Keeping Her Happily Aboard

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

sailing mates

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

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

Alan, Go with it.

Emily, In front of you?

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

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

living aboard

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

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

blue water pocket cruiser

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

Sailing On A Shoestring

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

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

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

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

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

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

Schooner Or Later

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

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

schooner or later

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

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

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

Falmouth Cutter

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

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

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

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

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

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

Simple Sailor

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

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

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

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

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

Wax On Wax Off

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s Her Boat Too

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

Small boat provisioning

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Venerable Dana 24

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

Dana 24

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

Dana 24

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

Dana 24

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

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

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

Kibosh

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

Nor'sea 27

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

Nor'sea 27

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

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

The List

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finding Your Sailing Mate

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

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

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

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

True love

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

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

I never expected it to be easy.  ~ Lin Pardey

Cultural Collateral

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

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

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

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

Emily

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

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

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

Failing Failing Over The Bounding Maine

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

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

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

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

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

Folding Bike Love

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

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

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

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

I love my bike

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

Bike Friday

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

Rode To The Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival

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

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

— Webb Chiles, Sailor

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

— llen MacArthur, Sailor

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

— Alaine Gerbault, Sailor

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

— Dr. Samuel Johnson, Writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Francis Herreshoff, Boat Designer

Xtratuff

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

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

Bristol Channel Cutter 28

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

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

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

The Last Days Of Summer

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

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

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

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

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

Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival

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

Port Townsend wooden boat festiville

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

Pot Townsend Wooden Boat Show 2015

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

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

Port Townsend Boat show

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

Port Townsend Wooden Boat festival

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

Port Townsend wooden boat festival

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

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 I love you Port Townsend

You Don’t Have To Sail Around The World

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First World Problems

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Sitting in the warm night air a creepy fog rolled in.  The soft glow of the candle lit cabin made  me smile.  I’ve had no power on the boat since my batteries died in January but haven’t missed electric light for a single second.  Life is tough right now and a bit scary, all first world problems.

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I remember like it was yesterday, I was standing smack dab in the middle of the Wilshire District berating the ATT cell phone customer service rep.  It was my frustration I remember the most, I live in LA, the epicenter of the world and my phone is dropping every call, my frustrated voice cracked over the phone.  The funny thing is that while I remember that call I can’t for the life of me remember any of the calls that led to it, obviously of very little circumstance.  It’s easy in this day and age to truly believe that the world revolves around me and my life.  I am the epicenter of the world, or at least I spent the majority of my life thinking that I was.

Its easy to ignore the fact that we are bombing the shit out of other countries when I’m almost out of Italian coffee and don’t have money to buy another pound.

I got pissed the other day when my drunk friend put his hand in my varnish after I warned him ten times that I had wet varnish, who cares if half the country is unemployed and starving.

last night we shared the absolute smallest and most pitiful piece of meat I have ever seen.  We didn’t raise or slaugter the animal it came from, we didn’t butcher it or clean it, we just unwrapped it and cooked it and bitched about how small it was.  I wonder what reaction a starving person would have to being offered 100% pure protein, I doubt they would complain.

The internet is so slow here in the resort marina I live in that its a constant form of stress and criticism.  I get stressed out and pissed off because I can’t play online when over half the developing world doesn’t have clean water to drink.

The tourists around here annoy me to no end, everyday I swear I’m moving out to the anchorage.  i wonder what life is like for people who try and live in peace while the US is doing fly by’s in bomber jets and blowing up their towns so I can have cheap fuel for my outboard.  If Cuba was bombing the shit out of the San Juans I would fight back too and then be labeled a terrorist for attempting to keep my family safe.

There is no fresh food on the boat, no snacks, no top shelf whiskey, no light, and not even a real stove.  My cushions need replacing and refilling, my two gallon water tank is a total pain in the ass.  I want lifelines, a boom gallows and a real GPS.  I don’t even own a pair of shoes yet I live in one of the most premire destinations in the world.  My name is stormy and I have so many wants and needs I can’t keep them all straight.  Maybe the world does revolve around me.  Then again maybe I’m just another privileged asshole.

All the problems of the world could be settled if people were only willing to think.  The trouble is that people very often resort to all sorts of devices in order not to think, because thinking is such hard work.  Unknown

A Flicka In Every Harbor

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I’ve spent my life coming and going, it never gets any easier saying goodbye.  Emily came to me for sailing lessons but it soon became apparent that what she really needed was a life coach.  In a few short days I will be nudging her out of the nest and turning her loose on the world, her world.

Emily

At the tender age of 25 Emily was lost, walking a fine line between being a migrant worker working hand to mouth and being a college grad with student debt and an obvious need to enter the so called real world and become a socially responsible drone worker.  Reading through Sanjuansufficiency I found a link titled Everyone I know is brokenhearted, it hit the nail on the head.

In another life  we had a term called slap them and hug them.  The point was to be completely honest and direct pointing out in no uncertain terms what the exact situation is “you’re fucked, nobody fucked you, you fucked yourself…now deal with it”, no coddling here.  The second step once you’ve got their undivided attention is to take them gently by the had and lead them to a better life.  Emily has been a excellent student of life and will continue to follow her heart and work as a migrant seasonal worker.  Before her 26th birthday she will be debt free and living on her dream boat a Pacific Seacraft Flicka.  She rarely makes more than minimum wage but that usually comes with room and board.  Even on her miserable income she is free and will earn enough to pay cash for her new home and become her own captian.

More than anything Emily wants to write and time and time again I had to be the tough editor telling her to go back to the drawing board.  Finally in a fit of frustration I sat her down and asked her what the hell she was writing about.  My story is mine and you can’t have it, I told her in no uncertain terms.  I sent her to the bow with a pencil and pad of paper and asked her to figure out who she was and to find her own story.  Below is her first attempt after a thousand drafts of looking in the mirror and for the first time ever being honest with her dreams.  We all have a story, whats yours?

Pretending to live aboard is a lot like playing house. You cook and clean up in the tiny galley, you pee in a bucket at night and walk the dog in the morning. Despite the blackberries in full force where you poop the dog, the way the dock feels at different times of the day on your bare feet, and the way the marina bathroom always seems to feel so clean and inviting, it is not your boat, your dog, your slip or your life. You will not know what to do if the boat catches on fire from leaving the old batteries plugged in or from cooking on the butane camp stove. You will not feel the pangs when someone ashes their cigarette accidentally in the cockpit. Your face will not drop when someone brushes against your fresh coat of varnish.  You will never be responsible for something that isn’t yours.

Spending so much time on someone else’s boat means that everyone you meet will assume it is yours. People will start seeing you day after day and think you live there, permanently. After a certain amount of time you might just stop correcting them. You might start using terms like, “us, we, ours.” But it will never be yours. 

I’ve always said it’s dangerous to be in love with the idea of someone. There’s nothing wrong with being in love with a lifestyle, but make sure it’s your lifestyle. Make sure it’s your hard work that got you on that boat. Whether it’s the prettiest boat in the harbor or the biggest hunk of shit, make sure it’s yours. Make sure it’s your story you’re telling.  ~Emily Greenberg

Grasshopper, when you can take the pebble from my hand, it will be time for you to leave.

Unemployment Benefits

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The journey continues…  My life savings is now $76.00 but I’m headed to the marine chandlery so I expect I will be broke by the end of the day.  Logic would dictate that I should be in the V-berth curled up in a fetal position sucking my thumb and on the verge of a complete panic attack.  Winter looms and I loose my slip in a few weeks, well…

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This isn’t my first rodeo, my glass is half full and I’ve finally started my annual maintenece on Sookie.  There have been quite a few haters showing up lately and the negative comments are flying high, if nothing else this to me is proof that I am living an authentic life.  A life most are so afraid to embark on that they literally hate the few of us that take that giant leap.

We all have choices, mine started a decade ago when I chose to fight the preverbal MAN.  I walked away from everything knowing full well it wouldn’t be easy but is anything worth doing in this world easy?  I’ve been self employed since before the turn of the century which means when hard times come I don’t have that safety net of unemployment insurance the rest of the county has to fall back on.  Free money would be nice but there is nothing free about it.  It’s go time and the only thing I can say is that there is nothing more efficient than a scared man with a bucket.

They call them freedom chips for a reason,  we all need guidance from time to time and when times get this scary Cap’n Fatty Goodlander is as good a place to start as anywhere.  Cap’n Fatty literally has written the book on freedom and sail.  So we do what we have to do to follow our chosen paths, certainly there are times when it sucks but the payoff is priceless, we reap what we sow.

This has been one of the best weekends of my life, virtually every brilliant writing sailor in the reagin is within a stones throw.  Friends both new and old flow as freely as the wine.  You can spend your life reading about what its like to cast the lines and drift into your dreams but nothing will show you the real joys of freedom other than taking that first step.  Step off the cliff and a net will appear.

There is no path to happiness because happiness IS the path.  Cap’n Fatty Goodlander

Overload

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Its official the spy car is dead and I’m unemployed.  I wasn’t able to save a single penny on my short lived work foray but who cares.  I’m on the verge of having a cesure being that two of my favorite sailing couples have sailed over the horizon and appeared in the harbor, life as a transient sailor is good.

Lyle Hess

Karen and Jim arrived today almost at the exact same time as Jessie and Neil, I might be broke but I’m not destitute, The boat is absolutely loaded with world class booze and enough snacks to feed the whole island, WINE PARTY!!!

Don’t worry about the world ending today.  Its already tomorrow in Fiji…Unknown

 

Game Of Thrones

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I know better than counting my chickens before my eggs have hatched but I still had counted on many things this summer.  Like a game of thrones my 10 weeks in Eagle harbor have been ups downs and anything but normal.  10 weeks of land sickness continues, my secret agent vehicle caught on fire today and that may be it for my so called summer employment.  I’ve beenn stretched financially in every direction other than my own and upgrades and progress on the boat is going slow.

Surly Karate Monkey

The absolute beauty of being free is that I can do anything I want anytime I want.  Tomorrow I will find out if I have any reason to remain on this Island and if I don’t the lines will be untied and I will drift toward a new secret Island I have found to store Sookie while I pedal off in search of a better life for Chloe.  My touring budget is now Zero but I’m finding a goldmine of this and that for the journey deep in the darkest corners of my bilges.

Deuter ACT Trail 24

I have used my Deuter ACT Trail 24 every day for over a year and a half.  It is still in 100% perfect condition other than some road rash on the lid from my tragic bike accident a few weeks a go.  If only Chloe’s trailer was built as tough as this pack we would be out on the road right now.  At 1460 Ci or 24 liters this is considered little more than a day pack but its almost light, built like a brick shit house and has a water resistant cover.  It holds an 18 pack of ice cold beers and has been used and abused for hundreds of days without fail.  I have thrown into a soaking dingy on a daily basis, carried thousands of dollars worth of electronics in it in total down pours, smuggled moonshine and other contraban. If it wasn’t for the god awful coler I would say that this is the perfect pack, it even opens like a suitcase so I can pack my junk neatly when I hitch hike across the state every year.

Deuter act trail 24

It has a wine sleeve on one side, a huge water bottle pocket on the other and a stow away full size hip belt.  This is a the perfect pack for everything from blue collar bikepacking to overnight peak-bagging and everything in between, its also the perfect carry on.

minimalist bike repair kir

My minimalist bike repair kit fits in a small pocket under my lid.

stealth camping

Ultra light is the name of the game, I found my old 3 ounce wind shirt, and my 2 ounce cap.  A free map doesn’t show the best stealth campgrounds but my charts told me what I wanted to know.

ultralight backpacking

It was through ultralight backpacking that I honed my minimalist skills on a boat.  Everything will carry over on the next journey but now more than ever every ouch counts.

ultralight cook kit

I’ve held onto this silly old pot holder for years and years, not because I ever thought I would use it again but because my ex wife bought it for me on our honeymoon in Cicely Alaska and I was just holding onto something special.  Now I have a frying pan that is steel but costs 90 bucks less than an equivelent titanium one and weighs half an ounce less :)

minimalist bike packing cook kit

I don’t know what this silly stove is but it works great for making my morning cowboy coffee.  I usually just make a small fire and stick my ti cup right in it.  I’m surprised by all the goodies I am finding on this tiny boat, they may not all make the final cut but as it turns out I have almost everything I need.

altoids  survival kit

I don’t go anywhere without my Moosjaw flag and Altioids survival kit.  Most of my awesome swag has been complements of Moosejaw and my Nikon ;) Thanks guys!

Goose down ultraight bag

I found a bunch of stakes to hold the tarp I don’t yet own and my old 30 degree down bag is really only good to about 45 degrees but thats what al the rest of my warmies are for.  It might not keep me very warm but I own it.  It weighs about a pound and stuffs to the size of a loaf of bread.

Rat Izula

My Rat Izula and a few other items get wrapped up in a 10 year old buff and no thats not Viagra in my one ounce first aid kit.

all packed up

Everything fits into the pack with room to spare, I love how this pack opens like a suitcase for easy access and organization.  I stuff my loose sleep bag into the top so its is always east to get at.  Everything for a quick two night trip is packed and ready to go with room to spare.  If I need more room I can strap my bag in a stuff sac to my bars. The only things missing are a tarp and a sleeping pad but I’m still looking.  Carrying a back pack is not ideal for bike touring.  I have done this many times and it has always sucked but I don’t mind a little suffrage on the trail, its beats the shit out of staying home and watching other people do it online ;)

I will not become a page in someone else’s history book.  Unknown…

RoDa RokA

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I want my two dollars!  By the age of nine I was a collections agent for the Herald Examiner.  I would take my list door to door collecting the previous months newspaper bills for the paper boy.  By nine I was already well established in the work force having had my own lemon-aid stand and a small business painting addresses on peoples curbs.  It all started when I asked my father for a BB gun.  His was reply was; this is America son, you can have anything you want, just get a job and pay for it, and so it began.

New Salt

Sitting in the cockpit under the shade of my awning, coffee in hand I have the best office in the world.  I’m surrounded by the one percenters, the only difference between me and them is that Monday morning they will be back at the office working hard to pay off the one hundred percent interest on all their debt.  My life may not be for everyone but it is my chosen way, debt free and easily within my means.  The only thing holding you back from having everything you want in this world is excuses.  An old example of this is try and sit down, you can’t you either do it or you don’t.

When I first invited Adam abroad two years ago I could see that twinkle in his eye, he had never been sailing or on a sailboat but he was a sailor.  Last winter he bought a 14′ dingy and did a complete restoration soon to be followed by his first big boat an Ericson 27.  He spent the winter teaching himself to sail and overcoming seasickness.  Late one stormy evening I got a text message.  Why is there no rope attached to my chain?  Adam was on his first overnighter on his third boat a nice Westerly ketch.  He kicked the anchor over and watched 60′ of chain funnel out and fall to the depths of the sea and another valuable lesson had been learned.

Adam is the Millionaire next door minus the million dollars.  He has no debt, does all his own work and is incredibly resourceful.  His main priority in life is being the best single father he can be and spending all his time raising his son.  He has found the perfect balance between earning a living and knowing when enough is enough.  Adam and Jake are now full time live-aboards cruising the Salish Sea.  You don’t have to be rich to live this lifestyle, you just have to want it more than anything.  If you see Roda Roka out in the Islands stop by and say hi.

Adam makes his living from photography but if you ask him what he does he says he’s a father… What are you?

Attitude is the difference between ordeal and adventure.  ~Bob Bitchin

Furled Sails

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No sooner had we furled our sails and there he was, half of one of my favorite minimalist sailing couples.  It was his telltale Dodgers cap and stogie that confirmed it.  I ran over like a 1960’s tween chasing the Stones.

DSC_7277

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

Drifter

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Summer

Falmouth Cutter

“I am a drifter, and as lonely as that can be, it is also remarkably freeing. I will never define myself in terms of anyone else. I will never feel the pressure of peers or the burden of parental expectation. I can view everyone as pieces of a whole, and focus on the whole, not the pieces. I have learned to observe, far better than most people observe. I am not blinded by the past or motivated by the future. I focus on the present because that is where I am destined to live.” 
~David Levithan

Night Riders

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The sun went down right about the time my crappy headlamp burned out.  I was sitting in the late remnants of twilight as the cool of the evening came creeping over me as quickly as the darkness.  My bike was in pieces as I felt around in the dark re-assembling my steel steed by feel, it was looking like I had a long night ahead of me.

Surly Karate monkey

I heard the distinctive crackling of dirt and saw the beams of lights heading my way as I jury rigged my wounded bike.

Night riders Are you ok?

Me I threw my derailer and broke my headlight.

Night riders Wanna follow us down?

Me No, I’ll just find the fire road and make my way back to town.

Night riders You can ride between us it will be fun.

Me OK :)

surly karate monkey

I rode between the two night riders, with extremely reduced vision in the inky black night.  We made it out and had what at that point was the best ride of my life.  I made two new good friends and learned to ride without shifting.  Because I couldn’t see much of the trail I had to learn to feel the contours of the land and anticipate an unseen line becoming one with my bike.  I’ve been cycling my entire life but that was the night I became a cyclist.  Sometimes letting go teaches us more than holding on.

surly karate monkey

It isn’t any easier to explain to a seasoned cyclist why I ride a single speed than it is to a complete novice.  They are simply too far removed from the cycle to understand concept of simplicity.  My bike has no suspension and one gearing, all I have to do is ride.  My legs and arms are my suspension and my gears.  My heavy old steel bike is built for no other than me from her stem to her tires each piece has been added or removed to achieve the ultimate riding experience.  When I finish building her she will be as reliable as she is fun to ride.  I carry all the tools with me to fix anything that may go wrong leaving my mind free to soak up everything from the tarmac to the trail.

I don’t have fancy panniers, shiny spandex or a single piece of modern bicycle touring gear.  My tent is a plastic tarp and my cook gear is an old metal bowl.  Because I know almost nothing about long distance cycle touring I wouldn’t even know where to begin.  This journey will begin with absolutely nothing and last exactly one day.  If I survive that first day and choose to stay longer I will.  My fitness both mental and physical will determine what I need verse what I want.  My budget for the journey is $500.00 and Im leaving with 3 days worth of food.

It isn’t about having all the answers and knowing everything before I leave, its about learning as I go.  I don’t have any plans or destination in mind, this voyage is about the journey.  I am seeking the path less peddled.

I was talking to a cycle guide yesterday and asked about his tours.  He told me he charges $3,000.00 per person for a 4 day unguided tour.  He provides food and shelter and roadside assistance if necessary.  That $3000.00 tour all neat, safe and pretty, wrapped up in a shiny box represents half a years living expenses for me.

I expect there to be bad days and days that make the bad days look like good days.  I’m still nursing a wounded knee, pulling, pushing and I assume hiking with a near three hundred pound load between the dog, bike, me and our gear.  If my system fails miserably I’ll make it better.  I have been doing quite a bit of research online but that really only adds up to entertainment, I won’t know anything till I put my foot to the pedal, turn the crank and roll down that unknown road we call life.

Bicycling is a big part of the future.  It has to be.  Theres something wrong with a society that drives a car to workout in a gym. ~Bill Nye

Time Marches On

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When a man walks into a room he brings his whole life with him.  If you listen he’ll tell you how he got there.  For the first time in my life I have a willing participant, the boat is rocking and the world is my oyster.  Unfortunately I have missed my window, life has caught up to me in no uncertain terms.  The tide is turning.Falmouth Cutter

Timing is an interesting thing, you never know when its too late until its too late.  This year has been a roller coaster all things equally in love, romance, finance, and family.  I’ve done everything I can to ignore reality but its there smack dab in the middle of my life.  I waited to long for what ever it is I thought I needed and wanted and now that I have it my time has passed.  My obligations have changed, winter looms over my head and my new reality is my constant companion.

In 30 days Sookie will go into mothballs and I will leave the Salish Sea.  It isn’t that I have changed or that my dreams have changed, its just that my priorties have changed.  I think about selling Sookie but she isn’t a boat, she is an extension of me.  I could store her but storing her in the Pacific Northwest unatended will reverse all the time, energy and hard work I have put into her.  An unused boat will quickly become a ball and chain, a never ending leash tying me to what I know, love and need but can’t have at this particulare junction in my life.

It seems like a lifetime has slipped through my fingers but that plian old life of mine has been a good one.  I’m young, happy and healthy and most importantly loyal and flexible. The tides are turning and I’m slowly coming to terms with a new journey.  I was born a sailor and always will be one.  I know that I have held on too long and while this journey is over I’m not letting go, just changing my course.  As this portion of my life is being packed up a new and exciting one is manifesting before my eyes.  Freedom comes in many forms but it never comes easy, my gloves are laced up and I’m stepping onto the ring.

When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw.  ~Nelaon Mandela

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.

Ducklings

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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.

1979-falmouth-cutter-falmouth-cutter_32262_4

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

The Best Boat Is The One You Own

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I climbed into the Dink at 6:00 am to row Chloe to shore.  In the calm of the morning I stopped just long enough to stare at Sookie and admire her beautiful lines.  In all  my life I have yet to see a more beautiful boat.  You would think this feeling goes away in time but it doesn’t, its actually the opposite.  The more I sail and live aboard her the more beautiful she becomes to me.  When I first acquired her a friend told me you have no Idea what you have there.  I didn’t understand his words but more and more I come to appreciate them.

Montgomery 6'8" dingy

A sick family member prompted me to sell the boat.  I wasn’t using her for her intended purpose and our failed health care system is a joke, it was literally letting a loved one die.  I listed the boat way below market value hoping for a quick sale.  A boat is just a boat and I can always get a new one down the road.  On a whim I called my ex girlfriend who is an Ancient Chinese Herbalist and asked if she could help.  Three weeks later a full recovery is in progress.  She did what modern medicine and our retarded health care system couldn’t.

Blue Water Pocket Crusier

I no longer have to sell the boat but over the course of the last month I needed a diversion to occupy my mind and my time so I started searching for what would be my next boat down the road.  All my research turned me back to my little Falmouth Cutter.  Her simplicity is what makes her not only beautiful but very affordable in comaprison to many if not most cruising boats and the market today.  Her true full keel is a joy to sail to weather when it gets gross out.  Her outboard motor keeps me sailing when I would consider kicking over the diesel if I had one.  Her huge sail plan means I can keep sailing and having fun in the most challenging conditions.  She has never let me down, I have never had a piece of failed gear and even though she still is only one step above luxury camping any good boat will always be a work in progress.

falmouth cutter 22

I still have no permanent water tanks but have never run out of water.  Her oven has been in storage for three years but I have never gone without a hot meal.  We still use a bucket for a head and have never once had a complaint from crew and don’t have to smell crap wafting across the deck form an air head.  Sure my cushions are old, my batteries are dead and I don’t have refrigeration or a water maker.  I don’t have radar, AIS, GPS, C.A.R.D. or a windlass.  My sails aren’t brand new and I don’t have a dodger or lifelines.  My dingy is oar powered and I have to actually navigate everywhere I go, the list is endless.

falmouth cutter 22

Last night I was surprised by two friends who sailed their little Falmouth Cutter in from Port Townsend to celebrate my birthday with me.  We switched back and forth from boat to boat sharing ideas and simple upgrades, drank too many beers and laughed the night away.  Its amazing how two boats built by the same factory can be so different.  I guess thats the beauty of buying a fixer upper.  Every day they become more like you built and tailored to your specific needs.  I still love boat shopping and seeing all the different sizes and flavors but at the end of the day I go to sleep in my dream boat.

Falmouth Cutter

I’ve spent every single penny I have on this boat, her hull is dry and barrier coated.  Her decks are solid and dry, her mast has been rebuilt from top to bottom and has a fresh coat of paint.  All her spars and rigging is brand new.  Her sails are good and her nonskid is amazing.  Sookie is a work in progress but in my humble opinion she is one in a million.  I tried to give her away out of a desperate situation.  While I won’t be crossing any oceans in the near future I no longer need to sell my home and she is off the market.  The best advice I have ever been given is that if you want to recieve all the riches in the world, first you must be willing to give them away.

Falmouth Cutter 22 s/v Jack Russell

From the Log of Sookie, Couger Bay July 8, 2014  Its better to give than to recieve but receiving is pretty damn nice too.  Today I was given the best birthday gift a man can have, freedom…

My Imaginary Girlfriend

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I was born in my family home in the summer of 1968.  We lived in a small house on the edge of the Hollywood Hills in a suberb called Highland Park.  I survived the sixties and seventies.  The eighties found me as a young adult taking the world by storm.  By the nineties I had turned my love of travel and photography into a paid world tour.  The turn of the century brought about huge changes both good and bad.  The millennium gave me success I never dreamed imaginable and now here we are in 2014.  Today I am celebrating my 46th birthday on this little planet, I have no regrets and wouldn’t go back and change any single day of my life.

My imaginary girlfriend

I was woken this morning to Frank Sinatra’s All By Myself.  I worked for Frank for years so this was quite a fitting way to start the day.  I’m single and live alone but in no way shape or form have I spent one day on this earth all by myself.  I have survived two failed marriages betrayal of close friends and have experienced almost everything the world of relationships has to offer.  As far as true love is concerned I guess I won’t know it till It finds me.

As we grow the changes in ourselves are constant but I’ve yet to meet a single soul on this earth who wants to go it alone.   I don’t either but I do it by choice, I’d rather be single than spend my days with the wrong person just for the sake of not feeling alone.  We all have a Yin to our Yang but we can’t force it, the universe will provide only when we are ready to receive.

I had planned a solo birthday bike tour but since I’ve yet to replace the dog trailer I totaled and couldn’t find a sitter for Chloe I decided to spend the day working on the boat with my imaginary girlfriend.  I say imaginary but she is real.  She is out there floating on the pacific somewhere following the sun.  I don’t have any real chriterea for love other than having a mate I can rely on, this is the one thing in this world I have never experienced  so I sail on solo, happy and in good company with my imaginary girlfriend.

I don’t remember my first kiss but my next will be my last.  Until then I happily sail solo through a sea of choice.

How I Created A Hundred Million Dollar Company Overnight

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It doesn’t matter why I had decided I wanted a private jet, I just wanted one.  Once I was committed to the plane all I had to do was figure out how to pay for it.  My crude calculations told me if I wasn’t worth a minimum of a cool hundred mil the jet was out.  I leased a cabin in the woods for a year, sold my car and committed to creating something out of nothing.

commitment

It took serveral months to come up with a product, it was called Frizzbone, an eddible dogie frisbee that tasted like peanut butter cleaned their teeth and was super fun to play with.  In the product line was also Bonerange, an edible boomerang.  Boneafit, tasty doggie treats with vitamins.  Bone-appetite grommet dog food.  There was the bonedana, boneapparel… The only product I had to develop was the Frizzbone, everything else would be done on paper and manufactured after the company took off.

Having a great product is one thing but selling it is another.  My plan was that Wham-o would immediately sue me.  I hired a team of lawyers to search every possible complaint they would have.  Once I knew I was free and clear I went to work.  As a retired publicist I would use the lawsuit as a form of advertisement in less than a week every American would know of my product.

I started making proto types but it soon became clear I would have to manufacture in China if I wanted to compete in a very tight market.  I ordered samples and had them shipped in by the dozens, then the hundreds.  I used a sled to cart everything in and out of my little cain in the woods.  Frizzbone was was on fire and it was not only easy but fun yet something was stirring in me.  Hauling all that trash in and out was not only a nightmare but for the first time in my life I couldn’t just throw my rubbish in a bin and forget about it. somewhere back in the woods I was becoming a minimalist.

At this point in my life I honestly thought that food came from the store and gas came from the gas pump.  I didn’t know what recycling was and didnt know anything about my won personal footprint.  My short hikes into town overwhelmed me, everyone seemed so angry and displaced.  For the first time I started smelling the exhaust fumes from cars, noticing trash on the side of the road and packaging I couldn’t believe how much waste I created on a daily basis.  When you have to personally face your trash it takes on a whole new meaning.  When I got my sales predictions I was shocked at how much money my little company would generate but the only thing I could see was the trash.

My time 12 months in the woods sped along and a month before spring, the end of my sobatical I rented a car and drove to San Francisco to meet with a broker who would help my start my search for the perfect jet.  This trip was a bit premature but I figured it would take me a full year to design my spaceship.  I didn’t make it half way to the airport, the city was nothing less than insanity, people driving like maniacs, cars trying to kill pedestrians, each other and me. I drove through miles and miles of sprawl.  The only thought I had was that I was embarrassed to be part of the human race and its destruction.  I turned around  and hid in my cabin for the rest of the month.  I was torn, I had in my hands the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow but It would come at a huge cost to me and the planet I love so much and just like that I changed my direction 180 degrees.  I killed the company bought a little sailboat and sailed off into the sunset.  I’m still a consumer but now I consume the beautiful life that was handed to me.

American cities are like badger holes, ringed with trash — all of them — surrounded by piles of wrecked and rusting automobiles, and almost smothered with rubbish. Everything we use comes in boxes, cartons, bins, the so-called packaging we love so much. The mountains of things we throw away are much greater than the things we use. In this, if no other way, we can see the wild an reckless exuberance of our production, and waste seems to be the index. Driving along I thought how in France or Italy every item of these thrown-out things would have been saved and used for something. This is not said in criticism of one system or the other but I do wonder whether there will come a time when we can no longer afford our wastefulness — chemical wastes in the rivers, metal wastes everywhere, and atomic wastes buried deep in the earth or sunk in the sea. When an Indian village became too deep in its own filth, the inhabitants moved. And we have no place to which to move.” ― John Steinbeck

The Capitalist Hippie

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I laid in my bunk this morning doing a last minute re-write for an article I’m writing on freedom.  I could hear two guys outside talking about my little boat.  One guy was telling the other guys how much she cost and telling his friend how rich I am, I had to laugh.  Year to date I have made less than $3,000.00

Ultimate freedom

His words sent me into a writing frenzy as I contemplated freedom, sucess and life in America.  I was raised by capitalist hippies.  I’ve never fallen far from the tree but l have set my own path to riches and a life well lived.  Its easy to tell the difference between a capitalist and a socialist.  The capitalist earns his keep, takes care of his possessions and appreciates the fruits of his labor.  The socialist is the one who always shows up empty handed asking for handouts and complaining when they aren’t what they want.  The socailalist will drain your mind, wallet and life as quickly as a hole in the boat.  Socialists don’t appreciate anything because they haven’t earned anything.

As a capitalist I not only appreciate everything I have but I also maintain my few possessions as they were all hard earned and I want them to last forever.  If I had to describe my capitalist ways in one word it would be freedom.

Its easy to loose sight of what freedom truly means.  In just over two hundred years we have laid millions of miles of fences, posted billions of signs controlling our every move and have more laws than citizens of this beautiful country.  I used to get really frustrated and pissed off at all the rules, I was actually fined $10,000.00 for cutting down a tree on my own property.  I owned the land and I owned the tree yet I wasn’t even free to to do as I pleased with my own property.

When John Hancock signed the Declaration Of Independence he was making a statement of freedom but that symbol has turned into a pact with the devil.  You want something you can’t afford… just sign this piece of paper and I will give it to you and let you pay me later at twice the price.  Cars, houses, boats, student loans, credit cards, phone contracts…

I could sit down right now and write a book about all the lost freedoms in America but I won’t.  I’ll leave you with these simple few words and a beautiful independence day weekend to contemplate them.

Freedom can’t be taken away, it can only be given away.

Please feel free to share your favorite link of capitalism at its finest.

living on $5.00.00 a DAY

A WONDERING NOMAD

Write What You Know

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The boredom was stifling, it was chocking my creativity, drowning my soul and robbing me of my precious youth.  I woke up that morning knowing I needed to do something or I would die having lived the American dream.  I called my accountant, donated 90% of my life’s worth to my favorite charity and stepped onto the tight wire.  As long as I kept my focus I would be fine, if I lost my balance even for a single second I would fall to my death.

How to be a writer

The mighty coin toss has decided many of my life’s most important decisions.  I don’t know the difference between fate and destiny but I know that the coin toss will show me the way.   I don’t know where or when it happend but life has become an endless precession of luxury.  I’m no longer hungry, there is to battle to win, no challenge in front of me.  Its warm, I have plenty of food, there is money in the bank.  I have made dosens of friends in the few days I’ve been on this island and my social offerings are more that I can accept.

I’m at a frightening crossroads…

A) I can accept the the unbelievable circumstance I have fallen to and live a safe easy life.

B) I can step back onto the tight rope and continue my journey and exploration of ultimate freedom.

As much as I believe you can have anything you choose in this life I’m also of the firm belief that pursuit of money will destroy the soul of freedom.  Why go outside in the cold when I can stay warm in the house?  Why sail the pass in complete darkness when I can motor through in daylight?  Why Choose a new place when this place offers everything I’m familiar with?  Why, why, why?

I can come up a thousand barriers to keep me safe, I can set goals and dates and…  the finish line of life will always be moved when you are closest too it.  The longer we wait to reach it the easier it is to swallow when its moved.  As  a writer the only thing I can write about is what I know.  I highly doubt that I will sell many words about living choice A, B on the other hand offers volumes of literary greatness but its not about writing.  Its about living, the writing part is the icing on the cake.  The coin has been been tossed.

“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”
― Robert Frost

Wounded Knee

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I tucked Chloe into bed at midnight, snuck out with the bike and hit the road.  My giant 48tooth chainring combined with my new 2.1″ tires almost won the battle.  It was a boring but very long slow fight to the top, I cant say I won but I made it.  My jacked old knee had a conversation with me the whole time reminding me I’m not 18 anymore.

Surly Karate Monkey bike touring single speed

I have on order a 32 tooth front chain ring and a 19 tooth freewheel which sounds as redicules as it looks but with a bike loaded to 50 pounds I have a feeling this setup will work.  While I patiently await my new bike jewelry to arrive I threw this ghetto 32 ring on with my old 18 rear, you gotta start somewhere.  The bike while gimped together is ready to start experimenting with gear ratios.  32×19 will give me the shortest effective chain stay lenght which is where this bike takes the single track at its best.  I may be building a touring bike but her first and foremost duty is ripping the hard earned single track I hope to discover along the way.  I’ve spent the last year riding primarily on a 42×17 so its funny to granny up like this but my knee’s will thank me.  For now I’m using a 2400 liter backpack with my summer bag strapped to my bars.  Riding with a fully laded pack is an atrocious way to go but will work while I settle up on what type of bags to run.

Bikepcking

This is pretty close to the setup I’m looking at but might use a different seat bag.  All bike luggage will be purchased one piece at a time or home made if I can scrounge up a sewing machine.  I have been digging through my lockers trying to piece together a bicycle galley and have found some pretty cool stuff.  Once again simplicity will rule the day, ounces add up to pounds fast so my less is more mentality will be taken to new levels.  Now if I could just make time for a good trip.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
~ Leonardo da Vinci

Fear And Loathing On A Bicycle

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I still remember the first time I rode a bike without falling down like it was just yesterday.  We were on family vacation in Squaw Valley  I rode about 50 feet, hit a tree and then fell down.  I got up and fell down again and again, Even at the tender age of 5 I was a gluten for punishment.  I still fall down these days but not as often as I did back then.  You never stop learning, you get better and better but you never stop learning.  Falling down is what reminds us that there is more to learn.

bikepacking lake Tahoe

From that day foreword everywhere I went I went on my bicycle, still falling every time I thought I had finally beaten gravity.  I never once cried when I got hurt as a child, my eyes would well up with tears, I would walk it off and jump right back in the saddle.  I started building what are now called mountain bikes in the early 80’s If they already existed back then I didn’t know about them.  I had learned a network of trails while in the boy scouts and had started heading deeper and deeper into the woods finding the best trout fishing holes by bike.  When I wasn’t on my bike I was tramping through the wild with a daypack filled with a bottle of water a side of bacon and a pan I snuck from dad’s backpack.  I tied an old wool blanket to the back, trout rod in hand I explored the canyons that where unrideable.  These days they call it ultralight backpacking, back then we just called it fishing.

singlespeed mtb

At some point in the late 80’s I combined my ultralight backpacking obsession with my love of cycling and a new love was formed, it didn’t have a name back then but we stealth camped anywhere and everywhere always pushing our journeys farther as well as ourselves.  It was only a few miles from my house to the LA river, from there a few hours to the coast and PCH would lead us to some of the best mountain biking on the planet.  We would load up on Western Bacon Cheeseburgers form Carls JR and could live off them for days.  Eventually we refined our bikes, gear and menu but those first few trips we felt like pioneers.

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The choice to live on a bicycle is one I’m still in the process of making.  Its a natural transition for a modern day explorer who’s ship has sailed.  I need adventure on a near daily basis, I need exploration and something new to learn everyday.  The feeling of being truly and utterly lost is something most people will never experience, to me its home.  Life is moving at a rapid pace as I patiently wait to get all my ducks in a row.  The bike is almost ready for day trips to be followed soon after by overnighters, weekends and with a little bit of luck a few long weeks.  I’ll know I’m ready the day I just keep going ever searching for whats around the next bend.

If you try and make it though life without falling down your not trying hard enough.  If your afraid to cry when it hurts its going to be an empty journey and if your not willing wipe the tears of pain and frustration away and jump back on that bike, well…

To say I’m scared with my new transition in life would be an understatement, I’m crippled with fear wanting to somehow hold onto the safety and security of my present life but still make a new way into the future.  I’m sure I will fall many times and when I do I will wipe the tears from my eyes dust myself off and climb back into the saddle.  The top is out there somewhere you just have to keep pedaling till you reach it.

The fear and anxiety of any new endeavor can only be matched by the spoils of the journey.

Bugout Boat

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A quick trip to the farmers market for bread and the local co-op for two fresh ripe Roma tomatoes and I was set.  A very special friend was coming of dinner and the only cash I had on hand was a few quarters stolen from the shower bag.  Rummaging through Sookies food bank I found all the ingredients for a feast, lit by lantern and candles.  A bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon and a bar of dark chocolate for dessert and I was set, total cost for dinner for two $5.00

small sailboat galley

From the very first can of food I added to this little boat she has been my own personal food bank.  For years I have shopped long lasting easy storing foods to carry us through the long dark winters as well a the sunny warm days of summer.  When people ask me what it costs to live aboard the only answer I can give them is everything you have.

the perfect galley

Potatoes and onions are brought aboard by the bag, wine by the case and dog food by the ton.  I’m not a doomsdayer or a preper but it doesn’t take a whole lot of knowledge to understand that our entire financial system is teetering on the brink of disaster.  Unlike the last time which was just a little dip the next one will cut deeply into our lives, livelihoods and ways of life.  If your not ready now you are in for a world of hurt.  Friends like Mark and Katie have it right, they are prepared and growing their food assets daily.  Chis is preparing his life in a different way and sharing his journey.  The internet is littered with millions of blogs all of us preparing our lives while living them to the fullest and sharing our ecperiences.  You know the old saying, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.  In 2008 I sadly whitnessed doezens of friends losing everything to the market dip and ensuing financial anarchy.  A friend cornered me one day and asked why I didn’t warn her.  I did I told her, you just wouldn’t listen to me.

boat stores

I’m constantly made fun of for my hoarding ways but the worst thing that will ever happen is that I have too much food which isn’t really possible.  My little boat is shipy and easy to maintain and the food Im eating was all purchased at a discount, i.e. before todays inflation tax.  I can’t last forever but the cussion 6-8 months of basics affords me is the only way I could live working only 10-12 weeks a year.

small boat provisioning

The act of taking a can out of my lockers and not replacing it with two is really starting to freak me out.  My transition to living on a bike is getting scarry as I will only be able to cart 5 days or so of food at best.  There is a twinge of uneasiness in the air as my food bank account is drained.

small boat galley

For the first time in many years I’m starting to feel naked and drained of my recources.  Transitioning out of the boat and onto a bike is just as scary as transitioning out of my house and into my boat was.  There is a small amount of fear and anxiety.  Will I be able to live in such a small place?  What about winter?  Will I be lonely?  Is it dangerous?  What about storms? Pirates? Where will I get money from?  Moving aboard was a big unknown, and honestly I didn’t think I would survive my first winter, I did and each year it not only became easier but also more fun, now its just how I live.

stocking the boat

And then theres those people, they say it can’t be done, you try it and find you can.  I highly suggest you read this link.  Today is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year.  From here on out each day turns shorter, winter is coming.

If you want to feel rich, try to sell the thing which you love more than yourself.”
~Vikrant Parsai

Money Is No Object

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I buy dented cans and two day old bread.  Most of my clothes came from the local dump which is more like the worlds greatest thrift store where everything is free and treasures abound.  I rarely go to bars or out to eat, I love the challenge of living on a budget.  When it comes to building a boat its a different story.  With Sookie I have gone all out, every new piece has been fabricated, cast, or hand built just for this little boat.  You can’t buy safety but building a brick of a boat sure does buy piece of mind and inspire confidence.

falmouth cutter 22

Anything worth doing is worth doing right.  Building Sookie has been a painfully slow process but she is an example of perfection on every level.

teak blocks

I have scoured the back recesses of obscure marine chandleries all over the world to find each and every matching part to add.

teak blocks

Six months into my search for the perfect pad eyes turned up nothing, then one day a friend showed up with a drill, a bottle of tequila and a bag of parts.

falmouth cutter stern roller

Her stern roller is as much a work of art as it is a highly functional anchor roller and boat brakes.

falmouth cutter bowsprite

Mechanical fitting aren’t cheap but but they sure are shiny, strong and pretty and easily rebuildable.  I continue to upgrade and maintain this wonderful little boat but there is a new project in the makings so sailing might be put on the back burner for a bit.  I have her listed for sale but also have my eyes on a nice barn in Oregon, if she doesn’t sell by fall she will be carefully wrapped up and stored away for future adventures.  I hate the idea of having baggage out there but also don’t feel like I have finished this project properly.  I don’t know what the future holds and honestly I don’t spend much of my time thinking about it, there is simply too much fun going on today to worry about what tomorrow may bring.

My newest project, building a bike for adventure touring will see a different direction.  Until I know it will work I will be keeping the bike very blue collar.  If we survive the rigors of the road and decide to continue I will build the bike as we travel to create a masterpeice of simple, strong, reliable…oh and as usual she will be the most beautiful bike to grace the tarmac.

“Men acquire a particular quality by constantly acting a particular way… you become just by performing just actions, temperate by performing temperate actions, brave by performing brave actions.”
~ Aristotle

Something Old Something New Something Borrowed Something Blue

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Living with A.D.D. is like watching a slow motion train wreck.  Having A.D.D./ O.C.D. fuck… I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy if I had one but those are there cards I have been dealt.  Working with what you have in life is a challange I not only love but have come to rely on, enter the Surly Karate Monkey.  This one bike fits all is like having an A.D.D/O.C.D. bike on steroids.

bicycle touring surly karate monkey

My new and yet to be named steel steed was profesionaly built down to her one of a kind paint job, lovingly pieced together with a simple group of components she is a miss mash cluster resulting in a light, snappy ride perfectly suited for my complete lack of the ability to commit to anything other than ultimate freedom.

Surly karate Monkey bikepacking

She can be set up with 26 wheels if you choose or 700cc and even 650B  Slicks, fat tire, cyclocross or anything and anything in-between.

Surly build

You can run her singlespeed, fixie, geared or an internal hub if you have the cash to drop.

surly karate monkey cooler

You can tour, bikepack, commute, freeride, or just kick about town in the style you are accustomed to.

surly flip flop hubs

You can run flat bars, drop bars, monkey bars, or any other bars you can think of.

monkey bars

She is set up for disc brakes, Canti, v-brakes or as seen here Barney Rubble brakes.  The Surly Karate Monkey is the Swiss Army knife of bikes all built on a bruiser frame and fork.  This bike wasn’t made in America but the memories and experiences she creates will be.  She it set up with a huge 46 tooth ring up front and a 18 on the back to whip my crusty boater butt into shape.  What you see here isn’t her final build, its just the firm foundation that will set the wheels spinning into my next adventure, then again its not about the bike and it never will be.

The journey of life is like a man riding a bicycle. We know he got on the bicycle and started to move. We know that at some point he will stop and get off. We know that if he stops moving and does not get off he will fall off. ~ William G. Golding

Moonshine

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Im laying in my bunk in a nest of pillows listening to the wind howl through the rigging.  I had just plopped my tired butt down when a very special visitor arrived to top off our whirlwind island extravaganza.

Surly Karate Monkey

Traveling from island to island is like a time warp for Chloe.  She enters a huge metal rickety old box and emerges in a strange and wonderful new land with new sights, smells and miles of unexplored beaches to sniff.  I’ve never seen a Rabbit on San Juan, a fox on Lopez or a deer on Waldren.  Its funny how such tiny islands so close together can be so different.

We shared bacon and eggs on Orcas, a Latte on our very short trip to Lopez and a huge hamburger with well done fries and a beer on San Juan.  We also visited a secret Island, my first time there and I’m in love.  Our trip was capped off with a 20 minute trip to the mainland to pick up one of Chloe’s many birthday gifts.  I killed the Schwinn in a tragic accident, more tragic for he bike and carrier than for me but she is dead :(  Fortunately for us her replacement fell from the heavens and were back on track, note to self… Disc brakes are a very good thing when you are pulling 300lbs.

I was so happy to find my way back to the boat with a huge bag of salty chips to replenish a days worth of sweat loss when there was a rap on the hull.  An old friend of mine straight in from Port Townsend who happens to make the best moonshine on the planet.  True to form he had a fresh batch in hand .  Glasses tipped, and all sailors tipsy, my head is spinning my body tired and once again the sun is setting on yet another impossibly perfect day. I’m not sure what day tomorrow is but I’m already excited to see where it finds us.

moonshine

I was reminded of days gone by, smuggling two gallons of moonshine, minus what we drank ;)

Your heart is free. Have the courage to follow it.  ~Malcom Wallace

The Magic Bowl

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Dogs could teach us humans a thing or two about unconditional love, loyalty and true companionship.  My little pup has sailed all over the world with me.  We have climbed to the top of every mountain we have ever seen.  Together we have explored over a third of the Pacific Crest Trail.  We have watched countless thousands of sunrises and sunsets together, been hopelessly lost, attacked by bears and washed down swollen mountain rivers.  We’ve sweltered through the heat of summer and shivered through the biting cold of many winters.  Through all the wonders of the world we have always been there together.

mountain dog

Through all of our travels Chloe has always had a magic bowl, it aways has food and water and is always exciting when its filled to the brim with nourishment to stave the hunger from a hard day on the trail.  I also have a magic bowl but its filled with something far move valuable than food.  June 17th is Chloe’s 12th birthday, thats 4,380 days we have been together, through thick and thin, ups and downs, good times and bad.  She has never once been left alone, every decision in life I have made since the day I found her at a rescue in Nevada has been made for her.

prefect mountain chalet

Our mountain Chalet was a perfect example of ridiculousness, designed around a dog bed.  I put in heated floors, a heated roof, even a heated driveway.  The whole house was built around our favorite spot, the fireplace.  We spent our evenings recovering from long days exploring the mountains, bachelor and bachelorette a perfect duo.

tahoe dog\

Our back yard has always been nature, be-it the front country or the back, islands, valleys, deserts…  Adopting  a crazy brit was the best excuse I could have ever found for a lifetime of playing in the wild.  Girls have come and gone, houses have come and gone and careers have come and gone but she has always been my rock.

brittany spaniel

It may sound like I saved her by adopting her from that lonely desert pen she was born into but you have it all wrong.  I didn’t save her, she saved me.  Happy Birthday little girl.

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”
― Josh Billings

Dirtbag Diary

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I could have come up with a thousand reasons why it wasn’t the right time.  Deep inside of me I felt a huge pang of fear… WTF was I doing.  I took one last look at my house locked the front door, hung the key in the hanging lock for the realtor and just like that I was homeless.  I turned to walk away and that first step started it, the adventure had begun.  Somewhere down the highway I stopped at a post office and had my mail forwarded to general delivery.

Dirtbag diary

I can’t say that it ever gets easyier but it does become some strange form of normal.  When I found the Dirtbag Diary Podcast it was like being reunited with a long lost friend, it reminded me I’m not the only one.  I left on this journey with a partner but even back then deep down I knew she wouldn’t last.  This lifestyle is often a solo journey.  Its not that there aren’t great partners out there but thats the thing, they are out there not here sitting around waiting to be out there.

When I met Candice my first impression was that she was a gentle flower, huge stunning eyes, soft skin and very well kept.  It turns out that not only is she a dirtbag but she is the queen of dirtbags and an absolute machine who also happens to clean up quite well.  There is a pecking order even in this small obscure subset of society.  We all seek guidance in this world, Candice is one of my top role models in making it happen. Gypsybytrade is another one of my role models and my all-time favorite online journal.  I have read every single post he has written from day one and often go back and read them again.  It may seem that we are nothing more that lost and lazy souls but the reality is that we are the most highly motivated of all, our dreams occur during the waking hours of the day, eyes wide open.

We all have dreams and wants in life and we all have fears of inadequacy about attaining those dreams.  I could tell you how I do it but it doesn’t matter, my path only works for me. You can spend the rest of your life trying to figure it all out but honestly from the safe warm comfort and security of your home you don’t even know what it is that you are trying to figure out.  The timing will never be right and there will always be excuses and time lines and barriers.  Until you get out there you will never understand a single thing, there is only one time and its right now.

Leap in head first and when you have bad days remember even back in that gentle sheltered life you had bad days.  In my 8 years of this journey I can’t tell you how many times or how close I have come to giving it all up getting an easy job in a nice climate controlled office and going back to living in my car and cubicle but every time I get even remotely close the only thing I can think about is getting dirty.  Strangely I miss the suffrage and unknowing… whats around that next corner, who will I run into and where will I sleep tonight.  Do I have enough food?  Do I have enough money?  Am I going to freeze my ass off again tonight?  Where the hell am I anyways???  My name is Stormy and I’m a Dirtbag

“If you want to understand the entrepreneur, study the juvenile delinquent. The delinquent is saying with his actions, “This sucks. I’m going to do my own thing.”
~ Yvon Chouinard

Wagon Wheel

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On this day exactly 28 years ago I graduated from High school at the ripe age of 17.  Less than 24 hours later I was surfing knee high waves off the west coast of Maui.  In a few short weeks I will reach my official half life.  28 years of hard work and travel and changed and molded me into the person I am to but those hard earned years were just my pre school.  Older and wiser I now believe I understand the answers to questions that bothered me so.

Bicycle touring with a dog

I jumped in headfirst and am knee deep into the planning stages of bicycle touring with Chloe.  I won’t know if it will work till I try but I’m all in.  A tiny home base will be my jumping point, the goal is 6 months in the saddle and six months exploring locally.  Where to begin…flat bars, drop bars, risers, carbon, steel, aluminum, titanium fat tire, skinny tires its all quite overwhelming but ill have plenty of time to figure it all out on the road, for now I have my blown steel steed Schwinnie and she is rocking it.

bicycling touring with a dog

Nostalgic music has been stuck in my head all day since receiving that email reminding me how old I am.  lyrics from The Animals House of the rising sun are rolling through my mind.

Well, I got one foot on the platform
The other foot on the train
I’m goin’ back to New Orleans
To wear that ball and chain

Any form of freedom in this world is hard earned, life as I know it is teetering in the balance.  I already live a life as an extreme minimalist but another culling will soon begin.  If it can’t fit on the bike it goes, everything is on the chopping block, piece by peice only the lightest most functional items will remain.  I’m reopening my ebay store and selling everything.  For a person with so little this is a really big deal but I have till the boat sells to acomplish this so I should have some time on my hands.  For now my food hoarding days are over and I am slowly depleting my stores with hopes that everything will be gone by fall.  

This is really scary and I have  a bit of an empty feeling inside at the thought of selling my home and the safety and security she offers but risk is the key ingredient in sucess.  My sailing days aren’t ending, in fact they have yet to begin.  I have sailed half of the world, my next sailing journey will complete the loop and finish a circumnavigation I started in 1987.  For now Im peddling back to the future.
 

So rock me mama like a wagon wheel
Rock me mama any way you feel
Hey mama rock me

Rock me mama like the wind and the rain
Rock me mama like a southbound train
Hey mama rock me  ~ Bob Dylan

The Art Of Hookie

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I haven’t rounded the Cape Horn or swashbuckled with pirates.  I’m not financially well off or even secure, I live penny to penny dollar to dollar.  Sookie is 90 percent finished which leaves at least 50 percent left to go.  My charts are gathering dust and my bottom is getting fuzzy.  On the outside looking in I may seem lost but my compass is true and guiding me, always guiding me.  I don’t know where it leads but that is the magic of this lifestyle.

Art of hookie

I was woken this morning by wet dog snot in my ear and Chloe rooting about my bed letting me know it breakfast time.  Morning news with my coffee fed my brain and proved that I’m still addicted to the world of finance 10 years after retiring.  A very slow walk down the docks chatting with yachters while Chloe checked her pee mail and I found myself back in the cockpit plopped in the sun.  Coffee and a cigarette are a morning ritual that make me excited to open my eyes every mooring.

I ran into an old friend on Island yesterday, he used to drive me nuts as I was working to put this little boat together making her sail ready.  Every day without fail he would sail away while i sat at the dock, drilling holes, filling holes, sewing this or that and aways trying to stay one step ahead of the piper financially.  That seems like a lifetime ago and while I still don’t have little things like heat, water tanks, a stove, cushions…my life is impossibly perfect.  Once again I have fallen ass backwards into employment where I can take my dog to work with me.  There are plenty of bananas  on the counter and my little kitty has a bunch of crisp one hundred dollar bills that will keep us warm and fed for the winter.

Its days like today that I need to pinch myself, all the cold lonely days in the boat yard are behind me and while I may not be planning any expedtions this week In my mind I know that the boat is ready and stocked with enough provisions to get me all the way to Australia should I choose to.

Today was the day I had chosen to start working on my varnish, winter finally killed my brightwork and it all needs to be stripped and redone.  The beauty of being completely free is that if I decide not to do it today there will always be time tomorrow, again paying extra for the finest materials has paid off, the wood will survive my day if not week of playing hookie so I can call a snow day, kidnap Chloe and set off in search of a new beach to comb.  I have this song stuck in my head,  You can’t always get what you want  But if you try sometimes well you might find you get what you need.

“He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough.”

~Lao Tzu

Sailing Out Of The Doldrums

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The boat rocks peacefully with the swell.  A single hardboiled egg rolls from side to side in its steel bowl ringing a gentle gong each time it hits the rim.  I feel like I’m in a Buddhist Monastery, Getz Gilberto is softly playing in the background and once again my life has been turned upside down by my furry companion. Salty dog

Never say never! Two things I never thought I would do again… Take my aging dog to sea again and teach sailing.  I took Chloe out on a very calm morning for a short sail and her freakout level was a 4 out of 10, its usually a full 100% which is 90% over the scale.  To prove she is still a pirate she dove overboard to play chase with a local Seal, yum wet salty dog in the boat.

I don’t know whats going on with her but I’m trying as hard as I can to ignore the fact that I just signed an employment contract because my dear old dog was too old to sail and now she wants to go sailing.   The boat is set up for quick departures so when my new big boy schedule allows for it we can sneak out for a quickie here and there.  I’m willing to take her as far as she is willing to go but will have to baby her along, I feel like the weight of the world has been lifted off my shoulders and I don’t want that horrible burden back.

I awoke feeling just a bit freer today even though I am being held in captivity.  Life is never short on change, when you least expect it, expect it.  Oh and traditional sailing school, well thats a whole other story…

From The Log Of Sookie – Cougar Bay June 2014,  Making space…

“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself; I am large — I contain multitudes.”
~ Walt Whitman

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