Tom Bihn Synapse 19

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Socrates once said, “The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.        Standing at the edge of some lonely road, thumb high with a huge smile on my face.  The first car slows to a stop and picks me up.  “Where are you headed?” My Chauffer admits to having never picked up a hitchhiker but I seemed so friendly.  When I let on to my destination she immediately questions my light load.  The truth is I’m first headed to Seattle to have my Watch shipped to Geneva for service, my trip although less exotic will be far more  adventurous.  6 weeks from now when we are reunited we will both be shiny, overhauled and as good as new. Minimalism isn’t about poverty, it’s the exact opposite.

Take a moment out of your busy life, find a quiet corner and try and remember back to your childhood when you were free. I could spend hours running through the park chasing clouds, catching frogs and stomping though puddles. The truest wealth I know in this world is that I can and often do still engage in such luxurious activities. My infatuation with daypacks started when I was 10. After the family had gone to sleep I would crawl out the window with a carefully packed bag, pick up my walking stick and head out to explore the night. One of my favorites was stealthing around the high security of the Huntington library. The grounds were huge and I had mapped out every inch. The highlight of the night was ringing the giant gong in the Japanese gardens and fleeing from security. They never once did catch me.

As soon as my New Tom Bihn Synapse 19 was shipped I made a giant sidetrack home, grabbed it, stuffed it, admired it  and jumped right back on the ferry. January has been a near nonstop month of travel, much more to come in February, actually I’ll be more or less living out of this pack for the rest of the year.  I’ve had my eyes on this baby for years but already having so many kewl bags I just couldn’t justify it till now. Its one thing to bobble around the islands with a half haphazardly packed bag but I’m going rogue.  I need the best damn bag on the planet and this truly is it.

My little boat house is almost empty, I’m taking minimalism to the extreme. Back in my jet set days I had an old saying, change your location not your clothes. I always had a bag packed beside my desk, I never knew when I would get the call but I was always ready and the phone rang often.  My travel style is bring half as much stuff and twice as much money.  I’ve never not been able to find everything I need on the cheap regardless of what country I’m in. Years ago I ran a website called the Daypack Diary, it was the most fun website I have ever had but the industry fell off a cliff with mass produced poorly designed look a like junk and my interest waned.  I killed the site as I often do looking for something more meaningful to occupy my free time.

I first laid eyes on the Tom Bin Synapse 19 when I met a hippie girl living in a hammock on Maui. I briefly wrote about her but never forgot about the pack or her minimalist attitude.  She carried little more than a hammock, sarong and a bag of nuts, fruit can be found anywhere in the islands.  I was packing light but she was free as a bird. I don’t want to be bothered with the responsibility of possessions anymore so I’m moving into the pack for the rest of the year or at least half of it so I have space for snacks and a stellar bottle of wine. As a society we are choked with personal belongings, over abundance and with each growing year accumulated waste in epic proportions. I’m feng shuing my life to the extreme or actually the opposite of extreme.

Way back when as a naive young photojournalist I always kept a few thousand dollars in cash and my passport tucked away in my camera bag. I could fly anywhere in the world for a grand, I still can. Upon arrival in each new world all I had was my small camera bag and half filled daypack. By traveling so light I found it easy to hitch-hike anywhere. My scant few possessions never held me back, it was the opposite. I found in traveling so lightly that it opened many doors and there was always room for the young kid with such a small footprint.

My life’s goal has always teetered towards minimalism. To not be surrounded by disposable cheap Chinese shit. To buy American, live slowly and care for and protect the planet I live on, my home. This year will be my tenth in my boycott of automobiles. I no longer shower with any soaps whatsoever, nothing goes down the drain but water. I intentionally walk barefoot everywhere I can to live and move slowly to stay grounded and connected to the earth. Free love, free spirit, open, aware, involved, engaged, eyes wide open and always eagerly learning…

The Tom Bihn pack is made in America, these pictures don’t even come close to showing the amazing craftsmanship, attention to detail or thoughtful design behind this amazing piece of art. I’m sitting at the train station as I write these words, I can’t imagine what adventure lies in wait but where ever I end up I have all the essentials for a trip around the world…

“You need to belong to yourself, and let others belong to themselves too. You need to be free and detached from things and your surroundings. You need to build your home in your own simple existence, not in friends, lovers, your career or material belongings, because these are things you will lose one day.” 
― Charlotte Eriksson

My ideal boat

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Two steps foreword, one step back. I’m making ground, slowly but surely this pipe dream is almost ready to smoke. Piece by piece I’m out searching for a pirates bounty of old bronze, hard woods, fittings, winches, blocks, anything and everything. I have accumulated enough to start my own marine chandlery but this is only the beginning. I know exactly what I want and won’t settle or budge an inch.

It’s all the small things that matter. I could buy a house for what the end result is going to be on this feisty little girl but I don’t want a house. For a bit of motivation I’ve ordered a new anchor and it’s not a Rocna. I found an old email of a line manufacturing company that wanted to send me spools of free line. I’ve sat on many large offers waiting for the right time. Like it or not I’m selling advertising in exchange for boat parts. Selling everything that doesn’t matter. Tracking down and digging up all the very real treasures I have left safely hiding in wait for the big one.

It’s not without regret as Sookie is pulling at me everyday and more than likely will stay in the family as my summer home in the islands. She is that special that I just don’t think I can say good bye to her. The more my brain turns I can’t help but to wonder if she is actually the finer of the two yachts but time will heal all wounds, fill in the blanks and answer all questions. For today at least my accountant tells me I can have my cake and eat it too.

Spring is close at hand, it’s 50 degrees today. I’ve invited a friend to round Vancouver island with me in early spring but she is hesitant, a farmer and the water scares her as much as it scares me. That old wind vane sits in the corner but I still can’t commit to installing it.

I’ve put hours of thought into the new boat and she will have no electric whatsoever, at least for now. I’m slowly working my way off grid completely. My log book will be my journal of record. Colored pencils will paint the memories. My little single side band receiver will tune me into the real world when the silence becomes too loud to bear.

Some things are better left silent until they are accomplished but even then time for reflection and adjustment must be taken. One year ago on this day my 10 year vow of poverty ended as silently as it rolled in. I’ve learned so much over this journey but most of all that money is the single largest barrier to freedom and happiness that exists on this planet. It sucks us in and holds us fast. It isn’t that I hate money or think it’s a bad thing, far from it but In having almost none I found the freedom to live so many amazing journeys that I couldn’t afford while I was wealthy. That fine line of enough is well understood and appreciated. Having a few of the desired necessities are so much more appreciated having happily gone without for so many years.

What I’ve come to realize In so many ways through this amazing journey is that while Sookie may not be anybody’s ideal boat she truly is mine. The new boat is a new project mostly because I can. To live a truly endless summer is a lifetime dream, now my future reality. Naturally I’ve been going a little crazy with my new financial freedom but the reigns are being pulled in. My simple life is about to become more simple. My personal needs are fewer and further apart.

Not any part of this journey has been easy but I never expected it to be. I wanted to experience the harsh realities of the cruelties of society. How they look down at people who they think are lesser than they. I’ve been abused my whole life by crewel people because of my disabilities, even more so when I was poor but I’ve never let the hurt hold me back, it’s always been the fuel in my fire. Little people don’t frighten me, big people don’t frighten me. Poverty doesn’t scare me any more than wealth does. I’ve said this so many times but my biggest fear is living a life doomed to mediocrity. All my dreams have always been set at a very attainable level, or so it seems…

Finding my virginity

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Thoreau went to Walden’s pond for moral exploration and a rejection of the modern Industrial Age. I have the sea shore, that place where the edge of the world laps at the sand chilling my bare feet and reminding me that 71% of the earths surface, our home is covered by water. Nothing in the world is more satisfying to me than diving into a large body of salty brine, the way it feels wrapped around my skin, weightless and vulnerable to the deep void. It’s a mix of floating though outer space and flying. The pinch of my skin as it evaporates from my shivering body, the protective white crust that highlights my sun darkened skin, raw.

I did everything right, followed the norms of society, I was living the American dream. My yacht club was exactly halfway between my beach front shack and my little boat, about three minutes on my trusty beach cruiser. Lots of money, no debt and a girl I loved with the promise of a huge diamond on her finger. I found myself at work wishing I could go home, to the beach, the boat, anywhere but where I was. I longed for the freedom of weekends where I owned my time. I found myself a young urban professional who was wishing my life away.

A huge spring thunderstorm rolled though, I walked to the window and pressed my face against the glass, man is not meant to live indoors. A memory flashed though my mind. I was sitting on a wooden bench I had built at the edge of my garden. A bowl of Wheaties with a sliced banana and cold soy milk. I had just finished a long run though the foggy hills that follow the coast though La Jolla. Those long cool mornings were my meditation, the sounds of dry earth crunching under my sneakers, deep long breaths and the urge to push on further, harder, longer. Back in my garden the morning sun was warming my back, my bare toes digging into the dark fertile earth I had toiled over. I was poor, free, happy.

I walked back to my executive cubicle, wrote my resignation and walked out the door. A long heartfelt conversation with my lover left me wondering if it was me she loved or the life I was providing for her. A month later I moved out, just down the street to a beach front studio. I painted the walls till they appeared to be 200 years old, my little house reminded me of Greece with peeling stucco, bare wood floors and the constant breeze cooling away the heat of the day. A bed and a couch were my only furniture. I hung my ukulele in the middle of the largest wall, potted 200 plants in the giant glass structure that separated my front door from the Beach.

All my friends were mad at me, my protest to the norms of society made them question everything. How could I live so free and so happy, it’s not supposed to be that way. I would pluck the strings of my ukulele and sing old Spanish and Hawaiian songs, run for hours and aimlessly walk my small town, before long I knew everyone. Every single day started with a swim in the ocean, I would shiver dry while sipping a hot cup of coffee over a morning ciggi. I was on to something but I wasn’t there yet.

The garden of eden was found in my flight from the long arm of the law that kept finding me poaching the beaches of Hawaii. I set my one man tent up on the tip of Maui’s nose. I shared the nights with 700,000 Dead Hawaiian warriors buried under my bare feet. One morning walking the dawn of the beach I stopped dead in my tracks I looked over my right shoulder, then my left. Step by step I backtracked carefully putting each step exactly in my prints in the sand. A curious hippie girl walked towards me with her pot belly pig inquiring as to what I was doing. I’m backtracking so they can’t find me. Who she inquired? Pirates! There’s no pirates silly boy she said with a smile. I looked deep into her ocean blue eyes and assured her that there are pirates everywhere.

Draped in nothing but a small loincloth I walked with her slowly to the tent cabin she shared with her family. She was covered from her wrists to her ankles in a sheer white cloak and far more exposed than I. Tan naked children ran around playing in the grass while we prepared a raw smoothie with solar power and a second hand juicer. A cry from the field was a common experience. The Kaiwe thorns are thick as a nail, sharper than a razor and this devils horn always lands facing up. Waterfalls of salt welling from innocent clear eyes were usually quenched with some soft words, a good foot rub and a piggy back ride to mommy. I was getting closer.

The sea shore, that’s my home, the soft rolling of wavelets relentlessly massaging pebbles to sand. The crunch of my dinghy as it lands on terra firma. Drift wood, beach glass, cooking over an open fire. My lands-mans eyes are constantly gazing out to sea. While floating around on my own private island it’s always suitable land I’m searching for, a quiet place to set my hook, fresh water rolling out of the hills and the shore, that place where the surf meets the turf. Take one step beyond this magical line and you have entered a world that is raw, uncaring and never stops moving. To live for the sea is to find the never ending challenge of nature. The tasks of navigating by a piece of paper. Weather routing by staring at the sky and feeling the motion of the ocean. This life is as complex as it is simple, there are no rules but there are laws of the sea, one must work constantly to safely navigate from safe place to safe place. I look back and laugh that my work used to be plucking at a table of plastic keys , it wasn’t who I was but what I was. I did this all day everyday my reward a piece of paper with a bunch of zeros, how proud I was of all those zeros until I realized I worshiped that little piece of paper like a pagan god. My whole life revolved around it. I woke up early, worked late, fought hours of hell spent traffic all so at the end of the day I could add or subtract a few zeros from a little flickering screen before going to sleep tired, stressed out and unhappy… my search continues.

I had so many things on my plate yesterday but not one of them got scratched off my list. in the late afternoon I made my way through the rain to find a hot cup of coffee and an internet connection. I walked into the coffee bar and there she was. She looked up with a nervous smile completely blushing and looked away and then right into my soul. “I read your blog” it was obvious that this complete stranger knew everything about me and it made me nervous but in a powerful way. ” it was genius I mean what you wrote on the surface was funny but the underlying message really got to me. People, most of us feel so entitled to everything even your private life, I do. I feel like I’ve known you forever and I feel like part of you is in part of me. The haters need you the most, they are your most important readers because you fill the empty void in their life, they don’t really hate you, they want to be like you but don’t know how and it frustrates them so they lash out. Can I buy you a coffee.” Sure I’ll have a latte, she kindly asked the barista to make it with soy milk as she was vegan and wouldn’t pay for the enslavement and torture of an innocent creature of the earth. There was a very powerful connection between us, I was being pulled to her like a magnet. We sat close talking and laughing and innocently touching in a way only two connected souls can. She invited me to her house for yoga and fruit and I accepted.

I walked into to a mostly empty room, it smelled of coconut and sandalwood, the remnants of a fire smoldered in the wood stove. I was about to have my first real yoga experience. She tied half my hair back and instructed me to take off all my clothing and sit quietly on the purple mat, this as I was learning was nude yoga. I was instructed that from this point forward I would not speak but only to listen to her voice. She put on very calm music and we started. The longer it went the further I fell under the spell of her calm soft voice. It was much harder than I anticipated, beads of sweat formed on my eyelashes and dropped to the earth in slow motion, the hedonistic music spinning circles around me swirling and filling my body with a strange euphoria. I don’t know how long this whole thing went on but I had completely lost track of all time and space. The last thing I remember was her gently rolling my hip as I lay near unconscious in the fetal position. She brought me a glass of water, we shared it as she sat cross legged in the middle of the room lit a spliff and deeply inhaled. She leaned foreword softly pressing her lips against mine as I inhaled from her lungs to mine. Her head fell foreword gently resting on my shoulder.

No thoughts developed in my mind but I could feel everything from the tips of my toes to the follicles on my head. I felt completely enlightened. She excused herself, I walked out onto the porch, the night sky was pink and filled with a soft mist, the storm was breaking , I could feel the grain of the redwood deck massaging my bare feet. For the first time ever I wasn’t cold. I felt a warm body press against my back, again her head rested on my shoulder, her long hair tickled as it draped down me. Inviting me in for fruit I suddenly realized how warm it was in the house, how simple and empty with only the few necessities, I felt like I had come home. Her arm extended towards me with a bright red apple I accepted the offer of her fruit and so began the single most enlightening experience of my life.

Waking early in the day I felt different, whole is the only way I could describe it. What I’ve been chasing and searching for my entire life has always been within me, I’ve carried it everywhere I’ve gone yet never knew it even existed. Back home my little boat-shed feels so cold and empty. It’s filled with material possessions things I don’t need anchors in my life, barriers to my freedom. I’ve always thought that i was a minimalist but it turns out my minimal Possessions still hold me captive. My space isn’t too large it’s just empty and devoid of peaceful energy. I laid down on my bed and could feel the aura of lasts nights journey blanketing me in a calm sense of safety. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath and finally understood that the joinery I’ve been on was a necessity in finding my own personal garden of eden. The tests I had passed, the betrayals I have endured, the constant failures have all brought me to this single starting point where I can now live in complete peace and harmony with myself.

Don’t shoot the messenger

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You want to know what I find more effing annoying than anything on the planet. It’s when I watch my favorite vloggers/bloggers, at the end of their video they are like don’t forget to subscribe and comment, follow us on facebook and like us on Twitter. You wanna know why they say that? Cause for all the massive amounts of hard work and efforts they put into entertaining you, you can’t so much as click the like button or subscribe or leave a comment. Are you seriously that lazy that you can’t engage in the slightest. Guess what! This is how we make our living…

A very crude calculation puts me at over 3000 posts. Show me one journalist, TV show or author who has come up with 3000 titles it’s staggering, not even the Simpsons can touch that. That means 24,000 tags, and just under 1.7 million words or the equivalent of 18 books at 90,000 words per book. It’s not just that. Add in the 30,000 images that have to be taken, imported, edited uploaded and don’t even get me started on posted. Getting in a shit banging dinghy with your un-insurable laptop and camera gear and row through more often than not adverse conditions, hiking around a strange town looking for internet which costs a minimum of 5 bucks for a cup of coffee and there goes another 15,000 dollars not to mention the cost of gear over the years, break downs and losses. Seriously. You can’t be bothered to push a button? your time is too precious? Don’t want to risk a sprained finger? Don’t want to pull it out from where it is? can’t find the energy? Or simply don’t care?

I was perusing through some dumb ass sailing forum and found a 25 page rant on your favor blogs. People talking about sailors having their hands out and digitally begging. Unlike 99% of employees who want a negotiated contact before they lift a single finger bloggers and vloggers do 100% of our work for free. We write it, fund it and give it away. If your stoked you can click the like button or send a buck or a nice note. I’d love if teachers worked for free and you could pay them later if your children turn out ok. Can you imagine if your lawyer was like ahh, yes just pay me later if you think I’m worth it. What about if your mechanic was just like, yup rebuilt your engine if she’s still running next year float me a buck or tell me you like my work or bookstores who let you read the book before you decide to pay for it. How about a free vacation or financial advice.

Look Im not saying you have to send them money. I’m just saying even occasionally a little feedback and support would be nice. If you like something they produce how bout a little kudos, share it on your facebook, send it to a friend, mention it on one of your 1600 social media accounts or hey how about a like or a subscribe or a comment. The more you share the more you get.

Ok, shit. I’m the worst! I creep all sorts of blogs and always forget to comment or like or subscribe. I do my best to share but I could do a better job. Let’s face it, all of us, each and every one are just trying to make our mark in this world. If you like what you see tell them. If you have constructive criticism share it. If you want more or less vote with your words. Oh hell just copy the link and share this post with every blogger and vlogger you know and ask them to spread the love, or don’t.

I’ll finish by saying that if this post offends you then it offends me that it offends you. Please refer to the above image 😉

No sex, no drugs, no wine, no women

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I listen to the words and smile, No sex, no drugs, no wine, no women
No fun, no sin, no you, no wonder it’s dark. Everyone around me is a total stranger. Everyone avoids me like a psyched lone-ranger Everyone.  I’ve gone to that special place few men my age will ever know.  I have no time for distractions, anchors or alibis.  I’m quite possibly the most fragile human in existence when it comes to being easily distracted by shiny shit. The magpie and the sailor suffer this this syndrome more than any other species on the planet.

The plan was simple, I was on layover in Honolulu where I was chilling waiting for a standby flight to Bali  From there I would jump a ship to China, hitch to Beijing and board the Trans Siberian railway to Moscow.  My plan was to jump from the train in upper Mongolia and make my pilgrimage to Tibet. I blame the arrogance of youth and the book 7 years in Tibet but the trip was on. My first side track was a very curvy Hawaiian with lungs that could calm the savage seas, strike one.  Next was the cutest and surely hungriest Asian girl I have ever known, strike two.  Strike three and my TKO came in the form of 3 feet of bleach blond hair with an Aussie accent that matched her never ending golden tan.  I could tell this story a thousand times differently by changing the names and locations, all far to real in my life and so here I sit in the year of my 50th on this planet swearing off the hooch forever!

I have a boat that needs to be both sailed and sold, a bike that needs to be ridden everywhere and a boat that’s needs to be built. I’m treading on thin ice, every time a girl so much as looks in my general direction I turn and run giving Carl Lewis a serious sprint for his money. I’ve become a complete hermit insuring that I know no person on this island beyond a cordial good day and have let the entire scope of the world slip out of focus. I’m staying 100% true to the fact that I will build this boat in under a year without borrowing a single penny to do it. I’ve set my life up so that when Sookie sells there will be no Anchors here or anywhere, on a whim or a moments notice I’ll pick up and flee, not from anywhere but to my future, the New big Sookie. These islands will suck you in.

Hell bent is an understatement. When I was 25 I had two full time jobs and owned my own rapidly exploding company, I worked 7 days a week 24 hours a day 365 days a year.  I was extremely passionate about what I was creating. I don’t know how I survived back then but I haven’t had that type of motivation again since, well not till now, I’ve become completely one dimensional.  I spend hours on the bike thinking of nothing but boat details and of course appreciating how beautiful this little island is. I meditate in the form of really crude man yoga, during this time my mind is in a constant state of wood options.  In the shower its heavy weather and cold weather sailing. At work its how to finance this beast of a project. when I lay my head down at night its the beaches and trade winds.  all time in-between is spent on how to actually pull it off.

Many years ago after an incident at Reno Intl airport I decided I wanted to buy a private jet for Chloe so we could fly anywhere in the world we wanted to go at the drop of a dime.  I leased an old cabin in the middle of the woods where there would be no distraction, My goal was to create and sell a 500 million dollar Corp in a year.  All my friends thought I was nuts, in case you are wondering I’m not nuts, I’m bat-shit crazy. I did create my masterpiece and was well on my way to flying the friendly skies when I became a very accidental tree huger. I shut it all down, packed up my dog and my bike and took off to live in nature for a bit. A year later I had started my first blog Meet me on the Horizon, compiled a bunch of video gear and completely re-built the cutest little sailboat. I was days away from casting off for Mexico when I came across some shiny shit…

Dating twins, polyamory and true love

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My friend Julie is quite possibly the only human in existence that gets me. she’s constantly reminding me that if I’m not shivering while wearing everything I own that I brought too much stuff. When I mentioned I was switching back to single-speed her quiet response was “what took you so long”. I switched back to gears because I thought the single-speed was hurting my knees, turns out I’m just getting old. Today was a day away from the boats for some much needed cycling and bike prep. Yes I’m a bit of a gram weenie but not out of control.  I carried a 64 ounce metal bottle on my last trip mostly because I knew I would need it in Mexico but also because I wanted to make sure it worked before I hit the borde., I never needed it but that 5 pounds really added to my total weight, more mentally than physically.  There is a definite art to packing a bike.

I’m more than happy to carry any and all I need but things I have that I’m not using irk me to no end.  I’m not sure if it will be spring in Alaska, Summer in the Rockies or fall on the coast but I’m putting together my ultimate minimalist bug out bike. Like with boats I have a budget multiplication factor X 4.  I’ve given myself a grand for upgrades which means I cant go a penny over 4K in new cyclogeekery. While I still have my eyes on a new carbon wheel set I also cant commit to wheel size. The Karate Monkey is designed to easily set up with literally every known bike build in existence so I’ve got options.  I’ve been penciling in a permanent home for Chika in the new boat and think I’ve got it covered so any upgrades are a true investment in my future.

1000 miles on my shit miserable stock saddle were what I can only describe as less than desirable.  I didn’t have time to swap it out before I left and was sure Id find a suitable replacement along the way, WRONG. It was the only complete fail of the trip but the new one is pure butter. At some point I hope to make a video of everything I brought, what worked and what didn’t and how it all fit together but having two boats on the side is like having two mistresses, very time consuming “i’ve heard ;)”. If I can sneak away from the girls every other week for a quick 24 hour escape I will be a happy camper. Chika doesn’t mind my polyamory as she is always within arms reach, the twins on the other hand are much more demanding of my time.

Second by second the days are getting longer and warmer. I’m feeling stronger every day and much more energetic. While I’m sure that this will turn out tho be the busiest year of my life, every second of it is fun and a much needed diversion from the real world and its hash realities.  If you have the means I highly suggest you give freedom a try. Its not that I have always lived this way but its hard to remember a time I haven’t. Back in the year 2000 I had just shut the doors to my company and was planning on zening out for a month before figuring out my next move.. One phone call and exactly 12 hours later I had given away everything I owned that wouldn’t fit in half of my 4×4 and was on my way to the Rockies with my MTB. I had gone from executive to dirt bag in the process and have never looked back.

Rebel without a crew 2.0

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I woke early to the pitter patter of rain. It’s warm in my little boathouse, it was 46 out side this morning. Once the new year rolls past spring starts its steady march towards summer. Sure we can get a few cold Systems blowing through but all and all the season is close at hand. I’ve been spending so much time studying the basics of film and editing which is way over my short attention span that I haven’t even bothered to roll any film. My new selfie stick/Tripod showed up and it was time for a little shenanigans and my first pathetic attempt, its good to have room to grow.

Im rapidly learning that being a rebel without a crew might end up to be more trouble than it’s worth. Filming one self with a phone is a giant PIA as is blogging, the lens isn’t wide enough on such a small boat and if I drop my phone one more time it just may give up the ghost. I’ve been shopping anamorphic lenses but at the price for a good one I better commit to a camera. I’m on my trusty old iPhone 6s and can’t help but to wonder how soon it will become obsolete with the giant pile of Uber expensive lenses I’d like to use. For now no money will be spent as I play with my new Tripod and try not to kill my phone in the balmy spring rains.

I’ve been finding it hard to find the motivation to leave my warm dry cabin. The boatyard is muddy, still no power and Sookie is cold inside, my next project is to remove the berth ceiling boards which warped when we had 3 souls wintering aboard. I could replace them with oak but I’m looking at cedar or teak. I’ve considered spalted mango as that’s what big Sookies dog house will be lined with but finding the right wood is turning out to be a challenge on this little island and I really want to touch it before I buy it. I never understand why people make such a big deal about doing their own work on the boat, its easy and fun and the sense of satisfaction is immense, my kingdom for a table saw which just may be put on my wish list sooner rather than later.

For now its dorksville trying to learn the best camera and editing apps and how to use them, an iPad mini may just solve all my problems but I’m not sold on anything yet as what I have is keeping me more occupied than it should. Years ago when we ruled the roost for sailors on youtube we never set out to do anything more than to document the process, I guess that’s why it was so much fun.

All hands on deck

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More than anything I hate that I can’t just spit out the details of the new boat, I’m not into secrets I’m into sharing but its out of my hands. This may be the last blog post about the new boat till I actually start construction in September but. I’m still working on it every day. Accumulating parts, searching for wood measuring, accumulating, planning… Anyone that knows me knows that I’m not into long drawn out processes. Nearly 7 years into sookie and I’m still cooking on a camp stove because I can’t commit to what I want on her. The new boat aside I’m still working on Sookie every day, doing my best in this extremely poor economy to earn money and trying to make use of every second I have remaining in the islands.

I used to pay people to do all my work saying that my time was more valuable than the money it cost. Somewhere in my late 20’s I learned that I wasn’t learning anything new by paying people to work for me. I took a new or should I say old approach. My parents were hands on do-it yourselfers. We made and fixed everything in our awesomely fit our work shop. My grandfather built his house out of a dead tree and a bunch of raw material, it was plain simple and a work of art.

I know I lack many of the skills even though the hull and deck construction has nothing to do with me. My hope is that dozens of sets of hands will join in and assist from design choices to cutting and sewing sails. To build the new boat will be one of the greatest learning experiences of my life, come help me and I’ll keep your belly full of snacks and grog.

People often ask me why I did two long distance tours on a folding bike. The answer is I’ve done far too many tours the easy way on real touring bikes and wanted to try something new, a greater challenge. The same with road touring on a plus bike, it’s borderline insane but I’ve long passed the days of panniers and skinny tires. People who haven’t spent the last 30 years on the water can’t understand why I need a new project a bigger challenge to sink my teeth into. When I was 18 I bought a boat and went sailing. And continued for the next 31 years.

it Isn’t that Sookie isn’t the perfect boat, she is and then some. It’s just that now having all of My adult life on the water I know I belong there and not on dry land. The small increase in size is adding 4 times the living space both inside and out. Maybe I’m crazy, maybe this is all a big mistake but I’m no stranger to failing and I’d rather try and give it my all then spend my life wondering what if. My brain needs a mammoth redirection.

My one and only goal in life is to build a simple sensible home and set off in search of buried treasure. When I become too old to pull the strings I’ll find a rickety old dock where it never gets cold, pour a glass of green label and tell my stories of war and peace to any youngins that care to listen.

When Larry Pardey kept on and on with Lin about Sailing around the horn she replied “Larry at this point in my life I have nothing left to prove” he responded ” at this point in your life Lin you have nothing to lose”.

Everything you need

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And nothing you don’t. I spent the night studying everything I could find on construction methods used by the Sam L Morse company. There are two very in-depth videos on both the Falmouth cutter and her larger sibling the Bristol Channel Cutter one thing I noticed was that the purchasers in the videos were far closer to their death beds than the days they once owned of youth and vitality. There is nothing wrong with growing old, god willing we all will. I just don’t want to be one of those old cutes that waited my entire life to follow my heart.

 

My evolving love for traditionally designed boats has been lifelong. As I set out to build the new boat she will have everything I need and nothing I don’t. I guess I’m a bit of a hearty soul because I truly don’t mind not having refrigeration, a toilet, electronics, hot shower, these things can always be added later… in the worst case I won’t actually start work on the new boat until September but that is still a very large unknown. I’d like to take Sookie north in the spring but money and time are starting to get a little tight with so much going on. As I suspected the buyer backed out and that is good. I’m starting to think I might keep both just to be sure the new boat actually sails as well as Sookie, there is a magic in her I’ve never experienced on any other boat.

The big boat is being planned in stages. First she will be launched as an empty hull with only her structural bulkheads in. I don’t want to spend my life in a boathouse so she will be made sail ready with all plain sail, one anchor and yes a brand new Diesel engine. I’ll get into this one later. As an engineless sailor the transition to electric drive would be an easy one but I’m just not sold on it so I’ll stick with what I know.

The interior design has really been fun but also frustrating. I have always loved sleeping in the v-berth but I’m leaning towards a double Pullman berth in the main cabin leaving the foreword part for a fixed bucket and work space with room for my bike and a New Brompton. I plan on spending as much time living in the empty hull as need be to learn where every piece fits. I’ve bought both big and little Sookie a nice thinking bottle. As I’m still here, I’m still working on Sookie everyday and if the big boat doesn’t sail like Sookie I’ll downsize back to what I know and love.

I’ve been going absolutely crazy trying to decide if I install her new old wind vane or move on to more fun projects. Thank god I’m bit polar because having two boats would drive the average person insane. If I’m not installing the new vane I can pretty much launch Sookie at anytime but I’m trying to be smart on this one. I’ve already decided Big Sookie will get a Mike Anderson vane, well I’m buying the vane and one of my girls will.

Just in case your wondering… yes this entire process is absolutely freighting. While both boats were designed by Lyle Hess beyond the first glance they have very little in common and to be totally honest little Sookie has much prettier lines both above and below the belt. Big Sookie on the other hand can carry a full year of provisions, twice the water, has room for a heater and can carry a hard dink on deck. Like I’ve said, if she doesn’t out do little Sookie she will become my second boat and not visa versa. Winter has finally arrived in the islands and my hours have been cut back to 15 a week leaving me an insane amouth of time to think about getting the hell out of here sooner rather than later.

2018 top sailing blogs

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It’s hard to imagine where the years have gone. I spent a fortune in 1999 preparing for the big computer roll back of millennium. Other than me killing the power at the stroke of midnight during a huge dance party I threw for my friends the New Years rang through without a hitch, the world didn’t end and my empty pocket book was yet another valuable lesson. Back in those days I was living in Seal Beach, my boat was 5 minutes away on my trusty beach cruiser. Sookie was on the next gangway where we often shared a glass of wine and the sunset. My office was in Beverly Hills, strategically as far away from my beach town as was tolerable. I don’t know why I’m so fortunate in this world but Art Of Hookie has been named by one of my favorite bloggers SV Terrapin. As a top blog to follow in 2018. I found them years ago, it was the photography that captured me but their story is as unique as any.

Each year I’ve listed a few of my favorite blogs but last year I did it a little differently and let the world name theirs on this little site. Again for 2018 I’m hoping many will chime in and share their favorite blogs and vlogs of 2018. My new favorite vlog for the year is sailing Tarka. The previous owners circumnavigated on this little boat and then again on their 27 foot Vancouver sloop. Some boats are just plain special and Tarka is one of them. This guy has no experience but is deep into his journey. His videos are fun and funny and while often far too short they carry me away on the coldest nights of winter.

So let’s have some fun, add you’re favorite blogs and vlogs and please feel free to share your own if it’s awesome. 2018 is the year of sailing. Work hard and I promise you your dreams will manifest before you’re eyes, cheers mates.

9 jackets

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I woke at noon and everything in my life felt impossibly perfect, well except for a well earned scorching hangover. Somehow I completely missed the New Years. Yes I knew it was New Year’s Eve, I worked the bar for most of the night but slipped out before the merriment began. I was so preoccupied with other little distractions that for the first time in my life it completely eluded me. Winter may only be two weeks old but here in the very north west it’s well on its way to dying. Our biggest boat show is in a few weeks signaling the coming spring.

I wish I could say I’ve figured it all out but that is far from the truth. Maybe I’m just being greedy but I’m not ready to let go of Sookie, having a boat on each side of the world has always been my dream and now it’s very close to my reality. Supposedly I have a buyer showing up on the third with a pile of cash but I’m not buyin it. If I do sell her I’ll be in the boat shop working on big Sookie by the end of the week. If I don’t I have many options but I really want another big ride before I dive deep into the boat project. It’s all quite complicated but also so very simple or at least it all will be once I figure it all out.

Looking back over my life I can’t help but to wonder why I’ve lived in Wisconsin twice, the first time I moved there straight from the jungles of the Pacific to witness the longest stretch of below 0 temps in the history of the state. Another 7 years based out of Lake Tahoe and now the PNW. I have 9 jackets hanging on a single chair, my only piece of furniture yet I’m still cold more often than not both in and out doors. Hell I used to get cold when I lived in Hawaii.

I sent a letter to a friend bouncing an offer I have on Sookie. His response, “sometimes dream about starting over with a hull and deck and rebuilding the same basic idea into a new hull, but it’s not in the cards for me. When it comes down to it, I’d rather spend this year sailing than the next three in the yard.”

This makes lots of sense although I don’t know anyone around here who gets to sail for a year. With the seasons we have here even in the best of circumstances it would take me 4 years of 90 day seasons to sail for a year. On the other hand I can work on big Sookie for a year and move to the Caribbean and never have to wear 9 jackets again. I could even do that in southern Florida for a year or two if I’m too broke after building her.

When you take the time to create your life those days aren’t wasted, the labor, blood, sweat and tears encountered in the challenging and often frustrating process is all worth it. There isn’t one piece of gear that can be ordered from a marine chandlery for the new boat, it will all be cast or fabricated, there is an art to all this. I’ve been deep in studying woodworking as best I can at least and holding out for perfectly suited woods for the new boat. I’m hoping to incorporate many white woods to make her interior bright and shiny, all interior paint although there won’t be much will be in a very light yellow, we did this on the Roo and the color it cast was always warm and inviting. All her vertical surfaces will be oiled wood while her horizontal surfaces will be heavily varnished.

No matter how you look at it, at the end of the day there is nothing so much fun as messing around in boats and that’s my new job. It’s an almost warm and perfectly sunny day. There is much to do in this life but I think I might just have one more cup of coffee before I get to the tasks at hand.

Falmouth Cutter 22 for sale

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They say that the two happiest days of a boaters life are the day they buy their boat and the day they sell their boat.  Well I’m not a boater, I’m a sailor.  If there was any way I could keep Sookie and still build Big Sookie I would, this is tearing me to pieces but the stars have aligned.  Today I got the email I was waiting for with exactly how much the new boat is going to cost.  As soon as I regained consciousness I pushed the button, its a go. I’m not a tire kicker, a dreamer or a schemer, when I want something I dive in and make it happen.  There is no amount of money worth loosing the best days of our lives.

As soon as I can fully unload Sookie, find a car and pack it I’m leaving this place to create the greatest boat for me on the planet earth. Am I scared? Hell yes I am, this is so far out of my league I don’t know where to begin but I will rise to the occasion even if it means scrubbing toilets on night shift between my two full time jobs of building this boat and paying for it. I’m often accused of being a trustafarian for being able to live my life the way I do.  The simple truth is that I’m not, I have big desires and desire them enough to bring them to fruition regardless of what walls may come my way.

So whats my secret then? start by reading the Richest Man in Babylon, follow by reading Your Money Or Your Life.  Finish with You Can Negotiate Anything and stop waiting for other people to fund your dreams.  Get out there work your ass off and reap the rewards.

“Give a man a choice of gold or wisdom, he will most likely go for gold. The next day, he begins to wail because he has no more gold” ~George Samuel Clason

Following my destiny

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They say there is no such thing as a prefect sailboat, I have to disagree… Nearly ten years ago I had the great fortune of brokering what in my opinion is the finest sailboat to roam the planet. She was old and had been sailed hard with a little neglect in the process. I’ve touched every inch of that boat from the tip of her mast to the bottom of her keel. She sails like a dream and turns heads everywhere she goes. Each year her restoration has come along amazing, transforming her without really transforming anything. I’m tired of fixing and restoring old boats. I’ve decided to buy a brand new hull and deck and finish her my way, this journey has been a long time coming.

I’ve calculated that if I sell everything I own on the planet, get a ton of writing projects and work 16 side jobs I can have the new Sookie launched within 18 months of today! She will be every bit as strong and simple and beautiful just a few feet longer and wider. A lifetime of experience will go into this little boat and I’m sure the finer parts will be finished over the rest of My life but she will Launch and set sail before hurricane season 2019.

She will carry no more and perhaps even less luxury than Sookie, to keep costs down I’m thinking all kerosene lighting, zero electricity, a sextant, paper charts and no thru hulls beneath the waterline. She will have one battery and very small solar panel to keep my iPad and camera rolling. Her interior, simple comfortable and workable. My new dinghy will fit perfectly on the dog house, and the windlass on her sprit. All teak will be left bare and salt scrubbed. Tall bulwarks and stanchions will make her wide decks secure and believe it or not this boat will have a real diesel engine. Every inch will be adorned in bronze from her port lights to her terminals.

I’ve dedicated every second of my adult life studying, maintaining, Sailing and loving traditionally designed sailboats. It’s my time to take stewardship of the finest boat ever to ply the seven seas. I can’t do this alone and I know many hands will be involved in the process, I’ll do my best to document the whole journey but for now it’s hurry up and wait for wire instruction so I can get the ball rolling. In the meantime I will be staying in the islands to scrimp and save and enjoy my last 10 months in this little island paradise before moving to the mainland to continue this most excellent adventure.

From the log of Sookie. I’ll be broke before the new year but never as poor as those souls who leave their dreams collecting dust in the furthest corner of the attack of their mind.

Enter the dragon

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Somewhere out there eating up the pacific coast, a grass roots bike company contacted me offering a free loaner of their newest titanium gravel bike. My simple 4 word response, thanks but no thanks. When I’m on tour I don’t have anything on the brain other than being a 6 year old, chasing pirates and searching for treasure. I prefer to be semi lost at all times and can’t be bothered with anything other than enjoying nature to the best of my ability while dodging logging trucks, grandpa in his first motor home, good thing he opted for the 50 footer, teenagers on cell phones and drunken tourists.

An invitation for a glass of wine turned into an all night private rave. Techno thumping, hips bumping, walls shaking and a fierce shuffle dance off. Clothes soaked with sweat flung all over the place, we literally danced our asses off. Two days later I woke and was sore everywhere. I was like OMG why am I so sore and then I remembered, Holy crap I actually got exercise, a lot ;). An hour of angry yoga and I was out the door with Chika. I wouldn’t go as far as to say I’ve healed but I bombed the island on and off road.  I cant even begin to describe how good the wind in my hair felt, it was as close to flying as hucking myself off a giant cliff. I had to stop a few times to stretch and recover but I am feeling like I’ve more than passed the hump, enter the dragon…

I while back a friend of mine asked me to cycle the T.A.T. with her in May.  I’m not as good of a cyclist as her “by a long shot” but apparently I’m really fun to travel with. She used to accuse me of riding slow so I could stare at her ass all day, which I do. Now that we’ve been on and off ride buddies for almost 10 years she still accuses me of the aforementioned habit but also has come to realize that I’m just plain and simply a lazy old gimp.  The 5000 mile Trans American Trail was designed for dual sport motor bikes but can just as easily be done on a bicycle. Since returning from CA I’ve really dialed Chika and my gear in.  I’ve shaved about 5 pounds, done many clothing upgrades and dropped some things that didn’t carry their own weight.

Just in case you’ve been wondering about her name.  Specifically she was named after one of my Japanese born Hawaiian girlfriends…

Urban Dictionary Chika’s are very short boys/girls that are “cute” and considered awesome. They are very smart and mostly are found with friends. They are atheletic and are always trying to entertain their friends. They take on any challenge given to them especially by their friends. Chika’s are rare, loyal creatures but often dont have a mate …

My real conflict is that there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to get it all done. If I take a 90 day summer contract I can drop 20K in the bank. On the other hand I’m constantly reminding myself that life can end at any given second, to not pursue the things that I’m so passionate about is like throwing away a million dollars, ie only a complete fucking moron would do that. I have my youth even if I am knocking at the crusty old gates of 50. I’m sexy AF, free as a bird and mainlining on it. Years ago I was doing an interview for a money magazine, they asked about me dropping out of college to pursue life, my short answer covered the rag. When I dropped out of college my friends mocked me, now they all work for me…

I live for the freedom, ride for the freedom, sail for the freedom
Die for the freedom, family of Cuba, all for the freedom
That’s why all the opportunities, me lo como, I eat ’em
Global dominance, known through all,
Seven continents I flirt with the earth
She loves when I whisper in her ear and pull up a skirt,
What a dirty girl

Ain’t gonna drown

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Love of mine, someday you will die, but I’ll be close behind; I’ll follow you into the dark. My fingers pluck at my little uke finding my voice. I’ve been working on sound tracks to play the rainy day away. It’s been an amazing week of television producers, interviews and finally bringing my little dink home. I have hundreds of sheets of music spread all over the boathouse trying to find the sounds of my story. I don’t care if it’s right or wrong, don’t try to understand. Let the devil take tomorrow, lord tonight I need a friend. Words are powerful but when you put them to song they can change the world. Way back when I was working with Quentin Tarantino he would always make his soundtrack before he started filming. I loved his enthusiasm, he was explosive, he was always like ” This is going to be huge!”. All these sounds, the pieces of the puzzle to the human heart. If you were a castle I’d be your moat, and if you were the ocean I’d learn to float.

My writing and photography has always come from the voices in my head. I just wanna stay in the sun where I find I know it’s hard sometimes. Pieces of piece in the suns piece of mind I know it’s hard sometimes. Yeah I think about the end just way too much but it’s fun to fantasize. On my enemies I wouldn’t wish who I was but it’s fun to fantasize. I drop a quick blurb in the electronic mail for a feature on a fellow tribe members blog… I’ve always preferred to sail small sailboats, close to the water with cozy interiors, smart rigs and simple layouts. Having spent the last 6 years exploring the Salish I’ve found my little 22′ Cutter to be the perfect gunkholer. Like most sailors my eyes are always on a bigger pond. I don’t want to sail around the world, I prefer to sail small regions and get to know them intimately over long periods of time. The Caribbean has always called to me with its history of pirates and buried treasure. The Bermuda Triangle both intrigues and frightens me at the same time. I still have much exploring here in the inside passage but I’m also exploring for a very slightly larger boat for my next journey which I hope to start in November.

I’ve pinned dozens of blue prints on the wall, Sookie, dissected from every angle, this little boat House. is full to the brim and it’s all good. I carefully tiptoe around the music searching, always searching. I’m the kind to sit up in his room, heart sick an’ eyes filled up with blue . I don’t know what you’ve done to me but I know this much is true. I wanna do bad things with you… not today, I don’t feel like working on the boat or riding my bike. I clean my mess, straighten my space and do yoga to the sounds of Ellie King and Gomez. I hear the crackling of tires coming towards me, the drive was asphalt at some point but now like all the lonely and forlorn boats it comes and goes to, it’s only a shadow of what it once was and could be. Mother Nature is crying in the yard of broken dreams.

I flip though Instagram, I have a super digital crush on an island girl, she doesn’t know I exist and it’s probably better that way, Ill silently let her fly away.. I want you we can bring it in the floor you’ve never danced like this before, we don’t talk about it. I look at my watch and it makes me smile, it’s shiny, sailors are like magpies, we’re all easily distracted by shiny shit. I try and remind myself to eat, I have a big party I have to go to tonight although I’m sure I’ll walk in the front and slip out the back, it’s my M/O. I don’t like crowds. Hello darkness my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again. I just don’t understand the point in being with a 100 people were it’s all so busy you can’t take or make the time for a one on one connection. I much prefer a dark corner, the flicker of a single candle and music that touches my soul. My fingers pluck at my strings, my voice whispers along. All around me are familiar faces, worn out places, worn out faces. Bright and early for their daily races, going nowhere, going nowhere. Their tears are filling up their glasses. No expression, no expression.

And just like that I’ve chosen my dirty dozen, I’ll play them all till my fingers bleed. I’ll know them all intimately, I’ll crawl inside them and curl up till the smallness envelops me. This is where and when I will start filming. I put in my ear buds to silence the world and let my ears guide my eyes though my soul. Holy water, wash me till there’s mud on my skin. Now I speak soft, to my demons. Cause sometimes I know there the only ones listen in. And in 40 days I’ll still be who I am. Cause the gristmill in my mind is just the tides rolling in and my playful imagination paints pictures in your head. But still I don’t know how to lie there naked in your bed.

She’s gotta have it

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They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Yes, this is my second Herrshoff dinghy, it’s called a Montgomery 6’8″ built by the same people who build the wonderful Nor’sea 27. That big shiny windlass, yep had one of those as well, piles and piles of chain, umhumph. None of it worked but that’s because I was in a different place with different needs. Passing on the windlass was more by accident than on purpose but I’m quite pleased with where it ended up. Chloe loved rowing around in the dingy but loading her up from anchor sucked Giant butt crack for both of us. Sookie has never had a windvane and honestly I’m 50/50 on whether this one will go in her or not. It’s all a delicate puzzle and each piece will determine my future in many ways.

I’m pretty committed to getting this boat done right or selling her period, and moving on. Done right is a pretty large word. Technically I don’t need any of these things, I can get by with hand pulling 100′ of chain or even 200′ in shallow water. I can live with a crap inflatable dinghy as well. I despise life rafts as they fail so often but also know that they offer great piece of mind. The new dinghy can serve multiple purposes and can be fixed anywhere in the world, on the beach, on the boat or on a dock. Still there is the fact that as of yet it doesn’t fit on deck and that’s a major problem. With so few boats to compare with, both the dink and Sookie there isn’t much of a base to run with. Being a single handed sailor also makes getting it on and off the boat a complete cluster. If I had a boat that could ship a proper dinghy the Fatty Knees 7′ would be my first choice but this awkward little tender tows like a dream until it gets snotty out.

She has no bow Padeye or oar locks, well I have them I just have to figure out where to put them. One little piece of trim needs a bit of attention but she is brand new, a Relic from a time long long ago when people enjoyed the slowness of rowing a dinghy away from a yacht so beautiful it would take your breath away every time.

The genius in all this is that I’ve just heard rumor that I may be laid off due to a winter closure. I’ve got a literal goldmine in parts and each one will be perfectly fitted or sold to pay for the next upgrade. If I wasn’t willing to go all in like this I wouldn’t have Sookie, my camera gear, bike, freedom, nothing, none of this. I’d rather be cash poor with a well functioning boat than rich with my boat chained to the dock. A good friend just mentioned that they are rationed to lentils all winter but their brand new set of Hasse sails will more than make up for the bleak winter, I made sure to stuff them to the gullet before we said our goodbyes.

The key is a good home and each of these ancient pieces of art will find their rightful place eventually. Over the summer some fat cat local I met up north made an insanely high cash offer on Sookie, I declined. I just couldn’t go through life knowing I had passed her off to some douche. I’m strange like that, a good home is very important to me and so one by one I’ll do my best to properly install each new item. Figuring out the wind-vane is the real top priority issue right now, I’m just having so much difficulty committing to screwing so many holes when I’m just not in love.

From the log of Sookie, wintersville. Everybody is going to want a ride on my dinghy, this I know is true…

Creative collateral

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In the last two two years… My ex girlfriend tried to sink my boat. My dog died. I was hit by a truck on bike tour. Hawaii law enforcement put a bounty on my head. I was run over by a boat, attacked by Bambi… the list is endless as are writing ops. I’m having midnight coffee with a friend talking about what it means to write and where it comes from and how far creative licence can be pushed. She belts out, it’s easy for you, you have cultural collateral. True I guess but I’ve deleted at least 6 domains without so much as a single data byte about where to find me. I don’t care about numbers, just quality of content. As a creative the need to destroy the past is always present and it’s fun to start with a blank canvas. Working on a boat project, I look over at my bosuns bag. The project is supposed to be the art but that bag just caught my eye, it speaks to me.. I picked up my old camera with my calloused leathery hands and pushed the shutter release one time. No this isn’t my art either, nor are the words I peck out on my old iPad.

Art comes in many forms, for me at least my art is in being and living true to myself. The reason I chose to start sharing this tiny perspective is something I’ve never really contemplated. My nights have been spent searching blogs and vlogs looking for something to entertain me while I bounce between dozens of projects most half started, some half finished. It seems that at least the content I can find is one of catering to the readers, or what they think the readers want. Huge amounts of effort go into making a fake story seem more real, more fun, more exciting. Bad actors is what comes to mind. Is it really that exciting? I tend to under share, it just feels better that way. I think I would feel like a prisoner if I was living my life for a bunch of people I don’t know, have never met and will never meet. I like my slow boring life, no I’ll more than likely never sail around the world. I won’t be flying to the moon or swashbuckling with pirates. The creative payoff is when I feel the shutter click and know I’ve nailed it in one shot. Pushing the publish button is more like sweeping out the shop at the end of the day so I can start fresh with a clean space in the morning.

It all started with midnight trip to the jacuzzi with a warm beer, then we decided to ding dong ditch my neighbor while we huddled down giggling in the bushes. Back in the boat shed we pulled out pencils and drew a map of a flat world with dragons and ships sailing off the edge of the earth. At dawn with the camp stove hissing in the background we tucked it into a bottle and threw it into the sea. If it’s ever found and it’s figured out that it’s a treasure map they will find a very special bounty. We used the backs of our spoons to draw on the smooth golden sand, sea birds our only witness, by now the sea has claimed our story. So how do I define creative collateral? For me it’s the tools I need to make my art, the boat, the bike, my cameras, iPad and all the little bits that help me to share the journey. The real art for me is all the little things that are happening while all this is going on. They way my camera fits perfectly into my hand. Being dry in a tempest because my foulies love me. Dry feet in comfy sea boots or often one soggy sock because I misjudged the depth of water dousing my warm dry sock. How it feels on a perfect reach an hour before sunset in 10 knots of wind. Clean sheets, a simple meal, finding our way safely out of the fog. The art is in the process, a snap shot can’t convey this, words can’t convey how calm the world feels at times, or how out of control. Art is the process nothing more, nothing less. the byproduct of the art is only as authentic as it is…

As I dive into the world of cinematography my still camera and single image format will be my biggest teacher.  Rather than a straight cut and paste of all the formulas out there that seem to be so common I hope to make up my own, after all this is my journey. Like the old saying, if you can’t explain it to a 5 year old you probably don’t understand it yourself.

“It is too difficult to think nobly when one thinks only of earning a living”         ~Jean Jacques Rousseau

Coming about

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Holy crap that was quick. I snapped out of it like being smacked across the face with a 2×4. Lists, lists, priorities, procedures.  I went through the whole boat preparing her for her when ever the hell she will launch.  Everything was devided into; before launch, after its warm enough to set up adhesives, in the water and wherever we may be. Eff not having a trailer, Eff the water-less, electicity-less boat yard and Eff winter. The dinghy isn’t coming anytime soon, not one truck on this island I can borrow.  Ok, get engine ready to launch.  Unsure about worth of windvane, ok figure that shit out and sell it if it’s ghetto. Still questioning worth of windlass which means I’m still questioning my sanity. And the little things, holy mother of nickel and dimming to death to my secret stash of F/U money.

Sure, yep, uh hump I’ve reached my breaking point on land, I just want to fall asleep nestled to the dock but all the leeward spaces are taken, no worries, we’re still on dry land. I cleaned and prepped my engine for its annual service which I’ll give it when I have a good no rain day.  It has exactly 5.43 hours on it and remarkably started to sputter and stall when I was heading towards the hydro lift to haul her, I had bigger fish to fry so once she was safely tucked in I wrapped her up and split.  Going through the WTF senereos of why this is happening I first check to make sure I had drained the carb, I always do this if I’m not using at least once a month, bone dry. next I checked the oil level, bingo. Who was the F-tard who over filled it???  Hummm, must have been me, another of the joys of being blind as a bat.  I’m sure that’s what it was.

Off to Chandlery to buy lower unit oil 🙁 everything but what I need, check lockers for engine oil, score :)+< I pulled both my bosuns bags which carry every tool I have used when I completely took this boat apart and put her back together so I know I have the proper tool for the job, any job.

Yummi, nothing like a clean, well oiled machine to work on, clean enough to eat off of. I grabbed all my boxes of fasteners and parts boxs and made my way back to the boat shed to make my lists of what I need for the rest of the week. Lots of people carry piles and piles of spares, I carry very few as there quite literally are almost none I could or ever would need. I do carry lots of things that tend to get dropped  overboard like fasteners and tools, the only thing I don’t have other than a kickass machette is a good wire cutter as I’m getting ready to do some new rigging this is on the list.

Armchair cruisers and in inexperienced sailors will tell you, you need a good wire cutter, although they always mistakenly say bolt cutter, there is a huge difference Incase your rig comes down to get it away form the boat. Tip of the day. I can walk around the boat and pull every rigging pin faster than superman can cut one shroud on a heaving deck. Tip 2 should that actually happen A) it’s all your fault and B) your gonna want that stick on deck if your planning on getting home.

It wasn’t all work though, A close inspection of all my fittings showed that all was well but a little polish is for sure in order. My now Almost 7 year old rigging is still in perfect order, I pulled one of the mechanical fittings and sure am glad I added internal sealant, the metal inside is as new as the day we spliced them all. I’ll never forget that day, I was paying $190.00 an hour for the crane and they kept trying to hurry me.  I stopped what I was doing and politely reminded them that unless their service was free I would take as much time as needed to do it right the first time.

The weather is perfect and I’m praying it stays that way, cold yes but not as cold as it’s been.  I postponed tearing apart the ceiling boards that line the hull of Sookies v-berth but that one is still high on my list as is making the whole boat upsidown proof. One of these days I’ll give a step by step guide on how to knock a boat down and keep it down.  My sailing friends thank that this impossible and that they will round up.  I can assure you that it is very possible if you fuck everything up just right.

If she doesn’t feel like a home she’s not but Sookie is dry and clean and all ready for me to move aboard for our short hops that will have me hauling her again, unloading and reloading repeat as necessary. A night job in Port Townsend would be my dream come true but I’m not broke yet, although I am doing my damdest job to ensure more endentured servitude in the very near future.

I just want to rip these tarps off but with no water to clean her they are reducing half the Moss growth that is a PNW winter nightmare.  I’m all alone in the lodge, I have the whole bar to myself. Sinatra is playing somewhere in the background. The lights are all dim, the smell of fresh Madron in the fire. My soul is burning brightly tonight and my only decision is to stay a few more hours or close up shop and head to the boathouse.

Chasing the Flying Dutchman

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There are 4 inherent properties that make money real. It has to be durable, transportable, divisible and fungible anything else is fiat, fake and doomed by history to end in disaster. The blue water cruising yacht is much the same. It must be able to keep the mast up, the rudder on, the water out and sustain life, any boat that doesn’t have all 4 of these characteristics is not a blue water cruiser and like fiat money is doomed to fail miserably. My new dinghy will arrive Thursday, the windlass is well on its way to be mounted on my bowsprit, I’m working on the windvane and today called to order 280′ of 5/16 G4, unfortunately they won’t deliver so I’m doing some head scratching. The main issue is that for this set up Sookie is two feet short, I’ve known this all alone hence my ongoing two foot itis.

Sookie can carry the weight and be unaffected, she can store provisions well beyond capacity. I’ve never felt cramped, even with two for very long periods of time. In my opinion she is the best damn boat in the world and the safest although that can be debated until the end of time. The last guy I entered into this debate with eventually had his 44′ custom built million dollar yacht sink out from under his feet in less than 3 minutes, his life raft didn’t deploy and all his abandon ship gear went to Dave Jones  Locker. Had he not had his massive power dingy trailing behind he would have lost not only his life but that of his crew, you can’t buy safety. Maybe I take safety at sea more seriously than most or it could just be that in a lifetime on the water I’ve seen the Darwin awards headed out in epic proportions.

I’ve never once not felt completely safe in Sookie although there have been many occasions that I simply would have rather not been in the conditions that I’ve been in. While all eyes have been on the Caribbean, I know full well how shit happens, especially when I’m involved in it. My plan B which is pretty damn secret is and it was up until today to race my friends to Hawaii May 2019, they are very important people me and well, quite frankly Sookie has a really nice ass and i figured there is no better way to start thier second circumnavigstion than staring at her ass for a few weeks. From there i would contuine on with her refit and be warm for once in my life. the logical part of my brain has me selling the boat and getting on with it. unfortunalty ive never been very good at logic and know that i would never get over selling this boat.

There is simply no way to describe how wonderful she handles the sea, its much like surfing where im close enough to the water to drag my fingers and be part of it all. I’m taking a week off with nothing but my metal tape, a sharp pencil and my boat book, this ride very well may be over. On the other hand it may not even have started. Yes first world problems but since I live in the first world they are all very and mine.

The duality of my life has been quite interesting, I’ve fallen deep into the bottle of depression but also knowing full well my mind body needed a full blown bender. Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system I can start my climb out, work my body a bit harder every day, spend more time doing bigger things. I woke today to total clarity, I’m still trying to quit smoking, have gone off the bottle cut way back on caffeine, no sugar, piles of organic yummy ness. Six weeks ago I felt like Adonis, now I feel like an avocado with twiggy limbs weeble wobbling my way through life. The tragedy of the fire is behind me, a bad shake and nothing more. I pick up my new fiberglass dinghy in a few days, when the time is right I’ll start to try and put the pieces of my puzzle together.

“People are afraid of themselves, of their own reality; their feelings most of all. People talk about how great love is, but that’s bullshit. Love hurts. Feelings are disturbing. People are taught that pain is evil and dangerous. How can they deal with love if they’re afraid to feel? Pain is meant to wake us up. People try to hide their pain. But they’re wrong. Pain is something to carry, like a radio. You feel your strength in the experience of pain. It’s all in how you carry it. That’s what matters. Pain is a feeling. Your feelings are a part of you. Your own reality. If you feel ashamed of them, and hide them, you’re letting society destroy your reality. You should stand up for your right to feel your pain.” ~Jim Morrison

Digital goddess

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Breaking point… I walk down to the shore to enjoy the purist treasure the island has to offer. I’ve traveled the world and I know of no place that has more beautiful sunsets than this little island.  My mood is dark and gloomy so I extract all the coler to match the way I fell inside. A battle is raging, I’m supposed to fly off to Maui in less than two weeks but I haven’t booked my ticket, packed a bag or committed fully to the color of sand i want to live with. Costa Rica and Bali are fighting for my excperince and I’m completely non commital. Dawn brings frost to my world, an eerie fog pulses and flows, the air has been so stagnant that strange droplets of water linger long enough that mold has started to grow on them.

There are times when I get so frustrated with lack of progress that I contemplate selling the boat and flying to England to find an old Vertue and dip my toes into the Atlantic.  I Have sailed most of both coasts I have to say the Atlantic is far more Pacific than the Pacific. I have Tortola weather on my my iPhone as that’s where I plan to swallow the hook, plug into a dock and spend each and every winter but those 83 degree balmy winds are so far eluding me. The humm of my little heater, the twang of haliards slapping in the boatyard and the occasional cry of an eagle soaring over my head.  I try and see though the eagles eyes always looking down, I need this perspective now more than ever.

I know this young couple, they left Canada a month ago and now are in the Bahamas on thier little sailboat, it’s all that close and that easy. I have to remind myself that most people would kill for the month of travel I just had. Now little more than a distant memory, it doesn’t even seem real anymore. There are no days of the week, no Fridays and no weekends.  When your free you don’t need these things. I spend an hour a day scanning the entire state of Florida for a nice little second floating home in my never ending quest for endless summer. Maybe I just need to step off a plane in Sarasota and see what happens.

I’ve cut myself off from Stormy savings bank. Pulling so much out with out putting any back in feels like I’m robbing myself of my future. My $300.00 budget for a go pro climbed to nearly 10k as I kept rationalizing little upgrades and formats, seriously I almost pushed the button when I caught myself and was like WTF are you doing.  I’m now using just my iPhone and have been having lots of fun learning the ins and outs of filming on my phone. It’s suprising how much power this little thing yields, I’m writing a letter to Kim Komondo for technical guidance. At the end of the day all I really want to do is make little shorts of the life less traveled. For now it’s me and my little pocket film studio while I wait to hear from my Digital Goddess

Creeper Van

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I’ve always wanted a creeper van, you know the kind, Hey! the seventies called and they want their van back. A plush velour interior in deep red, shaggy balls lining the tinted windows and my own DJ scratching bow chick bow wow! Nearly ten years into my boycott of cars and very happily I might add, I’ve put creeper van on the top of my list. Sookie at some point is going to need to be completely emptied and I need a ride to somewhere in Florida with all my crap.  Some people think that bitcoin is the way to go and I should mention if you got out at 16K swing by and I’ll buy you a celebratory beer. I on the other hand have decided to invest in Heavy metals and I’ve got a bloody fortune of uninstalled bronze from PTF. smooth shiny, Ummm paper weights at this point but they sure are shiny, purdy… 🙂

About the time I had carried the 60lb box exactly as far as I could I started to remember why I took the old one off, this thing is effing heavy. Just for fun I did a bit of research, I don’t know exactly how old this brand new hunk of bronze is but somewhere between the 60’s and 80’s.  adjusted for inflation from 1985 this puppy would come in at a hair under 6K today. The internal gears haven’t even been oiled yet. Huh, i wonder if they even need it.  It turns smooth as butter.

Nothing in this world is perfect and it came with an untapped set screw, easy enough to remedy.  Its also missing the chain cap and brake clutch but again PTF to the rescue and I even have a friend right next door with my old windlass to make the patters.

I’m still undecided if its even going on the boat but as I’m making her ready for the south pacific its all part of the game. I have zero intention of taking her to the south pacific. either way the insanity continues and this gem is honestly too beautiful to put on a boat.

I cant even imagine what it was like back in the 60’s and 70’s and 80’s walking around marine chandleries filled to the brim with quality fittings.  Modern boats seem so devoid of character with their fake wood and cheap stamped fittings. I trace my finger around this relic and am transported to a time when sailing was about the sea, not microwaves, triple over-sized anchors and a fully enclosed cockpit.  I guess I’m just feeling a bit nostalgic for my paper charts which are all coming off the boat tomorrow so I can put them in order and fill in the gaps.  I’m pretty sure I have every one all the way around Vancouver Island and surrounding areas except for the crossing from Nanaimo to Pender Harbor.

The gimbaled chicken

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I watched my dinner fly across the cabin with an explosion spattering everywhere. It looked like my little boat was bleeding internally, tired, hungry and defeated I kneeled down with my spoon and shared dinner with Chloe eating right off the cabin sole. Pasta sauce dripped down on me like amber rain and it wasn’t long before I was covered in thick goo, it must of been an appalling site but it was just the two of us. I must say, Chloe was the best crew I’ve ever had and did her best to clean every last spec within her reach and seriously risked a sprained tongue stretching at the higher morsels. It was at that time and space that I vowed I would never use a gimbaled stove at sea ever again.

Most of my friends like to make fun of me which is good because I tease to no end. On my end there is no shortage of ammunition. My stove-less boats, yes plural started the most recent lambaste. My biggest fear following water and high places is fire. Put fire on a boat, add a highly combustible element and I’m crippled with anxiety at all times. The very first thing I did on Sookie was to remove her stove, years later I bought it back and put it back in and then removed it again. I do my best not to cook when it’s rough and am more than happy with endless PB&j but without hot coffee a mutiny is close at arms. I’ve been happily using a $40.00 butane camp stove for over 10 years, fuel is cheap and can be found everywhere in the world. This little gem cooks hot and fast and is perfect for everything except cooking underway. its only real downfall is it feels like I’m smuggling 20 little pressurized bombs everywhere I go. I’ve had some pretty interesting experiences trying to make hot coffee, wedged and braced in Holding the pot with one hand and stove with the other while the boat lurched and rolled oblivious to my struggles. Chloe would always perch in the corner intently watching and waiting for what was sure to end in disaster, her sense of humor was a bit dry but she loved the shenanigans as much as I.

More than enough room to cook a feast and yes it was hot as hell.

Alone at sea we need these little distractions to keep the mind occupied. I’m not at sea today but I am in the middle of the ocean. If I had half a brain Id just buy a brand new propane stove with oven, I’ve budgeted for it but so far it is the loneliest envelope of all, its sits collecting dust while I spend my days making the easiest project the most difficult.  My latest plan was a simple Origo 3000 double burner alcohol stove.  I’ve one upped myself thinking I can install a non gimbaled single burner but for that I would have to make a cut out in my beautifully varnished counter. To add to the mix I have an idea for a simple fixed stove top that I could stand behind and not beside while under way with a removable bench at counter height. This is almost to genius to work and not that it matters at this point but would save 2k for the install. The reason I’ve done nothing as of yet is I’ve been searching the world for a Taylors paraffin stove. Still no luck but its how I found and purchased a brand new bronze windlass, It arrived today and I must say its quite a formidable piece of naval history.

With each small refinement living aboard becomes less like camping and more like yachting.  I continue to jump from piece to piece as I have the time and resources.  13 sunsets from now and the days will grow longer, warmer and closer to that thing we all refer to as living the dream.

The insignificance of time

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I was born and bred in Southern California, often referred to as the epicenter of the world. In my front yard the Pacific spanned in every direction as far as the eye could see. My back yard held the treasures of the San Gabriel mountain range. Some of the best terrain on the planet earth. I was big into skiing, backpacking, fly fishing, canyoneering and rock climbing but two loves outshined them all.

It’s like the old joke, a guy goes to see his doctor and says. I’m a wigwam I’m a teepee I’m a wigwam I’m a teepee. The doctor says relax, your two tents. My sheer passion for cycling and sailing would always rule the day, back then and now always fighting for my attention. Everything else was just a hobby, these, my passions are my lifestyle. The cameras I carry, the tools of the trade, food and clothing are merely for survival To live in the void is where I find peace but it’s dangerous being me. My vision has been trying to do me in my whole life. More often than not I’m lost, when I go down, I go down hard. It’s easy enough to get up, dust myself off and keep on keeping on but it’s like I’m always being chased by the devil. When you least expect it, expect it.

Today I rode my bike further than I have since I’ve been back with only a slight burning sensation. Now my lungs are stronger than my legs which have withered away due to my sedation. I’ve been laying in bed for 6 weeks straight, so long that I’m actually seeing a bald spot form on the back of my head. I try and fight the depression but it’s futile, so many hours of nothing. I went straight from having my fun meter pegged all day every day to lights out. The cold wet damp and dark days mirror my brain. Some days I forget to eat, others I simply don’t feel like it. This black whole is deep and I’m falling at terminal velocity.

I know if I could just put the boat in the water everything would be ok, but I can’t or I won’t… my ukulele hates me, I’m trying to find the sounds that I hear in my head. I’ve gone through more G strings than a stripper at Cruising Chubby’s but just can’t find my song. The bottle has taken over my life, I’m a hobo in Patagucci. I spend the day not looking though my eyes but watching down on my self, I am my own voyeur and I don’t like what I see. I know I can pull out but fear it will get worse before it gets better. Maybe my spirit animal is a bear, if I was a spirit bear I could just hibernate till spring. One hour of sunlight was pure as nectar, I could feel It soaking into my soul, it was almost warm today. I think of many things as I live in complete silence but mostly I think of the insignificance of time…

Pardey hardy

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If I had a dollar for every time I’ve accidentally referred to Sookie as Seraffyn I’d be a wealthy man. I spent 30 years of my youth chasing that boat always believing that she was meant to be both my master and servant while I held custodian duties on her. Eventually Sookie would be passed to me and from that point foreword Seraffyn took a back seat to my very good fortune.  They say Seraffyn is the boat that launched a thousand dreams and would always be the boat that got me to sell my Cal 40 and turn an eye towards prudent sailing. I’ve always referred to it as Pardey Hardy as while none of their boats were overly glamorous they were quite sophisticated in their simplicity. Put me in the left seat of a Gulfstream G550 and I want mission control at my fingertips. Sailing on the other hand when done right which it rarely is falls under the purist code. The code of the sailor, a skipper who needs no engine, or any form of electronics to find their way safely and quite comfortably from port to port.

Back in the day that’s all I ever wanted, a small wooden boat on a tiny tropical island, a thatched hut for when I needed to get off the water and a tiny life in my quiet world. I have all those things in the finer form of glass built yacht and a stick built hut, I just want them somewhere warm. I shouldn’t complain, we rarely get hurricanes up here although I’ve heard they are on the uptick as we head into a more cyclone induced weather pattern. I hear even Southern CA isn’t safe from the likely hood of seeing them, maybe this is what has kept me from sailing Sookie to the Caribbean for all these years. I found this little video, something about it, I don’t know. Her last words, she is just perfect.

I find it odd to be worrying about tropical storms when there is frost on the grass off my front porch but the Caribbean is a very big reality these days. I take a sip of coffee and look to the west, over the peninsula I can see San Juan island just a few short miles away. To the north even closer is Shaw, then Spiden, the haunted island and beyond that The Canadian gulf islands. These inland waters offer a protected waterway than spans nearly a thousand miles although you still should expect to get smacked around every once in a while. While Sookie is large enough to flatten the sea and shrink my world as she brings it to me at a whopping six knots, she is also small enough to plop on a trailer and make 55 mph Windward passages. Both my trailers have vanished into thin air but no matter, Sookie is still headed to Form Myers where I’ll prepare her for island hoping and gunk holing as I discover a different type of island living, the spice islands beckon.

Today was supposed to be windlass fitting day but somehow it ended up in Friday Harbor, it’s amazing how difficult the post office can be with something so simple as forewarding the package 4.8 Miles. Perhaps today will be better spent pulling tarps and preparing to remove the bowsprit, it’s a big job and one I look forward to and dread at the same time. One thing for sure it’s a formidable hunk of bronze.

Naked and afraid’

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I get a text and run out my door. It’s pouring rain, I’m wearing nothing but by purple kilt but I’m only going next door which is less than 50 feet away. This is pretty much the last thing I remember other than floating in mid air, my feet level with my head, time and motion frozen for one brief second. Things rush through my mind like damn this is going to hurt. I wonder if my head will split open like an egg, or will I break my back. I’m surprised at how many thoughts swirl around my head before I’m body slammed on the stairs. I’m soaking wet, muddy, everything hurts. That’s where it all went black. I’ve spent 42 of the last 48 hours laying motionless in my bed.

A bright light appears and pulls me from my coma, it’s the sun and the color of summer. It paints my walls with its light, the same bright orange as my bike. I’ve spent every conscious moment of the last two days stating at this thing. She was new in the picture above but now like me she is well used. I think about all the pictures I lost when my phone was stolen. I had actually written my masterpiece about humans and self preservation. We all like to think that in disasters that human beings will band together but i witnessed mass pandemonium, an every man for himself apocalypse play out before my very eyes and had dozens of images to prove it. The whole situation was surreal but my photojournalist background was stronger than my internal instinct to flee.

I can’t help bunt to wonder where I’d be right now. Had I been one day ahead I would have missed the whole thing. Chika is a work of art, sure pushing 3″ of rubber takes a bit more energy on road but that’s not what I built her for. When her fat tires enter Tera Firma it’s a whole different ball game, I don’t remember where I was when we fell into our groove with each other but I do remember exactly how it felt. It was one of my higher mileage days, I had found a beer for later and had my bags filled with snacks which meant we were unstoppable and free to ride in any direction for as long as we chose. It was hot as hell with a headwind. My forearms nestled in on the bars and I was tucked like a pro roady and matching their speeds. My body was as fit as I’ve ever been and loaded with fuel. It was one of those times when every single element was perfection. I climbed the hills like Lance Armstrong jacked on roids. The only thing I was jacked on was life.

Deep down I know I owe myself one more big ride before I ship Sookie to Florida. Maybe the Arctic, the continental divide has also crossed my mind as has putting on skinny tires and drop bars and riding to meet Sookie in the east. Either way she’s going with me. Years ago I went bikepacking in Puerto Rico and it was one of the most epic rides of my life. With her chunky fat tires Chika is a tropical paradise assault vehicle. Those slick muddy trials kicked my ass but it was the most beautiful riding I’ve ever done. I’m still in bed, still covered in mud patiently waiting for one of my girlfriends to show up for my sponge bath but what I really need is a good massage. It’s not just being laid up that’s making me feel like a caged animal, it’s working, having a schedule and sleeping indoors. The elements are calling to me, Mother Nature is quite the seductress.

” I Judge you unfortunate because you have never been unfortunate; you have passed through life without an antagonist; no one will know what you can do,-not even yourself.” Seneca

Enter title here

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I’ve been granted one wish and used it wisely.  I’m meeting the boatyard manager in the morning to figure out what to do with the beast of a boat that has been tormenting me to my very core. Kind gentle persistence has been the key so far, not just with this situation but with everything in my life. Well it happened 29 years of focus and dreaming, scrimping and saving and I landed an accepted offer on a BCC. I have to say it wasn’t as exciting as I thought it would be. The seller started reading through AOH and within the blink of an eye sent me a very apologetic letter asking me to back out of the deal and so it all came and went.

This is what if feels like living aboard a 22′ sailboat in the winter

The truth is I really wasn’t that disappointed, in fact it was a giant relief. I was instantly overwhelmed with the magnitude of owning such a large vessel so far away from where I am.  I mean shit Id need a semi truck just to move Sookies liquor supply. Being a two boat owner is a dream and a nightmare all at once.  When they say the costs of moving up are exponential, well that a is very misleading understatement and all this for the wrong boat.  They say that hindsight is 20 20 and now that all is said and done this is what I know.  There is only one BCC on the planet that I will ever own and she is currently much loved.  When her current owner is done with her many years from now Then I will move up.  its only fitting as he was the one who brought Sookie into my life.  I can easily wait another 10 years or more.  it isn’t a boat I’m looking for its a home with a soul. Today I was reminded of some very wise words by a young girl who sails a beautiful Hess 24. You never really own a yacht.  You are just maintaining it for the next person.

And so the universe has again taught me that not only is the best boat the one that you own but that with hard work and determination you can achieve anything in this world. There isn’t a single guest in my hotel tonight.  Sitting alone in silence I decide to do something I never do and that’s to read my own blog.  At first I’m embarrassed by the ramblings of a lunatic but in the end it makes me smile because it all makes sense. Do what you can, with what you have and give it freely to the world. The payoff for honesty and openness and exposing your insecurities is that you will find that no matter how isolated you are, you are never alone.  The world is filled with lunatics who love the spirit of adventure every bit as much as I do and one by one by sharing every part of me they will stumble across this humble little journal.  This water tribe spans the globe and is ever growing. a simple seed planted will yield the largest tree on earth, it just takes time…

The only thing that I have done that is not mitigated by luck, diminished by good fortune, is that I persisted, and other people gave up. ~Harrison Ford

Salty nomadness

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Last night I was in the verge of deleting this blog, selling all my media tools and falling off the face of the earth. Then it happened I got one of the nicest letters in the world reminding me while I may truly be hard aground that this story does matter and to more than just to me. Being trapped in the boatyard sucks butt, waiting sucks butt, all of this is shit. I’m not good at planning things I’m good at doing them. Honestly I don’t know how people do it, plan shit that is. I guess I just have a weak tolerance for waiting. It’s really starting to dig into my soul, having been trapped for so long and now that I’m free I can’t go anywhere.

Last year I took over 5000 pictures of Sookie, I often forget how closely tied I am to my camera but now those old images are all I have. I devour them zooming in on little areas I need to work on so I can study them intimately. I’ve been ordering parts solely based off these images and memory. If my metal guy comes through I’ll have the windvane finished by the end of the year and in case your not counting tomorrow is December 1st. I’m literally going mental on how to do this right. According to my current log I owe Sookie 40k in upgrades but have less than half of that in savings. A writer friend of mine keeps suggesting that I set off on a circumnavigation collecting and restoring Sookie along the way. She’s certainly sea worthy enough as she sits and comfy enough as she sits and ready and able. The thing is I don’t really have any desire to do it. It’s a lot of work and really expensive.

It has crossed my mind to bop down to So Cal for a year to get some work done but the trip north feels a Little depressing even with the vane to merely steer the whole way. It could be a good excuse to stop by Hawaii but it’s windy as hell there in early spring. No matter because I’m not going anywhere anytime soon. My little cabin has turned into a boat shop and I can’t decide which part comes in next, the rudder the bowsprit.

This thing is pretty straight foreword and should be easily installed. All the little threaded plastic parts are rotted and will be replaced with machined stainless parts, I think. I don’t even know what type of vane this is but they have been out of business for many years. I’ve been busy playing with each part and it really seems like the best my budget can provide for me. Strong, simple and hopefully reliable.

I scan though the web searching but can’t seem to find a clear image of the actual instillation of this thing. I had the same issues with my new stanchion installation but just made it up as I went and they are solid as a rock, the neat thing about the trim tab is that if I ever did install an auto pilot it steers the tab rather than the rudder and has a crazy low electric draw. The reason I’ve never added one of these is because while I do use the motor I despise it and the electric pilot is only necessary while under auxiliary so I intentionally torture myself to induce patience under sail. If you could get the average sailor to tell the truth I’d guess they motor more than every 7 of 10 hours, nothing wrong with this, just not my thing.

The head scratching continues as does the shit miserable weather. I work through each individual project and while the frustration with my stagnation continues I thank my lucky stars that at least I’m close to Sookie. Still no luck with the yard moving her or the boat who’s mast is in serious jeopardy of crushing her. If one of the only 4 remaining fittings fail my cruise is over right here in the boatyard.

Genie in a bottle

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The cold grey sky is a relief from those days where you can see the sun but can’t feel it on the only patch of bare skin winter knows. I pull a bottle, the sound of the cork screw twisting down the neck and then pop, I’m overwhelmed with the scent of pure nectar. The clink as the bottle touches my glass and the bouquet awakens my senses. I’ve worn my pencil to the nub, my finger tips are raw from sliding up and down my tiny fret board. I’ve done far to many sit ups and pushups. It’s warm in here and in my mind I’m sitting on a white sandy beach, the smell of coconut wafting through me, soft balmy tropical breeze gently blowing across my bare skin.

Out of desperation I succumb to the humiliating dehumanization of digital dating. 12 hours and thousands of profiles down I realize I’m not attracted to one of these people. So cut and paste, thousands of empty desperate souls. I may be desperate but my soul isn’t empty. I delete the whole thing and come to the realization that perhaps I’m meant to go though this life solo. Windy went to a good home, or at least one with right angles and a yard where she can safely be left alone all day, cold and lonely. Living on a boat makes me unworthy of rescuing a pup. I move on, the days roll into one another. Boat parts arrive daily but the weather isn’t cooperating. I’ve made a second request of the boat yard to either move Sookie of take the mast down, another shroud broke in the last storm. The mast swings around like a pendulum when the wind blows as the ladder hanging from it sways to and fro. I can hear it banging all night from my cabin.

Depression slips though the door so quietly it didn’t recognize at first. I have know-body to blame but myself. I am the judge, jury and executioner. I’ve made my choice to remain here and while I still don’t know why, I’m starting to resent myself. I’ve taken to this little bit of security in having gainful employment, food on my table and a place to call home. It’s this security that is like a small leak in the dam. The water slowly trickles out like my life’s units, with each growing day it will increase until the dam fails and my life’s units are all gone. I’ve become a slave to debt. Not personal debt, I have none of that but future debt. If I just work long enough to earn enough, to have enough, then it will be enough. But you know what? It never will be enough, not till I’m too old to use it and then too much won’t be enough because it will have no value when I can’t spend the years of toil buying the youth that was given to us for free. It’s like willingly trading a brand new free car for an old shitty one that barely runs and then spending 40 years to pay for it. That leaking dam will never be full but it does have enough water to reach the sea.

I lay on my bed, the blankets are warm and soft. Staring at the ceiling it’s too far away. The walls are too square and the windows too large. This isn’t a home it’s a house. I miss Sookie where I can touch everything from everywhere, warm wood, aged and full of character. The darkness is surrounding me, I pull out my phone and check the weather in Tortola, it’s 82 today and every day. It’s 85 in Pate’ete, I can’t help but to wonder which one is closer. I guess neither as long as Sookie is on dry land. I watch a giant fire ball as a comet crashes to earth and take another sip from my genie in a bottle…

Cape Horn

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I have friends in high places, low places and every place in-between. Each in our own way were doing what we can to the best of our ability’s with what we have.  One friend left Washington with $500.00 and managed to circumnavigate the entire Pacific Rim.  Another left San Francisco with a 10 year kitty and never made it past San Diego. My goals are humble, I just want to make it back north to Desolation Sound, easy enough in any boat.  For the most part I’ve had the Brakes on ever since I bought this boat.  I’ve been paying, and paying, and paying and no I wasn’t paying for the boat..  well. I’m officially free of my indentured servitude, we all get a bad roll of the dice every one in a while.

Just 2 years ago after returning from Hawaii I was so poor that while I had some food I couldn’t afford stove fuel so I pretty much lived off of cold beans right out of the can.  I went to the local coffee store asking for coffee grounds for my garden, I was too embarrassed to tell the truth. I would filter those old grounds through a cycling sock with warm water from the bathrooms, it was shit but I enjoyed it because its all I had. I was literally on the verge of starvation and even rented Sookie out as an Air B&B one night out of desperation. This went on and on but eventually I crawled out.  I knew the exact date I would be given my freedom so through little more than attrition I pulled though.  This has been going on for so many years I don’t want to think about. I could have built a custom BCC for what I have been pilfered of, its been my quiet secret for many years and now little more than a distant painful memory.

Freedom is something I’m having to reacquaint myself with. It feels so odd to earn money and get to keep it and yes, I’m feeling mighty wealthy these days but it isn’t the small infusion of financial freedom, its that the monkey has been lifted off my back.  I felt like I was carrying the weight of the world, shackled to the old ball and chain.  but now my toes barley touch the ground as I float through.  I have so many options and opportunites I honestly don’t know how to choose.  It was a shit rainy day so rather than spend it all freezing on Sookie I pulled out my Nav books for a little day dreaming.  I counted the miles from Washington non stop to Banderas Bay for a pit stop and then again straight around the Horn to the Amazon. We are having a mild El Nino which means not to many Hurricanes in the Pacific this year. With a little luck I could make it to the safety of Nicaragua with out being trounced by those nasty little wind beasts. Foolish thinking yes but that’s what fantasies are for.

I emailed a friend just for fun do you think its safe to sail Sookie around the Horn?  “absolutely”  Wanna go? HELL NO!!! I tucked my books back into their sleeve and pulled out my giant rolls of paper charts, time to end the fantasy and spend a bit of time on reality.  Winter in the boat yard is a miserable place to be but I guess its time for some long term maintenance. Its good to know our own limitations and even better when we can share them with all of those with all of those around us regardless of what our currents means add up to.  I found the video above and was so stoked to finally find someone I can relate to when it comes to boat size…

Around the world

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A friend of mine is trying to get answers out of me and why I’m spending so much time and money on a boat that’s already perfectly outfitted for the waters I sail in. He’s convinced I’m pushing out to sail around the world with Sookie. My answer is an unwavering no, I have no intentions of sailing out of the Salish Sea and yes I’m making her a 100% unstoppable blue water machine. By August she’ll have all new tan bark sails, a roller furling jib, 280′ of 5/16 G4 chain, a manual water maker, wind vane and a hard dinghy strapped on her cabin top. My new windlass and Herschoff dinghy will arrive within 2 weeks and I have the windvane in my hands and am currently rebuilding it.

It may just be temporary insanity but I want her ready for anything at anytime. I found this new windlass on eBay but it’s missing the brake clutch, a set screw and chain cap. I called Port Townsend foundry and they will make the missing parts for me. Sookie used to carry this same windlass and 200′ of 5/16 chain and it really made her sail like shit. I’m going to be cutting a hole in her foreword bulkhead so the chain can be pulled back to the base of her mast. I’ve never used this area and I think it will work really well and even add a bit of positive ballast to the boat. Its in the beamiest part of her hull so I’m hoping it will all work fine.

I also failed miserably with the hard dinghy on deck but if I can ever get Lefiell to return my call I’m ordering a new boom so I can finish my gallows. The main will be cut higher so I think I can raise the dinghy higher and be able to get in and out of the boat. When I decided on 1/4 inch wire which is a size up, I calculated that it only added 11lbs aloft and this seemed reasonable to me. There is also added windage but that is made up by dropping Hilliard size down a notch, everything on a small boat is a compromise.

I’m having a sea hood made which will hold a 50 watt solar panel and a second one will be mounted on my front hatch, that’s all she will carry so I’ll have to use what I can make wisely, lastly I’m still searching for LED lighting with a nice and very warm white. It’s been insanely fun around here with so much going on and I even was blessed with a visit from one of Sookies sisters although a peek from shore was all I got.

As usual, Sookie will continue on with no refrigeration and yes I’ve happily lived in the tropics without it. No AIS or any other forms of communication other than her little hand held vhf. I’m keeping her as simple as I can and ready to shove off to see the world with nothing more than a set of hands to untie her lines. Oh shit, I almost forgot to mention that Sookie has a new sister but I’ll dive into that one at a later date…

Tropically revolving storm

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Or TRS thats how we refer to a hurricane in the northern hemisphere. It’s called a cyclone or typhoon in the lower portion of the planet. Call it what you want but I’ve gone category 5 on Sookie. A little trigonometry and now I believe she is reasonably safe from the boat in front of me. Check that one off the list and don’t ask cause my lips are sealed. What about her rudder and thru hulls? Well let’s dive into that and my new wind vane which is really heavy.

I know lots of people who like I used to, dream of owning a Falmouth Cutter. Honestly if your not rich which I most certainly am not I wouldn’t recommend a boat like this. The only day I’ve ever been able to afford this boat was the day I wrote a check for her. The very next day the bottom started to fall out of the marine industry and I’ve been boat rich, boat poor ever since. The purchase price on these boats is nothing compared to the cost of a refit. If I could do it over it very well may have been cheaper to just have Cape George build me a new boat from scratch. The good news is I was well aware of what I was getting myself into. If I had a hundred grand i could easily and without a second thought drop it into this boat in one day and that’s not including any electronics or safety gear, just basic boat stuff.

Science is sexy and a huge amount of it went into sookie today. Sookie has three through hulls which in my opinion is three too many. My old Allegra 24 has zero and it was such a wonderful thing. I replaced her galley through hull one day before I launched her 6 years ago with a standard bronze mushroom head, not ideal but I was under the gun. Her two cockpit through hulls are of an undetermined age. None of them have thru hull bolted flanges. There is a right way and a wrong way to do everything, this is clearly the wrong way. My scientific method was to grab each one and very forcibly shake the shit out of it. They passed with flying colors and all the balls open and close with ease. I haven’t touched them once in 6 years as there is no reason to close any of them. My sink is center line so no matter how far over she heels, no water will back siphon, I’ve tests this theory to 90 degrees.

Next on my list was my pintle and gudgeons which will also be replaced at some point. I took crescent wench and closed it down on the stainless steel and then tried with a large amount of force to snap them. My failure to do so was a huge success. I wouldn’t sail to Hawaii with them but they appear to be safe and secure for now. I should add that there has never been and form of sacrificial metal attached to them. There is a high amount of speculation that electrolysis comes from the water. A friend of mine who is one of the most respected marine surveyors in the country says this is all Poppycock and that electrolysis comes from a poorly wired boat. He laughs every time he hears the term hot marina. Either way they are 30 years old and my magnifying glass didn’t show a milligram of pitting or micro cracks, nothing.

I finally pulled and inspected my wind vane that was purchased second hand off a Falmouth Cutter, it has sailed to Hawaii twice which is good that one of us knows the way. I’ve named it Chloe and she will always guide me though the night. It’s surprising robust and shouldn’t cost more than 400 bucks to rebuild. My biggest issue is attaching the trim tab to my foam core rudder. The rudders from Sam Morse tend to have de lam issues and most I’ve looked at have water intrusion, fixable but a major Job. Sookies rudder was build by the gentleman who finished her from a bare hull and deck and is strong and dry.

The big Rubiks cube is tying it all together. If I add bronze fitting it will lower my rudder one inch which means I need to raise my rudder insert in the checks one inch which means this all needs to be done before my next big trip or go without the wind vane which I really want. This decision has to be made before any holes are drilled in the rudder.

My preference was for the Mike Anderson style vain which is much more visually pleasing. It’s only fatal flaw is that it won’t work with a tiller pilot while under power but since I refuse to add an electric tiller pilot to Sookie that’s no big deal. Tiller pilots are for motoring and I find I tend to motor a lot less without one. My dream is to find a sailing partner who is up to the challenge of engineless sailing. I doubt she exists but it’s fun to dream.

Today was without a doubt the most headway I’ve had since returning. I’m starting to feel stronger and finding much more motivation. If I stay focused I can launch before the New Years. My new focus other than the vane is Sookies new cabin sole with stainless steel water tanks and finishing out her v-berth ceiling boards.

I had a beautiful swim tonight which along with the amazingly warm weather has really upped my motivation for an extended spring cruise before I haul her in Port Townsend to prepare her for shipping to Florida. My number one focus in life is to be anchored on the Bahamas by the end of November 2018 which I feel is a very attainable goal. For the first time in nearly 20 years I’m free of all obligations, in the right frame of mind and have the right boat for gunk holing around the Caribbean. On top of that while I may be on a seriously tight budget I am 100% debt free and more than willing to do shit jobs like cleaning boat bottoms and climbing peoples rigs if it keeps the kitty funded…

Mankini diary

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When I was 8 years old my parents pulled us out of school to do some traveling. We went everywhere and did everything. I remember dragging my huge pile of books through a dozen airports, then it happened. The morning cold and dark, still hours before sunrise, everything covered in frost. Hours later I would step off a plane and discover where my soul was born to be.

85 degrees and balmy, the wind blew through my hair, the water near the temperature of my blood and the color of my eyes. I explored the islands by water propelled by my fins with nothing but a dollar tucked into my little blue mankini just in case I got hungry. I discovered every beach, learned to climb and pic coconut and fell in love with island living. Sugar white sand followed me everywhere I went. Salted on my well tanned little butt cheeks, it covered my feet and squished through my toes, I wore more sand than clothes. That feeling of dried salt water on the skin has forever reminded me of those wonderful days of island living, the time in my life where I committed to spending the rest of my days on this planet exploring every inch of every island I could dig my bare toes into.

Somewhere on that journey I announced to my parents that I wouldn’t be returning home with them to the states. I would live off coconut and fish and sleep in a hammock till I could find an honest days pay for an honest days work. That I was going to dedicate my life to the sea and live simply and humbly in a fashion that respects the earth and all of its natural treasures. Well you can imagine how that went…

It’s thanksgiving today, I’m spending it alone by choice, fasting for 24 hours by choice and working on my body and my boat. The day will be spent in complete silence so I can be alone with my thoughts and travel through the memories of the one and only journey I’ve ever made. It started in the eyes of an innocent child and has continued as a never ending journey.

I have three heaters cranked in my little island cabin, I’m wearing nothing but my bare feet and mankini. When the sun goes down I’ll walk to the edge of the world and dive in signaling the end of my fast. My feast will be a giant salad with home made dressing and a bit of vegan chocolate for dessert. I have literally thousands of people swimming though my head and this is to wish each and every one of you all the world has to offer and a happy holidays. I hope you all find the time for a bit of quiet contemplation and thanks giving for the fortune this world has offered you.

Boatyard blues

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I hobble to the boat yard and let out a sigh of disgust.  Once again they have stolen the ladder I stole from them.  I need to get at my tools to do some tests on the fittings before I leave for Hawaii. I’m greeted with Christmas music when I walk into the bar, it isn’t even thanksgiving and it feels so alien. Two years ago in Maui my thanksgiving was spent on the beach with my adopted kitty Punani, the weather today is almost the same.  It got up to 65 and is incredibly balmy. Walking around the West Wing shirtless and barefoot while Christmas carols were playing was a bit surreal.  It was back then that I got the silly idea of sailing Sookie there to finish her projects uninterrupted with its year round perfect weather.

Winter seems to be a miss and I’m praying for one of our world famous no winter winters which is why I’m desperately close to splashing Sookie.  If there is a science to underwater metal performance I don’t know it but I’m in the middle of determining if they can take another year before replacement. I’m still going to carry all the parts with me but the instillation will have to wait, maybe. The seller of my first trailer has vanished without a trace. a friend sent me a link that was less than a day old for a trailer from a Falmouth Cutter less than 40 miles away. it had been used one time to get the boat home then blocked and tarped essentially a brand new trailer, that guy has vanished as well, which is a shame because it was $4,000.00 cheaper.

Its expected that whenever I get into a major financial undertaking that it wont take long for the money carousel to start swinging out of control. This doesn’t perplex me at all, I just keep jumping from place to place, the term finished when pertaining to a boat will Never be realized, still it encompasses all projects large and small. A lot of stuff bouncing around in my head. if my knee doesn’t get better soon Im going to cut it off and get a peg like Tristian Jones…

The saga of this wayward sailor continues. Nothing exciting, no complaints, just keep putting one foot forward and wait and see which wins out for the year between the bike and the boat.  Its good to have a plan B, now where did I hide that bottle of scotch.

We had to heave to a couple of days in gale force winds and seas, but the Falmouth Cutter
comes through once again…Two reefs in the main, lash the helm to lee slightly and go
below. The mainsail area is so far aft on the cutter that reefed way down and in high wind
and seas, it hasn’t the horse power to tack you through the wind. There is no need to back
the staysail to stay in the hove to attitude. Pardey’s rap in Serrafin’s Oriental Adventure and
The Self Sufficient Sailor on storm tactics and heaving to is very appropriate to the
Falmouth Cutter. On the trip from Hawaii to Puget Sound in May and June 1986, about
500 miles out from Cape Flattery, Washington we found ourselves in the true gale with
sustained winds above 40 knots and seas so high you wouldn’t believe me. I had to
heave to with storm trysail. The double reef was just too much and we were knocked down
a time or two before I wised up. I have a trysail on a separate track ready to hoist, but I
don’t like it! I let my sail maker, Kern talk me into it, but had to do over, I would put a 3rd reef
in the main and use that. It’s too much work getting the main furled and into the gallows, then
rigging and hoisting the try. Falmouth Cutter News

When… not if

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Timing is everything, for now and yes again I’m taking a step back from the BCC I don’t know how I’ll fit a life raft on this boat, or a BCC for that matter but I’ve decided I’m just not ready to move up in size. How the hell Im going fit a dinghy, life raft and ditch bag I don’t know but it will all sort itself out. Food and gear on the other hand I know will all tuck away just fine. I may have to resort to fishing and spear fishing but I’m going to avoid that until I have no choice. I continually remind myself that I have achieved every single goal in life I’ve set my sights on. I will have a BCC, it’s a matter of when, not if…

This is an old picture and the interior has been changed a bit but it gives an example of her size

I’ve made dozens of drawings and try as I might there is no better set up than I already have. Just a few little tweaks. When ever I get off my ass and buy a video camera I’ll make a basic tour inside and out and share all this nonsense in greater detail. I don’t have crew but I will. I do have to load 90 days of this and that for two. I also have to add a few niceties that sweeten the package. For lack of ability to do any other work on the boat my current focus is on the v-berth and a new real bed, with a black out/ privacy curtain ” I’m thinking Hawaiian flowers” and new sheets, pillows and big squishy blankets.

I just bought a brand new Herschoff 6’8″ dingy by Montgomery marine, I’m thinking about cutting a hole in the transom and mounting it on deck as a dinghy/dodger. Mostly I really just miss having a fine rowing dinghy. I have lots of ideas. A manual water maker and in reach will round out the ditch kit. No AIS, no Radar, no chart plotter. Paper charts my iPad and a small gps. It’s all a matter of how much time, money and space I’m willing to invest. I won’t live on land again unless I’m on the bike. the water is my home.

Ok I’m not an artist but this gives an idea of what I have to work with.

I love Sookies 5″x6″ mast compression post but it’s does take a huge amount of space.

The stem from deck to ballast has a 7″ laminate for massive collision strength and it also cleans up the interior very nicely. She is bow light but 6 cases of wine solves that one just fine.

Every inch of her interior under the deck has storage boxes for light stuff like clothes and tp and paper towels.

All her lockers are below the water line. Lyle Hess intentionally under ballasted this boat almost 700lbs to account for long term cruising. In his 50 year carrier, this was the only design he did that wasn’t based off somebody else’s needs. He designed the FC from the ground up for himself as a hypothetical if I was going to sail offshore with my wife what is the best boat I can come up with. He’s mentioned it a million times that it was his best design. I have to remind myself of this when I get frustrated by…

Yes she is small, very small, gigantically small but to date I just can’t find a boat that is better suited to my personal needs and current solution. Now all I need to do is get her to Cape George and blow every penny I have saved multiplied by many factors. With a little luck there will be a few new videos posted by spring.

Insomniac

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My eyes open and I’m wide awake, it’s pitch dark and I say a silent prayer twice, please let it be at least 6:00AM please, please PLEASE! I get up and turn on the light so I can find my glasses, it’s 2:38 DAMNIT! I spend two hours tossing and turning while my mind torments me. One cup of coffee down and I decide to walk to the water, ok hobble. It’s cold as hell, a lone car is coming towards me on the road I have to cross, is slows, swerves and then floors it screeching the tires as it speeds assay. What the hell? Oh shit, I realize I’m wearing a Shemagh to stay warm. I laugh out loud and re-tie it a little more appropriate for the simple minds of the islanders.

Sipping hot coffee from my thermos at the edge of the water it’s dark, really dark. I pull my Shemagh also known as a Keffiyeh or a Shesh a bit tighter and light a ciggi, I’m trying so hard to quit and failing at every turn. With all the advances in tech clothing this is still my go to 9 out of ten times. My smoke drifts across the bay and I drift back to the first time I was introduced to these wonderful Arabic treasures. It was almost exactly 30 years today. I had nothing but my camera bag, a pile of snickers and some film plus developer, fixer and a little metal bowl to process my story. Yes it gets freaking cold in the jungle.

I think about photography and how much it’s changed over the years, perhaps not as much as me but still. Back in the early eighties I had a small film camera and took it everywhere I went, we didn’t have Instagram or Facebook or even an answering machine for the one phone in the house. Still I documented every one of my trips of what would eventually become known as mountain biking. Just a few short years later we started carrying plywood boards up into the mountains, it would take hours of hard labor for a few precious minutes of fresh virgin powder. We had the first batch of what was then called snow surf boards and would shortly become just snowboards. A few years later ski slopes started letting them in but it would take another 30 years before backcountry skiing would become mainstream. I had a Better camera by this time and we stared setting up for the best shots and I started to write about the overnight trips we made into the back country. I was discovering a new passion and starting a new life as a dirtbag journalist. the mid 90’s I started bike touring when I was living in Hawaii. A road bike with drop bars and the biggest tires I could fit for all the janked roads. This would eventually lead to touring on a mountain bike and then by the late 90’s bikepacking with ultra light loads. Shortly after the millennium I went to a rigid single speed for a more indestructible ride and used the Tahoe back country as my training ground for bigger and more remote journeys. I remember sending my then wife to the bike shop to buy tubes for the 2.4 tires I had just found. At the time they were just released for down hill racers but I figured all that rubber would be a godsend on the trail and add a
Little suspension at the same time. The bike shop guys tried for 20 minutes to convince her that she couldn’t possibly be running 2.4’s. The norm back then was 1.75 and 2.1 was wide. Today the norm is 2.5 and the wide is a definition we have yet To define. Our loads were pared down to small daypacks and a stuff sac on the bars with a second under the seat, it was feral but got the job done.

It amazes me what advances in toys I’ve witnessed over the years and can’t help but to wonder if it was technology or the lack of it that fueled the fires inside of us. Boredom is the devils best friend. Back in my cabin I’d be crawling the walls if I wasn’t crippled. I pull out my tools and cleaning equipment and start to pamper Chika, she truly is a marvel of simplicity and while the quality of all of her components is much better, she is far simpler and more reliable than any bike I’ve ever owned. Maybe I need to switch back to single speed for my next bike tour. I wonder if anybody has ridden the Dalton HWY on a single speed plus bike.

I pull out my journal and start to ponder with my pen. There are so many of us out there with this collective thinking. I can’t help but to believe all these thoughts are connected as are we even if we only communicate on a subconscious level. We all have a tribe that we belong to. It’s through doing what we love that connects us although I guess it’s a little easier these days with social media, maybe technology isn’t such a bad thing…

Basic instinct

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Earth, fire, water, steel and wood, these basic elements of life are never out of arms reach. Each one of these can save your life and just as easily end it. Yet another injury, I don’t know if it’s a muscle or a tendon but I can barely stand up. Just below my knee on the bone in one tiny area. When I gently touch it a sensation of fire occurs. My health insurance was cancelled the day before I left on bike tour so now all my medical attention comes from a vet and she’s a damn fine one.

If I do have to operate on myself it won’t be the first time. My opioid receptors measure both pain and pleasure on the same scale so with a steady hand and a sharp knife, a bit of duct tape and a few tears of joy I’ll get through this one. The five consecutive days of low level trauma caused by the fire on the other hand doesn’t seem to be manageable. The only way I can describe it is as compared to being a war journalist. While nothing particularly bad is happening directly to you the potential is always present and inevitable. You don’t think about it or dwell on it but there is a small portion of your brain that is always aware of the situation and creates a form of stress. After the first day I was safe but I didn’t know it, for 5 straight days I could get no information, the color of the sky and how much ash it was raining was my only mode of forecasting.

I haven’t faced what I went though yet. Just like I did what I had to do to get though it I’m still just doing what I have to do. At no time did I sit down and actually think about what was going on. My body was operating on my most basic instinct, survival. Now safe and secure that basic instinct is again at defcon 5 ie fight or flight. I can’t get the divide out of my head. Those long days pushing towards what is only an imaginary border until you cross it which I never did. Every mile was made good with the starting line in mind which I wouldn’t reach till Mexico. There were many trying days out there where I wondered why hell I didn’t just fly and get on with it but I needed those days to get mentally and physically strong.

I don’t believe in bucket lists, I never make any firm plans, I just always seem to know where I’m going and while i most certainly know what’s in at least part of my immediate future I also know deep down that I need to complete a special ride, to start at point A and end at point B both dictated by me. This isn’t something I’m doing for bonus points or to have something to write about. It’s something that I am so passionate about that I lose a bit more sleep everyday, my mind is mainlining on the freedom I had on the open road and how quickly it all went away. For people who haven’t been on a long bicycle tour, or hiked the Pacific Crest trail, or made a pilgrimage to Tibet, or sailed vast tracks of open ocean, this feeling, this place is impossible to describe. I’ve done all of these things. Each journey in one way or another altered over the course to become something entirely different. You can’t focus on the end without robbing yourself of the journey. You simply live in the present, it’s something we were all born with but tragically most will go though life without experiencing, basic instinct… No this journey hasn’t ended, it’s barely even begun, I just need a better road map, some might call it a chart.

The shipping news

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I take it as a sign from the gods, the seller of my trailer has vanished off the face of the earth, I hope he is ok. I get another offer for sponsorship for the blog. I try to explain that nobody reads these words, they up the anti, I respectfully decline it. This is my journey, I don’t want to do it that way. I flip on the VHF, weather guesser says 30-50 knots, oh joy of joys.

Some days I go to the boat 10 times doing this and that, grabbing tools or a piece of wood or… others days I forget I even have a boat, winter is like that. I gave the boat yard guys huge tips when they hauled Sookie and requested she be put close to water and power, they gave me the best spot in the yard. As soon as I left they moved me to the exact spot I asked them not to. I’m right next to this dipshit who has half his rigging removed, one of his spreaders pulled, he hasn’t touched the boat in two years. A ladder hangs from the top of the mast swinging in the wind. If the 30 year old forstay goes the mast will fall straight back crushing a Sookies new boomkin and taffrail. I brought this to the yard managers attention three days ago, nothing. The mast flops and sways in the wind. It’s all my fault. If I hadn’t gone on bike tour I’d have 20k in my pocket, could have fixed all the little things and be shipping her east today. No regrets on my decision, just a little bummed how it all turned out.

I’m tired, maybe a day off is in order. Haliards clank and clink outside my cabin. The view of the bay is excellent but not like living aboard where I’m part of the view. I get a text from a friend, he is half way down the Baja peninsula surfing and fixing all the broken shit on his 50’ boat. I suspect he’s doing more surfing than fixing and it makes me smile.

Yesterday was rudder day but a snafu had me behind the bar all day serving hot food and cold drinks to hunters. I’m not really sure where you would hunt on such a small island but they are everywhere. My view from behind the bar is of Sookies empty slip, I’m closer than ever to just saying screw it and launching her, this is why I never get anything done, every year I flip out and splash her and the work gets pushed back, this is winter in the PNW

For a lack of anything better to do I sweep the pine needles off my deck, it’s cold outside, too windy to ride. I look across the bay, there is a boat on the beach. She is the loneliest most neglected boat in the world. Twice a year she goes aground on the rocks, a testament to her strength. All summer vagrants fought over her stealing her from each other but now it’s winter, nobody cares. I’ve fallen into a deep depression, I have to get out of here.

Sookies log sits untouched, blank pages waiting for my pen to touch clean white paper and fill in the void of my life. To record the passages of my youth before it’s gone…

The abyss

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The one mile ride to town leaves me winded, this is making me crazy but I focus on strengthening the parts of my body that I can. Early to bed early to rise blah, blab, blah. My mind is a torrent. It’s obvious I won’t be riding the Baja divide this year. All my attention is put to a few simple tasks, to be as strong as I can, to save as much as I can and to to focus on Sookie, where to start and how to utilize every aspect of winter and the confines of my tiny home.

It’s dark by 430 now, I’m a natural night owl and going to bed before 2:00 am has always been near impossible. That leaves 9:00 hours of silence, even just sipping on a glass of wine can turn into disaster in those dimensions. I force myself into a lights off by 10 and lay in bed tossing and turning for hours. My alarm gets set earlier each day. I’m pirating the cabin next door to glue up a custom laminate mattress for my v- berth. I’m still shopping foam and studying how to do this without the sewing looking like a blind person did it but I can make it for $2000.00 less than the locals want and that will pay for my new roller furling which I am 100% committed to.

My pedals turn slowly and methodically, natural power pure and simple. How to make sookie as self Sufficient as I can without destroying her clean lines feels like an impossibility. I watch a few videos of pacific crossings and these guys are bringing over a hundred gallons of auxiliary fuel, I don’t ever want to be that guy but I’m not planning on crossing any oceans on this boat. My amazon basket is full of video cameras, mics and sound recorders. A new laptop is on the list but I’m being cheap on this one. Rowing a $1500.00 laptop around is always a risk. I still can’t push the checkout button which tells me I haven’t found the best way, so I continue to study.

New lighting is still thwarting me, what size panel and where. I need to pull the ceiling boards lining the v-berth but not till Feb as the weather starts to settle, I only have so much space and don’t want to rip the boat apart all at one time. The boat needs to be in Port Townsend by March to beat the spring rush. The seller of my trailer has gone AWOL I’m skitso trying to make time for a spring cruise. The earlier I leave the further I can get. I won’t sail these waters from mid June to September, too many credit card boaters and charter boats crashing into everything and everyone.

I take a deep breath, my three hour shift starts in 5 hours, I’m out of food, laundry needs to be done. I really want to make a short video of sookie in and out, I need to find a second set of hands for the camera I’m afraid to commit to. Maybe I have time for one more cup of coffee and some more contemplation.

There are 168 hours in any given week, I spend 148 of those in total isolation, I’ve started talking to myself out loud. Maybe I do have what it takes to sail solo again, naw, not my thing. I fight cabin fever, sharpen my pencil often and move forward, slowly and deliberately. Each forward movement is a critical one, one missed step and I can fall into the abyss.

Sailing gurus

Below is part of a correspondence I received from Sookies previous owner. After sailing her for 13 years and truly taking magnificent care of her, he set off and sailed half way around the world on his Bristol Channel Cutter. He probably has more mixed experience between the two boats than any other person, although some day I hope to top that list.

Offshore, huh, in a Falmouth. I have had your boat in some pretty festive conditions and there was never any question of survivability in my mind. That said, here are some thoughts.

• Space. Space is a big issue with the Falmouth both for provisions and essential equipment. On the plus side you have all the space that the engine would normally occupy. I wouldn’t go offshore again, especially single handed, without a good quality life raft. Even on the BCC it is difficult to stow something that bulky. I carried a Honda 200i generator, which is a very handy item in many ways – where would you fit that, for example?

• Fuel bladder. Would rig a bladder to free up cockpit space of gas tank. Maybe you already have this set up.

• Rig. You must have a roller furling headsail IMO. Too dangerous to be up on the sprite dealing with the Jibtop or Yankee. And you need to be able to reef that headsail incrementally and quickly.

• Boat motion. Consider a 15 foot swell in decent wind. That means the top three to four feet is potentially cresting and breaking. When that hits the BCC off the aft quarter or abeam the boat launches so to speak. Not comfy. Often that motion will momentarily and drastically effect the boats coarse and hence sail trim. Problematic to auto-correct using the windvane or tiller pilot.

• Refrigeration. Not a issue, I guess, in northern climate. But Mexico or the tropics forget about it. That would be a serious drawback in my opinion. Obviously there are some good, affordable, electric coolers that could work.

• Electricity. Even keeping it very simple you need juice. I didn’t have the cash to set up a good solar panel array so we used the motor to charge which is a waste of engine hours. Also the Honda generator helped big time in this regard. I could get a half assed charge on the batteries as well as charge the iPad, phone, InReach, etc.

• Get a InReach. Worth it’s weight in gold. Seriously.

• Dodger. Even though the Falmouth is a dry boat a Dodger is necessary to keep water out of the cabin and to shelter the crew. Allows for bimini to be rigged on the gallows.

When we were in Mex we ran into these “kids” on the Falmouth Coconutz. It was completely set up. Sweet. And I thought to myself at the time; What a waste. So much cash for so many compromises. They just looked so cramped all the time. Keep in mind I love these boats.

I realize you have reservations about trailering the boat. But in my mind that is how a Falmouth really shines. With a trailer you can easily move the boat anywhere opening up sailing options that most people would never experience. As in tow it home from Mex. Or sail on Lake Tahoe. Or go to Maine for the Summer. You name it.

You know all of this shit, Bro. I know you do.

Wise words, every one of them from a guy
Who has slipped 20 years under his keel sailing these boats, but still… Sookie is my baby and I know how much she loves me.  Ahh sigh, it must be winter when all I can so is contemplate this size and scope of the universe.

PS add dodger to the list

Sailing La Vagabond

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The kids on sailing La Vagabond have literally ruined my life. Their cat an Outremer is an absolute masterpiece, the use of space is far beyond any cat design I’m aware of. I watch theirs and many other sailing videos to pass the long lonely nights of winter and fall deeper and deeper in love with all aspects of this modern ship. Coming from a serious traditionalist and small boat sailor this is a huge alteration in thoughts.

I’m blessed to be surrounded by dozens of blue water sailors with a combined bagillion sea miles. It’s always fun when we gather around the bottle for sea talk. Sometimes we talk about the weirdness of the sea like when a whale completely lifted a friends Crealock 37 from the sea. Another was tormented by a pod of pilot whales who kept false charging him. If your unaware no glass boat will survive being rammed by a pilot whale. Usually though we talk about sail configurations, navigation, ground tackle systems and boat designs, we all do it very differently and each in our own way has perfected the lot.

This summer when I got to sail a giant cat I was smitten with every single aspect. Sailing Sookie is like being on a magic carpet ride, that big cat was like having our own island. It made electricity from the sun, water from the sea and had multiple hot showers. The indoor helm station was insane. I felt more like I was piloting the space shuttle than sailing this rocket ship. We circumnavigated San Juan island and in the straits I got to sail her in lots of wind and water, I don’t know how to describe the level of comfort we were experiencing, it was just pure magic. I swear I’d sail one of those things everywhere.

Yes a cool mil will get one of these dream ships, hell they look fast just Sitting at the dock. Far out of my range I know, way more than I’d want to sail solo which I very reluctantly do, I just get lonely and quite frankly bored when I’m not able to share the sail.

Back to all my blue water buddies, when the talk of a potential voyage to the South Pacific comes up and I can assure you it’s only talk… they think I’m insane. The BCC displaces twice that of the FC but is still only 28’ long and 14,000 lbs, a mere spec on the sea yet triple the size of Sookie by comparison. None of this matters as my only current plans are for gunk holing and tripping around the inside passage. Easy sailing, amazingly protected Anchorage’s and an endless supply of coastline to explore, but still… those far off distant lands continue to call my name. Yes they have ruined my life and I will eternally hate them for it 😉
PS, I love you guys 🙂

Needs got nothing to do with it

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A steel tape, sharpened pencil, my sketchbook and a pile of cardboard to mock up small changes and the possible instillation for a wood burning stove. This is how my week started and how it will end. The night was spent shopping drones and I’m pretty smitten with the Karma drone why a drone? Why not!

When the economy tanked I spilt to go do a bit of sailing leaving Sookies refit on hold. It’s finally time to get back at it. Half will be done by me and half will be done by Cape George who is building the Falmouths. A quick scan on Yacht World showed 2 for sale and man the prices on these things have really dropped which is a bit surprising to me. It’s clear I won’t get my money back from the refit but with sailboats it’s never about the money, it’s about the experience.

She is perfectly fine as she is but all the little things will be done once and for all. The most exciting part will be a new water tank under her cabin sole which will be replaced with bare teak floor boards. There is also a useless space in her aft bilge where I could add an additional 15 gallons glassed over and move her two group 31 batteries foreword about three feet. Currently they are built into a shelf under the the aft end of the cockpit footwell. Sookie could roll 360 degrees and these things won’t move an inch or take a single drop of water. On a small boat every single inch must be given careful consideration.

For fun I’ve decided to add 285’ of 5/16 grade 4 chain which will be stored in the empty cavity at the base of her mast. This and the water tanks will add an effective 600 pounds of ballast as all the weight will be placed centerline directly on top of her 2500 pound lead keel. If the balance is off I’ll slowly remove sections of chain till I find a perfect balance. I have no idea how I’ll actually pull the chain off the bottom.

As much as I love my Rocna I’m in the process of writing Spade anchors a letter to see if they will make me a 25 pound anchor so I can do a proper review of the spades performance vs the Rocna It’s a widely held belief that the spade is the best all around anchor on the market. I’ll post my letter and response her. It should be pretty interesting as I have a way with words for companies that piss me off.

When entering into a major refit like this a serious amount of time and planing should be put into the actual costs and the cost verse value of each addition. The one thing I know is that other than Sookie there are only two boats on the planet earth that I would consider, the 26’ Falmouth Cutter and the 28’ Bristol Channel Cutter. There were only 9 of the 26’s produced in Fiberglass and I’ve yet to find a 28 that I can obtain. Rather than waste my time with budgets I’ve decided there will be no limit. She will get the best and I’ll continue till I’m satisfied.

If I can finish her steering before April 15th we’ll go on a quick 75 day voyage north and then straight to Port Townsend which will be her new home base. For now it’s lots of measuring and cutting of templates. I’m moving incredibly slowly on each new purchase making sure I’ve found the perfect solution to each modification. Sookie has always been a proper home, she just needs a bit of spit and polish.

Depression

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A huge low is forming off the coast. Sky is grey, raindrops hang in the balance not quite ready to form as it patiently waits for its constant companion the wind. A gale is brewing out there, perhaps one is brewing in here are well. How the hell do people live on land, it doesn’t move right.
My grandfather was 16 when he lost his farm during the Great Depression. One of the many things I learned from him is that you can always make do, no matter how little you have to work with.

My one year with nothing but a “35” 50mm EQ lens is coming to an end. For me nothing ruins my creativity faster than a zoom. I prefer to shut my brain off and let my half blind eye do the painting. I’ve been spoiled by its super fast aperture and light weight. I’m thinking of adding 17 or 18. It’s a fine line when going wide not to distort reality. I have neither the budget nor the desire to go full frame. In my opinion the little D7200 is a true workhorse and one of the best cameras Nikon has ever come out with. My primary function is photography, an online network keeps me in at least one portrait session a month which is about as much as I can take. Spontaneous candids is where my creative soul is centered.

None of this matters as both my iPad and camera are lost in the mail but they will return soon enough. For now I’ll have to remember the lessons grandfather taught me and this old iPhone can get it done well enough for now. The universe keeps teaching me to think differently but my mind is stubborn. I have my new boots rated to -40, three down jackets, 2 scarves, my follies and a pile of wool expedition weight socks. I’ll still be cold but I just can’t take the indoors.

The price on the trailer is very reasonable but shipping it here nearly doubles it. Shipping east will triple the cost but I’m desperate for change, desperate to make progress on the boat and more or less just desperate. I have it too easy here and that is never a good thing. Last night I pulled an OCD research all nighter, made more lists, added and subtracted zeros. I’m not any closer to anywhere but it kept my mind at bay.

I few checks arrived in the mail, I put them into a pile, for once money isn’t the problem, it’s time and distance. The sun is almost ready to rise, my coffee is as dark as my mood. Stolen dance by milky chance pops up, I crank my speaker and muppet out letting the beat drown my soul with hope. I remember back to when I was cast as a 70s disco dancer in Austin Powers. I love auditions, you get to completely let loose. There was no chance I wouldn’t be cast, not because I’m a good dancer, I’m not. I got the roll because of my constant ability to let loose if everything and dive into the moment.

I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free. ~Michelangelo

The opposite of normal

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Just like a skier can’t ski without Snow and a surfer can’t surf without waves a sailor can’t sail without wind. Of corse there is always wind, you just have to be a good navigator to find it. My wind is in my journeys but shackled in the boat yard I feel as lost at sea as a sailor could ever become. Winter came and left. The temps are hovering at the exact temperature where I literally can’t get anything done. I don’t think I’ve ever felt this caged in my life.

The long lonely nights completely isolated, no internet, no little projects to work on, nothing. To many days like this and I fear I’ll turn to the bottle. There was a time when my videos filed the lists on YouTube, I pulled them all because my story was missing something and I had to find the proper recipe. Years have slipped by, when I don’t have the proper ingredients I just jump on the bike and take a break. I don’t know why but now I feel ready to dive back in and make some sailing videos, now that I’m in the boatyard. Now that it’s winter now that…

No matter how I chalk it up the next 2-3 months are going to be very slow and tough ones. While I try and put it all together it’s time to start shopping computers and filming gear. Any tips would be greatly appreciated. What ever I choose it has to be charged by my ships batteries so that’s also a consideration as is the right minimalist gear. Easy to use, tough as nails and smallish and lightish. All I have no is an iPad and a Nikon D7200 with a 35mm 1.8. Last year I decided to go a whole year with just this lens and it has changed how I look at photography.

If you know any links that will help. Have experience on what gear to use, or even charging tips I’ve worked hard and saved to pay for this next chapter I’m just not sure where to start. It seems all the videos out there use the same boring cut and paste style. My desired format is simple 8 minute clips, nothing more. To create the exact opposite of what is out there now.

On my last journey for some strange reason 90% of what I shot came out as sound bites only. I just put together a bunch or raw footage when I returned from that voyage before I left the boat. I posted this two years ago as not to impress but just as a few raw files to share a small piece of that journey.

Although I Write Screenplays, I Don’t Think I’m a Good Writer.
– George Lucas

Gudgeon diary

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Gudgeons, that’s the girlie parts in case you are wondering, pintles are the boys parts, it all makes sense now right? The boy part goes inside the girl part and they fit together perfectly, sailing is sexy. The very first time I saw Sookie, back then she had no name, this was a big red flag. Well shit, those aren’t going to work., thought to myself. I had looked at and sailed many Falmouth Cutters and up until this point none of them sang to me. Sookie was different, she was exactly what I was looking for. Now six years later they are really starting to cause concern. Before I can install my new wind vane I need to re engineer these things. My quote for bronze from Port Townsend Foundry was $1200 back then, now it’s above $1600.

My options are to remove and re fabricate what I have, maybe $600-1000 bucks. To install the bronze ones that I prefer will be a little more. On top of the P&Gs I will need to fill 24 holes, drill 24 new ones. Have new rudder cheeks made and cut three slots out of the rudder so I can move it closer Inboard. Oh and fill that damn prop cut out cha Ching. My overly optimistic mind says 6k no problem. Of corse I can’t get that shit done on this island and while I’ve done some pretty extensive fiberglass work in the past my finish work leaves something to be desired. When I say something I really mean everything.

That’s ok just write a check and while I’m at it I can finally strip her bottom and install her new thru hulls, I can do that for myself for $2500 bucks. Yep they call it yachting for a reason. You see all those boats held together by a shoe string and this is why, yachting is damn expensive.

I’ve actually found a trailer for sale and it’s a perfect fit. It’s 1000 miles away and I don’t know the price yet but the stars are surely starting to align. I’ve calculated my total minimum at about 25k I think I can do that by August if the wheel of fortune keeps rolling for me. That isn’t anything fancy, just stuff to bring her back to date. I know a guy that just spent pennies under a million bucks refitting his 10 year old 50 footer. All of the sudden sookies relative small size is starting to look pretty ok. So that’s this years work load. Next years will be much more fun and with a little luck it will all happen in Florida 🙂 It may sound like a lot but I knew exactly what I was getting into when I took over stewardship of a boat that has less than 25 sisters floating about the world.

Holy water

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Serval years ago I received a letter from Roger Olsen saying “I’m not sure you are aware but the FC is my favorite of all boats.” I first met Roger in San Diego when I was working as a delivery skipper and forming some pretty firm observations when it comes to boat size and design. After sailing his home finished BCC across the pacific he sold her and bought The Sam Morse Co. it was Lyle Hess who designed the boats, Sam who started one off semi custom production but Roger who refined them into what they became. I could have never imagined way back then that I was talking to the man who had just laid up what would some day be my home and dream boat.

My keel would see many more miles before I would fully realize and appreciate how much I love and am suited to small boats. Having said that the battle is growing. I’ve never been close enough or in the right frame of mind to shop life rafts. For the better part of my sailing career I detested them and all other forms of abandon ship at sea devices. I always figured self rescue is the proper form of seamanship and I still do but on a small boat I simply can’t fit a hard dinghy that could be sailed on in a disaster.

The dimensions of even the smallest life-rafts simply won’t fit anywhere board, not even the smaller aviation ones. It’s a fact that Sookie was built stronger than any other FC and a smidge lighter but still… The hulls coming out of Sam Morse were considered to set the industry standard by which all other boats were compared. On a cloudy day off the Aleutian Islands a BCC sank less than three minutes after a collision with an unknown object. The go pro was running, a very slight shudder was all the could be seen and then nothing but water surrounded the men in their life raft.

No boat is bullet proof. A friend recently sailed to Hawaii and among other things he saw a 25’ propane tank and flipped over 30’ powerboat. Shit happens and now as my beard turns a bit salt and pepper the arrogance and invincibly of youth has me pondering when enough is enough and how prepared can I really make a 22’ sailboat. It isn’t weather I’m worried about, it’s all those things that go bump in the night and the fact that no matter how prepared I ever am, the universe always has one more wild card for me.

As much as I detest the thought I’m coming to terms with either stepping up to a BCC or setting off after a long talk with my family that I may be going down with the ship should a disaster strike. Explaining anything about the ocean to people who haven’t lived on it is nearly impossible. It’s that or swallow the hook and sail locally and be cold for the rest of my life. Nothing pisses me off more than people sailing around On unfit boats knowing a mayday call can save them. My little cutter is as strong as they get, well maintained and capable but my mind is torn. There is a very fine line between adventure and disaster.

Roger stated that the FC was his favorite boat, Lyle Hess said it was the design he was most proud of and the one he would want to take to sea. Fernec Mate called it one of the worlds finest sailboats but the three of them together didn’t have half the miles on one that I do. So back to the drawing board and the constant challenge of putting a 10 pound parcel into a 2 pound sac. I know I can do it, I just haven’t learned how yet…

The story goes that “Thomas Edison failed more than 1,000 times when
trying to create the light bulb”. When asked about it,
Edison allegedly said, “I have not failed 1,000 times. I have
successfully discovered 1,000 ways to NOT make a light bulb.

Emily

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I could hear the water rushing by the hull, gurgling and bubbling. Hot, humid but somehow impossibly perfect. Somewhere out there on my dream ship. It felt strange almost as if it weren’t real. Suddenly I woke from this dream. Lost in a square bed, in a square house in a square life. Then it happened her name popped into my mind Emily…

 

I hadn’t heard of or thought about her in years, she just had sort of fallen off the map. Did she swallow the hook? Sink? Captured by pirates? No maybe she moved into a grass hut to take a break. Last I’d heard of her was years ago. A friend was anchored next to her on Papua New Guinea. He had long since finished his pacific circumnavigation.

It’s still pitch dark out but now I’m wide awake. I quick google search and I found her alive and well. I pause and wonder why some sailors succeed in cutting the lines while others fail. How some people sail on and on often penniless while others who are handed the world can’t seem to keep the ship rolling.

I put on my head lamp and pour a cup of coffee, walk through the dark to find Sookie, this place is creepy after the sun goes down, a graveyard for lonely and forlorn boats. I walk around her and then climb up into her crooked cabin. The boatyard had safely nestled her right beside water and power. As soon as I left they moved her. She is bow down with a 3 degree list, it’s so in natural.

I flip though my log book, no regrets but if I could do it over again I would of left her in CA where it’s always warm, she’d be done by now. Up here you get one of two choices. Spend the season sailing or work on the boat. Covered and heated sheds are few and far between in this region. I could have just stayed at work and payed somebody to do all the things I need done, I’ll still end up paying for some of them.

Is this an island paradise I’m living in or a spiraling vortex of non productivity. There are few young people here, no jobs, very little way to earn anything unless you want to squirm though crawl ways under people’s houses cleaning rat shit. But still… endless summer is close, a bit closer each year.

If I could just sail 75 days each spring. Work the summer and ride the fall. That leaves 3 months a year for drifting about somewhere warm, maybe just my daypack and a hammock. I’m so close yet so far away from it all. The constant grey is nice but those cold blue sky’s we’ve been having eat away at my soul. I have it good here, too good. Some days I feel like a frog in a pot of slowly heating water.

Back in my cubicle I surf the web looking for anyone out there sailing on a budget. Seems everybody has swallowed their anchor. My mind needs feeding so I pull out a book but it bores me. I put on the radio, nothing but static. Down to the restaurant for a hot breakfast but I stop dead at the door, I can’t afford this if I’m going to escape. Back in my little kitchen chopping garlic and cheese for a breakfast burrito I think about Emily. I guess we all have our reasons for pulling the plug…

Somewhere in the middle

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Ten years ago me and my bat shit crazy ex wife, girlfriend at the time got a wild hair up our collective asses to drive to Alaska and build an off grid cabin. We were well on our way when we pulled into a little town I had never heard of to buy gas. Before the sun set that day I had accidentally purchased a sailboat and become a resident of Bellingham Wa. Flat broke and with winter bearing down fast I needed to find work.

Day one as a yacht broker I walked into the door to a flustered office, seems one of their sailboats threw its transmission in a place called Friday Harbor. I had never heard of that place either but offered to sail it back. 20 minutes later my small plane was climbing out over a very boisterous Bellingham Bay. Seeing the islands I had never heard of from 1000’ aloft blew my mind. So many little nooks and crannies to explore. I had a great day on the water, learned about the psycho tides that were never mentioned to me and fell as deeply in love as a human can with this region.

It was on the long challenging sail back that I decided I would sail my boat to Alaska at any cost. Now single with a different boat and minus the love of my life, Chloe I still haven’t made it north of the Discovery Islands. The set backs have been many and often, I just pick up the pieces and keep plodding foreword nose always to the ground. Setting sail from Bellingham without a penny to my name was the smartest thing I have ever done. Now again with my back to the wall I think I have exactly enough to get the boat. Somewhere between Port Townsend and Florida. My only question is blue Caribbean waters or snow capped mountains…

The very first thing I did when I got back on Island was take everything out of storage and put it back on the boat. As usual the amazingly warm weather sidetracked me and the thru hulls didn’t get ordered in time to beat the wether. Then it got really cold so I unpacked the whole boat, and then repacked and…

Today was even less productive than my packing escapades. Finding a solid three axel trailer isn’t an easy task. Studying, measuring and remeasuring I’m determined to build one if I have to but now timing has me playing the mental packing games over and over in my head. The sailing season with a good heater is a full six months up here, 9 if you push it but certainly not 12. Moving the boat to Ventura would see all the little things that add up done once and for all but as much as I love the Channel Islands they are pretty damn boring compared to the Salish.

I love the challenges this place serves on a near daily basis but the cold is going to kill me, hell Im freezing here in July. I just sucked it up and ordered boots rated to -30 but they still won’t keep me warm. My first ride in the snow almost claimed all my digits to frostbite, yes it’s going to be a long cold winter. No I’m not putting sookie in the water till her bottom side is done. Yes I want to ship her to Cape George Yachts and blow my life savings on her. Yes and no I’m shipping the boat to Southern California. Why yes and no? Because if I find a trailer I’m shipping her to Florida and sailing her somewhere warm so I can haul her out and do her right.

My work who is also my landlord has kyboshed Windy and time is of the essence so I have to figure this all out fast or let go. I’m not good at doing anything fast or letting go. My mind is a pretzel but it makes sense. I worked a whole year for my ride, timed it to be back here in the spring and left enough money buried in the Forrest to pay for a summer of sailing. Now I feel like I have nothing, or nothing to lose.

Tayana 37

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The email reads, if you had to chose a boat any boat around thirty five feet for cruising. Anything not designed by Lyle Hess what would it be, price cap 100k. Without giving it any thought, I replied Tayana 37. My first question was if you have a 100k burning a hole in your pocket why wouldn’t you buy a BCC. Back and forth we go, I’ve spent days racking my brain, this is an unbelievably difficult task as there are so many deal breakers.

I love boats like the Bristol 32 and Seafarer 31 but both have iron keels as does the Mason 33. Wetsnails would top the list but tend to be used hard as they were built for and in need of much love and a big checkbook to make them smart. They are also fast, have nice wide decks and delicious interiors.

Quality and integrity of both design and construction. They must be easy on the eyes and sail exceptionally well. Things like cored hulls, balsa decks and inboard chain plates are personal dealbreakers as are wheels and poorly laid out decks. As much as I love the lines of the older boats in production in the late 60’s and early 70’s I’m partial to newer builds with all wood interiors. Boats like the 33 Hans Christian may top this list but 30 year old teak on a balsa cored decks are a disaster.

The dumbest thing I ever did was turn down a Baba 30 that I was very familiar with and she was near perfect other than her rounded cockpit which makes it hard to nestle in on long watches, this drops the old Pacific Seacraft 31 off the list as well. While I’m bashing teak decks I should add that too much wood on any boat will make you a Slave to paper and brush.

Simple, strong, tall rigs. For a cruising boat I want to add 10’ to the mast, not subtract. I prefer cutter rigs with real bowsprits but a powerful sloop will do fine for me. I think the Crealock 31 is as close to perfection as one can get minus the ugly bow. He was brilliant when he stole the interior design from Fred Bingham, too bad he didn’t study the hull lines a bit more as the Crealock could have become a heart breaker like the Cape George 31 which would be at the top of the list if it wasn’t for a wood deck which is solid and beautiful but tend to leak at the joint in the older ones that fall in this price range.

It’s been a very interesting few days as every boat I scrutinized had at least three deal breakers while I’ve yet to find a single one in the designs by Lyle Hess although price may sink the cruise they hold their value insanely well. In a day and age where the average joe spends upwards of a grand for a cell phone, pays 5 bucks for a cup of coffee and doesn’t flinch at dropping 50-100 bucks on dinner and drives a 50k car… well reasonable boats seem to be a bargain no matter how you slice it. Below is a copy of the last letter I sent.

My 2 cents which is all it’s worth is that you buy an old Dana 24 for 40k drop another 20k in simple upgrades like stout rigging and ground tackle and a new suit of sails. For 60k you will have a great boat that’s near perfect and a pocket full of money that will easily last three years living quite well. If your still out there after three years you’ll have figured out a way to continue. Should it turn out that the reality wasn’t quite as sweet as the dream you can get almost all of your money back in short order.
PS please start a blog because you will be one of the few out there living and writing about a dream that is attainable to everyone from CEO’s to the French fry guy at Mc Donald’s. Cheers.

The eye of the storm

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I write to serve, not to impress; it’s the same way I live my life. Simple, humble and always to the point. I drink the water everywhere I go, I’m sure I have more parasites than capital hill. All I can Say is thank god for my Terry thermal kilt. At the edge of the woods on my hands and knees in the cold sand with smoke wafting through the air. The kilt pulled up around my waist while I projectile vomited all night long from both ends while trying to defend my tent from the raccoons. Those little rat bastards are relentless and gave me a run for my money trying to steal my fruity snacks. On this night it was from smoke poisoning.

Sailing into Panama was the second sickest I’ve ever been in my life. If it wasn’t for the worst case of montezumas revenge it surely would have been sea sickness from the passage from hell. I spent 36 hours Straight near death at the helm because knock on wood I don’t get sea sick, my crew would have had to die to get any better. As soon as the boat was secure I announced that I would never sail again and was leaving. I’ve said it before, sailors have the shortest memories.

Back in the tent curled in my down western mountaineering bag my body was in uncontrollable convulsions. My dexterity was so far gone I couldn’t zip the tent. This may sound like hell but it beats the shit out of the snow blowing sideways past my deck while I’m not on the Baja divide. I should be pedaling across the border today.

My feet are burning from running around barefoot in the snow, the wind is blowing, it’s a tempest. I am the eye of the storm, the calm, potential energy ready to go kinetic in a nuclear fission with the flip of a switch. It’s cold as hell but I’m warm in my wool onesie now soaked from making snow angels. My long hair frozen and caked with frost swims with the wind fanning like kelp in a running tide, feral, wild, free…

I get a text from my brother “do you have enough red wine?” My plate is full, I may not be where I was heading but it feels weird to be living after all the drama of the fire. It was a close call but they all are. The life of a nomad is a dangerous journey yet far safer from the stress of rush hour traffic and the zombies of the cities. I’m feeling pretty fortunate these days but also restless, I won’t be working though the winter. The only question is where and when.

I’m willing to push my bike through every inch if I have to. The divide is all I can think about, sailing season is months away but it’s perfect cycling weather south of the border. I need a few new stories, they are all out there I just have walk out my door, although I am ordering bottom paint before I close my eyes just in case…

My broken heart

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Tonight I threw my heart into the universe. This little rescues name is Windy,, a natural born sailor. Don’t know if I’ll be the lucky one buts it’s never really up to us, you can’t choose love.

Every night lately I’ve been having the most vivid dreams about Chloe. I figured it was because I was dying but I’m still here so I can’t figure it out. Being so close to the fires, yet so far from a real road really fucked my brain up. Convincing a rescue to hand over a precious soul is never an easy thing. You do what you can and hope the pup finds a warm safe home with lots of love and snacks.

Once again I’m sitting on the edge of a 180 degree u-turn. I’ve already timed how long it takes to walk to the vet, plugged an emergency vet in my phone and started shopping for beds and puppy chow. Dog toys are almost as much fun for me as the pup but still haven’t figured out why they love the stick so much. This sailor is ready to start a family…

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