The life aquatic

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

Sailing around the world

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THIS SUCKS ;)!

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

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

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

Storm tactics

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

Sailing around the world

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS TO CONSIDER:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

Paint it black 

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

Sailing around the world

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

Sailing around the world

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

Sailing around the world

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


I see a red door and I want it painted black

No colours anymore, I want them to turn black

I see the girls walk by dressed in their summer clothes

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

Sailationships

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

Sailing around the world

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hookers and whiskey

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

Sailing around the world

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

Sailing around the world

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

Sailing around the world

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

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

Seaworthy VS rescueable

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

Sailing around the world

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

Sailing around the world

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

Sailing around the world

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

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

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

Ukulele buyers guide

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

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

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

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

Brompton traveler

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Up two hours before dawn, the plan was a nice ride to the ferry and a bit of inter island exploration and some grocery shopping in the big city.  A cold wind and rain didn’t stop me but frost did.  My knee is getting stronger by the day and it seemed pretty silly to risk another injury so its coffee and texting with Chantelle, she’s on the east coast and the only one up at this ungodly hour, my favorite time of day.

Brompton touring

Shes invited me to tour Europe with her and I’ve invited her to tour the west coast with me, maybe we can do both, early summer in the Apls has my mouth watering but that’s quite a bit of flight time.  I’m thinking I would be better off cycling to the east coast and saving myself the drudgery of the six hour flight, then I can bop over to Switzerland and meet up with her.  I miss having a subject for my camera so maybe my next tour won’t be solo but spring is many long miles from today.

My panniers are packed for an unknown journey as I scour the internet looking for a cheap one way flight anywhere warm.  The weather guesser is calling for snow and temps just touching 0. The weather is perfect for cycling but I feel the warm trades and symphony of rustling palm fronds calling my name.  I can’t believe a whole year has slipped through my fingers, at this precise moment in time one year ago, I was hiding from a gale in a tin shed with my pet geckos, waiting for the morning sun and my first swim of the day.

I can still feel how soft the tropical air was, the freshness of the rain and the sounds of the storm gusting through the jungle canopy. I wasn’t made for stagnation.  I miss packing my house every day and starting a new search for a place to sleep, more miles down the road, more roadside conversations with the curious and the simple act of living my day unplugged and free to roam.

Ive traveled many miles in my days and in many ways.  Sailboat, motorcycle, on foot, van, on road, off road, on planes, trains and automobiles.  Of all the ways I have traveled it’s by bike that I get the best and most rewarding experience.  My life is dialed in and I’m feeling pretty free to roam but when and where is the only question. More maps, more options, more simple adventures.

From my Brompton diary, lost in Oregon. This hill sucks! There are splotches of blood on the page but for the life of me I can’t remember where it came from.  I’m slowly spreading my DNA around the world. 

Hierarchy of desperation

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I sit perched on Sookies bowsprit dragging my blade against a hard stone.  I can tell by the sound it makes how sharp my cold steel blade is.  I take the knife and set it gently against my throat and slowly pull the blade against baby smooth skin.

Sailing around the world

All my edges are sharp enough to shave with. I slip my blade back into its leather sheith and watch the sun set, they say it’s going to snow by the weekend and I can feel it in the air.  It’s cold as hell, the wind is nuking, I have no food and the days light is vanishing  fast, half my life is dangerous, to dangerous.  Closing the boat I walk to work, a big leather chair, a hot burning fire close by, the smell of hard wood burning.  I get paid to tend the fire, I push a button and a hot meal is delivered to me, sitting in complete warmth, my appetite is satisfied yet I’m starving, desperate, afraid of the security I have in this world, it’s dangerous and it scares the hell out of me.

its one thing to fantasize  about living on the edge, but I know it’s only a matter of time until I’m standing, toes over the cliff.  Staring at the abyss and I know I will step off again, no parachute and as often as I’m present in this world, it’s my nature.  I throw another log on the fire, lean back and take a bite of half raw meat, I’m vegan… everything about my life is wrong but I do it over and over again.  Like a man trapped in a cubicle daydreaming about living wild, I live with a pack of wolves daydreaming about living a safe, normal, boring life.

Fantasy being what it is, i know this so called security I’m experiencing is temporary, it’s why I always have my knife at my side, so I can cut the binds that tie and again escape to the cold dark world, a place where there is never enough food, or warmth or security.  A palace where hardship flows like a waterfall, a place I call home.  Reality bites like the cold and I bite back, I’ve fallen to far away from the ship of fools, I tread water and watch it sail away.  I’m on my own now I can tread water or swim to freedom, but what is freedom???

From the log of Sookie- Maui, I just want one fucking good nights sleep. The rangers are after me again, they think they are chasing me into the jungle but I’m leading them deeper And deeper into a place where badges have no merit, a place where survival is a hierarchy of desperation… freedom is not granted in this world, it is taken. 

Redemption

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Growing up in LA in the eighties was awesome.  Back in those days you couldn’t just get into a club, you had to be picked.  If you were a hot chick you may get in, if you were a guy, well good fucking luck, unless you were me.  Sporting a bronzed tan that only a dirtbag surfer could have and rolling my suede creepers, way too tight 501 button flys with a white v neck tee, a black velvet smokers jacket and dreadlocks down to my ass crack all I had to do was show up and I was in.

One love

Back in those days I smoked Dunhills, reefer and what ever else the club would find my way.  The eighties were an explosion of insanely good music and while I rocked to Van Halen and Jusdist Priest as much as Madness, The Specials and Jimmy Cliff my heart has always belonged to Jah.  I’ve been living with reggae since before I was old enough to know I had a scratch to itch between my legs.

I was young and thought I owned the world and in many ways I did and still do.  I got this wild hair up my ass to make a quick fortune and move to the Caribbean.  I’ve sailed through but never actually lived there.  I came up with this crazy idea that if I could invent a popcorn that would be 100% addictive from the first bite and make people crave more beer i could strike it rich selling it to bars. It was all quite a simple recipe, spicy popped corn makes you thirsty. By this point in my life I’ve made thousands of batches and while back then my entrepreneuring ways eventually lost out to voyaging under sail I’ve never given up the dream of a perfectly poped batch of kettle corn, or moving to the Caribbean.

like just about everything in my life I’ve failed miserably at my golden kernels but I try and try.  I find failure be soothing because while nothing went as you expected you had a great go of it, learned a bunch of shit and can jump back into the kettle whenever you choose and start the whole journey again a day older and wiser. Some people think Im a Mother fucking genius and while I may be it’s for no other reason than I’ve failed at thousands of things in my life, many times over.  You can’t fail that often and not learn at least something in the process and that’s what life is, it’s a process.

Well, tonight it happened,  its cold as hell in Sookie , I’m hungry and tired but not too tired to break out my spicy corn.  One part coconut oil two parts extra virgin olive oil and my secret sauce.  Not only did I make the best damn batch of corn I’ve ever made but I poped 100%  of the kernels, something I’ve never done in all my life.  Blessed are those who blindly stumble and stammer through life with a tunnel vision so great you could cross under the mighty pacific without getting a single drop of water on you.

My hair is almost long enough to re dread “insuring that no self respecting company will hire me”, although it has a mind of its own and has already started the process without me. Remaining gainfully unemployed has been the second biggest failure in my life but I know if I keep at it some day I will succeed and fail to ever work again. No job, No woman no cry…

Old pirates yes they rob I
Sold I to the merchant ships
Minutes after they took I from the
Bottom less pit
But my hand was made strong
By the hand of the almighty
We forward in this generation triumphantly
All I ever had is songs of freedom

All hands on deck

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Working the lee side of Sookie, trying to tuck a poor mans reef as she at this point she had no hardwear, my feet awash holding on for dear life and then powee, the main Halliard slipped from my grip and was dangling 10 feet to leward. I turned down wind, dropped the main all together which sucked because I didn’t have a topping lift yet either and ran down the bay topping 6.8 knots with only my 88sq’ staysail flying. I don’t know how I ever lived with a boat without lifelines but since adding new stanchions to Sookie she has magically transformed.

Sailing around the world

I still haven’t added my boom gallows which will require adding a longer boom and new main sail but it’s topping my list.  Sookies lifelines only cover half her cockpit angling down to the deck, when Sookie starts going into her death rolls you literally feel like you are going to be hurtled into the sea. I’m still missing all sorts of bits but each year more and more seem to find a home making the boat safer and easier to sail.

Sailing around the world

At this point I can reef her main in under a minute on any point of sail, my smallest sail configuration a tiny 38sq’ up to over 500sq’ for those delightful summer afternoons chasing the sunset complete with a sundowner in hand. When  I add a roller furler her new lapper will be cut at 100% my experience is that anything larger is just too much. A reefable staysail and maybe a tri, for all my love of the tri sail on a boat as small as Sookie a could just add a third reef and save 2800 bucks not including the new track and bag but I have to say, when I have a tri on the boat I use it a hell of a lot more often than you might think.

Sailing around the world

Whew, this blog post is costing over 20k, thank god Im on such a small boat as the pain could be quite a bit more.  My parts box is almost full but the weather for drilling and sealing holes in the deck had gone byeby for at least a few months.  If I had a trailer I’d ship her to So Cal to finish the work, then bring her home in time for spring, ahh it’s good to dream…

Cookie thumper

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Bad things can do this too you, solitary confinement may do this to you but one thing for sure being cooped up in the belly of a 22′ beast on yet another rainy day is sure to do this too you.  I’m loosing my mind but in a fun and lyrical way.  My fingers work the fret board of my uke like Jimi Hendrix while the most ridicules songs hum on my vocal chords

Sailing around the world

Like a jacked rabbit with a nicotine habit  I’m always on the run.

A vocal criminal lyrics are my arsenal ukulele get away cookie thumping gingerbread man

Sky is grey today I wanna play today can’t get outside weather wont abide.

Winters prisoner can’t get a tan in here mind slipping fast never meant to last

Rockin it and rolling it like my uke has stolen it my four string is my gun

I sing to the rich I sing to the poor I sing to anyone knocks at my door

Theres nobody here I’m out of beer better get moving better get groovin got a keep moving I’m out of here

Ok I  think you get my point, these days batshit crazy is starting to feel pretty normal which should be totally freaking me out but for some reason it’s feeling pretty damn good.  My only savior at this point is to pack Brompty and catch the first plane to Maui before the last remnants of my brain fade to darkness and that’s precisely the beauty of my folding iron horse.  She’s always there waiting when I need her most.

The tropical sun is only 6 hours from here, balmy trade winds, sand between my tanned toes and enough  deep blue sea to share with the world. This pale face needs to go native.  It’s not so much the work I’m doing that’s making me crazy, it’s just that they expect me to not only show up three days a week but then I’m expected to stay for 4 hours of my day, it’s like slavery I tell you and am about ready to chew my own foot off to escape.

“We can’t stop here, this is bat country!”
― Hunter S. Thompson

Giving up the dream

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When I aqauired Sookie I knew that some day I would set off in her but there was no urgency.  At the time my world revolved around the love of my life Chloe and I had no intention of putting her though a life at sea.  When she went to that big field in the sky my whole world came crashing down. Everything in my life changed and and began to wonder what if?  I’m no longer wondering and I have officially given up the dream.

Sailing around the world

It was love at first sight when I first laid eyes on Mike Andersons BCC on that day I swore to myself that someday I would sail this fine ship and a fine ship it is. So far I’ve accomplished every single thing I’ve ever laid my eyes on. I purchased Sookie specifically for Chloe, as far as boats go, she is the perfect size and shape for my 4 pawed soul mate.  Finding myself alone I began to wonder about many things but most importantly now that I don’t have a life revolving around play time and being the best damn doggie daddy that I can, perhalps it was time to take a contract and get that BCC.  Being single and completely alone in this world I couldn’t really make any excuses not to.

just to completely fulfill my A.D.D. I went about searching and researching every blue water boat ever designed under 30′ I will never again even consider a boat over 30′ LOD. My only primary perimeters were that it must have a full keel and tiller, again, not for one second would I consider a boat with a wheel in this size range.  A stern hung rudder was at the top of the list but I searched all rudder configurations.  I should stop and say that Sookie is a very small boat so my focus started at 30′ and I worked my way backwards.

In the end I couldn’t find one single boat that was better for me other than the BCC and I’ve spent the better part of the last year sailing them, searching for them, studying them and have come incredibly close to buying more than one. The only problem is when all is said and done, I just don’t love them quite as much as I used to and while I love the hull form and deck layout the interior doesn’t really work for my brain.  It’s actually a brilliant layout but it doesn’t best Sookies in any way.  I love the size, weight and all that canvas she can fly. It’s a safer boat because it can drive to weather better in high winds than Sookie but Sookie is actually a better sailing boat even though on paper and in reality a smidge slower.  The BCC has super wide decks, a better cockpit and for all intents and purposes is sexy as hell but not quite as sexy as Sookie.

The ultimate deal breaker is all the complex systems that have been added to these boats, sure I could just remove them all after paying for them but them I’d have a Swiss cheese boat.  The only holes I have in Sookie are one for her fridge and one for her oven and both can easily converted to storage.  So after an exhausting year I’ve given up the dream, I’m no longer searching for a BCC or any other boat.

I will say that during the last year my brain has been poisoned on many occasion by all the fun videos I’ve been watching at night on YouTube. It’s easy to fall in love with those huge cockpits and dodgers and sun awnings and…  A while back a friend asked me why I can’t just be happy with what I have.  It’s a double edged sword, if didn’t constantly seek to improve my life I’d still be playing with that toy boat I made in wood shop.  So we have to always improve our situation, that’s how I ended up with Sookie, by always looking for a better sailing boat. I already have the perfect boat, now it’s time to work on all the small things.

From the log of Sookie, Freezing my ass off in winter.  I spent so much of my life trying to get rid of the things I spent so much of my life acquiring that I didn’t even notice when I was spending all of my time trying to aquire more.  I’ve learned everything and nothing at the same time.

Freedom

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Each evening before I crawl into my cozy V-berth I top off my two gallon water tank with my one gallon water jug, then climb out into the night to refill that jug as well.  Yes it is a tedious task but it helps me to appreciate not only exactly how much water I use on a daily basis but also the most precious and under appreciated resource on the planet earth, water.

D H Russell grohman #3

It’s almost noon and while my thanksgiving fast technically ended when I opened my eyes this morning I still haven’t eaten but I will soon. It always amazed me how crazy Americans get if they can’t have their precious  food every few hours.  Working as a bartender I got to experience this first hand when a couple threw an asolute tantrum for not being served within 10 minutes.  I can’t even imagine what would happen if there was a real disaster, I assume people would just start eating their neighbors.

Feed the soul

If you haven’t experienced mild starvation you should, the transformations that go through your body and mind are amazing.  I always feel like I’m at my peak when I’m underfed which is good because I’m always underfed which is curious as to why I have a giant King Kong sized belly, go figure.

So last year I spend thanksgiving day kicking around the local dumpsters in Hawaii and was rewarded with a tin of beef.  Back at Little Beach where I had been stealth camping for a few days I found my adopted kitty Punani and shared my feast with her, it wasn’t enough to satisfy my hunger even with the added coconut but I was more greatful for that meal than any other.  It represented survival, freedom and my naked tanned body felt charged with the meal.  It also fed my soul knowing that my kitty was well care for that night.

The stars were more brilliant that evening than any I can remember in my life, the black sky had a hue of pink while rain manifested from nowhere.  Ukuleles, strummed to the beat of the drums while hippies danced around the fire, the night was surreal.  Later that evening a fisherman brought us all a huge fish on a bed of rice surrounded with fresh veggies from his garden topped with cheese.  I was starving but only took a small portion wanting to make sure each and every person was well fed.

As a child I was taught to always go to the back of the line and eat last.  I’m one of the fortune few on this planet that will never know what true suffering is or real hunger or starvation.  I had put myself into that situation by buying a one way ticket to Hawaii and showing up with only 500 bucks to my name which vanished almost instantly but I could have pulled the plug at anytime.

When I flew to the islands I had a mission, to find buried treasure and I did.  I’m no prepper but I am preparing for what is headed our way.  Not by hoarding food, although as a sailor I do that when I can but by obtaining the skills I need for when there is none. Living in the scrub taught me that I could not only survive with almost nothing but that I could also thrive and was quite happy doing it. It’s one thing to think that you can do something.  It’s something entirely diffent when you are out there doing it day in and day out with no safety net.

My morning coffee is almost done, Sookies small cabin smells of fresh garlic, onions and island spice, my potatoes are ready.  My simple feast is a good one, one that I am always thankful to have and reminds of of the words I spoke so many years ago when I said I wanted my freedom at any cost.  It’s not easy living this lifestyle but every day is worth it.

“I never expected it to be easy” Lin Pardey

Form vs function

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Would you add a solar panel arch and wind generator on this boat? Either would I.  One of the hardest problems I’ve had since day one on Sookie is how to turn her from a coastal cruiser to a blue water self sustained voyaging yacht without completely ruining her.  I could just buy an ugly boat if I wanted to look and live like the Beverly Hillbilly’s, don’t think I hasn’t crossed my mind.

Sailing around the world

So far this damn blog is one of the biggest problems.  How do I keep my cameras and video and computers charged and still have enough left in the battery bank for running lights, cabin lights and blah, blah, blah.  On day one I removed the refrigerator and vhf as well as the pressure water faucet which was odd as the boat didn’t and still doesn’t have a water tank. The oven didn’t cook right so that went too, now I have all these gaping holes to fill but with what?

L.E.D. Doesn’t work for my eyes, I like the warm soft Amber glow of my incandescent lights, candles and lanterns but so far when I’m away from the dock I’ve only allowed one hour per day which gets me about 30 days before my batteries are broke. A good friend who obviously knows a hell of a lot more about ecectricity than me swears I need a 100 wats of solar and while I’ve been duped as to how and where to put it, I now think I know which means I can finally start thinking about adding that solar charger a very generous reader sent me almost a year ago.

Im dangerously close to screwing myself with an alcohol stove but I just can’t afford a propane install, which really sucks because chocolate chip cookies go a long way when you are hove to and scared of the mighty things that go bump in the night.

I’ve suffered a huge tragidy in that my wonderful portable SW radio another gift has finally bitten the bullet after 5 years of constant use.  I’ve relplaced it with a larger radio that also has a really good Ham reciever and all sorts of other fun stuff that I’m too stupid or lazy to figure out, maybe it’s both. According to my techno geek friend it will pull weather fax to my I pad which is a super fun bonus, it runs off of 4 AA rechargeable batteries and may be able to adapt to my little cigarette lighter thing.  My tiny emergency GPS which gets used constantly now that I’ve figured how to turn it on also runs on AA  and so I don’t need to have a huge ugly display in my house.  I did at some point get a hand held but it’s always off except for checking local weather and that can charge straight from the boat.

Bigger and bigger circles are forming as I try and figure out each and every step by order of importance and budget.  Honestly it’s starting to look like a 10k hole will develope before this boat is ready at its very most basic level and that doesn’t include any safety gear, charts or sails.  It’s easy to see why pedaling off on my Brompton is so appealing, it’s done and ready to go and I don’t need crew to set off, I’m ready to leave today, maybe I should…btw here is a huge bonus I found today on a friends blog

Under sail

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Your true wealth is your time and freedom, money is just a tool for trading your time, a container filled with the simple exchange of the best years of your life.  Whenever someone asks me where I’m headed,  I say to sea.  They ask again no,  but where are you headed, again I tell them to sea, they never get it.  I love to sail, not to get somewhere but that’s nice to, I love to sail.

Sailing around the world

It’s impossible to explain to a non sailor what it’s actually like to dance with the sea.  It’s the sea that teaches me by reminding me that I have much to learn and once I’ve learned it, the sea reminds me that I know very little and have more to learn which again the sea will teach me, you never stop learning.  Sailing may be the only experience in life where every time is just like your first time, the better we get the more we have to learn and experience. Wise as we old salts become we can never come close to knowing it all making sailing one of the most fulfilling endeavors a human can set out opon, there is no finish line.

A constant labor of love, pull up the sails, trim them, shape them, change them.  I often hear that sailing is too much work.  Is making love too much work?  I know for me it’s like running a marathon but it’s never about the finish line.  I always feel sad for people motoring their sailboats it’s like a person who has never experienced an orgasm, they simply can’t understand what they are missing always in a hurry to be anywhere but in the present sea.

I’m tied to the dock, triple  sets of dock lines set, wedged into the corner to keep me from being flung out of my berth, it’s going to blow fifty again tonight, it’s already gusting higher than I prefer.  Alone again for the holidays is bitter sweet, I wish I had someone to share them with but thank my lucky stars I’m not spinning my wheels with the wrong person.

Its cold as hell but I have a glass of shity whiskey and opened a bottle of brilliant wine, my holliday has finally begun.  My daily battle is facing my to do list while each and every day I slip further and further behind my set departure date, miss it and another year could easily turn into ten or never. Im fully focused on the fork at the end of the road, when I arrive I will choose my path and never look back.

Im wishing each and every set of ears listing as I read you my log book a happy, fun and warm holliday.  Take a bit of time out of the rat race and do some soul searching.  Are you happy?  Are you living up to your standards?  If not, why not? You could be walking barefoot down a warm sandy beach or skiing the Apls or cycling through Central America, anything you can dream you can have.  The days we are living right now, healthy, young fit and happy, these are the days of our lives.  Right now you are at your peak, it will never get any better, you will never be any younger or more fit.  I’ve barely just started my marathon and I’m pacing myself because I don’t ever want to reach the finish line.

 “Taking a trip for six months, you get in the rhythm of it. It feels like you can go on forever doing that. Climbing Everest is the ultimate and the opposite of that. Because you get these high-powered plastic surgeons and CEOs, and you know, they pay $80,000 and have Sherpas put the ladders in place and 8,000 feet of fixed ropes and you get to the camp and you don’t even have to lay out your sleeping bag. It’s already laid out with a chocolate mint on the top. The whole purpose of planning something like Everest is to effect some sort of spiritual and physical gain and if you compromise the process, you’re an asshole when you start out and you’re an asshole when you get back.” Yvon Chouinard, the patroned saint if dirtbags 

 

Crazy guy on a bike

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“Hey, your that crazy guy on a bike”, I see you everywhere and I’ve only been here three days”. Brompty was folded in my shopping cart, I was getting snacks for a nice island ride and a little more knee repair.  She insisted on buying me coffee as she eyed Brompty, gently touching the frame, running her fingers along the tube and admiring the fold, she was giddy like a child on Christmas Day. We switched bikes for the short ride to the coffee shop and I was jealous the whole way, her carbon fiber racer felt dead and awkward, boring…

Brompton travel

She was an explosion of questions mostly related to rumors about how the Brompton rides, I taught her how to fold and unfold it and let her ride it around the block.  I offered for her to join me on my island tour but added she would have to ride her own bike and follow my ganky pace.

We crawled up the hills, flew down them and kept a brisk pace on the flats, always monitoring my knee and it’s doing fine.  We covered the whole island at a reasonable clip laughing the whole time, playing cat and mouse through the cloudy green mire of my tiny island.  At the end of the ride I knew she was smitten, we stopped at the park with one more hot coffee and much more conversation.

I had to be at work by 4 and while I was excusing myself she looked me in the eye, “tell me the one thing you love most about your Brompton and convince me to buy one”. I smiled back, “I don’t care if you buy one or not, that’s up to you”. I rode away smiling knowing that she would order one before the end of the day.

For all the things I love about my bike and there are many, it’s my opinion that Bromoton is the most ethical bicycle builder on the planet.  Their mission statement isn’t a gimik or a product, it’s to make the world a better place through cycling and fun and that’s what I love so much about my bike, it’s fun, it always makes people smile but more importantly it makes me smile.  My morning rides are cool and brisk, here on Lopez we have the two finger salute that we wave to every passing person, car, bike or pedestrian.  I don’t know every person on this island but I can assure you they know me with my signature smile, wrapped up in my super warm red jumper and bright orange bike. Everywhere I go people come up to me and say hi.

My barometer is leaning towards a spring bike tour and again one in the fall, the only question is where will I go this time.

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

Respect my Athoritay!

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For gods sake what ever you do don’t come to me for info on buying a sailboat.  Opinionated yes, a lifetime of sailing will do that to a person.  Why do I sail the boats I do? Because I’m scared shitless.  If you read this blog or know me you will know that I’m afraid of everything.  Water in all forms, rain, snow, ice, salt, fresh, rivers, lakes, the ocean… Im afraid of heights, caves, the dark, Sasquatch, bears and sharks.  I’m afraid of planes and flying, motors and all loud noises in general.  I’m afraid of girls and relationships and loneliness. I’m  afraid of motorcycles, bicycles, bridges and tunnels and even skateboards. Im afraid of the dark, lighting and thunder and the boogie man. I’m afraid of failure, success and everything in between.  More that likely my next book will be notably titled Leaving Chicken Harbor…

Sailing around the world

I wasn’t always a small sailboat guy although I can tell you the precise second I became one.  I had an accepted offer on a 2 year old Jeanneau 43 or something like that.  The offer was pending on a lot of things, one of them being finding suitable moorage in Newport Beach, I failed on every accord when the broker gave me the name of a “friend”. I met with him that same day, the guy wanted  a 10K finders fee and said moorage would be no less than 18 bucks a foot, I promptly  told him to his face that in no uncertain terms that he could go fuck himself, I hate greedy people.

later that day walking around Pirate Island licking my wounds I found a nice little Westerly Cirrus Sport 22 and bought it on the spot, prime moorage in a multimillion dollar neighborhood was $150.00 a month. At that point I lost all interest in large boats, gave up my dreams of someday cruising in a Maxi and started the long process of learning how to live like a normal human.

Small boats aren’t like large boats and they need to be sailed accordingly.  They are very safe offshore but you damn well better know how to care for the boat and when it’s time to pull the plug, heave to and have a stiff scotch.  Going back to I’m afraid of everything, through a series of many small full keel boats I decided that a Bristol Channel Cutter was the boat for me and that’s the direction I was heading when a long lost love came to visit, unnamed at the time I now call her Sookie and if you’ve ever seen me row or walk away you’ve also watched me stop, turn and take one last look at her beautiful lines, a love born at sea. Before leaving on my bike trip one of the girls I worked with for the summer busted me, my head leaned up against Sookies bow bidding her farewell and saying a prayer for her safe keeping. I have never been afraid on Sookie, although I have been scared shitless, there is a huge difference.

We all have different comefort levels, for some it’s a sat phone, life raft and epirb, all things I would like to have.  Some people think large boats are safer than small boats, who knows.  For others it’s a big engine and never taking off their life jacket.  For me it’s a boat that I know will bring me home and suffer my idiotic mistakes with little consequences.   As far as I know I’m the only adult who won’t swim without a life jacket but I’m also the first one in the water every time.  Yes I’m pretty much afraid of everything in this world but what scares me most is dying of security and old age in a warm safe house.

 “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” Hunter S. Thompson

Sailing around the world

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Its never so much been my dream to sail around the world as it is to explore the world under sail.  It’s easy to read all the books, romanticizing life aboard a small wellfound boat sailing under nothing but the power of the wind.  New landfalls, new cultures, new directions.  Most of my books were read at sea while delivering boats up the west coast. During this time, I was drawn deeper I think than most into the simplicity of boats, mostly because every damn thing on the boat would. break within the very short distances we were delivering.

Sailing around the world

Weeks spent in a tropical paradise but it was no vacation, hot as hell, humid, language barriers, none of the right tools, going up a strange mast 5 times has never topped my list of fun.  Then there is that damn diesel, bad fuel, humidity fried wiring and what about the steering.  Whoever invented cable actuated steering should be… take a cluster of wire which will rot and stretch, put it in the least accessible part of the boat and then call the single most important part of the ship good.

Sailing around the world

These trips were the best teacher a student could have in what works and what doesn’t, although there is the one big disconnect that I didn’t get until many many years and miles passed under my keel. It wasn’t until I had formed a very solid opinion of what I need and want in a boat and what sailing means to me.  You see, no one who loves their boat would ever turn it over to another to be taken to sea.  The boats I was deliverying were unloved toys owned by people with good credit and the ability to sneak away from the work place for a few months a year.  They boats were minimally maintained, after all it wasn’t the owners preobem off shore, it was mine.

The years pass by, the dreams still linger but the times they are a changing.  Anchorages are over crowded with bozos who know little about their boats and don’t really care if they hit you in the night, they will just call the insurance company on their financed boat, if they hit you at the dock they will just leave.  Everything is getting massively more expensive and quality boat parts are near impossible to find.  I’ve had to have most parts for Sookie fabricated which is fun but time consuming and expensive.

The main reason I’ve walked away from every BCC I’ve visited isn’t because I didn’t love them, I did, but none of the, were as stout and shippy as Sookie.  One or two shortcuts can be easily overcome but these boats were damn near ruined by my standards and if your going to buy the second most expensive boat ever built, the FC is at the top of that list, well it better be pretty damn near to what you want.

Then there’s the little things, I have no problem with my bucket but taking a girl out on a date for the weekend and trying to get her to poop in the bucket in a 22′ boats is pretty amusing, even with a well established couple it has to be worked around.  Then there is the dumping part.  When you are one of a dozen boats in a giant bay it’s no biggie but when there are 99 boats lined up like sardines it’s a deal breaker. I won’t get into lack of heating again but what about electric storage and resupply. You can’t take a boat like Sookie and stack solar pannels and a wind generator aboard without ruining the boat.  LED lights don’t work for me, the cold blue light kills my eyes so even though Sookie has a very small drain, she still needs a good pile of stored electricity.

I do my best thinking on the bike but I can’t do boat stuff on the bike because every time I jump on Brompty I question the whole sanity of the boat thing so I pull out my runners and hit the road.  I run through the lists of small boats that may add what I lack.  The Dana 24 won’t heave to and skinny side decks, same with the Nor’sea 27 and also add a poor galley and an average of 10 or more thru-hulls. The Verute ll tops the list but they are too plastic inside. The CS28, great boat but cored hull, no thanks.  I go through dozens of fine boats and they all are but none of them meet my needs, a lifetime of research turns only two boats that I would consider and neither one seems a better choice than Sookie when I look at the cost of acquiring and outfitting them with my budget.

I get back from my run, endorphins surging and I’m wrecked, a drowned rat.  I look at my notes, the two biggest design headaches I’m dealing with on Sookie are her cockpit layout, with no combing you fell pretty exposed when push comes to shove.  The other big headache is that Sookie was built with high volume quarte berths which is great for carrying extra stores but makes it so you can’t sit upright comefortabley in the boat, a chainsaw could fix this.  Many FCs  were built this way, it’s idiotic, the standard version is simple perfection.

Again I’m at a standstill, I have the perfect boat, I only wish it were different. My log book says I’m heading out for sea trials and then down the coast to Mexico in April but it’s feeling damn near impossible from where I’m sitting.  First world problems I know but when you sail a small boat it’s like solving a Rubik’s cube, inorder to line up one side you screw up the other.  Eventually I’ll solve the equation but for now I have to do some sitting in my thinking chair.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
― Steve Jobs

Bug out boat

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If a sailors dinghy is their SUV then their bike is an urban assault vehicle, each very important tools when it comes to self sufficiency and reducing reliance on complicated and expensive alternatives. With four full days off I feel like I should have more free time than I do but I’ve been working around the clock getting Sookie ready for our big trip. On top of that I’m packing my bug out bag for Maui and trying to make a minimalist gear list for my next and undecided cycle tour on my Brompton.

Sailing around the world

I had a pocket full of cash and my lockers are pretty bare so inbetween all of the craziness and before the impending rain I jumped on Brompty for a quick trip to the hardwear store, then the marine store, craft shoppe, co-op, grocery store and post office.  Everything fit between my Toppo klettersac, bike rack and my Brompton T-bag, it was quite a pile and felt good to feel my little Steele steed fully loaded again.

I’m still surprised each time I load her up how well balanced she is and how easy she rides.  For the first time since returning from my coast tour I didn’t experience any knee pain which means I can start riding more and also start running again to burn some of the lazy fat I have accumulated from the recovery couch.  Nothing feels better than getting out and using my body to cover a pile of miles.  There aren’t any hills on this little island but Orcas has a baby mountain and it’s just a hop skip and a jump away, I’m hoping to ride to the top at least once a week till I set off again.

In the meantime I’m working in a fun project, should Sookie do something silly like turn upsidown I need all my lockers to be able to fasten shut.  No I’m not planning on rolling her but I did put her mast in the water one time when I was being a bonehead. A lot of people think a boat will just round and they usually do but a huge sustained hit can and will hold your side for a bit. Mainly I have 11 lockers that need to be lachable.  Once I’m convinced it’s the right method I’ll be adding teak latches, simple, strong and safe.

When I rebuilt Sookies mast I did it with the theory at least that if she rolled 360 degrees that her mast would stay up, that is a big theory and I still need to replace her chain plates and finish her fixed backs but we’re close.  With a little luck I’ll do is in April when I rebuild her rudder and add her wind vane.  My list is long but all the projects are easy ones, this is going to be my best winter aboard ever.  All of my money and time go towards making Sookie more seaworthy vs more rescueable, Ill discuss this at some point but it’s a very touchy subject with more and more people hitting the panic button every year due to very easily avoidable situations.  I’m surprised cruising boats even carry life rafts in this day in age when all you have to do is push a button and you will be safely delivered to the nearest bar with no fee applied and no questions asked…

“Over the years, Americans in particular have been all too willing to squander their hard-earned independence and freedom for the illusion of feeling safe under someone else’s authority. The concept of self-sufficiency has been undermined in value over a scant few generations. The vast majority of the population seems to look down their noses upon self-reliance as some quaint dusty relic, entertained only by the hyperparanoid or those hopelessly incapable of fitting into mainstream society.”
― Cody Lundin, When All Hell Breaks Loose: 

Sailing lore

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We can always return to the places we love the most but we can never go back, never… time marches on.  When it comes to sailors lore and superstition their is one that haunts me the most, when it’s not gratifying me that is, Women.
Women were bad luck on board because they distracted the crew, which would anger the sea, causing treacherous conditions as revenge. However, conveniently for the male crew, naked girls calmed the sea, which is why so many figureheads were virgins with bare breasts…

Sailing around the world

Far and by to be cursed by the love and will of a good woman shall be yar savior and doom say thee who have fallen to such sullen good fortune.  I receive another cryptic letter from the one I love, we have never met.  Years have gone by, letters fill my lockers but still my berth is empty, I wait and I wonder and time moves on. One by one all the same but each one very different. I cast each and every letter to sea… I have always been superstious, far beyond the normal.  Spend half of your life under the stars and the other half floating at the mercy of Neptune and you’ll start to understand.

Aeolus challenged my landsmans virtue nearly drowning my soul while my bare feet still dug into the sandy shore and so I decided to challenge my superstitions.  Lightning cracked the sky wide open, hurricane force winds battered my naked body as I stood there as strong as I could, hands raised to the sky waiting for nature to call me, the night challenged me but dawn came and so did I. It took days to recover from the storm and rebuild my little habitat but I did. A new dawn called early, red and erie against a blackening sky.  A hammerhead swirled around near my feet at the waters edge chasing breakfast at first light, I watched it curiously as I ate my coconut.

I pulled my sarong  from my waist wrapping it around my neck like a super heros cape and dove into the tropical sea. Never swim at dawn, never swim in murky water, never swim after a storm… the sharks will get you.  I swam out past the reef rolled onto my back forming a cross with arms stretched out my body arched slightly and drifted miles down the beach in the strong currents waiting for… the lightening didn’t get me, the storm didn’t get me, the tigers didn’t get me.

Sitting in the early morning sun, salt drying my sun kissed naked body, eating a papaya I poached and I wondered if maybe it was my superstions that had gotten the best and the most of me. Sure women on a boat are bad luck but bare breasted virgins calm the sea…

From the log of Sookie… I squirmed awkwardly as I tried to make make a good first impression with her mother but it was soon appearant that I marched to the rhythms of a drummer  she had never met.  

Made for crushing it

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The unintended consequences of following your dreams can only be success and again I’ve been blessed more than I deserve.  I’m not letting the cat out of the bag but I’ve been given the honor of collaborating on a project that is nothing short of far and near in my heart.  To celebrate it’s completion Im sipping on a glass of Monkey Shoulder Scotch that a little kitten left on Sookie.

2017 brompton

The writing part was easy but scheduling with a photographer, well that was damn near impossible.  It’s not that I don’t have the time, it’s more like; run, run, as fast as you can, can’t catch me I’m the gingerbread man.  I’m so deep into everything I’m doing right now, I’m like a ghost, I’m nowhere and everywhere.  Enter my go to and personal photographer, it took two weeks to get together but we squeezed in a quick 5 minutes and got the job done.  One minute into the shoot, he called out “get me a hammer cause I’m nailing it”. I laughed and my constant smile was proof that while my modeling career may have ended many years ago I’m still as comfortable in front of the camera as I am behind it and that I still love it like no other.

My polyamorous ways seem to piss off everyone alike.  The sailors want me to drop my silly cycling ways and get on with it as do my cycling friends want me to drop my silly sailing ways and pedal off into the sunset. At the rate I’m going I’m going to get to circumnavigate the planet both from the cockpit of Brompty and Sookie and that’s where my heart lies, I have two mistresses and love them equally

It isn’t about the bike, or the boat, both works of art in my eyes.  It’s about saving the planet, living with the smallest foot print I can but leaving the biggest one I own.  A year ago I was fresh off of sailing the inside passage. Sitting on a beach in Hawaii mourning the loss of Chloe and starting what would turn into 9 weeks of cycle touring for the year.  It’s not that my dreams changed, I changed. The Hawaii I knew was gone, it had been bulldozed and replaced with a parking lot.

It could have been on any of the dozens of beaches I slept on but somewhere out there I made a commitment to myself and the world that since there is know-one to follow in this revoulution that I will be the leader.  Eight years into my boycott of cars I think I’ve earned at least a smidgen of confirmation that I’m dedicated.  It isn’t just fossel fuels that I’m boycotting it’s nonchalant pacifism and all of the destruction of my planet that comes with human greed and laziness.

It may be taking me longer than any other human in existence to realize my dreams but I’m living them every day and doing it my way.  Less is more in my eyes and I own the world because other than my plastic bucket I barely have a pot to piss in. What I do have are the things that money can’t buy, time, true happiness, ultimate freedom, undeniable youth and my health.

Im exhausted tonight, I’m cold and a bit hungry but none of that matters because I almost have all of the  ingredients for success.  All I have to do is mix them all in a bowl and stir and I can have my cake and eat it too.  Like me, both Sookie and Brompty were made for crushing it and that’s what we are doing, crushing it…

From the log of Sookie, after surviving my idiocity and intentionally pointing my bow into a gale in the straits of Juan De Fuca. ” I’ve always felt sorry for cats, they only have nine lives.  I’ve had a million and counting”.

Outfitting on a budget

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It was a balmy spring day, somehow I had managed to get myself lost even though I was smack dab in the middle of the Gulf Islands, full paper charts, two compasses and a small hand held gps argued with each other. The warm air was thick with haze making everything look alike.  If you have to be lost, doing with your home underfoot is a good start.

Sailing around the world

Eventually I found my way, anchoring right next to the water runway with lots going on to watch from the cockpit, but I’m cruising.  I didn’t have time to lollygag if I wanted to make the morning tide.  I grabbed my half empty one gallon fuel can, a 5 gallon water jug, a weeks trash and my shower kit, a hot shower topped the list. Fuel was easy although a very long walk, water was sold and sort of metered, trash was a nightmare and you can forget about a hot shower if your anchored out.  I returned to find a bill attached to my dingy for parking it at the dinghy dock.

When your outfitting for cruising everything is a tradeoff.  Sure, I could add a water maker and never have to hand deliver the delighful crystal clear commodity that is the single most important catalyst to sustaining life on a sailboat.  The alternative is every time I find a town I have to start the desperate search all over again.  Of course using a water maker should be as easy as pushing a button but I find the long term cruisers spent an equal amount of time dedicated to the maintenance of their water maker as I did chasing water.  The only downside  is that while I’m ashore chatting with cruisers and locals, they are either at work paying for the upgrade and maintenance or onboard troubie shooting why it’s acting up again.

I still have yet to add fixed water tanks to Sookie so while a water maker is little more than a pipe dream, it’s fun to imagine but has yet to make the list.  I have three lists actually, the must have, should haves, and the someday list. The order of importance is the toughest part.  Sookie is designed to carry a 25 gallon water tank under her cabin sole, all I have to do is rip out the sole, make a new tank and build in a new one, easy to do but expensive, the short term alternative as temporary 6 gallon fixed tank and real plumbing with the addition of 45 gallons in portable tanks to fill the main one.

Or I could add a new gimballed alcohol stove, I’ve saved enough money for one or the other, the question is which one do I add first.  Hot coffee and soup is pretty nice during these cold months and if I don’t hurry up and choose something else more important will make the list.  The damn seagulls and crows are fighting over my tri color, the only nav lights i carry aboard, if they break it there goes the plumbing and the stove and that’s what this whole game is like.  I think it was Bernard Moitessier who said cruising costs what ever you have, outfitting is the same way.

“One thing at a time, as in the days when I was building Joshua. If I had wanted to build all the boat at once, the enormity of the task would have crushed me. I had to put all I had into the hull alone, without thinking about the rest. It would follow . . . with the help of the gods. 
― Bernard Moitessier, The Long Way

Solo

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Another storm is working it’s way through tonight, yawn. It’s been a month now since returning from my ride, I still haven’t finished unpacking or settling on the boat.  This was my weekend, I picked up a bag of rice, a head of cabbage, a pound of cheese and a gallon of wine, the plan was to lock myself in the boat and play pirate for a few days hopefully emerging with a clean and tidy boat all snuggled up and ready to greet the coming of winter.

Sailboat galley

I’m beginning to think I have way too many toys on the boat, or maybe I’m just way too easily side tracked. The whole reason I sailed to these islands a few years back was to find land, a better quality of life and finish Sookies refit making her a true blue water machine.  Life was on track and going well but then something happened, I fell head over heels in love with the quiet simple life I have here.  I still have blue water dreams but recently they seem have been pushed further and further down the the list.  Land ownership, or should I say being owned by the land has also had a hiccup.  It feels like going backwards I’m debt free and don’t have any anchors, buying land could fuck that all up although if you have to have and anchor land is a pretty good one.  It’s dirt cheap right now and getting cheaper everyday but that has been pushed to the bottom of the list raising sailing back up a rung.

Ive been playing spin the bottle with an extended bike tour or continuing on with Sookie, either way the bottle spins I get to kiss the pretty girl.  As much as I have a total and complete disdain for solo sailing I have an opportunity to get some help with Sookie in Southern California so that’s where all eyes are right now.  Ive got a guy helping me, ok who are we kidding, he is going to build me a one off vane which I will need to move the boat.  I still can’t see well enough to navigate and then there is the need to sleep thing but first I need the vane and new P&Gs which will make for a very fun and expensive spring.

The wind is nuking from the south, a long hot shower washed the dreads out of my hair and warm clean sheets have me tucked in with my sketch book working on a my budget, adding things to my list, crossing things off my list and being thankful for the box of wine that couldn’t possibly taste this great without the cold to hide from and the two candles heating my little home and I have just enough charge left on my iPad to finish this post and watch the new episode of sailing La Vagabond, I love those guys.

Deadhorse Alaska

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I should never be left to my own devices, I’m seriously starting to freak myself out.  Given my choice I’ll take travel and exploration from the deck of Sookie over any other option.  Yes she’s my first choice but I always have a plan B so I’m not stuck come spring with nothing to do.  I’m not exactly holding my breath for the stars to align by spring so I’m guessing anything other than day sailing is out for the year and that’s what got my goat.

Alaska ferry

I’ve wanted to cycle the Alcan since first hearing about it many years ago.  A little bit of map flipping found a town called Deadhorse, the name alone scares the shit out of me.  It’s the beginning of the roughly 500 mile  Dalton Hwy ending at Fairbanks without a single resupply in between, from there it’s a few thousand miles back to Lopez and I’m all in.

As far as I can tell I only have to deal with polar bears for the first hundred or so miles, then it’s the usual brown bears, black bears, wolves, bison… honestly the mosquitoes are probably going to the second hardest part of the trip other than the actual cycling and the 15 day supply of food I will need to carry.  Just in case you’ve never ridden your bike five hundred miles, well I can tell you it’s not really that far, unless you are on a road from hell in which case it may as well be a million miles.

Unlike sailing where I’m always looking for a hand, on the bike i really don’t mind cycling alone and won’t even waste my breath trying to find a ride partner should I undertake this journey.  You literally have to be ten steps past bat shit crazy to attempt this ride which I think is why I find it so appealing.  I think Brompty is up to the task and I hope I am cause it’s feeling pretty legit as I go through the numbers and time frames to make this ride. My knee is slowly getting better but I’ve gone from the best shape of my life to a chip eating fat ass couch potatoe and I’m not pleased about it by any measure but I’ll need that extra layer of fat when the ride starts.

Just once in my life I’d like to take the easy route, maybe a wine and cheese bike/train tour through Southern Europe or just doing a ramble down the Camino De Santiago but honestly, i can do that shit when I’m old.  Right now I’m young, fit enough and strong, but more importantly I obviously have a few more of these boneheaded trips in my almost relative comfort zone, I know that won’t always be the case so it’s now or never.

Having about 2500 mikes logged on my Brompton, I know exactly what she will and won’t tolerate and while she may not be the best choice for this ride, she is my number one choice and the bike I will be bringing.  I’ve just gone through her from top to bottom and essentially she is a new bike although I’m dangerously close to upgrading to the Ti model to save a few precious grams.

Truthfully I never know what’s around the corner and it’s so freaking exciting to see what could possible happen next. I guess that’s one of the true benefits of being absolutely free, I can do anything I want at any time…

Rathskeller

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It’s late, the wind is blowing, balmy, inviting.  I feel a presence, I turn and look down the long gangway, nothing.  A loose wooden board creeks as a step on it, a metal sign bangs in the wind.  The Erie cry of a Blue Heron, otters call their mothers as they splash and play around the dock. A mother seal teaching her pup to hunt very close to Sookie, the night is alive, winter has stalled. I have this very strange feeling that their is a visitor waiting in Sookie.

Gold

Standing on the dock surveying my world I notice a bag in the cockpit.  I tuck in under Sookies storm canvas, grab the bag and climb into my little cocoon.  Two candles lit I peer into the v berth, it’s empty but my bag is not, I pull a delightful bottle of scotch. Stinky cheese, home made bread and fresh fruit, I pour a glass, pull out my uke and pluck the strings.  I struggle through I’m yours, I don’t know the words so I practice my scatting, dum dum do diey do to do dum tie, ahi ey uh, I’m yours, I’m yours…

Gold

Sookies small cabin is a lovers paradise, a treasure chest full of memories and my own personal Rathskeller. I light some incense, take a sip, my lips sweet with scotch, turn up the volume. My lungs vibrate, my uke vibrates, the golden walls of Sookies cozy cabin vibrate in unison with the flickering of my candles, nirvana.  The storms have been near constant, the cold will come, winter will come but in less than 6 short weeks, the days will start getting longer, spring is coming.

“Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
― Anonymous 

I don’t know my name

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My mind is touching the void, my brain, the consistency of three day old mashed potatoes.  Like smashing a square peg through a round hole I’m faced with the very likely reality that I will die having never done a relevant thing in my life.  I want to sing, I have so many words and tunes but they won’t come out, they can’t because I don’t know my name.

Ive worn many hats in my life but never the one that fit best.  What is it about simple words set to music that envoke such raw emotion.  Music makes us smile, it makes us laugh and can make us cry.  It makes us love and want so desperately to be loved.  They say it calms the savage beast but in me my words are lost in a sea of dispare because I can’t find the right ones to match my three cords played on four strings.

As often happens in the tedium of under employment I fell deep into the mire of Google spiraling down a rabbit hole of the inner-web and one thing let to another and then I met Amazing Grace, her words made tears well up in my eyes, they gave me everything I want to give and it was then and now that I realize I have never realized my true calling. I know it’s my true calling because I’ve had my 15 miunutes 15 times over.

I lived next door to a rockstar which wasn’t unusual as my day job was working with them, we met at a party, started talking about sailing and the next day I took him out for a sail on the bay.  I snapped a few pictures and wrote a poem about the day for his wife, yes some rock stars have wife’s.  He asked me if I would consider photographing a concert for him and I agreed.

They were doing a tribute concert for the late Jason Thirsk of Pennywise, it was going to be the biggest punk rock concert in history.  Punk rockers hate photographers were the last words he said before he walked back stage, the song was going to be one of Jason’s unrecorded songs and Ronnie was playing it on a grand piano, he mentied they would love it or kill him, either way I had my own battle to fight.  Back stage I snuck my trusty FM2 under my shirt till the last minute.  The manger wouldn’t let me on stage, I revealed my camera and tried  to pull rank, a shoving match ensued and then one of the punks saw my camera and punched me in the side of the head, I wasn’t going down without a fight but it was me against a sea of Doc Martens which was all I could see from the floor where I was now laying.  I staggered up threw a few punches and made a break for it just as they were rolling Ronnie out, with a pop, the blue stage lights came on and Ronnie kicked the chair away and started rocking the house.  The intense roar of the crowd filled my every sense with a heroin like rush I can only describe as feeling like a god.  I got three frames off before having my ass handed to me by the the whole security team but it didn’t matter, I got a few good ones in myself and I had made the perfect image for the show and found my true calling, I was born to be a musician.  It’s not the fame or glory I seek, its writing words that matter and giving them to the world.

Of corse those days seem over, I can’t find my song, there are no words to go with my unwritten music, not yet at least.  If I’ve learned anything in life; you try, you fail, and when they say you can’t you try again and find that you can.  Finding Grace was my gift in that reminds me if you just do what you love more than anything the rest will work out, even at times when more than anything it feels as if it’s not.  I find my way to the boat and pull out my song journal, a few words make the page about an island girl “and maybe she was meant to be alone like me” I pull out my uke and strum a few chords, find my voice; a new song is being written, don’t die with your song in you…

Ukulele daze

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My fingers are worn to the bone, a sweet mix of reggae with Hawaiian turnarounds and a bit of 70’s stones lead solos ring from Sookies walls, her acoustics are Devine.  Winter is slow to arrive here in the PNW but with the loss of daylight I’ve gone into a winter uke trance.

Opio concert

im still learning the mystery, paint it black is my lastest challenge and I’ve been blindly walking my fingers up and down the fret board searching for the right sounds for the uke  riffs I plan to use for my latest attempt at video.  Living in Sookie is much like living in a finely crafted ukulele, white oak, rich teak and curly butternut form my uke studio, Sookies cabin is a creatives dream come true.

Koaloha

Granted I lack all uke playing abilities and can’t sing, I also suck at video but it hasn’t  stopped me from my pursuits.  My Opio by KoAloha sings and carries me through the short days and long nights, I resist my part time job wanting nothing more than to pluck my strings, sketch another story board and create a bit of magic.

Acacia uke

im still scheming to land in Hawaii by January to escape the cold but I’m going to need a new playlist before I arrive from my tiny island to the islands of aloha.  My body is craving the tropical sun, slow balmy days and hours of nothing to do but play my song…

4th fret

From the log of Sookie, Maui 2016, I’m hungry and still haven’t found a place to sleep tonight but the weather is perfect, big puffy clouds, the trade winds and the occasional rainbow.  I’ve found a bit of shade for my cancert in the park, I hope it earns me a can of spam.

Simple bluewater sailboat

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I searched for many years to find a good small blue water sailboat without an inboard engine, don’t get me wrong a well running diesel is a dream come true but doesn’t fit the budget cruiser model, off shore they are useless and often can be one of the biggest factors is killing the budget.  My next boat will have one but that’s not my current path or budget.  I know of many cruising boats in my harbor all of them with very reliable engines, every one of them replacing one of the many systems that has failed them. To a great amount of expense and frustration

Simple blue water sailboat

The most redeeming quality of an outboard is the fact that you can throw it off the back of the boat in a temper tantrum when it fails you, notice I say when, not if.  I have a brand new outboard, it always starts of the first pull and runs like a dream, I love it in so many ways and still have zero ultimate faith in it.  My sails are always ready or up when I’m away from the dock.  I can’t help but wonder when and why those old sailing craft started adding engines, I’m guessing it was in an attempt to get away from needing the skills to properly design a seaworthy sailing craft.

When it comes to passage making without an engine people  will always say you can’t do that, if a lifetime on the water is any measure of success i can assure you that you not only can but will once you stop listening to the naysayers.  I’m designing a Fixed internal  fuel tank for Sookies outboard, I’ve tested and researched my personal limits and abilitys for the last 5 years with Sookie and have decided on a theee gallon vented tank with a one gallon portable tank for rowing to shore for fill ups.  As far as my research goes this is the propper amount for long distance blue water cruising and gunkholing in my inland sea.  It’s roughly a 50 mile range at 1/3 throttle in calm water, a good year supply.

There is not a single fast boat on the planet if your in a hurry, fly. Once I settled on a boat with an outboard verse an inboard I had to decide if I wanted a covered  outboard well or a stern hung mount. My years of sailing both taught me that I would never ever consider a boat with a well, they just don’t work for me.  Hanging one of these beasts off your transom doesn’t exactly beautify the lines of your boat but I love it, especially when I’m sailing rings around much larger boats and they see my motor tilted out of the water.  It makes it impossible for them to convince their crew that Im running an inboard as an excuse to explain why Sookie is sailing past their much larger racer crusier.

I have tested Sookie under power in many conditions and that little kicker will push her thriugh some amazing stuff but I attribute it to her designer and Sookies fine entry.  The biggest problem is when you sail out of the wind but still have a huge leftover slop, I’ve  done this on serveral occasions where you just can’t keep the prop under water  but it’s a rarity and either the chop will settle or the wind will fill back in, no system is perfect.

Having no inboard forces me to be a better sailer, my bilges are oil free and the only secret you smell upon entering her warm cabin other than my musk is rich teak and aromatic cedar.  Along with no inboard engine Sookie doesn’t have a plumed head leaving quite a bit of extra storage for wine, whiskey and dark chocolate, it also eliminates 4 through hulls.

In between love

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I wake to a pre dawn storm.   The silhouette of a fishing boat eerily lights the bay. Gulls fly on the storm high above, their mournful cry of dawn sets my mood.  Sookie dips and bows to the rain. I pull out my uke and serenade Chloe, my one dog audience.  I know she can hear me, I can feel her close by this morning.

We always loved days like today, an early walk before kibble and coffee.  She would lay next to me for hours her eyes locked on mine while I played my uke and sang  to her, music was her solace on stormy winter days.  I feel her close, always and miss her more than anything in is world.  My ukulele gently weeps for my fallen friend, for lost love and for one more wild romp through the woods.

A salty tear slowly rolls down my cheek , it’s better to have loved and lost than tomnever have loved at all.  I pick up my uke “this ones for you Chloe”, inbetween love…

Sailing small yachts

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There is no right or wrong when it comes to choosing your ship.  It was a lifetime of sailing that put my bare feet in the cockpit of Sookie, the small things really added up. Wide decks, a seaworthy cockpit, a real mast compression post, and a true full keel.  I don’t know of any other production or semi production boat that has all of these.  Her tall rig and lowish 34% ballast to displacement ratio were an absolute bonus, she can carry a load and then some.

Living aboard a sailboat

It wasn’t by accident that Lyle Hess underballasted this boat by 700 lbs, designed and built for blue water cruising he knew owners would need the extra volume which is at a premium on small sailboats.  In my five plus years of sailing Sookie I’ve never found her to be slow, wet or tender, I’m actually still surprised on a regular basis at how awesome she sails and handles the harsh conditions of northern latitude cruising. To date I’ve still not been able to actually fill her to her LWL and believe me I’ve tried.

Her stern hung rudder is an additional bonus but also comes at a price.  In addition to her boomkin and outboard motor it makes adding a windvane a challenge.  Sookie is getting a simple trim tab vane similar to the one Taleisin carries, it’s the only vane that not only doesn’t ruin her lines but adds to them.  I spent years looking for the simplicity of an outboard engine, deep down I know eventually il sail sans engine again.

Sookie doesn’t have many fancy features, a lead line and paper charts still rule both of her full sized chart tables and while I will always carry a basic back up gps I’m seriously in the market for a sextant.  I’ve yet to ever miss any modern day conveniences that most sailors call standard fare and while I’ll admit they may be nice to have someday, on my budget I don’t even dream about them, I just use the tools I have at hand.  One great sailing knife, thank you Ninà and a wood cutting board can do everything from chopping cabbage to filleting garlic.  A cast iron skillet, my steam pot and one soup pan make up the galley.

Years ago I broke with tradition when my cedar bucket was blown overboard and updated to a modern plastic bucket/head and that’s about it for Sookie.  She is almost completly outfitted for blue water voyaging without actually having been outfitted.  I fondly remember cruising on my friends old folk boat with no cockpit drains and a non draining bowl for a sink, we just dumped it overboard.  We sailed that boat home from Baja to shelter island with no engine in 19 delightful days, Sookie is a veritable masterpiece of technology compared to that old woodie.

Yes I’ve always enjoyed smallish simple boats sailing by skill rather than technology and all the adventures that can never be realized on a large modern boat but then I guess I really like sailing as opposed to motoring around on a boat that has a mast.  The challenge of working in and out of harbors and the sense of satisfaction that can only be found from the deck of a small simple ship. I can’t remember a single time I’ve ever rowed away from Sookie without turning and admiring her beautiful lines, with each passage my love grows for the designs from Lyle Hess’s drwing board.  An old friend once told me that Lyle was responsible for beautifying hundreds of ports around the world…

“I have a knack for getting a lot out of a small boat. My whole psyche at sea is the security of a small, tight boat. Big boats—with the roar and the crash and the tremendous forces—can be just frightening. I prefer the real pleasure that you feel on those little boats—the motion, the closeness to the sea (you’re almost in it, you know). And I value the real companionship that people have on a small boat.” Lyle Hess

Why we sail

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The weather wasn’t particularly nasty, just really wet, cold and blustery, white horses chased us down and endless sea, dark clouds hung just above the horizon.  The dark seas with pure white caps spilling one over the other, the cry of sea gulls dipping and diving all along the rugged shore of Texada island.  The blurry landscape turned to crystal clear as we neared the coast, the shore lined with Madrone trees led the way to another new anchorage, calm and flat as a pond.

Tiny home

The throaty vibration of 5/16″ chain rattled through the chainpipe signaling the end of yet another sucessful passage.  I hugged my crew and gave congratulations for a sucessful western crossing of the straits of Georgia.  A Luke warm beer was my well earned reward, rugged granit cliffs, a derelict wharf and not another boat in site.  This is why I sail, why I voyage and why I love small simple boats, there is a difference.

I don’t know why AOH has all of the sudden become so popular but again I’ve been asked to put my pen to paper and share the sail and again I’ve decided to keep my words and images here and for free.  I suspect it won’t always be this way but for now it is.  I’ve always been a bit reluctant to share my actual journeys under sail and the images that follow, perhaps I think I have a book in me, a way to make a few bucks and keep this site going.  Who knows why I only share snippets but for now I’m going continue to keep that part of my life very private.

I do feel ready to share a bit of the more technical side of cruising, choosing a boat and getting her ready without actually outfitting her. I prefer a simple boat and since I don’t go near the sailing forums that now insist your not safe offshore without a coast guard helicopter following you just in case and at least a 55′ boat I still havent been brainwashed.  Don’t get me wrong, Sookie is being prepared for for puddle jumping but I’ll share more about that when the time is right.

For now it feels like I’m preparing for the apocalypse with every single cent I earn going to making this boat unstoppable and fully equipped for a full year off the grid.  When your on an extreme budget as I am it’s easier and cheaper to stock the stores at home where I am currently earning a very small amount of money and have the tools and more importantly friends with better tools to help me get the job done.

The wind is coming, the barometer dropping and the rain is already lashing at my decks. writing by the warm glow of Sookies lantern I can’t imagine life any other way.  Once again I’ve fallen ass backwards into a bit of success and today I started the wheels turning for a brand new one off trim tab steering vane for Sookie and a small hard rowing dinghy.  Sookie is piled with new sailing gear, some old, some new but each and every piece, a minimalist necessity.

Tonight I will christen my newest sketch book and start drawing the small changes  that will make Sookies cockpit, clean, comfy and ready to carry me to the horizon.   Her small cabin is aglow with the smell of aromatic cedar and burning paraffin.  New purple sheets from the free store and a comfy blanket have my v berth ready for the cold winter and heat is still little more than a pipe dream but it will arrive sooner or later.

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.” – Helen Keller

What’s your favorite sailing blog

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and why?  Stay Gold was one of my favorites, 4 young kids bought an old boat, fixed it up, got caught in one of the worst storms of century, fixed the damage and kept on sailing.  The blog has expired but as far as I know they are still out there sailing.

Blue water sailing

 

I have a friend who is desperate to find good sailing blogs with great writing and fantastic photography. Her deadline is noon tomorrow for a presentation she is giving on living the dream.  I’m coming up a loss so please share some good ones 🙂

Is your boat she-worthy

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For me the list is short and simple, Falmouth Cutter 22, Vetrue ll 25, Vancouver 27, Nor,Sea 27, Bristol Channel Cutter 28, I don’t know of any other boats that fit my personal requirements for a safe, comefortable, seaworthy blue water sailboat. This is my list but what about the theoretical hers?

Women who sail

Finding a seaworthy boat is simple, write a big check and she’s yours but on she-worthiness it’s whole different ball game.  I love all the above mentioned boats but as of today still prefer my outboard engine and shit bucket.  Don’t get me wrong, a well running high octane inboard trumps and outboard hands down when it comes to convienince and at times it’s possible that it may even be safer but  they also cost a lot, smell like shit and take a giant portion of your boat away, everything is a tradeoff.  For me the number one reason to have a Diesel engine has nothing to do with the engines auxiliary propulsion but rather the giant fuel tank than can plumb to a heater and the alternator that can charge the batteries that run said heater.  I’m extremely fire paranoid and prefer diesel to all other heat sources.

Women who sail

Again heat is at the top of she-worthiness.  When I purchased Sookie I had the exact opposite in mind, I wanted a boat that would have the long term effect of keeping most of the opposite sex away and uninterested and boy has it worked.  I always thought my stinky little hippie girl, hairy armpits and all would show up but that hasn’t been the case as of yet. I guess I did too good of a job at protecting myself from having one too  many anchors on the boat.

Space is another factor for the she crowd, I like a small cozy boat, the world is full of space, just row to shore and roam as far and wide as your heat desires.  Oddly enough the bucket is rarely an issue but the lack of an oven often is.  And then there is the shower, yes I could add a water maker but I won’t, I like showering on deck or in the water, it’s fun and when it’s cold I can just row to shore or take a sponge bath in the boat.

Maybe I’ve just had a bit of bad luck but when it comes to making my boat she-worthy I find that the parties that have been interested have only been interested if I make the boat exactly like a house, with a pottie, shower, refrigeration, freezer, push button heat and space to roam.  Oddly enough, with each passing year I start to wonder if personally I wouldnt prefer a boat that is a bit more she-worthy.  I’m not there yet but there are times when a hot indoor shower seems like it would be pretty luxurious and cold beer, well who wouldn’t like that.  They say the spots on a leopard never change so I may just stick with my trational ways forever but in this life we really do never know what lays around the corner.

The images above are my ex wife Lizzie who I love very much, she never had any complaints about any of the three boats we sailed together but where as my heart and soul are connected to the sea, hers were always found the highest tops of mountains.  Some things no matter how wonderful were just never meant to be.  I’m camera-less so I had to use a few old images…

Will work for food or money

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Sookies galley may not be as fancy as the steel fortress but she meets my every need.  As a liveaboard home base and transportable moveable feast she is damn near perfect, almost.  Packing her away every year is hard and since I never know when I’ll return I always need to be careful what I leave aboard.  My constant goal is to store a full year supply of food aboard, no small feat.

Living aboard a sailboat

Each year I fall a little further off the grid, Sookie becomes a little more sustainable and as always my end goal is to have the smallest footprint within reason. I say this because of my love for public transportation and the fact that I will board a plane, train or some form of public tramsportation at every opportunity with my trusty Brompton in tow for a mini adventure.  The issue is that more often than not I return to an empty boat with no or very little money and it’s a scramble to survive.

Boat galley

With my current 2 days on 5 days off I’m not going to starve and have all the time I need for exploring but stocking the ship is a challenge.  I’m trying to move away from most foods that come in a container but it’s a struggle.  For now lentles are pilling up, rice neatly fits and stores well, and as much as I’m not a pasta fan, I have piles of it, if for no other than reason it’s cheap, lasts forever and easy to store.

Sailboat galley

When I returned I bought a bag of onions, a giant pile of corn tortillas that will last months without refrigeration and bags of potatoes which I’m slowly removing from my diet.  I rarely eat meat but local island veggies at least for now are free and the boat is piled with them.  My lockers are slowly filling, a can of peanut butter here, a sac of peppercorn there and it feels good to be slowly loading Sookie to LWL.  At some point I’ll split either on the boat with Brompty in tow or on my bike for a long journey but if all goes Sookie will be stocked to the brim.  My thanksgiving meal will be cooked on Sookies new stove and I may even have a real water tank by then, at least a small one.  You can’t rush these things on a boat like the FC, each piece is part of a bigger puzzle that was drawn over a hundred years ago.

Living aboard a sailboat

Ive walked away from yet another BCC preferring to hold out for one of the latter ones built and one that is as near perfect for me as Sookie and I’m close but not in any hurry.  I have everything I need right now, the new ship will arrive soon enough and like Sookie I’ll pay cash for her.

I'm winning

its a cold rainy day but much is going on. In my tiny world, now all I have to do is decide which I want first, running water or a gimballed stove.  Tomorrow is payday and I’ll order an alcohol heater and five gallons of fuel to take the nip off of winter.  It feels really good to living a bit of a normal life for now but like everything in life my stagnation is very temporary.  To break up the monotony of my two day work week Brompty is always packed and ready to roll, the only question is where will I go this week…

“Success is doing what you want to do, when you want, where you want, with whom you want, as much as you want.” – Tony Robbins

I’ve got a ticket to ride

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Ok, ok, ok, I know… I have a problem, I need to get help.  I’m thinking about a journey to the Alaska via the Blue Canoe ferry, then a quick hop to the Arctic Circle for the spring solstice to begin my ride through the Alaska Canada HWY.

Brompton bike tour

Its a hard choice because I’d also like to ride the Camino  De Santiago, tour the Hawaiian islands and then there is south east Asia. The Deep South is on my list as is the Alps and just about every place from here to there, maybe I can do them all.

Bit by bit I’m packing my bike bags, replacing everything I destroyed, jetosoning the things that didn’t work and trying desperately not to add the things I wished I had had.

Its a bit scary to think about, there will be bears, Polar, black and brown,  wildlife in every form, huge storms, giant trucks and very long distances between civilization.  Not really an expedition but a good ride on the Alcan seems like a delightful way to spend the spring. I’m dreaming and I’m dreaming big.

From the log of Brompty, Newport Oregon. My ride is over, bitter sweet as I’ve found that my system is bullet proof, but my body isn’t.  I lost today but it doesn’t mean I have to like it.  I’ll be back on the road in the blink of an eye.

A day in the life with my Brompton 

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Not a single hour of any day has passed without me second guessing pulling the plug on my bike trip to Mexico. In many ways that journey was the beginning of a much larger voyage, and possibly was the most relevant undertaking I have sought out to achieve in my life.  Sure Mexico was on the tip of my tongue but it was a test to see if I just wanted to continue on all the way around the world.  In short the answer was revealed almost instantly and a resounding yes.

Brompton bike tour

Three weeks have slipped through my fingertips since that bitter sweet day.  While I had no plans of returning north for the winter here I am and my world is getting larger every day.  An invitation to stay at the bat cave turned into a miricle on wheels, ending at an estate in the sky overlooking the islands , I honestly didn’t ever want to leave.

Brompton bike tour

Three weeks out of the saddle has made me fat and lazy, out of shape and one mile into my ride the answers to all my questions were answered, my knee is still blown. I should have called the trip and turned around but it felt so good to be back in the saddle, so free and so exciting to roam off the map and find myself.  I had very little idea where I was going but wasn’t worried, I know just about everybody in the islands, I knew I would find my way.  The hills were big and hurt, I was overdressed at times and underdressed at others, fall is exploding sending my senses into overload.

Brompton bike tour

My first stop was Deer Harbor, sipping a cold Anchor Steam with tourists in the light drissle was delightful, I found a friends new boat but he wasn’t around so I continued my tour down quiet county roads meandering a crooked course, the pace as lazy as I am.  A closed farm stand was calling my name so I stopped to hide from the rain and smoke a ciggie, I was soaking up what is called the Gold Coast and enjoying every ounce of the view when I heard my named called.  I was literally in the middle of nowhere but there was my friend, the one I was here to visit, I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

Brompton 2017

We picked juicy fire red apples that matched the maple leaves surrounding us, then moved on to ones that matched the fall aspens, munching on the sweet nectar nature had provided for us.  Meandering through the woods, by a nice pond while the dog chased everything with the same enthusiasm I have for Brompty and finally we were at the garden to pick fresh carrots  for the cake. A birthday extravaganza and a dinner party was in the making at the steel fortress perched high over the pass. The view was endless across the many islands Sookie has carried me to.  I’m moving Sookie to this island as soon as I can find a safe spot to hang her hook.

Brompton bike tour

A giant fire, flickered and danced with the laughter that filled our grand celebration, good food and great company marked yet one more impossibly perfect journey like the many that start and finish from the saddle of my faithful Brompton. Travel insoired by Natural power is an addictive way to explore, I can go as far as I’m willing and able .  I’m not ready to leave this magical paradise but I’ll be back on those quiet country roads again, sooner rather than later.  It’s good to be home in my little island paradise, the tourists are gone, I see more deer on the back roads than cars, the slow lane is my chosen way of travel.

“As a kid I had a dream – I wanted to own my own bicycle. When I got the bike I must have been the happiest boy in Liverpool, maybe the world. I lived for that bike. Most kids left their bike in the backyard at night. Not me. I insisted on taking mine indoors and the first night I even kept it in my bed.” John Lennon

Bristol Channel Cutter blog

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When I first met pixie it was love at first sight, simply rigged, stout and ready to cross oceans.  Her new blog Pixie sails is sure to delight anyone who has ever dreamed of crossing oceans on a well found yacht.  Step aboard for the journey, her lanterns are lit and there is pleanty of space for you to join along in her cozy cabin.

Bristol Channel,cutter blog

Turn the clock back a few years, Bill and Cathy they were dreaming if finding the perfect boat to circumnavigate and eventually they did, a beautiful crealock 37. Now a bit older and wiser having finished their world cruise they have moved up to a Bristol Channel Cutter 28. On paper both boats are identical in beam, displacement, LWl, LOA and sail area.  Both brilliant yachts but when you drop them in the water they are at opposite ends of the spectrum.

There is much I could post here but I don’t want to be a spoiler.  Be sure to have a visit and bookmark their site.  Bill and Cathy are the real deal having used a sextant over modern forms of navigation for thier entire circumnavigation. The blog also links to trip notes from their first journey but I’m going to be the monkey on Cathy’s back making sure she posts often.

its been two years now since sitting at the wooden boat festiville drinking ice cold beers that Bill kept sliding in front of me while we discussed down wind sailing, tri sails and sailing in the trades, he is a wealth of information, they both are.

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

The ghost of Sookie

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I’m as close to owning a Bristol Channel Cutter as I’ve ever been, she is near perfect and mine for the taking.  Much newer than Sookie and ready for blue water cruising, fatty knees and all.  I’m frustrated as hell, it shouldn’t be this way. I check my email and my new copy of Taleisins Tales has arrived, just what the doctor ordered. Lin pardey can get me through anything, I love her for this and countless many other reasons.

Taleisins tales

I read through chapter one, tears welling up in my eyes, I get a chill up my spine as she talks about the ghost of Seraffyn. The first three BCC’s I was serious about were easy enough to walk away from. The one in Hawaii was damn near new and I had the ability to take possession and sail her home, she was perfect from her free hand windvane to her perfect sail assortment, this purchase would have gone down in history as the best purchase of a Turn key BCC in history but I couldn’t commit. I had alterior reasons for going to Hawaii which I never talked about and I still won’t.  Either way that boat could have been mine but the ghost of Sookie wouldn’t have any part of it.

There is something about Sookie, her spirit speaks to me and I miss her when we are apart, I feel a strange pride and often guilt based off of necglect when I leave her, it’s un natural and quite frankly freaks me out.  We have been through many trials together, she is not just a boat, she is a home and a dream and a better way through life but still… a bigger boat means many things but it’s also cheaper than finishing outfitting Sookie, I don’t care about the money but finding reasonable paying work has me at a virtual standstill. It’s also just plain nice to have a bit more space, a bit more comefort and a bit more weight underfoot.

the latest BCC a few years older than the last but all and all in reasonably good condition, the monitor vane sucks, the rudder is full of water, the wood necgletected, all easy stuff but again Sookie weighs heavily in my thoughts like I’m some how letting her down, abandoning her, throwing her away…

I’ll never forget the first time I stepped aboard BCC, it was Mike Anderson’s, who built Sookie, I’ve spent the last 29 years of my life knowing some day I would call one my home, I’ve helped build them, rebuild them, sail them and know every inch of their construction although way back in 1987 I didn’t know she had a smaller sister ship, the Falmouth, the ship I now call my home.

These feelings persist in me yet as I read Lin’s book, they slowly were overshadowed by the new boat and all of the luxury and advantages it provided even though it was only 29’6″ on deck.  Yes, bigger is often better, I close the book to ponder her words, my life and my relationship with Sookie and the meeting of her larger sistership…

“But I also came to feel her ghost as a special gift, a reminder that size never mattered, that seaworthiness alone outweighed all other traits. Seraffyn’s  ghost lingered as a reminder that the ultimate luxury is time granted to do what we enjoyed most.” Lin Pardey

 

Ride a Brompton save the world

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My day started out like any other day on the trip.  Eat, stretch, break camp, one more cup of coffee and visits to all the other cyclists for morning banter.  Once saddled up for a long day I would slowly turn the pedals an settle in for the ride.  Rain, head winds and hills always seemed to start my day, cold fingers and a bit of a shiver while I slowly warmed up watching the world unfold in front of my eyes

Brompton

Im convinced that while never intended for such silly things that my Brompton was the best choice for the trip, I would choose her again and will on my next ride.  Her cockpit was the most comefortable I’ve ever experienced and I’ve been fortunate to own many very fine bicycles, she fit me like a glove.

Karate monkey

The Brompton has turned out to be so economical and such a great investment even on my pathetic annual budget that I’m contemplating upgrading to the titanium version with a few minor tweaks including losing the rack and making my own fenders.

San Juan ferry

Ruining bikes by leaving them tied onto Sookies deck had me shopping for a good folding bike although I have to admit I did fear it would be the end of my long days in the saddle and once and for all out an end to my days of touring, I simply can’t afford two bikes financially or spatially.  I couldn’t have been more wrong, Brompty as it turns out is a world class touring bike.  She also fits anywhere and is just as fun for a quick bop to the store or a day trip to the top of Mt Constellaion on Orcas.  She is alway free on the ferry as am I because I rode her instead of driving a car.

Brompton wine sale

For me it’s all fun and games but I can’t help but to wonder what if everybody got a trusty folder and started parking their cars in the garage or getting rid of them all together.  Not only does ownership of a good folding bike breed financial success by saving all the money thrown away by car ownership but it stops or at least extremely slows your aging process, keeps you healthy, fit and strong which equates to mental bliss.  I can’t remember the last time my body was this tight, a quick 50 mikes is a walk in the park and experiencing the elements from the saddle makes winter so much more enjoyable.

Brompton boat bike

i live my bike so much I’m I’m actually contemplating opening a small shop just for folders, new and used.  I hear talk of this and that, save the planet, global warming… if you care about the world you live in and the body you occupy isn’t time you make a small investment in your health and happiness and buy a Brompton. The US uses an average of 20 million barrels of oil a day at this pace wars will never end, think about that little fact next time you jump,into your car or fill the belly of that beast with fuel.  It’s already started, bicycle ownership is up ten fold, people are dumping their cars or at least using them a lot less.  Every time you jump on your bike an adventure is at hand, the crisp cold air on your checks and that alive feeling you have whooshing down the road on nothing but your own power.  With all the money you save you can eat higher quality food and in general have a higher standard of living.

Brompton 2017

Take the money you save on car payments, maintenence and stress and invest it in your future, life is too short, every peddle stroke on your bike makes the world bigger, slowes the progression of time and one last little tidbit.  Second only to a puppy at the end of a string, nothing in the world is better than a folder for making new friends.  These curious looking bikes arent just the future of a cleaner world, they are the revolution.  I have so much more I want to write about this but it’s Monday and I have a date with  Brompty to ride down to the south end for a piping hot latte and a bit of flirting with an island girl I met the other day when I was combing the beach for agates.  I know what your thinking, but it’s Monday, shouldn’t you be off to work?  If I had a car I would be sitting in bumper to bumper traffic on my way to some hateful job to pay for it but my Brompton is free and so am I…

Raw

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I finish wiping the salt spray off my trusty Nikon and set it in its perch ready to go, I don’t have a camera bag or lens cap, my Nikon is for using, not hauling around like some digital piece of jewelry.  It’s a dinosaur by today’s standards but it’s processor is magic, its build, indestructible and like precious few things in this world, its mine.

Nikon D500

Ive been asked to contribute a chapter to a book on budget cruising.  I respond with a very gracious thank you but no thank you.  I find an email in my inbox with 10 links to essays I’ve never read, sure I wrote them and lived them but I’ve never read them.  I ease the sheets and reach down memory lane.  Has it really been a year since my last real cruise.  The words flow like water, I feel like I’m right there in the middle of the cockpit sailing on a journey that is little more than a few data bites now.  As one of the most prolific sailing bloggers of the last decade I don’t know why I’m so reluctant to share my experience beyond the small tribe of readers who have stumbled upon AOH, maybe I’m being selfish or maybe I just prefer to keep it local.

Best blue water sailboats

I don’t feel like I have a story to tell, or at least not a complete one, just snippets, a few passages through life.  It’s late, I’ve been editing all day and I’m too tired to sleep.  I read through all the links and can’t help to be reminded how quickly it all slips through  our fingers.  In some other life I was having my 7th birthday, free diving in a bay in Southern California known to be frequented by great whites but unlike all stories from the sea the reality is usually much safer than the stories built by those who have never really experienced the sea, my home; a sanctuary that was my school room and playground as a child. It still is all these years later.  I’m not living the dream, I’m simply experiencing my birth-right, a privilege I have known my whole life, the ocean, my ocean; but do I have anything  to teach of it all?  No, I don’t think so, my words simply fill the void between images, snap shots of a life at sea.

One of my favorite images, I sailed 400 miles to find this location, it's surrounding as raw as the subject and my life.

One of my favorite images, I sailed 400 miles to find this location, it’s surrounding as raw as the subject and my life.

It’s through my minimalist ways that I’ve been given the tools to fuel my adventures, my film gear, the boat,  Brompty and my much loved ukulele although at this point she is still on walkabout, but I know she is coming home soon.  More importantly it’s my minimaist lifestyle that affords me the time to use these wonderful gifts life had bestowed on me. When you focus on the things you need verse the things you want, you soon realize that you don’t need anymore than your already have.  This is where freedom is born, in not saying just a few more years and… life is now, live it.

Flicka

“Here I came to the very edge
where nothing at all needs saying,
everything is absorbed through weather and the sea,
and the moon swam back,
its rays all silvered,
and time and again the darkness would be broken
by the crash of a wave,
and every day on the balcony of the sea,
wings open, fire is born,
and everything is blue again like morning. ”
~ Pablo Neruda

Typhoon!

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To the landsmans eye the ocean is always flat, they look across the ocean not much unlike their ancestors did before we had learned to navigate the seas always thinking that the world is flat.  The wind is angry by the time it funnels down the straits of Juan De Fuca.  It hits the bluff at San Juan point crossing the San Juan channel and slams across the bay.  The huge fetch and oposing tides don’t help.  There is little in the way of protection where I’m sitting right now.

As the front passed overheard just ahead of the winds

As the front passed overheard just ahead of the winds

It sounds like a fighter jet flying overhead getting louder and louder until wham! The gust hits you, the boat heels and the dock lines do their best to shatter the wood bull rails.  While it’s scary I’m not afraid for my safety although I have been on occasions while tied to the dock. It’s more that I worry about the strain on Sookie and her bits.  People made fun of me when I had to custom order 8″ x3/8 lag bolts for Sookies cleats but that’s how thick the section is between the cleat and half inch backing plate, insane? No I don’t think so.

At 45 knots sustained on a wind over tide this place turns into hell on water, a cauldren of boiling water washing both under and over the marina.  Boats have sunk, docks have blown away, you name it’s happened here, again the price you pay for living in the islands over the winter.  For the most part it’s not that bad but it only takes one big one…

Im tucked into my lee cloth to keep me from being thrown out of my berth. My down bag snugged up around my naked body, I’m warm and as comefortable as is possible considering I’m having my ass handed to me by a full blown winter storm and it’s only the beginning of October.  Maybe this means an early warm spring will send me on a gentle cruise to the Queen Charlotts but in the deepest recesses of my mind I’m planning a trip down the coast to Pamana if I can find the right co-pilot, although on nights like tonight a warm cabin in the woods sounds pretty wonderful.  Just in case things get out of hand I have my ditch bag packed and ready.  I packed it many times and never had to use it, I’m hoping this is another one of those occasions but it’s better safe than sorry.  It really isn’t much more than an annoyance because I want to cook popcorn and can’t, at this point and I doubt the winds have even topped 40, it’s a calm night considering  what was forecast and the wind is still SSE, its the sou’wester that gets my goat…

From the log of Atarah, Baja, 1988… my notes say 28.8 on the barometer, impending hurricane, it’s reading 28.7 oh shit… from the log of Sookie, Salish sea, barometer reads 28.9 gonna be a fun night…

Wintering aboard

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The hatches are battened, Sookie is warm and dry with extra lines added just to be safe.  Winter aboard in the pacific North West is a different type of monster.  You don’t get the cold temperatures like you do in other parts of the world but the wet windy days are bone chilling. Condensation never stops and the battle to snug on the boat is never ending but one I thourally enjoy.

One of my all time favorite images and yes it really was that cold.

One of my all time favorite images and yes it really was that cold.

Space is at a premium when you live on a small boat, the week will be spent working on a heating system, a project I’ve failed at for over 5 years now and the one and only reason I would ever consider moving up to a Bristol Channel Cutter 28, something I think about and contemplate 25 hours a day.

i wouldn’t have acquired Sookie if I didn’t think she was the best boat on the planet but way back then I never intended to spend a single winter aboard in the colder northern climates.  She is well ventilated and in the dead of winter I can keep her near 45 degrees but dreams of not ever being tied to a dock have me lost between the freedom of owning a boat that It’s too cold to use and being owned by a boat that could go anywhere regardless of the cold yet is tied to the dock with payments. Both equal prisons, neither ideal…I’ve come to a stand still.

For all the love I have for the BCC I simply prefer the lines and sailing charichteristics of the Falmouth better, these two boats are night and day in their differences beyond the first glance.  As far as seaworthieness I don’t know if there  is a huge difference beyond windward ability and comefort wise, while Sookie is smaller I really prefer her layout.  On deck the BCC trumps just about every boat in existence but I have very few complaints about Sookies dack layout, if I have any it’s simply a matter of constrictions due to her size.

i was recently asked if I could have any sailboat on the planet what would it be, a question I really can’t answer.  I love the Hess 26 but I’ve always been a small boat sailor and even that boat seems to be more than I need although having sailed aboard one as often as I can it just may be the best blue water cruising boat ever designed above the pocket cruiser level.

My sketch book is over flowing, my mind sailing in circles and just like I do at this time of year, every year I’m balancing my needs over freedom and wants…it’s so easy to fall from the freedom wagon with wandering eyes that more often than not leads to the origial place we fought so hard to escape from.

 “As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.”
― Henry David Thoreau

Thicker than water

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The storm of the century blew to the north without a whimper over 40 knots but there will be many more.  I get a text from an ex lover, she wants me to come ride the storm like we stole it. Her friends say a sailor shouldn’t be afraid of a storm, landlubbers. As I’m reading the text a commercial fisherman walks into the bar and announces he’s staying a few days as he’s hiding from the impending storm. I smile, seamanship is an awesome super power. The marina is filling fast, lots of sailors blowing in.

Falmouth cutter

I need to pull Sookies anchor line and make new dock lines, she will have more chain and thicker line by the end of the year. Thats how it always goes, I use the un-thrashed parts of her old rode to make new dock lines, the last 100 of her 330′ rarely see the sea or the bottom, new line every other year is good and cheap insurance.  They say blood is thicker than water, I ponder this as she does her best to intice me to leave Sookie and help stoke her fire.  To be honest she had me at hello but Sookie trumps a beautiful young girl with a wood stove every day of the week. She is my home, my master and my servant.

Living aboard a sailboat

It’s late, I just got back to Sookie and my fingers and toes are cold, it’s too early for the frost we have gotten but no matter I’m back and this is my life now. I have no complaints other than a lack of a free range hippie to do some winter exploring with me but that’s how it goes in the islands, summer has gone and with it all of the golden locks that teased me all summer, it’s hybermate season like it or not.

 Blue water sailboats

I get a quote for new glasses, $750 bucks, or I could push the button on my tiny tot even though I still havent found a home for it.  I sitting on this one till my nipples are hard enough to cut glass.  My thick wool sweater will do for now as will my thickest socks and candles to heat the boat.  Sometimes I get lonely but not enough to… let’s face it loneliness and desperation make for a terrible match maker.  There is a beauty in the limbo I dance, that sanctuary bestween shadow and darkness where the light falls into a magic glow reminding me that there are worse things than being alone.  Sookie is looking good but she needs attention before the big freeze up.  The vhf weather is pissing me off , I shut it off, tap on the barometer and pour a glass of wine from my box.  My brain is scattered but in a very good place as am I.

Best small blue water sailboats

From the log of Sookie, storm front.  I get of the phone with my broker, the BCC I’ve been eyeballing  and have made one offer on just fell out of contract.  She’s mine if I want her but do I?  The lantern cuts the cold as I make splices for Sookies new dock lines.  When is enough enough?  Do I really want a heater badly enough to buy a new boat???

Idiodic persistence 

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The level of commitment I have to becoming less of a dirtbag is exactly half of the internal drive  I have for small scale exploration.  I’m not just stepping out of my comrfort zone on a near daily basis, I’m jumping out of the fucking plane without a parachute. No I’m not climbing Mount Everest or rounding the Cape Horn but through the lens of my double vision I see an untapped world of ordinary adventures squared that are epic enough to have me waking up screaming at the top of my lungs, not unlike the way I scream when I’m wide awake, it’s how I deal with the things in this world that scare the shit out of me which is everything.

Touring Brompton

This is the introduction I sent along with my portfolio for a 3 month contract that pays shit, I doubt I’d live through the journey anyways so pay doesn’t matter anyways and it’s not exactly National Geographic that I was submitting for.  Considering that I’ve worked with Nat Geo in the past and recently turned them down it would seem that I’m going backwards in life although this didn’t occur to me until after I had sent the package.  I consoled myself that they wouldn’t hire me anyways  and let the whole thing go.  The funny thing is that they not only responded but sent an offer which I immeidalty declined in favor of a night job scrubbing dishes in a local shit hole restaurant

The question isn’t why would I turn down the contract but why would I want to wash dishes till 2:00 am every day.  Somewhere about 30 milliseconds after I dropped the whole package in the mail it ocuured to me that I don’t want to tell someone else’s story, I want to tell my own and even though the work would be fun and scary which makes it even more fun and scary it could only lead to more of the same which takes me further and further away from what Im perusing right now which apperantly and quite sucesssfuly is anynimity as an expedition journalist convering my completely average and below normal adventures which I might add scare the shit out of me ever step of the way.

Just before leaving on my bike trip I was offered a job selling cars, I was all but guaranteed 200k my first year.  Why would I choose dish washing for minimum wage over 200k?  Yes they are both soul crushing jobs but one is an anchor and one is a launch pad.  Rare is the individual who doesn’t spend their whole life working backwards till it’s too late.  On my budget I could retire for life on one simple year of selling cars but what if I don’t live a year, spending my last year on this planet basking in the tedium of mediocrity sounds like a fate worse than death but what’s worse is I could get addicted to the money and the lifestyle and one year could turn to ten to life.

You can be dumber than a sac of hammers and your not going to get addicted to minimum wage or scrubbing nasty shit off dishes all night.  On the plus side it’s a completely brainless job and I have all my days free to plan the next boneheaded journey I’m sure to take.  I may be stupid or greedy for life but I’ll live it now, I don’t want any anchors, life plans, 3, 5 or ten year goals, I just want to fucking live and scream when I’m scared which is always but more importantly I have an insatiable need to feed the addiction of the all incompasimg freedom I have been given.

Today is a good day, I’m fat full of veggie man tacos and have a glass of shitty wine. It’s a far cry from a week ago when I was stuck in the middle of the woods sucking mayonnaise out of little disposable packets because I was literally stsrved for calories, out of food and sick and injured. It might sound like hell but it was pretty damn amusing at the time, it still is.  I may never do anything great by other people’s standards but  when measured against my timid life where I always have my pink panties in a bunch I’m living at ground zero creating semi rad adventures in not so remote parts of the world.

Today it all begins, I’m liquidating everything I own for a self supported bike ride on my trusty Brompton around the world.  It’s all I can think about, Im already jonesing  for the open road  and the comrodery I found in like minded individuals out there.  It all started with one simple question that I was asked, “if you could do anything in the world what would it be?” My answer quite obvious, I would ride my steel horse everywhere, no maps, i will just follow my eyes wherever they find the most curious.

Zen and the art of Brompton touring

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On my hands and knees perched on the side of the 101 I had never before experienced changing a flat on the side of a fwy.  Cars zoomed by at 80mph only a few feet from me, the wind was blowing 30 on the nose and the driving rain stung as I tried to patch my flat. I was covered in mud the noise from traffic too loud to listen for air escaping and my vision wouldn’t  let me just look.  I would pump the tube lick a few inches and hold the tube by my cheek attempting to feel the hiss of air escaping the tube.  This would happen 5 times in two hours, the road debris were atrocious.

Brompton touring set up

Bears, elk, bat shit crazy drivers, tunnels, bridges, bad or no shoulders and the weather, I can’t even begin to describe what it’s like to try and pedal up hill in the head winds i met on the pacific coast. More often than not I was lost but my bad navigation was by design, i wanted to discover the world I live in, I had nothing but time and my days were spent in overload of exploration.  Of all the challenges I met out there my trusty Brompton never once let me down.  She was a joy ride and made friends everywhere we went.

Touring on a Brompton

I’ve had many folding bikes over the years and ridden everyone of them into the ground.  Ive long since lost track of how many miles my faithful Brompton has carried me but I’ve put her through some serious hell when it comes road conditions although many of the places I have taken her had no road.

Bikepacking

The Brompton is not a touring bike, it was designed as a city commuter and while it leads the world in quality and design in the folding bike arena mine has become an urban assault vehicle.  one of the biggest surprises on this journey was truly realizing how lazy I had become.  There are just times when ten miles seems like a chore.  After riding 50 miles day in and day out with a few passes in between now bouncing on Brompty  for a quick 20 miles to Roche Harbor for a latte seems like a walk in the park.

Bicycle touring bikes

My body was transformed  into a 48 year old machine.  I have zero body fat, six pack abs and blown quads, just one of the many joys that riding a bike 512 miles for a free glass of wine will deliver.  I honestly haven’t felt this tight since my days as an ultra runner.  Now laying on my ass in Sookie sipping on a cool beer I have to make sure I heal fast and stay in my groove because I will finish this journey with Brompty come hell or high water, it’s in my blood now.

Brompton art

Once I dialed in my load I didn’t even notice that I was on an unsupported fully loaded bike tour.  She rode so nicely and handled so well my journey was more like a summer ramble to the park.  She also happens to be a pretty damn fine grocery getter and the perfect bike for those few times I actually use her for her intended purpose but I have a cycling date in Seattle so she will carry me to the ferry the bus and the train, with each new destination I will take the requisite 10 seconds to fold her and carry her right on without a word from anyone and no Exra fee but what else would you expect from the worlds best folding bike.  If you think there is a better folder out there I have only two words for you; wanna race?!

Never quit, EVER because if you quit on Thursday, Friday will never come and Friday just may have been the day you made it.

Her

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Having Sookie afloat again is like being reunited with a long lost lover, I fit inside her like we were meant to be together.  I know her every curve and she knows mine. With a spark the aromas of sulfur  fills the air as I light her heater.  The warm glow of her lamps removes me from the growing storm, its forecast to top 50 tonight but we are safe in our slip, the first gusts hit hard, she shudders and dumps the wind.  Sookie is a good home but she is far more than that.

Living aboard a sailboat

i pull my galley knife across a diamond edge, my mouth watering at my first real meal since hauling her out in June.  The music is bumping, the heater cranking and the skillet sizzling.  Buttery eggs over a bed of steamed potatoes and onions, dessert will be my world class kettle corn with a bit of spice.  My glass is filled with Caribbean  rum.  I grind an obscene amount of pepper over the garlic and top it with habanero from the same place as my rum. I use everything in my well outfitted spice rack but the kitchen sponge and set it to cook while I sip on a bit of life in my little cocoon.

Everything is put away, her lines neatly coiled and the cabin warm and dry.  I pull my expedition socks as high as they will go and listen to the rain beating against the deck.  It’s been too long since I’ve tasted the life of the liveaboard sailor and it’s good to be home, to have a real home, a place I know and love.

Sookie dips and heels with the gusts, i set  extra lines with chafing gear to keep us safe, i will check them often and sleep deeply as the storm rages on.  This isn’t our first storm together but in some strange way if feels like it is.  I’m like a mother hen checking and rechecking everything.  It’s going to be a long night but that’s what life is when you live aboard, you take care of each other at all times…

From the log of Sookie, I’m sitting in the weed lounge at the Green Tourtise  hostel in Seattle, it’s very late Sunday evening and the place is alive, I chat with young coeds while surfers jam on their guitars, it’s dark and smokey I love this place.  Shopping online I don’t have enough cash to get to Hawaii and I can’t book a flight to Florida as a hurricane is bearing down.  Somewhere  in the early morning I make a judgement call as cloudy as my surroundings and my head, I’m going home…

 

So easy a caveman or girl  can do it 

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At the very beginning of my bike tour I stayed with some very good friends, the conversation turned to money and surviving in this world.  I should note that none of us sitting around that table ever have anything to worry about. We all are resourceful hard working people who know the difference berweens dreams and reality.  The conversation was getting pretty deep when one of them snickered, well we know how you got your boat.  “this ought to be good I thought to myself” and so I asked, how did I get my boat.

Living aboard a sailboat

The answer had me laughing so hard I almost fell out of my chair, they thought I took a priviate loan from my family.  Let me set the record straight, I aquired Sookie through hard work and determination, scrimping and saving and going without.  I sold anything and everything I needed to and didn’t borrow one single cent, I was in the middle of a divorce during the whole process, it wasn’t easy.  It also took me a lifetime on the water working my way through a dozen lesser boats before I was blesses with such a fine ship

Sookie

I don’t borrow money and even if I wanted to I cancelled all my credit almost 15 years ago, my fico score is zero and that’s how it will remain, I don’t have a credit card or a golden parachute, nobody  is going to jump in and save me and even if I had one I wouldn’t use it.  I could have gone on disability at the age of 15 and retired for life, the subject comes up once a year and I decline it, I can make my own way though life, without struggle the rewards are zero.  Cycling the pacific coast with double vision may have been the stupidest thing I’ve ever done but the challenge payed off in ways I still don’t know how to describe.  Every day out there my life was hanging in the balance, one mistake and it could have and would have been all over.

Living aboard a sailboat

So back to boats and financing and how to make the dream happen as promised.  I spend about half the year voulinteering my services between things that matter to me and boaters who have read too much of the crap I spew on these pages.  Sure this blog is 100% honest and transparent but I can assure you many of the things I’ve experienced over the years is a lot more fun when you are reading it in fromt of your fire place in that big leather recliner with a hot buttered rum.

Living aboard a small sailboat

My annual budget is less than 6k often much less.  I get between 300-500 a year in donations and appreciate the hell of them and the people that send them but they don’t support this lifestyle.  I live frugally, make all my meals from scratch which is usually a pile of lentils with onions and garlic or some other form of cheap meal.  When I do get paid which isn’t often I stock the shit out of the boat finding sales on this or that.  I am fully insured, not against myself but against all the other idiots out there who have absolutely no respect for other people dreams, i was hit twice this year, both times it took more effort to hit me than it would have to not hit me, I’m continually shocked by how little respect boaters have for other boaters boats.

Falmouth cutter 22

I have no car, I ride my bike and have for 8 years.  To successfully become car-less I had to get rid of my house, move into the boat and take a shitty job, which coincidentally is why my marriage ended, worth it!  I’ve heard all sorts of excuses why people can’t go car-less but the truth is they simply don’t really want to which is fine, just stop spouting off about it. I have no phone, no bills of any sort and purchase very little beyond the scope of the boat or things for my recent bike trip.  Sure my new 35 degree sleeping bag cost 400 bucks but the one I retired had been used over 2,000 times, do the math, you get what you pay for.  I wear my clothes till they fall off my body and then cut them into rags, my shoes have holes through the bottom before they are replaced and I haven’t not been cold since the day I moved aboard almost 9 years ago.  I work shitty jobs that pay shit and suck but only long enough to fund the next journey.  I haven’t made any concrete sailing plans for the next 12 months but sail we will.  I will also spend january and February in Maui working on a writing project and in the spring or fall I will finish the bike tour that my knee pulled me off this year.  Between all that I will work when I can, chill and work on the boat inbetwen all that and still have plenty of time for daily adventures afoot and on Brompty.  I’m always shocked when people go on diets, I weigh 150 lbs soaking wet, if you want to be fit and heatlty this just might be the lifestyle for you.  The truth is we all are really living the way we choose to, if you don’t have a boat it’s your choice.  If you don’t make enough money it’s your choice .  If you are dating an abusive idiot it’s your choice.  Once you realize that everything you have is because it’s what you have chosen life is easy.  I chose to be a professional blogger and as such make  less than 500 bucks a year living my dream but I’m obviously happy as fuck, every morning when I open my eyes my life is my own.

Everything when it comes to living the dream is easier when you are a couple “dinks” but I remain single because I already have enough anchors in my life.  If you are in or planning on a partnership choose wisely, alterior  motives will sink your dreams faster than a pilot whale protecting her pup, as will debt  of any kind unless you have a passive income, i wish I  did :).

No, you don’t need to ask me how I do it, my way won’t work for you, find your own, dive in now because later will never transpire.  Hell if my neurotic, flighty, dumb shit ex can do it and she is every day and loving it so can you.  The last time I saw her she had 300 bucks and a one way ticket somewhere, from what I’ve heard through the grapevine she is killing it, I always knew she would and that she could once she set her mind to it.  I guess what I’m saying is talk is cheap, someday will never come and anybody can do it.  You don’t have to circumnavigate to find this life, start small, live large and always have a ton of booze and food  on board for the awesome visitors that will show up and make your life truly better.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again,  the best part of this life is the people you will meet.

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