Dawn patrol

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Bundled in my foulies I’m almost warm, I sit listening to the sounds Sookie makes and she pitches and roles in the wind over tide driven chop, one of the few penalties for a short waterline. A brass lantern has my attention.  Melissa’s panties, hang next to my mankini comingling, a reminder of warmer days gone by.  They Dance and sway to and fro doing the Samba.


I pulled my delta flag last night to quiet the boat.  It signifies stand clear, manovering with extreme difficulty, a joke from my engineless sailing days but also a very good signal.  Below 35 knots of wind I don’t bother with an anchor watch, I know my gear and trust it.  If other boats are too close I will sleep in the cockpit monitoring them but other than that I sleep deeply, if the wind gets over 15 the flag starts to vibrate and shutter alerting me to the wind increase so I can pop out and take a peek to reassure myself we are safe, I won’t need this reminder tonight, all hell is breaking loose.


My dinner ended up on the cabin sole and that’s where I ate it appreciating the chorus Sookie and all her hanging fidly bits were making.  It’s a crime I’ve had to wait my entire life to meet Melissa and I miss her more than I care to admit.  I could sail to Canada to be with her but can’t work there and she can’t work here.  I plug in my iPad and shop for engagement rings, that would solve this whole problem in an instant and I could get Canadian citizenship while she is getting American citizenship.


It was well past ten before the tide turned allowing me to enter the v berth without levitating.  I took a sip of red wine and listened to the small rollers tumbling under Sookies keel.  Contemplating the universe the one thing that kept creeping through my mind is that when you know, you know.  I’ve spent a lifetime building a brick wall, the moment she skipped into my life it all came crumbling down.

“I recognized you instantly. All of our lives flashed through my mind in a split second. I felt a pull so strongly towards you that I almost couldn’t stop it.”   ― J. Sterling

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Trapped like a rat

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Night time is the scariest,  when you are all alone… The wind howling through the rigging, waves slapping the hull. The tug of your anchor line all the while wondering if you will pull the whole bottom of the sea and drag it across the world with you.  The rocky lee shore gives nightmares only men who have gone to sea can dream of.  It’s cold and my body won’t stop shivering. 


Calm before the storm, it’s feels good to have Sookie back where she belongs but it’s only for a bit, I need her dockside for at least three more weeks to finish a few projects.

Cold and blustery winds blow, Sookie is riding nicely, I let out a little extra scope as it looks like the next few days are going to be a bit breezy. I don’t trust my leaking dinghy, after it was thrown through the washing cycle having been left on a rocky beach in a gale the owner patched the holes with epoxy thickened with oats.

For the first time ever I miss my rubber ducky, that piece of shit didn’t row well and was like towing a suction cup but was incredibly sea worthy and put in many more years of service and abuse than anyone could reasonably ask.  I expected my dink to be sunk by morning but it’s still there and as long as it floats, my lifeline to shore and people and…

I have all my warmies on but I’m still cold, my fingers are cold everything is cold and damp, reminds me of the day I sailed into blubber bay like a drowned rat after crossing the Straits of Georgia , guess that Heater I have in Port Townsend should have been on the top of my list.  I hear the occasional crash of water against the side of my hull as the gusts roll through, the rigging is moaning and the sky dark and brooding.  The occasional fix of Internet gives me a bit to do  but I have to go easy on my power management as I still have yet to add solar, its too gross out to work on the boat.  My fingers worn to the bone from my uke concert today and according to Enviornment Canada  for the foreseeable future the weather is looking really sucky all week with winds gusting to 40 predicted to hit late tonight, gross.

“it was times like these when a man in a desperate situation must take whatever madness is offered to escape the darker madness in which he finds himself trapped.”  ― Sean F. Hogan

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Why won’t anyone visit

You feed me tacos  🙂

Traditional navigator

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My hunt for a sextant has began.  Curled up in my arms Melissa snuggled in closer nuzzling into my chest and started laughing.  Sookie is contagious in more ways than one and when she told me she wanted to explore the world with only tradition navigation tools it made complete sense to me, Sookie is getting into her skin.


Half of my navigation is done in the old barefoot style and I have happily sailed thousands of miles sans any navigational equipment but I know very little of the how and whys of the sextant, I understand how to use one and the theory behind it and all the tools and tables necessisary to plot your course to adventure, I just don’t know exactly how to put them all together., I’ve already lined up one sailor for an introduction for her and continue my search not only for her tools but also for a few other goodies such as a proper sailors knife and foulies and Xtratufs. Small but very strong both in muscle and the head I just follow her lead in her many desires with the sea.

I’ve always loved to navigate and it sucks ass that I don’t  get to anymore due to my eyesight other than through basic barefoot navigation. Its nice to know there is a confident set of bare feet scampering around and keeping us safe.  I’ve already given her a proper pirate name,  tinker bell for many reasons but mostly because she can fix anything I break. She’s currently being held hostage in a foreign  land but I’m aready orchastrating her escape as my fingers peck these words.

From the log of Sookie cloud nine, 2016.   The talk of pirates came up and I offered don’t worry, I’ll protect you.  She responded that if there are pirates that she will be the first on deck with her machete and that she will protect me.  Note to self, get Mel a machete! 

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Slowing down

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The less money you require, the les time you need to take making it.  In a world where most people want to buy things, or let others do the work for them I prefer to make things and make things better, learning as I go.  I won’t ask or pay for help Untill  I’ve failed at something at least a dozen times.  Perhaps thats why I love boats so much even a complete moron can fix or completly and easily restore a boat with little more than youtube and a book.


Im often asked why I need the boat that I have, need has nothing to do with it, if your going to pour money into a hole in the water it may as well be a beautiful hole. When you find the right boat, you know it.  As with Sookie, I could easily afford her purchase price but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The love I have for her makes the massive expense both in time and money worth it, I would have hated to go through all this for the wrong boat. Sitting out on the hook I am easily reminded why I have all my eggs in one basket.

When it comes to newer boats so called performance and amenities come at the expense of safety and seaworthieness and often even comefort although on a boat that is a very relative term.  Having delivered a countless amount of production boats I can tell you that those big Clorox bottles and I love them all are hell to pay hard on the wind, there is a reason that there are literally thousands of them for sale in every down wind location on the planet.

The barometer is dropping, Sookies hook is set firmly and I have my own little private island.  There is nothing old fashioned  about Sookie, she is a Modern design of modern construction designed by a man who loved the sea and built by a team of men who have spent a lifetime out there.

My time has come and I’ve had to vacate the Marina, I still need a good month dockside to finish my projects but that will sort itself out. a borrowed ukulele a sinking dinghy and nothing but time on my hands, freedom and time to reflect are comming my way sooner than I hoped but my how life flys when you are having a good time.

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Dana 24 for sale

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She’s still avaiable, this beautiful 1985 Dana 24, $36,000.











This is a great chance to jump in on your dreams of blue water cruising.  I also have ties to a beautiful diesel Falmouth cutter, and one of the last flickas built.
“To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. Otherwise, you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind known to yachtsmen who play with their  boats at sea… “cruising” it is called. Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in. If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about.
“I’ve always wanted to sail to the south seas, but I can’t afford it.” What these men can’t afford is not to go. They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of “security.” And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine – and before we know it our lives are gone.
What does a man need – really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in – and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all – in the material sense, and we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention for the sheer idiocy of the charade.
The years thunder by, The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed.
Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life? ” 
― Sterling Hayden, Wanderer

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Blame  Canada 

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Sitting on the back deck in late afternoon sun on a perfect windless day two pasty white bare feet came skipping down the dock with and bag of goodies and the biggest smile I’ve ever seen, a nuclear explosion was about ready to detonate.   I whisked her from boat to boat, bottle of wine In hand in a flurry of laughter as we toured boats far larger and more elegant than Sookie. “You know stormy, I’ve always wanted to round the horn in a small sailboat.”  She leaned into me and asked if we could go back to Sookie.


I immediately tried to change the subject but it was too late, the gauntlet had been laid.” those other boats are bigger and very pretty but none of them feel as good as Sookie, she is so cozy and perfect in evey way”  I’ve been swashbuckled, the red tape going down the center of Sookies floor boards was the safety zone, I had my side and she had hers..  A border of two friendly nations, the American pirate had one side and the Canadian mermaid the other, the red tape worked well in theory but theory is a very relative term.  I could blame Canada but it takes two to tango and we danced the night away.


My stomach hurts, I feel like I’ve done a thousand sit-ups, I’ve literally never laughed so hard or for so long in my entire life.  We hiked and explored every inch of each island we visited, petting Mona the camel was the highlight of my life, she loved me and came right in for huge kisses and a scratch between her furry ears.  Hitchhiking, perfect lattes, man tacos, wine, whiskey and boat talk, way too much boat talk if that is entirely possible.  I’m not sure where the hell Im going to fit a purple Brompton in Sookie but like many things, it’s on the table and the search has begun.


I’d call her an adrenalin junky but she’s not, she’s a life junky, she knows exactly what she wants and how to get it. Huge waves and fierce winds make her scream, motor cycles, bicycles, van dwelling and that damn horn.  We can’t fry an egg between the two of us but there are other ways to feed the soul. It all started with a beautiful letter, about a reasonable life, the desire to explore by small sailboat, I  replied with an offer to play boat and she I instantly accepted.  One simple blog post set the wheels in motion, I knew less about her than she of me when she arrived, this was just a going to be a causal connection between two wanderers for the wind but the universe had something bigger in Mind.  


It’s quiet now, too quiet, my little Canook has made a run for the border, her next stop the discovery islands by sailing ship.  I should have locked her in my boat but I didn’t, I set her free and now the silence is deafening.  I need a new jolly roger, to hoist it aloft and tighten my sheets, there is treasure out there, the bounty will be mine and I won’t stop until she is back were she belongs, safely tucked into Sookies little cabin.

“We can talk about it, dream about it and dissect the fine print.

In the end, only action satisfies our longing.”   ― Gina Greenlee

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The riggers apprentice 

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Going through a side pocket in my rigging bag I spied my brand new anchor shackle, I bought it years ago after I was given my Rocna.  I picked it up twirling it in my fingers inspecting it’s quality when it hit me.  If this is in my bag what the hell is holding my anchor on!?


I Walked up to the bow and my eyes bulged, the temporary $2.99 shackle I got while waiting for my good one to come was still on my bower. I can’t even begin to count how many nights I slept snug as a bug in a rug having all the confidence in the world in my Rocna and its ground tackle.  That cheap Chinese piece of shit paid for itself more times than I can count, Sookie bucking and straining as the seas built with the changing tides.  My ground tackle has proved itself 100 times over but now staring at that cheap shackle I’m shaking in my Xtratufs  I have to leave the dock in a week and that thing will be changed out before I do.  Funny how my Rocna is Chinese made and it’s the single most important piece of gear on the boat.

It’s amazing the tools we accumulate over the years, and the ones we drop overboard.  Every year winter washes my brain and I forget how everything works, rigging up my chain hook I couldn’t even remember how I had it set up but Sookie has the easiest most fool proof launch and retrieval system of any boat I have ever seen. 30′ of chain is always enough but I’m going to 100′ to reduce my swing radius, I can’t believe how many boats there are here in the summer.  300′ of 1/2 three strand will be replaced with 200′ of 5/8 and I’m good to go.  Splicing is easy but between them I always forget how,  which is just fine because it only takes a few turns and my hands get back into the groove of it.

My little riggers bag has everything I need to work on every inch of my standing and running rigging.  It took me years to perfectly tune my rig to a nuetral helm, it’s one of my biggest accomplishments in life.  About a year later after bragging about how Sookie doesn’t have a single once of weather healm a good friend chimed in, as a solo sailor I like a touch of weather helm just in case.  Star’s started firing in my brain “damn it” back to the drawing board.  Of all the tools I carry in my little bag the most important one is knowledge, not just mine but the lessons handed down by all the masters of the sea that have held my hand through decades of learning. If you don’t do every job with your own hands it’s only a matter of time until you learn how dangerously useless your skills are.

My little Haligonian is a hands on, roll up your sleeves and dive in type of girl, far more mechanical than I will ever be and a full blow mechanic with mad skills. I hate the word teaching, it’s more like sharing, passing down generations of knowledge and I hope to learn as much from her as I pass on from my mentors. I pull my trusty copy of ocean passages for the world. I could slip Sookies lines while she lays sleeping in our vberth berth, we would could be half way out the straits before she wakes, swashbuckled. You can learn a lot at the dock but the best lessons are learned at sea, she will always show you what you and your boat are made of. It isn’t a matter of if the shits going to hit the fan, it’s when. I need a new Jolly Roger.

“The traveler see’s what he see’s, the tourist sees what he’s come to see.”

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The morning grind

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Every night when I lay my head on my soft deep red pillows I get excited for a bright morning and hot coffee.  I pull a pile of blankets up to my chin, wiggle in and fall asleep dreaming of what can possibly come my way in the following day.  This liveaboard life on Sookie is a good one.


The wind howles outside but it’s warm and bright in our little cabin.  The walls of Sookie ring with laughter, even when I’m alone it’s  an adventure, but this ship was built for two.  Up at the crack of dawn, coffee, a walk into town to photograph the storm and now the whole day is mine.  My rigging bag needs attention, the stores need to be inventoried and I need a jacuzzi in a big way.

Good company is my favorite word and visitors have been flocking through, maybe I need to name this little boat the hotel Sookie.  Her galley is compete, her berths fit for a queen and her interior is as ship shape as she has ever been.  Back on my quit smoking routine and excercose, I need more.  A month down due to my misfiring brain and I feel soft, fat and skinny at the same time.  The long days of spring have arrived and it’s time to take a break from maintaining Sookie and do a little personal maintenance.

Between it all I sneak in a bit of song writing, read a few blogs and take in a good sailing video.  The only thing exciting about my life is that I’m living by choice, there is no box, no schedule and no worries.  My new log book arrived yesterday, I haven’t written in it yet as I’m pretty attached to my old one but it’s time to put my pen to a new voyage, new perspectives and a new future.

If you have the means to live this life, you are one of the fortunate few.  If you don’t I highly suggest you throw abandon into the wind,  sell everything you own and find a small well found boat, you owe it to yourself to follow your passion and see where it takes you.  The so called real world isn’t going anywhere and they will gladly take you back at any point.  It’s a crime against humanity but none of us are getting any younger.

Be strong, think strong, take care of your soul and the shell it’s wrapped in.  Make the time to sit around pondering all the things a much younger you would have pondered.  Rope the grandest one like a shooting star and ride it like you stole it.

“Let me wake up next to you, have coffee in the morning and wander through the city with your hand in mine, and I’ll be happy for the rest of my fucked up little life.”    ― Charlotte Eriksson

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Bedazzled

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I wake up in my new quarter berth, the cussions are blood red like everything should be on a traditional sailboat.  Bike ride down, hot coffee in hand and a ciggi, which I hate more than anything, I will quit sooner rather than later.  The boat is clean and tidy, I have a special guest coming from Halifax Nova Scotia to play boat for the weekend, talk about van living and perhaps find a very special cutter to call her own.  Today will be a day to measure and locate the perfect spot for my new boom gallows.


Mike anderson created this beautiful stern roller.


It lines up with the main sheet cleat which doubles as a chock and leads to the winch for kedging.


You won’t find anything in Sookie that can be had at your local West Marine or any other chandlery, each piece is unique to her.


The cleats, a gift for a friend, the bronze a gift for Sookie. 

Boat jewelry is a very important part of outfitting and Sookie is bedazzled from bow to stern, adorned with love and living proof of why I have no breakfast.


Peice by piece every inch of her has or is in the process of being replaced, she’s been loved hard and hung up wet.

Unlike any other FC  in the world, each piece fabricated for her, cast in clay her bases and elbows cooled from a molten bronze to shiney, salty art.  The hands of a dozen of the worlds greatest shipwrites have touched this little girl and the never ending process continues.


ABI teak blocks are a perfect match for her new tiller.


Her new bowsprite is crowned with a bronze cranze iron, the mold made by Larry Pardey and casted by Port Townsend Foundry, they also made the bronze FC caps for her mooring bits and haws holes.


With each new piece and each new journey Sookie gets a little bigger and a little closer to her former glory.  Her previous caretaker ken now sailing his BCC in Tahiti told me he regretted letting her go.  Roger Olsen who built her and many of her sisters told me the Falmouth Cutter was his favorite of all boats and I have to agree


If you look closely you can see her stainless steel gammon iron also fabricated by Mike Anderson. These things can’t be rushed, not one single project on Sookie has been anything other than perfection, I figure another hundred grand to finish what I had drawn out five years ago and she is worth every penny, every hour and every cut and bruise that has gone into her.  So I’ve missed a few meals to create my dreams, lived in ungodly places when the boat was in the shop and scrimped sacraficed and saved.  I might not get to eat my Wheaties today but I can tell you with 100% convictions that sitting in my quater berth sipping on piping hot coffee without a care in the world, every single sacrafice has been well worth it.


Simplicity is the ultimate in sophistication.

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Walk the plank

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Going out to the end of my 5′ bowsprite when it’s rough out feels like walking the plank. Over the years I’ve been working with Carol Hasse on the  perfect head sail. I’ve never been a fan of roller furling but because of Sookies narrow beam and long bowsprite I’m ready to bite the bullet.  I want to start racing Sookie this year and every little bit will help.


 I failed miserably on my loose luffed Storm Jib tri sail combo and while on paper it seemed a good sail in realty I got a slap on the wrist and sent back to the drawing board, A third reef will go into my main. My goal in sail management is to only have one adittioanl sail to my all plain sail base set up.  Two sets of reef points will be set into my staysail and the storm jib will be sold.


My new lapper can be rolled into a Yankee or rolled all the way in. I’m hoping a smidge of cloth rolled out will help bring my bow closer to the wind when it’s really blowing and help spread the load of all my fully reefed sails.  When we point our bowsprite across the line Sookie will be carrying a full cruising load and we still expect to surprise quite a few racers. 


You might think I’ve won the lottery because I also sent off for a quote from Iverson‘s for a new dodger. Life moves pretty quickly around here, if you don’t pay attention you might just miss it.  My new journey on Sookie is the exact opposite of any direction I have ever sailed, doors are opening right and left and for the first time in a very long time I’m sitting still, biding my time and my goal is to drop every penny I make this year into finishing this little girl.  The racing scene will feed my sailing soul and the design process will queclch my trapped spirit as I head back into the work force in a few months.  I’ve been camping to long, it’s time for a bit of yachting..  One soul, two minds, four eyes, that’s what I have written on the little piece of paper over my bunk.  I repeat the words often.

“In general, I hope to contribute to a world where we value skills and relationships over careers and money, where we know better than to trust cops or politicians, and where we’re passionate about building and creating things in a self-motivated and self-directed way.”-Moxie Marlinspike 

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Smoke signals

I wake to the worst hang over I’ve ever had, the boat looks like a typhoon has had its way and I think maybe it has. Good friends kidnapped me, it’s been too long since the last time I’ve seen them, far to long.  Four adults one baby crew member and two crazy dogs…  My calander has 3 days to get the boat ready for the newest member of our tribe and then 3 more to get the boat ready to slip her lines.


May 16th, I have exactly $48.00 in my life savings, enough to pay for a month of cell service and continue the blog from my inland sea, or I could buy food for the journey. I feel a tipping point, I don’t know if i want to share my life any longer, this has been a long time coming. Maybe deep down I am a solo sailor and solo but on the surface it’s anything but.  I can sell my camera and iPad and buy enough food for the whole summer.

Self steering
I’m failing miserably at quitting smoking that problem will, solve itself soon enough. For the first time ever I want a job, dock master sounds like a fun way to spend the summer but it’s not materializing.  I have a hand shake deal on a windvane all I have to do is pay for it.  I make a few notes in my journal, this might actually become a sailing blog.  I’m headed to Bellingham at some point, then Port Townsend and need to find myself in Victoria by my birthday for an all out bash, two good friends finishing a circumnavigation and me starting out on my own new journey

From the log of Sookie “I’m never drinking again”, piled in my bunk sipping a Virgin marry, thumbing through a hundred charts. 

“Here I came to the very edge where nothing at all needs saying, 

everything is absorbed through weather and the sea, 

and the moon swam back, 

its rays all silvered, 

and time and again the darkness would be broken 

by the crash of a wave, 

and every day on the balcony of the sea, 

wings open, fire is born, 

and everything is blue again like morning. ” 

~ Pablo Neruda

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Small is beautiful

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Bit by bit Sookie Sookie is starting to gleam. When I finish she will almost look like a new boat but the cruising life is a hard one for boats and by Summer’s end the whole process will need to be done again.


I might have an opportunity to ship Sookie to So Cal for some winter sailing but I can’t help wonder if that is where I want to be. My heart lies here, the Caribbean my mistress.  I hear screams on the dock, more powerboats from the mainland with more money than brains.  The cracking of fiberglass and screeching bending of steel.  It’s almost if this guy has never skippered his  47′ Bayliner before.  Can I survive back on the mainland?  Sookie is diminutive in physical size but her design and build are larger than any scale can measure.  At sea she is more, in close quarters she is more than less.

The yachties are coming and I need to flee, they show up at midnight flashlights all over the dock, smashing thier crabs beside my boat to keep thier area clean.  Boats lit up like a Christmas tree and stereos thumping horrible music.  The names they put on thier boats make you wonder how a human with such a deep lack of creativity can earn enough to buy these boheamaths large enough to hang Sookie on ther Davits.

A friend wants me to come to the Caribbean buy a big boat and charter it for income.  Dare I let these soul dead gringos into my home?  To many options so I crawl into Sookies cozy cabin, she is warm inside and has almost everything I desire writhing arms reach.  No decisions will be made today.  I have to get Sookie ready for…

“An attitude to life which seeks fulfilment in the

single-minded pursuit of wealth – in short, materialism – does not fit into this

world, because it contains within itself no limiting principle, while the

environment in which it is placed is strictly limited.” 

― Ernst F. Schumacher, Small Is beautiful

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Men in kilts

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A knock at my front door and my groundskeeper asked me to move my Harley.  I was wearing nothing but my Utilikilt and my Chacos.  With a Yelp from bare skin on the hot leather seat I fired the beast up, her throaty pipes always got my juices flowing.  Her name was Hope, with a thump she went into gear .  As usual when I’m straddling Hope I suffer from a total lack of rational adult restraint and went tearing out the drive.   

Down the road I ran into a party crossing the street, a dozen guys in kilts and a dozen girls in mini kilts, it looked like a wedding and they went Bazerk. For show I popped a wheelie, kilt flying in the wind and the pop of the sheriffs siren. I know Incline Village like the back of my hand and there was no way this copper was going to put the kibosh on us. I rolled on the throttle and leaned into the turns I love a good game of cat and mouse and it was on. 

But I’m getting ahead of myself click back a few years to Madison Wisconsin. My then girl friend and soon to be ex wife had brought me a gift, it was a dress.  I smiled and patted her on the head in an endearing way.  ” there is absolutely no way in hell Im putting that thing on”.  She smiled at me with her huge round and pouty eyes.  Flinging her butt length hair from front to back she inhaled puffing her perfectly sculpted chest in its very papery thin and low cut tank and smiled.  ” actually you are going to wear it and not only that but your taking me out to dinner tonight in it”.  “Or what I replied”.  ” or I’m never going to sleep with you again”.

15 minutes later walking into the restaurant I wondered how many people were going to get punched in the face for off comments on my man dress.  Oddly enough I only got welcome, lots of attention from the girls and nobody got punched in the face.  With its easy access the best was yet to come but my mom reads this so I’m keeping my mouth shut…sorry mom 😉

I wore that Mountian Hardwear kilt across America, hiked the pacific crest trail, I fished in it, sailed in,it ran in, it free climbed  in it and even almost won the Kirkweed big air contest in it on  skis, it was a boarding contest but the kilt afforded me special access all that day and night.  Eventually I upgraded to a Utilikilt which was pinched from the Bellingham Marina laundry so now I wear my stupid purple skirt, um man kilt which an ex gave me for gardening when I lived on the bunny ranch.  Love them or hate them don’t knock it till you’ve tired it.  I still have my original mountian kilt and wear it every time my bare feet set off down the trail.

“It’s a kilt dumbass, it’s only a skirt if I’m wearing underwear.” -Damon Suede

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The spice islands 

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The lazy afternoon had me on my hands and knees crawling through rich black soil helping out at the cummnity garden.  Today I learned why there are no sailor girls on Lopez, they are all farmers.  It was a beautiful afternoon of hard work, exactly one and a half hours which almost exceeded my daily maximum  and a another 30 bucks in the kitty. When it rains it pours.


Cans, boxes, packages, jars and bottles, the sailors diet is an odd one.  The take every opportunity to eat fresh and local but having a dry veggie locker due to my own forgetfulness I rifled though the cubbards for a real treat.  Fresh back from the jacuzzi feeling clean and happy but almost too exausted to cook.  I scored big time when I found a real box of velveeta Mac and cheese. I’ve never once in my life had this, I always get the nasty organic kind.  10 minutes of boing water and a huge pinch of dried red peppers and it was chow time.  I wouldn’t  go as far as saying it even tasted good but it filled my depleted body with much needed calories.  Two glasses of wine and I was down for the count practically before the sun.

In my big boat fantasies I have a small herb garden in deck, piles of space to store a canner and hundreds of glass jars, ready to be filled with the bounty of spring.  For now it’s the farmers market and and dried black and red pepper.  I’ve been saving for a full half pound of organic black peppercorns the staple base of everything I cook.  Im convinced that fresh garlic and black pepper with a but of canned butter can make anything taste good on canned food day.

I’m no better of a gardener  than I am a cook but I’ve got a strong  back, a firm grip and enough desire to continue exploring barefoot through the garden of Eden this sleepy little island chain provides me.

“Everything that’s innocent to us is crazy to them.” 

― Ernest Hemingway, The Garden of EdenIf you enjoy this site please feel free to throw a buck at my Patreon page, it’s much appreciated 🙂

Paradise

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The still of the morning matches my mood.  Deep restful sleep filled with dreams of simple living in a world my eyes see opened or closed. Last night a girl hurtled herself off the dock, my neighbors saved her.   Desperation, disalusioned, angry, hopelessness, I see this more and more in a world slowly going insane. But why?

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I spent the morning corralling $7.97 from my Patreon account, it’s a lifeline and one I’m unbelievably greatful to have. I also pulled $50.00 from my paypal acoount, food for another month, I’ve turned the point, I’m going to live and not just survive but thrive.  It’s been a massive struggle since arriving back on the island.  The cold, the lonlieness of Chloe not being here with me, my dtysfunctioning brain, no work…

Why? Why would anyone do this to themselves? My medical community wants to put me on disability, retired for life, quadruple what I need to live free and happy.  Every few years this comes up when my eyes shut down, I refuse.  I could take the money and the easy ways out but then Art of Hookie would be dead.  Regardless of weather you get my writing or not it’s my tiny mark on the world, it’s my art.  A free ride through life would make this entire journey one big lie.  The struggle to live is what I live for, it isn’t about boats or bikes or island life. It’s about being an artist a writer and a photographer, it’s about living a true and authentic life.   As I peck these words out my eyes are straining and watering, I’ll be dizzy for the rest of the day, I shouldn’t write, it’s even worse when I use the camera.

So im an occasional starving artist who has a passion about simple words and bending light, and in all of the pain and suffering I go through I find solace in the fact that I am living my dreams eyes wide open.  Today I’m splurging, I pulled my secret sugar out of its locker and opened a tiny can of condensed milk to add to my coffee.  Man tacos for breakfast, cabbage, vinager and touch of secret sauce and a quarter of an onion, nirvana.

When I lay my head down tonight I might feel a slight pang  of hunger but I’m not underfed, not physically or emotionally. When I sailed away from the dock three years ago, penniless I had a dream, to make it 25 simple miles and find a new home.  I can’t help but wonder if more people would just listen to thier hearts perhaps there would be just a little bit less desperation in this world.  No boat today, no bike, no more writing and no camera.  Today I will walk in any direction I choose.  I will commune with the island bunnies, bird watch and pet every dog I meet, I’ll talk to the horses and cows and maybe get to play with a snake.

No this blog isn’t about sailing, or biking or… It’s about following my passion to the end of the road.  Who knows what I’ll find when I get there but who cares, my life has no script, no chart and no map.  Every day is the first day of my life.

“I have no taste for either poverty or honest labor, so writing is the only recourse left for me.”  -Hunter S Thompson 

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Are big boats safer than small boats

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I was recently asked this question and answered that no boat is larger than the sea.  More and more people are telling me my boat is too small.  I think that their is a brainwashed category of people that think small sailboats are unsafe.  There is common theory that a perfectly operating large boat will always be safer than a perfectly operating small boat and while I can agree on this in theory in reality it isn’t always true.


A friend of mine who is regarded as one of the most knowledgable and able sea men in the region used to always tell me my boat was too small and too simple to be safely sailed long distance.  While I think I have proven him wrong I always thought that his multimillion dollar 50′ fully equipped custom built cruiser was a poor choice and unsafe for many reasons that don’t really matter.  When his boat sunk after hitting a reef it went down so fast he couldn’t get to his deck mounted life raft to deploy it and it went down with his ship.  His dinghy trailing behind him literally saved his life.  

In this instance my boat is substantially safer for a few good reasons.  First and foremost my shallow draft would have never hit the reef in the first place my draft being literally a third of what his was.  More importantly not having radar, a depth sounder or a sophisticated satellite navigation system I have to pay attention at all times.  I do this by reading the water and my charts often. Even when it’s really scary I love the simple act of navigation and with my shallow draft I have put Sookie in many places that no one in thier right mind would venture with even a six foot draft.  I have also found many hidey holes that simply are  not accessible to larger ships.

I think money is the biggest safety factor in that most people with large boats simply can’t afford to maintain them properly or at least that’s what I see with my eyes everywhere I go.  Smaller boats still cost a bloody fortune but not a tenth of what the larger ones do both in terms of money but also in time.

I have a rule that if I can’t fix it with my own two hands, I don’t have it on the boat.  With the exception of that beautiful new motor hanging off the back of my boat I can blindly maintain, fix and or rebuild anything on Sookie in the dark with one hand tied behind my back and I know that I have the tools because I uninstalled and reinstalled every single thing on the boat.  

So back to the question of safety. If you can’t hand pull your anchor, manhandle your sails in a gale, navigate without electricity, or sail your boat on and off an anchor in thirty knots of wind you might rethink how long your larger boat is safer than my small sailboat.  Things on boats fail often and it’s rarely in good weather or close to a chandlery, so depending on how you look at it both large and small boats are safer to some degree.

I’ve been spastically wanting a boat just a few feet longer so I can have guests aboard, room for a heater, a winter shower and more stores but the longer I look the more I realise I simply don’t like any boats more than Sookie. I try to find a way to love these larger more sophisticated craft and while I certainly admire them to the end of the world I just can’t fall in love with them.  I’ve been afflicted with two feet itis but I think it’s mostly from listening to the joneses and all of thier  reasons why my boat is too small.  

The lovely thing about cruising is that planning usually turns out to be of little use.

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You gotta know when to fold them

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You got to know when to hold them, know when to fold them.  Know when to ride away and know when to thumb. You never count your mileage, when your riding down the hwy there will be time enough for counting, when the pedalings done.


I’ve taken a much needed breather from Sookies annual maintenance to get Brompty ready for her next adventure. Now on her second set of tires I feel she has more than proven her ability as a long distance touring bike as well as a grocery getter and all around urban assault vehicle. 


I did an OCD amount of research and test riding when I was on the hunt for a good folding bike and it’s of my opionion that the Brompton is far and away the highest quality build, best riding and fastest, easiest and most compact fold.  This bike is a work of art although dragging it through 6 inches of  Hawaiin mud I cursed my bad fortune the whole 10 miles.  It was completely useless in those conditions as I suspect any bike would be.  


I have unfinished business in those islands and now that Sherrif John Brown has been dealt with I’m thinking about a short trip to finish the forbidden Hwy, this time I think I’ll remove my fenders and rack and opt for a front bag and seat bag with a small day pack for extra water and stores on the long haul. 


I haven’t done any upgrades and while her pedals, seat and grips are adequate to get the job done I think I will find a suitable replacement for all three. I’m one of the fortunate few who knows exactly what saddle was built for my body and it can picked up in and LBS in America. 


My preferred cycling shoes are still my Chacos and this year I’ll splurge for a real tent. The one man tent was like sleeping in a coffin but nice to carry size wise even if it was the most useless tent on the planet when it came to keeping water out.  This year I hope to opt for a one man, one woman tent which will be cramped  in a good way.


My long term sailing plans are slipping through my fingers as winter is rapidly approaching but I have a long shot at a job with a dock so there will be pleanty of time to get Sookie ready to ship east before the first flakes of winter settle on her decks.  If your not on the water right now you better get going because fall is just a few short weeks away..

“Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door. ” 

― Coco Chanel

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Mom

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My first car was a 1968 Volkswagen bus.  My mom made it into a home with a bed and privacy curtains and a big smiley face painted on the front spare tire cover.  It was in that van that I first discovered the freedom of travling with my home.  My personal surf shack and a safe place to lay my salty head at night.  I lost my virginity in that van and discovered the world of freedom that I would occupie at any cost for the rest of my life.


Exploring the California coast for surf, that van created my first and some of my best memories of freedom.  Back before Instagram and Facebook and blogs and all the other forms of social media I quietly lived my life as a surf bum.  I worked hard to keep enough money in my pocket to fill the tank and buy a burger at the end of a long day on the water.

California has one of the largest populations of great white sharks in  the world, Carcharodon carcharias, I learned to live in harmony with them.  When the Grunion fish would run the great whites would give berth to the cutest little torpedo like creatures you have ever seen.  We would dive the beaches at night with our powerful lights watching these beautiful little fish in thier feeding frenzie.  I was 16 the first time I caught  a great white in my bare hands held the mighty beast becoming one with its power and the power of the sea.

Young eyes, wide open and the freedom to roam.  Some people migh blame my mother for my hippie, vagabond ways but I will always thank her.  I have always been given the freedom and support to follow my dreams to the end of the path less taken, I love you mom 🙂

“But there’s a story behind everything. How a picture got on a wall. How a scar got on your face. Sometimes the stories are simple, and sometimes they are hard and heartbreaking. But behind all your stories is always your mother’s story, because hers is where yours begin.” 

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A fish out of water

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When Sookie arrived in Bellingham from a tiny obscure storage yard in the Port of Los Angeles her hatch was wide open and everything inside was wet.  The gimbal on her stove was sheered clean off and the beautiful side load teak and rosewood door of her refrigeration unit was broken beyond repair.  I was just happy to have my boat as it had literally been kidnapped by my cooked shipping company.


This is one of my favorite images in my memory banks, her captain circumnavigated solo.  I love the fact that the first circumnavigation on this fine design was done by a sailor girl.

There is nothing in The world more un natural than a boat out of water and I’m already freaked out at the prospect of shipping Sookie again.  I sent out for three shipping quotes although I really wish I had a trailer for her.  I sent a letter to  Yves Gélinas  for help with his Cape Horn wind vanes.  Sent one last plea for the vane I want, maybe the seller will change his mind.  I hired a broker to list Sookie and before the end of the day I will submit an offer on a Halberg Rassey 36 in Italy. I’m not even remotely freaked out about buying a boat sight unseen, it’s actually an adventure and I can fix anything I need to when and if I arrive.

So I’ve opted for every channel on the planet to getting back to warm water.  Sell, ship or sail it’s all very exciting.  Deep down shipping is what I want most, Sookie would love the Caribbean.  I can already feel the smooth cobble stone roads under my feet, the history of pirates and sailors and the legends of lost gold.  It’s time to resume my treasure hunting ways.

Sipping on a glass of Caribbean rum I could taste the dry warm breeze of the tropical paradise that will be my home before Christmas I snuggled into my berth as Orion slipped into the horizon.  I’ve been missing Chloe more that ever and with so many dogs on the dock it makes me feel even more alone, she was always my right hand.  Just before blowing out the lantern I re read the letter inviting me to sail those beautiful waters, tonight I fell fast asleep dreaming of sugar white sand and water clear enough to see my toes, I’m going to need a new Jolly Rodger and I have a few good ideas. 

It was the kind of town that made you feel like Humphrey Bogart: you came in on a bumpy little plane, and, for some mysterious reason, got a private room with balcony overlooking the town and the harbor; then you sat there and drank until something happened.” 

― Hunter S. Thompson, The Rum Dairy

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Alone together

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A sea of land separates two lost wanderers for the wind.  Forgive me if I fantasize if only for a fleeting  moment.  Alone, that word strikes fear in my heart, my mind, body and soul, alone, alone, alone… But what if you never had to be alone, not ever and that’s my dream; alone, together. two kindred spirits slowly exploring the world from a tiny unfinished boat.  A boat smaller than some yachters dinghies, with a plastic bucket and a warm dry interior.  It isn’t really all that far fetched. I’m half way there, we both are. Ship the boat to Florida or sell out and move to the Carribean I’m all in…


The universe is up to her shinanigans again, she has been testing me as she likes to do and I have heeded every call and right now, this very second and maybe for the next as well the journey continues.  I feel her strength and optimism.  Sure there will always be a gale to test our resolve but we have weathered Many storms both at sea and at the dock.  As a skilled sailor I know these weather patterns will pass and more just like them will blow through but that’s all they are, hollow masses of hot air.


So fueled with a little bit of blind temptation the journey feels more real than ever.  Bare tanned feet, bikinis and mankinis hanging from the lifelines while fully tanned naked bodies splash and frolic in a crystal sea.  I may be a Shity cook but I’m fully capable of passing a hot meal to the smiling face at the helm and that’s where this dream is sailing, south and east and south again.  It’s time to find a new home waters.

Until you have been hopelessly lost, you can never be found. From  the log of Sookie, dreaming of blue water

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White cliffs to coral reefs

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I woke to the pitter patter of rain and smiled, today I get a day off.  Digging through my library I realized I’ve read all of my books twice, I took the whole lot and donated them.  The search continues for a book I’ve wanted to read for over twenty years, White cliffs to coral reefs.  My second favorite boat on the planet a Vetue 25, different from Sookie in every way but still an easy on the eyes salty little blue water cruiser.


The debate continues, I’m looking to add a bit of chain to Sookie, 100′ to be exact and I go back and forth between 1/4 and 5/16 HT. The smaller is more than strong enough but it’s harder to pull and it sounds girly running out the Chain pipe.  My 5/16 on the other hand sounds like a ship in from the sea as that old familiar sound tells me I’ve made yet another safe passage as it sounds the alarm that it’s beer thirty.  I don’t ever drink a drop inside of 50 miles from the nearest shore unless I’m a passanger or crew.

Today is a lay day and another trip to the bank will happen eventually so I can get one of those magic plastic cards that holds my meager life savings.  My journal and calculator are my tools for the day, I want roller furling but it’s more weight to the bow, more windage and like my new lifelines and stanchions, detracts from the lines of my little cutter.  With her relatively narrow beam of 8′ her whisker stays are too close together to sit in while working the jib so I have to straddle the bowsprite bronco style when I want to change or remove sails.

Jib bags are also on the drawing board as the sail storage bags I’ve been using aren’t even remotely idea and a real pain to use, now sun faded and worn thin.  I doubt they will last the season but I have many friends with sewing machines so this will be a fun project.  I’ve also started a new sailing club and working on designing a delta flag with AOH lightly embossed over it.  If your not familiar with the delta flag it says stand clear, manovering with extreme difficulty.  A joke my friend conceived years ago when we were all engineless.  As the years thunder by each of us has added a reliable outboard that we try and never use.

It’s noon and my day is rapidly slipping away as the lazy May sun turns its clock like path to the crystal blue waters I hope to see someday soon.  For now I’m in liveaboard mode making the best use of my time that I can until I’m ready to make the big left turn.  Ok maybe one more cup of coffee before I head out.

4:00pm life altering, well maybe, we shall wait and see…

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

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The bank job

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I think I have fallen further off the grid than anyone I have ever met. It wasn’t intentional, more like a sideways spiral to freedom but freedom is never free.  Now that I’m a virtual bagillianaire thanks to Patreon I need to open a bank account to collect on the loot.  I cant say for sure but I think it’s been over five years since I’ve had a bank account, pretty much as long as I’ve had Sookie, and um yes thats how long I have been dirt broke and free from the binds that tie so to speak.


No phone, no bills, no credit cards, no mail, no keys, no address, no, no, no!  I remember years ago sitting on the Balboa Ferry headed to Newport Beach in my Porsche, Chloe in the passanger seat and my flash watch that cost more than Sookie glinting in the late August sun.  This beautiful babe walks up to say hi.  “It’s not my car, it’s not my dog and it’s certainly not my watch”. I say to her.  You should have seen the look she gave me.  I knew her type all to well, gold digging baby factory looking for a free ride in this world. Might sound harsh but it’s not easy being a young, wealthy and dashingly good looking man.  The problem is, she wasn’t seeing me for my uncommonly quick whit,  innocent curiosity or natural good hearted nature, she saw $$ signs, lots of them. Insert rap beat, a money waterfall and the lyrics ” I can make it rain money on your ass”.  

I inserted this story because I was damn near the straw that broke the camels back, 36 years old and about to give away my life savings and walk away from everything in a desperate act to save my soul.  I had worked my ass off and for what? I was lonely and alone surrounded by a sea of gold diggers.  Now at the polar opposite I find a strange calm and happiness in having very little.  What few items I possess I cherish and take care of as well as humanly possible.  I used to give money and it made me feel good, now I give my time and it makes me good.  

If I sound jaded it’s because I am. I wasted half my life chasing idol gods, found the perfect boat and lost it due to divorce, found a new boat and the economy crashed taking my livelihood away. Now my fucking eyes… Fear is what rules my world these days, fear of sailing alone. I searched my soul and found that this is the life I choose and while I’ve had many offers to join me, there have been none that fit. Sailing small boats is who I am, sailing solo is who I was but not anymore.  

In two weeks I have to hang up my dreams or face my biggest fear, loneliness. If I do sail out of here it will be on a wing and a prayer as I have dwindled my lockers to a few weeks of food and once I purchase fuel for the stove and register the boat I’ll be flat broke. Almost three years ago in the same situation I left Bellingham penniless and not only survived but thrived. It’s one thing to sail solo. in a complete boat but I’m nowhere near even being basically outfitted for solo sailing. Being in inland waters is all the worse as I can’t get any breaks form the tiller, she is both my master and my servant.

Sitting by the fire in a warm house drinking a nice cold micro brew it’s easy to imagine fighting the ravage seas for days on end with no sleep or nutrition, actually doing it is something only one in a billion will ever experience and survive. There are days when I wake and scream at the top of my lungs, WTF am I doing, then the next day I’m just blindly pushing forward. There is a reason for everything in this world, right now I’m just waiting around to see what that is.  Dear… Please sell me your fucking windvane, it belongs at sea, not in a box in your storage unit 🙂 

So I’m at the bank and they tell me I need a permanate address to have a bank account.  I do I told them but it keeps moving, it’s a boat.  I’ve fallen right back into the rat race, other people’s rules, restrictions on my private life, I felt like a monkey jumping through a hoop for the honor of giving them my money so they can pay me zero interest and loan it to you at 18 percent.  Annoyed as hell I left the bank but I have to say, it also almost felt good.  Waking up everyday not knowing where your next meal will come from or how you will do your laundry or take a shower isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  Yes freedom??? Are any of us really free or is it just an illusion  that keeps us all greased up little cogs in the corporate wheel.  Yes I remember those days when I had a lock on my door and a warm office to sit in wishing my life away.

“This planet has – or rather had – a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movement of small green pieces of paper, which was odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.” 

― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy 

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Hotel California 

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When you say it out loud it starts to feel real.  When you put it into writing it becomes proficy.  I’m not the only one, we chat dockside and I say it again.  If I can’t get this trip together I’m packing up and shipping out on the bike.  I write my words in my journal, my future is altering course. 


Sookie is the best little home in the world, I hate the idea of leaving her again in the boatyard but I need movement, exploration and new terrain for my eyes.  A story teller constantly needs new material, new experiences and a constant dose of tiny exploration.  The bike is ready, I’m ready and the world is waiting for me to explore it in my slow meandering style.  The seeds for this journey were planted somewhere riding down one of a thousand lonely roads in Hawaii. Cycling isn’t a hobby or a sport for me, it’s a way of life.

Small tents, camp fires and a cool can of beer at the end of a long day.  Roadside snacks, micro brew tastings and every vineyard  from here to there.  Afternoon thunderstorms wash away the searing heat of the mid day sun on a painfully hot blacktop that never ends.   You’ll never know what’s out there if you don’t look.  Years ago hitchhiking through Mexico I ended up at the Hotel California, I smiled content with my discovery as I had never thought of it as a real place.  

All I need is a pile of fresh maps, a good bottle of water and the sheer will to push my bike over the next horizon.  I wish I could say that this is one of those coin flipping situations but I think the road to my future has already been paved.  

Mirrors on the ceiling.

The pink champagne on ice

And she said “We are all just prisoners here, of our own device”

And in the master’s chambers,
They gathered for the feast

They stab it with their steely knives,

But they just can’t kill the beast.

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Payday

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I woke to an email from Patreon telling me it was payday and that I have $7.97 in my account waiting for me, it might as well have been a million dollars.  To celebrate I opened a can of condensed milk and added it with a pinch of sugar to my coffee, two things I never do.


Ten years of  blogging has taught me many things.  When I added a buy me a beer button last year it went against everything I stood for but I’m changing and growing.  The addition of the Patreon account was a bit painful until I realized the glory of getting paid to do what I love most.  This very well may be the most boring blog on the planet but my choice is to accept donations and keep writing or get a job and write nothing, it still may come to that or maybe I will find a happy medium.  I’ve also reconciled with the big sailing rags and while my boycott of commercial sailing might be over I’m still not putting stamps on any of my feature articles

In the pandemonium of arriving back at Sookie and getting her back into ship shape I completely forgot that I had finished Boatyard Pirates and am the push of a button away from publishing.  Being that it’s me in charge I have lost the book altogether, I literally don’t have a clue as to where it is so i guess I’m out on that one.

Nothing much exciting to write about, just another day of waxing,  painting, varnishing, loosening, tightening, adding and subtracting.  I have 8 days to figure it all out before I have to cast off from the Marina and still no oars for my very old rubber dink.  The simple life is a good one with simple problems that are easy to solve.  I just finished the last coat of wax on my hull and slowly but surely Sookie is starting to look more like a yacht than a workboat.  The second we leave the dock all of my hard work will start to undo itself until I redo her for winter which again will kill all of my hard work until the whole process starts over again in the spring.

“The job is what you do when you are told what to do. The job is showing up at the factory, following instructions, meeting spec, and being managed.  Someone can always do your job a little better or faster or cheaper than you can.  The job might be difficult, it might require skill, but it’s a job.

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

I call the process of doing your art ‘the work.’ It’s inpossible to have a job and do the work, too.   The job is not the work.”  Unknown

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Ride your fucking bike

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Eight straight hours in the sun fried me so today I’m in hiding even though I will at some point have to get back out there and continue with my days projects.  Surfing the web I found this interesting little story and while I doubt that it really happened it made me smile.  Each and every day I try and find ways to make my footprint smaller.  This is nearly impossible as boats are by nature one of the most toxic beasts on the planet.  Nothing about boating is green, a challange or sure but a endeavor worth perusing.

Brompton
Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the much older lady that she should bring her own grocery bags, because plastic bags are not good for the environment.The woman apologized to the young girl and explained, “We didn’t have this ‘green thing’ back in my earlier days.”

The young clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.”

The older lady said that she was right — our generation didn’t have the “green thing” in its day. The older lady went on to explain:

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. But we didn’t have the “green thing” back in our day.

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags that we reused for numerous things. Most memorable besides household garbage bags was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our school books. This was to ensure that public property (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags. But, too bad we didn’t do the “green thing” back then.

We walked up stairs because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.

But she was right. We didn’t have the “green thing” in our day.

Back then we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throw away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts. Wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that young lady is right; we didn’t have the “green thing” back in our day.

Back then we had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she’s right; we didn’t have the “green thing” back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blade in a r azor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But we didn’t have the “green thing” back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service in the family’s $45,000 SUV or van, which cost what a whole house did before the”green thing.” We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.

But isn’t it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the “green thing” back then?

When it comes to health and fitness the cure and prevention for every single ailment is riding your bike.  If you want to save the planet stop fucking taking about it and ride your bike.  If you want to live a long healthy life ride your bike. If you are stressed out ride your bike, if you are poor, ride your bike.  If you are a natural born leader than lead by example and ride your bike.

The good life

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My young niece, a child the last time I saw her only a few months ago has bloomed into a woman, my brother at her side fishing for sculpin in the late afternoon sun. My mom sits next to me in the cockpit sipping on wine, her first visit to Sookie.  It’s been a long crazy day and we are all tired, fat full of my world famous man tacos, life is good in our quiet little Marina.


I look over at the young one, I wasn’t much older than her when I bought my first sailboat and a set sail.  It was the easiest thing I have ever done because it was what I wanted more than anything else in the world.  Now decades later having filled those dreams I look to distant horizons, a new and different way of sailing through life.  Looking out over the quiet bay at dawn, I realize it isn’t my dreams that have changed, it’s me that has changed.

I’m not that same person and my goals are now simpler and smaller although when I say smaller I say smaller from my current perspective, compared to a young Stormy they are like climbing Mt Everast but that’s what my simple life is, ever evolving to meet my current needs.  The islands  are magnificent at this time of year, the journeys slow and un choreographed, no rules, no goals other that to wake up every morning with a feeling of satisfaction in that I’m doing everything right, right now.  Today is one of those days, everyday is.  Life is what happens while we are making plans.

“You say, ‘If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.’ You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled.”   ― Charles Haddon Spurgeon

The real one percent 

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I hear the giggles being chased by tanned bare feet.  The liveaboard life is a fine life for the little ones.  I can only imagine it’s like living in J. R. R  Tolkins Shire.  Catching huge crabs off the dock, running barefoot through the spring grass, local farms and the farmers market, these young minds are living a life city kids couldn’t imagine in thier  wildest dreams.  I guess us grown up kids are doing the same as well.


Cleaning the boat for guests I found a killer bottle of wine and decided it would be a feast of all of my very well ripened veggies.  In the city these would be thrown in the trash but on my tiny footprint I eat everything.  In my ganja induced food coma I cranked reggae music and swayed to the beat as I chopped diced and spiced my gourmet meal.


There are no rules onboard Sookie, no curfew and no expectations other than to rejoice in the simple life and to keep our tiny footprint as small as possible.  I’m not a vegan or a veggie head yet 98 percent of my diet would suggest that I am.  I’ve chosen to commune with the briny deep I share company with, rather than to exploit it for my own benefit, not that for one second I disparage others that do.  I just happen so see the creatures of the sea and earth as my brothers and sisters.  I will however break with tradition on random occasions of cannibalism but it is an extreme rarity.


Crunchy kale, island heirloom tomatoes, fingerling potatoes, local garlic and onions, all these fruits of the land are my bounty.  My quinoa salad is a masterpiece topped with fresh dried spicy pepper seeds, cilantro and if I’m really splurging fresh fetta cheese from a local farm.


I pile everything in the steamer, throw everything but the kitchen sponge in my pot and cook it for 10 minutes to conserve fuel. Another ten minutes off the heat and I have a fancy dinner with exactly enough leftovers to heat up for breakfast with a few farm fresh eggs and a bit of spicy juice.  Simple living for sure and not for everybody but the perpetual smile on my face and well worn crows feet tell me I’m in to something good.


When it comes to finding the perfect liveaboard the key is to find a boat just small enough that you want to step out into nature at every available opportunity.  To find a boat you can almost afford, because let’s face it, I’ve never once met a person who can afford thier boat be it 100 foot motor yacht or a 15′ Montgomery.  The labor of love and sacrifice that we lavsh just a bit beyond our means, like a starving artist who is so passionate about creating thier masterpieces year in and year out with satisfaction and a life well lived as thier only rewards. The labor that you put into your boat and life will eventually pay off.  My best advice having done this for almost all of my life is to make your first boat your last boat, go slow, make your home your lifestyle, your art and your artistry and take her everywhere you go.  Sookie isn’t just a movable home, she is a moveable feast.

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” 

― J.R.R. Tolkien

How to safely cross the Straits of Georgia

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Fly you fools! And that was the best advice I was willing to give.  Ask any two sailors the same question and you will get three answers.  Personally I feel that preparation trumps experience 99% of the time but for that one percent, if you have to ask, your not ready.  Unfortunatly the only way any of us can become ready is by being a bonehead and getting caught up in it.

I’ve been a constant on the water front my entire adult life, It seems that there is an unlimited number of trophies when it comes to the Darwin Award.  Let’s face it, you know exactly what you are capable of and what you are getting yourself into. You also do or should know the limits of your boat, engine,  sails and rigging, both standing and running.  I’ve seen it turn from 3 knots to 35 in the course of 5 seconds on a weather report that called for light and variable winds. But wind is just wind, it’s the seas that will get you.  In my lifetime of sailing only on a handful of occasions have I seen anything meaner than I’ve witnessed in the straights of Juan de Fuca otherwise known as Juan de Puke ya and Jaun de fuck ya.
I still haven’t given up my dream of doing an engineless clockwise circumnavigation of Vancouver Island which means I’ll be putting Sookie though some bumpy conditions.  Her rig is good, her turn buckles have been pulled inspected and greased.  All sails are in good order including my new 38sq foot storm jib and all my running rigging has been inspected and passed.  Im a fair weather sailor and will be taking my time and watching the weather but as I learned the hard way when  I took my first of only two mast in the water knock downs 10 miles off the backside of Catalina, the weather can change in the blink of an eye.  Minus loosing my official Captians log and everything else in the cockpit there  was no damage other than maybe some mental damage to my crew.  I’ve also put Sookies masthead in the water which wasnt planned but turned out to be the final step in her renaming/christening process.

The only known weakness on Sookie other than the abilities of her captian is that in anything over 40 knots of sustained wind into the wind she starts to loose the battle fast.  She can reach and run just fine in those conditions and has on serveral exillerating occasions.  So back to the original question I was asked, there is absolutely nothing in the world that can prepare you for your first really big storm but a well maintained boat and a very close knowledge of how to use it will get you through.   When you least expect it, expect it.  On the flip side, 90 percent of my sailing has been in 12 knots or less of wind and that’s my type of sailing.

“Uncertainty is a temptress. We may try our best to avoid her. But what is certain is that at some point of time, she will find us. The only question that remains is whether like Medusa, she will paralyze you, or whether like one of the nine muses of ancient Greece, she will drive you to greater things.”   ― Richie Singh

A temple to the sea

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When I go to the sea I take my masters with me on every journey.  Robin lee graham, Lea, the Davis brothers, Karl, Larry Pardey and dozens more.  They are all there and it’s because of them that I am there.  I literally learned to read with the Dove and it was only a few short years later that I tracked them down, both Robin and Patti in a little mountian town, I was eight years old.


My tiller, hand crafted by Mike Anderson, my cranse iron by Larry Pardey, a beer bag from gentle flower my shackle wrench from Frenchie  and the lanyard from Captian sterling, the list goes on.  Every time I sail I look at my bronze pad eyes that hold my ABI main sheet blocks.  One day a good friend showed up with them and his drill and said lets go sailing.  A year later he showed up with more tools a bottle of tequila and a yuloh that he made for me.  

The giving and receiving of nautical gifts goes far beyond generosity, it represents good karma for the boat and safety at sea as does every single hand that has touched my tiller and passed yet another sailing lesson into my black box.  What I love most about small boats other than the fact that they are simply more fun to sail is that you are forced to be creative in how you set up thier living space.  It doesn’t matter where I look, there is a very special gift hanging from a little bronze hook.  I’m always on the lookout for little treasures in old marine chandleries that can be saved for a later date, I have collected a little box and try and keep it full at all times.  I still have the very I first gift I ever recieved, an aqua marine crystal that my mom gave me when I was 18 and found my first sailboat.  That crystal sailed all the way to Mexico with me and has been on every boat I have ever owned, it is stuck with a bit of wax on my cabin mirror as I type these words.

Boats aren’t things that you own, they are a part of your history and you’re  future, they represent the most powerful forces in nature, the wind and sea.  If your are fortunate enough to be the current care taker of a fine sailing craft maybe this weekend would be a good time to do a little primping and perhaps give your girl a bit of boat jewelry, I know I have something special in store for Sookie this weekend.

 From the log of Sookie- in a fit of rage, on some damn island. I just finished laying the best coat of varnish in my life.  Twenty minutes later a sea plane took off covering it with a fine layer of salty water, proof that there is no such thing as a finish coat. So is life when you live on a watery runway.

The edge

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Its interesting going through life not actually knowing if your going to live through the day.  With all the wonders of modern science they still can’t figure out what’s wrong with my brain.  I feel my life slipping away but it doesn’t really matter cause there is nothing I can do about it.

Boat knife

There are good days and bad, this whole week has been bad but I still find a way to get out and live.  Anchored in thirty feet of water I heard a splash and with it went my unreplaceable sailing knife given to me by my grandfather.  Sure I could just go buy another one but it wouldn’t be the same.  Sometimes we don’t fully appreciate what we have till it’s gone.  Like my life my little pocket knife gets my praise and appreciation every day.  It’s over 8 years old now and like my lost sailing knife this little gem holds a very sentimental attachment.  I’ve used this knife to the full extent possible from cooking to scraping blisters and inspecting rotten bulkheads and carving pieces of this or that for Sookies interior..  Using it in the line of my sailing duties I have pushed it far beyond it limits year in and year out. The only sign of wear is that the top handle is faded from the sun  where it sticks out of my pocket.  I’ve also used it in one way or another for every single project in Sookies refit.

Captains varnish

 

So my vertigo is annoying to no end, it’s like being seasick 18 hours a day but I do my best to carry on.  If Sookie is my last project I want her to look like a million bucks before I go to that big ocean in the sky.  Each morning I wake up content that I haven’t wasted a single day of my life and haven’t and won’t change any aspect of how I live.  I wonder why more people don’t take this approach always waiting for some magical date or…

Perfect varnish

It’s sac religious for me to sand down my beautiful wood again and again but I always know that when I’m done with my last coat she will be well protected and easy on th eyes until the next time.  Like my mind, my knifes and all other tools are cared for in he same manor, always well oiled and sharped.  I’ve been doing quite a lot of life assessment these days, it seems like a waste of time to be entering yet another midlife crisis when I don’t even know if I’ll make it through the day but it’s still fun to do.  Taking inventory of my life I have very little that was purchased new and while I certainly don’t have the best of everything, I make the best of everything.

Boat jewelry

Walking through the boatyard after a trash run, I’m surrounded by old, neglected and unloved boats  I wonder how they had fallen so far from grace.  Once loved and cherished both Shiny and new, they are now alone and lonely sitting in the yard of broken dreams.   One of the first things I tell new sailing students is that your boat will only love you as much as you love her.  I could write a hundred books of ships at sea and the storms I have sailed though but I don’t need to waste my time, one look at Sookie is all you need to know how much she loves and cares for me.

From the log of Sookie-April San Juan islands.   Talking to a passerby on the dock she asks “aren’t you afraid when your out there all alone and storms and dark and no help and no security.”  Yes I replied I am often afraid.  “Then why do you do it?”  Because if you aren’t afraid of the life you are living than you are not really living, you just sitting in the waiting room of death all warm and secure waiting for this ride to be over having never even experienced it. 

I dream of dinghy

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“Wherever we want, we go. That’s what a ship is, you know. It’s not just a keel and a hull and sails; that’s what a ship needs. Not what a ship is. What Sookie really is, is freedom. Now bring me that horizon.” -Stormy Sparrow 


The letter starts, “you are living my dreams Stormy” I stop right there and out loud correct her, nightmares, I’m living your nightmares.  So close yet so far away is a hard shore to navigate in a fog but it’s timing in this world that makes and or breaks everything.  I’ve all but given up on finding a hard dinghy that will safely sit turtle on Sookies dog house.  My last resort options are to design and build a little dink or suck it up and buy a soft deflateable one.  My Avon was the most bad ass dingy on the planet and near indestructible but it was heavy and it’s like towing a suction cup.

In the blink of an eye my Marina will go from a few bucks a day to 50 bucks a day so daylight is burning on the dinghy front.  My life’s options have about quadrupled this week in every single avenue of my life except for what to do with the boat and where.  I’ve had to throw all my thoughts into the wind and now only time and destiny will tell me my new direction.

I operate best when I have my back to the wall so I’m pretty excited to see what will happens next but I can’t be worried with my impending future just yet.  Sunday is my deadline for a 180 flip and that means I have 7 glorious days to play Peter Pan, stay up too late and sleep in as long as I’d like.  My soul mate, Katie is coming for a visit soon so the debotchery will continue   My nickname Stormy is quite fitting for me, hers should be hurricane.   She is a salty sailor out of Bellingham we met many years ago over a bottle of whiskey and a ciggi, yes that’s what I said, a bottle.

So I will burry my head in the sand for another week and then spin the bottle of chance and see which direction it points.  I really do miss the days when my surfboard was my dinghy and lifeboat and yes, it also worked quite well as a surfboard. More often than not the best solutions are right under our nose, it’s just that we aren’t looking in the proper direction to see them.

“The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Do you understand?” Stormy Sparrow

Dark and Stormy

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The very unfamiliar plink of ice had my mouth watering. Rum, ginger beer and lime juice.  The cast iron skillet sizzled away, Brompty under her step and a pink Bike Friday tucked neatly into the quater berth.  I heard a few drops of rain and climbed out to re set the awning, seconds later the sky opened up.  Trapped by the storm in Sookies warm interior I had captive company and I praised Mother Nature for her deluge, a perfect end to a bright and sunny day.


The San Juan islands if nothing else were made for cycle touring.  Never ending country roads and every one of them leads you back to where you began.  In my easy way I passed dozens and dozens on cyclists in thier neon day glow spandex.  Brompty isn’t for exercise, she is for fun.  I slowed for small talk with each cultist as I passed, me in flip flops and cotton work shorts.  The out of breath cyclists all reacted a bit differently to this odd duck as Brompty carried me on a leisurely ramble around the island.  Not 500 yards from the boat at the end of the day I passed a Bike Friday rider, “your seats too low” I chirped as I coasted by.  “Can you help me with it” was all I needed to hear igniting a nuclear explosion of cycle geekery.  Back at the boat I whipped up tuna wraps with fresh garlic and stuffed my guest while I gave her bike an over haul.


I pulled out piles of expedition weight warmies, we crawled into the for peak, with my iPad as gentle music swayed with the Rock and roll of the boat.  I shared pictures of Hawaii, Oregon and the islands as we talked of bicycle touring, employment, politics and what ever else popped into our heads.  The rain beat down on our decks like a thousand Indians beating thier drums.  We passed out like a pile of puppies, tired from a long day and one to many Dark and Stormy cocktails.  


I woke deep in the night to fingers running through my hair and a warm body spooned next to mine.  400 am breakfast and a dark ride back to the campground was as surreal as the dawn and has me rethinking my solo endeavors.  Life is to be shared…

“It is an absolute human certainty that no one can know his own beauty or perceive a sense of his own worth until it has been reflected back to him in the mirror of another loving, caring human being.” 

― John Joseph Powell

Pocket cruiser

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With a pop and whoosh my little hobb fires to life.  A hand full of fresh chopped garlic is thrown into the cast iron skillet and both the sizzle and the aroma please the senses.  I’m cooking a feast by the light of my lantern.  The sweet melodies of Bebe Gilberto echo through the cabin to the rhythmic chopping of cold Steel and hard wood, bits of veggies tumble to the floor, two eggs roll back and forth with the surge. I take a sip of my extra spicy Virgin Marry and smile, this is yachting.

Sailing blog
I was recently sent a picture of me sailing through the Desolation Sound, I was surprised by how small Sookie looked and how large I looked in the cockpit.  Sookie has never once felt too small for me yet somehow I am always eyeballing larger boats. Sure would be nice to have a Diesel engine, or space for a hard dinghy.  My mind wanders through all the what ifs yet somehow as nice as they are to think about I can never push the button.

Pocket cruiser

I have a full price offer on Sookie which is causing me great pain.  She is having issues qualifying for the dollar amount which secretly brings me great joy as the offer I’ve written on a turn key boat on the east coast that is 100% ready and waiting for me to take her to Bermuda isn’t my true love.   My offer hasn’t been accepted yet, maybe I’ll get lucky and they will say no.

San Juan islands

Cozy is the best way to describe Sookie, she fits me like a glove, sails like a dream and is the most beautiful boat I’ve ever laid eyes on.  Having my faithful pup at my side, I was never in a hurry to do anything other than to give her my undivided attention.  Now that she has gone to that big field in the sky I have an indescribable urge to sail far and free.  Not having the budget to finish this fine craft I more often feel trapped like a rat.  Is it just a boat I seek or is it a lifestyle?

Anchoring

The new boat is big and powerful and beamy with double roller furling headsails, a huge Diesel engine, a powerful windvane and even a water maker and dodger.  It was professionally outfitted by a couple that dove into the dream before they tried on the lifestyle.  Well over a hundred K into the boat, they want it gone, my offer is slightly half of thier investment and we are close.

Salty dog

Dining and chatting over the new boat I can’t help but wonder if it’s the biggest mistake I will ever make.  Will I lose that cozy factor?  I’ve owned some pretty large sailboats and even my Cal 40 wasn’t as fun to sail as Sookie, it was also way more boat than I needed.  If this all falls together I’ll be in Massachusetts in two weeks for sea trials and a lazy summer of learning the ropes of my new boat.  If it falls apart, well… Who knows.

“A big group of daily friends or a white painted house with bills and mirrors, are not a necessity to me—but an intelligent conversation while sharing another coffee, is.”
― Charlotte Eriksson

Down wind

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The only thing more annoying than sailing in a gale is sailing out of a gale and into a dead calm.  The life of a budget liveaboard voyager is one of never ending chasing.  Chasing the wind so we don’t have to use the motor, chasing fresh water cause we never carry enough, chasing work because we never stop moving for Long and chasing a better use of space because no matter how large a small boat is its always too small until spring outfit in which case no matter how small its always too big.

  
It isn’t all waterfalls, rainbows and perfect sunsets although I do get my fair share.  The task at hand on top of everything else in the world it to rig some lame sort of steering system and a way to safely navigate.  It’s always a dance to keep enough sandpaper and brushes without overdoing the budget or missing the good weather in the small doses we get it due to not having enough supplies.

The rudder is done but it’s only the beginning, rain is coming tonight so I’ve taken the day to hunt down exactly what I will need to finish Sookies rear end during the next short weather window.  At this time it’s hurry up and wait but I’d rather be onboard waiting that somewhere else hurrying up.

The Brompton  has come into her own delivering me in style form place to place as I buy the last little bits of this and that. I was able to skimp just enough to have a box of wine and a shower in the budget.  I’m still in my refit stage so as the green rolls in I grab a head of cabbage, a pile of eggs and a bag of potatoes and everything else goes into boat gold as I call it because anything made for a boar seems to be priced in gold.  Somehow I always pull off the right amount of refit with some outfit and exactly enough food and fuel to keep the fire stoked.  It’s a good life but not for most.

For the most part DINKS “double income no kids” have the best success in this life.  It’s really a godsend to have that extra set of hands and income but some of us pirates just aren’t willing to walk that plank.  I would say it’s a lot of hard work but I almost enjoy the process while I’m doing it and knowing my boat is unstoppable is a good feeling when your hundreds of miles from your home port.  It feels good to finally be back in the throws of it with bits of paint in my hair, tools scattered around the boat, a huge pile of something eatable in my big pot and just enough hooch to sit back at the end of a long day to admire the fruits of my labor.  It’s tape pulling day and arguably the best damn day of my life.

“There is an art to flying”, said Ford, “or rather a knack. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.” 

― Douglas Adams

My Patreon site is up and completely changed, if you enjoy the ramblings of a lunatic please feel free to dump a buck in the rum fund.

Made for escaping 

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Have you heard the news today…murder, rape, crime, hate, slimy polititions, and that’s all in Seattle less than a hundred miles as the crow flies from this utopian world I live in. Has the whole world gone mad? It’s cool this morning but I have the heater cranked, my big fluffy socks keep my toes wiggling and warm.  A super fuzzy jacket and my purple sailing kilt have my sleepy morning a blissful one.


My alltime favorite book and superhero is Forrest Gump.  It’s amazing how much you can accomplish in life if you can simply avoid the traps and anchors that hold us fast.  Freedom is a word I take very seriously and I’m not looking to some skeezy lying politition to provide it for for me.


An early morning ride on Brompty shakes the mad polluted world on the airwaves and reminds me it’s just a myth, living in the sewer is a choice, I’ve chosen a different path with different obstacles.  Fresh air, no traffic and an island that has what we call the Lopez solute, every person waves as they pass you by.


I’ve traded the persuit of little pieces of green paper for the persuit of green rolling hills with young sheep and goats lazily playing in the pastures.  My religion is love for my neighbors, no judgement and an extended arm, meal, or just some happy teasing for anyone who needs or wants it.  My prayer is appreciation for the weather and the many moods she brings me.


Actions speak louder than words and the way you live your life speak volumes over the tiny words that come out.  Natural power and off grid living is the surest way to save this planet and our souls.  Want to end war and child slavery, sell you car and stop shopping at Wallmart.  I don’t worry about my neighbors as I have my own battle to fight, typing on my second hand iPad I’m the problem, my second hand Nikon also shows that while I think I care I really don’t or I’d  refuse to purchase the byproduct of my tools of the trade.  It’s journey and while I get better each year I’ll never get there, just closer and closer.


I’m avoiding my boat chores by writing, it’s my job but one I love in ways I’m not capable of describing.  My fingers peck a little screen with a muted clicking noise and my story appears on a flat white screen, how far I have fallen from my lead pencile and a scrap of paper.  My log book is where I pour the secret inner working of my mind and my mental warm up to a more modern form of story telling.


Today is a day for giving and sharing.  Like every day, today started and will end on my little Brompton.  Sookie is my refuge, my little turtle shell and I’m in hiding, it’s a full moon which makes me batshit crazy.  Tonight when my island is asleep I’ll sneak out of my hole ride Sookie to the end of the road and run wild and naked though the woods howling to the moon with all the other creatures of the night.

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From the log of Sookie June 2011. I loved her like a hurricane, I loved her because she was dangerous, and so am I.  The collision of two fronts created the perfect storm.

Cup of noodles

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Your body can do it if your mind can.  I had to remind myself of this multiple times in persuit of riding my Little Brompton from sea level to the top of Maui’s highest peak Mt Haleakala.  I didn’t make to the summit that day, not because I gave up but because I made so many side tracks on the way to the top that I was losing my light and was wearing clothing fit for the beach, not the freezing rain I was experiencing at 8,000′.

Man cooking

Some things are better left for another day, living to your fullest potential isn’t one of those things.  When I finished WordPress it was a bit of a shock, I didn’t know what to do, for me it was almost like finishing the Internet, is that possible. Anyone that knows me knows that I move at a slow but steady pace, like the tortoise and the hair, eventually I’ll get there.  The problem is, if you wait to long to dive into what ever it is that you seek eventually you will be my age, then my fathers age, then my grandfathers age, then you will just stink like aged Swiss cheese with as many holes.

Starting the process is the hardest part, once this done nothing else matters because it’s all about the journey and yours has begun.  Sitting in the afternoon sun chatting with my neighbor and good friend Laura was the best use of my day, her new journey has already began and I have a feeling they will all sail to the moon and back by the time they are done.

Back on my side of the world I found a case of cup of noodles buried in my aft locker and it was a huge score, no cooking today just add hot water and… For me this is an adventure in eating, I would never have thought to purchase a cup of noodles let alone a whole case, I’m a Top Rahmen guy, or at least I was till I discovered this fine new treat.  Adventures come in all shapes and sizes depending on where you are in your life.  I have a friend who for the life of him can’t figure out why I’m not doing what he is doing, actually I did, when I was his age.  Now that I’ve literally done everything I’ve ever set out to do in this life my ideal adventure is just living free as I choose.  I know there is a Payday candybar somewhere this boat and even though I don’t really eat sugar I’m going to find it and…

Going through my logbook looking for some notes on journeys passed  I’m still a bit surprised I left last season with a jacked engine.  While I doubt I would ever do it again, nor would anybody in thier right mind, at the time it just seemed normal, it way my journey at the time.  If you want what may be the biggest adventure you will ever make, you don’t have to sail around the world, just throw your wallet and engine overboard, it’s a game changer in ways you can’t possibly comprehend having never done it.  Now that I have a brand new engine my new journey will be to learn how best to not use it.  I’m going so far off grid I’m gonna make cavemen look like city folk

From the log of Sookie, GALE WARNING! I can’t believe how fucking scary this is; theres like, whales and storms and fog and shit! Oh, and this useless God Damn metal hunk of shit hanging off my boat.  Today I learned the difference between sailing and having a motor on your sailboat.  When you have a motor you are just a passanger.  When you are engineless you are a sailor, a scared shitless sailor and I love being scared shitless.  I watch all the sailboats passing us under power.  They are all coming from the same place and going the same direction but our journey is far different than they could ever know.  Today I discovered the meaning of life as well and the recepie for the fountain of youth all rolled up in one world, challenge.

All roads lead to home

Flopped out naked in my V-berth the giant hatch let’s the days sun tan my fidly bits in complete privacy, even at the dock. Vitamin D is in mass deficit at this time of year and this little heat wave has me over dosing in this glorious April spectacle like a turtle sunning itself on a log.

Sailing naked
Spring has officially arrived in the island, the heater is off and I find myself trying to kill the lazy notions of my winter body and again find the strength and warmth that feeds my tired body. Oatmeal and a tiny orangy piece of fruit and my second coat of paint has found its way to my rudder cheecks, the question today is will there be a third or is time to work on a bit of varnish.

Gallons of water flood my body, this is snack season so there will be no meals for a while, just lots of exercise, way too many naps curled up in the sun if that’s possible and snacks galore. My body is slowly waking from the long winter hibernation and protests my new activity wanting to hold on to all my excess fat just in case.

The beautiful golden light flooding through all my hatches makes me wish for endless summer but at 48 degrees north that is little more than a pipe dream. Still undecided on my summer schemes, I while the days away playing with baby goats and bunnies, Bs-ing with boaters and generally acting the part of the retired. I’m especially appreciative of my dock and power cord because in a few short days they will be gone. I don’t want to leave, I’m feeling a dock bunny season with lots of land based adventures and sailing on the weekends.

I’ve officially opted out of the dating pool finding far too many of the swimmers congregating in the shallow end and it’s such a relief. This whole dating thing is exhausting single, solo and free, just me and Brompty on the open road, although when you live on an island all roads lead to home.

” I had dreams of becoming a beautiful poet, but upon an unfortunate series of events some of those dreams dashed and divided like a million stars in the night sky that I wished on over and over again, sparkling and broken.
But I didn’t really mind, because I knew that it takes getting everything you ever wanted, and then losing it to know what true freedom is.”
― Lana Del Rey

Do do do…

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Move along kids, nothing to see here.   From this point on I’m not counting the hours, days, weeks or months.  I’m counting the seconds because in a mere matter of them summer will be over.  On a brighter note it’s topping 80 degrees here today and I’m actually hiding from the sun in the cool of the cabin having just laid a coat of paint on my rudder cheecks.  I’m a miserable painter but it will do the job of protecting my wood.

  
   
These are all projects that should have been done in the boatyard had I had the time and supplies, which I didn’t. My options are stacking and I have a serious case of wishy washy I don know what to to.  I’ve applied to a boatyard to hang Sookie for a hundred days to finally after 5 years dry her perfectly smooth bottom out, scrape 30 years of bottom paint and lay her new barrier coat, this is the most logical and least amount of fun.

I could sail her to Bellingham and have it blasted off in a few hours for a grand.  That money, if I had it which I don’t would go a long way towards finishing her bottom including new bronze pintles and gudgeons, new teak rudder cheeks, all new sea cocks, a new bow strap and yes barrier coat and paint.  The reason I’ve never done this as of yet is its a filthy, expensive, miserable job.  I’ve estimated about 6k which means it will cost 10k. 

When dealing with having your boat, in the yard for projects like this I have a very acurate formula. Figure out exactly how much time and money it will take, then double that figure both time and money, now add 50%.  They call it yachting for a reason. 

Another fun option is just to say screw ever taking the boat south in which case none of these projects need doing and continue to happily sail my local waters which are abosolutly un-discoverable in the scope of ones lifetime.  With my new heater I will be able to sail near year round. I will never understand people who keep thier boats in the NE, to me it seems like a sailboat prison. 

Last but not least I can just play the days away and figure out how to ship Sookie to a more hospitable climate once the long lazy days of summer come crashing to and end.  Yes all first world problems, but I live in the first world so to me each and every one of these options holds many pros and Unfortunatly many cons.

I should be doing something productive but I think a long bike ride is in order.  All work and no play…

“You can have it all. Just not all at once.” 

― Oprah Winfrey

Live and direct this is a mic check

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I woke to a bright and sunny windless day, it’s gonna be a scorcher and a perfect day for a little dock sailing and life assessment. Let’s see, hangover, check.  Good hot coffee, check.  Art of Hookie up and running double check.  Thanks to the always wonderful and generous Just Julie AOH will be live and running on a bottomless pit in a few days, that’s right we just grew up and now AOH is a real website.

  
Laying in bed after the multi day shinanigans  I realized I don’t have a single friend in this entire world.  I don’t  call people, or go out to bars, or meet in the park for potlucks.  What I do have is an ever growing tribe connected by the sea, we don’t call eachother or really even write unless we are sending out notice of tribal journey with invitations to all.  Insert Miss Julie, I can only describe her as special cargo, I met her one milasecond before Sea Trout and have loved her ever since.  Always the generous one, she feeds me, pours mean cocktails and even opened up her temporary landlocked home to me and Chloe when we were in crisis getting to the vet.  

The list of precious cargo grows every day, starting with our very own clementine princess Julie, Laura, April, Chelsea, Nina, Nikki… The admission to the tribe is free and the membership is lifetime.  All night and day apart from one another I doubt a single one of us agree on anything be it boat size, shape, or design or … It’s our mutual love for the sea and the freedom we all have fought so hard to live our individual lifestyles the way we choose without being under the constant thumb of mediocrity.

All ships have sailed today and it’s already too quiet and a bit lonely but when Solace  snuck out early this morning her crew left me with the greatest gift in the world.  I now own Art of Hookie and can continue to spew by nonsensical, liveaboard and occasional sailing nonsense to no end.  If you need a kick ass  Wordpress Pro she selectively takes on new clients between her constant sea adventures.  

From the log of Sookie, who needs friends when you have a tribe, a water tribe… Lopez island 2016

On the water off the grid 

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Coming into a unknown guest dock to charge my batteries was sheer anarchy. The current was ripping, a brisk breeze had the chop in a tantrum and there were boats everywhere going this way and that.  I was in the middle of the runway and had no reverse, in fact I had to shut the engine off every time I put it into neutral or it would wind up till it blew. We had 28′ of side tie dock space for my little 22′ cutter but she is 31 LOA.

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It doesn’t matter how far you have sailed or how long you have been out, the second you tie up you are no longer using your  sailors brain.  Tied to the dock we become liveaboards, even if it’s only one day.  Our lines secured, electricity pumping, an endless supply of water.  Conservation is soon thrown out the window, who cares how much trash we make, we can dump it all right here.  Long hot showers, a meal out, the money flows like the free water we are prepetually filling our tanks with.  A trip to the marine chandlery, i.e. Land pirates and we start to realize how expensive society is, but it’s not just the money, it’s the way we mentally change.

Sitting dockside chatting with sailors about dock fear is interesting.  One of them fresh off. 30,000 mile journey, another finding refuge from an extremely rough passage and another getting ready for a potential circumnavigation. When your out there you become hardened fast, you can’t always hide from the weather, you just deal with it.  Sitting snug as bug in a rug in the marina we start to lose confidence in our boats regardless of where they have safely taken us.  Is my rudder strong, do I need to replace my rigging, what about my motor.  When and where will I be able to top off my cruising funds again.  If you don’t have this anxiety you don’t know all the facts.  Setting off voyaging is like preparing to sail to the moon, it’s just you out there.  I see them every day, potential blue water sailors making thier boats rescueable rather than safe.  Can’t afford new rigging but i just got a new AIS and single sideband. Sure my ground tackle needs improvement but I need a new life raft and solar for the boat. Sails would be nice but I’m too busy putting in a new stereo system.  These are the same sailors that come bareling into the Marina full bore not realizing they need fenders and dock lines till they are fifty feet out.

For all the wonderful solo passages I’ve had sailing solo just plain sucks.  Life is to be shared, good and bad.  Having someone to help with sails, navigation, pulling anchor or just keep,you company on those long nights good or bad weather.  When I’m alone in a blow it’s the loneliest place on the entire planet, when I have crew to keep safe it gives me a prime directive, I don’t have time to be afraid, instead I’m in awe inspecting the fruits of my countless hours of labor making my craft a safe and stout ship.  The ones who say just go aren’t fools, they are just the ones who haven’t and won’t ever just go, they have no idea what it takes to outfit even the most basic boat.

I was recently reading a clip of a story of a guy who just went, I won’t recount it here because it’s none of my business but he lost his boat and everything with it, too many Chiefs in his life and not enough Indians.  As the captian of your vessel it’s you and your crew that will decide when your ready, be-it for your first time crossing to Catalina or setting off to the sail the world.  Sitting in my quarter berth going over charts of the Carribean, I know I’m ready as is my boat but all, the small things are still holding me captive.  My prime directive is finding a wind vane but it’s no more or less important than all the small things like new anchor line, or a nav system I can read with my blind eyes. The clock is ticking and if I miss my window it means a yet another cold winter waiting in vain.

90 percent of seamanship happens 20 feet from the dock. -Jay Fitzgerald

Dear shit bucket 

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Dear shit bucket; how I love thee, let me count the ways.  Of all the items I carry aboard Sookie, my shit bucket is by far the most used and loved item aboard this minimalist little blue water sailing ship.

     
Like our own squishy backsides all buckets are not created equally.  I prefer the one gallon plastic bucket. It fits me perfectly and I’ve yet to have a single complaint from the dozens of guests who have shared my throne over the years.  At first the thought might seem a bit odd but I can assure you that there is nothing in this planet more disgusting than storing 30 gallons of shit under your bed.  

Bucket and chuck it is clean, sanitary and best of all keeps the inside of the boat smelling sweet and fresh.  I still have yet to sail on a boat with a well used composting toilet that doesn’t smell like you are sailing through a shit farm. The active vent pulls the stench 24 / 7 / 365 right into the cockpit.  Most boaters get used to the poopy smell in their boat but I have yet to be on any boat on a hot summers day where you can’t smell the stench.   

Haiku

Shit bucket my friend

You fit me like a glove, love

Soul bucket chuck it.

There is a simple solution for everything in this world but that’s the problem with society.  Everyone is always trying to make everything so complex to completly remove themselves from the act of actually living.  Ive been living this battle as my search for a larger boat continues.  I’ve crossed the Crealock 34 off my list and am now focusing on the Crealock 31.  I’ve been cleared by My local Marina that it will fit into a 30′ slip.  When I find mine the very first thing I will do is remove the head and holding tank.

What have I to prove, and to whom, and why? I’m keen enough to want nothing more than to live a simple, humble, unfettered life.” 

― Donna Lynn Hope

Those Alaskan girls

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Standing in line at the ferry I started chatting about folding bikes with a young girl, before we even boarded I knew that she was one of my tribe.  We found a comfy seat on the ferry and like two old friends started blabbing about, bikes, sailboats, the inside passage and then it came out, you need to go to Alaska, those Alaskan girls.

  
I laughed and told her about April, Alaskan  born and raised  When she needed a new bowsprite on her Flicka she didn’t ask a man to help her, she just built it and it’s better than anything the factory put out.  Her caravan isn’t quite finished but it’s flawless And will make a good home while she finishes her medical degree.  I just got a letter from her, she is in Baja doing her thing, I should be there but I’ve been playing too long and it’s caught up with me.

Back on the the ferry I met another  young girl, a sailor just back from delivering a boat in Baja, her smile was infectious, her eyes bright and twinkling, she has found her zen in this world.  A mother and a grandmother,  when she saw a picture of Sookie it was immediately on, we’re going to sail together and yet another hand will bless Sookies tiller.  Alaska might have to wait another year but there are pleanty of adventures right here in my own backyard and my tribe is growing at a rapid pace. 

In Friday Harbor I found a quart of varnish, Captians by Pettit is pretty much the only varnish I’ve ever used and I love it.  Wherever I go Sookie is my calling card and she has introduced  me to many a fine sailor with her deep Amber teak, dark oiled bulworks and bare, salt scrubbed eyebrow and hand rails, she carries just the right amount of stainless steel and bronze and soon will be sporting new titanium chainplates.  

I have an open door policy with April, like a butterfly she flitters in and out as she pleases. I’m hoping she will spread her wings again soon and land in my cockpit as I need help with some interior wood work and she has a mean set of tools, and the skills you will only find in those Alaskan girls.

“I enjoy working for my heat. I don’t just press a button or twist a thermostat dial. I use the big crosscut saw and the axe, and while I’m getting my heat supply I’m working up an appetite that makes simple food just as appealing as anything a French chef could create.” 

― Richard Proenneke, One Man’s Wilderness

Sailing budgets

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Tied to the floating guest dock we felt like we had the entire world to our selfs, my crew danced and twirled in the warm glow of the evening sun, I took pictures of her, the boat and my entire world.  There were no plans, no destination in mind, just two wanderers for the wind slowly adding little X marks to all the places on our charts that looked worthy of exploring.

  
Talking about sailing budgets is fun but in reality there is no such thing.  Budgets are like diets, they work till they don’t which is more often than not.  Right now I’m living more extravagantly than I have all year, my average expenses are about 11 bucks a day.  The only bills I have are insurance, $50.00 a month which I just paid for 6 months so I’m broke again and $150.00 a month for slip rent.  I spend about 25 bucks a week for food and maybe 20 every other week or less on cheap boxed wine. 

Last summer cruising on $100 a week we felt rich and the only time we went without fresh food  was when my galley slave was too cheap and rightly so to pay $7.00 for a head for cabbage.  We didn’t go to bars or eat out with the exception of the times when very generous and wonderful people would throw a donation our way for a hot burger and fries and an icy cold beer which was pure heaven.  Sounds dirt cheap but I’m not telling the whole story, we spent at least a grand stuffing the whole boat before we left for our 75 day journey.  Deep in my heart I was secretly going to take the boat all the way to Alaska so every single inch of the boat was stuffed with snacks, beans, onions, potatoes, tortillas which last for months without refrigeration and a ton of cheese which we accidentally illegally smuggled into Canada. 

We had no cell phones or internet which is why we didn’t blog much about the trip but I’ve got a dozen articles covering the whole trip it I ever decide to publish them. We left with 4 gallons of fuel but got so freaked out by all the motor boaters on sailboats telling us we couldn’t  sail that we bought two cans and added 5 more gallons of fuel. I gave it all away when we returned as we used exactly 4 gallons for the entire trip.

We had a solar shower that was a dream come true for nakey showers in the cockpit and used our candles to save battery power.  We set sail with 24 gallons of water and carried 34 on the longer stretches but never used more that 13 between water sources.  Nothing broke so we didn’t spend any money on the boat although the boneheaded captian forgot to add a preventer so we had to jury rig one whenever the wind was more than 25 knots from astern.  

We met rich people on small boats and poor people on large boats and everything I between including a rad young couple we know from the  islands on thier awesome Flicka headed to Alaska.  

My plan for this year was a 90 day passage up and eventually around Vancouver island but lack of crew has it looking like my summer will be spent in the islands working and saving to ship Sookie to the east coast for a winter in warm blue water.  Flexibility is the name of the game, our lives were dictated by the wind and tide and nothing else. 

It’s all about lifestyle, we wanted an adventure and were willing to put up with the cold wet spring to beat the masses, we would have loved to have had more money for treats in town but honestly didn’t spend much time in any towns.  Our half sunk dinghy worked fine and I loved rowing even when it was half a mile. My tan calloused hands, strong back and ripped stomach was a great benefit of the dinky and my lack of a windlass. Pulling 55lbs in a hundred feet of water damn near gave me a coronary but it’s all part of the game.  

Because we were so minimal on everything going to shore near civilization was always an adventure, a few gallons of water, dump the trash, a few ounces of fuel. We always kept the boat topped off not knowing when or where we might find an opportunity to restock.  Our cruising average of about 500 miles was 3.3 knots but that’s because we usually refused to use the engine even when we could get it to run. Most of our passages were fast and comfy. The wet rough ones were exillerating and a great chance to learn the finer aspects of trimming and shaping our sails in those conditions. There was only one occasion where I wished that I could have reduced sail further when running with just our staysail we were becoming a bit over powered.  I’m rethinking my new storm jib and think a reef or two in the staysail is a better and simpler  option.  The new geniker will also take us further and faster again both purchased second hand and in great condition.  

The only  item I really missed was a steering unit, having just lost out on my wind vane it’s back to the drawing board. Please don’t suggest sheet to tiller unless you have personally and successfully used it for more than 5000 miles :). 

I look at other cruising budgets against my own  but it’s hard to compare as I spend most of my time in marinas while I’m building the boat but I’m pretty sure that I could voyage full time on 12k a year not only living like a king but also being able to save enough money over the years to replace worn items and  add a few small thoughtful upgrades should we decide to.  The whole point of the Patreon account I opened was so that hopefully some day soon a can reach that dollar amount without having to sell my soul the the sailing rags and continue to write this blog which is a full time job in itself. I’ve taken a heap of shit for this move but after 11 years of giving it away for free I think I’ve earned the opportunity for a bit of love from people who have enjoyed the journey.  

“We didn’t actually overspend our budget. The allocation simply fell short of our expenditure.” 

― Keith Davis

Yachting on $15.00 per day

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Take a look at my small boat and meager budget and yachting might not be the first word that comes to mind but I can assure it is no less than extravagant.  Small boats are cozy, cooking from scratch, a skill I’m still learning is romantic and having the freedom to roam is what makes this gypsy lifestyle so appealing to me.   

Sookie is all cleaned up and ready for her next adventure that will start at the stroke of noon, nothing crazy just good music, lots of home made snacks and what ever debotchery we can get ourself so into.  The charm of small boat life is a simple one but not for everybody.  I like to keep the boat clean and tidy but after a long wet and wild passage her interior usually looks like a bomb went off inside.  Wet foulies strewn across the floor, harnesses and warmies hanging from every hook on the boat, hot soup steaming on the hobb.  It’s all very cozy and reassuring that our safe little home, while smaller than the rest got us there in complete comfort and just as fast as virtually any other boat in the harbor, sans the ones which motored there.

We almost always get the best spot in the anchorage due  to our small size and since there is nothing fancy in the boat, nothing ever fails us.  The most complex system on Sookie is her galley sink and it’s about as sophisticated as a garden hose.  Showers are as simple as a refreshing dive overboard and a quick rinse from my wonderful sun shower naked in the cockpit. The plastic bucket has never once failed me and I don’t know what it is that gives me such great joy when I’m plotting on my paper charts and folding them to fit the days voyage.  They represent ancient adventures driven purely by the wind, they feel good in my hands, they smell like a pirates ship and hold all the mysteries that lay ahead. Sookie has two chart tables that will hold a full chart folded in half.  I have a secret stash of chocolate in each starion rewarding the navigator for going below and checking our course. 

Warm and fuzzy blankets keep each berth cozy as do the lee cloths for nap time and the soft glow of her brass lantern tells us were living far differently than we used to.  Small is beautiful, affordable and within the reach of any  person who works at least 20 hours a week on minimum wage.  There are those who will always think I’m crazy for living the way I do and honestly, I think they are just as crazy for living the way they do.  I’m not destitute by any means, I’m living this way by choice.  I can tell time and navigate by the stars, if I’m feeling a bit cramped I have the whole world one step away and time to fully immerse myself in all the wonders these tiny islands have to offer.  I have much more that I wish I could share about this simple life but right now I need to run up for a quick dip in the spa and a shower before the shenanigans begin. 

I may not possess the burden of wealth but I have all the riches my youth can afford, from the log of Sookie, Oracas  Island April 2016

Three little birds

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Rise up this morning, smiled with the rising sun.  Three little birds, pirched on my companion way step.  Singing sweet songs, of melodies pure and true.  Singing, this is my message to you-u-u. Trying to explain my life to a stranger is like trying to sail dead into the wind, it’s impossible. 

  
It’s easily been ten years now since I walked out the door of my rediculesly  over paid cubicle and took my first full breath of freedom.  It may sound easy but it’s not and it comes with many challenges that keep constantly walking tip toe on that tight rope of life. The past month has been one of the most challanging.  The bank dried up, much seasonal work to be done on Sookie and my constant dizziness had the better part of the month slip away to no productive end.

An all day island tour to sell a few bits of flotsam and jetsam and I made a cool 25 bucks that slipped through my fingers like water.  Getting off the ferry at near dark there were only five cars and s six mile walk if I didn’t get picked up.  With each passing car I mentally prepared for the long journey afoot.  The second to the last car pulled over and Bangarang!

Now I have this  theory that there is no point in living if you aren’t an awesome human being.  I will give you my last taco, the shoes off my feet and every penny I possess if you are in true need and a good person.  This directly extends to hitchhiking. If somebody is awesome enough to pull over and pick up a complete stranger, use thier  gas and engine hours to chauffeur you home,  you damn well keep them entertained for the ride.  Within seconds of being picked up we were all laughing our asses off, these guys were super kewl. 10 seconds into the ride an ice cold Amber ale was placed in my hand and it was the best ride ever.  I was shocked and very greatful when being dropped off the driver insisted on giving me a twenty dollar bill to buy me a nice dinner and a beer.  It might as well have been a million dollars and I have to say it was the best damn burger I have ever had in my life.

This one gesture of kindness set my whole world in motion. The very next day two very good friends who I have not seen in far too long came rolling in in thier Lyle Hess Falmouth Cutter 26, surely the greatest boat ever designed, next to Sookie of corse.   They came bearing gifts and I had a few for them as well.  A beautiful bottle of wine named Chloe and a loaner uke has the walls of Sookie singing and dancing, two of my favorite things in the world.  

My whole point in all this is that if you truly love your life and your existence your sure find a few valleys between the peaks but the universe will always give you what you deserve. I don’t know what day today is but another miricle has happened and I have a fistful of C notes and exactly enough money to pay my insurance and yes, joy of joys, another month of slip rent with a wee bit left of for a fresh cabbage.

Follow your dreams and my silly pied piper writing and I promise you this.  I will continue to serenade you from the very humble life that I live as a budget cruiser.  I will sing to you as often as I can, singing, Don’t worry, about a thing.  Cause every little thing, gonna be alright.  Rise up this morning, smiled to the rising sun…

“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent” 

― Victor Hugo

On seamanship part two

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We had a really good night sleep but come dawn we were both wrecked from 12 hours in the relentless sun.  Straight out of the gate we had a single reef in our main and our Yankee and were screaming along. At this pace we were going to have to heave to for serveral hours waiting for the tide before we could sail into Fish bay and surprise all of our friends.  I recalculated our speed butit was pointless because we wouldn’t make to fish bay anytime soon.


I take full responsibility  for what came next, being back in our home waters my brain was shot off, I know every inch of this area like the back of my hand, every lift and every eddy.  Silently we slipped across an imaginary line the forms a watery boundary between the USA and Canada and as we did the wind went with the ghost leaving us in a lumpy sea.  It was too rough to use our crippled motor and we were sitting ducks in the ships channel of Harro strait.  Eventually we got the boat moving on what was soon to become the glassiest windless day I have ever encountered.  Once the motor goes on I lose all interest in deck side activity, it’s no longer about the journey, it’s about the destination. I showed my crew the corse to the south end of Waldron  island and explained the river of current that would meet us there and whisk us to the customs office in Friday Harbor

Before we set out serveral months earier I had written a post about engineless sailing and my miserable outboard. There was quite a bit of back and forth and high opinions from readers.  By their language I knew for a fact not one of the commenters had ever sailed engineless, I have and it’s more challanging then I have the ability to describe. A fistful of hundreds later we took our little outboard back from the marine mechanic and strapped her to the back of the boat.  Within one hour of use she started to to south and so the almost engineless journey began and true to form we would do what not a single one of the commenters could, would, or did.  We did happen to meet many engineless sailors on our journey. All of them far better sailors than I.

From the shady cabin our conversation was getting a bit serious, I wanted to fix the engine and my crew didn’t.  I will stop right here and say if your crew doesn’t love your life or the care and feeding of the ship you sail together as much as they love their own life, kick them the fuck off I’m immediately  because they surely will take every opportunity they can to sink your home and your life.  Again as the captian of my vessel I take full responsibility.

Id had it with our conversation and I looked out the companionway and said.  You know, you have learned everything about sailing and nothing about seamanship.  As the words slipped out I saw land less that 30 yards from our starboard side.  It was supposed to be on our port side.  I launched into the cockpit grabbing the tiller and Im sure a long smooth set of finely chosen dialog followed.  White water was rushing 10 feet over Spiden point, we were caught in the rapids and being pulled fast into what could possibly become our final resting place.

I steered the boat away trying to find the sweet spot on the little outboard without spinning the prop.  It was useless I steered a full 180degrees trying to find any direction that would free us of the current.  The boat, was pointing east the current was running north, south and west.  I looked down the west shore of San Juan and an huge 40′ powerboat was getting pummeled, befor he pulled out and turned tail. I looked north and got so scared I immdialy looked east toward salvation.

It was hard to figure out but we were pointing east and moving south and west.  My mind went into hyper sailors over dive and in the span of exactly one half second I had a 5 minute conversation with my brain.  I’ve been though many Rapids, but nothing like this.  I remembered my friend reminding me that water doesn’t like rocks and  will flow around them, not over them.  I looked at the volume of water flowing over the point and tried to work east while the stern was pushing south.

I looked  over at my crew, grab the video camera were going through.  Within seconds we were doing 10.2 knots with full steerage and a dozen huge yachts slamming towards  us on a collision course.  The Rapids were bad enough but the huge wakes threw us around causing the outboard  to cavitate, in no time we were though and ducked into the shallow enterance at Roache Harbor.  I looked to my left  at a seaplane seemingly hovering in place  10 feet off the wate 100′ to port, it was very surreal, my fun meter was pegged and I just wanted to get though the runway and into the safety of the harbor. We made it in and I’ve literally never seen such anarchy in my life.  Dozens of boats manovering around, caountless dinks with drunk skippers, three sea planes doing rounds waiting for thier turn at the dock, and us with no reverse and almost no foreward propulsion.

Having cleared customs we had just enough time to slip through Mosqiito Pass and into Garrison Bay.  We dropped the hook in a dead calm bay with 8′ of low water and a cracked a beer.  I was shell shocked.  It wasn’t any one experience but literally doesens and doesens that had my myind made up, today was the straw that broke the camels back.

Ten days later in Fish bay my heart was in my throat and breaking as I heard the words come out.  I offered every adventure on the planet earth and told her I would follow her anywhere in the world or do anything for her but under no circumstances would  I ever set sail with her again.  I had lost 100% confidence in my crew.  When people are careless at sea really really bad things happen.  Nearly a year has passed and I’m still shaken by the things I will never write about, the story I will never tell.  Day by day I dip my big toe back in and know that I have nobody to blame but myself, I was the captian, I could have ended it at any point.

From the log of Sookie August 2015. Any fool, can learn 80% of sailing in a week.  The last 20% will take a lifetime, it’s called seamanship.

On seamanship part one

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I had violated my own cardinal rule on the boat, no schedules and for the next three days I would pay dearly for it. A big part of this story is missing, maybe next year I will write about it.  It had been yet another bumpy day in the Straits of Georga. We were the only boat on the water save for the commercial fisherman that came to check in us one by one in thier 100′ ships.  As each one approached a threw them a Shaka and a huge smile my VHF is always off.  Sookie was in her  groove, in her element and I was like a kid on Christmas morning, smiling from ear to ear, taking it all in.  Huge rollers would break under our keel with a whoosh, she shook every one of them, she was actually surfing.


Running under just my 80 square  foot staysail the sheet was so tight  it sounded like it was going to explode.  I half wondered what would go first, the hand rail mounted jib track, the block or the the sheet.  The whole system Moaned in protest with the larger gusts.  These are my favorite days, big wind and seas, the boat in perfect maintenance  and on this day it was 95 degrees, pure heaven.  There are very few places in this world  that I wouldn’t venture to in my little Falmouth, she has to be sailed to be understood.  This boat sails like no other boat I have ever encountered.

Hiding in the lee of protection island we didn’t get much sleep that night, the wind was rising to the point that my crew asked me to close the foreward hatch because the sound of the wind funneling through it was scaring her.  I reluctantly but happily agreed,, it was really hot and for once no mosquitos due to the wind but it was freaking me out too.

Morning came early and we had to make the tide to get though the narrows and back into the gulf islands.  It was far to windy at this point to get out of the anchorage with our failing motor.  I turned on the weather report and couldnt believe my ears, it’s getting even worse throughout the day and come nightfall all hell was going to break loose.  We had a quick meeting and decided to bounce.  I asked my crew to row Chloe to shore for a pottie break be she was understandably scared.  I didn’t want to because I needed to save my strength for raising the anchor if we even could.

Between the gusts I rowed from boat to boat hiding in the lee and eventually made it back to the boat soaking wet and tired, rubber dinghys suck ass.  I tucked two reefs in the main and burritoed it, got the boat ship shape and explained our attack, we only had one chance at this and our motor was going to be completely useless.  By this time we had quite a few spectators wondering if these silly Americans were actually going to try and leave. It was only blowing 42 mph bet felt much stronger in the gusts

My Rocna was half way to China but with our outboard  and a lot of back breaking effort I got it in, one painfull foot at a time and we were off.  As soon as I had the ground tackle secured I got the staysail up and we took off like a bat out of hell. Running down the channel. We had about  a mile of lee shore and there were going to be some pretty big seas once we cleared the point.  I got the main up double reefed and reaching we were over powered but I would steer into the gusts and we had the main driving but severely depowered.  I should note that Sookie has a neutral helm, we don’t have any weather helm when she is sailed properly.  There was a 36′ Grand Banks that was seriously pissing me off.  Sookie rose and dropped off of the waves,  this was some of the finest sailing I had ever done but I was catching up the this guy and he was in my way.

Within seconds of leaving the protection of the island our fun meter was pegged for the second day in a row and then it happened. The Grand Banks went so hard over I could see it’s full keel, it’s port wheel completly out of the water, I screamed over the wind, get the vhf, shes going to capsize I don’t know what miricle happen that day but the boat  slammed hard back over, I’m sure the captain was thrown to the ground and is now in Devorce court loosing his ship. He had no business being out in those conditions.

Once clear of the point we fell off and dropped the main to slow the boat for a perfect passage through the narrows.  Approaching I called out on the vhf security, security sailing vessel Sookie entering narrows with severely disabled engine, please stand down.  We were pushed hard this way and that it the whirl pools.  The rubber cone on the prop had spun and anything over 20% she would spin freely.  Exactly at the narrowest part of the channel we watched in horror as five huge powerboats came blasting in towards us throwing the biggest waves I had ever seen.  We were thrown around like rag dolls the engine would scream to life as the pop spun freely and up went the sails.

Safely transitioned through we went from full blast to dead in the water within the hour.  The next 12 hours would be spent motoring on a dead calm sea in hundred degree temperatures at 2.3 knots so we could  make our schedule this was the most we used the engine on the entire 75 day trip but the best was yet to come… To be continued.

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