Transitions Aboard


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Last night we did a boat crawl on a miserable rainy evening.  The wine and scotch were flowing freely as my new boatyard friends showed off their tiny homes one at a time.  We were all celebrating our impending launches even though none of us are on the schedule yet .  I snuck away early wanting some private time with Sookie.  I’m finally moved aboard, winter has made me a fat and soft land lubber and my transition to my normal life has been a tough one.

Falmouth cutter 22

The prospect of moving back aboard just to be a live-abord hasn’t really gotten me overly excited.  I like day sailing but my heart is always on the move. I was born a nomad, its in my genetic makeup and as natural as breathing.  My complete disinterst has made progress slow and Sookie is a disorganized wreck.  Last night was the first time this year that I really felt good about moving back aboard, land will do that to you.  Hot showers and flush toilets will surly kill the hardiness necessary to live as simply as I do.  I’ve become a softie.

Falmouth Cutter 22

My home is finally complete, now I just need to break out of the mental prison I have created for myself.  It feels good to have all my eggs back in my little basket and I’m hoping once I’m floating again to get my mojo back.  I have about two solid weeks of boat projects but I’ve put them off till I’m floating.  Its amazing how easily ordinary life becomes once you bite the bullet and take that first giant leap.

Falmouth Cutter 22

“I wondered about the explorers who’d sailed their ships to the end of the world. How terrified they must have been when they risked falling over the edge; how amazed to discover, instead, places they had seen only in their dreams.”
― Jodi Picoult

Blue Water Pocket Cruiser


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It isn’t faith we rely on as sailors, its experience.  I love crawling into the V-berth at the end of a long day.  Everything I posses in the world is being held in place by a half inch string attached to 22lbs of steel somewhere down there in the deep green murk.  My bed is a squishy cocoon of warmth, fluffy pillows, snuggly blankets and my stinky dog.  The gentle surge reminds me of floating on a cloud.  When the wind pipes up not much changes, its dry and safe in the boat and while I’ve had my share of sleepless nights as Poseidon throws a vengeance at me, I’ve never been uncomfortable at anchor.

Blue Water Pocket Crusier

I sleep better at anchor but I still love living aboard at the marina.  Dock dwellers stop by nonstop for a good chat and to marvel at and pity the fool who lives in such a small sailboat.  Sookie is a blue water pocket cruiser but it wasn’t blue water I was thinking about when I purchased her, it was the Salish Sea.  If you spend enough time sailing this area you will soon learn the real proving ground isn’t the big deep blue but rather the confined rocky shores of this inland sea.  Monster currents, rips, eddies and navigation hazards are everywhere.  A 6 hour tide cycle and a bit of bad navigation and you will have hell to pay for your carelessness.  Wind shifts, inaccurate weather reports, tankers, fog, tiny passes with massive volumes of water surging through 23 hours a day.  I love this area but there was a huge learning curve when I moved here from the big wide open Pacific.

blue water pocket cruiser

Summers here still can present challenges but more often than not they are light winds and sweltering long hot days in the blistering summer sun, over crowded anchorages filled with charter boats and unaware crews.  For the prepared sailor its all in a days work and rarely do we get caught off guard.  Our reward is living in the most beautiful place on earth with the freedom to explore it to our hearts content.

blue water pocket cruiser

Like Aladdin’s lamp Sookie may seem small on the outside buts once aboard I would call her cozy.  She was the biggest boat under thirty feet I could find.  I challenge you to find one single production boat that isn’t absolutely identical to every other production boat on the planet, same layout same wasted space same complex systems same…Sookies layout is small but impossibly perfect.

blue water pocket cruiser

Pocket cruisers arent for everybody, you have to be neat and organized to keep your living space happy, if you can’t you will simply need a larger boat.  Open space is the number one complaint on small boats, we have it in our cockpit on the beaches and everywhere but inside the boat.  The reward for choosing a smaller boat is less expense and complication, a boat that is more fun to sail and safer at sea due to her simplicity and managability.

Blue Water Pocket Cruiser

Below is something I swiped off the net, the world isn’t changing, its the humans who inhabit it that are.  The Pocket Cruising lifestly isn’t for everybody but if your dreams are stronger than your materialistic desires there is a boat out there waiting for you right now.  Remember sunset in paradise looks the same regardless of what boat you share it from.


Back in the 70s when cruising Mexico, and French Polynesia in a 26 foot boat we ran into a number of small boats out cruising. Most were young people with limited funds, and most seemed to be having a good time. One couple in Mexico were in an Islander Bahama (I think 24 foot). The girl had rather severe handicaps, but was having a wonderful time. Much later I heard that they actually got a tow from Cabo back to San Diego. Also met some young folks in a 26 foot converted wooden lifeboat with a ferro cement keel. It had leaked so bad every time they sailed, that he put a long metal strap from one toe rail, clear under the keel to the other toe rail and bolted the keel to it, to keep the boat from opening up. We ran into them again in the Marquesas, and again in Tahiti, and again in Hawaii. I think he scrapped the boat in Hawaii, but they had the adventure of a lifetime. Met a young couple in the Marquesas sailing a San Juan 24. Met 2 almost identical Vancouver 27s in Tahiti each being single handed . They kept within sight of each other all the way across the Pacific, and stood alternate watches with the radio on, so they could wake the other one up if traffic was a problem. Then there was a very young looking French couple on a 25ish converted steel lifeboat, with a few month old baby. I didnt meet them, but they seemed to be doing fine on almost no money. We met other small boat cruisers in Hawaii. It can be done, and it has been done many times, with less money tied up in the boat than most people spend on their electronic,”must have list” in this day and age. I must admit that after 2 years on an engineless 26 footer, with full crouching headroom, I had a bad case of 2footitis. I wanted more room. I went on to several much bigger and more comfortable boats, but the little one is the one that I look back on with great fondness. I am old and grey now, and planning a bucket list cruise back to the South Pacific to see Islands that I missed the last time, but it will be on something around 30 foot, so that the cost and work will not be overwhelming. I will have a little more electronics than I had the first time (only had a depth sounder), but it will still be a simple boat. Dont put off cruising, because life has a habit of getting in the way. Go small, go young, go cheep if you have to, but GO. Just my 2 cents worth. ______Grant.

Bringing Xtratuf Back To America


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I’ll never forget my first pair of Xtratufs, my Alaska slippers.  When I heard they were being shipped over seas I did a nationwide search to find as many pairs as I could, it turned up nothing.  Bitching to my local chandlery seemed pointless but the very next day I got a call at the office.  Three years of flirting with the little girl at the counter had finally paid off, it didn’t hurt that her family owned the local fishery supply.  I got the last pair of size nine Xrtatufs made in America.

bringing xtratuf back to america

It was a frustrating time, I was knee deep in shooting my Girls Of Xtratufs Calendar.  The only criteria for my models was that they showed up ready for work in their well worn boots.  It was a disappointing day when I cancelled the calendar but the whole point was Made In America.

bring xtratufs back to america

I would love to bring Xtratufs back to America our beloved Sitka Sneakers and resume production in Alaska.

bring xtratufs back to america

Keeping it local one day at a time.  If you want to be an American, you have to buy American.

Many a man thinks he is buying pleasure, when he is really selling himself to it.  ~Benjamin Franklin

I Met-em In The Boatyard


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There aren’t many things I can say in this world with absolute certainty but one thing I can say for sure is I met-em in the boatyard.  5 years ago on my way to Alaska I stopped in a strange town for a 5 minute looksy at a boat I didn’t want, 10 minutes later I purchased said boat and became a resident of Bellingham WA, a town I had never heard of before that day.

Virtually every single friend I have in this state I have met either in the boatyard or through boating in some way including this Journal.  What can I say, birds of a feather flock together.  When it comes to boating I’m not just social, I’m so hyper enthusiastic that I can’t go anywhere without running into people I met in this anchorage or that marina.  Every time I see a beautiful boat I virtually go on the attack with complements, self invitations and offerings of wine tasting on Sookie.

Way back when, before I had a boat of my own I would prowl the boatyards begging to offer free labor.  Every time I have come a cross a beached boat “this happens more often than you would think” I walk, wade or swim out offering assistance.  When I spot a newbie trying to kill their new boat docking in the marina or anchoring in an anchorage I gently approach and offer; I know you don’t need my help but I can show you an easy trick.  This always leads to fun lessons and a new friend.

I’m not rich but I always have food and drink to share, my ukulele is never far off and even though I’m not a racer challanges fly as freely as the wine.  The sailing community isn’t an exclusive one but it is an inclusive one.  As a reluctant solo sailor the one thing I never once have been is lonely, everywhere I go smiles abound.  Invitations are more common among sailors than sea stories.  In the last year alone I have run into at least a dozen people I know of but have never met, or know good friends of theirs but never knew it till I met them.

Spring has finally arrived in the boatyard and my merry band of new sailing friends are already planning the rest of my summer for me.  If you have the wherewithal I highly suggest you try this lifestyle.  If you don’t grab a paintbrush, a six pack of beer and head to your local marina or boatyard we are waiting for you.

Should you come across little Sookie this summer drifting about the Salish Sea please stop by for an almost cold beer and man tacos, my signature dish.

“The world is so empty if one thinks only of mountains, rivers & cities; but to know someone who thinks & feels with us, & who, though distant, is close to us in spirit, this makes the earth for us an inhabited garden.”
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethes

Swallowing The Anchor


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The three key ingredients for fire are Heat, fuel and oxygen.  You can rub two sticks together for an eternity but if one of these key elements is missing its all for not.  My cut off date for Alaska has come and gone.  The boats ready, I’m ready, but the third key element is missing.  Today I’m coming to terms with becoming a live-aboard day sailor.

Falmouth Cutter 22

This morning I emailed the Marina and cancelled my launch date, I was pushing too hard to launch and decided I want  a little breathing room.  I’ve never been this burned out in my life, I wake up exhausted and never seem to recover.   While I’m disappointed and frustrated, I’m also a bit relieved.  I’ve been putting way too much pressure on myself to complete this circle and it feels good to be free if only for a bit to not have to live up to my own expectations.

Falmouth Cutter 22

My only question now is where to live for the summer.  Weather permiting I’m ready to put my final coat of paint on the rudder cheeks.  It seemed sac religious to paint them but the oak cheeks were pretty rough, I have to say I’m almost pleased with the new look.  I cut the motor off the boat and took her in for a complete service, i’m not excited to see the bill but this will mark the first time since purchasing the boat that I will actually have a reliable motor.  When I had Sookie hauled I sailed into the boatyard since her motor had gone south for the winter and the majority of the summer.

Falmouth Cutter 22

From here on out its one day at a time living in my treehouse in the boatyard.  Life is good and somehow I still feel free although its a different type of freedom.  When the motor comes I’ll flip a coin and see where destiny carries me.  Today is a good day for a run, I think I’ll head to the hills and get as far away from the boatyard as I can.

Runners High

“It’s being here now that’s important. There’s no past and there’s no future. Time is a very misleading thing. All there is ever, is the now. We can gain experience from the past, but we can’t relive it; and we can hope for the future, but we don’t know if there is one.”
― George Harrison

Mile Marker 43


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Seven miles isn’t a very long way to run, on any given day I can do it in my sleep but on this day seven short miles were  trying to break me. Tears streamed down my cheeks uncontrollably.  They weren’t tears of pain, or frustration or sorrow.  I didn’t know where they were coming from, I had never experienced this emotion.

Mile marker 43

I met Candice on the preverbal trail of life.  While my broken body puts in miles on the couch she is logging 100 milers through the desert, the one and only thing in life I have never accomplished.  We all need heroes and peers, you know the old saying that you are only as good as the company you keep.  I keep her words of wisdom on my front page and use her as my daily motivation to heal my body and get back out in the dirt where I belong.

Candice Burt

For the minimalist trail running is the truest form of self redemption.  All you need is a pair of shoes and a wide open space to run wild.  The mountain will show you the way, tell you who you are and push you to spiritual places you never knew existed.  Life has taught me many hard earned lessons; on this day the mountain had something special in store for me and all I had to do was run seven short miles.  It was at that precise moment in my life  that I met myself, the true me.  I found something in my heart that I never knew existed.  The tears flowed like water, my broken body had hit the wall, I was bonking and no amount of physical strength would get me through.  There was only one way home and the mountain was awakening my inner strength.  I could have made many choices that day, quitting would have been the easiest.  Somewhere on that trail I left my body behind and ran, walked, hobled and actually crawled on my hands an knees through the dry dusty sage.  I was humbled that day in a way words will never describe.  That was the day I learned that I could accomplish anything in this world with nothing more than pure will.  That was the day I met myself at mile marker 43.

I dont exercise ever, exercise is work.  What I’m doing is training myself to remove quit from my mind, body and soul.

How To Get Everything You Want And Less


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My faithful companion is curled up next to me, she smells like a dead salmon.  The smell of a freshly lit fire wafts through the air, its cold as hell out today but not where i’m sitting.  There are many things I should do today but doubt I will get half of them done.  Its quite possible that I am one of the laziest human beings on the planet.

The minimalist

Of all the traits in my genetic code laziness is by far the most responsible for my success in this world.  It doesn’t mean I don’t get things done, it just means I don’t engage in useless shit like making lists and constant wheel spinning.  My brain functions as seamlessly as a solid state computer drive, so much in fact that I have great difficulty in dealing with people who have to think and process things before they can make a decision.  A while back I was caring for my 6 year old room mate and needed to pick him up from the library, It was cold and raining and happened to be an hour and a half round trip walk.  I asked my other room mate who has a car if she wouldn’t mind picking him up as its about a 4 minute drive each way.  What ensued was a 30 minute conversation turning the whole debacle into a midlife crisis.  All I wanted was a fucking yes or no answer but it was never going to come.  Rather than waste any more precious thought I walked out the door and picked him up.  Would you want this person running your company or your life?  In literally a third of the time the conversation took she could have driven down picked him up and we all could have gone about our buisiness.

I will never understand why life is so difficult for some people.  If you want something take it or make it.  It is said that Albert Einstein never memorized anything that he could easily access in a book preferring to save his brainpower for processing information.  In todays society we have the highest level of education since the beginning of time yet people become more and more incapable of actually getting anything done because there is too much information that needs to be processed before simple decisions can be made.  As a pilot, a sailor and a leader my job isn’t to think its to know.

Knowlgede is the power that rules our lives, not worldy knowledge but the simple power of knowing ourselves, our needs and our wants and being able to distinguish between these very simple things.  I think the problem is so many people are bombarded with external devices and vices that they have completely lost sight of who they are and what they need.  We create obstacles to hold us back because subconsciously we doubt that what we are actually doing with our lives is what we want.  We do it  based of off the most insane things like deciding at the age of 18 what we want to do with the rest of our lives.

The question is how do we know ourselves?  From birth we are conditioned to fail, like drones our children react to bells, go here when this bell rings, go there when that bell rings.  Soon our bells become silent but they are still there, college, punch clocks, commutes, debt, they all happen at the exact same moment in every day for every person.  Rather that follow our own lives choices we let society breed us into fowling the norm.  I was on a farm the other day and everywhere I walked the entire flock of sheep followed my every step, they were following me because they are sheep, they can’t think as an individuals but rather just act in the group mentality.  All but one that is, there was one black sheep that had jumped the fence and was dining in the garden.  Today is Good Friday and I’m guessing that a very large part of the world is out there doing what Hallmark has told them to do.  Today is Good Friday for me too but not because my TV told me what to do.

So to answer the question of how to get everything you want in this world.  If you have to ask you will never have it.

“~Either you get eaten by a wolf today or else the shepherd saves you from the wolf so he can sell you to the butcher tomorrow”
 Ogden Nash

Ocean Tribe


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It all started with tiny muddy foot prints literally seconds after I mopped the house.  This quickly moved to very loud noises in the early dawn hours “thinK” karate chopping wood at 6:00 AM with all the verbal sound effects.  Snot,  Snoogies, tiny germ infested hands in everything, sneeze bombs.  More than one episode of attempting to quietly sneak into the house after midnight was foiled with heinous lego land mines attacking my bare feet, I was losing the battle.

Ocean Tribe

Of all the things I never expected to do this year living with a 6 year old tops my list.  As a writer I need my quiet time to lay my stories to ink.  My personal space was invaded, every request questioned and the mess… don’t even get me started about kids, who needs em!  It was a tough transition, definitely more stressful than being a war photojournalist.  For me communicating with aliens or even women for that matter is a far easer prospect than communicating with a child.  With time the tension eased and life became tolerable, then enjoyable, then it happened, how I’ll never know.

The day they moved aboard their new boat my life suddenly found an empty space.  The quiet was killing me, it was like having a missing arm, life went on but it just wasn’t the same.  Somehow, and I will never know how, that little fucker wormed his way into my heart.  Its easy to go through life never knowing what you are missing but once you know life will never be the same.  They are still filthy little monsters but not so scary once you pull the mask off.

I’m not saying saying I would be a perfect leader for a little ocean tribe but I did manage to take 120 boy scouts on the New York City Subway and didn’t lose one of them.  I’m just saying…

“If your kid needs a role model and you ain’t it, you’re both fucked.”
~George Carlin

Voyaging On No Budget


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Its happened to the best of us, sooner or later, usually at the most inopportune moments we have a WTF did my cash go moment.  Case in point, I just found my wallet after 6 months of not really looking that far or hard.  When it turned up it had no cash, a drivers license that is worthless to me as I have no car and a ATM card that I haven’t used in over two years.

Emily Richmond

I discovered Emily Richmond and her blog years ago. I fell in love immediately, single girl sailing the pacific, who wouldn’t; it didn’t hurt that she is beautiful, brilliant and a talented sailor but hey…  She has an article in the Billfold today that is a must read.  Next time you have to ask yourself why you aren’t following your dreams, the answer just may be because you don’t want to badly enough.

It was a simple system that had nothing to do with wealth or status. It was a system of camaraderie and kindness, that approached life like it was a big pot and everyone was only expected to toss in whatever they had. And I loved it, you know? This way of living that systematically acknowledges that we’re all in this together – a currency I can really get behind.  ~Emily Richmond

Hair Of The Dog


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“Hair of the Dog” is a colloquial expression in the English Language predominately used to refer to alcohol that is consumed with the aim of lessening the effects of a hangover.

Salty Dog

When it comes to boat maintenance that same Hair of the dog mantra reins true.  I’m not a big fan of actually doing the routine maintenance that it takes to keep sookie at her finest but I do it religiously regardless of how I feel about it.  The end result brings me much satisfaction not only after completing each job but also throughout the year.  In 25 years I have rarely had a failure of any mechanical system on my boat.

Knowing that the boat is not only safe but incredibly reliable makes the tedium of each springs outfit tolerable.  Each morning I set out to hitchhike to the boat shed to work on other peoples projects and each afternoon I take a bit of the hair of the dog and find my way to Sookie to make her right.  I’m exhausted to no end but this remedy will render yet another worry free cruising season.  On every trip I set out on I do it knowing that I am the weakest link.  When the weather turns foul it isn’t my ground tackle I worry about, or my rigging, or my sails.  The only thing that can go wrong is user error.  The beauty of this system is that ever year I become a better, more confident and safer sailor.  In over twenty-five years on the water I have yet to take a single trip without learning a better way to do something.  Thats one of the things I love most about sailing, you never stop learning.

When people ask me where I find the motivation to keep Sookie is such pristine contrition I answer their question with a question.  Whats your families life worth?

Procrastination is like masterbation.  Its fun while your doing it but in the end your only fucking yourself.


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