve been so busy I forgot to mention it here but the letters are pouring in and I’m loving it.  I little back and forth I got the idea she was trying to get me to talk her out the hair brained idea, I didn’t.  I gave her my 100% support and even offered to join her if she needs a little extra crazy in her life.  I’ve been seriously considering upgrading to a Titanuim Brompton and this would be the ticket.

Brompton folding bike

So there I was lost on some lonely stretch of road in Oregon, feeling like the last human on the planet earth when Brompton stumbled across my blog and now I’ve been found by a group of fun loving criminals seeking to steal every second of their time for a bit of plain old living the dream.  I’ve never been one to tell others what to do but I might suggest that a nice long bike tour will be one of those things you talk about for the rest of your life, it’s a game changer for sure.

Sailing around the world

Those days out under the sun and often trapped in a deluge of rain were some of my happiest on this planet. My mind was blown by the constant beauty of my surroundings, how often I was faced with challenges and how strong my body became in such a short period of time.  Touring on a Brompton? It isn’t for everyone but as far as I’m concerned for me it’s the only way to fly.

From the Brompty journal.  My tent had three inches of water in it at the peak of the storm.  In my sleep my head slipped off of the little inflatable pillow I was using and I almost drowned, I’ve never seen it rain so hard in my life, the island is sinking. A comment from a rockstar I met in camp searching for his next sound. ” boy you sure were taking it all in last night, it must have been blowing 50 and that rain, we saw you standing naked, hands raised to the heavens, a vision neither of us will forget for a very long time”.  I’ve survived yet another challenge but maybe survive isn’t the best use of wording for what I’m doing out here.

The life aquatic

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The owner of my buisiness cornered me at our Christmas party “I want to ship you off to Hawaii till it gets warm, then you can come back”.  It’s good to be loved and I dare say having a place to warm my frozen bones all the while being surrounded by happy people is a pretty good option these days.  Although… its kind of like robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Sailing around the world

I never know what to say in these conversations, I work so hard at being unemployable, hell I can’t even commit to tomorrow let alone the rest of the year.  My maintenance log is a matrix of concentric rings, almost every item that has topped the list somehow slips to the middle before taking its high ranking position at the bottom.

What can I sell, what should I keep.  How do I spend, where can I cut costs both today and tomorrow. How much do I earn and how much can I save, it’s a rollercoaster, often one step forward and two, steps back.  Some days I swear I’m just going to keep her as a day sailor and go buy some really good food instead of bronze, stainless and teak.

If you’ve never heard voices from the sea it’s because you’ve never been out there, alone with nothing and everything filling every gap of you sanctity. When the wind hits just right you hear words clear as day. Not the words you hear in your head, these are real, real voices and they speak to you. Thousands of years of sea faring souls converge in one tiny body of water that connects 71.8 percent of the planet and holds 80% of its life force.

I could hear them tonight in many forms. A good friend sent me a writing piece almost identical to a piece i am writing for one of those Big Bang, flash yachting rags. The kind that suggest you just cut the lines and go on one page and have full page adds of a tidal wave crushing your boat on the next with and add for a life saving this or that. Below are my words, the essay has been deleted, he is a far better writer than I will ever be.

The waves are higher now, higher than my cockpit, higher than my head, higher than the roof that covered the brick house I grew up in. Deep blue with pure white horses tumbling down their faces. The boat dips and I drag my fingers across the surface and lean with the boat, were surfing. A small ship on the sea is as close as you will ever come to walking on water. This experience was first learned on a surfboard at Rincon, my childhood stomping grounds. Big waves are fun, they are life and power and they will set you fee.

You can never gain this experience from the deck of a large ship, you are just an observer but from the deck of a small ship you are a participant. My favorite thing is to watch the gulls in heavy weather, gliding and dipping just over the crest of the waves that thrown me around like a rag doll. They touch the water, so small yet they float over the massive wave without even noticing. The gull has many lessons to teach us if we can only slow down long enough to observe their games.  

It’s rapidly becoming apperant that my current trajectory is way off course.  I need a new perspective, to see my goals from a different angle, to reassess again, adjust my sails and steer a true course.

“I’m going to find it and I’m going to destroy it. Im not sure how, possibly with dynamite.” – Steve Zissou

THIS SUCKS ;)!

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Turn the clock back a few clicks and I was living in San Diego working as a manufacturing engineer.  I was on the R&D team developing all sorts of top secret shit.  You know the old story, I could tell you but then I’d have to kill you type of shit.  One of my favorite things was testing torture testing new products which usually involved shooting a 4×4 out of a pneumatic cannon at our test product, we got to play with dynamite, flame throwers, you name it, I’ve always loved blowing shit up.

So one night I’m sitting out on the delivery pad smokin a ciggie with the fork lift driver laughing about how I almost blew the whole damn warehouse up, in hind-site it was pretty commical.  I’m wrapped in all my winter clothing shivering, i look over at him and I’m like, you know what… I can’t take another bitter Southern California winter.  Back then I had three full time jobs, in addition to blowing shit up I also was a stringer for the big daily and serveral smaller rags, and owned a photo studio. Three months later haven given away everything I owned I set off for the South Pacific.

From the log of Sookie, winter – Freezing my ass of I can’t help but to wonder, where did I go wrong...

Storm tactics

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Years ago I was coerced into studying Kung Fu San Soo, now SCARS under Jerry Peterson the deadliest human on the planet.  His number one tactic was conflict avoidance. I graduated far beyond that first lesson but we have to start somewhere.  Storm tactics like self defense is little more than conflict avoidance by controll.  A good offense is always better than a good defense, so let’s start with the boat.

Sailing around the world

I’m truly sorry but I can’t possibly answer all of the emails I’ve been receiving  for boat buying advice  so I’m posting a letter Mike Anderson sent me a very very long time ago. Its been my bible when it comes to boat selection. It’s a long one so grab a glass of wine and enjoy. If you need more clarification after reading this I can be bought for a shitty bottle of scotch, just show up and well go for a sail and figure it all out.

We all know that sailors like Webb Chiles could sail a Naples Sabbot around the world but let’s face it; I’m not him and neither are you so we’ll start with the basics, the boat, part one of three of our best defense strategy against foul weather.

Sailing vessels, like most anything you buy, are available in various levels of quality depending on their intended use. Some are designed for racing, others for recreational sailing on a lake, harbor or coast; while others are for long distance cruising. These vessels will vary in price because they are built differently. Our objective is to build a boat that will last a lifetime, and is capable of crossing oceans without worry of deterioration or breaking apart in the roughest of seas. To build a boat of this quality requires hundreds and even thousands of skilled man-hours, and use of the best materials and building methods available. Unless the buyer is a boatbuilder or has extensive offshore sailing experience, it will be difficult to determine what separates the quality of one boat from another. A buyer may listen to a salesman or read articles about the boat and presume what is said or read is correct, then later discover that there was information missing and more research should have been done before making such an expensive purchase.

Recent boat building technology has been aimed at the lighter, faster vessels with as much living space as possible, but at the sacrifice of structural strength and offshore safety. The Sam L. Morse Co. feels that this new technology is excellent, but in some cases does not belong as a building method for long distant cruisers. Our intention is to explain the advantages and disadvantage of the methods and designs now being used by other builders and compare these to those being used by the Sam L. Morse Company. We hope to enlighten the reader with information they may not have considered.

HULL DESIGN: There are four issues to be addressed: The underbody hull shape, the transom design, rudder and the topsides surface area. Reference: SEA WORTHINESS The Forgotten Factor by, C.A. Marchaj.

HULL SHAPE: There are many different hull shapes, lets separate them into two categories: the racer type and the cruising or offshore type.

RACER HULL SHAPE: The racer’s hull is usually round with a deep fin keel and spade rudder. The advantage here is that there is less wetted surface so the boat will sail quicker than other shapes and designs. With a fin keel and spade rudder, a grounding or collision with something in the water will be abrupt and could cause severe damage. When a deep fin keel boat does go hard aground, it is more difficult to kedge off because the anchors are set lower than the deck level of the boat, thus pulling the stem downward aft, digging the back of the keel deeper into the bottom. The deep, nearly vertical keel and spade rudder will catch fishing nets and may be damaged by even a small log. If damage were to occur at sea, it would be nearly impossible to make repairs until a proper boat yard was reached, where the vessel could be taken out of the water. This hull shape is difficult to beach for bottom cleaning or repairs, and it is no simple matter to stand on the hard without ample support to keep it from falling. If the rudderpost is bent and the boat is out of the water a hole in the ground must be dug so the rudder can be removed from its housing.

An equally important concern is that the fin keel with spade rudder is quick at the helm, meaning it will turn quickly with the slightest movement of the helm. This is important for the racer but the offshore sailor wants a longer keel shape, so the boat will track and hold her course for long periods with little work at the helm.

Because the fin keel is deeper with less wetted surface fore and aft of the keel, it is difficult to impossible to “heave to” in storm conditions. The ability to “heave to” easily is an essential storm strategy for the offshore sailor.

CRUISERS HULL SHAPE: Unlike the racer’s hull, the cruisers hull will have a wider beam which gives more living space and add to its “Form Stability”. The cruiser will be concerned with a comfortable motion of the boat both at sea and at anchor, so it will be considerably heavier than the racer hull. The keel should not be as deep or as vertical. For the offshore sailor the concern is also one of speed, but more importantly, a structurally strong boat with less draft and a keel shape that isn’t so vertical, because these vessels will be sailing into unfamiliar waters, and the likely hood of a grounding at speed may occur. There is also the possibility that they may hit a container, logs and general large flotsam, which is increasing daily. There is even the danger of a collision with large sea life. It would be better if its shape was more gradual, with less draft, so it can go into shallower waters with less danger of a grounding. If a grounding does occur, the keel will hopefully ride up onto the reef rather than coming to an abrupt stop. The rudder will be supported by a skeg or attached to the transom for protection. There are two common types of cruising keel shapes, the full cutaway keel and full swept back keel. In the old days of building offshore vessels, a full keel ran the length of the boat from bow to stern and was nearly parallel to the waterline. This shape provided excellent tracking but didn’t go to weather too well because there was too much wetted surface forward. This long keel was slow to respond to the helm. The cutaway and swept back keel shapes are a compromise between the full long keel of the past and the fin keel of today.

The cutaway keel has a “dog leg” shape where the keel meets the hull. It is like a swept back keel with a notch forward. The rudder is supported by a skeg or extension to the aft end of the keel. The concern here is how this skeg is attached to the hull. Does the skagg support the bottom of the rudder, or does the rudder support the bottom of the skagg? If it is part of the actual hull, built into the mold, it will be strong enough to support the rudder even in a grounding. If it is attached afterward, the buyer should look carefully at its construction and method of fastening. The abruptness of the cutaway forward will determine how much damage will occur in a grounding at speed. Carefully inspect the depth of the keel and skeg. The keel should be considerably deeper so if a grounding did occur the skeg and rudder would not be damaged. The swept back keel used on Sam L. Morse boats is similar to the cutaway keel. It has about the same wetted surface forward but without the notch or cutaway so it will point as high into the wind as any cutaway keel.

The swept back keel continues sloping back to the stern where the outboard rudder is attached. This keel shape will ride up, onto the reef or obstacle without an abrupt stop, and can be easily “rocked” loose and backed off. Since the rudder is attached to the end of the swept back keel and sets considerably higher, it is protected from damage during a grounding or collision.

TRANSOM OR POINTED STERN: There are two basic stern designs, the Transom stern is flat while the Pointed stern isn’t flat. If the shape of the pointed stern is similar to the bow entry it is called a Double Ender.

POINTED STERN: The advocates of the pointed stern claim it is safer in a stormy following sea because it will break or split the wave when it hits the stern. There is no doubt that a pointed stern is going to part a short following sea. I say short, because that is all it will do is separate a wave that is about 3 feet high. Because the pointed stern extends considerably further aft of the waterline, which gives lift, the stern will bury deeper into the wave before the boat will lift. Now the wave is further over the boat before it will break.

The pointed stern will lose a considerable amount of effective waterline length lift, because the waterline turns inward toward the centerline eliminating lift in this area. The pointed stern has less carrying capacity for the same deck length.

TRANSOM STERN: The transom stern is a flat surface at the back of the boat. It has the advantage that it will provide lift sooner in a tall following wave. It uses every bit of its waterline length for lift, and has much more carrying capacity for the deck length. Admittedly, the transom stern will be subject to slapping in short following seas, this however, is not a danger to the vessel but it could be annoying if sleeping aft while anchored bow and stern.

Lyle Hess designed his boats to be sea kindly. He accomplished this through the shape of the hull. By adding more reverse curve to the Garboard and widening the transom, the boat has flatter floors and less deadrise. The transom stern boats designed by Lyle Hess will be more comfortable at sea and at anchor than the pointed stern.

RUDDER: Most rudders today are made around a stainless steel rudder post which goes through the hull within a watertight fitting; the bottom is supported by the skagg. This is a good performance design, however it has some limitations. In a severe grounding the quickest and easiest way to get off is in the opposite direction it went on, or in reverse. As soon as a grounded boat begins to be pulled backwards, the rudder will take the strain first and will be damaged or broken. Because of its design and installation it cannot be removed for repairs until out of the water. The outboard rudder, on the other hand, can be easily removed in or out of the water. In a severe grounding the rudder can be removed by unscrewing two retainer bolts on the upper Pintles above the waterline. With the rudder removed the boat can to pulled backwards without damage until the rudder can be reinstalled. This all may not seem important now, but if you sail long enough you will know, first hand, how important this is.

TOPSIDES SURFACE AREA: This is the total area exposed to the wind and seas that is above the waterline. This surface area is constantly exposed to the weather. Every sailboat ever built has a point where “the forces on exposed surface area will exceed the windward driving forces of the minimum sail area set”. An example: If you were caught on a lee shore with the wind increasing in strength, and you had your storm sails set to drive the boat off the lee shore but she would sail no better than 90 degrees to the wind, you would have reached the point where surface area exceeds the driving force of the sails. This problem increases rapidly as the surface area increases or the wind increases. Similarly, the driving forces improve as the surface area is reduced or the winds decrease. So it would be best to have a boat with minimum amount of exposed surface area. Boats that are most likely to have problems are split rigs such as ketches with a large cabin. The boat less likely to have a problem would be a sloop or cutter with a flush deck (if the freeboard is not too high).

HULL CONSTRUCTION: There are two ways to have a fiberglass hull constructed, cored or solid fiberglass.

CORED HULLS: The primary purpose for a cored hull is lightness and stiffness. The hull gets a thin layer of fiberglass, about 3/16″ depending on the builder. This is followed by about 5/8″ of lightweight core material, which also varies with the builder. This is all followed by another thin layer of fiberglass, about 1/8″. The result is a hull that is about 1″ thick, about 5/16″ of total fiberglass and 5/8″ core material. This hull will be light and hold its shape well because it is stiffer than if it were only 5/16″ fiberglass.

Although light, this construction method has the disadvantage that it has less impact resistance than a thicker solid fiberglass hull. That is, if the cored hull boat hit a log or a heavy or sharp object it would be penetrated easier than if it were nearly the same total thickness in solid fiberglass.

We also know that osmosis now exists in fiberglass boats, which means that water will ingress through the hull. All builders are attempting to use modern materials to retard this from happening, but the truth is that it still happens only more slowly. What will happen to the core material if it is absorbent? Visit some boatyards and talk to the yard’s owner to find out if blistering is more prevalent on cored hulls than on solid hulls. What happens when two different materials, fiberglass and core material, are bonded together? Will they react differently under different temperate conditions? Will they expand and contract differently? Will there be eventual separation? Will the cored hull be as easy to repair as a solid fiberglass hull?

Another concern is the interior furniture is bonded to the inner liner or inner hull, which is separated from the outer hull by the core material, will they move differently when under the stress of rough seas over the years of offshore sailing? How do you install a thru-hull fitting in a cored hull for strength and longevity?

These are all questions that most builders will have answers for, but unfortunately, even they don’t know the answers until time passes and it is proven otherwise.

Solid Fiberglass Hull: The solid FRP (fiberglass reinforced plastic) hull should be nearly as thick as the cored hull. It will have similar stiffness characteristics but it will be considerably heavier. The additional weight on a cruising vessel will give the boat a better motion in a seaway, so this is not a disadvantage but an advantage. The solid thick hull will be stronger with better impact resistance. Because it is a thick, solid hull, it will resist moisture ingress longer as there is nothing to hold the moisture. The solid glass hull will have the furniture bonded directly to the hull, adding to the total strength. Unlike the cored hull, the thru-hull fittings will pass through and fasten to the solid thick hull.

The solid fiberglass hull is only as strong as the method and materials used for the lay-up. Fiberglass hulls get their strength from the resin-saturated fiberglass matt, roving and cloth. Resin by itself has little if any strength, in fact it is brittle. To produce a structurally strong lay-up there should be a layer of matt to absorb and hold the resin, and a layer of heavy roving also saturated with resin. The important factor is to remove all excess resin, and any air bubbles that may be trapped within these layers. If any excess resin remains it will be a brittle spot. If any air bubbles remain, it will react with the moisture as it enters the hull, and will expand causing separation and huge blisters. There are many different methods used to remove the excess resin and air bubbles. The Sam L. Morse Co. contracts Crystaliner to build their hulls. Crystaliner has a long-standing reputation for building strong offshore vessels, such as the Westsail and lifeguard rescue vessels. The hull is laid up entirely by hand; each and every square inch is hand squeegeed of excess resin and air bubbles. This procedure is closely supervised so that each hull receives the same treatment and number of lay-ups.

When you visit a boat yard, ask to see the plugs from the holes cut for the thru-hull fittings. The plugs should be of various thickness from different parts of the hull. It should increase in thickness as it gets deeper into the hull. It should be thicker forward to take the pounding when sailing hard to weather; at the location where the chainplates are installed; at the transom and anywhere you would expect impact or additional stresses. Also, look to see that the layers are all of equal thickness. If not, that means the excess resins were not uniformly removed. Look for air bubbles or any signs of anything but a solid thick hull with evenly spaced lay-ups, count the number of lay-ups in the different parts of the hull. Be concerned when a builder tells you that they have reduced the number of lay-ups and the thickness of a hull because they are using a new, stronger fiberglass roving to achieve the same strength. Why not use the new roving and keep the original thickness for an even stronger hull?

INTERIOR INSTALLATION: The interior furniture of the boat should add to its structural strength.

Thwart Ship Reinforcement: A thick, properly laid up fiberglass hull will still work or flex in a seaway without additional reinforcements. The submarine would collapse if it were not for the internal bulkheads that strengthen an already strong steel shell. Sailing vessels use bulkheads to strengthen the boat athwart ship.

The most important bulkhead is the one at the mast location. The rigging and forces of the wind put tremendous compression on the base of the mast. This “pulling down” by the standing rigging adds stress to the hull at the location of the chainplates. The hull wants to pull towards the center of the boat to reduce this stress. This “main” bulkhead prevents it from happening. Additional bulkheads should be located forward to absorb the stress of the pounding seas. Other bulkheads should be located aft to prevent the hull from “tweaking” or “twisting” in a seaway. In fact, the more bulkheads a boat has installed the stronger the boat.

In order for the bulkhead to add maximum strength, it should be bonded to the hull and deck all the way around and on both sides. The wider the fiberglass bonding or “tabbing” the stronger the join. This wide bonding also distributes the pressure over a wider area. One concern is that the bulkhead should not make direct contact with the hull, because it will cause a “hard spot” where the hull will work on either side of the bulkhead – For the bulkheads to provide maximum strength they must be bonded to the underside of the deck as well as the hull .If a builder uses teak plywood for the bulkhead the amount of bonding used is dependent on how much teak trim they are willing to use to hide this bonding. If the interior is completed before the deck is set into place it is unlikely the bulkheads will ever be bonded to the deck. The next time you go to a boatshow, look at the size of teak trim used between the teak bulkhead and the hull and deck. You can be certain that the amount of bonding or tabbing is less than the width of the teak trim.

The Sam L. Morse Co. installs four completely bonded bulkheads to the Bristol Channel Cutter and three to the Falmouth Cutter. In addition to these full bulkheads, there is a half bulkhead further forward and four quarter bulkheads in the center of the interior. Twelve inches of bonding fiberglass material is used on the main bulkhead, and 8″ on the others. There is a 1″ rigid foam strip installed between the bulkheads and the hull to act as a cushioning strip to prevent a hard spot. To further strengthen this installation method, 2″ holes are drilled, evenly spaced at about 18″ around the circumference of the main bulkhead so when bonded on both sides of the bulkhead the fiberglass material makes contact through the holes, locking the bond to the bulkhead. After the deck is installed and bulkheads bonded to the deck, the bulkheads are covered with a fiberglass T & G panel.

Longitudinal Reinforcement: Equally important to add structural strength to an already strong hull is longitudinal reinforcement. On smaller boats the furniture is bonded to the hull, providing this longitudinal strength. On larger boats over 35 feet where there is more space between the pieces of furniture, stringers are bonded to the hull. For our purpose, smaller boats, it is the furniture and how it is bonded to the hull that determines the structural results. At one extreme you will find manufacturers who use one huge fiberglass liner for the entire interior. It may only make contact with the hull around its circumference and few other places. This gives little if any additional strength to the boat. As the liner is reduced in size and becomes more modular, the more contact it has with the hull, adding to its strength.

There are two things to consider. First, is the ability to bond both the outside and inside of the liner to the hull. Is it accessible or is it only bonded to the outside, which provides only half the strength? Next, is the gel coat ground away before bonding to the hull? If not the builder is bonding to the gel coat, which is like gluing to paint. The more bonding material used and larger the area bonded will distribute the strength over a wider area. Unfortunately, since the liner is already finished, only minimum bonding can be used or it will be exposed. Another limitation to liners is that it does not permit variations to the interior. It prevents access behind the liner where it could grow mildew or algae, or even house small animals and insects. It makes it impossible to access if unfortunate enough to be holed. However, it is cheaper to build a boat with a fiberglass liner because it is already formed, finished and does not require skilled workmen to install.

The Sam L. Morse Co. does not use liners. We build our interior out of marine plywood in progressive segments so that each piece is individually fitted and bonded to the hull on both sides as well as inside and outside. As one owner put it, “Every compartment is basically watertight, if I am holed all I have to do is seal the bin lids.” The only concern with this building method is should the wood become constantly exposed to moisture, rot could develop. To prevent this, all the wood is sealed before it is installed and after. Most all builders use marine ply for their bulkheads and use the same sealing methods, I hope.

DECK CONSTRUCTION AND INSTALLATION: The deck, like the bull should be strong and properly bonded to the bull to last the lifetime of the boat.

Deck Construction: To build a deck out of solid fiberglass would be uncommon because the results would be extremely heavy. So builders use cores in the deck to provide the strength and stiffness required. Most builders use balsa wood as a core material because it is light, inexpensive and simple to use. The major advantage using this lightweight core material is less weight and cost. The disadvantage is that the core material is extremely water absorbent if water enters through a bolt or screw hole. This could result in separation, and dry or wet rot. Also, it has poor compression strength. That is, if a piece of hardware is through bolted the bolt or its nut could pull through the skin as the core material compresses as the nut is tightened. To prevent this from happening, builders use a high compression material at the location where cleats, winches, etc. will be located. Some builders use solid fiberglass and others use plywood. If the buyer knows where he will install the dinghy, life raft or other unexpected hardware, they can have the builder install the plywood or additional fiberglass at this location. If there is a need to add something later, a large back up plate must be used to distribute the pressure, and even then it will compress in time as the hardware is put under continual stress.

The Sam L. Morse Co. uses only sealed marine plywood for their core material because it has excellent compression and stiffness characteristics, and is more resistant to rot. Double thickness is used at the bitts, mast locations and anywhere excess loads are expected. The result is a structurally stiffer deck where hardware can be installed at any location. In the 25-year history of the Sam L. Morse Co. there are no reports of a deck having rot or separation. A major reason for this is that plywood is not nearly as moisture absorbent as other core materials, and will not compress, which would break the watertight seal of the deck hardware. A disadvantage to the plywood core is it is heavier. That would be of concern to the racer, but the little additional weight would have little effect on the boat’s performance, and the additional strength might be appreciated when the weather shows it’s worst.

Hull to Deck Joint: The deck adds to the strength of the boat. No matter how strongly the deck is built, it is only as strong as the method used to attach it to the hull. There are many methods builders use to make this joint. Some use an out turning flange, some a vertical connection and others an in turning flange. The out turning flange must be small or narrow, because it would stick out too far beyond the hull if it were wider. The vertical connection has many variations, but the major concern is that it will retain water, so drains must be installed. The in turning flange is more popular because it adds strength to the sheer line; the wider the flange the stronger the sheer. The problem with this method is that it costs more to build the molds because it must be in two parts so the “piece” can be removed. The wider the flange the more surface on which to set the deck so the joint will be stronger. On a wide flange the deck can be through bolted, staggering the bolts so they are not in line. The wide flange provides a larger surface area for the bonding material.

Some boats have a small flange, and after the deck is set in place the joint is fiberglassed. This is an excellent method as long as the flange is wide enough to provide structural support for the deck and the fiberglass bonding is heavy and on both sides.

The Sam L. Morse boats use an in turning flange. The Bristol Channel Cutter uses 3-1/2″ flange, the Falmouth Cutter uses a 2 1/2″ flange. The deck is first set in place, then 1/4″ holes are drilled every 5″, staggered from side to side to distribute the load across the flange. The deck is then raised and cleaned before ample amounts of 3M 5200 marine sealant is applied. Then the deck is bolted in place using 1/4″ stainless steel bolts, back up washers, lock washers and nuts. This joint is further strengthened when the bulwark stanchions are through bolted every 20 inches with 1/2″ S.S. bolts. In the 25 year history of the company there has never been a leaking deck to hull joint reported.

Note: because there is a parting line down the center of a hull does not mean the hull was made in two pieces and fastened together after. It means the hull has an in-turning flange and a two-part mold was used to remove the part leaving the parting line.

BALLAST: Most all boat builders are now using lead for their ballast. The controversy is should the ballast be internal or external?

External Ballast: External ballast is when the lead keel is bolted through the hull. There are several concerns with this method. The hull, at the location where the keel will be attached, must be exceptionally strong and will not compress with time. Look carefully at how the builder lays up this area, and if it will take a hard grounding without damage. The keel bolt material is another concern. Water will eventually reach the keel bolts. This means they will be exposed to oxygen starvation corrosion and electrolysis. If the bolts are made of monel there will be little problem because it is high on the Galvanic Scale. If stainless steel is used, it is less noble than many other metals and could act as an anode. Another concern with the keel bolts is their size. If a one-inch rod is threaded, then the minor diameter of the rod is 3/4″ and will have the same strength as a 3/4″ rod. Another concern is the method used to attach the keel bolts within the ballast. Since lead is soft it is possible that the bolts may work loose after years of stress. In a recent article in Professional Boatbuilder, the writer talks about keel bolts that loosen and need to be tightened as the boat gets older. His comment was that the nuts don’t loosen but everything else compresses and works which requires the nuts to be tightened periodically. Presuming that all the above is satisfactory, and there is a hard grounding with the external ballast. The advantage is that the lead will absorb a lot of the damage but the joint between the hull and the ballast will take the maximum stress. It is possible to break this bond and elongate the keel bolt holes, which could let water dribble into the bilge. How many groundings will it take before the ballast must be removed and resealed to the hull?

If the decision is to have an external ballast boat, make certain that the keel bolts are all accessible for regular inspection. It would be advisable to look at an older boat you are considering to see if there are any signs of water ingress or separation between the ballast and hull. Also visit boatyards that have external ballast boats out of the water. Look for repairs, cracks and water weeping out of the ballast to hull joint.

Internal Ballast: The Sam L. Morse Co. sets the lead ballast inside the hull. The hull is extremely thick throughout, but exceptionally so at this location. After the boat is leveled the pre-cast lead ballast, which is shaped to the hull cavity, is set in place. A dam is bonded to the aft end of the ballast to hold the resins that will encapsulate the lead. The ballast cavity is filled with slow curing resin totally covering the lead. This is followed by multiple layers of mat and roving to further strengthen this installation. The ballast will never make contact with any water or moisture for the life of the boat.

If a hard grounding occurs there will be some gel coat chipped off but the hull is about 1-1/2 thick at the bottom and it would take a considerable amount of time to grind it away to the lead. Boats do not sink as a result of a hole in the bottom of the keel. If either an external or internal ballast boat is grounded and continues to set upright, it is 99% floating, which means it can be kedged off. Boats are lost when they fall over on their side and the damage occurs at the turn of the bilge. In this situation it would be best to have the thickest hull with strong internal strengthening, regardless if the ballast is internal or external.

MAST STEP: The mast can be deck stepped or keel stepped.

Deck Stepped Mast: The primary reason a mast is stepped on deck is for ease of raising or lowering during transport or going under low bridges. Another is to provide more living space below decks. This method is well accepted in the boat building industry, as long as there is a substantial compression post installed to transfer the compression load to the mass of the keel. Make close inspection of the material between the two to be sure it will not compress in time. It is a good idea to look at older boats to see if there is any dimpling of the deck under the mast.

Keel Stepped Mast: The keel stepped mast passes through the deck and sets directly on the solid mass of the keel; there is nothing to compress. The advantage is that it is structurally a stronger installation. After all, the mast will stand by itself if all the rigging were removed so it has to be a stronger installation. The disadvantage is that the mast passes through the inside of the boat, taking up living space.

Some boat builders who build deck stepped masts state that the keel stepped mast will tear off the cabin if the mast is lost during a storm. I would ask this builder if they build their cabins so lightly that this could happen. The mast is an aluminum tube and would break in half before it would ever threaten tearing off the cabin. The Sam L. Morse Co. Bristol Channel Cutter passes the mast through the deck, not the cabin. The deck is reinforced to 2″ thick at this location.

MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS TO CONSIDER:

Sailing Performance: No matter which boat you consider buying, be certain it has good sailing characteristics. It should be fast enough to make a comfortable 150 nautical miles a day without being over burdened. It should point as close at 30 degrees off the apparent wind, or tack at 90 degrees on the compass. Most importantly, it must heave to without difficulty. Both the Bristol Channel Cutter and Falmouth Cutter will meet or exceed these requirements.

General Quality: When looking for a quality boat there are other factors to consider other than those directly related to structural integrity. These may seem trivial but they reflect the builder’s attitude towards expense rather than quality:

Does the builder use the best quality hardware and materials, such as metal portholes and cowl vents instead of plastic ones?
Are the lifeline stanchions double walled for strength?
Is the cabin sole solid teak or is it a plywood veneer?
Is the mast tapered at the top to reduce weight and windage? Based on the height of the mast, does it have double spreaders for additional strength?
Marine heads come in many various types and costs, what is being installed on the boat you are considering? -This list could go on for pages, but take the time to look closely and compare.
Deck Space: Your boat should have wide working decks. This makes it easy to drag sail bags back and forth as well as a safe area for a good foot hold when moving fore and aft. Sam L. Morse Co. boats have up to 24 inch wide decks on the Bristol Channel Cutter, and 20 inch wide decks on the Falmouth Cutter.

Bulwarks: Bulwarks are like a short wall going around the sheer of the boat. They keep your feet and other items from sliding over the side. To be effective they should be as tall as possible without looking out of place or disturbing the sheer line, and they must drain as quickly as the water comes aboard. Sam L. Morse Co. boats have 7 1/2 inch tall bulwarks, with an inch gap underneath for rapid draining.

Dinghy Storage: Surprisingly, buyers rarely consider where they will store a dinghy on deck. The Bristol Channel Cutter and Falmouth Cutter will take a 7’4″ hard dinghy on the foredeck, inverted over the Scuttle Hatch, or it can be set in chocks on top of the cabin. If a longer dinghy is needed, a 9 foot one can be used on the BCC, but it covers the bitts. We are now producing CHERUB, a 7’4″ lapstrake rowing and sailing dinghy that fits perfectly on both the BCC and FC.

Interior Insulation: Fiberglass does not have any insulation qualities. It’s not uncommon for a boat to “sweat” in warm climates. This “sweating” often results in the growth of mold and algae. This can be a serious problem on a boat with an interior liner. The Sam L. Morse Co. insulates their boats under the coach roof, under the decks and down the side to the waterline. Inside the lockers and bins can be insulated as an option.

Cockpit Size: A large cockpit is great when entertaining or lounging under the sun, but it can be hazardous if it can hold too much water if a breaking sea comes aboard. Most importantly is that the companion way have a bridge deck so that any water that goes into the cockpit will not enter into the boat. One cubic foot of water weighs 64 pounds, and this can add up quickly in a large cockpit. The cockpit well should be small and equipped with a cover so it can be used for sleeping outside.

Steering Methods: A boat can be steered by a wheel or a tiller. The wheel is usually used on larger boats with large cockpits, and tillers on smaller ones. The advantage of the wheel is that there is less strain on the helmsman than the tiller. The disadvantage is that the pedestal and wheel are not removable and are always in the way. The other downside is that there are many working parts that can fail. If it fails it is usually during periods of stress, like in a storm. If a boat with a wheel is selected be sure that repairs can be easily made at sea, and that there is a tiller back up. There will be fewer problems with rack and pinion or worm gear designs.

The Sam L. Morse Co. uses a tiller because a wheel would take up too much room. The advantage of the tiller is that it can be removed when sailing with a wind vane, autopilot or while at anchor, leaving the entire cockpit open for sleeping or lounging. Since the tiller is directly attached to the rudder, the helmsman has a better feel of the performance of the yacht. Also, it is easier to steer the boat in close quarters when picking up a mooring or anchoring. The downside to the tiller is that it swings in a wide arc when hand steering and has a direct load line to the rudder.

Accessibility of the hull: Any vessel that goes offshore should have access to every square inch of the hull. This is not only necessary in case of an emergency but for inspection and cleaning. This is one problem with many boats built with liners, there is no access behind the liner without cutting it out. The Sam L. Morse Co. has access to every square inch of the hull except behind the ice box where there is insulation between the hull and ice box liner.

Engine Access: Equally important is being able to access the engine on both sides, top and bottom in any sea condition. The larger the access area the easier the job will be. It is a bonus if there is a light installed as well. The Sam L. Morse Co. boats engine compartment is so large that a person can crawl inside to access the back of the engine and stern tube without difficulty. The engine access is from inside the boat, and repairs can safely be made in any weather.

Lifeline Stanchions: Lifeline stanchions are provided to keep the sailor aboard in rough seas. The sea conditions may be such that the person may be thrown against the lifelines with considerable force. The stanchion and lifelines must be strongly installed and capable of standing up to this force. The Sam L. Morse Co. uses 28″ high, double walled stainless steel stanchions with stainless steel lifelines. The stanchion bases are bolted through the deck and top of the bulwarks, providing maximum strength.

Water Tank Location: Water tanks are made of stainless steel, fiberglass or polyethylene. They are all good materials and all have some limitations. The stainless steel tanks have problems with electrolysis attacking the welds, and after a few years small pinholes will dribble water. This can be prevented by using the proper welding rods that match the tank material. Fiberglass tanks will always taste like fiberglass, but will not leak and will last a long time. Polyethylene is what most of the marine industry is now using. It is the same material used in bottled water purchased at the local market, so it is tasteless. The only disadvantage is that it is a softer material and can ware away if not properly supported during installation. Since baffles cannot be installed in these rotary molded tanks, individual tanks can be installed providing the same capacity. This can be a bonus because a diverter valve can be installed between the tanks, so either tank can be selected in case questionable water is taken aboard. Regardless of the water tank material, they should be capable of replacement if damaged, and there must be easy access for cleaning the inside.

As mentioned above, water weighs 64 pounds per cubic foot, or 8.4 pounds per gallon. There is only one place for water tanks, and that is in the center of the boat as low in the bilge as possible so it adds to the yacht’s ballast. The tanks must be easily removed for accessing keel bolts (if external ballast), repairing leaks and cleaning. They should have an easily accessible inspection plate for cleaning. The Sam L. Morse Co. boats use polyethylene tanks installed over the internal ballast, under the cabin sole, as low as possible and in the center of the boat. They can be quickly and easily accessed by removing a few screws that hold the sole cover.

Berths: Most boat builder have a “V” berth forward because it is a simple place to install a double berth without interfering with the rest of the boats interior. The advantage is that it can be a wide, long comfortable berth. The disadvantage is that it is the most uncomfortable berth on the boat when underway or in a rough anchorage. The most violent motion on a boat is forward. While at anchor, the sound from the anchor rope, chain and waves slapping against the hull is transferred into this area. A long “V” berth forces the builder to install the chain locker far forward, which can effect the safety of the boat in rough conditions. The best location for a berth is amidships in the center of the boat, at the waterline. This is where there is minimum movement. However, it is difficult to build a berth at this location because it is the living area.

The Sam L. Morse Co. Bristol Channel Cutter has a double, pull-out berth located amidships on the port side, a single settee berth amidships on the starboard side and a quarter berth on the starboard side aft. Because we are a custom boat builder, we can add a single or double berth forward. We can make the starboard single settee into a pull out double. By using inserts between the settees the backrests can be used as fillers for a large double to sleep thwart ships. We can make any necessary changes the owner may want. The Falmouth Cutter has a large quarter berth on port and starboard sides, and a double berth forward. If the buyer wanted an outboard engine instead of an inboard, the area between the quarter berths could become a huge double.

Head and Showers: A totally enclosed head and shower has the advantage of privacy. The disadvantage is that the space is used for 10 or 15 minutes a day, and the rest of the time it takes up valuable space. Many head and shower installations are not properly vented and will not dry out adequately in warmer climates. The Sam L. Morse Co. installs the head and shower forward. The shower curtains is set around the inside of the scuttle hatch, which can be opened during and after showering for maximum ventilation. The head and shower area is also the location for the work bench, hanging lockers, clothes, sail locker, chain locker, storage for the awning, oars, sewing machine, fishing poles, tools, etc.

Propane tanks: Most all boat builders today use propane as the primary cooking fuel. If properly installed it should never give an owner any problems. The primary concern is that the tanks be installed so they will vent overboard even with a bad leak. Coast Guard approved installations require that the propane locker be used only for stowing propane tanks and nothing else. The Sam L. Morse Co. boats have the aluminum propane tanks stored in deck boxes located on both sides of the mast. There would be no problem if a buyer wanted kerosene or natural gas installed instead.

Chain storage: Anchor chain is heavy and should never be stored above the waterline or too far forward. The best location for anchor chain is low, near the centerline and as far aft as possible. The Sam L. Morse Co. boats store the chain deep into the bilge, and as far aft as possible. When making a passage 300 feet of chain can be pulled back into the shower sump just forward of the mast, and still lead out as normal if needed.

Boom Gallows: It is hard to understand why all boat builders don’t use boom gallows. They support the boom when the sails are down. In rough weather the boom can be lashed to the gallows, making it impossible for it to come loose and swing across the deck. They provide a perfect place to install an underway sun awning between the dodger and the boom gallows. When going offshore an additional chest high lifeline can be tied between the boom gallows knees and the upper or aft lower shrouds. They provide a strong support to grab when coming aboard from the dinghy. A fishing reel can be installed on the boom gallows stanchions. An auto pilot bracket can be attached to the boom gallows stanchions. They provide a support when taking celestial sights by leaning elbows over the gallows cross piece. When entering a port the helmsman can sit on the top of the stern rail and rest his arms on the gallows while steering with one foot. It is a place to install a life ring, an outboard engine, and the list could go on.

Bowsprit: One of the major concerns for buyers considering the Bristol Channel Cutter and Falmouth cutter is the long bowsprit. The major advantage of the bowsprit, other than adding to the lovely lines, is the increase to the “J” measurement. The longer “J” permits the boat to carry more sail area. It increases the angle of the headstay, which makes a longer sheet lead, all of which permits the boat to point higher into the wind. This increase in headstay angle also works well with roller furling because the sheet lead is nearly 90 degrees to the headstay. When the headsail is roller reefed the sheet lead does not change, leaving a good sail shape.

The downside is that no one wants to go out on the bowsprit in anything but mild weather. There are several ways to solve this problem. The first is a quality roller furling system. With this method only one sail is set on the roller furling headstay, and it is used from light to strong winds. As the wind increases the sail area is reduced by rolling it up until there is no sail left. The staysail remains set and provides the necessary drive. Today, roller furling and reefing systems are built to high standards, and will be trouble free if properly used and maintained. There is no need to go out on the bowsprit. If conditions are real light and a drifter or lightweight Genoa is required it can be set aft of the roller furling headstay and raised “free flying”. This would require that the tack be connected to the snap shackle on the bowsprit, but in such light conditions it would not be a problem. If the snap shackle pin has a line leading back on deck the sail can be released without going out on the bowsprit.

If you are still a purest and want to use a hanked on Yankee sail with a downhaul, then a close heavy netting can be lashed between the Whisker stays, below the bowsprit, to walk on. Never walk on the bowsprit; instead walk on the netting, straddling the bowsprit. The netting will stretch and the lifeline will be above waist height if a pulpit is installed. In the 25 years we have been building these boats no owner has complained about the bowsprit, probably because they realize the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

Storage Area: Another important factor on a cruising vessel is the amount to storage space available. Surprisingly, many larger boats have far less storage space than the Sam L. Morse Co. boats. It is advisable to compare the boats you are considering by counting the number of lockers and bins and their estimated size or square footage.

Conclusion: I would like to conclude with a few comments about the Lyle Hess designed, Sam L. Morse Co. Built boats for the people who are not familiar with the traditional design and its sailing performance.

-The Bristol Channel Cutter and the Falmouth Cutter have recorded remarkable speeds and passages. There are many recorded passages in excess of 180 nautical miles a day. One such passage was on a Falmouth Cutter “POPEYE” that made 200 nautical miles from noon to noon sailing from Ensenada, Mexico to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The Bristol Channel Cutter, “XIPHIAS” sailed 3,200 nautical miles in 22 days, for an average speed of over 6 knots. Read about other major accomplishments on this site.

Both boats have remarkable windward sailing ability. They both can point 30 degrees to the apparent wind, or 45 degrees on the compass.
Both vessels are exceedingly seaworthy with proven ocean crossings and are capable of sailing anywhere in the world. Because of the design and size of these boats they are delightfully fun for a day sail within the harbor, or can be provisioned and cross oceans.
All the critical systems of the boats are designed for ease of service and maintenance.
Unlike modern designs today, the proven interior layout does not compromise comfort at sea or at anchor. If the buyer wants to modify the standard interior, we can easily meet your needs.
The Sam L. Morse Co. has been in business for over 25 years building and improving the same two vessels. The two top shipwrights have been building these same boats for nearly as many years.
The general trend today is for couples to buy boats that are really too large for two people to handle in anything but ideal conditions. There will be many times when one person is unable to assist reefing, sail changing, anchoring, etc. and the chore must be done alone. If the weather is bad and the boat too large or the sails too big for one person, serious accidents can occur. Think carefully before you buy a bigger boat, big is not necessarily better. The bigger the boat the sooner it’s anchor will drag; it will be more difficult to get underway in a hurry; it will be harder to pull up to pile moorings and docks; it will require deeper water when anchoring, so you will be further from shore; because of its size there will be places you cannot visit; it will cost more to haul-out, replace sails, rigging, engine, etc. A larger boat relies more on the engine than a smaller boat; it costs more to enter a country; and the list can go on and on. Talk to experienced cruisers, not arm chair sailors at the dock, and ask them how often they saw larger boats in trouble compared to smaller boats.

Our goal is and has always been to create a sincere but beautiful offshore cruising vessel for two. To summarize, a quote by Ferenc Mate from his book, THE WORLDS BEST SAILBOATS. “I might as well start off by telling you that the Bristol Channel Cutter and the Falmouth Cutter are the most beautiful 28 foot and 22 foot sailboats in the world”.


 

Paint it black 

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Freeze up has arriveed, I’ve just ice skated down the long lonely dock to Sookie, my world is frozen.  I was tending to my fire when I actually smelled the first snow and exploded out of the building like I was a fifth grader on the first day of summer vacation. I raised my hands to the heavens, opened my mouth and had my first taste of winter. I love weather, it’s always been the guiding force in my life

Sailing around the world

Back on the boat I received a letter from a sailing soulmate who literally sailed Sookies sister to the South Pacific. The letter is the highlight of my day, week and month. There is so much alive in my world, birds by the hundreds, seals, wharf rats and all my bunnies, my world is a magical place and also a very dangerous one at this time of year. One slip and it’s all over, there is not a soul down here, just me.

Sailing around the world

I pull my uke and butcher Paint it black and it makes me smile.  As of today I have  half the cash for my new one off wind vane, another piece of the puzzle and another night of potatoes, cabbage and Ramen, my focus and dedication is one demensional, the sailing season is almost here and I’ve slipped a whole page down on my todo list, they call it yachting for a reason.

Sailing around the world

The biggest casualty of the day was learning that no matter how hard I try I can’t load my video into my I pad. Guess that one will have to wait a bit but I’m a patient man.  I look around Sookie, read though my notes and again wonder how little I can thrive with, am I overly ambitious, have the paranoid land lubbers with boats finally rotted my brain or am I being completely reasonable and how would I know.  I put down the list and sing the song that seems to fit outfitting s sailboat and my mood the most…


I see a red door and I want it painted black

No colours anymore, I want them to turn black

I see the girls walk by dressed in their summer clothes

I have to turn my head until my darkness goes- The Rolling Stones 

Sailationships

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When I first moved to the Pacific North West it was trial by fire, one day I was living in my car driving to Alaska, the next I was living in the boat yard in my new to me Allegra 24. Winter came hard and fast that year and as soon as It did I made a break for the nearest island and land.  Back then I thought my new friends who lived aboard during the winter were effing nuts.

Sailing around the world

Now entering into my 5th or 6th winter aboard I don’t think they were nuts, I know they are certifiable.  For all the bitching I do about winter and the cold I actually love living aboard.  Here and there a few storms blow through that are comepletly intolerable but other than that it truly is living the dream. I’ve moved from boat to boat till I found the perfect fit,  relationship wise I’ve been reluctantly following the same path. 

I’ve had three liveaboard relationships aboard Sookie and while they were all quite fun, none of them were worth Persuing in the long run, mostly because none of them were sailors or cared about sailing.  They say the spots on a leopard never change and that’s my curse, I’m afflicted with water on the brain and always will be, I was born under the sign of cancer, A true waterman. Trying to change a city girl into a sailor is a tough thing.  Also I’m appearanty an A-Hole because I won’t buy a Bene 40 with diesel heat, a water maker and a real shower and yes I know how important these things are for people who spend their life’s chasing careers, statice symbols and the American dream. Nothing wrong with any of those things but they are like kryptonite to me. I have a sign on my mirror aboard Sookie that reads “it’s all your fault” I smile every time I read that sign and it makes me feel just a little bit freer.

I don’t know why but I’m so turned off by the so called persuit of happiness that I actually came to the realization that I’d much rather be single than to date a person who thinks that success can be measured in anything other than happiness.  Then one of my a brilliant girlie friends pointed out that I was fishing in the wrong pond.  Her exact words were “you need to find an unmotivated wanderer for the wind who stinks of pachouli, doesn’t know what shoes are, is allergic to careers and gainful employment and has a wanderlust based off of discovery and exploration, not a bucket list. You know, a total looser, somebody just like you;)”. She gave me one of those super sexy consoling hugs and a sympathetic awwwe…

Right then and there it hit me like being smacked with a 2×4 across the head.  I smiled when I realized how right she is.  I’m not a baby maker, sugar daddy, don’t collect debt, have opted out of the 9-5 and sucessfully stayed out.  I’m not impressed with titles or fame and pretty much don’t have a single thing to offer in this world other than my hyper excitability about living in the present.  Going back to those relationships I could now see how doomed they were from the start. One wanted babies, one wanted debt and one wanted… kryptonite

Funny how we can amble though life never seeing what or who we really are until forced to look back at ourselves through the one way mirror of reality.  Solo… that’s a big word and one that I have all but erased from my vocabulary.  Dirt bag, it’s such a wonderful word, it congers images of dirty blond hair in braids with flowers, bare tanned feet and a hairy hippie girl two days passed due for a shower dancing around a fire.  There was a time in my life when I truly thought that the gobs of money I was making meant something.  For every rung I climbed in the corporate ladder I was actually descending one step lower towards the fiery gates of hell.  That hippie girl with her hula hoop is on to something.  She didn’t need hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt to her education or a lifetime chained to a cubicle to figure it out.  Life is best lived in the present. I had been searching for so long for a paper doll that I didn’t even realize how flimsy paper is.

Tonight was spent laughing so hard I almost peed myself.  My feet are so cold they are burning but I have a big thick pair of socks sitting around here somewhere. I burned my dinner but it still filled and nourished me and I’ll be warm and snuggled in bed long before 900pm. Boating relationships take a very special bond, I look back at all of my passed sailing forays fondly as the time spent was precious and priceless!#*#SCREECH—-Or maybe they just weren’t aligned with the voyage of Sookie,  Aduhhhhh 😉 night kids.

From the log of the Dangerous. Anyone that a) doesn’t believe in hell and b) thinks that money can buy happiness has never spent their days shackeled to one of the largest lending institutions on the planet earth. I can assure you that hell does exist, for me it was in Lake Forrest Ca and no, money can’t buy you happiness, although it can buy you a kickass boat and a bottle of really average whiskey, go figure. Life is an enigma but I’m learning, slowly and painfully…

Hookers and whiskey

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Can you imagine coming home and finding your house missing?  This has never happened to me but I have woken up in an entirely different place than where I was when I went to sleep.  Ever since taking 350 lbs out of Sookies bow by removing  serveral hundred feet of chain and her windlass she has pointed and sailed like dream. Now I’m only carrying 30′ of chain with 300′ of line which has been perfect for this area but what about the South Pacific.

Sailing around the world

I have friends who only carried 60′ and have read about people who have used even less but I like to sleep at night and am trying to come up with the magic number.  If I wanted to I could drill out the bulkhead from my anchor locker and store 300′ of chain down low, just forward of my main bulkhead but could I pull it up.  Ive pulled Sookies current rig weighing in at 55lbs from 100′ and it damn near killed me.  I won’t be putting Sookies windlass back on so what ever I end up with it will be hand pulled.  I know that there are many other ways to get it up but I’m impatient and just throw my back at it, a chain stopper would certainly help.

Sailing around the world

At 25lbs my rocna is beyond overkill, I have a friend who has survived two hurricanes on his 14,000 lb boat with a delta 22 lb as his primary and a few danforths for when it gets snotty, he’s been cruising more or less full time for over 30 years so I have to imagine he knows what he’s doing.  I’m still searching for my seconary bower and will more than likely get. Fortress 13, my current stern is poor mans version fortress makes and at 7 lbs it has amazing holding power, i don’t now and have never used chain on my stern, this set up has served me well 100% of the time and since adding rocna my only fear is having a boat drag down on me because my rocna has never dragged an inch.

Sailing around the world

Again Sookies smallness comes into play and yet another strike against choosing a small sailboat for longer voyages. I chose her because she is so unbelievably fun to sail and so while she can carry a mammoth load, I try very hard to keep her ends as light as I can, her new roller furling lapper isn’t going to help with the weight foreword or aloft but I’m committed to it 100%. A roller staysail would be a dream come true but that’s just crazy talk, right? Time for more whiskey and a bit more contemplation and…

“The sky never falls with the rain.
It is never weighed down by all that
it carries. It takes all of its anchors
and turns them into stars.
Learn from this.”
― D. Antoinette Foy

Seaworthy VS rescueable

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I don’t really know how to answer my parents when they ask me if my upcoming voyage is safe.  I’ve never lied to them and I don’t want to start now but trying to explain this lifestyle to a landlubber is like trying to teach flight to a worm. On the plus side they have more or less reluctantly supported every hair brained venture I’ve set out on and there are too many to count.

Sailing around the world

I can hear an admirer outside Sookie so I pop out and invite him aboard for a glass of scotch, it’s crazy good stuff my friend Elise dropped of for me when I was playing Tarzan up in the hills. We started talking about boats and designs, after a complete tour he smiled extending his tin cup for a refil asking if she was insured.  I had already pointed out the rebuild of my mast, my rocna, the new bow Sprite and boomkin all the fittings, the whole boat.  I stared blinking at him like I was looking in a mirror. He took a sip, I took a sip, he lit his pipe, I lit my pipe and then he asked me again adding “I know she’s a seaworthy vessel”.  When I gave him my answer his eyes bulged, Stormy, a craft like this in her current condition is worth nearly 90k, the replacement would easily double that, “one asshole is large enough to sink anyboat”. “To me she has no monetary value, she is just my humble home”. And with that he offered to survey her for free, more scotch was poured.

Sailing around the world

“Most people buy the last mans bankruptcy, poorly designed boats built by amateurs and maintained by madmen” he went on, and on and on till the bottle ran dry.  His old blue eyes wandered down Sookies sheer as he walked away, “I’ll bring the bottle when we write her up, order those rudder fittings, I’m not going to lie for you”. I tapped my pipe on the bull rail and climbed inside, we had been sitting in the rain for two straight hours, thank god for my wool sweater.

Sailing around the world

When I purchased Sookie I literally took her apart, the only things I haven’t replaced are her rudder fittings, electrical panel, a few bits of rigging and her deck to hull fasteners.  Sookies hull is fiberglassed to her deck but the cap rails need replacing so in the spring when I do this I will also refasten her deck which will be just about the cheapest and easiest project I have done to date.  When I think about safety at sea, it’s the boat that comes to mind first, followed by my sea faring skills and lastly the things I wish I had but may never, like a life raft, Epirb and emergency water maker.

Every coast guard rescue at sea that I’ve seen with a sailboat involves a boat that appears to be sitting fine in the water with no signs that it is going to sink, mast still up and it makes me wonder…

“If you aren’t afraid you just don’t know all the facts” Gordon Yates, Taleisins Tales

Ukulele buyers guide

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My ukulele skills don’t warrant the quality of the instrument I play but the smile it gives me dwarf this little hunk of wood like an ant standing next to an elephant.  A good friend keeps pushing, tying to crawl inside my head and figure out what I want from this life.  When I tell her I’m seeking nothing it draws a blank.

People, not things has always been my motto, even before I had heard the words spoken out loud.  I have very few possessions in this world but the things I do have are quite meaningful to me, I take good care of them and use them constantly.  When I wrote the ukulele site in Hawaii my letter laid out my simple request, budget, purpose and the sound I was looking for. Not only did they write back but sent me a very detailed letter teaching me that buying the uke was just one of many steps. They went through all of their ukes to find the one that suited me best and had it professionally set up and shipped it two day air at no additional charge.

Ive never advertised on this blog but I love sharing and do it often.  I’ve gotten so many emails about my little uke I wanted to share this video and the process that every uke from their shop goes through before it goes out the door and yes this is a free service.

It’s no secret that I demand quality, I’d rather have nothing if I can’t have a good investment in my happieness.  Finding good quality products is getting more and more difficult in this world but for me what’s even more important is the quality and integrity of the company that provides the service.  Should any product or project reach the pages of this blog it’s not by accident and it has come with no shortage of research. I only write about what I love, things that make me smile and experiences that enrich my life.

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