The Salish Sea


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This is the country of oysters, salmon and the jewel of the Salish Sea, Dungeness Crab.  There are literally hundreds of islands, bays, estuaries and river inlets.  You couldn’t explore this area in a lifetime.  I’ve seen Orca’s, whales, dolphin and sharks, Eagles, Blue Herons, Vultures and Hawks.  There have been storms and calms and everything in-between.

Falmouth Cutter 22

Of all the sightings in the Salish its old friends that I run into here and there again and again that make cruising this place so special.  Some heading north others south, east or west.  It doesn’t matter where you go or when you go there the Salish is one of the most beautiful places on earth.  Sailing, hiking biking, beach combing or just sitting on the dock of the bay nowhere on earth will you find the absolute beauty and deversity of the Salish Sea.

Summer is the best time to visit the islands but the winds are challenging.  From the end of June till September the winds typically blow under 6 knots or over thirty if they blow at all.  Today is July 20th and there are only 4 more weekends till fall starts to march in.  The lazy days of summer are coming to an end, the sun shines a little less brightly every day and dips into the sea a little earlier each evening.  Enter the shoulder seasons, the tourists are gone, the islands go to sleep and the best season for sailors and voyagers begins.

All you need for cruising the full six months of the shoulder seasons are a good set of foulis with lots of warmies stuffed below, a small heater and a good hook for the blustery fall winds that blow here and there.  I always try and have the boat securely tied at the dock by November 1st, the windy season around here where the wind can blow up to and over 50 knots for days on end if not weeks.  From November though the first of February is day sailing season picking those wonderful perfect winter days to get out on the water and stretch the sheets and shake the sails.

It takes a lot of work to live this simply, perfection isn’t what you achieve, its how you achieve it.

He Sails She Sails


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For the religious folk out there I will say this, God works in mysterious ways.  For everybody else I will say this, Dog works in mysterious ways.  When I saw Chloe trotting toward me with a cute young blond I in tow I didn’t really give it much thought other than yep she’s getting extra doggie treats tonight.  Now what do I think?  HURRICANE!

Bilge babe

I’ve been solo both figuritivly and literally for quite some time.  I sat down and thought of a thousand reasons why I should keep my wall up and Emily off the boat.  Using my typical and complete lack of rational adult restraint I threw caution into the wind asked her to join me for sailing lessons.  Sookie has always been my safe retreat, I place to hide from the world and do my thing alone.  Now that there is a set of tiny feet pitter pattering around my decks it seems every guy in the marina has a reason to come visit.  I heard a rap on the hull from the cool of the V-berth where I was lazing the hot afternoon away and let Emily answer, I was way too comfortable to move.  It was an old friend fro Port Townsend who stopped by with a beautiful copy of The Cost Conscious Cruiser hoping I could help find its way into Emily’s hands.  I could hear the surprise in his voice when she popped her head out of the companionway.

I lazily crawled out of bed to say hello and scanned the saloon, it looked like a hurricane had passed through but so is the nature of living on a small sailboat.   If you can’t keep a neat and orderly boat you simply will have no other choice than to find a larger one.  Little girlie things have been appearing everywhere I look, my space is no longer my own.

Today potty training will begin as I turn over a few lockers for her personal gear, our lessons will be at sea by day and on the hook by night.  I was so impressed the other night when she stopped by for a visit and commented on how beautiful Sookies lines were until I realized that she was talking about the coiled dock lines, shish.  It may be time to change the name of this journal to Art Of Rookie.  I have a friend sailing north in his Lyle Hess 26 to visit and no doubt a challenge for a race will be thrown.  The absolute beauty of my little cutter is that she is so simple and easy to sail that we should be in good race form by the end off the week.

I’ve never been the type of person to look down the road at tomorrow when today is at my finger tips, I jump in headfirst always afraid of missing the fun.  Boats, bikes, beers, and now a bilge babe.  Life is pretty fun in the islands and today is just another perfect example of the joys and benefits of diving in right now and living in the moment. If it wasn’t for Emily’s absolute persistence and commitment to sailing Sookie none of this would have happened, she showed up with her sea bag and took over.  Just for fun I ordered a quote for shipping the boat to San Carlos but thats another story.

From the Log of Sookie July 2014 Cougar Bay.  Its good to have somebody who misses you when your gone.



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And its only fitting that I would take her under my wing, share a hundred years of sailing experiences handed from ancient mariner to student and the traditional ways of the sea.  My sailing muse was named Captain Leah, she was a crusty old salt 20 years my senior.  She taught me to love and respect not only the sea but my sailing craft.  She was hard on me, always making me do everything right from varnishing the rails to double and triple checking my navigation.  She taught me to read the weather with little more than the clouds and my barometer.   I was schooled in everything from the arts of barefoot navigation to boat handing in severe seas and harnessing the zephyrs to keep the boat moving over a breathless ocean.

Bilge Babe

I met Emily a few short days after arriving in Cougar Bay, she asked me to teach her to sail and I said no, shoved a book in her hands and shoed her away with a friend.  The next time I saw her she asked again and again I said no and sent her home.  The third time she asked I poured her a beer shared a cigarette and kicked her off the boat.

What could we possibly have in common? I don’t like students on my boat, she is half my age and while I find her youth to be fun and energizing it also wears me out, she is bat-shit crazy in every way.  Perhaps I was being a bit overly arrogant but I figured all she cared about was my boat, or maybe the dog.  It could have been my stunning good looks, chiseled abs or bottomless bank account but whatever it was it was nothing more than puppy love, and again and again I sent her packing.  The next time I saw her she stormed my boat, snached my ukulele and plopped her ass in my cockpit.  She seranaded me with a song that she wrote called I don’t want to be your girlfriend, I just want to sail on your boat.

It turns out we may have more in common than I suspected, we are both horribly insecure and needy.  We both suffer from sever A.D.D. and O.C.D. Our love for the sea, photography and writing keeps us busy as does the constant battle of wisdom and youth.  Her best friend told her not to waste her youth on age, my best friend told me not to waste my age on youth.

I don’t know what tomorrow will bring but I just may take her out for a quickie sailing lesson on Sookie…  And its only fitting that I would take her under my wing, share a hundred years of sailing experiences handed from ancient mariner to student and the traditional ways of the sea.  Many of the most important lessons Ive learned at sea were taught to me by my sailing students.

If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea…”
- Antoine de Saint Exupery

The Perfect Pocket Cruiser


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I receive lettters from my journal in many forms and while I do my best to answer them all in a timely manor there are over a hundred in my inbox right now yet to be opened.  lack of internet, lack of time, or just lack of answers…  Someday I hope to catch up but its almost like having a full-time job.  Below is a copy and paste from a very standard set of questions I receive almost weekly.  I figured sharing it online would be a good way to go.  The responses below are just my 2 cents and thats all their worth.  I can no more tell another person what they seek in a boat anymore than I could choose a life partner for them.  That being said I have been living aboard and sailing pocket crusiers all over the world for almost 30 years so my perspective can at least give a small peek into the world of pocket cruising.  I sail small boats by choice and while I love all manner of boats my heart is taken by the romance of small cozy interiors, well designed and beautifully built yachts that were designed fist and foremost as sailing craft.  falmouth cutter

Excellent!! Oh but where should I begin?

You might want to go grab a cup o’ Joe while I get some questions/thoughts together,,, ; )

I just re-read your entire blog, from start-to-finish. Quite an enjoyable 16 hours. It appears that most of my questions have now been answered, but there’s always something right?

the perfect pocket cruiser

1. Somehow, I missed the part where you renamed her Sookie, from THE. Did you have a denaming / renaming ceremony? Why the change anyway?

Like many sailors I am incredibly superstitious.  There was very significant meaning behind The but in the end dozens of setbacks and failures started to make me weary.  We were literally the local entertainment at the dock attempting to maneuver a 22′ 8,000 full keel into the dock when either the motor would die, blow up, or simply give up or my many different prototype sculling oar mounts would literally crack and fall off the back of the boat.  The second to my last attempt to sail away was hilarious returning to the dock less than 24 hours after leaving with hopes of never returning. My blood stained sails and decks were a sight to see.  I created an elaborate denaming and renaming ceremony which was published in Latts and Atts.  As soon as I changed the name everything fell into place including cutting the bow line and leaving the remnants as my farewell note to all.DSC_6708falmouth cutter 22

2. Are you still heating Sookie with the Kerosene heater? How much fuel does it use?

I have no heat on Sookie, I use a brass lantern and two candles which give me about ten degrees.  I pulled my oven three years ago with hopes of adding a wood stove but have yet to find the perfect system.

Boat heat

3. What are your thoughts about ‘engineless’ now? (i.e) if Sookie became a total loss,  would your next boat have a small diesel engine?

No I wouldn’t get a diesel engine ever on a small boat.  The beauty of the Falmouth Cutter is how wonderful she sails.  Engine-less on the other hand is something that very few including myself are capable of long term.  I was engineless for two years and while I never had any real issues There were quite a few frighting moments.  Once I had to jump overboard and fend the boat off a rock jetty.  Another time I turned into the fairway to meet a guy in a 9000lb full keeler coming head on at full hull speed, that was a close one.  I also spent a beautiful night less than a mile from the jetty watching the snow collect on my deck on a breathless evening.  I was wearing every single piece of clothing I owned and still cold.  A bottle of scotch helped pass the time but having some small form of propulsion is a good thing,lets face it, I’m no Larry Pardey.  I am seriously considering a small electric outboard as I almost never use my engine.

Falmouth Cutter 22

4. So, the bucket thing is really working out for you? Really? I’m actually impressed and inspired. Confirm this is still your number one choice dump receptacle.

I do still use a bucket and have for over 10 years, see How To Shit In A Bucket.  I also carry WAG bags for when the bucket is not appropriate.  I could write an entire book on this subject but being how this is such a personal choice I’m not tuching it with a ten foot pole.  As an interesting aside I have sold 100% of articles I have submitted for publication with the single exception of how to shit in a bucket.  I knew it wouldn’t get published but I submitted it anyways as a test.  If you are relying on any magazine for truth you will be sorely disappointed, they write for their advertisers, not you. :)

How to shit in a bucket

5. Do you keep your anchor on a roller, secured on-deck, or tucked away inside the cabin?

My primary anchor is permanitally hooked onto my dolphins striker.  I wrote a letter to Lin Pardey asking her about the preferred method of anchor storage on Serrafyn.  She told me she kept her anchor on the bobstay for over 45,000 miles with no issues so I hung it there and have never looked back.  I use a Rocna and if you want mine you will have to pry it out of my cold dead hands.  My first night hanging on my Rocna was in a gale, that night I coined the term Rocna’d to sleep.

worlds best anchor

6. Anchor rode. I read from your Blog that you have “30′ of 5/16″ chain and 220′ of 1/2″ 3 strand rope”
Did you ever get your, “100′ chain and 250 of rope”? Anyway, how is the anchor/rode set up working for you?

I actually have a total of 274′, I still use 30′ of chain and it is enough.  My reason for wanting 100′ of chain is that it is much less likely to have growth when you pull it after several weeks in the same anchorage.  1/4 high test is strong enough but its harder to pull by hand due to its smaller size and doesn’t shed mud as easily as 5/16.  I used a Delta anchor for a dozen years without any complaint but the Rocna is definitely superior in every way.  You will read a lot about oversized anchors.  There is absolutely no reason to use an oversized anchor as a bower.  The reason so many people use oversized anchors is that they have absolutely no idea what they are doing, you know the old saying; if you don’t know what type of knot to tie , tie lots of them.  I have heard every argument in the world, we carry secondary anchors for the rare times our bower might not be enough, they are stored down low in the bigle where the weight does not affect the sailing quality of the boat.

best anchor rode combination

7. I see you have removed your Windless? I have fond memories of my first bar-bones sailboat (a Newport 27). It too had no windless and I didn’t think it a burden at all. Would you go back to a windless if one was provided?

Not on this boat, when I purchased her she had a beautiful ABI bronze windlass and 200′ of 5/6″ chain for a total of almost 300lbs in her bow.  The FC has a fairly fine entry and it really hampered windward performance.  Now with all the weight removed she sails like a witch to weather, you might be surprised at how many boats I can out perform to weather including the Nor’sea and Bristol Channel Cutter.  As far as the argument for getting trapped in a blow at anchor and needing to use the windlass to get out of the anchorage I can assure you its not a problem.  On a larger boat I would definitely use a manual windlass but there is no need on the FC.

falmouth cutter

8. I see your sails are all hanked-on. Have you considered roller reefing?

Yes, I think about it often.  The one thing that you are guaranteed with roller furling is that 99% of the time you will have the wrong sail up. You will also more often than not have the wrong sail weight for its size and the wrong size sheets.  No single advent to sailing since the diesel engine has ruined the performance of sailboats more than roller furling.  Having said that I still consider an all or nothing headsail on a curler, with the addition of the staysail and a loose luffed 130 this boat will keep sailing in anything from a hurricane to 2 knots of wind.  First and formost Sookie is a sailboat and I love the actual process of sailing, if to ever all becomes too much I’ll buy a trawler.

proper sail

9. The LWL is so small, the speed of the vessel is obviously affected, do you ever wish you could sail faster?

This is a very difficult question to answer, The FC is an amazing sailboat and often passes boats of all shapes and sizes.  If I want to get anywhere fast I will fly.  An old moped from the 70’s will put the fastest cruising sailboats on the planet to shame, no sailboat is fast.  There are on the other hand slow boats and nothing in the world sucks more than sailing a slow boat.  I have never once been disappointed with the performance of this boat, she does everything the way I want her to but yes her waterline is only about the length of most 30′ sailboats so it is a handicap of sorts.  The myth that faster boats are safer at sea because the sea time is more limited is a ludicrous one.  A faster boat is just as likely to sail into bad weather as it is to sail out of bad weather, if your boat isn’t build to sail blue water it shouldn’t be out there period.   One thing you have to remember when it comes to hull speed is that its calculated for a boat in perfect trim with brand new sails a clean bottom and being sailed by a professional sailor in 15 knots of wind and flat water.  How often does that happen?  For all the rest of the sailing conditions which is about 99% of what we get it comes down to brilliant design which unfortunately has been lost to Mc mansion motor sailors, I call them Marconi Trawlers.


10. With all the size constraints related to the FC22, do you ever find yourself lusting after the room of a BCC?

The FC is small for sure but I don’t know that I would say she has many constraints.  My Allegra 24 had a larger more user friendly interior than both the FC and the Bristol Channel Cutter.  If I ever move to a larger boat it will be 20% for more space and 80% for more cargo carrying capacity.  When you move to a larger boat you won’t get much more space unless you literally almost double your displacement.  Because Sookie is so basic she has a tremendous amount of storage for her size.  If I moved to a BCC I would have to add an inboard engine, fuel tank, holding tank, larger water tanks… so much of the storage would be negligent.  I really prefer the galley forward and have never been a fan of the BCC standard interior.  I do love her wider decks and weight but I would have to quadruple my budget just to add 20% to what I currently have and my annual maintenance would also quadruple, the BCC by all specs is really closer a 40′ sailboat than a 28’er.  One of the things I love most about a small boat is the challage of making her perfect and fitting it all in.  Every single upgrade makes the boat larger, simpler and ultimately more efficient and fun to sail.

Bristol Channel Cutter 28

11. What electronic navigation aids do you have onboard?

I don’t have any, I use paper charts, a lead line and compass.  I love navigating, reading guide books and plotting my next adventure.  I have spent countless wonderful nights studying my charts by lantern light.  To say I am in love with the life I lead would be a gross understatement.  I write in my secret journal almost nightly and prefer it to my laptop.  Every few years without fail I have freaked out and deleted my entire blog and domain, I’m dangerously close to doing this again but when I do I won’t be starting a new one.  I find the romance of the journal to be more than enough to satisfy me creative needs and have grown tired of the drama attached to the internet.

traditional sailing

12. What do you have onboard that has a plug on it?

Not much, when I’m at the dock my little heater is plugged in and turned on, I’m always cold.  I have a laptop and camera that plug in and thats it but I don’t worry about charging either of those, I can always find a place to plug in for a bit.

falmouth cutter

13. Do you have a 30-amp shore power hook-up? Do you have an inverter?

Last spring I rewired the whole boat and added a 30 amp Smart Cord.  I don’t have an inverter but I do have a 12 volt cigarette lighter type outlet for charging the hand held VHF that I never use.  I prefer to keep the boat as simple as possible.

boat batteries

14. Do you have Battery ‘bank’? If so, describe the bank? (number of batteries, amperage of each?)

I do I have two group 24 batteries for a total of 105 usable amp hours.  The only electricity my boat uses is for light but my primary source of light comes from the sun.

Brass boat lantern

15. How do you charge your batteries?

I have a multi stage battery charger and can only charge from the dock.  I can go about 3 weeks between charges at sea but hope to add a small simple solar panel and charge controller.  My batteries have been dead since Christmas when the power in the yard went out so I’ve been off grid since then.  I do not and will not use LED lighting, I find the color absolutely atrocious, I’ve tried them all and they all are miserable hell.  Please don’t comment on this I have tried them all! :(

led lights suck

16. What type of fuel does your stove use?

I have been using a crap butane camp stove since the day Sookie arrived.  My goal is still to find a way to add a wood burning stove and then I can unplug and be 100% off grid.  I have never liked propane on boats.

sardine boat stove

17. Can you shower onboard? How do you bathe at anchor?

Yes and no.  There is no form of shower on the boat, at the dock we use the marina at anchor we find more creative ways and if all else fails scrub up and dive overboard.  I have never found it to be an issue.  If you dry off the salt water before it evaporates it leaves your skin smooth and clean.

sail naked

18. Do you have any type of watermaker, or just use a hose dockside?

I don’t have a water maker and in 30 years of sailing have never found it to be an issue.  Every time I go to shore I bring a few jugs and top them off.  I also collect water form the sky.

water maker

19. What is the longest voyage you have ever done in this boat?

I have never left the Salish Sea on this boat and don’t see leaving this area anytime soon.

ships log

20. If you sail to Hawaii, what would you need to do to the boat now, to make it happen?

Having sailed extensively in Hawaii I have no desire to ever go there again on a boat.  The holding ground is minimal, there are only a few moorings and all the marinas are full.  It would be a great trip for a shake down though.  The boat would need a steering vane or at least an auto pilot and solar but thats it other than a good light wind sail and personal safety gear which is up to the Captain.

westerly 22

21. Do you have any type of wind vane or self-steering?

I don’t and the only vane that really fits on this boat without ruining her beautiful lines is the Freehand Vane by Mike Anderson, about $8500.00.  I have experimented with sheet to tiller but its not ideal with a dog in the cockpit.

freehand windveane

22. Have you found other Bloggers who have FC22’s?

No, none.

Lyle Hess 26

23. What other Internet sources for FC22 information have you found?

As far as I know there are no other sources for the FC on the web which is really unfortunate.  As far as I know there were somewhere between 39 and 41 built so they are a rare commodity.

Bluewater pocket cruiser


24. I like your photos. What photographic equipment do you have?

Its really not about the camera.  I use everything from a $15.00 Canon I bought off craigslist to Nikon 7000 series DSLR’s  I have to reduce all my pictures substantially to load on the web due to a constant lack of high speed internet.  When sailing I keep a small bucket with a towel in it to keep camera safe in cockpit.

Nikon d7200

25. What laptop are you using? How do you provide power for it, when at anchor?

I use a Macbook Pro 13 and can’t charge it on the boat.  When I take it to shore I find a coffee shop or bar to charge it.  I only use out for writing, photo editing and watching movies.  I have taken it to large boats on occasion for emergency charging but typically when I’m sailing its off and put away.  I sail to not be connected so with the exception of my cameras everything else electric is turned off before I leave the dock.  I have two Canon point and shoots that run on AA batteries and have published many photos from them.

Ultimate freedom

26. You find the lamp, the Boat Genie pops out and grants you any boatyou wish. (you lucky Bastard!) What’s it going to be?

I can’t answer this because it won’t happen.  Here are some fun thoughts though.

A)  I would buy a custom Gunboat 66 and hire the Swedish bikini team to crew it.  I would take my private jet and fly ahead while the crew delivers the boat, meet them in paradise and sail till I’ve had my fill with that location then move on.  Its not that I don’t like ocean passages, i’ve made many and I love them but life is to short, if my resources were unlimited I could make better use of my time.

B) More realistically I would tool the molds for the Lyle Hess 26.  As far as I know there have been 9 built in fiberglass, then the molds were destroyed.  In my opinion the Hess 26 is the best 2 person yacht ever designed and built.

C) I don’t need a genie, I can have anything I want within reason.  Since I continue to sail the FC I will have to assume I already have the perfect yacht.

Falmouth Cutter 26

27.  Why are you single, do you prefer to sail solo?

Solo sailing is something that everyone should experience, been there done that.  I have no desire to ever sail alone again, like the guy who has summited Everest its was a wonderful experience and one I don’t need or want to replicate. For every couple out there successfully cruising there are 10,000 at the dock with nothing more than a dream.  I have had dozens of potentials over the years but when they learn how much of a commitment it is to get a boat ready for safe comfortable voyaging I get one typical response.  Wow thats a lot of time and energy, why don’t you call me when you get somewhere warm and I’ll fly down and meet you.  These days I’ve stopped looking and am just doing my thing.

sailing singles

I‘m asking all these questions, because I want to build a new FC22 or BCC at Cape George. I have been speaking with Todd Uecker. It’s many years away yet, but I have entered into the process and I’m enjoying it. You can see now how your input is very important & valuable to me.

This is my personal transition into a minimalism by choice,,, you may know something about this. : )

Dana 24

So there you have it a bit of my personal opinion based off my time on the water.  The one question I didn’t answer is if I were to realistically buy a new boat what would it be.  Oddly enough its sitting in my lap right now.  I have always loved the Dana 24, its slow compared to the FC and has too short of keel and too small of a rudder.  Her decks aren’t as wide, she has a balsa core which I hate and the 18hp diesel seems a bit of over kill.  As far as lines go, in my humble opinion there is no boat on earth as beautiful as the FC.  Falmouth Cutters are expensive little boats but worth the effort.  So why A Dana?  Timing in life is everything, I’m young and strong right now but time marches on, the Dana is a great small seaworthy boat with beautiful lines and a good solid yacht.  Someday the time will come when I want roller furling, a real head, a hot shower and a rock solid push button heater…  You don’t have to cross oceans or circumnavigate get the experience, what ever you do; go small, go simple, but go now. ~L&LP

“There is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.

Keeping It Real


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The simple answer is no, no thank you, not interested.  This month it was National Geographic, 6 months ago it was the Discovery Channel and there have been dozens in-between.  Little Sookie has somehow become a commodity, advertisers contact me monthly and sailing companies flood my email asking me to review their products.  You won’t see me on the silver screen anytime soon and I won’t be advertising or reviewing products for XYZ on this site.  Sure when I stumble across perfection I talk about it,  When I was handed a brand new Rocna anchor I didn’t want it but now I’m a cool-aide drinking convert and would never consider taking it off my bow.  There are exceptions to every rule but I’m just not interested in advertising, marketing, sales, or Media. This journal will remain what I created it as, a simple little slice of life for those on the outside looking in.

salty dog

Every day since we sailed away from Lopez Island I have run into sailors I know from here or there. This week it was an old client who still loves his new boat as much as I promised him he would. Amazingly funny friends and good people from Port Townsend. An ex girlfriend from my bachelor days in Bellingham. A salty old sailor I met for only 20 minutes 6 years ago but could never forget him or his boat, the list goes on…

A few days ago sitting in the cockpit I could see the top two feet of a mast half way across the harbor.  It was a very distinctive masthead and I wondered if it could be a boat I knew many years ago.  It turned out that it was.  A 1989 Dana 24 That I tried to purchase just before sailing and falling in love with the Falmouth Cutter.  The boat was Silver Cloud, built by the Forman at Pacific Seacraft and a one of a kind Dana for sure.  It used to be docked next to me in Southern California, I spent 6 month trying to negotiate a sale price but just couldn’t spend as much as he wanted.

Spike Africa sailed in the other day, I’ve sailed on that boat both in San Diego and Hawaii, watched its hull restoration in Bellingham and now she is here next to me again.  Life moves pretty slowly around here and so do we.  If there is anything special about our simple little lives its that we are living them to the fullest always surrounded by friends both old and new.  Sometimes the biggest adventure is just living in the moment, taking it all in and appreciating life for what it is.

It’s a world of laughter
A world of tears
It’s a world of hopes
And a world of fears
There’s so much that we share
That it’s time we’re aware
It’s a small world after all

There is just one moon
And one golden sun
And a smile means
Friendship to ev’ryone
Though the mountains divide
And the oceans are wide
It’s a small world after all

 ~Richard M. Sherman


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