Down Island


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Sitting in the cockpit a million stars stare back at me.  The forrest s alive with a symphony of frogs silenced by the occasional shrieking we still haven’t been able to identify.  The trees are budding, the eagles have returned and spring is rapidly creeping in.

sailing blog

The increase of traffic on the docks tells us the seasons have changed.  Today is the 4 year anniversary of the day I made a hand shake deal on Sookie without a single penny in my pocket.  I didn’t take delivery until April 2, 2011, the delivery company literally stole the boat but we got her back in relatively good form.  There was nothing wrong with the boat when I purchased her but she was old and tired.

Having a dog in tow makes finding any job nearly impossible, I refuse to leave her locked in the boat, a back yard or anywhere; she is and always has been my constant companion so I knew refitting this boat would go slow.  I made a very conservative 5 year plan, not to make her perfect but to bring her back to her most basic form of glory.  The past 4 years have had their fair share of struggle but every second has been worth it and now we are finally sitting at the edge ready to take the next step.

We have a small handful of charts and keep finding new ones.  There is no plan, no destination, no… Sookie is literally 90% done and we have  few glorious months to get her out for sea trials and to truly learn how much we need and what we can get away without.  Next year will be the last we have to really do her right.  Fort Meyers has wonderful boat yards, riggers, sailmakers everything at our finger tips and will make the best of them but that is a long way off from where we are now.

Sitting on my galley counter is a box filled with fasteners, cotter pins, stray lengths of pre measured lines, all sort of this and that.  My job these days is to complete the puzzle, when the box is empty the next stage of the journey begins.

Sitting bug eyed under fluorescent lights, stifeled by her office environment Emily is ready to snap, every day could be her last but she is holding on well all things considered.  She suffers through knowing full well that this may be the last time she ever has to live in a cubicle.  I feel her pain but I’ve been there.  I also know its a good pain to have, that quiet form of desperation the teaches us that we will do anything to be free.

We might not feel it now but I know we will both miss living on old San Juan.  Today she is just another pit stop to re-filling the kitty but she will always be the place we set off from, together.

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

Cabin Fever


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In five short days I reach my self imposed cut off for this seasons upgrades.  We can finally say we have survived winter together in a 22′ sailboat without killing each other, it was close.  Mark my words, we will never spend another winter living aboard in northern waters.

sailing blog

So we have learned to share in each others insanity, forgive and forget all of our short commings and somehow through it all are not only still friends but lovers.  As a team we are growing strong and quickly moving towards becoming a single unit.  We have put our short list away again unfinished and can finally turn our attention towards spring.  Another season using a camp stove, 5 gallon water jugs, candle light, hand steering and using what ever paper charts we are fortunate enough to come across.  Chloe is still going down hill but comfortable and happy, its a constant emotional roller coaster but this little fur ball means the world to us.

sailing blog

With so few Falmouth Cutters ever built we have had to come up with our own ideas for her rebuild which is quite evident by her painfully slow progress.  On the rare ocassions that we cross one of her sisterships, the camera and tape measure come out and its exciting comparing all the small differences.  While all FC’s we built to the owners spec’s Sookie is one of a kind for better and worse.

sailing blog

I’m loving our new lifelines and quarter berth cushions and while we are still mid refit Sookie is really starting to feel like a proper yacht.  We learned along time ago that she will never be finished but she is perfect for summer gunk holing in the Salish Sea. I can hear Emily reading this and saying I‘m not the one who is batshit crazy he is!  But we both know the truth about that ;)

Dispute not with her: she is lunatic.”
― William Shakespeare

Bike Friday And Brompton


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Natural power, simplicity and time to smell the roses.  We ask for very little and we get it, unfortunately most people we know don’t get it, us, or our minimalist wanderings.  We have chosen to move slowly and immerse ourselves in every place we visit rather that to just take a passing glimpse.

sailing blog

Sookie is the best mobile home base we can imagine but we are all to often pulled away from her by a call to explore further inland.  Every fall I buy a new bike and every spring I reluctantly sell it, all available space is at a premium when you live aboard a 22′ sailboat.  We have downsized our mountain backpacks to day packs large enough for simple 24 hour getaways and we are pleased with these small diversions.  Try as we may our little boat is just too small to take our bikes with us, enter Bike Friday and Brompton  In the very near future Sookie will sport two new folding touring bikes finally enabling us to take our most prized posesions our bikes, with us.

These small additions to our lives will open an entirely new world of touring and exploration to the journey and enable us to leave the boat in the Salish Sea when winter creeps in, to explore warmer climates further afield.  They are small and light enough to fit in our aft lazarette and strong and efficient enough to carry our minimalist loads for touring.

I wish I could take credit for this brilliant desicion but it was all Emily spurred by her refusal to let cycling take a backseat in our lives just because we are sailors.  We work harder and harder each day in an attempt to completely sail of the grid and into full time lives as explorers.

I know of no other financial decision more sound than selling your car and replacing it with a bike.  It will save you in the immediate future and add the most most valuable of all commodities in the world, quality of life both mental and physical.

Tens of thousands who could never afford to own, feed and stable a horse, had by this bright invention enjoyed the swiftness of motion which is perhaps the most fascinating feature of material life. ~Frances Willard, How I Learned to Ride the Bicycle

Frog Boiling


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The boiling frog story is a widespread anecdote describing a frog slowly being boiled alive. The premise is that if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out, but if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. The story is often used as a metaphor for the inability or unwillingness of people to react to significant changes that occur gradually.falmouth cutter 22

Call it what you want but we should be shoveling snow at this time of year not out sailing.  Each year winter has been easier and warmer here in the Pacific Northwest, we aren’t complaining.  Like the frog analogy I have been slowly sneaking new experiences into Emily’s quiver.  Her last trip was the windiest she has seen on Sookie even though it was little more than a moderate breeze.  By gradually upping the ante each mile further off shore is nothing more than business as usual.  By the time she loses sight of land she has already forgotten it was ever there.  I have so many friends who have taken their loved ones out for the first time, scared the hell out of them and now sail alone.

falmouth cutter 22

A big puff hit us and we heard something crash inside the boat, we both wondered what we forgot to stow.  It turned out that it was Chloe who fell into a pile of pillows on the cabin sole.  She got the last laugh as my breakfast ended up on her head and soon in her satisfied belly.  A bit later as the wind picked up she fell back into her berth and all was well in her world.  There was a good bit of traffic in the straits and we joined in with the Race around Shaw Island.  There were quite a few annoyed stares from racers when they couldn’t shake our fat little boat but we were careful to stay out of their way and had to de-power the main as not to pass them.

falmouth cutter 22

Back at the dock I asked Emily how she felt out there and her only reply was that the motor scared her.  Every day she is begging to get back out on the water.  By the time she gets to experience her first gale it will be just another day on the water.  It might be sneaky always leaving her a bit hungry but I’ve got her hook, line and sinker, my days of catch and release are over.

“Anyone can be a fisherman in May.”  ~ Ernest Hemingway



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Sitting in a paper dress in my doctors office I could tell by the look on his face that it wasn’t good news.  I was told that if I didn’t make drastic and immediate changes in my life my days were numbered.  My stress levels were through the roof back then, I was literally killing myself for money, a lot of it.  I’ve never been afraid of dying but I don’t want to, I choose life.


After giving them half my blood I changed into my running clothes in my car and ran 18 miles home.  With six months to live I had to choose my days wisely.  I used the run to plan everything I would do before my big dirt nap.  The one thing I wouldn’t even consider was giving up my income, I couldn’t live without it.


I took a one month leave and set out to get lost for a while, one month turned into two.


Somewhere in the process of it all I became wild.  Money took a backseat as I found a new drug to replace it, living on the fringe.


I explored every inch of my soul, and a good bit of the country while I was at it.


Chloe and I became hermits, the clock was ticking and we had a lot of ground to cover.


We didn’t have any great expectations we just wanted to squeese every day out of our remaining life.


Six months came and went.  We bought a little boat and took nearly a year to explore as far south as Mexico and all the way to the Keys and my second year came and went.


We climbed as many mountains as we could find.


We lived in a Teepee and bathed ourselves in a frozen river.


We kept sailing and another year passed.


We spent a year snowed in, deep in the woods.


We honed our survival skills and learned to live off the land.


We squatted in an abandoned clam plant while rebuilding a little sailboat.


We sailed more and yet another year passed still living every day as my last.


Ten years has come and gone, I’m still here and I’m still living every day to its fullest.  Its been a wonderful journey with many hard times but also amazing in more ways than I can remember.  Its Valentines day and this journey has finally brought me home.  Home to a place I love, a girl I love and a life I still love living one day at a time.  Every night when I close my eyes I wonder if I will rise to see one more day and every day when I wake I feel blessed for all that is placed in front of me.  I look back on all these years and the ones before them.  I now realize I wasn’t making enough mistakes.  I wasn’t taking enough chances.  I had listened to fools when they told me I couldn’t follow my dreams, live by my heart or realize my truest passion.  If you were only given six months to live what would you do with your last days?  If your not already doing it why not?

If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein

The Day We Became Sailors


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My first sialboat a 1969 Seaquest 26 didn’t come with a motor.  I was young and inexperienced, I figured people didn’t use engines on small sailboats.  Through the years I have experimented on all of my boats with engine-less sailing.  If I’ve learned anything through this process its that I’m no Larry Pardey.

Falmouth Cutter 22

Sookie is coming along well and I’m very pleased with her new lifeline installation, even if it took me seven full days to make it perfect.  The budget called for 3 strand so thats what I used although I did come in short and will need to order another 50′ to complete the rat lines.  Eventually Sookie will sport Dynex lifelines but not this year.

falmouth cutter 22

All the pieces are coming together for a Valentines Day cruise.  I left getting the fickle motor started for last and again the issues that have been plaguing me for two years piped up.  I have a brand new fuel tank and fittings but every time we hook them up the fittings break.  To date I have gotten no more than a single use out of them.  I hate gas and I’m tired of paying a $8.00 tax every time I use the boat so the new tank is GONE!  With one less system to be reliant on the boat just became a bit simpler and safer.  We have a 1.3 liter built in tank that will give us about 30 minutes or so of motoring at 60% throttle at about 4.3 knots in flat water.  I purchased a new one gallon tank to fill it with and think we may add a second for the summer.   If the outboard keeps giving me flack I will huck it off the back of the boat and become a sailor again.

falmouth cutter 22

I don’t know when I became so reliant on a motor but just like moving ashore last winter made me soft, having a semi reliable motor has done the same thing.  I’m seriously missing my Yuloh that warped and thinking of replacing it with a sculling oar which will store much better on the boat.  I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of sailing engine-less but in my crusty old age I also really love having a motor for those oh shit moments, even if its just a 6hp kicker.

falmouth cutter 22

Among all of the challenges we are facing in the day to day re-learning to become engne-less sailors again will be one of them.  The adventure has just gotten a bit bigger and the challenge a bit more serious which also raises the fun meter.  One of my all-time favorite quotes by Larry Pardey when asked how long he will keep sailing.

As Long as its Fun.

An $8000 Piece Of String


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When I purchased Sookie 46 months ago I knew I was getting in over my head.  This little boat had been sailed hard and put away wet.  With a boat like the Falmouth Cutter you can’t just stroll into your local West Marine and expect to find what you need.  Virtually every piece of her rebuild has been fabricated and designed both for her and for us.

falmouth cutter

On my extremely limited budget it can and often does feel like it has taken forever.  My choices were finance a perfect boat and be tied to the dock with mortgage payments for 20 years or find a boat I could afford to pay cash for and rebuild her as I go.  I expected a slow process in the beginning but also knew her progress would be exponential.

New quarter berth cushions and lee cloths cost us a fortune but they also represent the fact that we have or are near finishing a major stage of our project.  My philosophy when it comes to boats has been unchanged since my first boat purchase back in the 80’s  My hard and fast rule is pay cash, after that it goes in stages.  First I make it a safe boat, then I make it a comfortable boat then I make it a pretty boat.

Aligning my priorities is often like trying to solve a rubiks cube.  Sookie was home built and while the builder in my opinion came up with the best and safest Falmouth Cutter ever built he also strayed for Lyle Hess’s design a bit including not building a boomkin.  We have a boomkin on the boat now but our boom is 18″ too short to finish the boom gallows which will finish our lifelines, our current main is cut low so it won’t fit with the new gallows.  I have a entire chandlery worth of fittings on the boat but the process is going painfully slow.  In order to add lifelines the way I want them I also need a new boom and a new mainsail which literally will end up costing $8000 to add a piece of string.

Like all projects I have been doing them in stages.  Our new stanchions and bases just arrived so when I finish installing them I will have lifelines from the front end of the cockpit to the bow.  I scored a descent old main sail cut to Lyle’s specs and have most of the parts for the boomkin but Le Feil has gone out of business  so the search for a boom continues.  As each new piece of gear is fabricated and installed it literally doubles our pleasure.  I knew full well this boat would end up costing me 100K from start to finish and take 10-15 years to complete but I also had no doubt that she would well worth the investment.

We have given ourselves till the end of February to finish paying for this years projects then we start saving a few bucks for play time.  The remainder of this years projects will be done as we cruise.  Looking back on my choice to rebuild an old boat I’m pleased with my decision.  Had I chosen to finance one of Sookies sisterships ready to cruise I would still owe 55k on her and have 16 more years of payments.

I’m often asked why I need such fancy boat.  Needs got nothing to do with it.

Poaching In Paradise


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Pedaling down a lonely stretch of dirt road we came across a sign reading private property, no trespassing.  It was one of many we would see as we poached a secret stretch of Old San Juan searching for a hidden beach campground I had almost found last summer.

Topo Designs Klettersack 15

My single speed is virtually silent.  The dry crackling sound of gravel, the smell of a wood burning stove in the woods somewhere, an eagles cry off in the distance.  It could have been any day but today was special, it was Super Bowl Weekend and it seemed as if we were the only two humans on the planet earth.

surly cross check

Curiosity got the better part of us and no mans roadblock would stop us.  We talked about signs, fences and rules in a woods with not a single soul to witness them.

Kona Paddywagon

If we had a map we might have been able to find a better route but once you bring a map and compass the adventure is over.

topo designs klettersack 15

Snacks at an abandoned and derelict beach front home were a welcome break. danger girl

We haven’t seen a single flake of snow this year but today surely must ave been the coldest day of the year.

Topo Designs Klettersack

My trusty Topo designs Klettersack 15 carried our moveable feast powered by our legs and driven by our desire to explore every inch of this place at a snails pace.

topo designs klettersack

Neither of us are good cooks but we are both pros at slicing summer sausage and stacking it on dry bread.

topo designs klettersack 15

Pondering our future I try and figure out how to fit it all in, sailing, bike touring, backpacking and exploring with little more than the clothes on our back.  Emily has turned out to be the best parter in the world and will happily follow me down the path less pedaled.  She makes up the adventures and its my job to bring them to fruition.

“When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw.”
― Nelson Mandela

Falmouth Cutter 22 Honu For Sale


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Ferenc Mate in his book The Worlds Best Sailboats remarked “the Bristol Channel Cutter and the Falmouth Cutter are the most beautiful 28 and 22 foot fibreglass sailboats in the world”. This so exciting, I just got permission to assist with the sale of Honu, she is a 1981 Sam Morse factory finished Falmouth Cutter.  If you have ever dreamed of owning one of these fine ships run don’t walk before this ship sails away.

Falmouth Cutter 22 for sale

She is listed at a very reasonable $59,900. and worth every penny.  Below is a just a sneak peak, a full listing will be up at Boatyard Pirates as soon as I can get a real internet connection.

Running Rigging:
Halyards, save the staysail halyard, replaced in 2007. Sheets replaced in 2007/2008 with the exception of the staysail sheets. Jib roller furler (Harken) installed in June 2011. Roller furler mated to a 110% high clew 6.5 dacron yankee built by North in February 2011. Remaining sail inventory; main with two reef points, stay sail with one reef point, jib topper and drifter all original as of my purchase of the boat in 2005 and all in service- able condition.

BMW 7 HP diesel, rebuilt February 2012

Standing Rigging:
New head stay June 2011, uppers replaced 2006, boom and mast and remaining rigger in good shape.

VHF and Autohelm tiller pilot.
Two, one deep cycle, 2010

Ground tackle:
Bruce on bow, danforth on stern, manual windlass, chain rode on bow, chain and line combo on bow , Line on stern.

Other Equipment:
10 amp battery charger, 2 burner stove and oven (propane) new in 2007, Adler Barber refrigeration, 3 bilge pumps, one auto, one large electric, one hand pump, porta potti, 3 fire extinguishers including engine compartment halon, solar panel for battery charging, full awning and mosquito netting.
General condition and other notes:
New bottom June 2011, 3 coats Pettit ultimum 60 ablative, New cutlass bearing June 2011, New Rudder 2008 (7 layers five ply 1/4inch Okume marine ply, epoxied and barrier coated).
Trailer: 2 axle fully braked trailer with extension tongue. Completely disassembled, sand blasted and coated with expoxy shipcoat in 2008. Just serviced and ready to travel. Tires new in 2008.

She, like her big sister the Bristol Channel Cutter, is built by hand and to the same standards only with one less lay‐up on the hull. She carries very similar lines with a shallow full keel that is swept back so it does not disturb the movement of water and will go aground gently. The large sail area and long waterline provide excellent per- formance in both light and heavy airs. Like all Hess boats, this is a remarkably big boat for her length.

For Whom The Bell Tolls


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“There will always be people who say it does not exist because they cannot have it. But I tell you it is true and that you have it and that you are lucky even if you die tomorrow.  “There’s no one thing that’s true. It’s all true.”.  

falmouth cutter 22

My best writing is done in my head, there are no witnesses only the sound of my fingers pecking at my keyboard, perhaps it should stay that way. Its late, not for me but its late.  I poke my head out the companionway for a smoke and a cold chill blows across my face, I pull the hatch door to block the cool breeze and stare at the island behind me. There are several boats anchored out but I can see the high tide mark like a black line painted across the land. The water is low maybe 10 feet down, its quiet out there but in my head a loud voice roars. There is a story in here, one that will be forgotten by morning but right now it feels important. I want to tell it but I’m my only witness so I listen to the key strokes that tell me what I already know. I think about about Hemmingway.  I’m not alone, I’m the just the lone witness…

I’m drowning and nobody can help me. Eyes and ears bare witness but they have no arms to pull me out of they gyre.  Lead feet, tired arms, I want to give in but my mind is there still there, why?

Perhaps I’m just high on red wine but I think about alternate universes and the path I chose vers that path that could have been. Did I know more then than I do now or is it something else? Have I blindly followed my instinct for so many years not knowing where I’m going but just following a feeling? I look down at my old fat and wrinkled fingers stroking the keys, I don’t recognize them but they know my story better than I do so I listen to them hanging on to every word. I want to see where they go, where I go, I want to know my story.

I’ve never really looked at my hands before, they are old, rough and weathered. Covered with scars they are working mans hands, I’ve never been a working man but I listen… they are my story, my history my…

Do I look old? I don’t feel that way but surely these aren’t my hands, my fingers, my scars…  Have I become my father? or my fathers father?  I wonder who I am.  I dare not look in the mirror, I haven’t in twenty or thirty years. Who might I see?  Who is that stranger staring at me? I blow out the candles and continue through the dark. There are three distinct voices now, me, myself and I. I know them all intimately but they are also strangers, or am I the stranger?

To write well one needs more than than the ability to write well.  The story is everything, never ending yet always beginning.  You don’t need to understand my story but its evolving as am I because man cannot live on bread alone.

“There is nothing else than now. There is neither yesterday, certainly, nor is there any tomorrow. How old must you be before you know that? There is only now, and if now is only two days, then two days is your life and everything in it will be in proportion. This is how you live a life in two days. And if you stop complaining and asking for what you never will get, you will have a good life. A good life is not measured by any biblical span.” 

~ Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls

Good Old Boat


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Today will go down in my personal history book as another day of my life that I will never get back.  Every once in a while I need a day off and today has slipped through my fingers like the sands of time.  Its cold today and Blah out, I have very little motivation beyond the scope of my sketch book.

Lyle Hess 29'6"

My faithful rubber boots and wool sweater sit in the corner waiting in vain.  Emily is working and Chloe fast asleep.  I should be crossing items off my work list but I’m not.  Today I’m playing Hooke from my life of Hookie.  Paper charts, dividers and my lead line.  Hank on sails, oil lamps and wood oars.  I can see my two sided compass from my quarter berth.  My rigging knife hangs from the companionway step right next to one of the many flashlights strategically hung around the boat.  My tide book and binoculars sit in their rack easy to grab from the cockpit, everything has its place.  Our little boat is simple and simple is good.

I’m nesting today, cleaning up our tiny home and getting ready to cook Emily a simple but extravagant feast complete with wine and dark chocolate.  Today like all days revolves around all the small things.

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things.

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
Silver white winters that melt into springs
These are a few of my favorite things  ~Oscar Hammerstein

Go Small Go Simple Go Now


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When Lin and Larry Pardey Wrote Go small Go simple Go now, they never said go broke.  Skimming through one of the many Pardey books I own I came across their 1977 monthly budget of $450.00 Today that equals $1750.00, or over three times our pathetic budget.

go small go simple go now

A question: Can you give us some specifics on your voyaging for $500 a month. I’ve done a fair bit, but when I subtract the moorage fee there’s not a lot left to live on. After our moorage bill, there is about $9.17 per day for two people (some of which I have to spend on the boat!). Your islands moorage must be in a similar range to ours in Squalicum. What’s the trick?!

This is a great question and one I’m asked often.  With our complete lack of internet I’m backed up over 150 emails today many of which asking this same question.  The simple answer is we can’t and its almost impossible.  Regardless of your budget rare is the sailor who can live within it.  For us the $500.00 is a simple target and it is representative our choices, Go small, go broke or don’t go.

18 months ago when I cut the dock lines completely pennyless I wasn’t looking to circumnavigate, in fact I had no plans other to simply move on and start a new learning process.  Now a year and a half later I’m still only half done with the boat and less than 30 miles as the crow flys  from where I left but it hasn’t stopped me.  We have visited countless anchorages on a dozen islands.  There have been calms and storms both on the water and off.  What I have learned by setting out broke is that its actually quite easy to make a go of it.  As of today I am 3.5 years into my 5 year plan and right on target but thats a old story.

On Lopez Island I watched a few youtube videos on how to do construction and BS’d my way onto a $25.00 and hour roofing job that kept going when the roofing ended.  I also got to work alongside a top secret Lyle Hess being built and picked up lots of yacht work.  On Orcas Island  I have done everything from cleaning yards to window washing averaging 200 bucks for 6 hours work.  On San Juan island I taught sailing, drove the Cabulance and ran Island tours meeting many amazing people.  I always buy and sell boats and Emily has also had wonderful success finding work so we have learned we can earn and live anywhere but the key is you have to be there to find the sweet jobs.  If we can earn as much as the locals we can live like them.

As far as actual money in and out goes, this year saw many financial crisis’s that were completely out of our hands.  It set us way back but were still out here living as we choose and I can assure you Living on Lopez or any of the other islands is a million miles away from where we started.  With an old doggie we can’t go offshore anyways so we cruise locally which we both actually prefer.  Although we would still both prefer to cruise locally in the Caribbean.   This weekend we will sail all day but anchor less than two miles from where we left on what will be our own private island for the whole weekend.

Budgets budgets budgets… we save 12k which takes very little time or effort between the two of us.  That gives us 3k a year for 4 years.  All we have to do is earn an additional $1500 each per year to make our budget.  When we have bad years like 2014 we just start over.  Last year working and living based out of Friday Harbor on San Juan Island was a dream come true, we could practically feed deer by hand from the back of the boat and pluck eagle feathers out of the sky.

We have boat insurance but only because we are required to.  We don’t have any other debt period.  Right now we live quite well on $900 per month, over half of that cost of living will go away when we leave our little marina, “its costs us $500 for moorage and insurance” and again come back at the end of summer.  We do our best not to buy any packaged foods but its a struggle.  There is nothing on the boat I can’t fix myself and we don’t have many luxuries in life.  Among other things Emily is my best friend.  We find quite a bit of luxury between the two of us rarely needing more in life to happily occupy our time.  Our boat is small but also very simple and fun.  We eat very basic but whole foods and always have at least two drinks with every meal, actually Emily doesn’t drink but I do.  We buy top notch gear and it lasts forever.

We also get lots of free stuff from anchors to charts and everything in-between.  I say free but in reality we work very hard to get the freebees that find their way into our lives.  Someday we may sail off into the sunset but right now we are both quite content drifting about on our meager budget.  Fall will find us in the Thousand Islands and again we will work just enough to play for 6-9 months of the year.  There you have it, the no answer answer that I am so famous for.  While I wouldn’t recommend our lifestyle to anyone I would recommend this lifestyle to anyone interested in recapturing their lives.

Based on my Mr banker calculations we would need an average of $1500 per month to live as extravagantly as we can imagine on simple Sookie, we both expect to hit that budget someday and work hard towards it.  For now potatoes, onions and cheap beer and wine keep us happy, fat and free.

“It costs what you have”. ~Bernard Moitessier

Sailing Naked


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It isn’t about the boat or how far and fast we can sail.  It isn’t about the Islands or the many harbors we have visited.  It isn’t about food nor drink nor any other carnal pleasure.  Its all about the sun, the freedom and the very essence of summer.  The sun, sea, salt caked bodies and the icy cold chill of salt water as we shiver dry once again warm, alive, invigorated.  Vitamin D overload at its best, straight from the source and as pure and natural as the life we breath.

sailing naked

Winter is dead and the sun and the moon sometimes argue over who will tuck me in at night. I’m hungry, my hibernation is over. In 58 short days our sunset will be at 7:08pm giving us more than 12 hours a day of pure golden light.  Spring is coming early this year.  Golden sun kissed bodies, hair as blonde as the balmy winds that caress our bare skin and for all of nature new life is blooming.  Nake butt season is coming

Last night we crossed most of the refit Items off of our list, pushed our departure date up 60 days and made one final list of must haves, for our last season in Washington.  I have started shopping for new Bikinis for Emily and found Mankini for myself for when we need to be modest.  Less clothes, less laundry less hauling water.  Our little floating Island is tugging at her lines, Emily is near her breaking point of being chained to a desk under florescent lights.  I am ready to take my small family north into the Banana belt.  We’ve started tightening our belts, the more self sufficient we become the longer we can play before chasing summer South and East.

The time has come to Clean up little Sookie, burn our winter fat and turn this boat from a live-aboard to a cruising boat.  Saying Goodbye to San Juan’s and the Salish Sea will be hard but a new world is calling us.  Its going to be one hellova going away party.

“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

Sailing Blogs, Bloggers and the Bloggess


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Good people, travel and freedom thats my heroin and I’m addicted.  People often look at addictions as a bad thing but not me, I eat, drink and breath them.  Every night when I crawl into our snug little bunk I get super excited to wake the next day, make a hot cup of joe and see how our lives will unfold.

sailing Blogs

We have been absolutely spoiled rotten Lately.  Our good friend Ken “thanks Ken :)” sent us an entire library of charts and guidebooks for Florida which will be our stepping off point for the world.  We crawl into bed each night and pour over thousands of islands, hundreds of marinas and day dream about the perfect little shipyard for the last major part of Sookies refit, her bottom and rudder.  Between our romantic interludes of crinkling charts and the old familiar smell of new used charts life dances around us like a parade.

falmouth Cutter 22

This little blog has been like a guardian angel for us.  We write and write and wonderful people who read our little journal appear from here there and everywhere.  The gathering was short one dog but we still managed to stuff 6 full grown adults and Chloe into Sookies little cabin.  Our good friends Chris and Miss Daq showed up with a giant platter of Chicken enchiladas and a bottle of wine.  We pulled a few bottles out of our wine locker to add to the mix and when Michael and Susanna from Adventure Freaks showed up with two bottle of rum and a huge bar of chocolate it turned into a party.

falmouth cutter

Michael and Susana by far the most experienced sailors in the group shared stories of Alaska and high adventure.  They described it as the last frontier and told of high paying temp jobs and creative sources to keep the journey going.  Chis is only a few short months from retiring and heading north and Julie our newbie sailorette soaked it all up like a sponge.  The hours passed like seconds and before we knew it the late night turned into early morning as all our new friends slipped into the inky dark of night finding their way back to their little escape pods.

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened. Dr. Seuss

Instantly we felt alone, the quiet stood still as we tucked in for the night.  Chloe stayed up for a bit after reclaiming her spot to catch up the Florida’s flotsam and jetsum.  If it wasn’t for this little blog we would never be blessed with such encounters.  We work very hard at continuing this simple journey and are rewarded almost daily.  If we had to put a negative on this little life we have created it would be always saying goodbye to all the wonderful people we meet.  We miss them all but live vicariously through their blogs so we can always keep tabs on our new friends.

“I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as ‘making a life’.”
― Maya Angelou

Keeping Up With The Joneses


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Our friends are appalled with our lifestyle.  Our families are distraught and everyone we know thinks were bat shit crazy.  Emily’s mother can’t figure out why we deprive ourselves while mine patiently waits for my temporary insanity to end.

The Joneses

It goes something like this with every sailor we have ever known or met. Just insert diesel engine, radar, GPS, life-raft, AIS, E-pirb, water maker, outboard for our dingy, wind generator, solar, pressure water, hot water, reefer, windlass, 15 anchors, insurance, insurance, insurance, wind instruments, depth sounder, knot log, abandon ship kit, digital charts, chart plotter, RDF, Ham radio, single side band, weather fax, chart plotter, heat, head, shower…

Sailor, What do you mean you don’t have refridgeration?

Us, We keep our food in the bilges

Sailor, WTF???

It never ends and while we fight it as best we can the Jones always get us.  Emily was bitching about our new dehumidifier that I swore to her wouldn’t work when WHAM, a lightbulb clicked in.  Do you realize what just happened I asked her?  Those Damn Canadians just cost us 55 bucks!  My best friends just sailed up from Mazatlan with the sole propose of buying us a beer and cooking us a wonderful dinner, which was amazing.  The booze flowed and it didn’t take long for boat shit to come up.  We went back and forth on whether or not dehumidifiers do anything on a boat and while I swore they didn’t they swore they did.  Emily wanted one and while I protested. I figured the best lesson would be to let her figure it out on her own.

And so the story goes, Jones:1, Crew of 2: 0, as we continue to fight an often loosing battle.  We can’t have it all and while we work hard at having enough, who is to say just what that is.  I’m currently writing the minimalists guide to voyaging.  Line one for the voyaging sailor, If I want something and I don’t have it, I don’t need it.

We are human and have needs and wants just like the Joneses do but thats the thing… This is our starting point not the end of it all.  We make do knowing that someday we might actually have an ice box or something to potty in nicer than a bucket but those things are luxuries not necessities.  Given the choice between roller furling or a nice used DLSR to document our travels I’ll take the camera.  My back serves as a great windlass and while I’m not exactly fond of warm beer it beats the shit out of no beer.

Some day I will write the Book Of Emily and all the many reasons why she is so fucking awesome.  For now I feel fortunate for my stunning good looks and Adonis like body that keeps her coming back to pee in my bucket, eat my crappy cooking, and drift about in my spinaker-less boat.

“Sometimes you just have to pee in the sink.”
― Charles Bukowski

That Special Place That Smells Like The Sea


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We arrived back at the boat, it was 17 degrees out and very late.  I cranked our little electric heater knowing it would take hours to get above freezing.  With the sudenness of a broken shoe lace  everything went dark, the silence was deafening.  I knew we only had an hour or so before what little heat we had would be gone.  We had no where to go and there is no way we could survive the cold that night.  I worried about Chloe who can’t walk and Emily who’s blood is as thin as mine.  The clock was ticking.

Falmouth Cutter 22

With a click the crisis ended as quickly as it began and the hum of our little heater soothed the soul.  We woke up in the most comfortable bed known to man, Emily squeaks to life but pulls the covers up snuggles in and closes her eyes.  I’m now wide a wake, coffee is calling my name as I slither out into the new day, and new year, our tiny world feels complete.

I recently made an offer on a Dana 24 that isn’t for sale.  I did this for two reasons, one it has a diesel furnace and two I had a guy begging to buy my boat even though it isn’t for sale.  He declined my offer but promised me first right of refusal.  He told me ten years although we both know it will only be five.  Safe and warm in the boat I stare at the ice crystals forming on my varnish and want to be out sailing.  If I long for anything in this world its heat but I’m patient.  I pull out my ukulele and settle into the salon that we have completely demolished in less than 12 hours, its a disaster and makes me feel at home.

I turn my attention to Emily, I’m the captain but she plays a much more important role, she is chief navigator.  With my failing vision I can no longer read our charts without the aid of a magnifying glass, without each other we are nothing.  She makes messes I clean them.  I try and suck every penny out of our meager savings while she holds on to our small security blanket like a man at the end of his rope.  She cooks and I clean or vice versa.  If I am her right hand then she is my left.  Each day she learns a new skill and while I have many to teach her I need to continue learning myself.  We are safe and secure in the harbor but like a ship we are meant for the sea.

We drive people crazy when they ask us our plans and we tell them we have none.  We are working hard at something but only the weather knows what.  I stare at the pale blue sky and see hints of amber, the days each a few minutes longer; summer is coming.  There is a cut off date but neither of us knows it.  The Carribean is in our very near future not our present which is where all eyes are focused.

“In any weather, at any hour of the day or night, I have been anxious to improve the nick of time, and notch it on my stick too; to stand on the meeting of two eternities, the past and future, which is precisely the present moment; to toe that line.”
― Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Twas the night before Christmas


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“Twas the night before Christmas, living on our boat
A lifetime of dreaming, we’re finally afloat.
We rebuilt her for three years with care,
With dreams of Mexico, soon we’ll be there.

Small boat galley

Chloe was nestled all snug in her bed.                                                          While visions of doggie treats danced in her head.                                      While she is her warmies and I in my cap.                                                     Safe in our slip for a long winters nap.

When out on the deck there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the berth to see what was the matter.
the boat swayed and danced in the chop,
the halyards slapping at our mast top.

The wind driven snow lashed at our deck
I climbed out the hatch to put things in check.                                        Slipping and sliding I climbed to the mast,                                           Tightened all the halyards, quiet at last.

I climbed back below,                                                                                          to our warm glowing cabin,
The kettle whistled, the time had come,
for Christmas cookies and hot buttered rum.

Our tiny home was warm and dry
I peered out the porthole and stared at the sky
I heard a whisper and felt a warm tug,
Its our first Christmas afloat she said with a hug.

We snuggled in our bunk and talked of warm beaches.                                      Of sailing around on perfect broad reaches.                                                      Of all the things we would do and places to see.                                             Soon our little home would be out at sea.

South till the butter melts then turn right.
The South Pacific what a wonderful sight.
Tonga, Fiji, and Vanuatu
The Solomon Islands then Nauru.

Downhill with wind at our backs.
We’ll follow the sun and never look back.
What a wonderful dream, soon it will be.
A whole new life out on the sea.

We talked and laughed till late in the night.
Our boat might be small but everything’s right.
Dreaming and scheming about taking flight.
Till the sandamn came and took us away.

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

Minimalist Travel


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I wake with the morning sun and lay my head on my pillow at the end of the day when I feel tired.  There are no schedules, routines, meetings or any other diversions.  My life is my own.  Living such a simple life might seem desirable and it is but even I need the occasional diversion from nirvana.  When I start to feel trapped by all that I love and desire I take mental vacation.

topo designs klettersack

There is a growing movement towards simplicity and the simple life.  The one hundred things challenge is an interesting one but I could put those people to shame with my 20 things travel pack.

1, Day pack

2, Ukulele

3, camera

4, Moleskini Journal

5, writing utensil

6/7, 2 shirts

8,  manpris

9, Uberlight running shoes

10/11, light weight warmie and water resistant wind shirt

moleskine travel journal

12, running shorts

13/14/15 tooth brush, toothpaste, floss

16, passport

17, reading glasses

18, small knife

19, sarong

20, open mind; anything else I can build, make or find laying around when I get there.

Thats it for extended travel.  I can always buy a wool blanket or sweater if it gets cold.  For an open-ended world journey I might add one or two more items but not much.  I may actually take less so I can acquire the necessities as I roam.

When ever I get bored or lonely I’ll pull out my Klettersack and pack for a future vagabond expedition.  Should a bout of insomnia creep up on me I will lay in bed, eyes closed and mentally pack my sack, it puts me to sleep instantly.  It isn’t always necessary to escape the mundane but knowing you can in a moments notice makes all the difference in the world.

I’m deep in the throws of packing right now but this journey isn’t imagined.  Its as real as the moon and stars and has already started.

“I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.”
~ Robert Louis Stevenson

Making Her Bluewater Ready


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I woke up in a cold sweat, immediately sprung up in my bunk hitting my head on the under deck locker with a thud and fell back into my pillow laughing. A ships horn in the harbor had me half a sleep being run down by a tanker in the inky black of night.  I know the time is near because these dreams are happening more frequently.

DSC_8657Self steering for sailing craft

Miracles happen every day, for the man with eyes wide open they just seem to happen more often.  If it weren’t for a chance meeting with a half homeless ragamuffin drifter I wouldn’t be having these nightmares and like everything in my life I am thankful for her.

Our short list of blue water necessities is long but shorter than its ever been.  We need a new boom, sails, lifelines, boom gallows to hold them and some form of self steering.  Pintles and gudgeons top the list followed by a good light wind sail and a bit more ground tackle. A stove and water tank would be nice but not a necessity.   We bounce from project to project as time and budget permit but it isn’t the gear so much as the crew.  Every day new lessons are taught and learned and Emily has jumped in feet first.  I could throw her in and see if she can swim but I have learned the errors of that method the hard way.  Its baby steps that keep her coming back for more.  Every day a is new opportunity to set the sails and take her just a bit further into the deep end.

It seemed like winter would never end, but now spring is on our doorstep.  So much to do with so little time.  The last few months have been spent sorting through every piece of gear on Sookie from old dock lines and fenders to our foul weather wardrobe.  A massive cleansing of the old and useless has taken place making room for the bits of this and that that make life on a 22′ boat comfy and delightful.  We have been dropping piles and piles of stuff in the free bin and just like that a miracle fell into our hands.  An old moldy and damp copy of self steering for sailing craft has made its way into our lives.

For the budget voyager, if your not a MacGyver you won’t make it far.  We have found an old self steering wind vane. While we patiently try and convince the owner that we need it on our boat as much as he needs a bit more space in his garage we have turned our sights on a backup plan.  Maybe we will have to make one or live with sheet to tiller steering, who knows.  Each day one more piece of the puzzle is fitting into place.  We can see the big picture but all these scraggly little pieces have to be carefully put into place before we can frame it.

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”
~Winston S. Churchill

The Morning After


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As plans began to solidify for shipping the boat to Florida, our homeport began to seem all the more beautiful. When fate decided we would stay, for now, all hell broke loose on majesty’s Richter scale.


I poked my head out of the hatch and on the empty slip next to us stood a lean heron, all leggy and dinosaur like, catching some fish for breakfast.

As I walked to the shower in the light drizzle, the industrial crane being used to rebuild the marina stood tall above hundreds of masts. Pretty boats seemed everywhere. Tightly secured in their berths, patiently awaiting spring’s reprieve.

Town stood staunchly on the hill overlooking the marina. I felt grateful for it’s quaintness and inherent safeness, for our short walking distance to the grocery store, and our favorite bar.

Daydreaming all the way to the showers I arrive to an empty room, heat blowing fiercely out of the vents. When it was summer, the mirrors were lined with ladies blow drying their hair and applying makeup. No one seemed to walk around naked, so I brought my clothes into the stall as well.

With no one there I can lay my clean clothes out on the bench, undress in peace and look at myself in the mirror without shame. Am I getting too fat? Nah, just that extra layer of winter warmth.

I treat myself to two extra minutes in the shower, which each cost .25 cents. Now that we don’t have to sell everything and move across country, such luxuries are affordable.

Walking back to Sookie the rain has began to fall steadily. I see two eagles above the trees across the harbor. Jumping into the cockpit I grab the binoculars, just in time before they disappear into the forest.

A duck lands on the water like a floatplane, it’s webbed feet like pontoons, wings steady…I guess she didn’t fly south for the winter either.

Of Mice And Men


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The evil spell has finally been broken.  We woke this morning to yet another gale but this one is different.  Well rested and at peace we have survived the worst of it.  The calendar might call December 21st the beginning of winter but we know better.  The growing days have started and won’t stop till we have a full 18 hours of beautiful golden sunlight.

Of mice and men

We all have a special talent.  If you ask me, mine would be failure.  I have achieved failure more often and consistently than any person I have ever met or read about.  It may be that I’m just not good at anything or maybe its that I’m always ready and willing to take big chances as often as I need to find my way.

pocket cruiser gslley

Regardless of our outcome its a win win situation.  We were so pumped to land in Florida and  very slowly work our way south ending in the A,B,C, Islands for Hurricane season.  We had all our ducks in a row but one and it was the straw that broke the camels back.  We haven’t given up on endless summer but it has been pushed back till the next opportunity which we both know is right around the corner.

Falmouth Cutter 22

We both woke with a new perspective on our situation and while the whirlwind of moving the boat half way around the world on a moments notice was fun and exciting it was also a bit stressful and exhausting.  We have landed back on earth and all is right in our world.

The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. ~Robert Burns

Pissing Into The Wind


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It took little more than one miserable, cold and wet induced temper tantrum to change the entire course of our existence.  Once the universe got hold of our plans everything started falling into place.  Wait for us Caribbean, here we come.

Falmouth Cutter

Several years ago on my way to Alaska I stopped for 5 minutes in Bellingham Washington, a town I had never heard of before that day. Before the sun set I had spent every penny I had on a sailboat one month before winter hit and the rest was history.

Were scratching our heads, rubbing two nickels together and trying to figure out how we can possibly afford to ship Sookie 3500 miles to the south coast of the west coast of the east coast of America.

I think getting the boat there is almost within our reach but getting two of us and the dog might be a stretch.  6 months ago before Chloe got sick we would have just hitchhiked and we still may.  We don’t know a single thing about Pensacola Florida other than thats where a very generous Shipper has an empty trailer headed.

If you want a real adventure sell everything you own to pay for a reduced rate to ship your boat across the country.  Hitchhike in winter for 3500 miles.  Arrive in a strange and foreign land, penniless and yes still in the middle of winter.  Add in a few alligators and hurricanes to the scary mix, shake well and you have what we are staring down the barrel of.  If only I had something to write about.

“The journey is the destination.”
― Dan Eldon

Voyaging On $500 Per Month


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!8 months ago I cut the dock lines without a single penny to my name.  I had enough charts to cover a small portion of the Salish Sea and a few months of provisions.  I didn’t know where I was headed or how I would survive but it didn’t matter, I chose life.

Private Beach

Looking back it seems like a lifetime ago but feels like it was just yesterday.  Hundreds of setting suns, storms and calms both in life and on the water.  Slow days, fast days, days I can’t remember and days I’ll never forget.  Sailors come and go but new friendships made in the Islands will last forever.  This body of water has become my home, her mood swings guide my life. I could spend a thousand years exploring her endless coastlines but the time to move on is near.

It never gets any easier but it does become routine.  Family affairs, work, money, boat maintenance, like the seasons, life’s little challenges come and go.  It’s all a constant but also manageable.  I have no cell phone or internet.  My tide book is my calander and my pocket my bank account.  Today I have cream in my coffee so it must be a good week or maybe I’m just being a bit careless with the budget.

When you come from nothing, something seems pretty wonderful.  I started outlining a new writing project today but its roots stem back nearly 30 years.  You can’t voyage forever on nothing but you can get out and live and when its time to swallow the anchor for a few weeks or months you do it knowing its only a matter of time before you pull the anchor and set off again free as a bird.  Today we are holding on to this chapter of our lives as hard as we can but as it slips through our fingers like the sands of time we know change is coming.  The barometer will eventually bottom out and start climbing and when it does we will slip the lines for the hundredth time and drift off with little more than each other an and an unquenchable thirst for life.  It isn’t just another year coming to and end but another decade.  Where does the time go…

From the Log of Sookie, December 2014 San Juan Island~ All our ducks are in a row, Sookie waits patently tugging at her dock lines.  I can’t help but to wonder where we will be floating at this time next year or even next week.

Nobody Puts Baby In The Corner


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We are experiencing a changing of the guard so to speak.  While I have settled a little now its Emily’s turn to go batshit crazy.  She wants out and she wants out now.  Her job is suffocating her and coming home to the same place every day is proving to be more than my little wandering hippie can take.

Falmouth Cutter 22

The storms have slowed their pace and now tis the calms haunting us.  We have both agreed to be on the water every second we can to fight the winter blues but with our opposite schedules and painfully short days this is easier said than done.

Falmouth Cutter 22

Drifting through a sea of despair Emily has started looking for a shipper to take us somewhere warm TODAY!  The cold has gone but the condensation literally has our cabin sole buckling and our ceiling boards are warping faster than our minds.

Falmouth Cutter

We fight winter and as usual its one step foreword two steps back.  Ventura is still number one on our list but its actually cheaper to ship to Florida and just a quick hop across the Gulf Stream to Paradise.

Falmouth Cutter

We want to swim and prefer to do it somewhere where we can see the bottom.  I don’t know where this temporary insanity will find us next week but the wheels are in motion.


The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again  and expecting different results.  Albert Einstein

Go Big Or Go Home


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I’ve never once wished for a larger boat while out sailing and voyaging but living aboard at the dock in winter is an entirely different thing.  I should be writing, or working on the boat or… but I’m not, I’m surfing the web for my dream 50’er.

pocket cruiser

The Crealock 31 is the largest boat in the small boat spectrum I would ever consider owning.  It also happens to be the smallest boat in the large boat spectrum I would ever consider owning.  There must be something very special about that boat to be dead center of all boats that I love.  Or is it simply the most mundane of choices when it comes to extremes both large or small.

I have officially started my annual winter descent into madness.  If I can just hold out 10 more days I may survive but its going to be a long 10 days.  Emily thinks my brain is starved for oxygen from my 8 day beer and pop tart diet but now 4 days off the blueberry delight I find myself well beyond the withdrawal symptomms and feeling as normal as a person can who has been locked in a small box for the better part of 60 days and nights.

I have two jobs, my real job is as doggie nurse and caretaker but I have also been moonlighting as an unpaid intern for myself.  Cabin fever is at its extreme but the weather has been fun and exciting keeping me on my toes as 50 mph squalls roll through almost twice daily.  As I sit here waiting for the next blow to attack, my mind turns towards serveral larger boats that I am seriously considering purchasing despite Emily’s best efforts.

I recently got to sail a very large new Nauticat and fell in love.  Pilot houses, diesel stoves and enough space to have every person I know aboard sounds delicious.  A huge square bed would put an end to our nightly kicking wars for that prime real-estate where our bed goes to a tiny point.  Why not make it an aft centerline berth so Emily doesn’t have to steamroller over me every 5 minutes all night long for emergency midnight potty breaks.  We could carry not only a real dingy on deck but would also have room for a real life-raft and maybe a few kayaks.  I dream of an 80 HP 4 cylinder inboard diesel engine so quiet you never need to shut it off and a cruising chute with a foot print the size of a mansion pulling us along in the light zephyrs of summer that I miss so much.

The thing about losing your mind, I’m talking put me in a straight jacket and lock me in a padded room nuts is that you never see it coming.  It feels totally normal despite the fact that the ones closest too you see it and feel it coming.  Despite their most dedicated efforts nobody can help you, you need to hit rock bottom before you can start your climb back to the top and see the light.  A good friend once told me, you can’t dig your way out of a hole, if you have dug yourself in stop digging.  Say what you want but it just may be too late.  By a week from tomorrow I may be laying my head in my new Crealock, falling asleep to the muted hum of my diesel furnace and enjoying ice cold beers from her reefer and fresh hot and gooey chocolate chip cookies from her full size oven.  I’m not teetering over the edge, I’m shooting the falls.

“THE EDGE, there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.”

~Hunter S. Thompson

She’s Only Half Right.


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Three and a half years ago standing in an obscure storage area deep in the bowels of The Port Of Los Angeles I made a hand shake deal on I boat I didn’t have the money to pay for.  I couldn’t afford to ship her home, let alone to a complete refit on the then 27 year old boat.

falmaouth cutter 22

In hindsight I should of moved myself to Southern California with its 340 days a year of golden sunshine, dry weather endless summer.  I brought the boat to Washington because of the access I had to good do-it yourself boat yards, reasonable long term storage rates and of course the best sailing the world has to offer.  Unfortunately for us little guys the days of the do-it yourself boatyards are coming to an end.

Falmouth Cutter 22

As much as we bitch about the weather around here winters in the Salish are pretty wonderful and short enough that we can sail a full 9 months of the year in reasonable comfort.  We had hoped to hang the boat in Port Townsend for the winter of 2015 to dry her hull out while we stomped around the tropics looking for winter employment to build our kitty for the last and worst part of our refit.  Sookie needs a new barrier coat,  and her 30 year old stainless steel pintles and gudgeons are begging to be replaced along with her original cockpit thru hulls.  We also want to fill in her prop cut out.  This is an easy 6 months on the hard, six winter months would be ideal.

falmouth cutter 22

We’ve been hearing rumors for quite some time but it seems 2015 will be the year dragon so to speak.  If the rumors are true we won’t be able to afford to leave the boat in Port Port Townsend nor will we be allowed to do our own work so our eyes are looking south.  For us its a damned if you do and damned if you don’t.  We are both really excited about sailing south down the west coast but not until we have our steering system rebuilt.  We have found only one yard in California where we can afford long term rates so Ventura may become or home for next winter.  If Southern California fails it will be straight to Mexico, back on the hard and finally the last major piece to this puzzle will be complete.

Falmouth Cutter 22

Neither of us are ready to leave these beautiful waters but both of us desperately want year round sailing and  prefer to live off the hook rather than the dock.  So our calendar has three big red question marks on it.  One on July 1st, one on September 1st and one on October 1st. Only time will tell how and when we set off to start the next phase of our refit but we both are ok with a half fished boat carrying us from boatyard to boatyard in search of endless summer and crystal clear waters.


Our search for a wind vane continues.  The constant fight with condensation and mold continues.  Winter storms are stacked one on top of the other, but this system is almost warm and balmy and a full 40 degrees warmer than the last, summer is coming and life is good.

“A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.” ~ John Steinbeck

When The Cats Away The Mice Will Play


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Emily has flown the coop leaving me to my own devices for 7 straight days now.  I haven’t showered once since she left, have been sleeping less than 4 hours a day and have been living off of pop tarts and beers.  I’ve  literarily torn the entire boat apart on a risky but daring mold hunt.  Now I have less than 24 hours to put it all back together before she comes home.

living in the boatyard

She is actually only a block away, her mom came to visit and the two of them have been out doing whatever it is that little girls do when they get together.  Her parents have adopted an ostrich strategy when it comes to our relationship.  Their heads are buried deep in the sand completely ignoring the fact that I exist.  While I don’t blame them for their issues with our age difference I simply don’t let it or them get to me.  There is an old saying no man can serve two masters.  I learned a very long time ago to live by life by my rules regardless of what others think, life is just too short.

I have been playing my own ostrich game  when it comes to our now 30 year old stainless steel pintles and gudgeons.  They are the bane of my existence, nothing would make me feel like a bigger douche than to loose my rudder.  While it may seem like a little fix its not.  Having custom hardwear fabricated is relatively easy and almost affordable but there is more too it.  When I replace them I also want to fill the prop aperture cut out and replace my now aging barrier coat.  Sookie doesn’t have a single zit or void on her hull and before we take her into warmer water this needs to be attended to.  Sure we could haul out for the summer dry and strip the hull and be on our way but neither of us is willing to forgo summer in the San Juan’s.  We discussed sailing all summer then shipping the boat somewhere warm to do the work but shipping would kill our yard budget.  The beauty of stainless steel is that it rots from the inside out so while they look nice and shiny on the outside they could be completely effed on the inside.  Its a good thing we love this area so much because at the rate we are going on our refit we will be sailing these waters for quite some time.  I’ve been banging on my calculator all day.  When ever I put together a project I make an estimate double it then add 50%.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Benjamin Franklyn

The Perfect Storm


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Within minutes of my divorce becoming final I called my title agent and told her to push the button on Sookie.  She was a gift to myself and to new beginnings, a new life and a new adventure.  Deep down I knew I wouldn’t be making any far off voyages in the near future with my aging dog but I needed a life raft and a therapist and this little old boat seemed to be the perfect diversion from me.

falmouth cutter 22

As much as I hated the thought of going it alone deep down It made sense.  Relationships came and went and with each one I turned closer and closer to a life as a solo sailor and began to embrace it.  By early spring I had cut the dock lines of life completely and headed towards my new existence of a solo life and was quite happy to stay that way.  I had taken myself off the market and was completely embracing my oneness.

sailing singles

Like a perfect storm all the elements came together and Hurricane Emily knocked me flat on my ass.  I pushed her away as hard as I could, not because she wasn’t awesome but because I had become quite accustomed to being the most irresponsible person on the planet earth.  I didn’t have to answer to anybody and I was loving it.  My life had no bounds, no schedules and not pre conceived notions of future, the present moment in time was all I could see and all I needed.  There is something very powerful about a man and his dog.

sailing dog

Having not a care in the world also meant I could live my life by my own terms and take what ever risks I felt reasonable and nobody could fault me for living true to my own nature.  Those days are gone and now there are two souls on this boat to contend with but it isn’t just the two souls on the boat that matter, there are is a very long line of family members on her side who I am now responsible for and with this unexpected new family comes unexpected responsibility.  I have always attended the school of self reliance and that means If I’m foolish enough to find myself in trouble out on the big blue I damn well be capable of undoing what ever fool hardy mess I have gotten myself into.  I have never once considered a life raft or EPIRB but now that Emily’s name sits inked into my log book I’m changing the way I think.  Sookie is as safe as any boat on the high sea’s and that has always been fine for me. Sookie is my life-raft, from the sea, the nations massively failing economy and the complete insanity of the world.  She is my master and servant, home, insurance policy, savings account, and escape pod all rolled into one.

Montgomery 6'8"

My new Montgomery 6’8″ hard dingy was meant to be my last ditch effort at staying afloat but no amount of trying would find her a way to safely mount on the deck of Sookie.  I studyied every dingy known to man and came up with a total Loss and here is where the traditional sailor in me turns an eye towards the future.  If you see the name Switlik appearing around here in the near future its because I’m hoping to find a way to add her as a new crew member in the very near future.  They say the spots on a leopard never change.  I’m not a leopard, I’m a sailor and now you might say a modern traditionalist.

May you live in interesting times.  ~Chinese proverb, curse

In Like A Lion Out Like A Lamb


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Hot water scalds my naked body and for the first time in 48 hours I’m warm.  The water burns my pale skin but its a luxury I only get twice a week, 5 minutes of pure heaven.  I wash myself as quickly as I can so I spend the remainder of my shower rations soaking up the heat.  For the winter live-aboard there is no pleasure greater than a hot shower.


The calendar knows nothing of the seasons, there are 21 more days till winter officially begins.  We woke up early to the first of many 50 knot gusts, with the windchill its well below zero and the boat needs attending to.  I drag myself out of our warm cocoon and Emily protests, stay and keep me warm.  I put on hot water for coffee, pet the dog and start pulling on cold stiff layers of clothes.  I have to check Sookie’s lines and give her the once over, then its off to check all my friends boats in the marina.  I own every piece of technical clothing imgineable yet nothing is as warm as my hand me down wool sweater.  My best friends wife shrunk it so he passed in on to me, a perfect fit.  I make it 5 minutes with nothing more than my half gloves, wool sweater and thin cap.

Falmouth Cutter 22

The sweater is warm enough but the wind cuts through everything else.  I pull out my new Gill OS2 Foulies  and am greatful for the many days hard work I put in to afford them.  Layered up with my expedition cap, neck warmer and glove liners I head out again.  My gloves, now 12 years old are great but don’t stand up to the cold, I tuck my hands into the jacket pockets and set out to explore the marina.  Two hours later all is well and all boats have been checked, re-secured and a bit of chaffing gear added.  I’m still warm enough and happy I’m not at sea on such a crisp and cold day.  Half way around the world my friends are battleing the same conditions at sea, I’m not as tough a them yet I wish I was.

winter liveabaord

The water is shut off at the dock and we have no on board tanks so we layer up grab our water jugs and search out this liquid gold that can never be appreciated enough until you have none.  Yes we are suffering.  The cold cuts like a knife but it isn’t the cold.  The short days bring on depression and cabin fever but its not the absence of light.  Condensation hangs over our heads and rains down on our computers as we tell a story we don’t like but it isn’t the damp moldy conditions.  Its not going anywhere thats bleeds the soul.  Stagnation is a slow painful death to those afflicted with wanderlust and we are trapped by the seasons, by circumstance and by our own stubborn will.  They say winter comes in like a lion and goes out like a Lamb.  Every day we do our Sundance, spring is closer than you think and we are here ready and patiently waiting. Like my old friend Larry once said, if its this difficult it must be worth it.

“There was a moment when I changed from an amateur to a professional. I assumed the burden of a profession, which is to write even when you don’t want to, don’t much like what you’re writing, and aren’t writing particularly well.”
― Agatha Christie

Celebrating Black Friday


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Black Friday is among the most celebrated of all national holidays.  It’s a day when we can leave our families home alone on one of our few days off during the year.  We can wait in long lines for grand openings. Shove, beat and murder our neighbors to support mass consumerism, and save lots of money on cheap Chinese shit we don’t need, can’t afford, and won’t last much longer than the factory farm tortured turkeys we ate for Thanks Grieving Day.

Black Friday

We set off to the superstore early, we shop in nature and consume it heavily.  Vitamin D is at a premium these days and we stocked up for the winter.

Black Friday

We rode in circles looking for a premium parking spot and finally, after miles of winding country roads, found one right up front.

black friday

We didn’t know what we wanted but ran around in a greedy frenzy trying to get it all in before it was snatched up by the desperate souls like those in Costco fighting over free samples.

hiking san juan island

We didn’t have any money with us so we maxed our wild cards to the limit.

hiking san juan island

Hiking skirt from the local thrift store.

san juan island naturalist

Old flannel mountain shirt, hand me down.

hiking san juan

Endless youth and perfect health.

hiking san juan

Flying like Peter Pan.

trail running skirt

I can fly, I can fly.

girl in a tree

Climb a tree.

hiking san juan

Run run as fast as you can, you can’t catch me I’m the ginger bread man.

trail running

You might be fast but I have stamina

Smiling so hard your face hurts

Smiling so hard your face hurts.

san juan island

There are some things that money can’t buy, for everything else theres a really good commercial put out by the spawn of the devil to make you indebted till death do us part.

“Our economy is based on spending billions to persuade people that happiness is buying things, and then insisting that the only way to have a viable economy is to make things for people to buy so they’ll have jobs and get enough money to buy things.”
― Philip Slater

We’re Having A Baby…


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Are the last words we ever want to say. The only thing more important than keeping a clean and tidy ship when you’re a live-aboard outfitting your boat for cruising, is not getting pregnant. (Obviously we are not married so therefore remain abstinent and this scenario is entirely hypothetical…hi, mom!)Cruising with kids

Disclaimer: I know some very successful parents who live this lifestyle and love their kids almost as much as their boats, and I mean no offense. We both think kids are okay, but prefer our dog.

We are transient, working sailors with the intention of cutting the dock lines. Bringing a baby onboard, for us, is not an option. A baby would both literally and figuratively suck us dry, and probably mean we had to move back to land, and pick up that 9-5 lifestyle.

However the current health system has proven difficult when trying to achieve this. If you are lucky enough to be suitable for an IUD, you are pretty much home free when it comes to birth control and sailing away into the deep blue yonder. But what about those of us where this is not an option?

Birth control has come a long way with the IUD, the shot, the patch, etc. Making it more convenient and affordable for women to choose their own destiny. But aside from the IUD (which believe me is NOT right for everyone: think hair loss, debilitating cramps, bleeding 3 weeks out of the month, severe emotional instability, and I’m not just talking about crazy people (like me) experiencing these symptoms), all of these options pretty much have a six month expiration date. Meaning every 3-6 months you must visit your doctor or pharmacy to obtain more medicine.

For me, the only option is the pill and I can only get it three months at a time. This leads to other questions when building an offshore medical kit. Like how do you get your doctor to prescribe you antibiotics for a myriad of infections from the simple UTI to gangrene?

My partner is a real do-it-with-less kind of guy. But this girl is a hypochondriac Jew from New York.

Please, ladies and their gentlemen; help me solve this birth control conundrum. Any doctors out there who could provide me with a BC prescription I could pick up 12 months at a time? How about Mexico, I know dental work is cheap there…

Any responses about how to get your doctor to give you a year supply (or more!) of BC pills at a time, and a cruising medical kit are greatly appreciated.


A Three Hour Tour


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I do some of my best writing while on my bike, the long slow mythodical push through the woods helps quiet my A.D.D. and focus on the thoughts at hand.  Like sailing our little cutter, cycling is simple, natural and as clean for the environment as we can get.

Topo designs klettersack

Life is pretty busy these days as we push for our spring departure date.  The new blog is going well and already a full time job with lots of surprises coming.  I had no idea that I would get such a warm welcome and so much support from day one and I’m loving it.

topo designs klettersack

Our workload is up to 12 hour days and with a the winter chill in the air its hard to sneak out too long before the boat gets to cold for Chloe.  We can easily schedule in in a three hour ride and be back in time to crank the heater to warm her chilly bones.

surly cross check

Like the sea in her warmer moods, the woods are our sanctuary during the months that its too cold for our thin blood out on the water.  The bikes are also a necessary break from the insanity of stage two of our refit.  Picture two A.D.D/O.C.D. misfits trapped in a 4’x6′ box that gets torn apart and put back together every day.  Now add in 18 hours of dark, a sick stinky dog and ever shrinking budget all packaged up in a dank terrarium, thats life in a nutshell.

surly cross check

As with with any boat, first we make it a safe boat, then we make it a comfortable boat, then we make it a pretty boat.  The new cushions are coming along as fast as we can pay for them and the new design for our galley is almost done.  Unfortunately it looks like we will sail another season without water tanks or lifelines but like all good things they will come.

Kona Paddy wagon CX

Cabin fever and winter exhaustion are easily broken by a heart thumping ride playing cat and mouse on single and double track trails hidden deep in the woods.

bike porn

In a few short weeks Emily has turned into world class cyclist which is a far cry from where she started crippled with fear of her bike.  Our skinny tires carried us through  the trail except for the most technical sections and once again I have been rewarded for my patience with her.  I tried to buy Emily new CX tires the day her bike arrived but in her ever penny pinching way she refused and I didn’t push.  Now she is asking about gravel tires and showing more interest in her bike and its mechanical workings every day.

surly cross check

We raced on the tarmac all the way home and while I’m still faster, she is giving me more of a run for my money everyday.  This summer getting her to walk up a flight of stairs was like trying to convince her to climb Mt Everest, these days the first words out of her mouth are when can we ride and how far can we go.  She is even scheming to bring the bikes with us on our summer sailing adventures.

topo designs klettersack

We finished our long fast ride at the local beer store and true to form my new Klettersack swallowed a 18 pack of beers along with all my ride warmies.  Life is good and very busy but we always make time to play with each other.  I never could have imagined how far this city girl could come in such a short period of time.  Looks like my Peter Pan Syndrome is contagious.

topo designs klettersack

A new world is opening for both of us and as we continue our trials and tribulations of surviving winter, we are learning to not only survive each other and our shortcomings but to thrive and embrace them.  A little bit of patience goes along way in a small boat.  If I have relearned anything this year its to lead by example and never ask for anything.  Whats meant to be will come your way when the universe deems you worthy.

“All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Launching A Dream


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I feel like I’ve been given a life sentence of solitaty confinement.  Slower than the molasses in January the days creep on, cold, dark, damp and lonely, cabin fever has set in.  I’m envious of Emily as she packs up for her morning ride to the office everyday, I wave goodbye wishing it was me heading out into the world.

sailing singles

Chloe is on her final glide path and while its hard to watch her wither away I’m fortunate that since I found her we have been together every second of every day.  Emily is our savior right now and chief bread winner.  These are hard times but also a blessing.  I sit and write all day every day snuggled up with my furry best friend.  Her body is old and tired but her eyes tell me a different story.

Salty Dog

For every story that ends a new one begins.  I didn’t have to think twice about ending this years voyage before it began, Chloe has always come first.  Sailing into Cougar Bay to become a live-aboard ended more than one chapter in my life but it also began many new ones.  For the first time in as long as I can remember , I have a committed crew “Emily” and the boat in is rare form these days.  When Sookie arrived on her trailer three and a half yard ago she was pretty rough but her bones were strong, now a world class yacht she is coming together well and while we have only just begun with our refit the hardest work is behind us.

blue water pocket cruiser

So a new journey has begun as we we share the sail so to speak.  Our new sailing blog Boatyard Pirates will be a very different monster than this, our personal journal.  It is a new site featuring pocket cruising sailboats for sale, yacht delivery, sailing lessons and personal consultations.  Its a place where we can review products we love, techniques that are tried and true and anything else we feel like without changing the original direction of this journal.  In 1987 I brokered my first boat sale, did my first offshore delivery and started what would become a lifelong love of helping others achieve their sailing dreams.  Now nearly thirty years later as we wait for our own window to open so we can head back out again we hope to share our experiences and passion with others.  My hope is that Boatyard Pirates will become a never ending book of knowledge for sailors new and old.  There are thousands outlets for finding your dream yacht but not a single one stop shop for high end salty pocket cruisers.  As of today we are still putting the pages together and don’t have a single listing but like the old saying goes, every journey begins with a single step.  From dock to hook please join us on our new journey, Boatyard Pirates.

“The job is what you do when you are told what to do. The job is showing up at the factory, following instructions, meeting spec, and being managed.

Someone can always do your job a little better or faster or cheaper than you can.

The job might be difficult, it might require skill, but it’s a job.

Your art is what you do when no one can tell you exactly how to do it. Your art is the act of taking personal responsibility, challenging the status quo, and changing people.

I call the process of doing your art ‘the work.’ It’s possible to have a job and do the work, too. In fact, that’s how you become a linchpin.

The job is not the work.” ~ Seth Godin,

Man Tacos


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I had Emily pinned in the corner of our v-berth, she screamed with delight.  We were having a tickling war and I was winning, abuse she cried, abuse, tickling is abuse.  I collapsed into our unbelievably comfy nest content to end another impossibly perfect day.  In a very heavy spanish accent Emily cooed; if this is torture, chain me to the wall.

Man Tacos

Winter is aways a struggle, while living aboard but on a 22′ sailboat it can be downright torture.  We live a vegan diet most days but come Monday its meat day and Emily finally got to experience my signature recipe, Man Tacos.

small sailboat galley

Simple, yummi and loaded with much needed fat to keep us warm through the coming winter.  Every Monday is a culinary experiment as we try to make use with the dregs from three and a half years of provisions that we have in all this time refused to eat.  Rusty label-less cans get pulled out, opened and if not completely rotten consumed.

sailing with dogs

It doesn’t matter what we are cooking sad dogie eyes conspire for a taste of what the humans are eating and those sad eyes always win our hearts over.


The budget is tight but come Mondays we make it walk the plank and I head of to the local food store with a crisp twenty spot clinched firmly in my hands.

Bacon love

Someday I may actually grasp the knack for cooking but for now its always filling, hot and there is plenty to go around.  This time of year the invitations start flying, everybody we know worries about us in our tiny boat.  We don’t have a lot but we have each other and that goes a long way.

They say we’re young and we don’t know
We won’t find out until we grow
Well I don’t know if all that’s true
‘Cause you got me, and baby I got you

They say our love won’t pay the rent
Before it’s earned, our money’s all been spent
I guess that’s so, we don’t have a pot
But at least I’m sure of all the things we got

I got flowers in the spring
I got you to wear my ring
And when I’m sad, you’re a clown
And if I get scared, you’re always around

Don’t let them say your hair’s too long
‘Cause I don’t care, with you I can’t go wrong
Then put your little hand in mine
There ain’t no hill or mountain we can’t climb

I got you to hold my hand
I got you to understand
I got you to walk with me
I got you to talk with me

I got you to kiss goodnight
I got you to hold me tight
I got you, I won’t let go
I got you to love me so

I got you babe  ~ Sonny & Cher

Topo Designs Klettersack 15


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I got an email from Emily; get up here this box is too large to carry home on my bike, I want it so badly, I’m jealous.  My mind went bazerk, what could it possibly be, food? a gift? boat shit?  I love suprises but she knows better than to shop for me, I’m impossible.

topo designs klettersack 15

I ran all the way the office grabbed the box and made a break for it, she screamed and chased me down the hall.  I zigged where I should have zagged and in my confusion made a fatal error, in the office maze I had gone the wrong way and was trapped like a rat, she caught me and we both laughed as I shook the box wondering what treasure could possible be at hand.  I tore through the packaging and there it was, my head nearly exploded as I pulled out a Brand spanking new Topo Designs Klettersack.

topi designs klettersack

I had a tear in my eye as I hugged her, kissed her and ran out the door to play with my new soon to be best friend.  This thing was made in the good old USA and is spot on for quality.  Every stitch is perfection, the design is old-school, simple and clean.  Its nothing more than a sack with a small top lid and a few lash points, to me there is absolutely nothing more sophisticated than simplicity.  My very first pack was an old Torri Kletter climbing pack, tough as nails, simple as dirt and oh so stylish.  I carried that pack on every adventure I went on for years and was never let down till that fateful day when someone smashed the window of my car and stole my fully packed bag ready for my departure for Cabo the very next day.  I had been hired to sail a 30′ sailboat from Cabo to San Diego and had booked my flight two weeks early to get in some great spear fishing.  All of my most valuable possessions were gone.  I had one day to replace everything from my collapseable Hawaiin sling and dive knife to my trusty pack.  I went to every mountain shop in San Diego but failed to find anything even close.  Its amazing how the things we love the most get the least amount of thought.  My old pack could not be replaced. Its been over 25 years and I’ve never been able to find a suitable match for my trusty and tattered old long lost friend, until today.

topo designs daypack

It seems to get harder and harder to find a simple pack when every company out there is trying to turn the once ample rucksack into a super padded and heavy mobile office capable of carting all your tec gear and the kitchen sink to the top of Mt Everest.  Straps, buckles hip belts water proof covers, millions of pockets…The day of the daypack is dead, or at least it was.  I crawled into bed last night with Molly my newly named and already well loved pack, Emily protested but Molly got tucked in right by my side.  Emily’s last words before the sandman came and took her away were if I wake up and that thing is between us I’m throwing it overboard.

topo designs made in america

The design of this pack is simple clean and elegant.  There are two flush pockets on either side that will hold a Kleen Canteen or in my case my 4 oz flask and Moleskine journal on one side and a slim digital camera on the other.  I am on writing/photo assignment 24/7/365 and while there is a wonderful slim line pouch for my Mac Book Pro I rarely carry it with me, I prefer to hand write everything and transfer it later.  There is something so simply wonderful about writing my stories in my journal.  Laptops have earned themselves a place in this world and that is at home where they belong.

topo designs daypack

This Klettersack is smooth, simple, streamlined and built like a brick shithouse.  It carries like a dream and is just the right size for everything from carting an 18 pack of beers and snacks to your friends house to a world journey.  My motto has always been take half as much stuff as you think you will need and twice as much money.

topo designs

This pack is simple perfection in every way shape and form, you can easily find them at Topo Designs or hope to be as fortunate as I and one day soon the post man will come knocking for you.  Unlike my last one, if you want this one you will have to pry it from my cold dead hands.

topo designs

Disclaimer, I am in no way shape or form affiliated with Topo Designs.  On the rare occasions that I come across something truly amazing I like to share it.  The fact that it is Made in America is icing on the cake, these guys rock!

topo designs

A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.  ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

The Hull Truth


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We wake up to frost-covered docks. Fog collects above the Pacific Northwest water, however notoriously cold, is warmer than the air. Sookie thrashes back and forth violently in 40 KT winds. She heels over to the port side and our dinner tumbles to the floor.

winter liveaboard

The old, frayed dock lines squeak and stretch, and we hope they’ll hold, always prepared to jump out of bed at the sound of anything unusual. Poorly secured halyards slap against the masts of boats whose masters are warm and dry on land, who’ve abandoned their vessels for the winter.

I’ve been lied to, by all those that said winter here “wasn’t that bad,” and it’s only November.

The heater now runs 24/7 (except when it overheats and shuts off at the coldest moments), warming us and the old dog, and keeping the condensation at bay. Night comes on at 5 p.m., the temperature drops and we assume the only available positions in our 4×6 living space–lying down in the quarter berths.

Snuggling into the v-berth at night his arms wrapped around me, he’s snoring thanks to the cold I gave him. My mind drifts into the future; warmer weather, longer days, more adventure. How did summer escape us so quickly? Like an unrequited lover she’ll return only when she wants to, when she’s grown weary of her escapades in the other half of the world.

“Don’t believe everything you read or hear, remember a large part of our world is made up of fiction!!”
~ Victoria Addino

The Three Year Itch


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They call it living the dream but what is the dream?  Is it sailing?  Is it a life of self sufficiency?  Is it simply telling your boss to take this job and shove it?  Regardless of what our end dream is we all share one massive hurdle in common, financing the dream.

Falmouth Cutter 22

I could spend the rest of my life studying golf with the best coaches in the world but I will never be the next Tiger Woods.  Just like sailing engineless wont make me the next Larry Pardey, there is no amount of writing I can put in that will make me the next Hemingway.  There is nothing original in this world, we simply take old principals and make them better for the constantly changing world.  I remember giving a speech to a board room full of business professionals.  I started out with a single statement that I have lived by for over 30 years.  If you run your buisiness this year the way you did last year, next year you will be out of business.  I spend very close to 365 days a year on the water, you can’t be that close to this lifestyle and not see a hundred dreams lived a hundred ways.

In 2005 I started this sailing blog as a very private outlet for my friends and family to follow me on my travels from surf to turf and a way for them always to know where I was and what I was up to.  Somehow over the last ten years it has grown to something larger and just like all the letters I receive form readers around the world I spend a fair amount of time working on how I will continue to finance the dream.  Do a simple google search and you can find hundreds of sailing budgets and thousands of different boats out there right now all doing it different ways.  Follow these blogs lang enough and you will soon learn that your super heroes sooner or later will be struggling just as hard as you to keep the momentum going.  I can’t say for sure why but it seems that there is about a three year window for excellent sailing blogs, then they seem to crash hard, the close intimate writing turns into a sales pitch for all the XYZ products we simply can’t safely or happily sail without and the journal becomes yet another sailing advertizment page.

I’ve been courted and swooned for years with these offers for so called sponsorship and advertising revenue and while I have held firm and held out I too have to keep beans and rice on the table for my family.  In a few weeks I will launch a new blog in an attempt to save this one from the preverbial thee year itch.  It will be a dedicated to small full keel blue water sailboats for sale, in this day and age there is simply no reason to pay a yacht broker a 10% surcharge.  As the new site grows I hope to turn it into a one stop shop for the go small go simple go now dreamers and sailors alike.  While there is no right or wrong way to go about funding the dream, I continue the search for my way.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
― Thomas A. Edison

Damn You Summer!


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My reality check just bounced, I feel like a groom left at the alter. I have committed to my true love, summer but she has left me here standing alone. I miss her dearly, all the good times we had together, her gentle warm caresses. I mourn the loss of her and while I know I will find another I want her back, I need her, she was my soul mate.

the summer wind

Our entire living space is 4’x 6′, throw a stinky old dog in the middle of that and you have a pretty small living space for two souls to share. We still have over a month till the first day of winter and Emily is already going stir crazy. Our relationship is a steady as a rock for exactly 33.33 percent of the time. The other 66.67 percent is an even split between being petrified of her and wanting to strangle her. This is the time of year I start fantasying about my beloved Hallberg Rassy 42, at 750k she is affordable and the perfect size to keep my millennial bride snug as a bug in a rug. Hot showers, diesel heat and a real square bed are all luxuries we can easily live without for a full 8 months of the year but come November we start to pace around a like two caged animals, wild and ready to chew our own foot off to escape the cold confined reality of living aboard a very small yacht during the Pacific Northwest winter.

mistress summer

Winter may test our resolve and commitment to this lifestyle but she won’t beat us. I was once asked how I do things like paddle into a 20′ wave or ride my bike off a near vertical cliff without giving it a second thought. The only answer I can ever give is that you have to be 100% committed. If you hesitate for even a single second that wave will chew you up and spit you out. Perched on the cliff I could focus and try to pick my line, I could look for every obsacle that could send me to the ER and waste and entire day trying to get the nerve to pedal over. If I did any of these things I would be focussing on failure not success, instead I know I’m 100% committed, drop in and do my best.

“That which does not make us stronger kills us” ~AEO Redneck Soup

When I threw a dart at the board of life and being an adventure travel writer/photographer I only knew one thing and that was if I didn’t give it my all I would end up like the rest of the competition out there working a full time job to support a hobby. Well I don’t have any hobbies, just a singular lifestyle to eek out every drop from beginning to end and somehow find a way to regurgitate a few words that match the feeling I had in the snapshots we take of our lives. To somehow share something that can’t be shared, emotions that can’t be replicatied and singular experiences that literally will only avail themselves for a split second in time. During the long warm days of summer there are more stories to tell than there are stars in the sky. We fill every second of every day and even nap-time is exciting. For all of our thousands of differences we share even more in common and warm weather tops the list. Like innocent children we run down long empty stretches of beach shedding our clothes and our inhibitions. We share a joint suffrage of a total and complete lack of forward thinking. Warm balmy breezes fill our lungs to capacity, we breath in life and exhale out stories with less effort than it takes to blink our eyes.

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”  ~ John Lennon

Then one day without the slightest inkling of warning it hits us like a blizzard to the soul, winter… Bone chilling, wet, dark, short days. The walls close in on us, tempers are short and patience is shorter. In all my days on this earth I have never been a winter person, two winters in Wisconsin and 7 in Tahoe haven’t been able to convert me. I have skied countless hundreds of days, snow shoed thousands of miles and explored every inch of winter without finding a single spark in my heart for her.  Now standing here alone, left at the alter my only choice for survival is to embrace her. To find beauty in her grey eyes and warmth in her dark soul. To make winter my mistress is the only way to survive, if I think about it too much I will fail. I must throw my arms around her, strip naked and dive in head first, If I don’t commit 100%…

“There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” — Sir Rannulph Fienness

Walden On Water


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As plans are written in the sands of low tide, is an old saying I have come quite familiar with.  It all started with a very generous donation to our beer fund a while back.  This wonderful addtion to our social life might have seemed like a small gesture but to us it wasn’t.  It was a potential life altering event and no the sky doesn’t have to fall to change the entire course of ones life.Lyle Hess 24

Turn the clock back 21 years, I was a young budding drone working in the field of solar engineering.  I had been given the task of telling the entire manufacturing department that they wouldn’t be receiving Christmas bonuses.  These guys were upset, the best I could tell them was that their reward for a hard days work was an opportunity to work another day, needless to say it didn’t go over well.  A few days later I discovered that all the suits received their annual bonus and I along with all the other guys that made them rich were nothing other than peasants.  In my youthful naïvety I decided I would never be a peasant again.  I wrote a mission statement to Corporate, sold or gave away all of my worldly possessions and made a new life for myself.  Change is a good thing but also a scarry one when you are 25 years old.  I had made a twenty year plan to work hard, save all my money and eventually sail away.  Two months later I was getting the crap kicked out of me in the channel between Maui and Hawaii known as Alinuihahawa wondering if I had made a mistake giving up the familiar security I had grown accustomed to.

Lyle Hess 24

On our way to the bar to celebrate the Halloween weekend we took a 8 mile sidetrack ending up at a haunted marina.  The short stout double spreader mast caught my eye and my curiosity.  I never would have discovered this little gem if it wasn’t for the kindness of a stranger.  This is the fourth wooden Hess that has fallen into my lap in the last 6 months and a reminder of how fortunate I am in this life.  If you can’t appreciate the beauty of wooden yachts you might take lesson from Carol Hasse or Lin and Larry Pardey, if these interviews don’t strike a chord in your heart nothing will.

DSC_6754 copy

Its cold and windy today, easy to want to hide away in my warm dry cabin but Sookies bowsprit needs painting.  Its easy to lose motivation to write, or do maintenance at this time of year when the last of the warm sunny days of summer has sailed away.  Twenty years ago I could never imagine that I would be passed the torch to keep the romance of old traditional boats alive but here I sit caretaker of one of the last of the Mohicans.  They say that life is a concentric ring, that we are all connected to each other through this ring.  If I only reach one person through this journal and they pick up the torch and keep these old wonderful boats alive I have done my job.  Winter is marching in here, we have battened down the hatches and are ready for all that mother nature will throw at us.  We don’t have much be we have everything we need, we feel like Walden on water.

“There is but a plank between a sailor and eternity.” – Thomas Gibbons

My Eyes Have Seen The Glory


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I’ve been cycling for a lifetime but I’m not a cyclist.  I don’t own any spandex or a shiny jersey, I don’t have a helmet or fancy gloves and my bike isn’t for exercise.  A lot of the same can be said about my writing, I’m not a writer, I’m a storyteller.

surly cross heck

I hope some day to have the skills to share our journey but I don’t know if they exist.  I can write a few carefully crafted words and put up my favorite pictures but they will never convey the endorphin rush pulsing through our bodies on a daily basis.

Kona Paddy Wagon

Pink noses, fingers slightly numb from the cold, lactic acid building in our quads and Iron lungs pressing hard as we laugh and play follow the leader down any road we may come across.  We carry no map, there is no itinerary, nothing but huge smiles and  laughter following us down deserted island roads.

bicycle touring the San Juan's

Every day seems the same yet no two days are alike.  Emily finished putting the final coat of wax on Sookie and I was able to paint half of the bowsprit before we both started getting antsy to escapee the fall prison of a damp wet boat.  We piled on our warmies and set out on an adventure, destination unknown.  I don’t know how to describe the constantly varying scenery combined with the wind in my hair and the ever present island smells that change as often as the light with each bend in the long and winding road.  Our bikes may carry us down each hard earned mile but its our bodes that do all the work.  Hard labor is good for the mind body and soul, simple repetitive tasks such as turning the pedals frees the mind of everything but the present.

Surly Cross Check

Emily is small and timid, insecure and afraid of everything in this world but with a little encouragement she will hop onboard and give it her all.  Her new bike scares the hell out of her and she screams as much as she laughs.  She may not understand it right now but the miles she is putting in on her bike are toughening her up for the next adventure.  The mileage is creeping up and with her time in the saddle each new day she is becoming more and more one with the bike.  I could push her but I don’t, I pull her with my constant enthusiasm.  I laugh and play, bunny hoping over road kill, involuntary whoops sneak out when my back tire slips on wet road debris and I’m always looking for the next hill to coax her up.  Down hill is fun but I live for the climb.

kona paddy wagon

I’ve never once asked a single thing of Emily I just do my thing and live and love in every moment of every second of every day.  Its hard for her not to want to join in on the fun even if its new and scary, cycling is a premium rush that can’t be bought or sold, it can only be earned.

“Don’t say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream.”  ~ Mark Twain

My Old Sea Boots


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There is very little in this world more important to a sailor than his old sea boots.  Warm and comforting, always there when you need them and ready to go at a moments notice.  Once shiny and new these old boots wear with you, they show their age as well as yours.  You can tell a lot about a man by his boots.

salty dog

They will happily splash through the mud and follow you everywhere you go, down lonely stretches of deserted beaches that go on forever. Through canyons and over mountain tops and into deep snow covered valleys without complaint.  A quick blast with the hose and they are clean enough to come back into the boat and settle in the corner untill the next adventure.

sailing Dog

Eventually these boots will become a part of you, but like you they won’t last forever.  I have hiked a thousand miles in my trusty boots, now old worn and battered I know the end is near.  You do everything you can to patch them up and keep them going but eventually the time will come when putting patches over patches doesn’t help anymore.  You remember better days and all the adventures you had together.  Laying in a crumpled heap where they once stood proudly your boots are tired, they try but they are tired.  You want to let them sleep but you know when they eventually do a part of your soul will die.  Deep down all you really want is one more hike, one more adventure one more…

salty dog

“It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing. It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive. It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain! I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it, or fix it. I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human. It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; if you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy. I want to know if you can see beauty even when it’s not pretty, every day, and if you can source your own life from its presence. I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!” It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up, after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children. It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back. It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away. I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.” -Oriah Mountain Dreamer

Best Sailing Blogs 2015


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Bring me that horizon, the last line from Pirates of the Caribbean.  I was going to make a post of my favorite sailing blogs but changed my mind.  I do enough sharing around here, today I’m asking for something back, if you know a great sailing blog please share it with me.  Please don’t share the usual crappy boring blogs like this one.  I’m searching for the most excellent blogs in the world, if you know of one do tell.

Blue-water pocket cruiser

“The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.”

— Vincent Van Gogh

blue-water pocket cruiser

“It is not that life ashore is distasteful to me. But life at sea is better.”

— Sir Francis Drake

West Wight Potter 14

“The wind and the waves are always on the side of the ablest navigator.”

— Edmund Gibbon

Flicka 20

“It is not the ship so much as the skillful sailing that assures the prosperous voyage.”

— George William Curtis

falmouth cutter

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

— Francis Herreshoff,

blue water pocket cruiser

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

— Webb Chiles

blue water pocket cruiser

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

— Ellen MacArthur

Peace on earth is all it said

Attitude is the difference between ordeal and adventure
- Bob Bitchin


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


If you can’t repair it, maybe it shouldn’t be on board.
- Lin and Larry Pardey


Being hove to in a long gale is the most boring way of being terrified I know.
- Donald Hamilton

westerly 22

If you are going to do something, do it now. Tomorrow is too late.
- Pete GossVertue 25 titanium bowsprite

The planning stage of a cruise is often just as enjoyable as the voyage itself, letting one’s imagination loose on all kinds of possibilities. Yet translating dreams into reality means a lot of practical questions have to be answered.
– Jimmy Cornell


“At sea, I learned how little a person needs, not how much.”

— Robin Lee Graham, Sailor

falmouth cutter

If you are going to do something, do it now. Tomorrow is too late.
- Pete Goss

falmouth cutter

“Not all who wander are lost.”
- JRR Tolkien

falmouth cutter

“He that will not sail till all dangers are over must never put to sea.”
- Thomas Fuller 


“The sea finds out everything you did wrong.”
- Francis Stokes

Falmouth cutter 22

Some years ago – never mind how long precisely – having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.
H. Melville, Opening Line from Moby Dick

Will Work For Food Or Money

Do or do not. There is no try.
- Yoda

cutting the dock lines

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

My Morning Grind


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Rain is falling in buckets, wind lashes at the boat, we hear the gusts coming before they hit, then WHAM! Sookie lays over, spills the wind, and settles in. We laugh and snuggle in deeper to our warm cocoon. I tell ghost stories to spook Emily ensuring that she will snuggle in tight all night, its starting to get colder around here.

the daily grind

Morning comes early for me these days as there is much to do before the first frost settles on our tiny decks. I tuck Emily into a human taco and reluctantly crawl out of our nest, its cold as hell in here. My naked body tightens up covering me in goose bumps. I need to heat the boat, make coffee and walk the dog. Rain pounds our decks like a thousand Indians beating their drums. I light the stove and the smell of butane is a familiar one, it means coffee and a new day has arrived.

We finally did it, we dropped a years cruising budget on brand new cushions for the whole boat. This is going to be an expensive year but every upgrade will pay us back 10 fold. When we came home from the canvas shop I muttered, “I can’t believe you choose Teal for the cushions.” I had wanted blood red to match the new red enameled wood burning stove that as of yet is nothing more than a pipe dream. Emily asked why I let her choose if I had wanted something different. “I would have let you get pink and blue poka-dots if it made you happy,” was my simple response. Most things in this life are a compromise, downsize to a 22′ sailboat and everything is a compromise, everything but freedom that is.

So we keep reaching into our pitiful savings, bikes, foulies, warmies, cushions, rigging, stanchions, batteries, waters tanks…the list goes on. Once a week we have our money meeting, this week it was at the local watering hole which is a very special treat as we rarely go out. Its a lot like running a business, this whole sailing verse working thing. We’re ok with the long hours now, but there has to be a logical end, a place in time where we say enough is enough, cut the umbilical cord and move on. Being tied to one place too long is annoying but it also has a sense of safety attached. In our local waters we can always find work regardless of what time of year or where we happen to drop our hook, we have real marine chandleries and the vet is only a stones throw away. Our simple bikes can get us across town in three minutes, the ferry and airport are as close as the local pub. Home is a good thing but also a temporary one, for us at least.

Sitting at the pub with ice cold beers and snacks we laugh and scheme about how to get paid for sailing without getting paid for selling our souls. Time and time again we come back to our writing and photography , it comes easy for both of us, is fun and takes up very little of our precious time. From pen to publishing I have never spent more than a few hours on writing a feature article, although it can take weeks of travel and fun to actually have something to write about. It seems that everybody is a writer these days, yet there is very little quality writing out there. The question we always ask of ourselves is do we have a story to tell?

Back to my morning grind the dog has been fed, Emily is squeeking to life and the storm has momentarily broken, I barely had enough time to snap a single picture before the next squall hit. Storms like life move on pretty quickly, if you don’t pay attention you just might miss them.

“Everything you can imagine is real.”
― Pablo Picasso

Rogue Sailors


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“It’s better to swim in the sea below  Than to swing in the air and feed the crow,  Says jolly Ned Teach of Bristol.” ~ Benjamin Franklin  It wasn’t that long ago that a motley crew of sailors plied the 7 sea’s on small well found simple boats, today we call them Rogue sailors.

Rogue sailors

Fiercely independent, these sailors still exist although their numbers are smaller today. Sailors like Brycen and Brenna, young couples with all the skills of the ancient mariner drift from port to port bringing with them a reminder that there is a simpler way to go about this lifestyle.  The romance of a small ship properly maintained and smartly  sailed is alive and well.  Paper charts and compass are still all you need to safely explore the Salish Sea.  More and more I am meeting these rogue sailors, a small band of modern day pirates connected through shared lifestyles.

Rogue sailor

Big boats, blogs about sailing around the world and fleets of sailing craft moving from place to place are the norm these days.  These rogue sailors do it a bit differently.  On their own with a sort of quiet dignity, they travel in a style most would turn their noses up to.  Scavenging the sea for food, making do with the bare minimum these sailors quietly come and go mostly unnoticed.  In a world where you can still live well off $200 a month these sailors are modern pirates, their booty is life.  While there is no right or wrong boat or way to go through life, these Walden’s on water have tapped into something attainable for anybody.  You can achieve this lifestyle on a minimum wage income or simply live it with millions in the bank.

rogue sailors

Revolt I tell you, heed the call of the wild.  Quit that job, buy a small sailboat and discover the life you were born to live.  At sea the only rules are that of nature, eat, sleep, live…

“If sailor tales to sailor tunes,

Storm and adventure, heat and cold,
If schooners, islands, and maroons
And Buccaneers and buried Gold
And all the old romance, retold,
Exactly in the ancient way,
Can please, as me they pleased of old,
The wiser youngsters of to-day:

-So be it, and fall on! If not,
If studious youth no longer crave,
His ancient appetites forgot,
Kingston, or Ballantyne the brave,
Or Cooper of the wood and wave:
So be it, also! And may I
And all my pirates share the grave,
Where these and their creations lie!”
― Robert Louis Stevenson

Rolling With The Taco


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A wave crashed into the boat sending a rumbling shudder as spray flew across the deck.  The swell wasn’t large but it was powerful from the long fetch and the wind was building.  I looked out the window of the ferry at a beautiful little Dana 24 and was envious.

Dana 24

Hard on the wind in a steady 20 knots and gusting much higher these guys were working too hard, if they would have tucked a reef in the main the boat would have much better balance, still I wanted to trade places with them.  I was supposed to be sailing this weekend but life and Emily had different plans for me.  Sunday was my 4, 5 or 6 year anniversary with going car-less.  Its been so long I can’t remember but I can still remember handing my last set of car keys to the new owner, I was petrified.  Not only was I going car-less but I had also just moved aboard for my first winter in the Pacific Northwest.  Now older and wiser I have no fear of either.  Emily on the other hand is growing into her first winter aboard and trading her car for a bike.  She looked so cute heading off to work today in her new fluffy fleece warmies and Xtratufs.

bike touring the san juans

When I lived on the North Sore of Oahu the big wave surfers would go into a sort of depression when there were no monster waves to frolic in.  I think Emily was the first to notice my downhill slide.  A change in plans and a very tender knee facilitated the sale of my bike and with it went a part of me.  Like a perfect storm I have hit the exact place in life where everything has started to fall apart, my parents aren’t as young as they used to be and their health is a constant concern.  Emily came down to the boat in tears, she had just spoken to the Vet and was very shaken.  Chloe is looking and doing better than she had been all summer but more tests and more bad news has us all a bit down.  Everywhere I look I’m reminded of my own mortality.  The best way to cheat death is to live life, simple shit here folks.

Kona Paddy Wagon

Selling my bike hurt but it was far too nice to spend the winter sitting in the perpetual rain and now that my bike tour has been postponed far too expensive to be a simple Island bike.  That bike was my outlet for everything not perfect in my tiny world, I would just jump on her and pedal my troubles away.  First Emily suggested I get a new bike for the winter, then she insisted.  I love spring and summer rides through the sunny countryside but its the winter storms I love most, fighting headwinds, the swoosh of snow separating as my paper thin tires slice through it and the wide open roads as the last of the tourists have all gone back to work.

Kona Paddy Wagon

Sunday was as perfect as any day I can imagine.  I woke up early and could hear Chloe breathing softly in her quarter berth.  Emily slowly wiggled to life quietly chirping that she needed more sleep.  I slipped out of our v-berth, fed the dog, made a cup of coffee and packed my pack for an Island Adventure.  Boarding the Ferry alone was the first time I have ever gone on a journey without Chloe, I missed Emily but the excitement of my new bike kept my mind occupied.  I was reminded how small my world is when the first person I saw on the mainland Was Chris, I hadn’t seen him since the spring.  The wind must have been up to thirty knots by the time I got my new bike but it was warm and balmy.  I had a few hours to kill so I dialed the bike in right there in the parking lot, changed out the flat bars for drop bars, changed the brakes and switched from fixed gear to freewheel.  My days of riding a fixie aren’t over but I have to take it easy for now.  I forgot to bring my patch kit and spare tube, not wanting to chance missing my ride back to the Islands due to a flat I did a hundred laps around the ferry landing.  When I re-boarded the Ferry this new little steel bike felt like I had been riding her my whole life.  Fast, light and and simple she will get me through the winter and the storms that are sure to come.

San Juan Islands in the Fall

When I arrived home I found Emily and Chloe waiting for me in the park and had to smile, home is a word I haven’t known in a very long time…

An aging master grew tired of his apprentice’s complaints. One morning, he sent him to get some salt. When the apprentice returned, the master told him to mix a handful of salt in a glass of water and then drink it.

“How does it taste?” the master asked.

“Bitter,” said the apprentice.

The master chuckled and then asked the young man to take the same handful of salt and put it in the lake. The two walked in silence to the nearby lake and once the apprentice swirled his handful of salt in the water, the old man said, “Now drink from the lake.”

As the water dripped down the young man’s chin, the master asked, “How does it taste?”

“Fresh,” remarked the apprentice.

“Do you taste the salt?” asked the master.

“No,” said the young man. At this the master sat beside this serious young man, and explained softly,

“The pain of life is pure salt; no more, no less. The amount of pain in life remains exactly the same. However, the amount of bitterness we taste depends on the container we put the pain in. So when you are in pain, the only thing you can do is to enlarge your sense of things. Stop being a glass. Become a lake.”

Ebola Bugout Plan


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I keep reading articles about how difficult it is to contract Ebola and that there is nothing to worry about.  Lets get one thing straight, you actually have to fornicate to contract AIDS yet over 36 million people have died of that.

Bugout boat

Call us nuts but we are preparing for bad things to happen and Ebola is only one of the Many things it could be.  I’ll never understand why people insure their houses, cars, boats… yet they won’t have a simple plan to insure the safety of their family.  One must only back to go back to Hurricane Katrina to see complete and total failure of how to prepare, react or in the worst case expect a government agency to to take care of you.  If you don’t have a boat buy one.  If you have a boat stock the crap out of it.  The worst thing that can happen if you have a well prepared bug out boat is that you get to have a lot of fun with it and it will always be stocked with yummy food.  Were not paranoid in the least, we don’t have to be because we are prepared.  Better yet once we have the boat fully stocked we can take off anytime we want in a moments notice to go out and play, its a win win situation.

bugout island

Aside from our paranoid delusions of grandeur we have finally gotten rid of all superfluous items on boat in order to maximize our toy and booze capacity without compramizing our existing stores lockers. Now all we need to do is figure out how to have 10 cases of wine and a case of scotch delivered from Bellingham. Every fall I reread Aesop’s The Ant and the Grasshopper, pull your head out of the sand winter is coming!

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
― Charles Darwin

Old San Juan


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My first glimpse of the San Juan islands was from the air.  The charter company I was working for had a 40′ sailboat stranded in Friday Harbor with a broken transmission.  I offered to fly over and deliver her home.  It was sitting right seat in a Cessna 210 that  I first discovered this tiny Island paradise now a part of the Salish Sea.

xtratuf boots

Sailing home that day is still one of my more memorable days in the islands, even with a full size chart book and plotter I was lost for the first hour, everything looked the same yet very different.  It was also my first lesson in the local currents and the havoc they can play on the unprepared.

dog carrier

Now that we live aboard full time we don’t call any one place our home other than Sookie.

lime kiln state park

We don’t have any bills or a home mailing mailing address.  If you want to find us General Delivery is the only way.

dog beach

No phone, no keys, no time table, our lives are directed by the seasons, the sun, the moon and the stars.

Flap Jill Pack

Our jobs take place behind the lens of my Nikons and on the keys of our Mac Books.

xtratuf boots

I needed some footage for a feature article I’m writing for Outside Magazine and had just finished laying my last coat of varnish just hours before the rain set in.

san juan wild life

We laid around drinking hot coffee and chatting about where we wanted to sail next when the weather broke.

san juan cattle point

Chloe was loaded into the dock cart, I grabbed one camera with my 18-55mm lens and the three of us hit the road.

san juan fox

We didn’t have any plans or itinerary, we just wanted to see everything.

Flapjill pack

You don’t have to go far or look very hard to find the beauty of old San Juan, its everywhere.

xtratuf boots

Driving home that evening we both decided that we could spend the rest of our days exploring this magical world lost in time.

xtratuf boots

While we have no plans to set any roots I know that someday down the road , I will build my tiny home and Emily will have her own goat farm.

magic mushroom

In the meantime we are content living everyday for what its worth, always eyeing the next journey but content to be where we are.xtratuf boots

“You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.”
― Ansel Adams

Hibermating Season


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Voyaging sailors in the north like all mammals in the wild will crawl into thier warm Cabins to sleep the darkest coldest part of the winter away.  I always give myself till November first to have all of Sookies outside winterizations complete.  Once we reach November its only a short 51 days till winter solstice and the official end of our winter.


Once I move inside its all about storing lots of food booze and snacks to sustain us for months on end, should winter actually find its way to the PNW we will be ready.  New cussions have been ordered and I’m in desperate search of a big puffy fluffy blanket to keep my hibermate warm and snuggled up before the first flakes of winter fly.

sailboat provisions

The days of short sails, hot buttered rum and finding good friends to hole up with and dry out are upon us.  Each day when Emily heads out to work I dive into the next project.  I’m still finding high paying pickup  work but on a tiny island like this it could end any day.  Our food rotation is going well but we can’t seem to exhaust the provisons I loaded aboard in the spring, some of it now several years old and still barely showing any signs of rust.

Falmouth Cutter

When you live aboard such a small boat with three souls condensation is a constant battle, locker by locker all winter long I will fight the good fight with mold, mildew and the constant cloud of condesation that hangs in the air making us wish for the lazy days of summer.  We seem to accumulate quite a bit of salt down below so once a year I clean every inch of the boat, its amazing how much dryer she stays once she is salt free.

Ground tackle

Cleaning and drying our primary anchor rode is a gross job but worth the effort.  Every year I flip the line from end to end.  After the rode is two years old I switch it to my secondary anchor rode that never gets used, then to my stern anchor that rarely gets used and then it all gets cut and spliced for new dock lines.  This insurance policy costs me 100 bucks a year and always guarantees that I have fresh strong line on my bower.  Dock lines never last more than one season around here and this practice that I have done since I owned my first boat costs less than replacing the lines once a year with pre spliced store bought dock lines.  Its always the little things that help you sleep at night.


My last coat of varnish has been laid and I’m praying it won’t rain till later this evening, I still have to paint the bowsprit and seal all the raw wood as Emily is waxing the whole boat, then its on to more fun projects that involve drills, taps, and lots of shiny new hardware.

Maxpedition Proteus

Sookie isn’t just a sailboat or our home, she is also our ticket to the world, bug out boat and just about the most fun you can have with your clothes on.

Why is the rabbit unafraid?  Because he is smarter than the Panther.

Simplify Your Life


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A beggar had been sitting by the side of a road for over thirty years. One day a stranger walked by. “Spare some change?” mumbled the beggar, mechanically holding out his old baseball cap. “I have nothing to give you,” said the stranger. Then he asked: “What’s that you are sitting on?” “Nothing,” replied the beggar. “Just an old box. I have been sitting on it for as long as I can remember.” “Ever looked inside?” asked the stranger. “No,” said the beggar. “What’s the point? There’s nothing in there.” “Have a look inside,” insisted the stranger. The beggar managed to pry open the lid. With astonishment, disbelief, and elation, he saw that the box was filled with gold.cutting the dock lines

Several years ago I was fortunate enough to meet the builder of my Allegra 24.  When he asked if I had found the safe I was dumbfounded, I thought I knew every nook and cranny of that boat but when I returned home there it was with all the construction notes from day one to finish of that beautiful boat, it was a goldmine.

Living aboard a pocket cruiser

For the last three and a half years I have been trying to figure out why there is a dead space in my bilge with no access.  I have been getting ready to add a new water tank and started drilling exploratory holes and there it was under my nose this whole time.  I don’t know exactly what it is but there is something secretly tucked and sealed   patiently waiting to be discovered.  Its a sealed box but I have no idea what could possibly be in it.  Whatever it is, its surely a special treasure that the original builder went to great lengths to seal away in a hidden tomb.  All these years its just been sitting there, my imagination is running wild.

San Juan sailing

There have been so many times since I started this project that I have run into brick walls, financially, emotionally and intellectually.  Too many cold lonely winters, too many days all by myself in a windy wet boat yard, and far too many days as a solo sailor.  Now that the worst is behind I’m in no hurry to unearth this special hidden gold mine, whatever Sookie holds for us it can wait.  We have our annual refit budget refined and 6 months to finnish as much as we can before setting off to drift about the Salish Sea.  I needed a break from the insanity of beating winter and pulled out Ocean Passages for the world.  Were too busy living in the now to plan our future but it doesn’t hurt to take a secret peek at tomorrow.

Neah Bay to Westport, WA 100

Westport, WA to Columbia River, WA 40

Columbia River to Newport, OR 100

Newport, OR to Coos Bay, OR 75

Coos Bay, OR to Crescent City, CA 100

Crescent City, CA to Eureka, CA 65

Eureka, CA to Bodega Bay, CA 175

Bodega Bay, CA to San Francisco, CA 65

San Francisco, CA to Monterey, CA 90

Monterey, CA to Morrow Bay, CA 100

Morro Bay, CA to Santa Barbara, CA 100

Santa Barbara, CA to Newport Beach, CA 100

Each day we cross off yet another project, reduce our personal possessions to the bare minimum to make way for the new and come up with new ideas to make the boat more comfortable.  We got the new batteries in and I did it without electrocuting myself which was a big one off the list.  All new cushions are next followed by lifelines and then finally I’m going to put in real reefing gear and a topping lift.  I still can’t sail to windward in 25 knots of wind but thats all going to change.  I don’t know how we ended up with so much nice crap on this boat but eventually we will simplify to the bare minimum of everything we need and want, yard sail.

“Edit your life frequently and ruthlessly. It’s your masterpiece after all.”
― Nathan W. Morris

Zombie Apocalypse 2015


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I reached into the locker and pulled out a can of pasta sauce, the lid read best if used by 2013, i wondered where and when I purchased that old can, didn’t matter dinner was delicious.  Unlike most Americans who are still paying for food they charged in 2013 were still eating food we bought in 2013.

Zombie Apocalypse

Sookies lockers are filled with edible souvenirs from all over the islands, every meal is like a time capsule.Doomsday preperation

I can’t believe how much food this boat holds.  I loaded the boat at the end of April for my cruise to Alaska, that was before Chloe became ill and I thought I would need a full six months of provisions to get us through.  Now 5 months later I’m down to my last case of wine and bottle of rum and a few pulls of whiskey.  Chloe still has nearly 80 lbs of dog food and I’m guessing there is still a good month or two to purge while we prepare to restock for the long cold winter.  I know I can drop half a year of food for two into this husky little cruiser but what about three?

small boat provisioning

Sookie was a cold and alien to me when I pulled her out of wraps last March.  It didn’t take long to bring her back from the long harsh winter.  Back then I never could have guessed that all my planning and preparation was for not but life works in mysterious ways.  Now half a year later Chloe is making a slow recovery, Emily has taken over as first mate and While we won’t be sailing to Alaska with the dog, adventure abounds everywhere.

boat stores

Emily is finally completely moved aboard and as I purge each locker in an attempt to put in better ventalation we have already started with our hoarding ways.  When I found natural peanut butter for $2.99 I bought 15 jars, this weekend is a canned food sale and we will get everything we can to keep this little escape module going.  I’m always asked why I’m buying 15 cans of this or 20 bags of chips or hot sauce by the case, my simple response is that I’m preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse.

San Juan Islands

By the time our food hoarding spree is complete we hope to add over a thousand pounds of stores plus another 300 lbs of dog food and of course our standard 500 lbs of wine.


I’ve never been able to fully load all my lockers or get this little ship down on her DWL but she does seem to sail better the more weight she is carrying as long as we keep her ends relatively light.  People like to make fun of us for our hoarding ways but its just food and eventually it will all get eaten.  Emily wants me to teach her how to fish and forage, food is free for the taking everywhere and thats where our new journey begins.

“Make requests, not demands.

example: “please” kill that zombie honey, I’m out of bullets.”
― Jesse Petersen


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