48 north

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The sun is setting on another perfect day somewhere but here it’s just rising.  My life is a product of its design and it’s almost all mine. In six weeks I get kicked out of the marina for the summer, a good thing in my book.  I pour a pinch of whiskey in my coffee and survey my surroundings, I’m the only human in the marina. My life is stretched, my constant drive for financial freedom has taken its toll on me.  I package up all of my project books except  for Sookies log book.  I flip through the pages, they are far better than any book I have read but unfinished.

Everything in this picture has been replaced, all the wood is new, the ABI blocks, the cleats, the motor, the haws holes, pad eyes, everything…

The morning was spent going round and round on my new anchor rode, another year of 1/2″ by 300′ of three strand with 30′ of 5/16 chain. I’ve been staying on top of my boat bills but this month has been a real killer, the joys of owning a traditional sailboat.  I’m still working on the boom design but it won’t be from Le Feill… if I can’t pull it off by the end of the month I’ll push it to fall, Sookies going to Port Townsend or Bellingham for the winter but I haven’t flipped that coin yet. Water tanks, stove, restitch all my sails till the new ones can be cut, cushions, lighting, solar, it never ends.

I stop everything, crawl into my quarter berth and take a nap.  The stainless steel backing plates will be here by the middle of the week which means I’ve got lots to do. When I replaced Sookies standing rigging my budget fell short so I rebuilt her lowers instead of replacing them, their done.  Add new lowers and inner and fixed backs to the list, six weeks, shit. I haven’t even begun her annual maintence but Im almost ready to start.  At some point I have to pull Sookies pintles and gudgeons which means another gallon of bottom paint and through hulls, add that to list also right next to lifelines and boom vang and after send watch to Switzerland for cleaning.

My electrical panel is failing rapidly as are all the switches to my light fixtures.  Lots of gel coat work also, all those tiny cracks in the corners are growing fast up here form all the moisture, the longer I wait the more it will cost.  All the cover boards need to be re cocked as do the bullworks.  I plan my day’s and the hours of the day around the weather.   You can’t push it, these things can’t be rushed.  Properly maintaining a boat like Sookie is easy but every season I’ve pushed projects back so I could sail and it’s all caught up to me. Oops, dingy pump and oars, flares, my Herschoff is close but I don’t have time to get it, maybe that should be my priority.  A quick pb&j with a big glass of water and I’m off to find where I stored my varnish, paint, brushes, sand paper, steel and glass polish, it’s all here somewhere.

A package arrives is the mail, it says peanuts but it’s a new down poofy, an early b-day gift from my big bro and my now most prized possesion.  It’s blue and squishy and warm and crazy light, perfect for travel, perfect for PNW spring sundowners and perfect for bike touring.  My taxes are paid, my slip rent is payed it’s all payed.  16 years ago, standing in my office with my face pressed against the glass dreaming of a better life as the new fell.  Face shaved, hair cut neat and combed wardrobe from the cover of GQ.  All I wanted was to live on a small boat, to live a slow life attached to an island to have time to sip my coffee and ponder life.  I traded my leather attaché for a canvas tool bucket.  My gold watch for a submariner and my fancy leather shoes for dirty bare feet.

The  boat  smells of fresh teak, stinky boy and black coffee.  My feet are filthy, my hair is sweaty and covered in saw dust, my hands dark with grease and sealant.  I should be doing many things right now but I think a glass of whiskey with the sunset and the realization that dreams can come true but they won’t come looking for you. Sixteen years ago I had a dream and made it happen, there is a new dream in the making but just like everything in my life it can’t be rushed…

My new red G-string

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I look down the long road ahead and can’t help but to wonder if this is going to kill me.  My eyes opened wide a full hour before my 6:00 alarm.  I feel like shit, I’m so comfy and snuggled up I try and close my eyes and go back to sleep. It’s futal, I pull myself from my warm fluffy cocoon, my back hurts so badly that I hunch over like a caveman.

Coffee black, a huge glass of lemon water and morning news. I stretch and breath, in the corner I spy my pink running socks, I was packing my bags last night and now there they are calling to me. I find it odd that having spent the better part of my life as an ultra endurance athlete that I can’t even remember the last time I ran. It was probably to the liqour store for a six pack and ciggies trying to beat the winter early closing hours, or maybe running from the sergeants in Hawaii as they chased me into the jungle, whenever it was it certainly wasn’t for fun.

I pull out my ukulele and try to avoid the inevitable.  Yesterday I snapped my G string and after replacing it with a new wound low G I accidentally clipped my C string while trimming my G and replaced it with the only one I had, A white one, its stiff and unnatural.  I pluck a new tune I’m working on but my brain isn’t there, it’s in my running shoes.  The morning is quiet, cloudy and humid with just a slight chill.  This could kill me so I put on my Sunday’s best running clothes just in case they find my stiff corpse on the side of the road.

I walk slowly to the restroom, wash my face, scrub my hands extra well, stretch, I’m doing everything in my power to prolong the pain.  It doesn’t take long to find my stride, my tired rumply body glides down the side of the road.  Even on this quiet morning the exhaust of left wing wackos driving their Subarus with bumper stickers that say keep America green piss me off to no end.  I know all these people, they complain about the state of the world non stop while shoveling piles of red meat down their throats, buying everything from China and those damn cars, they think somehow they are saving the environmentment and have all the bumper stickers in the world to prove it.

I fucking hate cars, the noise, the stink, they are everywhere. God forbid these Subaru pilots ever feel the cold or the burn of human power, or take a little time out for themselfs to simply slow down and walk somewhere. No fucking way, these bumper sticker protesters are convinced that a their Subarus will save the planet, stop climate change and free Tibet, oh wait, what… I miss the mountains where I could run for six straight hours and not cross paths with anything other than a deer, or bear, or lion.  Everything out there makes sense, nothing In society makes sense to me. I keep running, there is a tiny barrier between me and the cool of the morning,, I strip my jumper and keep on down the road, I’m in my groove.

23 munites amd I’m back at the boat, I feel like I’ve just run a marathon.  I feel good, endorphins flowing, my head clear and back to the dock where I’m safe from all the traffic on this little island.  I ponder this blog, why do I even write it, I’m ruining people’s life’s, you can read the words look at the pictures and they might even make you feel good, those little endorphins of hope but is that a good thing.  You can read about it but you can never feel it.  Not how hard my 23 minute run was. Not what it’s like to wake up at 200 am to 10 degree temperatures and 60 mile per hour gusts.  You can’t feel the cold of setting extra lines in these conditions.  You can never feel how hungry I was when I was literally starving to death in Hawaii or how good it felt to share my tiny meals with my adopted kitty.  You can’t feel the adrenaline of almost being talken out head on by a truck doing 70 pulling a 40′ trailer and trying to pass a car at the near expense of your life.  Or what it feels like to be lost in the dark on a lee shore while the wind is over powering you boat, these feeling are real.  These feeling prevent cancer, premature aging and make our minds strong and capable of more. Outside is where we are meant to be, cold, tired hungry, free. My coffee is empty, it’s time to go, I have to ride my bike to the ferry to meet a person I’m selling some shit to, then it’s back to the resort to play bartender to a pile of unhappy, stressed out tourists who don’t know how to leave the city behind and I wonder to myself, do I…

The 80’s called, they want their shorts back

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When I returned from my bike tour just a few months ago I had 2% body fat and was fit enough to climb Mt Everest. Winter has crushed me and my 30″ waist is now more like a 33, front butt and back fat included.  Thanks to the joys of eBay I’ve found these relics that went out of style in the late 80’s and yes they are that short.

Thats the great thing about being a Gen-X pre hipster, dirt bag drop out, I actually owned these things when they were in style if that’s even possible and yes I couldn’t fucking care less what anyone thinks about me and I’m going to rock these things like an 80’s hair band. When I can actually fit into them that is… yes, that’s right, yet another reason I am single, short shorts, a daddy belly, hair that hasnt seen a brush, shampoo or scissors in over a year and a half and… I fear the 80’s might want their hair back too.

Spring has exploded here but my pasty white skin still resembles the color of a zombie rather than a bronzed Bay Watch life guard. Um yeah, among other things I’m a life guard for the summer, I’m pretty sure I’ll take as many jobs as I’m offered because I have a date with Bali and my continued search for treasure and head huntreses at the end of the summer.  I’ve been too careless and need to restock the kitty for my next travel disaster.

PS For all you judemenatal cubicle dwellers who are bent because I’m not living the life you wish you were, here is a bit of spring gold to keep you warm at night… ;)~

The death rolls

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The death rolls are the most annoying part of sailing to me.  Take steep breaking short period swells and a low aspect keel with a 21′ water line and your in for the ride of your life. Looking back through the years I wonder how I ever sailed this boat without lifelines. The only thing to hold onto is her tiller and with no combing I always wonder if I’m literally going to be hurled into the sea when we find these conditions. My $10,000.00 piece of string is coming along well.

For all the days that I feel like I’ll never get this boat the way I want her I have my ships log to remind me of all the shenanigans I’ve put Sookie through.  When I was engineless it was more out of poverty than tradition.  Spending my first winter with no heat sucked ass.  Try and reef a boat without a topping lift or winches, sail without proper charts or anchor in a hundred feet without a windlass.  Boat love is a twisted and sickening affair but hey, I’m single, don’t do drugs, Hookers or gambling so my money has to go somewhere.

Ive had installing a boom gallows on my list for six damn years but now I’m almost ready to start drilling holes in Sookies deck, yum!  To complete this project, I need the new longer boom and a higher cut main with a longer foot, this is going to be a bank breaker for sure but in my log book worth every penny. Not only will it make the boom clear my head but it will also clean up the angle of my main sheet making starting the outboard easier.  The Lee clothes will give a bit of privacy for showers and a chill spot to lean into while sailing.

Sookie has the tall rig mast and the extra squares on the new sail will be much appreciated, for those light winded days we find between the summer gales. Sure there are lots of benefits to this but feeling all cozy and safety tucked into the cockpit is my number one goal.  Over the last 30 years I’ve sailed all over the world and this place is by far the most challenging.  I’m constantly sunprised when world class sailors lose their boats up here but getting back out into the thick of it every spring I’m reminded of the old saying ” if you haven’t been aground you haven’t been around”. We’ve had many close calls but so far Sookies bottom hasn’t so much as kissed anything other than an errant deadhead.

By design, I have been rebuilding her slowly are surely to be the best of the best. Her lack of instruments can be frightening at times but it forces me to be a safer sailor and raises the bar for satisfaction on every trip. I fully enjoy the labor of sailing, the sound the chain makes as it rattles out the pipe.  Canvas fluttering in the wind.  The eerie moan in the rigging.  Corse calloused hands pulling thick sheets and the rush of water as it races past my bunk while I’m rocked to sleep in my comfy quarter berth.

My hands on approach to doing things right as opposed to doing them.  This long tedious process has had the hands of many fine sailors involved, each project that is over my head adds the experience of one more set of hands and a bit of sailors karma to my trusty little ship.  In a world where everything has to be now I take great pride in the slowness of my life.  A good bottle of scotch and Sookies lantern have been my soul mate for over 2000 nights while I slowly sketch each new  addition to this wonderful little ship. The next project on the list is pulling the cabin sole and adding a water tank which will also add a few hundred pounds of extra ballast when it’s full. Bare teak floor boards will top it all off.  Most people will never get why I do all this but I’m not most people.  If your reading these words I’m guessing your brain is aligned pretty closely to mine and that’s where these words come and go, in a tiny water tribe of people who still actually care about the wind…

Outfitting for blue water

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When I was a broker I would tell prospective clients to get three quotes on the upgrades they need.  You notice I said need and not want, the wants come later.  Take the highest bid, double it and then add 50%, this is half of what it will really cost.  So why am I outfitting for blue water when I have no intentions of blue water sailing? Options I say, I like options and besides, a ship like Sookie should be whole.

I’ve been working with Brian Toss on my new boom, it will be 16″ longer and give me the space to install a proper boom gallows on Sookie and finally have full coverage in the cockpit including lee cloths. The real delema is my new head sails.  My preference is a roller furling lapper and staysail. Roller furling instantly ruins the sailing performance on any boat, add two and your doubling your trouble.  Not just with added windage aloft but also added weight to the rig, poor sail shape if furled and a measure of fragility. I love my hank ones but due to Sookies narrow beam there just isn’t room in her rat lines to work up there so I’m always riding the bowsprite like a bucking bronco, very exciting at times.

When I replaced all my upper standing rigging and spar shrouds I went with 1/4″ wire.  This is complete over kill for Sookie but only added 11 lbs total to her rig, a very acceptable compromise in my opinion.  In the fall Sookie will get new chain plates, she has split lowers unlike the factory single.  When I do this I’ll be replacing all of her cover boards and re fastening her deck.  Because the deck is fiberglassed to the hull she doesn’t leak a drop but I’m redesigning her toe rail so this is a great time to do it.  I don’t know of any other boat that has a sealed deck joint like Sookie, just one of the many brilliant additions that makes her one In a million.

I’ve never considered things like electronics, liferafts, engines… to add to the seaworthiness of a boat, in fact they detract from it. I’m still waiting on my quote for pintles and gudegons but they will be installed this year and well worth the beans and rice diet that will pay for them. Some day I may add fancy things to Sookie but this year it’s all about blue water safety, and all new cushions but hey, a guys got to get a good nights sleep, both in the bed and in the head…

I’ve borrowed this from landlpardey.com enjoy

You Can’t Buy Safety

This chapter, from our book the Capable Cruiser, 3rd edition was originally written in response to a magazine editorial. It was printed in Latitudes and Attitudes several years ago but nothing has changed as far as the heavy marketing of so called Safety equipment. So Larry and I think it is worth sharing it with folks who getting ready to set off cruising.

The list of safety gear you “should” buy is endless; the potential to sink your cruising budget by buying it is definitely real. Some safety gear is essential, some is useful, most of it will never get used so where do you draw the line? It’s a hard call even for experienced sailors. The only way to make wise choices is by getting out sailing and racking up lots of sea time in lots of different weather situations so you can truly evaluate what equipment you need. In the rush to ready your boat and shore life so you can get out cruising, it is hard to gain this experience/sea time.
Here are some thoughts to keep in mind when you consider safety gear:
The first and most important piece of safety gear you have on board is a partner who has the knowledge and skills to handle the boat. There is not one piece of man-overboard gear that is going to help if the person left on the boat does not know how to get the boat back to you.
Your boat is your life raft. That rubber thing in a valise or canister is an abandon-ship raft, a flimsy replacement for the strong boat you are thinking of leaving and only a hopeful last chance. The vast majority of boats abandoned by their owners are later found drifting crew-less and afloat.
The harness you may or may not use on deck is just that, a harness to back up
your hands. It does not insure safety, nor is it a substitute for learning to move around on deck using the old fashioned sounding seaman’s adage; one hand for you, one hand for the ship.
The only sure way of avoiding collisions at sea is by having someone stand watch in the cockpit. A watch keeper on deck will be able to spot that violent squall approaching in time to drop sail before it hits. Because he/she will have lots of time to look around the boat the watch keeper might notice a potential gear failure before it causes a serious problem. The more reasons (or excuses) you have for staying below deck, the less safe you become.
Gear that is used only in emergencies may not function properly if you and the crew have not practiced using it. Inflatable items like liferafts may also fail to inflate/deploy/work due to ingress of salt water, exposure to sun and heat or human error when it was originally packed or repacked.
Think prevention instead of cure. I.e. improving the non-skid on your deck and cabin-top could prevent crew from skidding overboard. Improving your
boomvang/preventer-tackle-system could prevent an injury-causing accidental gybe.
Over the past few months we have had the pleasure of rendezvous with some highly experienced cruising sailors, folks who have each circumnavigated twice and sailed far beyond the normal routes including Noel and Litara Barrett winners of the Blue Water Medal, Alvah and Diana Simons, Beth Leonard and Evans Starzinger. Interestingly the topic of safety brought the same reactions from each of these master sailors, “it’s far safer at sea than on the freeways. Car’s whizzing past you at 60 miles an hour, only three or four feet to spare. Out at sea you are rarely moving more than 6 or 8 knots.” But we all agreed; with experience comes confidence, with confidence comes the ability to access safety or accept risks. Almost everyone who sets off cruising has far more experience on freeways than at sea. If you had a look at the boats each of these remarkable people sail you’d be surprised at how
 Spartan their “safety gear” list appears. Each of their boats is highly geared towards efficient sailing, each has very clear deck areas and an extensive system of handholds throughout the cabin, in the cockpit and on deck, and each has all essential systems independent of electricity. Each carries a plethora of back up rigging and sail repair equipment. Each has an abundance of anchors, anchor-rodes and a powerful windlass.
If you are outfitting for your first foray offshore, consider spending some of the funds you put aside for safety equipment on a learn- to- cruise charter. Invite that salty old guy who sailed around the world ten years back to go out sailing with you for a weekend and assess your gear, or lack of it, through his eyes. Hire a professional delivery skipper to join you for a day or two of sea-trails before you invest in any more “safety” gear. You will be buying something far more dependable than a piece of gear that might theoretically save your life in a theoretical situation; you’ll be buying first-hand experience that could prevent that theoretical catastrophe from happening in the first place.

Sailing around the world?

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I hobble back to Sookie, I’m wrecked.  I barely have enough energy to pull a cool beer from the bilge and tuck into my quarter berth.  I wake early to a half finished beer and a beautiful day.  An early morning spending spree and my bank account has run dry and I couldn’t be happier, Sookie is covered for another year and her registration is payed till June 2018.  I have enough boat supplies to keep me busy for a month but the paint for my bowsprite is still AWOL.  I need to pull it and inspect and paint under her cranz iron.

The number one letter I get from this site is how do you afford it.  The plain and simple truth is I can’t but I do it anyway.  I’m a minimalist for sure but between the boat, my Brompton and my Nikon there aren’t enough hours in the day with all the mini adventures I find my way into.  Last year I had a boat full of food and less than $150.00 to last me from February till the end of June, it was a struggle but I did it.  Having just come off a sailing trip up the inside passage and straight into a bike tour of the Hawaiian islands I doubt anyone felt sorry for my predicament, I certainly didn’t, it was all just part of the dirt bag life I live.

I feel like a millionaire these days but unlike last year when my only choice was basic survival I have too many now and too many choices is a bad thing.  I’ve been promoted to lead bartender at the resort I work for and they want me to stay forever… it’s interesting watching kids in the restaurant melt down at all the choices on the menue but when given only one they are instantly happy again.  I wonder if we ever grow out of this.  When I set sail north I had few choices.  When it was cold, I was cold.  When it was stormy I dealt with it.  When I was lost, I found my way.  It was all so simple because it was my only choice and I loved every second of it.

Freedom is a lie, we are never free, it isn’t the tax income the big wheel wants from us, it’s our labor.  We are trained from birth to be endentured survants to the system.  I fight this battle every day but if I want new paint for Sookies bowsprite I have to sign over X amount of the best days of my life in exchange, my youth slipping through my fingers as quickly as my dollars slip though my checking account and the cycle continues.

I’m constantly asked if I’m going to sail around the world and the answer is no, I simply can’t afford it and to be honest I don’t want it badly enough to trade my remaining life’s units being a slave to society to earn the money to accomplish the task.  I’d much rather sail in my current region when I can and travel on my Brompton when the weather turns cold.  Returning to Sookie at the end of a long journey is pure heaven.  She does everything I ask of her and each year gets a little better and more comfortable.

Over the last decade Ive become increasingly disallsioned with the prospect of budget long term voyaging.  I wonder if it’s even possible to cruise on the mini budget I used to do it on.  The abundance of big boats and big budgets has raised the prices of everything, everywhere.  I’m currently living in one of the most expensive places in the United States but according to friends I have out there, I’m living cheaper here than they are in Mexico.  I’m beginning to see through the illusion and the more I do the more I love this wonderful area even if I do freeze my ass off 4 months out of the year.

It’s a shorts and tee shirt day and while I should be scrubbing the daily barrage of bird shit off of Sookie I’m still in the boat sipping on coffee and exploring a paper chart of the northern islands.  I cleaned and oiled Brompty after my morning ride and am content with the world.  The headline news is nuclear war, its interesting how little I care about what I hear on the news, Sookie isn’t just my home and bug out boat, she is an island of her own.  I have loaded enough food and booze aboard that I could sail her half way around the world with 5 minutes notice.  Yes it’s nice to know that I can but there is a secret little anchorage about 5 miles from here that seems much more enticing and after a few days out I can come back to my little world, plug in my heater and trade a few more days of my youth for a new roller furling unit.  It’s all an illusion…

“Today as always, men fall into two groups: slaves and free men. Whoever does not have two-thirds of his day for himself, is a slave, whatever he may be: a statesman, a businessman, an official, or a scholar.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

The Dove

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The Dove, by Robin Lee Graham was the first book I read, I actually learned to read from that book.  When I was 9 I tracked him down and called him to interview him about his trip.  Over the years I collected all of his articles that appeared in National Geographic.  Many years later, in 2001 I was living in my truck traveling around America when I decided to pay him a visit.  I was having nachos amd margaritas in his town when I found a full article on him in the local daily paper, I decided it was time to let go and drove straight to Ventura California to sea trial Mariko, the Falmouth Cutter I thought I was destined to own.

My life has thrown me a thousand curve balls since that beautiful day on the sea but I never gave up and soon enough Sookie literally fell into my lap just shy of about 12 years after first meeting her.  It’s warm tonight, my kerosene lantern is burning bright and the music is draining my last bits of energy from a long day and lulling me to sleep. I can’t say I have the best life in the world but I have the one I’ve chosen.  I’d choose it again if I could go back in time…

I love my tiny space, the freedom she represents and the hard work she commands to keep her looking and sailing smart.  Both my master and my servant she is a good home and a brilliant travel companion.  It’s been a few years now since I discovered a mysterious box sealed under an un accessible spot under her floor boards.  I was drilling holes for an exploratory mission to create a new water tank when I found it but still have no idea what’s in this mysterious treasure chest.  With a little luck her old sole will be removed this summer reavealing the mystery of a thousand dreams.  I can’t even begin to wonder what could be inside.  A new water tank and bare teak floor boards will replace the hidden treasure with an even more valuable treasure, water…

“Life would be pretty monotonous if the sky was always blue.”
― Robin Lee Graham, Dove

Falmouth cutter 22 for sale

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The old tune shave and a haircut, 2 bits is ringing through my head as I walk into the local barber shop…  Funny how the tables have turned, in 2001 it was me making ridicules offers on Sookie, she wasn’t for sale, the owners last words, I’ll never sell my boat were painful to listen to.  Now sixteen years later, those same words came out of my mouth.  All I can say is famous last words.

Sookies previous owner upgraded to a BCC, now sailing the South Pacific and after selling her to me admitted that he had sellers remorse.  Her builder and former owner of Sam L Morse also sent a letter to me and in finishing admitted that the Falmouth had always been his favorite boat, a fairly large statement for a guy who sailed over 40,000 miles between his two BCC’s.  Those same words also came out of the mouth of Lyle Hess, her designer. I love Sookie for far too many reasons to list here but the care and feeding I give her tells the story.

If I ever was going to sell her, now would be the time, April has always been my most expensive month of the year when it comes to boat work and annual boat bills. I also have an as is cash offer well over her surveyed value by a local couple  that has been hell bent on sailing her since a chance meeting near Toba Inlet.  Boats are funny like that, they steal our hearts and consume our lives.

It seems a bit ironic, now that winter is waning I find myself warm for the first time since October.  I returned from Friday Harbor with an empty wallet and a brand new heater, piles of supplies for my spring fitting out and my new custom quarter berth cushions will be done in a few short weeks, another 2500 big ones will find a new mattress in my v-berth.  I’ve been going all out on Sookie and there is no end in slight.  My full lifelines will be complete by the end of the month and I’ve finally committed to a roller furling unit and a new lapper by Carol Hassee in cruise cream, YUM!

I wait impatiently for news from the Port Townsend Foundary on my pointless and gudgens but I have plenty of projects on my plate to occupy my time while I continue to write checks and send them off in the post. Sookie is loaded with provisions to just two inches above her water lines which means I can only add 1100 hundred more pounds minus crew weight.  The ongoing saga is self steering which will sort itself out at some point, I hope. Boxes of marine supplies are piled everywhere and more arrive every day as I try and map out the perfect location for each new item.

The one and only question looming is will I push out and sail north or continue to work and put the money into the boat.  Soon enough I’ll flip that coin but I have an idea that my future has already been mapped.  For now it’s early to bed, early to rise and lots of priority shifting, you only live once. Sail now and be broke for winter or work now and be bankrupt of purse…

From the log of Sookie, the islands.  I have a boat full of stores, work now or play now??? Decisions decisions… My log book is filled with thousands of calculations, ship her here, there or well, anywhere at the end of summer or just sail till I’m broke and figure it out when my summer tan starts to fade.

Bora Bora

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I stand on Sookies deck squinting into the inky darkness, the wind is torrenting, rain lashing at me, blinding my already poor night vision, the sea is throwing a tantrum.  I face my palms foreword like a ninja warrior and press them into the wind. There is little resistance I am stronger the the opposing force although this seems to be true it isn’t because I’m not on terra firma, my hands press forward but Sookie is slipping backwards through the sea, the reality my brain tells me couldn’t be further from the truth, I’m being set back onto a lee shore.

At sea there are times that you are so desperate you will try anything to overcome the situation.  I can’t help but to wonder why once we set foot on the shore, the theoretically obvious safe place for all humans that we throw caution into the wind and choose to live our lives so dangerously; excuse me while I pause for a ciggi and a sip of scotch.

April 2nd was my six year anniversary with the day Sookie arrived, how time flys. It took me two full years with many failed attempts to get her to the islands which was my only goal. I set sail without a single penny to my name. I’m here but what next, life has become far too comfortable.  As far as island life goes Ive attained it all but as usual the grass “water” is always greener “Bluer”…

Its been an interesting week, I received a very generous offer on Sookie, she’s not for sale.  I’ve found an interesting BCC in Bora Bora and travel plans are coming along slowly.  Why would I fly half way around the world to look at a boat I doubt I will buy?  Perspective wields a sharp knife, it’s not that I want to make this trip, it’s that I need to, my soul has wanderlust and sea trailing a BCC in the South Pacific is sounding pretty delightful on this stormy day.

My life has become too complacent, too easy, too predictable.  I’ve amassed half the money I need to ship Sookie to Florida and exactly enough to ship her to Southern California where our journey began.  I have very little desire to cruise Mexico again but my time sailing the Caribbean was far too short, I’ve dreamed of returning since the day I left.  I could drop the boat in November and follow the thorny path till I find a new group of islands to call home, my desire for Long distance sailing has slipped though the cracks.  Through the years I’ve become a puddle jumper and gunk-holing is where my heart lies. As much as I love being anchored out having a solid dock to return to from time to time is my new life, for now.

The  dream of two boats and endless summer is closer to dreams than reality but my plan is coming along well, all my ducks are in a row. For today it’s tiny homes and small planes but there is a system to this madness.  In the meantime its spring, sailing season, well the weather guesser is calling for wind to top 40 knots tomorrow. Still it’s sailing season with a bit of cat and mouse as far as the weather goes.

I’ve been on land too long, to be pushed and pulled by the wind is in my genetic code, back to that horrible night, yes I was on a lee shore but I was out there, living as close to the edge as one can get and learning another valuable lesson when it comes to Sookies limits, she is a small boat and physics will always win.  Then again the right mixture of skill and luck goes a long way out here.

From the log of Sookie, I can’t help but to wonder… if I wasn’t doing what I’m doing now would I still be dreaming about doing what I’m doing now.

New world tourist

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I stepped off the plane expecting to ride my bike to the campground for the night.  Mother Nature had other plans, the warm humid air was inviting but the near hurricane force winds and torrential rains had me second guessing trying to find and set up a stealth camp in the dark.  A short cab ride and nearly a hundred bucks out of my tiny stash found me reclining in a nice comfy couch chilling with travelers from all over the world sipping on red wine.

Each new trip is a learning experience and I get a little better at packing and more importantly leaving things behind.  It’s easy to let the mind run wild with all the things you will need on bike tour but in reality there are very few.  We live in a new world and bike parts can be overnighted virtually anywhere if you can find Internet which is almost everywhere these days and this is the genious of touring on a folding bike.  If catastrophe does strike just fold it up and hitch to the next town which is a new adventure in itself.  I meet people on the road touring in America and they carry enough spares to almost build a new bike.  I carry a scant few extras and in 3000 miles haven’t had to use a single one.  Someday I might but Im trying to leave someday for when it actually arrives.

Sure bringing the ukulele was a bit idiotic and I won’t do that again nor will I carry so much food or all of the little things that never got used.  My micro Swiss Army knife was one of my most used items and carelessly lost somewhere, next time it will have a little string to hang around my neck.  I didn’t use my uber expensive titanium cooker either, preferring fresh food and snacks all day long over cooking in camp.  I carried just a bit too much of everything but ounces add up to pounds.

The big killer was my iPad and dslr but I love those things as I like to blog for my family as often as I can so they know all is well.  As a photographer it’s hard to leave these things behind but I’m pretty sure the next trip will be with an iPhone. My old POS iPhone 4 did ok in Hawaii but it’s heavy and the battery sucks so maybe I’ll update to an iPhone 5.  Phones are an issue with keeping the battery charged but also easily fit into my accessory pouch for more photo ops.

Less gear, lighter gear and more reliable gear make for more fun on the bike which is what the tour is all about which brings me to bikes.  When I committed to a folding bike it wasn’t to tour with, it was for the boat and small trips.  I had from the beginning of time thought that I wanted a Bike Friday but that all changed once I went to the factory and checked them out.

The Bike Friday rides very nice and every wheel upsize adds to the quality of the ride but they are also heavy, extremely complex and in my opinion would be fragile on tour, they also are difficult or maybe awkward to fold is a better description.  It’s more of a take apart bike than a folding bike.  For the price I could buy a Norco and tour in a full size folding bike which brings me back to the whole boat bike… the little Brompton turned out to be the Swiss Army knife of folding bikes, it does everything perfectly for my needs and is unbelievably reliable, comfy to ride, cute and dorky which makes every journey a social expedition. When it comes to boating and biking all I can say is choose your battles wisely.  I have so much more to share on this but the sun is out and I’d rather be out riding my bike than sitting in Sookie writing about it.

“If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.”
― Albert Einstein

Give me shelter

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The weather guesser was wrong again, it shouldn’t surprise me but it always catches me off gaurd.  Riding twelve miles though the inky black night in the pouring rain with no light was a challange, my body shivered uncontrollably.  I climbed into sookies cabin flung my wet clothes off in a pile and pulled on my warmies.  I left my rain soaked down bag for morning.  I love Sleeping under the stars but there is something so reassuring about having a good dry shelter.

I’m shellshocked from a brutal winter without protection from the wind and seas, it’s been a challange and will be my last winter aboard but it’s spring now so those things are far from my mind, sort of.  In exactly 5 months I will start hunkering down for a different type of winter, it sounds like such a short journey from here to there but it’s easy to stretch those distances. I could drive a car 50 miles in the blink if an eye and see and learn nothing.  By making the same journey on my bike it would easily stretch from an hour to a day or two and I could walk that same distance and turn it into a weeks journey.  My goal as always is to have a slow lazy spring summer and fall stuffed to the brim with fun and new experiences.

My days of carting around a one man tent that’s alsmost small enough to fit in my back pocket arent over but finding a good tent that’s also strong, water resistant and light isn’t easy.  I recently wrote a review of my last tent based off of nearly 100 straight days of use for REI, they refused to post it preferring reviews like… this is the best tent ever, I used it one night in my backyard and I highly recomend this tent to anyone.  Finding anything of quality at a reasonable price is difficult these days but finding something that will last a over a hundred days is near impossible.

The old tarp is hard to beat, small, extremely weather proof and light, they do the job.  Unfortunately I’m like a little girl when it comes to bugs and need a solid shelter to keep the night critters at bay.  It’s hard to describe what it’s like waking up with a tarantula crawling across your face or a rattle snake snuggling up to you for warmth, yes I’ve gone soft. Funnel web spiders, foot long centipedes, scorpions, fire ants… screw that, this homey don’t play that game.

I’ve turned Sookies two full sized chart tables into drafting boards and locked myself inside for the day.  It’s in the fifties and thunderstorms with hail slowly march to the north occasionally hammering down on us reminding me that our painfully short spring is here.  The coffee is hot and I have a pile of fresh fruit to nourish me for the day.  Life in the islands isn’t an easy one but it fulfills my every desire, challanges me on a near daily basis and feeds the ever expanding desires of my A.D.D. Scattered brain.

All of this started with one simple question, can a bicycle truly replace my car.  My plate is full and I feel a bit scattered but all this is only the training grounds for a much bigger journey, one of 100% financial stability without working, freedom to roam but also to come home at anytime I choose. It’s taken years of struggle but I’ve built a solid foundation, it’s time to start banging nails…

From the log of Sookie, I stare at my compass and wonder why it’s always pointed north, unwaveringly; there is much to be learned from this simple device.

First world poverty

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Ive collected my 2016 income documents and again have sucessfuly earned less than the US poverty level in America, score!  To add insult to injury of the complelty backwards ass way Americans live or think they need to live im upping the ante.  My goal is to continue on at this income, I’ve also decided I need a plane, I have access to a grass strip and also Holly has convinced me to build her a tiny home so that project is up and rolling.

You can blame my parents for teaching me the value of the dollar and a litttle bit of income discretion but most of all it’s that while they have thought I was bat shit crazy since the day I was born they have always if ever reluctantly supported my happiness. I’ll have to check but now that their are two of us in this crazy bandwagon I might be allowed to earn a bit more which will help cause Av gas ain’t cheap.

I know so many who struggle financially, not because they don’t make enough money but because they spend too much, often far more than they earn. As an ex banker my number one rule for all purchases is cash and carry.  If you can’t afford to pay cash you can’t afford it and yes that goes for houses and planes. Debt freedom is the truest freedom you will ever know.

So I’ve been collecting treasures for constructing the new house, I have my feelers out for a sweet plane and yes Sookie is coming along quite well but as can be expected slowly but surely.  Land is still unaffordable but it’s not a matter of if the ecomeny will crash, its when will it crash, its inevitable and that’s when we’ll find our land deal.  When the market goes land in these islands is almost free. Statistically a full blown depression is on our doorstep. Yes I live in poverty but I also live in America where living in poverty is little more than a first world problem based off of our personal choices not circumstance, winter is coming…

 “Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” Warren Buffett 

Ukulele underground

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I’m sitting in the cockpit plucking my uke and enjoying my free time in the warm afternoon sun.  A guy walks by with his bongo and it’s on.  The sun on my face, the rhythmic beat of his drums, it captures my soul and takes me back to Little Beach and my naked fire girls.  I rip into Wipeout and he jams with me till I completely fuckup and lose myself, I’m still learning it.  The scotch comes out and we talk about boats, independent travel and freedom.

Boats come in all shapes and sizes, some with big clean and white spaces , others lined with dark cozy aged teak.  I’ve been on a boat that reminded me of the inside of a violin, with every joint fitted to perfection.  Sookie is more like a ukulele, small, easy and ready for anything the world can throw at her.  Her sophistication is in her simplicity and while I never stop dreaming of a larger boat I’ve turned down every offer made on her and some have been pretty amazing.

Buzzed on a tall glass of aged nectar I walk up to drop a load of laundry, my uke strung over my back just in case I find a perfect spot of shade or decide to give an impromptu show at the bar.  My little uke literally saved my life last winter in Hawaii when a made nearly a hundred bucks busking, that night I have one of the most appreciated meals I’ve ever experienced but starvation will do that to a person.

Strapped to the back of my Brompton I carried my uke through the rainforests of Washington and down the wind swept Oregon coast, it made me no shortage of friends and seemed to get the party started everynight.

Like boats ukes come in all shapes and sizes, I like simple ukes, nothing fancy but the patterns of the wood.  I love sapranos as their sound is magical.  The tenor has always felt too large and more like a mini guitar.  My little Koaloha concert hits every sweet spot both for a full voice, perfect sound and playability in the best size for travel.  To prove my love for her she is getting a bath and new strings tonight when my fingers give out and the laundry is done.

Lifes simple pleasers come in many forms, for me it’s on a scale of the smaller side, a good boat, my uke and all the time in the world to do a whole lot of nothing. Should you feel inclined these guys will treat you like King Kamehameha…

Cutters

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The late winter sun hangs lazily to the west, we’re trapped on a mountain palteau, it’s beautiful. We are stuck surrounded by wet crumbly sheer cliffs, the sun will set soon, there is no way out of here. We pull out our cameras and start shooting pictures of each other, they may be our last.  We tease and giggle poke fun at our situation, we lost the trail an hour ago and kept pushing through, higher and higher, the million dollar view may just cost us everything.

I glance at my watch, we have two hours of light on our side.  I’ve carried a few beers to drink at the top, decisions, decisions.  We could drink them at the bottom  in celebration of surviving the ordeal or drink them now, a possible catilist to our death by a speedy gravity assisted trip down. We slip and slide making fun of each other, always one arm extended making a human chain to stretch the distance to elusive hand holds.

Sitting safely on  the beach we have our victory beers, walking back to the road a slippery tree I’m scaling takes me down hard, a reminder of how quickly our situation can change. The gods have been good to us today.

Up and down and round and round our Bromptons  carry us through quiet country roads.  Muddy fields with lazy cows paint our scenery, lambs, goats and even a free boat are just the tip of our island forey.

The air feels warmer than it looks, spring has taken hold, daylight savings has generously given us more time in the saddle.  The south end store provides us with cheesy poofs and more cold beers…

Pink noses and brightly colored bikes shine like our smiles, we ride and endless island loop, this could go on forever, I hope it does.

From surf to turf and back again, I’ve explored all these places before but today they are all very different, the island light is magical.

Back at the boat for warm soup, cheese quesadillas and a well earned nap, life is good in the islands.

From the log of Sookie, Sookie looks like a bomb has gone off inside of her. Neatly folded bikes, warmies piled high and tasty snacks lining every inch of available space…

Bedrock sandles

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My salty dogs are singing praise to my new minimalist Bedrock sandles.  They just arrived, hand delivered and are spot on, even for my OCD brain they are pure perfection.  The icing on the cake is that they are made in the USA and pretty kewl if I do say so myself. I’ve done everything from bike touring to section hiking the PCT for most of the length of California and even running a marathon in sandles, they are as close to barefoot as I can get with my crusty and well worn dogs which are appropriately nicknamed Tom and Jerry. The simple act of strapping them on my feet has me feeling like the Tarahumara in Born to run.

I’m a walker, I walk everywhere unless I’m on my faithful Brompty but even having that amazing steel horse I still love to walk.  People are always pulling over to offer me a ride and I’m like why the hell would I want to get in that piece of shit, planet destroying vehicle on such a beautiful day, or any day for that matter.  Light or dark, rain or shine I’m like Forrest Gump only a little slower in the brain.

I’ve been faithful to Chacos since 2001 but over the years I’ve noticed a very steep decline in the quality, then they moved to china which pissed me off to no end but by then I was addicted and in love even if each successive pair cost more and literally lasted me half as long.  I’m not cheap by any measure but I am thrifty as hell and dropping a C-note a year to China on foot wear doesn’t really meet my values.

I sent a letter to Chacos and while it was nice it was full of questions about quality  and the direction of their now offshore company.  Well it’s been a year and they still haven’t responded, nothing pisses me off more than customer service no service.  I felt as if they had broken up with me and thrown me in the trash, then I found Bedrock sandles and joy of joy I’ve found true love again.

They are light, tough and comfy, not to mention super sexy and they even match Brompty and my Topo designs day pack SCORE!  I’ll try not to get too gushy with all my lovydovy hyper-excitability over these sandles till I’ve dropped a few hundred miles on them but they are pretty cush. On top of all that they are members of 1% for the planet which puts them straight to the top of my I love you list.

Disclaimer As always on the very rare occasion that I actually find a product that I like enough to write about and stand behind 100% I will add that I am not affiliated in any way shape or form with the Bedrock sandles company, although, truthfully I wish I was.  Check them out on Instagram, they will blow your mind.

Minimalist exposure

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Ive finally given away all of my camera gear with the exception on one body and a 50mm lens.  I’d say back to basics but that would have me drawing pictures in the sand with a stick.  I’ve never liked the zoom lens, it seems to steal all of my creativity and lock me down into a technical world of dials, buttons, settings and a complete lack of what I’m really trying to do, to slow down time until it stops for just a 125th of a second.

My aprature is always preset to f16 a setting I never use but old habits die young and that’s where I would back calculate my exposure from 1/125, the old sunny 16 rule.  My life mirrors my photography I’m many ways.  I start with the very basics, some times I add to them and some times I subtract but always I have an equal quality of life to create that perfect balance between shadow and darkness, be-it work or play.

I watch a photographer on the dock pushing and pulling his subjects around, they have shelled out a pile of cash to make them look like something they are not, something they never will be.  He has an assistant with a flash and a reflector and tries to pull emotion out of their dead souls. Techniacally his numbers are perfect but life like great photography has very little to to with numbers, his over priced snapshots will result in digital images of fake people who can’t even bring a real smile and who really cares, do we always have to be smiling?  Why is it that the first word we learn is no, followed by cheese?  Are we being taught from birth that there will be no cheese?

I dry the snow from my camera and drop it back into its bag.  I’m drawing pictures and diagrams to send off to Holly who is very visual.  I don’t really use my camera for any relevant propose, I just use it to document my irrelevant life and often wonder if anyone really cares about images and words or If I’ve just become a 2 minute sidetrack to tedium and boredom.

I look at my watch, I have 2 hours to kill before my three hour work day begins, breakfast, coffee, stretch, ride, stretch, coffee, lunch.  I’ve pruned my life’s possessions to only the basics, time, energy and light.  By taking everything out of my life my most valuable tools now are time and freedom and yes there will be snapshots, with a few meaningless words…

A temple to the sea

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In all my life I’ve yet to sail a boat more fun than Sookie, from our first sail together on a beautiful full moon though all of our rough passages she has never let me down.  I would wait till the world was asleep and push her back from her slip, sailing engineless out of Bellingham bay can be difficult and the first half dozen attempts were unsuccessful but being alone at the helm of my ship even in those short midnight sails I felt like the king of the world.

I always took her at night just in case… engineless sailing certainly has its risks. Eventually I did make it out of the bay and those brilliantly dark inky nights left only the stars to guide us. Always a lady Sookie responds as a ship or a dinghy depending on what you ask her to do.  As much as I love charging along at or above hull speed it’s those balmy lazy afternoons where she gently pulls along always making way but in my favorite lazy fashion that I live for.

It’s hard to believe but today is our 6 year anniversary “happy anniversary baby”. She wouldn’t arrive until April second having literally been stolen by the shippers but six years ago today I was given my freedom and Sookie would be my magic carpet to the tiny world of the Salish Sea, my backyard. Bit by bit over the years I’ve added this and that.  What was to be a 2 year hundred thousand dollar complete rebuild turned into a 30 year scrap her together as I go and sail as often as I can project. The economy literally left me high and dry one day after she arrived.

My friend Sara was the first to spot her in her trailer making way into town but within an hour the whole boatyard was buzzing with congratulations on Bellingham’s newest sweetheart.  I nearly froze to death that week while the snow fell on my new home in the boatyeard and me with no heat but I didn’t care.  I piled on everything I owned and snuggled in tight with Chloe. She arrived on a Sunday, Monday morning three deals had crashed and burned turning my 13k commission into zero and leaving me with a life savings of 13 cents and not a drop of hope in sight.

It’s  snowing today  and chilly aboard, some things never change.  There is a long story about how Sookie found me again but I’ll save that one for later.  Ten years before she found me I found her and would often sit with her and drink wine admiring her beautiful lines while she gently tugged at her bits and as always when I said goodbye to her, I’d place my hand on her bowsprit and say someday… someday.

From the log of Horizon – I’ve found my new girl but today she is with another, I know this will test my patience but someday we will sail together, someday…

The #sailing life

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Somewhere deep in the recesses of Sookie I have thousands of pretty sailing images locked away for a future project I was supposed to finish months ago. The bilge pump is going off again, I’m not sinking and Sookie doesn’t leak a single drop, it’s condensation.  The same condensation keeps everything damp and feeds the mold that has me waking up with sore lungs.  Keeping the boat dry is a constant battle.  Protoecting my camera gear, computer gear, keeping my clothes dry enough that mold doesn’t start to grow on them, this is a few of the many realities of living aboard.

On the flip side, I’m clean and showered.  It’s laundry day and I have piles of warm clean clothes and sheets.  Fresh potatoes and onions are steaming in the hobb, hard boiled eggs chilling in cold water and I have a bottle of whiskey given to me by a very generous sailing couple who came knocking in my hatch at the suggestion of a good friend. The #sailing life can be a good one with the right attitude.

I’m always questioning what real freedom is.  Most of us have either comefort and safety or true freedom.  A very small percentage of us might experience both but even for those fortunate few more often than not it’s very short lived.  I push play on my new song list and blast music while I continue in my sketch book trying to create the almost perfect life.  I sidetrack to Instagram and enter #thesailinglife and look at really pretty pictures, snapshots in time and am reminded that those images only represent a millisecond of reality and just like my own pictures there is a ton of hard work and hardship between all the payday moments.

Freelancing has given me the freedom to roam, to go anywhere I want for as long as I want as long as I tote my minimalist digital office with me. I have enough money, enough food, enough freedom, enough… Im alone again for now, I send off a letter and sign it with the L word, patience I remind  myself, anything worth having is worth fighting for…

Some people never find it, some… only pretend.  But me: I just want to live happily ever after, now and then.  -jimmy Buffett 

Somewhere in Oregon

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Today I did my longest ride since returning from the Oregon coast, a very easy 25 miles, my knee is still janked.  I’m seriously considering a bionic knee or getting clipless pedals and continuing on with one leg.  I threw a pity party in the spa and now I have to face my upcoming reality, my long distance cycling career may be over.  I’m a little bent but have nothing but time on my hands to figure this out.

Living in the damp dank PNW my body always aches, funny how just hours off the plane in the tropics I feel like I’ve been given the body of a 25 year old, maybe I should start listening.  My only reason for the new steed is the amount of cactus the Baja divide will offer up to my tiny rubber tires.  Flashing back to my seven flats in one miserably soaking wet and wind torn day somewhere in Washington and I know I will need a different monster for Baja. I’m slightly limping around but the real pain is my potential reality of not making this trip.

To be honest I have felt terrible, like I’m two timing Brompty, my all time favorite touring bike but still, Baja looms.  I love dessert riding, the wild weather and being so far off the beaten path that nobody can save me but myself.  Self reliance has always been one of my better traits, not that I have many.  A gallon of water a day, more stretching and more slow riding will fill the rest of my week.  The winter weather has broken, spring is here in its full glory and Ive got a massive dose of wander lust.

I have all my ducks in a row but one, maybe a bike, train tour of Southern Europe  with short days is in order.  I could train from city to city and just be a damn tourist while sneaking in a few banging rides and ignoring the pain till it’s too much and then hop to the next city.  The thought of traveling without my bike is an impossibility. It’s desision time which is why I have a cup of noodles and a bottle of whisky, I’m really good at ignoring reality.  Either way if I taste defeat it won’t be from my warm perch by the fire overlooking the bay.  It will be out there, on my hands and knees facing the point where I can’t turn one more rotation…

“Passion and drive are not the same at all. Passion pulls you toward something you cannot resist. Drive pushes you toward something you feel compelled or obligated to do. If you know nothing about yourself, you can’t tell the difference. Once you gain a modicum of self-knowledge, you can express your passion…..It’s not about jumping through someone else’s hoops. That’s drive.” -Randy Komisar

Mi gusta tacos muchas porfavore

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The fastest I’ve ever gone on my bike is 65.7 mph.  My biggest air, about six stories and my days best run 135 miles.  I’ve been mountain biking since before it was a sport.  Back in the good old days the rangers would threaten us with arrest and heavy fines but it never stopped me. I pioneered El Prieto in 1984 and have never looked back.  Bikes have grown a millennia from my old custom built 5 speed Schwann beach cruiser but I still ride for the same old reason, because it’s fun.

Ive ordered my new karate monkey but still am working on the build.  I love riding single speed and rigid and have been since 2005 but my cranky old body is asking for a bit of plushness so I’m considering upgrading to something like the image alone which I bamboozled off of the web.  This bike and it’s luggage is rapidly growing in price and since I’ve already gone a cool grand over budget I’ve decided to top it all off with a Chris Bling pink headset, why the hell not.  I’ve also rented a cabana to store it and a place where I can focus on my knee with plenty of space to stretch out.

I’ve invented a new type of yoga, called angry yoga, when I enter my studio there is a yoga dummy hanging by the front enterence, every time I enter I say namaste and then punch the dummy in the face.  Angry yoga is a cross between San Soo and yoga and is great for strength training and relaxation.

I chose the Surly because I’m a creature of habit and my old Surly was the bomb.  Strong, fastish and relatively nimble, it also tracks like a freight train and those big 3″ tires will float through the Baja desert.  Staying true to my now 8 year boycott of cars I will ride my bike to the trail and that’s my biggest fear.  My complete failure at making it to the Mexican border last year is hanging heavy on my mind.  If I fail this trip I’m going to give up everything, grow a daddy belly and make crazy kids in a suburban hell and go back into banking.  What I’m getting at is that I have everything riding on this trip, aging sucks balls!

In the meantime I don’t want any anchors so I’m culling my life until there is nothing to distract me from focusing on making my body unstoppable.  My gear list is mostly complete and I’ll be adding a page here soon enough but that elusive pink riding skirt is still on the top of my list.

Baja divide 2017

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Its on!  It took about 6 hours of soul searching to commit to it.  The choices are simple, spend my summer sailing around solo and in complete isolation and lonely as shit, or jump on my iron horse and hit the road. It’s a really tough choice with so many great bikes out there but I’ve decided a Surly Karate Monkey with a 1×11  gearing will be the bike for the journey. I don’t want to hit Mexico before the end of October so I’ve got 7 months to kill depending on where I start.

If I start from Dead Horse Alaska it will be on or before May 14th.  If I start from Juno it will be early July and if I start from somewhere around here it will be towards the end of August unless I decide to to a quick Oregon tour in which case I’m already running late.  I’m still not sure if I’ll take a stock bike or build one from the frame up.  I’d like front suspension but it’s pricy, heavy and somewhat fragile.  I’ll be rolling 3″ tubeless tires and just like on Brompty all frame bags with the lightest load I can muster.

There is an old saying, if your not cold while wearing everything you have, you brought too much.  I was minimalist on Brompty, I’m going for full maximum minimalist on Monkey.  I’m not sure how to get to Seattle and back to pick up the new steed and all the crap that goes with it but this new journey has already started in the gear stage and by Monday morning I’ll be sending a doposite off on the new bike.

Ive  been in this weird depression induced funk since the day I gave in to my shit knee and that won’t happen again, I’ll be in the best shape of my life before I start this ride and progressively grow from there.  My wanderlust is peaking these days and I wish I could leave today, shit, maybe I will. I’m not much of a planner or a prepper but this ride will be one accompanied by gps, new lighter and smaller camera gear and fuck yes, open ended, I’m done with boats and boating for now. I need me a good taste of terra firma, camp fires and desert sunsets accompanied by my old friend that salty sweaty skank that only a touring cyclist can know.  Warm beers, tequila and cabbage tacos will be my dangling carrot all the way to the cape.

For anyone curious about the Baja divide, search it on Instagram or check out gypsybytrade the creater of this route and the single best blog in the planet earth.

I’m a moron but it was fun as shit

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This is beginning to be my life’s story.  It all started with a shower, a broken shower to be exact.  I wandered from stall to stall, though the boys locker room, the girls and finally settled on a quick dip in the spa as all the showers were broken.  I hadn’t really noticed that I was naked until going back to towel off when I spied my body in the tall mirrors. FUCK, how did I get so out of shape?  When I arrived just a few months ago I had 2% body fat, now I look like a sea monkey.

Ive been contemplating riding the Baja divide for quite some time, the question is when will I start and from where.  Do I take the Brompty or swap up to 650b Karate Monkey. Both have been rocking good touring bikes for me but the truth is the Brompton is more fun on all accounts. The Surly can carry more, as is more water and I don’t have to take care of it, I can just bash my brains out with its 2×10 gearing and fat tires but still.

A new Titanium Brompton will set me back exactly the same as a fully loaded Surly so price wise it’s a wash. On the moron adventure scale the Brompton will be a much bigger challange off road which equates to way better writing, or in my case at least more interesting writing. My last remaining neurons are firing like crazy at the prospect of a new expedition. Minimalist, ultralight and more than likely solo and with a tiny budget, I mean really what the hell could go wrong.

Im thinking Victoria in late August for a starting point but I could just as easily pick up in Newport where my last ride ended.  For me this is a big scary journey, being lost and out of water in the Sierra Nevadas of Baja Norte can be deadly.  I’m always lost so it’s inevitable that this ride will be one of the bigger challanges of my life. You know, the kind that after all is said and done your like, I’m a moron but it was fun as shit.

“Let them get lost, sunburnt, stranded, drowned, eaten by bears, buried alive under avalanches – that is the right and privilege of any free American.”-Edward Abbey

Forty hours of sheer terror

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Of all the things that I have experienced on a boat at sea, being with someone who is loosing their shit in heavy weather is by far the scariest.  It’s hard enough to take care of yourself and the boat but finding myself in this situation is something I work hard at avoiding.  I was solo in the worst Gale I’ve ever experienced and in many ways it was a good thing because it’s the most frightened I’ve ever been in my life.

The mental fatigue wears at you, the motion feels like you are slowly being beaten to death and physically things go south surprisingly fast.  For all my love of the sea, heavy weather sailing has never been something I enjoy although being caught in it has its finer points.  It’s impossible to understand the power and beauty of the sea unless you have been a spec on the ocean caught in her mighty fury.

At some point in our lives we call it and say enough is enough and decide to live a more sedate and comefortable life.  In thirty years of sailing I’ve met thousands of people who call them selfs sailors but less than a dozen with the skills to safely sail solo in Gale conditions in a small boat, it’s a whole different game. It’s a test 99.99% of sailors would fail if they had the courage “read stupidity” to show up. I’ve found my solace in this tiny sea that I dwell in but still the ocean calls.

My desire for a much larger and heavier sailboat is primarily based off of age and experience, I can’t tolerate what I could when I was 25 or 35.  I get fatigued easier, cold faster and my brain goes stupid in half the amount of time, this latter point is the most dangerous place a sailor can ever be and where most bad things happen out there.  To understand my position all you have to do is take your small boat, or any boat into a full blown gale in the straits a time and place very few will ever see.

I sent this amazing journey …continued in part two.

Brompton files

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I was rudely awakened by objects being thrown around the cabin at 3:00AM while Sookie was buffeted with 40 mile per hour gusts, it’s going to be a long stormy week, same as most of the winter has been.  With a poof I lit the hob pulled out my cycling luggage and made another round of cuts in the pre dawn darkness.  My next bicycle tour will be the ultimate in sophistication, minimalism and simplicity.

I’ve spent the last week, scrutinizing every piece of gear, studying every inch of Brompty and putting together the ultimate touring bicycle.  You learn a lot pedaling 2500 miles and my system is near perfect.

There is nothing I can do to make Brompty better, she is already flawless but the idea of upgrading to a titanium version has my mouth watering with dropping another 5 pounds off my load, I’ve already shed 15.  I have everything I need and not a gram more.  My only conflict is that they discontinued the orange frame this year and I can’t see dropping so much cash on a bike that isn’t the perfect coler for me.  As much as I love the rear rack its coming off for my next journey and that alone will save the equivent or two giant beers for the end of each day.

My tent is the other big WTF, I killed my brand new North Face tent in Gale force winds on the Oregon coast and am thinking a hammock might be an option but I honestly loved that little coffin of a tent till they day it died and other than it’s bright yellow color it was so tiny I could stealth camp easily in those creepy thick woods with out a problem.

Im going back to work for real so this may be my last hurrah till I can save enough for the new boat so this is a super big deal to me.  My knee is still not 100% but a lighter load and slower pace should see many beautiful miles out on the road.  I’ll be living very close to the edge without any backup clothing or parts  but I’m not worried about it, I don’t think it’s possible fo find worse weather than I did in my last trip.

Each day is three minutes longer, a smidge closer to our amazing early spring days and and I’m jonesing hard for the open road and the freedom of exploration it provides.  Long days in the saddle with big climbs, nasty headwinds and all those morons in thier cars, I’m so close I can almost taste the next journey.

Working under sail

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It’s hard to believe that my fifth summer in the islands is creeping up on me.  In that time I’ve slowly explored from Bellingham to the Desolation Sound and everywhere in between. While I’ve been on my slow journey I’ve watched friends circumnavigate, sail the Pacific Rim and cross as many oceans as exist on this big blue marble.

My journey has been a little different, than many but for the most part we all have one very similar obstacle, making money while we play.  Ive watched sailors like the kids from Sailing La Vagabond Crush it while others have flat run out of money and turned to scrubbing boat bottoms for 5 bucks an hour to keep their dreams alive. One friend of mine left with 500 bucks and sailed nearly 40,000 miles finding work along the way while others have had to hang up their boats for a year or two and return home to make ends meet.

Creativity and flexibility will get you father than anything.  I have some good friends who circumnavigated in sections always flying home to their real jobs and then back for the next leg. Then there are the ones who found their calling on land half way around the world, sold the boat, swallowed the hook and became expats. We all have different paths and different road maps but one singular goal, to experience the most our life’s have to offer before our fun meter runs out of tokens.

A very long time ago I gave up on the idea of ever meeting someone who adventures spirit can come even close to mine so I let those dreams of distant lands take a back seat to what I do have, the Salish Sea and all of her glory.  I love the challange this area represents with her wild swings in weather, insane currents and bagillions of navigational hazards.  I’m reminded of the old story, Who moved my cheese. If we aren’t constantly adapting to our new enviourmnets  the vortex of time will steal our youth and replace it with regret and stagnation. I literally am afraid of my own shadow but it’s never stopped me from chasing it.

 

Limitless

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It’s been a few amazing years now, but I remember her words like it was yesterday.  “Stormy, you’ve just lost everything you have in the world, what makes you think you can just aquire your dream boat and sail off into the sunset”. I gave her the only response I have ever known. “What makes you think I can’t”.

Sookie is loaded to the brim and trim, I can still drop another thousand pounds of crap in her and everything will find it’s place, I like a tidy boat.  I’m convinced that after the last smattering of bitter cold and piles of snow quietly dissolve  into nothing but a distant memory that spring will be creeping in. Boat maintenance, a few thoughtful upgrades and 9 months of near perfect sailing weather is hanging in the balance.

She is my mobile office, time transport and therapist all rolled into one. I have a date with my destiny far north from here and need to do some negotiating and sea trails.  What I’ve learned this year is that while I love all boats new and old, large and small, that I have become a complete boat snob when it comes to my personal tastes.  As of yet I’ve not sailed any boat that is half as much fun as Sookie and I’ll never call anything short of perfection my home.  I guess I feel that after a lifetime on the sea that I finally deserve what’s best for me.

When done right sailing is of the most romantic ventures in the world and in many ways extremely sexy.  My old sea boots, a razor sharp knife on my hip and my shiny, sparkly chronometer on my wrist is all I need out there, anything else is just fluff. Paper charts guide me with age old tools including my hand me down lead line and puck compass. A good pair of oil skins and super thick wool socks get me through the hard days and my Mankini gets me through the hot lazy days of summer.

Its true, I don’t have any plans to head anywhere but I also don’t have any to stay here.  Spring will guide me to summer and summer to fall. Any day now Sookies main will get bent back on, her jibs hanked and bagged and her anchor line replaced. I’m getting all my ducks in a row for the slow lallygag life I love living as a summer sailor.

Lyle Hess 34

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They slowly sailed by bailing about half a gallon a minute, sometimes you just have to get out and sail, the boat will never be finished.  Last night tucked in two sleeping bags, all my blankets and still cold I pulled out my backup heater, it’s not safe but desperation got the best of me, it was cold as hell and my main heater is shorting out, guess that one isn’t very safe either.

Snow is blowing sideways, the island is a complete white out but soon it will get up to 50 degrees, I pray that this is the last of it and again I’m shopping a wood stove that will do justice to Sookies warm cozy interior.  It has to be artful and traditional as well as functional, Sookie only gets the best.  So another day of freezing my ass of while I contemplate and dream of the warm days of summer.

Life is easy and smooth these days, I have nothing to worry about, not a want in the world, Sookie is loaded down on her lines with good drink, good food, her boom is almost done. I’ve somehow found success in doing nothing more than staying true to my heart and following my dreams.  Her lifelines will be finished this year, finally.  Lee cloths, a collapsible simple spray dodger and a sunshade will have her salty and comfy.

After so many years Packed away I dug out my bible for success, it has taken me a lifetime to write and dates all the way back to my paper route.  While most kids were still wetting their beds I was out pre dawn working and earning and saving, learning, always learning.  Yachting is an expensive buisiness and everything about Sookie is yacht-like.  She sails from port to port in her quiet dignity, every inch of her shows how much she is loved. She always has a skip in her stride knowing she is the prettiest girl at the dance.

My long slumber is over, I feel energized, re-vitalized and ready to crush it again. My next boat will be big, powerful, a true home for half the year.  A Lyle Hess 34, I’ve made my commitment and now the search has begun. Not a fixer upper, not a cleaner upper, a true turn key yacht with a hot shower, heat, and a bed fit for a lifetime of lazy Sundays.

 “Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.” —Jim Rohn

The gold standard

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I’ve never once measured my life or lifestyle with anyone or anything.  From my first day on this planet earth I’ve gone against the grain, finding my own path for reasons I often haven’t known until well into my journey.  When I decided to tone my life down and live well below the poverty standard, half of it to be exact it was a self experiment in what is really important to me in life.

I never expected to continue beyond that first year but it just felt right.  As easily as I slipped into that lifestyle and with as little thought as I had put into it back then I’ve decided to crawl out of the muck and re enter my destined glide path.  Having already lived at the top I have my impressions of that lifestyle and in comparison to my current lifestyle it has its desirable and undesirable traits.  I’ve slipped back into reinventing my life again and now I’m in search of that middle ground and setting some roots.

Possession wise I seek to have very little in this world although if I do aquire something it has be a usable tool, manufactured to the highest standards on earth and must be serviceable for a lifetime, you get what you pay for and each item represents a form of real wealth not only as an asset but also in the quality of life returned through the years of reliable service and fun. This middle ground I’m seeking comes with many risks, most of all to the freedom I’ve been afforded but I’m not too worried about stepping in a slightly more normal existence or home ownership. Sound as it might I’m not settling down, I’m ramping up.

From the log of Sookie – All the stars have lined up in the heavens above, I’ve taken a left onto easy street and from here on out it’s smooth sailing.  

Love shack

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Its snowing buckets but Sookie is warm inside. I’ve been squirreling away yummi treats, carefully nestling my growing wine collection and trying to make the boat just the right amount of comfy without losing the romantic notion of her being the salty vessel that she is.  Each week I hide more dark chocolate, laced with sea salt for those times when nothing else will suffice.

Bags of organic lentils cradle the wine, boxes of salty crackers by the dozen are finding their homes, tall jars of gourmet olives, canned cheese, and butter all being tucked away for those special nights.  I’m down to my last candle but more will come, the light they cast in Sookie is indescribable, my play list is slowly being refined and a few new books of poetry have found thier prospective homes within easy reach from anywhere in the boat.

Sookie may be small but that’s part of her charm, everything has its place and she is almost always neat and tidy, ready and waiting to pop a great bottle of wine and serve up a feast be-it just a few of us or the whole damn dock.

My budget is wrecked but it was worth it.  One van, a small cabin, Brompty  and a yacht fit for an adventure not bad for a guy who lives below the stated poverty line in America. I’m now entering the third of what was only supposed to be a year of living in poverty and finding it quite enjoyable.  Not  just the abondance of free time but also the freedom of it all. It’s a dream come true now that my writing is covering this lifestyle I’m enjoying a new type freedom that Ive never experienced before and it’s only cost is that I continue to live the life I’ve chosen.

“A person is a fool to become a writer. His only compensation is absolute freedom. He has no master except his own soul, and that, I am sure, is why he does it.” —Roald Dahl

Only fools rush in

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In a complete and defiant act of total chickenshitery I postponed our first date but by now that’s old news.  Of all the things I’m afraid of in this world, even more than water its girls. Old habits are hard to kill I suppose.

I’ve been nicknamed the gingerbread man for being able to completely elude the forces of nature and society pressing us flailing into a mediocre relationship based off of little more than mutual desperation.  I guess I’m old school and prefer a life where are no rules, no expectations, no judgements, total freedom, Peter Pan, eat your heart out.

Sky is grey Sky is grey sky is grey

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But I’m dancing in the rain.  Sookie is as clean as she’s ever been, I’ve pulled her winter tarp and now I can enter and exit without getting down in my belly and slithering in and out.  Her acoustics are amazing, I’ve got my favorite play list booming on her new wifi speaker, a hot cup of black coffee and a pile of unfinished writing and editing to do.  Her tiny cabin smells of sandle wood and teak, a steady stream of smoke rises from an incense stick hand delivered to me from India.

My camera bag is packed, I’m down to my two favorite body’s and lenses but half my kit is on the chopping block.  From now on it’s just one body and my 50mm, life is getting simpler by the day.  I understand how all working pros need piles of gear, backup body’s, extra film and mega backups.  My life is far to simple for that.  I don’t work on assignment ever.  If my brick packs it up I’ll pull out a pencil and piece of paper and draw my world, photography is one of the largest parts of my life but it’s a passion, not my day job.  I love snap shots, it’s what I specialize in.  My images are so plain and natural and mundane that they alsmost feel real, that’s my style, controlled monotony, like my life.

My company is shutting down for a while, it’s hard to survive the island winters, not just for us frail humans.  Most businesses on these islands only turn a profit 75 days a year.  If you don’t love this life you better get out because it will eat you alive.  There is a journey in the making, my day pack, one camera and my iPad.  This journey has no start point, no destination and no pre conceived end.  Nothing more than a simple journey for my inner creative to explore a very tiny spec of this planet, my mind and a chance to have a long slow chat with my future.

I can’t help but to wonder what a much younger me would think of how we’ve  progressed in this life. Would she approve of where I’ve  gone or be disappointed at how slow my life is.  I’m exactly where I started.  Way back then I had little more than the contents of my small sailboat, camera bag and as always on old uke in tow.  Now much older and a bit wiser I look back and admire my young determined mind , how someone so young and nieve could know exactly what they want out of this world and why. My one dimensional life has proven how truly wise she was.

Good music, laugher, the love of a good woman when the timing is right and my arts.  My camera and ukulele have shaped my life.  I’ve never progressed beyond those first days of simple chords and simple camera settings but they fit my simple life.  I’ve spent the better portion of this journey watching my dreams manifest before my eyes.  Maybe it’s finally my time to sit back and do a little bit of settling down, to enjoy the simple fruits of my labor.

From the log of Sookie, dancing in the rain.  Maybe I’ve always known this or maybe I’m just figuring out how I made my way here now. One thing I know for sure is that my success has always been controlled luck. I find that the smarter I work, the luckier I get.

Greenhorn

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Sookies deck is covered with blood as are my now mangled hands which can only mean one thing, I’m actually working on the boat.  No work today, I was given a reprieve, it’s actually warm, there is no wind, no rain and I have a few bucks in my pocket, it’s like the perfect storm of yacht maintence.  It’s rare that all of elements align for me but today is that day and I’ve been going at it since dawn.

Exactly two years ago I was doing exactly what I’m doing today, working on the damn boat.  Back then I had a greenhorn and a secret plan.  The boat was scheduled to leave the dock by May to dink around the islands, the secret plan was to sail to Alaska in a trial by fire all inclusive sailing school for the greenhorn, then to abscond with her and sail the boat to the South Pacific via Mexico.  Ahh the finest laid plans of mice and men… I figure I’d be in the South Pacific by now working some shit job to restock the kitty.

Turns out that plan was for shit and I realized it within a few short days, life goes on and about a year later having done very little in the way of upgrades to Sookie I did have another plan.  Along with that plan I had my man drawer filled with fasteners that had literally taken me years to aquire from all over the world.  Special sizes and shapes and…  I knew I would get around to them soon enough and actually had finally aquaired ever single piece I needed to finish all the petty BS projects that never seem to end on a sailboat.  Summer was rapidly approaching, I had a pocket full of money and was ready to rumble.  I came back to the boat one night to find my then girl friend had undone 4 years of my sea proofing of Sookie, completely rearranging everything in to the form of a house, not a boat.

She was so excited to show me how she had made the boat perfect.  I smiled gave her a hug and tried to sensitively explain why everything had to go back the way it was, this conversation didn’t go over well.  The next day when I dug into my man drawer I was horrified.  Turns out she had thrown away everything on the boat she didn’t understand which was, well… everything.  Another year has passed, I’ve more or less lost the desire to go through all the shopping and measuring and… so Sookie sits and waits, I sit and wait, but time marches on.

Pieces of you

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Sometimes a certain smell will take me back to when I was young.  Songs transport me to other times and places I have been.  The unknown has been my backyard for the better part of my life.  I don’t think I’ve actually ever planned anything, ever.  I find it far more exciting to simply dive in and swim around in it. Control is something I’m porously out of.  I’m time rich, far too intelligent to care about the outside world as it has zero effect on my life. Breathing, running, laughing and screaming at the top of my lungs when I’m scared which is often, this is where my heart lives.

I cant imagine how horrible a life it must be to wake up to Facebook and all the lies and hate only to be baraged by the media all day, it’s such a toxic life.  I woke up early with a smile, pulled the body pillow I share my bed with in tightly,  smiled and drifted off into my dream world.  Eventually I did make it out of that wonderful cocoon, I cooked a cup of coffee, cranked my stereo and rocked out on my uke.  There will be time for everything today, to take a few snap shots, read a bit of one of the two books im simultaneously reading, both written about the same boat by two different sailors.

It was being an actor the prepared me to be a writer, you have to be able to strip one hundred percent of your ego until there is nothing left, only then can you step into character; writing is the same way, I often refer to it as standing naked on a pedestal while thousands of people Judge you and that’s what good writing is.  To truly open yourself to love you must do the same thing, strip every layer away until nothing is left but pieces of you. A puzzle that only one person who can make you whole can piece together with thier spare parts.

“-She said “Don’t get to close. It’s dark inside. It’s where my demons hide.”

-And I answered. Get too close, there is a hell inside of me, it’s where your demons can live.”

Choas

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Chaos has an order which is completely misunderstood by those who could never understand it. I’m shell shocked, near or maybe at and possibly past my breaking point. Months of high winds have taken thier toll, I’m done. I’m one of the few inhabitants of these islands that arrivided under their own keel but it almost never happened, it was never meant to happen other than through a random act of chaos.

I had been living in my car filming a documentary, the notion to drive to Alaska and build a log cabin seemed like a fun way to spend a bit of my freedom and so the car turned north and a new chapter was born.  Slowly driving up the coast the trip was far different, less beautiful or interesting than when I was on my Brompton heading south from Canada or on my Fixie heading south from SF.  Not the same but still an amazing migration north. The journey brought me to Port Townsend, a place I had never heard of. Instantly I was in love, I was so excited pulling into the boat yard I actually jumped out of a moving car when I spied John Guzzwells Endangered Species.

What was meant to be a very brief stop later in Bellingham ended with me accidentally buying a sailboat.  I filmed the entire restoration and was rapidly becoming one of the original YouTube sailing channels.  That boat was eventually sold and Sookie fell into my hands.  We’ve been very slowly drifting about ever since.  The spontaneous life can be a hard one but the rewards are infinite.  I always have an idea of where I want to be and where I want to go but the reality is that I’ve thrown my entire life into the hands of the universe.  Who knows what will happen next, I certainly don’t.  What ever it is one thing for sure is that it will lead to an extrorianary experience, at least in the tiny scale of my simple life.

Chatting with a sailing friend from half way around the world be both agree that leaving is the hardest part.  Closing one chapter to open the next, too many people spin thier wheels tidying up loose lines when they need to just cut them.  Eventually the storms will pass, the calms will fill in and if your very lucky you will start to appreciate the chaos you have created, not only in your life but in all of those who know you and who will never, who can never uunderstand this order…

From the log of Roo, living on the Res… This is getting out of hand.  I was just chased down by a couple in a car who recognized me from YouTube.   Ok they actually recognized Chloe who was hanging her head out the window but still.  

Arriving by bike

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I wake before the dawn with a squeak, stretch my body as far as I can and let out a mighty roar.  The sun isn’t up yet and that’s how I like it.  I shine my light across Sookies cabin on Brompty “wake up you lazy so and so good for nothing Hog Wallup”, we’re going for a ride.  The coffee pot steams, my stereo is blaring and I’m muppeting out in the saloon, I’m a total spas in the mornings.

I don’t know what was going through my mind when I packed for my last cycle tour but I didn’t even start to prepare until about an hour before I was ready to leave, that didn’t work out so well.  Having nothing to do but turn the pedals and think for hours a day I had lots of time for hindsight and you know what they say about that.


The big hit offenders where my ukulele, full size DSLR and iPad not to mention bringing way too much food but I couldn’t leave it on the boat so it came with me.  Things that irked me along the way were my uber expensive ti pot which I didn’t really need and did fine without on my Hawaii bike tour.  My steel water bottle weighs 8 ounces empty but always seemed to keep my water cool and was easily accessed but still, if nothing else it weighed my mind down.  It was new before my first tour, now dented and mangled it’s still a good friend.  My stove really pissed me off, advertised as uber light and it was but I needed a wind screen, more money and more weight and I can’t for sure say if it saved me any fuel or not…

My ti cup now 11 years and a hundred thousand miles old has always been a gold mine.  The cream of the pie was my new Western Mountianeering Caribou, at one pound five ounces it packs small and is always warm and fluffy.  Without it I literally would have died this week.  Rather than hyper focus on light weight I just left everything behind.  I’m sneaking in a short tour soon and my new load will be flawless, I know everything I need and everything I don’t.  New mangings as I trashed my last pair and a new bright yellow hoodie Patagonia R1 is all I will need to add clothing wise and an iPhone 5 will more than likely replace all my other electronic gear making photography much easier and more spontaneous.

The Brompton T Bag is freaking genius as is the relevate Pika seat bag. I’d really like to upgrade to a titanium Bromoton and the new bike won’t have a rack, this will save about 4 pounds plus the 9 pounds of other things that will be left home. My goal as always is to pack light, bring only what I need and to get lost and stay lost. I don’t have as much time as I’d like but I need to ride before my big trip starts. Life is short, live it.

From the Brompty journal, Lost.  I don’t know exactly where I am but this camp site is the creepiest to date, I’m too scared to stay here but it looks like 28 miles to the next possibility of a camp ground.  Time for a ciggi and a bit of local knowledge.  Ok, it’s not that I’m lost, I just don’t know for sure where I am.

She loves me she loves me not

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Working my way around the boat scrubbing and cleaning both inside and out these are the words going through my painfully simple mind.  All hosed off, aired out and prettied up I end on the last sentence, she loves me and why shouldn’t she, my love for her is constant, unwavering. She is always at the forefront of my mind. We have both gotten used to the fact that my wandering eye will always appreciate other fine yachts but better than any other she knows where I sleep every night and with who.

Yet another BCC is attempting to catch my eye, this one is already in the South Pacific, could be had for a song and a dance and has been lovingly maintained and appointed with a brand new diesel and new sails.  Sure she’s pretty but she’s not Sookie. Winter is getting tired, I can feel it.  The clock of time stands still for no man and anyday now the islands will settle into spring.

I arrived back from Hawaii and back on Sookie on super bowl Sunday last year, a day I couldn’t care less about other than it was a bitter sweet home coming.  Sookie was as I had left her in my rush to get Chloe to first rate medical attention but we both knew I would be returning alone.  Our last moments in Sookies cabin with treats and a bowl of cool water from the hotel.  I lifted her carefully and spun slowly in a circle giving her one last look at what had been her home for the last 5 years.  Our summer had been a blur of islands and beaches and everything she had loved her whole life but on this trip exploring was done while hanging her nose over the bow of the dinghy or laying  lazily in the shade of a new island paradise every day.

Returning solo was hard to swalllow and that first night back I elected to stay in a hotel not ready to deal with my future.  A year later it isn’t much different, her tag hangs from the lantern bell where I ding it every morning missing her pre dawn shenanigans  of attacking me with her wet nose and playful way until I would kibosh her,  grabbing her and flipping her over me for some morning fun, that’s how every day started.  It’s painfully lonely without her but there won’t be another on this boat.

So another winter is quietly slipping away, another spring growing close at hand and the list is longer than ever. My self imposed date of departure is 76 days away.  All I have to do is add a new water tank and cabin sole, install the new hobb.  Install the wind vane and replace all of my now very old lower shrouds, 7 of them to be exact.  A third reef point is on the list for very good reason and solar and a new panel to replace the ancient and dying one I have now.  New anchor line, a solar panel, a few charts, most importantly the one I needed most, crossing the straits of Georgia from Pender harbor to some other place who’s name I can’t remember and that’s about it.  Shit, rebuild the rudder, new berth cushions and ceiling boards. There must be more, there is always more.

I woke to a beautiful sunny day, the 34 degree temperature felt like 75 and it was finally a day to work on Sookie, her new engine survived the big freeze and runs like a champ as a motor with less than 5 hours on it should.  I almost got to rebuilding the gooseneck and in the morning will design a preventer, something i forgot to do for my last journey and paid dearly for my mistake. My log book has three probable futures for me.  A, just say screw it and leave totally unprepared and pennyless. B, sell everything I have in the world, put it all into the boat and sail away penniless.  C, stay right were I am, work all summer and save enough to ship the boat to Florida where I will arrive penniless. Not sure how to flip a three sided coin but each of these options is very appealing to me although plan B will be the first crossed off the list I’m guessing.

They call it yachting for a reason and after months of misery today I was given a glimpse of why I go through all of this.  A long bike ride, I restocked my empty boat, got a ton of work done and watched  the sunset with a nice glass of shitty scotch.  In like a lion out like a lamb, isn’t that what they say.  The tides are turning if I can just survive a few more weeks.

From the log of Sookie, winter is dead!

Solo Sailor

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I sailed my first boat solo, my second had no crew, on my third I was alone and my forth found me as captain, crew, chief navigator and dishwasher.  It was an important time of my life and one in which I learned the many things that only a solo sailor can learn.  My classroom was the sea, my instructor, the wind-n-tides and my text and tools big sheets of white canvas called sails, controlled with little strings called sheets of all things. That first boat had two motors, one an inboard and one an outboard, neither of them ever worked so I sailed.

Finding a copy of Wandering Under Sail is a goldmine, printed in 1939 the bulk of the first editions printed copy’s were burned by Nazis. ” I sailed alone simply because I was seldom able to find a suitable companion with whom to share the somewhat cramped space in my small boat. I was often frightened and occasionally lonely.  I find that cruising with the right companion who understands small sailboats and apprecites the sea in all its moods is a very much simpler and infinitely more delightful buisiness.  That I bought my first boat on a Wednesday, sailed her away on Thursday and found her wrecked on a Friday, is an unfortunate fact…” Eric Hiscock

We all have sailing heros, mine Lin and Larry Pardey and theirs Susan and Eric Hiscock. Admiring the salty lines of wanderer II, It isn’t difficult to ascertain where Larry fell in love with the lines of what would eventually be the little boat that could, Seraffyn.  Something I find interesting is that all my favorite sailors who started on small simple boats and loved them like no other.  They all also eventually moved to larger boats but were never able to replicate through story telling the romantic notions created on their smaller boats.

It’s  only natural that I’m rapidly falling into a deep depression, the cold, the storms, the isolation, winter is a bitch. I have to be extremely careful not to devour this book.  Like the boat who’s story it tells, this book crossed the Atlantic to find its way into my hands. It was delivered from the place it was created, from the place of Sookies origin and from the number one place in the world I want to sail to.

Its hard bound blue jacket sits waiting to tell me new stories, stories of a time when sailors carried knives and shackle keys, not go pros and buisiness cards.  Their simple message was go small, go simple, go now, not please follow us and don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on twitter and herein lies my quandary. How do I make short simple sailing films that are worthy of the ship they are made from without ending up spending half my life attached to the web, having conversations with a small plastic light box and missing out on the number one reason I do all of this in the first place, to actually wander under sail.

From the log of Sookie, gold comes in many forms, freedom, time, and every once in a blue moon printed on paper, but it’s not currency I’m talking about, currency has no value.  This printed paper is true wealth.

Sianara

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Years ago I moved from the South Pacific to Madison Wisconsin and with my arrival came the longest stretch of below zero temps in the history of the state, I think it was over 30 days. When you live on the water it’s a different type of cold. 25 degrees here is always colder than below zero in the dry Midwest. Sure, it’s not the snot freezing type of cold where your hair crunches up if you washed it that day and your eyeballs start to form icicles. Here it’s a bit more like being slowly beat to death.

I have unsubstantiated reports of the wind topping 70 last night. Sookie isn’t in a marina, there is no breakwater, she is fully exposed the the fury of Mother Nature out here in the islands. The cruising boat takes a beating out here but Sookie took the storm in stride. I tied 12 half inch lines keeping her as safe as I could and can only pray that this is it for our winter storms but history tells me that the worst is yet to come.

It’s all part of being a liveaboard sailor in these parts of the world and for as many times as I’ve made this statement, mark my words, this will be my last winter aboard in this part of the world… which begs to ask what is next, it’s a solid 10k to ship Sookie to Florida and while they may have hurricanes in that part of the world at least it’s warm there. I have no interest in cruising Mexico again, for all of it’s amazing beauty I’ve been there and done that. Florida keeps coming out of my mouth so now the question of how to get there. Shipping a boats sucks and it’s incredibly hard on them but nothing like what Sookie was put through last night.

I can see smoke coming from my fireplace across the bay so at least today will be spent warm and toasty, after a nice bacon and eggs breakfast and much coffee that is. As usual the weather guessers are calling for 10-16 right now and we’re still getting hammered, this place is an enigma, a vortex of unknown powers, we seem to get the harshest weather of all of the islands. Paradise comes at a cost but I haven’t forgotten what summer is like in this part of the world.

From the log of Sookie, Never again…

Sea monkeys 

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I’ve just scuttled through the hatch, a fierce storm is a brewing.  My hands burn from pulling hard on the spiders web of lines I’ve set to keep Sookie fenders from exploding against the dock, another Nor’easter is a brewing. I’ve become a soft boiled egg, my body resembles a sea monkey.  Long, weak, extremities extend from my avocado core, winter is winning the battle but the war isn’t over. I soak my frail unused hands in warm water to cool the burn, I’ve become useless, soft, weak. In my current state Mr Potatoe head could kick my ass.

Cold Arctic air is blasting through the tiny cracks in the companion way floppy doors but it’s going to get much colder.  The wind is nuking making life on the boat less than desirable, the gusts have been topping 40 for the last few hours but the worst will be tonight when temps plummet and the wind peaks.  I’ve reached my limit and gone beyond.

Brompty sits faithful waiting for our next journey, I hope it’s soon.  Where in the world is it warm and how do I get there. The shivers have already started, my mood wanting to ride but not in this wind and cold. Florida, that’s where I should be, tonight when I have internet I’ll shop last minute flights to Maimi, it’s only a short ride on Brompty from there.  One more week of this and I’ll stop threatening myself and really sell the boat once and for all and find summer.  A friend just listed his Falmouth cutter cheap, part of me envies him.

My fun project today is to pack my Brompty bags with what I would choose if I was going to ride away from everything and live a minimalist life on bike tour for a few years.  I’m so curious to see what makes the cut and what doesn’t.

From the log of Sookie, I’m drawing a blank…

The mankini dairy

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I don’t know why my parents gave me the freedom that they did, maybe it was just a sign the times.  At seven years old running around Paradise Island in my little blue mankini with nothing but my third hand flippers, mask and snorkel I made a vow that this was the one and only life I wanted. Decades have passed under my keel and I’m still living every day just like those balmy days in the Bahamas.

My moods are still controlled by the smell and feel of the trades, the sound of palms rustling and clear blue water that is always a shock when you dive in by how warm it is.  Sugar whilte sand sticking to my bum and toes, dry salty water evaporating on my sun kissed skin is still the most natural existence for me as is exploring the unknown. I hate back tracking and can’t see the logic in having a favorite place when there are so many more to explore. Searching the pages of AOH I found this post and while I don’t remember writing it, every word stands true.

https://soundcloud.com/boating-podcasts/libby-purves-june-2016-podcast

If your a lover of small sailboats, simple living and making the dream your reality you really need to stop by Sailing Ontology, he doesn’t post nearly as often as I’d like but when he does, every data bite hits the mark.  Stop dreaming, buy that boat and start the next chapter. Yes at times you will be too hot and others too cold. You will find countless days of perfect sailing, a fair bit of boredom and moments of sheer terror. Your body will become strong and your mind free.

From the log of Sookie, winter. Battening down the hatches for round 35 of winter storms and sub Arctic temps. I hung my mankini on a lamp to remind me why I do all of this, summers coming. 

Wandering under sail

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It’s official, the Ratcliffe windvane is mine, as soon as I can find a way to pay for it and I will, I always do.  One more piece to the puzzle and again I can’t help but to stop to ask myself if I’m crazy for loving such a small boat.  I’m sure they are still out there, young couples crossing oceans in small well found boats but I can’t seem to find any trace of them in the thousands of searches I have done.

I found a copy of Wandering under sail in England and now it’s in the mail.  I also found a copy of White cliffs to coral reef in Australia and that one is crossing the pacific as we speak. Both books written about Wanderer ll a Virtue 24 and both a goldmine I’m hoping for information and insight into crossing oceans in a small boat with a modest budget.

It was Lin and Larry Pardeys books that got me to rethink my Cal 40 and turn my eye to smaller more traditional sailing boats.  Deep in the recesses of my mind I’m always at some stage of trying to convince myself that I need a bigger boat but I don’t know why.  I have 100% confidence in Sookie and know her two and only weak points quite well.  She won’t drive into more than 40 knots and she has no cockpit combing which can be a huge pain in the ass when you hit the death rolls.

I know hundreds of people have happily made do with their small boats.  While I have made some pretty impressive passages in small boats I’ve yet to cross any oceans on one although it is very high on my list.  Small as she is, I’ve never been uncomfortable on Sookie other than in foul weather or from the cold, her tiny cabin is a pretty good fit.

It’s calm today but more storms are forecast, more cold is on the way, this has been a brutal winter.  Up early I cleaned Sookie from stem to stern and now am drawing sketches and trying to decide were to store 60 meters of 5/16 chain. 5 minutes with a 2″ hole saw and I can have it all in the bilge right at the base of Sookies mast.

I think most people believe  that small boats are simple, their  not.  They may have simple systems but it’s much more complex when it comes to fitting each and every piece in just the right spot.  Done right my new chain and water tank will add 400 pounds of ballast right where it should be, low and centered. It was genius of Lyle Hess to under ballast this boat by 700 lbs leaving that extra bit to stores, and water. Every inch of her build mirrors the prime directive of her design, a blue water yacht…

From the log of Sookie,  Frozen bay – I should have bought a bigger boat but I’m glad I didn’t…

Domke F-3x

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Hard to kill, that’s how I would describe my Domke.  By the time I retired my first one it was torn and tattered, covered in blood, both mine and others and had the requisite of a true photojournalist, one bullet hole through the pocket.  It had traveled extensively through third world country’s and told I story I still haven’t writtten about.  Ok I actually wrote an 80,000 word book with dozens of images but I’ll never publish it.

There have been many more since my first.  One was stolen with all my gear, another blown up in a methane explosion and the second to the last one lived to be retired.   All of them have been the F-3x and all have served me well.  I don’t actually carry a camera bag as I prefer the freedom of a single lens but I need something to protect and store my growing pile of gear.  Two body’s, three lenses and there will be pleanty of room for a few go pros that I have yet to push the button on but I’m close.

Ill always be a stills guy preferring that precise moment in time but I’m dead serious about making my 12 minute shorts, 12 a year to be precise.  I’m scattered in every direction building a mobile film studio, trying to figure out what my next computer will be, rebuilding and stocking  Sookie.  Every penny is accounted for and they are flowing like water these days, it’s so fun to finally get to spend a little money on the important things.

I may or may not have that old wind vane that has been handed and unhanded to be a dozen times over the last few years and if I don’t, I’ll build a new one.  I put my order in to the foundary for new pintles and gudgeons, that project will top 6k the way things are looking and I’m still hell bent on double roller furlers for my headsails.  I’m constantly on the hunt for as many side jobs as I can find and using every second of my free time to get the most important things done before spring arrives, it’s literally only days away.  Each evening the sun sets a bit later and I’m hoping to have Sookie put back together and sailing by February.

From the log of Sookie, frozen… I don’t do all of this to make money, I make money so I can do all of this.

The hurt locker

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The only thing worse than the constant damp bone chilling cold is the insult of being able to see the sun without actually feeling it’s warmth.  At 22 degrees with a 40 mile an hour wind that makes a negative 20 windchill and I’m not sorry to be happy to say sianara to you winter, you miserable fucking hell! I’ve been given a reprieve.

It’s been so cold in the boat that it actually hurts.  My skin hurts, my body hurts, my mind would hurt and it will if it ever defrosts.  I’ve been like the stay puff marshmallow man wearing every bit of clothing I have with every blanket and both my down sleeping bags and still haven’t been able to stop shivering for one single second.  All that extra body fat and I can assure you it’s ample, has done nothing to cure the cold.

The wind has been pile driving out of the north east, funneling through the small cracks in my companion way floppy doors and there has been nothing I could do to keep the free and constant air conditioning at bay.  Now it’s so calm it’s erie and up to a warm and toasty 31 degrees but that’s not what’s keeping me warm, nor is it my trusty and useless heater. Today I was given word that everything is about to change and again the suggestion that I split to the South Pacific for a few weeks and that’s just what I’m going to do.

Have you worked for a company that actually gives you everything you want without asking and then with no hinting or hollering up and says hey, bro… the islands are calling your name, take off and go surfing for a bit, get tan, have a few drinks and we’ll have this whole place revamped for you when you get back.  They also offered me a house to live in, I shit you not, my own little studio right on the water overlooking the bay and Sookie.

And here lies my dilemma, fist of all I don’t deserve the rockstar treatment I’m getting and second of all I have to be very careful not to fall into the abyse of comefort and complacency.  I don’t want to be comefortable in life, I don’t want it to be easy and I don’t want security, that’s what has people dying alone of old age.  One wrong step and I’ll be sitting back in my big leather chair in an office that is never half a degree too warm or too cold.

I’ll spend my life saying someday as I stare complacently out the window waiting for the right time which will never come because there never is a right time.  I’ll grow fat with mortgages and credit card debt to pay for my car that never gets driven over 5mph in bumper to bumper traffic and only transports me from the Job that steals my youth to pay for the house that holds me financially improsioned but never gets used for anything other than sleep.  Every year I’ll swear to myself that I’m almost ready and that for sure next year will be my year but next year will turn into decades and before I know it I’ll be too old, too soft, too lazy too…

Yeah fuck you winter, you can’t break me and nothing will send me back the hell on earth I lived, that so called financial security.  I fought hard the gain my independent freedom to roam, to learn to live with almost nothing and to love it.  To wake to a day that I own and to do what I want, when I want for absolutely no reason on earth other than because it’s my choice. Choice is a freedom worth fighting for at any cost…

One of the most frequently heard comments? concerning my boat is that it is not comfortable. It is a very true statement. But I design and build boats and go to sea in them not for comfort but because I am curios and the activity gives me pleasure and excitement.

Comfort diminishes activity; lack of activity leads to lack of stimulation, without stimulation you become bored, fat and tired. You get energetic only by using energy, not by resting.

Eating and entertainment work like drugs or borrowed money, they lessens the boredom ordeal momentarily. In the long run they make the situation worse.

Strive on the other hand is painful at first, but as time passes will bring curiosity pleasure and excitement. The problem with that healthy solution is that it is to abstract for most people. Historically man has never had to worry about to much comfort and is therefore not designed to deal with it. On the contrary lack of food and rest has been the problem.

Modern society has changed that. Industrial and farm factories are now producing more than we need. Few free spirits has survived a new species of man has been breed, the obedient man. He eats not real food but ersatz food. His experiences are ersatz screen experiences.

It is so much easier to watch sport than to compete yourself. It is so much easier to do ersatz sailing and to start the engine when the wind fails than to use an oar or wait for wind. But like all ersatz things there is no thing like the real thing.

A captured animal in a zoo is not a happy animal. He tells us that without talking, still he gets plenty of food and good shelter and his life is without danger. Still he would rather bee free.

Modern man in the big cities are like captured animals. We have all the comfort and food we need, still we are bored. But because we live among millions of equally bored people we do not notice the gloom. Only occasionally do we meet a surviving free spirit and wonder why he is so happy. It is not comfort which makes me happy.

written by Sven Yrvind

Abandon ship

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Ive never been truly seasick, I’m one of the lucky few but I’m feeling really queasy and suffering from my own form of the bout.  My abandon ship bag is packed, ID, medical card, ships documents, knife, camera and iPad.  Nothing else matters, the strain on the boat is amazing but it’s not the boat I’m worried about, it’s the rickety old dock.

We had our first tragedy this week, a boat was beat to smitherines and sunk at the dock in high winds.  These docks are old, very old and the the bay isn’t protected at all.  In calm weather this place might seem like a dream come true but right now it’s rapidly decending into hell on water.  To add insult to injury the power has just gone out and I can feel the chill creeping in rapidly.  It’s 6:00 AM and I have nowhere to go.

Wedged into the quarter berth the VHF is calling for gusts to 60 and 18′ seas in the straits just a few miles from here, Gale warnings are the one thing I find truly annoying about living on a sailboat out in these islands.  There are no breakwaters, no protection, the elements are very real and today the wind is angry.  I peer into the darkness wondering if the gangway will go, the docks are completely awash, it’s hell out there and that’s where I’m headed, to check on all of the boats.

In these conditions, walking is difficult if not treacherous, I’d like to say I had forgotten how bad it gets here but you never forget, it’s ingrained in your mind which is why I have three sets of lines out, why I’m the only person here in the winter.  People make fun of me, the same people who’s boats I pull off the beach in their absence, the same people who expect me to watch and care for their boats, the same people who…

I’m on dry land now, the machine gun fire of pelting rain blinded me as I made my way to the warmth of the jacuzzi room trying to find any feeling in my fingers, I’m bleeding all over my iPad. The wind sounds like a jet fighter zooming in for the kill, close enough to touch, it’s just beginning. When I left Sookie she was in her most dangerous state, bucking hard at her lines from the surge, she is strong but piles of half inch line can only take so much.  I’ll check on her every half hour or as often as I can warm my fingers, there is nothing else I can do.

It’s  impossible to show the depths of weather on film, i snap a few shots in near darkness and am surprised they show a sky I can’t see.  One image for the record, Im reminded I don’t need yet another reminder that the sea doesn’t care, she doesn’t care if your cold, wet, hungry, tired or scared.  Turn your back for one second and she will take everything from you.  In a lifetime of sailing I’ve been witness to many experiences.  Of all of those, honestly and truly, the most scared I have ever been for the boat is when she is tied to the dock.

There is an old quote, the safest place for a ship is in the harbor but ships are made for the sea.  I don’t  know who wrote those words but he obviously wasn’t a sailor. The safest place for a boat in conditions like this are out there where she was designed and built to rein, the docks can be treachery to the sailors craft.

Gasoline is the new green

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My plan was never to have a brand new outboard hanging off of the back of my boat but now that it’s there I would never consider anything else.  It’s surprisingly capeable of pushing Sookie around, light enough that I can pop it off easily and unbelievably efficient.  The key is moderation, it’s an auxiliary form of propulsion,  my primary form being my big beautiful sails, and I have all of the right ones in my minimalist sail plan.

Sailing around the world

This guy, a friend of a friend  recently tried to convince me that electric is the future and that I should scrap my gas engine, add a pile of new batteries and solar pannels and a wind generator and a water generator and a gas generator to pick up all that slack. It was immediately appearant that this guy had never sailed before in his life, I did my best to change the subject. I like my simple traditional sailboat and am just fine with the 4 gallons of fuel a year I burn.

Technology has its place in my world which is usually the back seat as I find candles, a lead line and good old canvas to be the right way for me.  My sailing life is about sailing, not taking all the convinces of land with me.  Of corse I do love technology in some forms.  Literally minutes after giving up on a new PC and camera gear I made a hand shake deal on a camera I had never planned on owning. I didn’t bother to do any reseach, it was higher in the line of what I had been using and wanted to use so I just accepted the price on an almost brand new camera but with a huge discount.

The camera doesn’t matter and the one I’ve been using for years was light years ahead of what I use it for.  I’m not a pixel counter and rarely taken by all the flash of digital cameras.  Auto focus is something that I need as my continually failing eye sight has me shooting more and more Fuzzy images.  A friend recently asked me to snap a few pics of him sailing by the dock, when I handed him my card he was like there are 233 pictures.  I smiled him and assured him there would be at least one good one.

Back when I interviewed for my first big daily they were very impressed with my book and the number of times I had been published even though I wasn’t old enough to buy a beer.  They asked to see my film rolls and when I asked why he said, I can clearly see that you have a good eye and can get the shot but I want to see how many images it takes you to nail it.  Back then it was about 3-5 images per shot and one roll per assignment. Now having to take so many images to get a good clear picture is a nightmare so yea auto focus.

Of corse knowing nothing about the camera I just acquired I watched a few videos and viola Wifi :)~ I can now load my images through magic straight into my iPad and so for now I don’t need to upgrade to the Mac that will eventually be my video editing machine. Life just got a bit easier, one less headache in my life and that image above… it was taken handheld in a damn near pitch dark boat, oh joy of joys I love the low light capability of this hunk of metal.  I’ve decided to sell everything in my bag and my bag and try a year with just my 35 1.8. I did this for a year as a photojournalist and it was a game changer but somehow over the years I’ve continually complicated my life to no end.

So is gasoline really the new green?  In my life it is, that motor will last forever as long as I use it for it’s intended purpose and that is the whole point of this post… moderation… when used preoperly gasoline is one hundred times greener than solar and wind power. From a manufacturing stand point solar, wind and electric power is amazingly destructive to the planet as is the disposal of all those batteries.  Gas is good, Umkay…

One is the loneliest number

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I can’t say that I believe in reincarnation but I do believe in miracles so anything is possible.  It’s cold outside, too cold.  The lows tonight will be around 24 which is plain just not right.  I miss Chloe especially on the cold nights, she was  a snuggle ninja and always kept me warm.  You can never feel lonely when you’re with your four legged companion.  I keep waiting for her to show up in another form so we can continue where we left off.

Sailing around the world

Little reminders of her are everywhere, tiny hairs still waft around the boat, her tag, claw marks in the wood around the companion way.  I still haven’t figured out how to go on without her.  It’s cold and empty in the boat, loneliness and a bit of depression is setting in faster with each of the shorter days, I need to get out of here and feel the sun on my back, the earth between my toes and a bit of liquid sunshine on my naked body.

In a random act of insanity I pulled a pile of cash out of the boat fund and blew it all on good food.  Real nacho chips with Spanish salsa.  Fruit and veggies of every kind, a hunk of cheese, tonic to mix with the last bits of gin and a box of wine for next week.  I’m surrounded with all of the the things I never allow myself, tonight will be a feast for two as I’ll put out a plate for Chloe just in case.

I’ve been waiting and planning all week for tomorrow, the plan was to order everything I’ve been working so hard towards.  My new water tank and all the pumps and fittings, the gimballed stove, a new dslr and Mac book and so forth and so on.  I’ve deleted all my order forms, stopped with everything, deciding that a bit of limbo and contemplation is in order. I could buy a ticket somewhere warm today and leave in the morning or go to the rescue and save a pup or just relax and start living like a normal person for a bit.

Ive grown tired of going it alone so everything stopped today.  A trip to the jacuzzi, a hot shower and a cold drink are all I care about.  In the morning I spin the bottle and see where I land.

“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.”
― Will Rogers

The log of Sookie

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Desolation Sound, June 2015 – it isn’t what you’ve done in this world that matters most, sure memories are there, but often blur with time.  They are valid and have meaning but they have gone.  The future holds nothing for it can change in an instant, a life of planning for some other date can be derailed in a millisecond. Right now, this is it, the gift you have created with your past, leading to your future.  It’s now or never.

Sailing around the world

It’s  really creepy out, I hear the moan of a Sasquatch calling, and then an answer. The sunset was blood red and beautiful but now the darkness is taking over, I’m a bit scared and secure the lifeline as one added protection against things I don’t understand.  I hear splashes that sound like they are being made by something the size of cars being thrown in the water, the moans go back and forth, I try to convince myself it’s just grizzly bears but the chill in my spine tells me that Sasquatch is real and really close.

Its hot, too hot and muggy, mosquitos are eating me alive but I can’t take refuge in Sookies interior, I’m fixated on what lies out there, the sounds are haunting and growing closer, louder, more frequent. I’ve traveled many hard miles to be here and here I am. It’s easy not believe in things you have never experienced but I’m here, now and experiencing them, I’m a believer.  I swat at another dive bombing mosquito and watch the twilight fade as the stars appear one by one.

We should have turned around when the motor started to go south minutes into the journey, we didn’t. They told us our boat was too small, it wasn’t. They told us “you can’t sail the inside passage” we did. They told us we wouldn’t find any secluded anchorages, a picture is worth a thousand words. I sat back enjoying the sounds of night, knocked on the hatch asking for a beer which was quickly handed out before the monsters could invade the safety of Sookies cabin. I cracked it and enjoyed living in the now, a place very few will ever know due to all the limits set by those who never been there, who haven’t experienced sailing from the deck of a good ship with a confident and adventures crew, the greater the challenge the bigger the reward. My Luke warm beer in a completely isolated anchorage was one of the best I’ve ever had. Serenity now…

From the log of Sookie, December 2016. Another brilliant day, found a new secret spot with Brompty, installed the new toilet paper hanger, can cross that one off the list after only 68 months, she is coming along but time is a rare commodity, March is looming…

Lost and found

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Quality, durability, epic design, and fun.  Take a peek though my compainionway and the first thing you will notice is that these are the qualities I surround my life with.  I didn’t get here by accident, I’ve driven boats, bikes, cameras, computers and all of my gear into the ground.  There isn’t one gear company on the planet that will let me torture test their products because they know there is a 99% chance it will fail me and I’ll write the truth about it. I use my shit hard.

Brompton

The things that can survive me, my Nikon’s, Mac’s , Sookie, Brompty, these are the things that I have pushed far and hard, always expecting them to care for me no matter what foolish hell I take them through.  I’ve had a pile of Nikons blown up in a methane explosion when I was on a moving live lava flow. Dropped, splashed and smashed my Mac’s as well as subjecting them to high humidity and freezing temperature.  Sookie has been put mast head in the water as well as literally submarining through a huge wave in the straights of Juan de Fuca. Brompty has been covered with so much mud you couldn’t tell what she was, hit potholes at 40 mph while fully loaded, been off road, through knee deep rivers and ridden harder than she deserves.  All of my gear always shows as new eventually as I care for each item as if my life depends on them and they often do. As a documentary photographer my life is a hard one but one well worth living even though I put my physical body through these same tortures.

Brompton folding bikeI got  letter from a girl in Australia today inquiring about my Brompton and a Essay I was recently asked to write.   I’ve been so busy I forgot to mention it here but the letters are pouring in and I’m loving it.  I little back and forth I got the idea she was trying to get me to talk her out the hair brained idea, I didn’t.  I gave her my 100% support and even offered to join her if she needs a little extra crazy in her life.  I’ve been seriously considering upgrading to a Titanuim Brompton and this would be the ticket.

Brompton folding bike

So there I was lost on some lonely stretch of road in Oregon, feeling like the last human on the planet earth when Brompton stumbled across my blog and now I’ve been found by a group of fun loving criminals seeking to steal every second of their time for a bit of plain old living the dream.  I’ve never been one to tell others what to do but I might suggest that a nice long bike tour will be one of those things you talk about for the rest of your life, it’s a game changer for sure.

Sailing around the world

Those days out under the sun and often trapped in a deluge of rain were some of my happiest on this planet. My mind was blown by the constant beauty of my surroundings, how often I was faced with challenges and how strong my body became in such a short period of time.  Touring on a Brompton? It isn’t for everyone but as far as I’m concerned for me it’s the only way to fly.

From the Brompty journal.  My tent had three inches of water in it at the peak of the storm.  In my sleep my head slipped off of the little inflatable pillow I was using and I almost drowned, I’ve never seen it rain so hard in my life, the island is sinking. A comment from a rockstar I met in camp searching for his next sound. ” boy you sure were taking it all in last night, it must have been blowing 50 and that rain, we saw you standing naked, hands raised to the heavens, a vision neither of us will forget for a very long time”.  I’ve survived yet another challenge but maybe survive isn’t the best use of wording for what I’m doing out here.

The life aquatic

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

Sailing around the world

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THIS SUCKS ;)!

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

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

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

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