The awesome folks over at Mighty Goods put this awesome tribe together, check them out, lots of good reading on this blustery winters day.
Earth, fire, water, steel and wood, these basic elements of life are never out of arms reach. Each one of these can save your life and just as easily end it. Yet another injury, I don’t know if it’s a muscle or a tendon but I can barely stand up. Just below my knee on the bone in one tiny area. When I gently touch it a sensation of fire occurs. My health insurance was cancelled the day before I left on bike tour so now all my medical attention comes from a vet and she’s a damn fine one.
If I do have to operate on myself it won’t be the first time. My opioid receptors measure both pain and pleasure on the same scale so with a steady hand and a sharp knife, a bit of duct tape and a few tears of joy I’ll get through this one. The five consecutive days of low level trauma caused by the fire on the other hand doesn’t seem to be manageable. The only way I can describe it is as compared to being a war journalist. While nothing particularly bad is happening directly to you the potential is always present and inevitable. You don’t think about it or dwell on it but there is a small portion of your brain that is always aware of the situation and creates a form of stress. After the first day I was safe but I didn’t know it, for 5 straight days I could get no information, the color of the sky and how much ash it was raining was my only mode of forecasting.
I haven’t faced what I went though yet. Just like I did what I had to do to get though it I’m still just doing what I have to do. At no time did I sit down and actually think about what was going on. My body was operating on my most basic instinct, survival. Now safe and secure that basic instinct is again at defcon 5 ie fight or flight. I can’t get the divide out of my head. Those long days pushing towards what is only an imaginary border until you cross it which I never did. Every mile was made good with the starting line in mind which I wouldn’t reach till Mexico. There were many trying days out there where I wondered why hell I didn’t just fly and get on with it but I needed those days to get mentally and physically strong.
I don’t believe in bucket lists, I never make any firm plans, I just always seem to know where I’m going and while i most certainly know what’s in at least part of my immediate future I also know deep down that I need to complete a special ride, to start at point A and end at point B both dictated by me. This isn’t something I’m doing for bonus points or to have something to write about. It’s something that I am so passionate about that I lose a bit more sleep everyday, my mind is mainlining on the freedom I had on the open road and how quickly it all went away. For people who haven’t been on a long bicycle tour, or hiked the Pacific Crest trail, or made a pilgrimage to Tibet, or sailed vast tracks of open ocean, this feeling, this place is impossible to describe. I’ve done all of these things. Each journey in one way or another altered over the course to become something entirely different. You can’t focus on the end without robbing yourself of the journey. You simply live in the present, it’s something we were all born with but tragically most will go though life without experiencing, basic instinct… No this journey hasn’t ended, it’s barely even begun, I just need a better road map, some might call it a chart.
This is without a doubt one of my favorite pictures I have ever seen. Everything about it describes the quiet dignity of the true romance of sailing. Hank on yankee cut jibs, batten-less main, tan bark. Every sailmaker on the planet will tell you the error of your ways using this set up. Slow, tender, shorter life… the interesting thing is that rumor has it that Ron never lost a race to a BCC in his life.
My dream is to pull the mast and paint it mahogany yellow. A new suit of tan bark yankee cut sails, no battens in the main, no headboard and a teeny tiny tri sail. My. Bonus sail would be a drifter or a new asym.
We all know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What I find beautiful is simplicity. Minimal electrical systems, simple sail set up, wide decks and soft curvy lines. I understand the necessity for an inboard engine but seriously doubt I’ll ever have one. To me the heart and soul of a sailboat lies in her rig and design. Clean, simple interiors, rich wood, lantern light and a cozy layout. Systems make me crazy, I hate installing them, paying for them and maintaining them. The most complex system on Sookie is her galley sink, a few clamps and a hose.
Water comes from my 2 gallon gravity feed tank. Hot water comes from my tea kettle. Light comes in many forms from my soft white incandescent lamps to bronze lanterns, 12 hours a day it comes from the sun. I don’t live in my boat, I just sleep in it, I live on the planet earth and it has plenty of space for my needs. I chucked the cedar bucket years ago and went modern with a plastic one which I have grown to love.
There is an old saying measure twice, cut once. On sookie it’s more like measure 100 times and then think about it for a few years. She is perfectly functional as she is so any changes take me a very long time to get to. Her sails fill dozens of pages in my log book. Sookie isn’t just a boat, she is a work of art, so slowly and surely I make progress.
I’ve wanted to add a roller to sookie now for years, that 5’ bow-sprite gets pretty exciting at times. The staysail and tri are no brainers. The jib and main have me torn. Yes I know tan bark stretches more as do batten-less sails. I know roller furling makes sailing easier. Again size is a huge factor, that roller is heavy and adds quite a bit of windage aloft. It also makes for easy reefing and sail storage, keeps me on deck and in a pinch can help sookie point a bit higher. On my flicka I would roll out just a smidge in higher winds to help keep her nose up. Everything is a trade off but it’s almost time to start writing checks so I need to figure it all out.
When I get lost in it all I refer back to this picture and all the things that made me fall in love with this lifestyle. To be on the water, to see and feel things I’ve never experienced, to live a ferrel and wild yet civilized life. I’ve always loved living as close to the edge as I can, close enough to peer over without falling. The challenge has always been in less stuff more experience.
When it comes to outfitting sookie money has never been factored in, if I can’t afford it I’ll live without it till I can. It’s hard to think about but I might be hanging up my bicycle for a little bit so i focus on the blurry aspect of the refit.
Any damn fool can motor around on a ship. The ocean from the deck of a small boat will instill in you both fear and beauty that can’t be realized in the depths of your mind. There is no movie, there are no books… your all alone out there and nobody is coming to get you. The sea is indifferent to your suffering. Heavy weather can be a challenge yet the closest I’ve ever come to loosing my boat was in the calmest weather I have ever seen. You never stop learning, while it may get easier it also becomes more difficult. When I was younger I thought that with experience my fear of the sea would diminish. What a fool I was, with each and every mile I learn more about what the sea is and her cruel nature. The challenge isn’t in avoiding it, this is an impossibility. The challenge is to flow with it, to live so close that it flows through your veins. This is where I live.
The novelty of a warm dry house that doesn’t move and endless hot showers has taken all but a few days to wear off. As is usual with my life Fed-ex has lost my bike, what can go wrong will go. I’m tired, not from doing stuff but from inactivity. Sitting back behind my desk for three hours a day now feels like a life sentence in prison. I’m scattered and have way too much going on. all I really want to do is take pictures and write but about what???
My third bike tour in two years and not a scratch on me. its like when I watched the proud new owner of my Harley drive away I was like wow, “I made it through that one alive”. and so the soul searching has begun anew. the age old question of how long can keep this up before I flip my wig. I’m not a good little worker Bee.
I have money, more than I’ve had in many years but we all know how that goes. Sookie is an expensive date, to make her even remotely ready to leave the Salish will cost twice what I have saved leaving me broke and that’s just the bare minimum. I pull out my magic little note pad and spend the night scribbling furiously, numbers cover dozens of pages and all come up to 00.00 which is exactly what I have to lose, nothing.
I start to wonder if I can fit the bike in her Lazzerette and spend the summer sailing North in search of real wilderness and fresh trails yet to be discovered. I’ve become a full blown hermit, I need nothing or anybody anymore, just time and a bit of freedom. On the other had I could buy a pole spear and head south where there is no place for a bike, shit! I don’t have a dinghy.
I’ve been offered a slip in Santa Barbara, its warm there year round, maybe I have enough to ship her there and start over, I love cruising the Channel Islands, throw in great mountain biking and real Mexican food and its starting to sound like a dream come true even if it does kill my budget.
Why am I so reluctant to sell my writing? I ask myself this question day in and day out. if there is an answer I cant find it. I look out the window, its raining sideways but I’m warm by the fire in the lodge, the coffee is brilliant today and in a few hours there will be a box of wine and crackers waiting for me.
All my friends are setting their anchors, that’s what you do in your thirties. Not me, been there done that. I can set my Rocna anywhere and it will hold fast until I pull it and move on.
I met a girl, cute and free, a bit of a gypsy. There wont be a second date, I felt like I was being sucked in by Medusa and couldn’t get away fast enough. My definition of free must be pretty big because I cant seem to find it between the pages of any of the books I’ve brushed through lately.
I’m rapidly learning that I am a very willing victim of my own circumstances and happy to finally be finding a bit of meaning in all those lessons the universe has been bashing through my thick sckull. One is not the loneliest number. I spend an hour staring myself down in the mirror and then I pop the question…
“There is but a plank between a sailor and eternity.” – Thomas Gibbons
Standing on the foredeck of the ferry the cold nights wind blew straight through me. It feels like many years have passed since leaving this place. There was no conscious effort put into my escape, it was all instinct, pure survival and days lived off nothing more than Adrenalin. I haven’t had second to process any of this but now in the quiet darkness in the middle of the ocean the winds whispered into my ears and all the emotions of the last days rushed in.
For the first time since I ran out of money while on a decade long travel binge with Chloe I actually was smart enough to insure myself before setting off. I buried several thousand dollars in cash in the woods. My eyes opened with the sun, first order of business was to go see sookie but she was gone. I stood there blinking at a the now occupied spot where I left her, scanned the boatyard and nothing.
By 8 am I had secured a reasonable paying. Job, 12 hours a week at night , just enough to keep me alive and in free coffee, found Sookie and gave her a big hug and re established my little cabin. With nothing but time on my hands I’ve already started a boat list. First order is to pull her bowsprit, strip, reseal and paint. It doesn’t need it but that’s how I take care of her, always trying to stay ahead of it all. I have some tabbing to do and then install a new stove and custom v berth cushions. Looks like my work for the winter has already begun. My little 12 x 15 shed is warm and dry with a covered deck and will make a perfect indoor outdoor work shop.
I’m feeling rich, free and happy for all the world has given me. Another journey has come to a close and now its on to the next adventure whatever and wherever that may be. For now I’m time rich but the clock has already started ticking on my next journey. There is no amount of money that can buy these experiences, you will never have enough and you will never be ready. You simply have to untie the lines and go before it’s to late. As I was yet again painfully reminded life can change with the suddenness of a broken shoe lace.
Somewhere deep in the recesses of Sookie I have thousands of pretty sailing images locked away for a future project I was supposed to finish months ago. The bilge pump is going off again, I’m not sinking and Sookie doesn’t leak a single drop, it’s condensation. The same condensation keeps everything damp and feeds the mold that has me waking up with sore lungs. Keeping the boat dry is a constant battle. Protoecting my camera gear, computer gear, keeping my clothes dry enough that mold doesn’t start to grow on them, this is a few of the many realities of living aboard.
On the flip side, I’m clean and showered. It’s laundry day and I have piles of warm clean clothes and sheets. Fresh potatoes and onions are steaming in the hobb, hard boiled eggs chilling in cold water and I have a bottle of whiskey given to me by a very generous sailing couple who came knocking in my hatch at the suggestion of a good friend. The #sailing life can be a good one with the right attitude.
I’m always questioning what real freedom is. Most of us have either comefort and safety or true freedom. A very small percentage of us might experience both but even for those fortunate few more often than not it’s very short lived. I push play on my new song list and blast music while I continue in my sketch book trying to create the almost perfect life. I sidetrack to Instagram and enter #thesailinglife and look at really pretty pictures, snapshots in time and am reminded that those images only represent a millisecond of reality and just like my own pictures there is a ton of hard work and hardship between all the payday moments.
Freelancing has given me the freedom to roam, to go anywhere I want for as long as I want as long as I tote my minimalist digital office with me. I have enough money, enough food, enough freedom, enough… Im alone again for now, I send off a letter and sign it with the L word, patience I remind myself, anything worth having is worth fighting for…
Some people never find it, some… only pretend. But me: I just want to live happily ever after, now and then. -jimmy Buffett
Its on! It took about 6 hours of soul searching to commit to it. The choices are simple, spend my summer sailing around solo and in complete isolation and lonely as shit, or jump on my iron horse and hit the road. It’s a really tough choice with so many great bikes out there but I’ve decided a Surly Karate Monkey with a 1×11 gearing will be the bike for the journey. I don’t want to hit Mexico before the end of October so I’ve got 7 months to kill depending on where I start.
If I start from Dead Horse Alaska it will be on or before May 14th. If I start from Juno it will be early July and if I start from somewhere around here it will be towards the end of August unless I decide to to a quick Oregon tour in which case I’m already running late. I’m still not sure if I’ll take a stock bike or build one from the frame up. I’d like front suspension but it’s pricy, heavy and somewhat fragile. I’ll be rolling 3″ tubeless tires and just like on Brompty all frame bags with the lightest load I can muster.
There is an old saying, if your not cold while wearing everything you have, you brought too much. I was minimalist on Brompty, I’m going for full maximum minimalist on Monkey. I’m not sure how to get to Seattle and back to pick up the new steed and all the crap that goes with it but this new journey has already started in the gear stage and by Monday morning I’ll be sending a doposite off on the new bike.
Ive been in this weird depression induced funk since the day I gave in to my shit knee and that won’t happen again, I’ll be in the best shape of my life before I start this ride and progressively grow from there. My wanderlust is peaking these days and I wish I could leave today, shit, maybe I will. I’m not much of a planner or a prepper but this ride will be one accompanied by gps, new lighter and smaller camera gear and fuck yes, open ended, I’m done with boats and boating for now. I need me a good taste of terra firma, camp fires and desert sunsets accompanied by my old friend that salty sweaty skank that only a touring cyclist can know. Warm beers, tequila and cabbage tacos will be my dangling carrot all the way to the cape.
This is beginning to be my life’s story. It all started with a shower, a broken shower to be exact. I wandered from stall to stall, though the boys locker room, the girls and finally settled on a quick dip in the spa as all the showers were broken. I hadn’t really noticed that I was naked until going back to towel off when I spied my body in the tall mirrors. FUCK, how did I get so out of shape? When I arrived just a few months ago I had 2% body fat, now I look like a sea monkey.
Ive been contemplating riding the Baja divide for quite some time, the question is when will I start and from where. Do I take the Brompty or swap up to 650b Karate Monkey. Both have been rocking good touring bikes for me but the truth is the Brompton is more fun on all accounts. The Surly can carry more, as is more water and I don’t have to take care of it, I can just bash my brains out with its 2×10 gearing and fat tires but still.
A new Titanium Brompton will set me back exactly the same as a fully loaded Surly so price wise it’s a wash. On the moron adventure scale the Brompton will be a much bigger challange off road which equates to way better writing, or in my case at least more interesting writing. My last remaining neurons are firing like crazy at the prospect of a new expedition. Minimalist, ultralight and more than likely solo and with a tiny budget, I mean really what the hell could go wrong.
Im thinking Victoria in late August for a starting point but I could just as easily pick up in Newport where my last ride ended. For me this is a big scary journey, being lost and out of water in the Sierra Nevadas of Baja Norte can be deadly. I’m always lost so it’s inevitable that this ride will be one of the bigger challanges of my life. You know, the kind that after all is said and done your like, I’m a moron but it was fun as shit.
“Let them get lost, sunburnt, stranded, drowned, eaten by bears, buried alive under avalanches – that is the right and privilege of any free American.”-Edward Abbey
Sookies deck is covered with blood as are my now mangled hands which can only mean one thing, I’m actually working on the boat. No work today, I was given a reprieve, it’s actually warm, there is no wind, no rain and I have a few bucks in my pocket, it’s like the perfect storm of yacht maintence. It’s rare that all of elements align for me but today is that day and I’ve been going at it since dawn.
Exactly two years ago I was doing exactly what I’m doing today, working on the damn boat. Back then I had a greenhorn and a secret plan. The boat was scheduled to leave the dock by May to dink around the islands, the secret plan was to sail to Alaska in a trial by fire all inclusive sailing school for the greenhorn, then to abscond with her and sail the boat to the South Pacific via Mexico. Ahh the finest laid plans of mice and men… I figure I’d be in the South Pacific by now working some shit job to restock the kitty.
Turns out that plan was for shit and I realized it within a few short days, life goes on and about a year later having done very little in the way of upgrades to Sookie I did have another plan. Along with that plan I had my man drawer filled with fasteners that had literally taken me years to aquire from all over the world. Special sizes and shapes and… I knew I would get around to them soon enough and actually had finally aquaired ever single piece I needed to finish all the petty BS projects that never seem to end on a sailboat. Summer was rapidly approaching, I had a pocket full of money and was ready to rumble. I came back to the boat one night to find my then girl friend had undone 4 years of my sea proofing of Sookie, completely rearranging everything in to the form of a house, not a boat.
She was so excited to show me how she had made the boat perfect. I smiled gave her a hug and tried to sensitively explain why everything had to go back the way it was, this conversation didn’t go over well. The next day when I dug into my man drawer I was horrified. Turns out she had thrown away everything on the boat she didn’t understand which was, well… everything. Another year has passed, I’ve more or less lost the desire to go through all the shopping and measuring and… so Sookie sits and waits, I sit and wait, but time marches on.
Through the narrow gap of my tunnel vision I feel like a loser, a failure and perhaps in the very near future a quitter. Talking to my bunk mate I’m told my journey is amazing a dream come true and also to frightening to ever partake on their own terms. Perception is something that has always intrigued me beyond words. Grab a bunch of shit and see what happens, that’s what it do.
Well, at least that’s my perception of what I do but the reality of my perception is that I always have too much which means on some level I am prepared, or at least I on some level attempted to prepare. My new friend admits dreams of doing what I doing but also needs specific dates, locations, and all the answers up front to all things potentially encountered. We live at exact opposite ends of the spectrum but we are not really that different…
My comfort factor is found being in a full blown fucking typhoon with a death grip on the tent I’m trying to set up. One slip and it’s gone as is my small safety net. Their comfort level is a reservation through the Internet that may not book correctly leaving them in a strange new place needing to find a suitable hotel to sleep for the night. Both equal adventures and mis adventures depending on the perspective of the person living it.
I remember when in was sixteen, we had stolen my friends parents car and driven to La Misssion in Mexico coming back across the border and hell yes we were smuggling all sorts of contraband there was some hold up in the customs car lane, we just sat there for like 10’minutes going nowhere, then there were a bunch of strange dudes around the car, I was pulled through the window smashed against the car while all sorts of confusion whet on in Spanish, they had confused us for smugglers which in fact we may have been on a pathetic high school level. They let us go apologized and then for good measure pulled out the inspection cone banged it on our hood and told us to pull into border inspections. I drove foreward. Climbed out the window and grabbed the cone and sped off into America, no big deal, that’s how my brain is programmed. My friend was freaking the hell out the whole time and did all the way home. We were both doing the exact same thing but while my brain was in nuclear reactor fun zone his fun meter had been pegged from the first moment.
I’m still sitting here in my big rocker in front of the wood stove, my knee is killing me and I’m faced with making a decision. I’m guessing that not unlike all the decisions I make there will be a bit of pain, lots of fun and somewhere in between sunrise and sunset I’ll be there second guessing my logic or complete lack of it when it comes to my decision process. One thing I know for sure is that there will be no morning alarm, commute or itinerarary. This journey still is about less which will always in one form or another grant more which is what I want these days, more or less that is.
Total miles 325
Salvation comes in many forms, for me today it was in the form of a McDonals and a bike shop, although we all know that salvation comes at a price. Pedaling away with fully loaded tires, a Can of fosters beer and more instant coffee so I can drink cold coffee in the mornings until I find a fuel replacement life was good.
Ive grown bored with the senery here in Washington which is good because tomorrow I will cross into Oregon and that’s where the trail really begins. WA was was a walk in the park compared to the challange of Oregon and it pretty much crushed me, I’m curious to see how I adapt in my new state. I’m only nine days into this journey and the road has sucked up half my budget so with a little creative financing and hopefully ten days to get as far south as I can and then I will pack up Brompty and hitchhike to wherever seems like a good place to regroup, save few bucks and get back to wherever I leave off so I can make my way south again. As short of a span as ten days may seem, I can’t even remember the person or place I left just 9’days ago, so much has happened I could never write about any of it but eventually my story will find its way to words. Today was as easy as it was difficult, my legs are tired as am I of carrying my extra burden which I hope to dump,off somewhere soon. The Oregon coast is one of many challanges and big hills constantly.
i finished my ride in Long Beach, a wonderful town with everything but a coffee shop. I’ve been tearing out the pages of my very old guide book and it’s close to half the weight and thickness I left with. When my chance comes I going to become a gram weenie and dump everything I can to lighten my load for the next ten days. Not sure why I brought a passport and the titanium pot is light but I don’t use it as I’ve failed at every cooked meal other than coffee so that was more wasted money.
its funny how I get by in life with so little but every year when I make a bone headed trip like this one, I bring every thing but the kitchen sponge even though I fresh off the last trip where I used little to nothing. I guess I’m just like the guys pulling the 50′ motor homes thinking they can’t leave anything behind. I saw my first bear just after dawn, some elk but still no Sasquach. It gets eerie on some of the quiet stretches listening to all the bump in the woods and wondering what is out there watching you.
my Vouri ramming tights and Terry skirt are still at the top of my hero list as are many other things but keeping my iPad charged is a challange so I will save my gear reviews for another time and place.
Total miles 285
money spent over 50 bucks and worth every penny, who knew that there was a thing called chocolate milk? Haven’t had a hot meal yet but that’s about to change
Not much to write about, the day started with cold coffee and lots of rain. A relatively easy 54 ish miles and now I just dropped 35 bucks for a chocolate milk and commercial camp site as the state one was closed and way too creepy to poach. Raymond was freakish as in every girl and there were many was young and beautiful beyond words, I had to drag my self out of the coffee shop as all the girls kept wanting one more story, it’s not easy being Stormy 😉
Sammy the stonner tried her her best to get this all in one shot and gave me my first good luck kiss of the day, it wouldn’t be my last, not by a long shot…for some reason I have been getting good luck kisses everywhere I go. I guess my smile tells a story my tired soul can’t.
im trying to slow down and it’s making the riding much easier but I have to say at mile 50 and my last hill climb with a warm beer and ciggi on my mind I was in 5th gear standing hammering the pedals like lance Armstrong only I wasn’t jacked on roids…
Twin harbors was a great camp ground and the rangers are all cyclists and had lots of good info I would suggest starting this ride from here and heading south.
The Brompton is an absolute touring machine, she has never let me down and each day it keeps getting better. I do or may need to sidetrack to Portland for new tires or I may just trust that the one I have will hold. I do need a pump but that just may turn up at a local bike shop and my seat??? Yep, not so much love for it. All and all this has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
total miles 232
By 5:00am everything I possess in the world is soaking wet, im talking it couldn’t be wetter if it was underwater. Im not sure what to do, I’ve never tried to break camp that is underwater. Not sure what I expected sleeping in a rainforest but I have honestly never seen it rain that hard in my life and I lived in the wettest spot on the planet earth. It would rain even harder later in the day. But not until just after I made camp and did my best to clean and dry the tent a bit
i packed up my muddy soaking wet tent and all my belongings heading for the sanctuary of the closest coffee shop I could find. My Vouri running tights are amazing, just call me Dr spandex but I’m never taking these things off, in part with my Terry thermal skirt they are amazing, warm and I can cycle in them all day, the comefort factor is through the roof and I love the camo print.
this day would start on a freeway in the driving rain, torrent winds and five fucking flat tires. I should stop right now and try and explain what this is like but it’s unexplainable. I’m on the side of the Fwy, cars flying by and many of them honking at me, I’m covered in mud as the driving rain blinds me, everything is so muddy I can’t function, it’s so loud I can’t listen for the second hole I missed after the first one was patched and all put back together. I would get 4 of these, I’m almost out of patches and then the 5th riding into Aberdeen, some of the punctures were huge, in Aberdeen in a last ditch effort to save patches I replaced the tube, the rain and mud are giving me some issues and I may side track into Portland for my first real service in over 2000 miles and newer stronger tires, it’s amazingly crippling when you flat out on a fully loaded bike, you can’t even walk the thing. So to make a short story longit took me 11 hours to make 32 miles.
im way over my budget, my world is soaked and I’m at my breaking point, it wasn’t until I was in the shower this morning trying to warm my fridigid bones that I realized I forgot my towel in the tent, my shoes were too close as was my front bag and so my my shoes squeak with water as I walk and even my food is wet. I put soaking wet clothing back on for a very fridigid ride to find a laundry mat and food. It’s day 7 and I’m taking the day off to rest, eat and regroup.
so far the first week has been very challanging, amazing and beautiful and more than I ever could have imagined both good and bad. Money is going way too fast so the trip will be cut short but either way I’m out here today and have been able to meet each challange with a smile, even when I’m having a super rough time of it I’m reminded of the mind numbing alternative that I would be facing if I wasn’t out here getting my ass handed to me around every corner. I’m super excited to get to Portland were I wouldn’t mind spending the winter although I’m not sure we’re the best place to bus in from is, I’ll cross that bridge once I’ve crossed the bridge, unless I can hitchhike across that is, I fucking hate bridges and the one at Astoria has zero shoulder and is 2 fucking miles long.
Notes, I’m warm and dry but more rain is on the way, I’m still starving as I haven’t found good fatty food I can afford in this town but I’m headed to the store soon. Finding a laundry mat could be made into a good scene from the Big Lebowski with a John Goodman character who treated me like a three year old continually insulting my intelligence and reprimanding me to read a fucking sign until I explained that I didn’t have a phone, the directions on the locked door clearly said to cal… I rang the bell not having a phone. Once he realized I didn’t have a phone and was doing things in the direct military protocol he was very nice till it asked the code to the shit infested restrooms, he told me if I saw the code he would have to kill me and harder the punch pad with his life. I’m still weak, tired and hungry but at least I’m dry, baby steps…
Ciggis smoked 11
Money spent 17.53
Heroes and villains, my Nikon is seriously starting to piss me off. It’s so heavy and bulky, I had a chance to drop it off in port Townsend and I wish I did. The uke is also a hero and a villain, it’s hard to carry and dangerously swings around. I’m not sure what to do but both may get jettisoned soon, I hate the thought of not having the uke as it has brought much joy but it’s dangerous and when the rain comes and it will it will be difficult to care for.
I’m sitting just passed the pass of mount walker, I’m crushed after 30 miles, mostly up hill. I pull off on to the side of the road to rest my body and my brain. The logging trucks showed up with a vengeance and they are frightening as hell as are the Q-tips in thier 40′ motor homes dragging a car behind. The shoulder all but disappeared in many places and the the bridges have none, my load is still to heavy and it makes the Brompton unsafe at speeds.
I start singing to the traffic as it hurtles by at break neck spends on the windy mountian top, a cyclist rides by and I admire her well earned spandex covered tush and keep playing. A few minutes later and she is riding back up the other side of the road, I put the uke down, we call across a freeway of traffic, I have a new riding partner for the rest of the day but she is not on tour and continues where I leave off with an invitation and a place to stay in the opposite direction I am headed.
Today started late last night when I got a text from my brother, he was in Port Townsend, I was with a friend and it was late so I caught up before dawn and tracked him down. I called from the front desk phone, wake up you lazy so and so Hog Waaloop. We have breakfast in the lobby lots of coffee and he sends me off with a bag of Fritos and three bananas.
I don’t know why every day starts with a huge fucking hill but it does and I would spend today completly lost battling big hills and contemplating why I’m doing this. I’ve been asked so many times and still don’t have an answer. I’m not sure why everybody feels the need to tell me I’m going to die out here but it’s well over 50 people now who have sent me pre maturely off to the grave. I don’t want to die, that’s why I’m doing this, to live. The freedom and time with no clocks, no schedules and nothing but my eyes and ears and all my senses on full overload.
The days are mine and they are hard earned as they should be, there are very few cyclists on this stretch and I understand why, the traffic is crazy scary. I live in each moment and think about everything in the world from my pink socks to red necks and wonder why they all drive such shitty trucks, I’ve never seen a red neck in a banging new ford and I wonder why?
My day starts at 8:15 and by 100pm my ass announces that the days is done, cold beer in hand and lots of good no cook food I’m pretty happy and already stinky again. I’m headed south but not committed to continuing south, east sounds fun also and when I ditch my my extra cargo I think the riding will be that much better and faster. I still am learning to climb out of the saddle with the new front bag and while I’m sore and very tired I feel good, no I feel great.
im the only person in this creepy campground roadside and the constant barrage of traffic irritates me. This is a rest stop thT locals use as a sex pit, get me out of here
Total mileage 119.5 seems like more 🙂
ciggis smoked 12
money spent 31 and I’m way over my damn budget 🙁
today has been the day from Hellas the single most dangerous of my life. I woke up to a soaking wet world, uphill straight off the bat and the most dangerous road of my life, if today had been day one I would have quit this journey sold Brompty and gotten a job at McDonalds, although I’m still desperately searching for one for breakfast.
The guide book scared the shit out of me as I read it’s words. It said 16 miles of dangerous roads, that was total bs. 24 miles of hell on wheels and again I’m questioning why I am here and what I’m doing. Today was not fun in any manner as huge logging truck, dump,trucks and crazy driver whizzed by litteraly inches from me.
Im going to take this moment to pull out the cripple card, with my double vision and dyslexia this journey is just plain fucking stupid. I see two of everything but the one on the right is what’s really on the left and obviously the one on the other side doesn’t belong there either.
There was almost no shoulder with a three foot trench at the edge, I had vertigo the whloe time and with my overstuffed load the bike is still awkward in these very challenging situations. I wanted to take a picture but was too fucking scared to stop. Also way too many bridges and crowned roads on blind curves that are one of the most dangerous parts of cycling. For twenty straight hilly miles I pedaled like is was being chased by the devil. I have never in my life been this scared or shaken up, this shit sucks but I’m hoping it’s well behind me.
Its cold as fuck today, my hands and toes numb the whole day riding in the wet pacific north west mist. Pulling out of my hell ride , chilled to the bone I spotted a small shop. I walked in shivering and trembling and had to beg the guy to brew me a cup of coffee. Stretching outside, the smell of burning wood, the cry of many eagles me the low overhanging mist was as beautiful as anything in the world. You can’t just drive up and witness this kind of emotion. What I experienced was heaven on earth, thousands of memories flooded me from a lifetime of road trips. This is what I live for, this brief moment in time.
The next four miles are very emotional, tears of joy stream down my cheeks, I find a post office, my front bag is 24.12 still to much. I hate to do it but I commit to sending away my still unused Nikon and my uke, it’s just not safe. A big iPhone would be perfect but with my iPad it takes too much effort to unpack and tke snap shots so I don’t.
Im sitting In a warm, no hot coffee shop. My fingers and toes are burning, the girl that helps me is cute and sweet and a joy to be around. My comfy leather chair squeaks as I squirm around trying to find the right angle for my road weary ass, I’m spent but there are many more miles today, I want to live right here in this chair, I’m never leaving this spot. Somewhere on some un named traffic infested hill I crossed my first hundred miles, this trip just started and I’m already past ten percent of the journey. I need to learn to slow down, we all do.
Ciggis smoked 10
Heros and villains, my bike grips are for sure the heroes as is my Terry mankilt. The big villain is my bike seat which was replaced with a newer Brompton seat and now I’m desperate to replace this seat again with something not Brompton. Imagine being reamed and tortured analy, this is what this seat is like as was its predecessor. I’m in no small amount of pain but unlike yesterday where I was crushed, I feel good and could drop another 20 or more miles if I didn’t have dinner plans in Port Townsend.
The thing about your first day is it will never be the same after that. The freedom and exileration of finally being free, the pain of finally being out on the road and the sheer beauty of your new surrounds. Everything will continue to change and with each new experience so will you.
Day one ended with a complet meal fail, that heavy shit I brought was rotten and I was too crushed to to anything other than go to bet stinky, sweaty and tired. A little girl on tour brought me a chocolate chip cookie, it was the best cookie I have ever had.
I have six speeds, by 8:00 am I had used all of them. The dry crackle of rubber and dirt fiollow me down a lonely patch of single track and I make my way around a hill it’s way too early to climb. Deception Pass camp ground is a shit hole with fighter jets blasting overhead well into the night. Everytime I fall asleep I’m woken by the sound of afterburners. I can’t get out early enough. One cup of coffee and I’m on the road, it’s up hill the whole fucking way, quads burning, granny gear churning, I’m so sick of being so worn out. I figure it will take at least a week for my body to recover from the summer and another to build back up into cycling shape. I didn’t spend one second training or preparing in any way shape or form for this ride.
I make it to oak harbor, I shouldn’t be this tired but I am, all I want is coffee and Mc donalds, I want it on this side of the street because I’m too tired to cross to the other. It’s way too early in the trip to be fantasizing about spandex but my balls really hurt. I see an Arby’s then Taco hell then lots of fast food stores and another Arby’s, are there really two or am I actually riding this slow. I see a sign for a Starbucks but it’s out of buisiness, the whole strip mall is. On the edge of town I pay 7 bucks for a cup of coffee and some form of strawerry fruit thing. There is a plastic cup separating the gornola from the yogurt but I’m too stupid or tired or both to figure this out its 9:54 am
The barrage of high speed traffic is a constant assault on the mind, huge trucks blast by at 50 mph, not only do they not winded the gap but they cross the little white line into my already too small of space, I hate cars and thier selfish drivers, after 8 years of being careless I make a vow that I will never again own one.
ive been climbing for over half an hour, this hill seems endless but I find myself shifting out of granny into my second gear, then my third and 4th, I’m finding my legs. Then smell of rancid fruit and horse shit make me smile, this is really real and I’m here, after yesterday I was very afraid of today but by 11:40 I’m on the ferry to Port Towmsend. I’ve crushed this day and even though it was only a short 30 miles, that’s pretty close to what I’m hoping for the whole trip, I’m trying to go slow and really take it all in.
i stink like fuck and need a good shower and to do a bit of laundry, I’m digging riding in my running shorts but spent half of the day fantasizing about spandex, or a new seat or both, neither are in the budget but the fantasies keep me going, spirits are very high but I’m tired and want a cold beer and slice of pizza, first a shower is in order.
After a glorious shower I shared laundry with a cute sailorette I met, out unmentionables did unmentionable things in the dryer while she played the flute as I plucked my uke in the lazy afternoon sun. My day continued to awesome on every front but the rest is private.
Cigarettes smoked 15
By 9:00 am I’m in my granny gear and my quads are burning, I’m totally unprepared and loving every second of it. I had stopped by the post office to weigh my front bag, it has a max load of 22 pounds. After a late light of trimming, shaving and jettisoning everything I could I’m down to 26 pounds and the bike is a bit unwieldy but all and all rides like a dream. My fucking ukulele on my back is driving me nuts and I know I’ll need to find a better way but I only 15 minutes into my journey.
The culprits are my full size Nikon and zoom lense, I had hoped to sell it an find a sweet little micro 4/3 with 35mm primary and that is still my goal but selling a camera on the road is not going to be easy. I also have way too much food, even though I jettisoned quite a bit and three cans of beer. I set off with exactly $750’bucks so every penny counts as does every ounce. My medium wight long underwear are too heavy and occupy oso much space but it’s what I had. I also had 4 now 3 little bottles of whiskey. I had also planned on cycling the lost coast so brought a pile of spares but it’s closed due to a landslide so more shit and less money. Then there is the bike chain. It’s a long story but it’s in my bag and a hate to replace the one I’m using till it needs it, yes another budget thing but it’s also one more culprit.
The waves are smashing the ferry, I should have folded and brought Brompty up with me but another sign I have too much stuff to wrangle. This is going to be a very experience with a huge learning curve of how smile I can make my cargo and my journey. I weigh a buck sixty soaking wet, ad 35 pounds or so of gear and that puts my riding weight at damn near 200 pounds. My goal was and is sub 180, I’ll get there for sure but not today.
My goal was for an easy first day, a chance to unwind and gilet used to having to clock, I look at my wrist a thousand times a day for no reason other than there used to be a watch there, I never realized how often I did this or how unhealthy it is. The sun is my clock now. Unlike just about every person who strives to have more in this world, my goal is to have less. Just the right amount of this and that, my mind trails off to the homeless guys on rusty old beach cruisers I’d meet all over Hawaii, thier tiny day packs and the freedom it gave them.
Notes I’m crushed, the hills killed me. I stopped to take off a layer and climbed a huge hill. At the top a girl in her car was yelling at, you dropped something, I looked back at my seat bag and oh fuck, I left my ukulele sitting on the side of the curb at the bottom of the hill, all my money and passport were in it. I rode like the devil and thank god it was still there. Day one the uke has been a huge fail, it’s hard to wear on my back, constantly shifting and strangles me, the things we do for love. Steiger off the ferry I was smacked with reality, big trucks spewing smog, narrow shoulders and many hills, the guide book says this is easy, I’m screwed. It was a good and very hard day, tomorow I will see triple the mileage. The front bag is way too heavy and dangerous, I’ve lightened again today and that damn camera is now heavier than ever, it’s a burden but also important till I can find a lighter one, I’ve already had many thoughts of mailing it away but I’m not ready for that yet. Deception pass camp ground is a shit hole with never ending fighter jets over head and no close water or restrooms. I’m really tired, spirits are high but energy is very low and I’m a bit worried about tomorrow, where I’ll find the energy to cook and why I brought the things I did, much wasted money that could have been used on better no cook food, warmer clothes and the such…
I had forgotten how magnificent Sookies v-Berth is. I sprawled out in every direction, the way Chloe used to do and had the best nights sleep of my life. I’ve never been more torn about leaving Sookie before but if I don’t quit smoking, having the best sailboat in the world won’t matter and that’s what this journey is. A desperate attempt to quit smoking, it will be done by riding myself into submission every day and working it out of my system.
Although as I sit here pecking these words I’m so worn out I can barely walk, I hobble about dizzy and tired from my long summer. It will be a very slow start while I try and regain my strength. My last effort as dock master was wheeling a drunken power boater to his boat, he literally couldn’t walk. An hour later I got an emergency call and came screaming down the dock on my bike ” out of the way”. This dipshit tried to leave the marina and literally almost ran himself over after falling overboard. Lifting his dead weight out of the water was difficult, a marina full of people and only one person came to help. Not even the guys that called would assist, fucking humans are a waste.
Sitting in my big plush bed with soft white sheets, snuggly socks and my warmies I’m as good as I’m going to get. I packed and repacked a hundred times. My front bag has a 22lb max load, I’m sure I’m 10 pounds over that but the road will straighten that all out.
At the very last moment I ditched one Mac and cheese meal and my down vest, this may come back to haunt me but I’m just way over my target weight. A pound saved may seem insignificant but I’m reminded of a conversation I was having with a millionaire and a billionaire. The millionaire told me that he counts every dollar when the billionaire chimed in that he counts every cent. Ounces equal pounds when it comes to packing light.
Im in a delicious place right now, retired for month at least and feeling very pampered in my clean clothes and soft bed. A long hot bath may have been the last for some time as was a good shave. All I have to do now is pick a direction and turn the pedals. But that’s will come soon enough. Tonight I will bounce around my clean space, it’s the last bit of safety and security I will know for My journey has already begun.
PS there is no way I can describe how close I came today to saying screw it with this trip and launching Sookie fr a bitter cold winter or just grabbing my uke and jumping the first plane to Hawaii. As of this point my packing and luggage proved to be a complete failure on my first short fully packed journey. It’s going to be a long night if I want to make this work, I have way too much
“The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”
― Christopher McCandless
Dragging my Brompton through the thick Hawaiin mud for twelve hours straight had many thoughts going through my head, most of them were what the fuck am I doing here. I didn’t put much thought into that journey, I just stuffed my shit in my pack and left.
when I returned I hadn’t ever gone deeper than 6″ into my pack. I never used my sleeping bag and most other items were little more than the weight of the world on my back. I carted my shit around because I owned it, but in the end; it owned me.
Ive never been very good at preparing for things, I just dive and and see what happens. I’m pretty much on that page right now. Last night I stuffed a bunch of crap in my bags and it all almost fits. Im not mentally up to the task of doing this right now due to all out exhaustion but I am doing it. My motto is if I want something and I don’t have it, I don’t need it. I sure many items will be donated along the way.
What I do know is that my tent works and I have a warm enough sleeping bag. My mishmash of clothing should keep me warm and the uke will help my brain and maybe even a few new songs will come out of this.
The whole boat thing hasn’t really been working out so in switching gears, when she sells I’m buying a flat in the city and going back to a normal life but for now nothing in my world is normal. Tomorrow after my last day at work I get one special night in a big comfy bed with a bathtub and good music. The following morning is when the rubber hits the road and all bets are off. I have no idea how far I will ride or in what direction although do usually gravitate south at this time of year.
I haven’t a single responsibility in the world so at this point I am more free than I have ever been in my life. Just me, Brompty, my uke and the open road. I think Larry Pardey said it best when he said ” As long as it’s fun”. Be it a day or a year, one of the many benefits of traveling light is the ability to jump a plane, train or automobile at any point and make a B-line to a new adventure. Going my way?
“A person does not grow from the ground like a vine or a tree, one is not part of a plot of land. Mankind has legs so it can wander.”
― Roman Payne
My life isn’t a slow motion trailer for the Banff film festival. Nobody knows my name. My superpower is in my anonymity. My struggle has never earned me sponsors, royalties or endorsements. My autograph is something that will never be asked for. My greatest achievements are the reward of surviving hypothermia, storms both on and off the sea, and the rigors of the life nomadic; a new scar with its own story to tell and fllthy grimy finger nails, salt, sweaty matted everything, Pain… My story cant be bought or sold it has to be earned and it’s a hard way to make a living.
I am stormy and my life and the torture I put myself through doesn’t matter to anyone other other than me. My sore muscles, road beaten body or the few data bites my tired fingers peck out on my I pad are all I possess. My studio is in my brain and my canvas is my bleach blond brow, my tanned smile and the crows feet trailing my pale blue eyes that tell the story of a man who wondered what if I just say fuck it, give my shit to the needy and walk away. You will never understand why I do what i do and it’s not your place to understand. You are one of the lucky few on a planet of billions who has the fortune, or misfortune to witness to my shinanagans.
This is about the time I start to freak out. I always say the first three days are the hardest, if you can survive those you can survive anything but what about the last three days. I haven’t even looked into gearing up, I need to move the boat and wrap it up and still have work and one last top secret project before I leave. The clock is not my friend, but soon enough I will take off the watch that rules over each day and the sun will take its place. My days will be ruled by feeding time, sleeping time and all of the time of day between sunrise and sunset.
Not unlike many years ago when I turned my back on everything safe that I knew in the world I’m doing it again. Much like the gypsies who stole me and gave me my name I am a roamer and that’s what I will continue to do until I am captured.
I know all to well of the cold and wet and headwinds and all of the things that go bump in the night. These same things that I fear as much as the long dark and lonely nights are what draw me out into the world most only read about. In three short days I will be given parole from the prison I have willingly entered and again I will be a free man and this earth I will roam with no destination other than the present. Run Run as fast as you can, you can’t catch me I’m the gingerbread man
“The securest place is a prison cell, but there is no liberty”
― Benjamin Franklin
I’m jamin on my new uke when I hear a scratch on my hull, it’s Casey, she’s crying and hiccuping and sniffeling. Her journey has been a long hard and lonely one and she is starting to discover what all solo sailors do, that it can be fucking lonely out there cut off from our tribe.
I’ve been been there so many times, in many ways I’m there right now. While I have many aquantences living close to the way I choose I have very few that live on the edge the way i do, it’s hard for people to understand our life and lifestyle when they are so far removed. In many ways I’m completely burned out from the last year of sailing cycle touring working and always sleeping in my damn tent but in others I recharged and ready to move on. I’m getting pretty used to chasing the seasons.
I want to invite Casey with me but I don’t and I won’t, she is too young and has to find her own journey and to make her own way. I row out to her little boat and we have wine as I wipe away her tears, I offer to sail home with her…
Back in my life I’m only 9 fingers away from my next journey and up until she showed up I didn’t even know what it was. My search for a community of people who live a full time existence of minimalism and simplicity while pushing every boundary of exploring thier lifes.
I used to climb but I don’t fit in to with the climbers. I was a surfer but that’s not my tribe. Skiing and Mountian biking ruled my world for years but it’s not that either. It’s iut there, this I know and I will continue the search for my humans, I know They will show up when the time is right, serveral of them did last night in the form of two Lyle Hess boats showing up and an offer for a place to chill in San Diego although that is many miles from where I am floating now.
“Don’t waste your time being what someone wants you to become, in order to feed their list of rules, boundaries and insecurities. Find your tribe. They will allow you to be you, while you dance in the rain.”
― Shannon L. Alder
I bought Chloe a brand new Subaru for her first birthday, before the end of the first week she had ripped out the steering colum to the tune of serveral thousand dollars but that was only the tip of the iceberg compared to what I paid in bribes to keep her in my divorce settlement. I didn’t care about the house, the money or any of the personal belongings that took me a lifetime to obtain, I just wanted that fluffy little monster that made my world so frustratingly perfect.
A Brittany came running down the dock right up to me and after a good ear scratch she layed down on my foot the way Chloe used to do, I almost had a breakdown, I miss that little fucker so much words can not describe. They say it gets easier with time, it doesn’t. With every passing day I miss her more and more and think about her more often. For a long time I tried to block it all but I simply can’t, I miss my baby, always :(…
I miss the life I created for her and our back woods adventures together, eating road kill, living in a snow cave and section hiking the pacific crest trail. She was the best companion a man could have. It’s been a year since that horrible day when she went to that big fiend in the sky and I’ve been saving a special bottle a friend gave to me, for what I didn’t know but tonight I will toast my best friend with a bottle of red appropriately named Chloe, the girl who changed not only who and what I am but also how I see the world. I have a book in me but I’m not so sure I’m ready to share our adventures with the world.
She would always eat my cooking, never said no to a few extra miles on the trail and was great for treeing a bear in my campsite if a treed bear in your camp site is what you want. She was always up to some form of shinanigans and taught me that life is to short to follow the rules. I’d sneak her into bars and restaurants and we would both get kicked out. Our winter in a back country cabin snowshoeing through heavy power on a daily basis was one of the best times of my life. She would always jump on the back of my snow shoes tripping me face first into to deep snow and then jump on my back to play. Mornings were steam roller time when she would pounce on me and wake me up for coffe and dog chow.
On one famous backpacking trip where all I brought were a pack of hot dogs and a sleeping bag she crawled into a dead deer carcas just before sunset. I did the best to clean her that I could but it was impossible, then the mosquitos came out in force. We dove into my sleeping bag wet stinky dog and all and I said to her, at least it’s not raining, then the Hevens opened up, there was no place I would have rather been. My favorite Mountian biking trail was 40 miles long and she would lap me the whole time. We climbed every mountain, sailed all over the country and Mexico together and did the worlds best road trip.
My heart is still hurting these days but I always feel like she is close by, keeping an eye on me and reminding me that none of us will get out of this world alive. Her daily memories remind me to love unconditionally, play every day and to wake up with an explosion for another day and the gift of life. I salute you Chloe, cheers my friend and thank you for teaching me that while life might not be fair it’s the greatest gift any of us could ever ask for.
I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me, they are the role model for being alive.
A quick glance at my bank account confirms that I have exactly the same amount of money that I had before I started working, a big ZERO!, but it isn’t money im after today. Sure I’m alive and kicking, I’ve done a bit of good for the world and the yachters daughters have been keeping me in very good company. I’m building an arsenal of fun and while on this day I’m too broke to use the freedom it affords me I have a solid three weeks before 9/11
Serveral thousand nights in my shit freezing sleeping bag has prompted me to invest in the best sleeping bag known to man, it is so plush I can’t even use it as the day it arrived so did summer, isn’t that how it always works. My self inflating camp pad is pretty kewl as is the tent that so far has kept me warm and dry. On Sunday 9/11 I’ll drink my last bottle of wine, have a a good steak and when I wake up it will be decision time, splash Sookie and seek winter employment or load up Brompty and hit the road in search of winter employment, I won’t think about it till that Monday the 12th but by 9:00 I’ll be on my way.
Being single has its advantages, not that I’ve ever been the type of person to seek out singledom but on the plus side being minus one means I don’t have some nagging bitch squawking at me to cut my hair, have a shave and get a job. If I wasn’t single I’m guessing that rather than sitting in the hotel bar getting free drinks from the uber cute girl I met today I would be at Sears picking out a new shirt for Sunday services. But my god isn’t a statue and she doesn’t exist in a church.
She’s out there everywhere and I always find her, on the water, in the mountians, on the road and every drop she bleeds from the sky leads from her throne on the highest montian top through the valley of Eden and into the sea which sea has created for me. I hang out with the uber rich everyday, it’s the life I know best, they are not free, they are slaves to everything that makes the brief snapshot of thier life look like a dream but come Monday thier get out of jail free card expires and back to work they go till they are 75 and free to live the rest of thier lives as they choose.
Where ever my future takes me I know there will be times when I am super afraid. Times when I am cold and times when I am hungry. Freedom comes with a price and I’m willing to pay for it with a little bit of discomfort here and there. I spent he afternoon cleaning and decking out Brompty, admiring her lines in the late glow of the setting sun and once again i wonder how I am so fortunate to be blessed with everything I need in this world and nothing I don’t….
“My life changed the day I moved beyond just wishing for things and I started earning them. That is the day I learned that we don’t get what we wish for, we get what we work for.”
― Steve Maraboli
I’m like the walking dead, I haven’t had a day off in a month. I’m up at 530 working on Sookie, then it’s off to work seven days a week and back to the boat till dark. I’ve never been this burned out in my life. Every inch of my body hurts from being run over by a boat. My days are like running a marathon, my nights, sanctuary in my little one man tent.
Every morning I wake and I can’t move, my spine feels like it is cracked in half. Slowly I force myself up, my knees swollen still from yesterday but morning brings coffee and the smell of teak sawdust, the rich aroma of freshly laid varnish, paint and all sorts of sealants.
Every day I swear I’m done with traditional boats, my next boat will be all plastic with metal hand rails and an aluminum toe rail and I will love it for its lack of necessary maintenance. Each and every morning I swear this but by the pale light of the setting sun with a cool beer in my hand I inspect the days pitiful progress and I smile. I touch Sookies bow and I proclaim my love to her.
I’m burned out on boats and sailing and living aboard, I want to be as far away from this time in my life that I can but in some deep place I know I will shed a silent tear when I walk away. I could splash her today and spend another winter aboard but I won’t. I need to recharge and find a new zen. I’ve been in a coma for over a year, my brain isn’t firing and I can’t do anything right. My burger and fries a day that I’m alloted from the resort galley has me looking like I’m pregnant, I feel stagnant because I am, all my days blur to no purpose and I still don’t even know why.
I glance at my watch, it’s time to clock in, I glance at my calander and wonder how I can survive the next month but also know it’s nearly impossible to finish here in time, to leave before winter catches me. I’m in a weakened state both mentally and physically but that date keeps me focused, it’s a very small window of freedom that the road affords. When my ride ends I’ll be broke a thousand miles from home and it will be winter, this is my freedom, my choice, my life. I stretch and squirm and let out a morning roar. I’m not following the path less taken, I’m making my own…
“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
― Benjamin Franklin
Perfect bike, perfect ass, what more could you ask for. I was chatting about my current life with some boaters when I was reminded of my youth and how at my age it’s one thing to bonk around but my new friends had responsibilities at thier age.
I asked how old they thought I was and she said 25, I laughed as her jaw dropped, we were the same age. When asked my secret to my youth I simply replied, “good wine and organic ciggis” the truth isn’t that simple but if you want that perfect 2% body fat, muscular physique and ripping strong cardio you had when you were in your teens, find a bike you love and ride it like you stole it.
My vacation from the web has been a nice break while the digital mechanics were sorted out but I missed writing. Not much to talk about but I have a feeling that’s all going to change right about now…
“The Little Boy and the Old Man
Said the little boy, “Sometimes I drop my spoon.”
Said the old man, “I do that too.”
The little boy whispered, “I wet my pants.”
I do that too,” laughed the little old man.
Said the little boy, “I often cry.”
The old man nodded, “So do I.”
But worst of all,” said the boy, “it seems
Grown-ups don’t pay attention to me.”
And he felt the warmth of a wrinkled old hand.
I know what you mean,” said the little old man.”
― Shel Silverstein
I’ve been afraid to say the words out loud because in my current condition I won’t even be able to pedal to the mainland but still, it’s all I can think about. My back is fucked, my budget is shit and my gear is seriously lacking. They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting diffent results. My one way ticket to Maui and 500 bucks was a lunatic endeavor, a journey fit for a mad man.
Well I’m much more settled now and it looks like I will be setting off for the ferry with a cool, 750 smackers. My goal is to make it to the ferry on Lopez island. If I make it that far I will continue one mile at a time, one day at a time for as long as my back hangs in there. If I survive the first three days I’ll figure out a way to get a sleeping bag and cook set.
I have a pile of bike shit, new gears, new grips, a front bag for Brompty and a bunch of spare parts that I will never need now that I have them. I’ll still need a new set of tires but the ones I have will get me to Oregon at least. I can’t be bothered to replace them now because I might not make it that far. Brompton makes a sweet in frame tool kit and that will find its way in my frame as well. It’s all about baby steps on this one.
I’ve met a ton of touring cyclists this summer and I’m jacked to get out on the coast and do some exploring by bike. My seven year anniversary with living car-less is in October so I hope my body holds out long enough.to celebrate that one on the road. My contract ends in 35 days, holly shit that’s not enough time to finish my projects on sookie and get my ride together.
I will literally walk off one of the most physically demanding jobs I have ever had and 12 hours later be on the bike heading south with no rest or transition. If I don’t beat the cool of fall I will freeze to death long before I run out of money and succumb to starvation. My biggest point of contention is my miserable as hell bike seat. It’s fine for up to two hours but after that it becomes a torture chamber.
If I actually do this it will be a battle of riding as slow as humanly possible so I can explore the coast to the fullest but also a race against winter and my budget. It’s all comming together, all I have to do is commit to the insanity and take the path less pedaled. Maybe at the end I will finally find my bit of land and build my tiny home although in this chilly morning a tent cabin in Hawaii is sounding much more appealing, I really love my simple life…
“Bicycles are almost as good as guitars for meeting girls” ~ Bob Weir, Grateful Dead
I stare at my in box for 10 minutes, there is an email at the top, I don’t want to open it, I don’t want to know what it says. I delete it, then I hit control alt delete and clean my entire mail, time for s fresh clean platform in my cyber cafe. Letting go comes easy for me, sort of. Moving on, starting a new direction it’s all part of the creative process.
Tonight I’m having wine with Barbara, she is in from Europe on her parents Catalina 34. When morning comes she will slip the lines and a whole new cycle will start for all of us. That’s what summer in a resort is like, people always coming, always going but I’m always here, I can’t take the stagnation. I have a pile of gear waiting for me at the post office, I’m trading my foulies for light weight rain gear, my Xtratufs for bare feet and my fancy pressed uniform for my purple man kilt.
I’m a drifter, a vagabond, a transient a dirt bag explorer, I have many names but guru or role model isn’t one of them. I continue to turn down advertising offers mostly because advertising sucks but it’s a double edge sward. I’m not rich by any means but I’m getting used to having a few bucks in my pocket, the freedom to buy food, and my new shelter. This is where it all begins, the downward spiral of upper mobility. I spend my little free time searching for a cabin in the woods or a cabana on the beach, anyplace that I can both stand up in and lay down in. Hot water and a flush toilet, a window to peer out of. How far I’ve come from that day surrounded by dozens of rows of executives in thier little cubicles. Each set of rows was a group, the rows went on as far as the eyes could see. Staring out the window at a passing summer storm I Made a break for it. I raised my hands to the heavens and soaked in every drop of beautiful rain.
Soaking wet I walked back to my cubicle, my home for 12 hours a day and packed my bag and walked out on my life. Was it really that I bad? A big leather chair, heat and air conditioning, more money than should ever be earned for sitting in that big plush chair. I had a little headset so I could crunch numbers while I chatted on the phone, my nice car in the parking lot and a beautiful coastal home next to my boat. Now sitting on the other side of that window, that day, that life I can’t help but wonder. Has anything changed? Have I changed? I could say yes but I will say no, I’m that same old person hypnotized by money and willing to trade my life for it, to chase investments and Capitol and power.
They say once you are a smoker you always are a smoker, all it takes is one drag and you are hooked again. Money is the same way, it’s a disease, one we all want and we can never get sick enough to get better. Living on the hard cold ground, I’m at one with my bunnies and the deer, they all know me and that I’m safe but I know myself and I’m not. I’m not safe, not from myself and not from the world, I’m a potential nuclear explosion of consumerism and waste and greed. A ticking time bomb willing to have what I want regardless of its cost to the planet I live on. I buy from communists, create a market for horribly toxic chemicals that I place on my boat in the ocean that I act like I love. My foot print is huge, I’m willing to settle and sell out. No I’m not a leader, I’m not a role model and I’m sure as hell not your guru.
From the log of Sookie, missing Chloe. If you want to live a better life follow your dog, they need nothing, love everybody and are always happy, cheerful and ready to please. Chloe was and still is my guru…
When the memory fades you can talk yourself into just about anything. Night comes with a darkening sky, then one planet and the universe slowly opens to me, first constellations then the background blanketed by millions of stars. I wonder how many thousands of nights I’ve layed cowboy camping staring at the same never ending clockwork of the heavens not once getting bored with my view from this tiny planet.
I’m on my bike now climbing never ending hills in hundred degree temperatures and monster head winds. Sookie slices through huge breaking head seas, I’m focused searching for deadheads, I’m in my element completely one with nature. Back at mile marker 43 I’m seven miles from finishing my first sub 12 fifty miler, I’m crushed. I’m carrying my best friends limp body away minutes after loosing the single best thing that has ever happened in my life, true love. I’m signing a piece of paper relinquishing a dozen hard earned years wasted working for money. It’s pouring rain, I drag my backpack through six inches of Nasty skank mud, my feet like suction cups stuck in quick sand. I make it fifty yards and drop the pack heading back to get the bike, I do this for 12 hours straight. I’m 19 years old sitting in the rain crying, my life will never be the same, scar’ed for life. I start a journey that will last more years than I’ve lived at that point. Each star represents a story in my quiver, there are many.
We’re all scared it’s what we are, it’s who we are. We aren’t just scared but we’re also scar’ed, If you are fortunate some day you will learn to love your scars both mental and physical, it’s our own personal brand. I was having a conversation the other day with a person who said they weren’t afraid of anything and made fun of me for being afraid of everything. Of course that person had never really done anything to merit the fear that I know and speak of. My fun meter has been pegged since birth and that bar seems to raised every day. I woke up at the crack of dawn crawled out of my sleeping bag to have pee and when I returned and flipped the bag open there it was, a huge tarantula my new snuggle mate. I’m beyond the point of screaming like a 12 year old girl but I wanted to, it explained the phantom creepy crawly feeling I had all night as I could swear something was in my bag with be but blew it off to itchy mosquito bites.
From the log of Sookie, Spider Island. I’m done with the outside; I’m moving to the city getting a nice flat furnished by ikea and the biggest tv ever made, a cell phone and a fancy pair of shoes…
I’ve been huddled in a soaking mass of wet down shivering for hours, I’ve reached my breaking point. I get up, roll the whole mess into a ball and walk the short distance to the laundry room leaving everything in a pile. My body is in near convulsions when I reach the spa. I’ll go in naked or just jump in with all my clothes on, I’m hypothermic. The door is locked, rat fucked. I go to the shower and my trembling hands have me dropping quarters everywhere, my dexterity is gone, I feel like a child trying to out a square block through a round hole.
The shower comes on after what seems an eternity my clothes in a pile on the disgusting floor, the water scalds me and I jump out turning the water to a much cooler temperature. Ten quarters lasts five minutes, round two has me picking of my piles of dropped silver and putting them in the machine with a little more ease, it will take 40 quarters, more than I have used since February to shake the chill. If I had more with me I would use them.
I’m tired, my world is blurry, I head back to Sookie, a place I’m nearly forbidden to go and retrieve more quarters and laundry soap, make a cup of coffee and head back to wash and dry my pathetic wet mess. My new tent is still AWOL. I feel like a criminal sneaking around, after a long day of work I limp up to the boat to asses removing her bowsprite. I haven’t been there ten seconds when I hear a voice, it’s the yard manager.Your not living on your boat are you?
This is total BS I confirmed with them before hauling her that I would be on and around the boat doing little projects all summer. Before hauling I contacted just about every yard in the Salish Sea, every one of them said I could stay aboard Sookie for the summer while working on her, everyone but the one I foolishly chose. The hotel who’s property is twelve feet from the boatyard offered to let me store Sookie there so I would have a bed and a platform to work from but the yard flat out denied my request to put Sookie on the other side of the road. Now I feel like I have to sneak around the yard even if I want to grab a snack or do a project, the thought of wasting my summer working on the boat was bad enough but leaving the island? Impossible!
I could have anchored out but a damp lonely summer working for my freedom and getting nothing done on the boat didn’t seem any better that leaving ths islands. I have the nicest boat in the yard and also the best maintained, my work space is spotless, I pay all my bills on time or in advance, I don’t play loud music do drugs or any single thing that could annoy them other than to simply exist.
The sun is peeking it’s head over the horizon it’s blowing like stink, thunder rumbles overhead, I’m chilly but huddled up in a comfy beach chair very happy this night if hell is all behind me.. Sitting in the lazy evening light, last night was beautiful beyond compare. It was almost balmy, golden rays showered my world, lighting crackling in the distance as big black clouds rolled and formed into eiry looking monsters, then the first drops fell from the sky. I’m tired, worn out and near my breaking point, or at least wondering if I have one. I feel close now, to knowledge if in no other way knowledge of who I am and what I’m capeable of. I fantasize about sitting in a heated office with a mortgsge and debt up to my ears, a safety net against myself. I cute little house with a white picket fence and 2.4 kids, who are fucking kidding…
“I have need of angels. Enough hell has swallowed me for too many years. But finally understand this–I have burned up one hundred thousand human lives already, from the strength of my pain.”
― Antonin Artaud
I’ve never seen a more disgusting array of cluttered shit in my entire life, literally. I’m living In a pile of rabbit shit, I’ve lived in some pretty interesting places over the course of this journey. The abandoned clam plant was the most interesting and freaky, blood pans and the constant dripping of water with just enough weldimg masks spread around to make the perfect set for a horror film, there was even a Sickle hanging on the wall for a bit of added effect. When the wind blew which it always dit it sounded like evil from the gates of hell banging on the walls.
Don’t get me wrong I’m not complaining, not by a long shot. I’m willing to go through anything and give up everything if I have to in order to follow my journey. The boat, the bike, even this blog, these are all just things and things don’t matter. I can assure you I’m not going to get a Cush book deal sitting on my ass surfing YouTube.
My journey no matter how fucked up is authentic, even if only to me. By day I’m the most kick ass club master in the universe and the vacationers love it and they love me because I treat each and every one like gold, even the assholes and there are many.
When I clock out I take off my neat and clean uniform, carefully roll it up and tuck it in my little bag and become a scum sucking homeless piece of shit hiding from the sheriff although a few more days of this and three hots and a cot will start sounding pretty fancy. I lay out my tiny sun shade from Sookie to cover the shit but by morning my 50 degree bag is soaked through from either the rain or heavy dew. Cold is my constant companion but my life is quite civilized. I sip on a world class glass of wine, I have a few, chew on a nice and all natural peanut butter and jam sandwich on fancy bread and watch the sun set into the western void.
Podcasts on my little iPad keep my mind occupied while I peck out a bit of jiberish here and there, I’m twenty or thirty blogs posts behind, so much has transpired in my life in the last few weeks. I’ll more than likely delete them all and let the cracks fill with time. I write for the sake of writing and rarely post more than a smidge of the shit that is going on in my humble and satisfying experience. The bay is calm and mostly empty, not many boaters this year spells the truth about the real economy in America, not the BS one you see with all the fake numbers flashing around on Wall Street, funny how fast we all forget what happens when the bankers are given free money and allowed to run rampant and unchecked. Either way it doesn’t effect me one bit, I own my shit and have a pretty good reserve of lentils and multi vitimans. I’m content with what I have and what I don’t. My freedom is in my complete lack of want or needs.
“I had to get a close-hand view of the misery and unhappiness of a man made world, before I reached the point where I could successfully revolt against it.”
― Emmeline Pankhurst
The rain comes each night and occasionally in the mornings, this has so far been a no summer, summer and my brain is confused by the lack of warmth I wait so long for each year. I’ve postponed my entire future waiting for a sign from the sea, no more sailing, the bike trip is off and now I have to figure out what road lies ahead.
I don’t know why but I sent off for payment instructions for my new wind vane. I haven’t been able to find much motivation to take advantage of Sookie being in the boat yard, my brain is in knots. To many choices will do that to a person. I slowly read about a girl and her solo circumnavigation on her Falmouth Cutter 22.
It’s been nearly a year without Chloe and the void continues, I play with every dog I meet but deep down I know there will not be another in my life. I piddle around Sookie wondering why I didn’t just sail off broke for the summer but reading through the manuscript of a book I wrote and will never publish about my accounts in Hawaii and I’m reminded that I don’t need any more adventure in my life, my fun meter is pegged.
A slow boring simple life is out there, it’s calling me and now all I have to do is say yes, but I have already said no.
I wake up with a crick in my back, I roll over and feel my entire body cracking into alignment, it’s time for a bit of tent yoga. Going through my journal this is my 51st day in the last year sleeping in a tent, then there was the tin shed I had in Oregon for a few months, not half as creepy as the adandoned clam plant I lived in for serveral months a few years back.
Hotels, hostels and couches filled the rest of the year minus about 100 days on board Sookie. I sure will be happy to be a full time liveaboard again but I don’t see that happening this year, or any time in the near future. I’m slowly packing her for a long nap.
It’s cool in the tent in the mornings, today I was awoken by a very loud fog horn, I almost jumped out of my skin thinking I was being run down in the right, quite the rude awakening. It’s still cold and foggy but I can already feel the tent warming which will chase me away till near sunset. My time would be better spent working on the boat but I think I have a long slow ride in me and then a nice afternoon nap under an old shady tree. I don’t get my once a week shower till tomorrow so today it will be a swim in the frigid waters somewhere off the south end of the island, then I will lay around like a sea lion letting the sun warm my naked body before jumping back on the bike for the long downwind ride home.
I’m tired and can’t seem to find my boundless summer energy but I’m also working hard and getting stronger by the day. My body is getting drunk off of vitiman D, water is my new drug of choice, cool and refreshing from my metal bottle. There are no more meals, just snack, all day little bits of chewy crunchy love filling me with enough energy to find the next sidetrack in my slow island life.
Unlike my recent jaunt to the tropics these islands don’t have hurricane force winds at this time of year or torrential rains. There are no scorpions, turanchulas, fire ants, centipedes, or any of the other creepy crawlies that kept me in such good company in my little island paradise. The San Juan islands are the safest and least toxic place in the entire northern hemisphere, yawn. Maybe a quick nap and one more cup of coffee before I start my day.
There are things I need to tell you, but would you listen if I told you how quickly time passes?
I know you are unable to imagine this.
Nevertheless, I can tell you that you will awake someday to find that your life has rushed by at a speed at once impossible and cruel. The most intense moments will seem to have occurred only yesterday and nothing will have erased the pain and pleasure, the impossible intensity of love and its dog-leaping happiness, the bleak blackness of passions unrequited, or unexpressed, or unresolved.”
― Meg Rosoff, What I Was
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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′.
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.
Today is and was without a doubt the best damn day of the year and it’s only getting better from here on out. Today was a day to figure out how to rig my new asymmetrical spinnaker. I’m doing a few other rigging changes as well but now I’m covered from one knot of wind to, well I don’t even want to think about the other end of the spectrum but my new 38 square foot storm jib is ready to go and I hope I’ll never need it.
Barefoot and narry a drop of wind, I love this new sail and it will for sure raise my cruising average speed. I can think of a hundred things I love about small boats but sails are damn near at the top of my list. I not saying Sookie is fast but there is no greater hell on earth that owning a slow boat while every other boat in the world sails past you. My westerly cirrus sport was slow as dirt, and it made me crazy. I had seven great sails including a drifter, spinnaker and asym but in less than 18 knots, she was a slug, wouldn’t point well and for a fin keel was just not up to my standards.
“hark, now hear the sailors cry,
smell the sea, and feel the sky
let your soul & spirit fly, into the mystic…”
― Van Morrison
“-She is like the wind, open and free. If I cage the wind, would it die?
-Then don’t cage it, Mikhail. Trust it to stay beside you.”
― Christine Feehan
I cut two inches off my sailing kilt, now its just a skirt, a pirate skirt Arggg. I’m going on an adventure and it’s coming with we. I pull out Brompty and pump her tires, do a quick inspection and ride her 100 yards to the airport, I’m hitchhiking to Roche to have lunch with a new friend.
Riding down a quiet country road I’m overcome with creative instinct I pull the bike off the road and start to write, I drift off into some other dimension when I return I have a new story and I’m pleased. I make a B-line for the ferry, I’m in my mental groove and don’t want to waste a single second of it.
A quiet calm overtakes my day when I arrive back on Lopez. My journey to write becomes one of man and bike. I chase lance Armstrong down winding country roads, my quads burn, my lungs soft and weak, they are crying out for a break but I tune them out chasing an imaginary devil through the most beautiful island on the planet earth. Mental inspiration reaches overload, writing in my head as I spin up and down these lazy old roads.
I stop at the southern market for a drink of water and I find a filthy wrinkled 20 spot on the ground, I look around the empty old parking lot. I take my gift, it may as well be a million dollars. Cameled up I head north in my highest gear, it s fruit day and I’m indulging in my unexplainable good fortune. The apparent wind cools and refreshes me while the afternoon sun on my back reminds me that spring is right around the corner.
I could ride forever, maybe someday it will. For everything I love about the freedom of sail, cycling is my panacea, it costs almost nothing, it makes you happy and fit and strong. The freedom of the open road, that feeling of accomplishment at the end of a long day, the promise of sliced summer sassage and a nice crisp ale, lounging around a camp fire, it’s a very primal experience. The only boundary on the open road is that of your own physical stamina which grows every day. I pamper my bike, she is sacred to me, she represents the one thing the world can’t steal from me, my health.
Coasting home, my pack filled to the brim with my good fortune I ponder my digital office. I need to find the smallest tools that can capture the infinite world that I live in. My minimalist journey isn’t just about less stuf, but also a smaller footprint so I can carry the world in my tiny pack. Robin Hood has a mask and sward. Superman has his cape and X-ray vision. I have my Brompton and klettersack. That naked feeling of riding in my kilt reminds me of how little I need in this world, sun, nourishment and freedom.
My sweat soaked kilt gets hung on the lifelines to dry. I tuck Brompty under the companionway steps and unpack my feast. Slathering peanut butter on a crisp green apple I smile. I’ve fought my entire life to live the simple existence of a starving artist.
“Being an artist is like being in a bar fight.You pick up whatever you have to in the moment to stay alive. Then you go for it.” Tom Wilson
I Never could have expected the turn of events that would lead to disposing of what was once a great relationship. I should have felt a tinge of remorse, I almost felt guilty as tied the last knot, there was no way of undoing this, she’s dead.
We traveled and sailed together, like frick and frack where one goes, we all go. Call it what you want but I had been let down one to many times, left high and dry. It didn’t start out this way but by the end the trust was gone, I had been pushed to the end of my rope . I tied the crumpled corpse, heaved it into the bed of the pickup and just like that it was all over. It wasn’t that long ago that she was my savior, she carried me safely through life providing for my needs, she was my proverbial parachute.
My first thought was to bury her at sea, but that would be a mistake. I looked at her covered in sand, mangled, and matted. She was a fighter and lasted longer than I would have expected. She had fallen into my lap just a few years before and I fell in love with her. I took her to all the beautiful places a sailboat can navigate but it was a doomed relationship from the start. Having lived in the tropics before arriving in the Pacific North West. The sun and a hard life had taken its toll, she was used up by the time I found her.
Dragging her across an oyster strewn beach her skin shredded and she let out her last gasp of air. Cruising can be hard on a dingy and my little Avon Redcrest was a champ putting in a solid 20 years of abuse before she kicked the cedar bucket. When I think of how many times that little dinghy kept me safe, the hundreds of miles I rowed in her and the thousands of miles I’ve towed her over the years. I miss her already but there are a thousand dinghys in the sea and I’ll find another one, I always do. Maybe my next one will be a bit more stable,, lighter, nicer lines, and fresher, more fun to row…
My ltttle rubber ducky was my SUV, grocery getter and always the deliverer of midnight pirate attacks on unsuspecting sailor friends. She carried me to a thousand beaches, countless guest docks, she has even saved Sookie when I turned her to a giant fender, to protect against a boat dragging its plow. Nothing lasts forever…
Standing on the side of a country road in the middle of nowhere my thumb held high in the air I wonder if my sailing knife strapped to the sling of my pack is what’s keeping me from being picked up. Moments later an old Subaru far past its expiration date, rattles and moans as it pulls over to the side of the road. The girl behind the wheel can’t reach the door lock, she stretches with all her might as I cheer her on and do a celebratory muppet dance when she finally clicks it open, I hop in and the insanity begins, where ya headed sailor…
It turns out my sea boots are a dead giveaway and we explode into a sailors banter about this and that, here and there. Back on Sookie I pour her a glass of wine as she pokes and prods and gives a thumbs up and a glass down. We drink and laugh and then a serious look comes over her face, are you solo? Why? I don’t know how to answer the question but the words slip out, because lonlieness and desperation make for a terrible match maker. She shrieks and laughs, a good song comes on the iPad, she starts to dance and I join her. Sookie is Rockin out when she cackles, Ak, I’m going to be late, she runs down the dock and disappears into the night. I start to cook dinner, onions, sweet potatoes, garlic, brocholy and two over easy eggs fried to perfection. I finish cleaning the galley, top off my water tanks, grab a beer and head to the spa. It’s too cold to walk around in a wet swim suit so I slip in naked hoping not to get caught. Floating on the rising bubbles I feel free as a bird and ponder life in my private steamy nirvana.
I don’t know why I’m so reluctant to even consider taking on crew but my wall is up for now and staying up. I ponder sailing, freedom, living well and just plain being outside. I recall my first sail on Sookie, solo and my first night at anchor, solo, the memories are so real I can touch them. Nearly five years have passed and these days she is very close to perfection in every way shape and form. Sure she is small but she has never felt too small, not even in the cooped up winter climate of the PNW. Her lack of systems keeps her sailing and not only easy but fun to sail. Somewhere in the early morning hours I drift off completely content with all the world has shared with me. Morning comes late these days as I suck up every ounce of my time pitter pattering around the boat, mainetnece log in hand and my brand spanking new heater purring like a kitten, the last one caught on fire yesterday which is how I found myself on a day long ramble form island to island.
I still don’t know what I want out of this life but for sure I know what I don’t want. The exploration continues, it seems these days that everybody wants to know every single thing before they set off on an adventure, whats the fucking point. For me the adventure is in the unknown, it’s where I find my freedom, the food that nourishes the soul. The exileration that fill my lungs to capacity and on not so rare an occasion the sheer terror that tells me I must be doing something right. You won’t find this kind of adventure in a brochure, magazine, or packaged trip. I’ve always felt the most alive when I’m teatering at the edge of the unknown.
“People don’t get it. He didn’t even have a fuckin’ map; what kind of idiot? THAT was the point. There’s no blank spots on the map anymore, anywhere on earth. If you want a blank spot on the map, you gotta leave the map behind.”
― Jon Krakauer
My last good deed before leaving the islands was to give my ukulele to a young student who needed it more than I did. It was hard to let go of my most prised possession but it was a good thing. There was nothing special about it, just a little concert uke, but it was very sentimental to me. Ive carried it everythwere I have gone since the day it was given to me.
The journey home has begun and along the way I will stop at every flea market, pawn shop and luthier looking for a new side kick. I’m not looking for anything special but I am incredibly picky about sound and playability. My fifteen minutes of fame as I played rockstar in the park made me smile as much as anything else in the world. All the smiling faces and laughs as I belted out tone deaf covers made me want to be a rock star but it’s the down time that makes the little uke so special. Small and light, they travel well. They are the perfect size for a little boat, strap easily on the back of the bike or I can just sling the gig bag over my shoulder and search out my little perch.
Everywhere where I went people would come up smiling and thank me for my song. Soft sweet melodies flow even for the un-talented player like me. Like the pied piper the music these little wooden boxes makes is intoxicating. I wrote many new songs during my hiatus and now with no strings to pluck I’m at a bit of a loss. Although the journey I’m taking is to find a new uke, im not in a rush. When the time is right, it will find me. If you have a bit of stress in your life, I highly suggest you pick up a nice used uke and strum the pains of the day away. It’s impossible not to be happy playing this curious little happy maker.
If I was ever stranded on a desert island the only thing I would want would be my ukulele and my tooth brush, anything else I could make.
Ukuleles will get you through times with no money better than money will get you through time with no ukulele – anonymous
Hanging on for dear life I straddle Sookies bow Sprite like a bull rider, bucking and pitching it can get pretty exciting out there. Her bow net keeps me in check as a frothy green sea attempts to swallow me whole washing me from my little perch. I swear I’m going to add roller furling to save me from the precarious journey out to the ends. An hour later Im working my way to weather. My main double reefed and slightly backed my Yankee and staysail flat and drawing nicely. I survey my little ship and wonder why anybody would ever add a roller furler to thier boat.
The bow Sprite and the staysail are two of the most traditional features found on boats that sail, they also happen to be two of the most modern. You won’t find a racer worth his salt that doesnt have these wonderful additions to thier satly craft. At 22′ LOD Sookies 5 foot bow Sprite is on the larger side, at 30’6″ LOA she carries a fair bit of canvas.
A good set of crisp new sails can literally cost more than the average budget cruiser. When it comes to sailing boats the sails are at the highest priority, for safety and fun. The best boat in the world will still sail at a severe handicap with tired old sails, add the performance penalty of roller furling and your really out on a tired old dog.
On my micro budget Sookie carries all plain sail. With her main, Yankee and staysail she has 15 different usable sail combinations and sails well enough with any and all of them, a new Asym will complete the package. She will work any sailable point of the compass with main alone and any combination of reef points as she will under staysail alone or Yankee alone. I’ve done quite a bit of performance testing on her intentionally putting myself in undesirable situations for a bit of real world testing. She does a fantastic job but I always have my eyes on a full set of Hasse sails and yes there is a difference. On these old traditional boats it’s very important to keep your drive foreward of the center. For all the teasing I do of Sookie she isn’t really slow, wet or tender but she is a slow manovering tank with her proper full keel. The reason I chose Sookie is that she was to only boat under 28′ designed with a full keel capable of heaving to, the cutaway keel robs the boat of this ability but still peanalizes the sailor with slow dorky handling. Puttting Sookie in tight spaces is always exciting, doing it backwards adds to the fun.
For my personal needs the good old design keeps my boat simple and relatively mainetnece free. A good set of working sails, a stern hung rudder, outboard chain plates and lots of sail combinations without filling the belly of my tiny beast with half a dozen bags of sails. All her Haliards are at the mast where I prefer them. Her mast stoutly mounted to the deck of the boat so I am standing on deck when I’m working foreward, not perched on top of the cabin. This is a relatively secure set up, I say relatively because the smaller the boat the more lively she will be and I’ve had some pretty wild rides up there. When it comes to safety at sea a large functioning boat will always be safer than a small functioning boat but safety is a very relative term as is comefort at sea.
Looking at the new BCC she has all the features I desire in a boat but I just can’t wrap my head around her interior. I’m not even remotely fond of all the wasted space of an enclosed head on such a small boat and putting it in the bow is down right retarded. My preferred head has always and will always be a plastic bucket. I’ve never had a problem showering on deck or in the sea and I don’t ever see how it will be an issue. On the other hand finding a compatable coed that prefers these choices has proven to be a bit of a challenge. Many compare life on a small boat as camping, I couldnt argue more against that point other to say they obviously have never cruised on a small well designed boat. Sookie has larger berths than an Island packet 38. More usable counter space than a Catalina 36, I better comefort ratio than over 90 percent of boats under 38′ and capsize ratio of 1.67 and a range of positive stability at a very respectable 133.These are all big numbers but the fact remains that she is a tiny little boat, if your not a snuggle ninja you could never be happy on such s small yacht. I like cozy small places and sharing my personal space but in the world we live in of bigger is better I’m one of the few.
Regardless of the boat I sail the rugged west coast of Vancouver Island has been calling my name, sail north across the pacific or circumnavigate the island, either way it’s a win win. I have every chart I need but one, two great boats to choose from and nine months till winter. More than anything I want to return to the Caribbean but not until I have made my way to Glacier Bay and back. I love the process of daily miles made good, a new and interesting protected anchorage every night and the challenge of the unkown.
I’m six weeks out from my first real shake down cruise of the season, it will start at Rosario, its spa is absolutely delightful and not to be missed. The East Sound is a vortex on bad days and I have been caught off guard more than once but Sookie drives nicely under reduced sail in the bucking conditions that little bay is famous for.
With a bone in her teeth, hard on the wind she is an absolute dream to sail. A week in the islands will do by brain good, as a sailor I hope for the the best weather at this time of year but expect the worst. Over the years Sookie has seen everything Mother Nature can throw at her and has never let me down but she does have one big handicap, in heavy winds she is a dream to weather but throw a huge nasty chop and a true sustained 40 knots and she starts to suffer. I have a had some painfully slow and exiting times trying to make good to weather in these conditions. It could be me, or her sails or just the fact that she is so small but I always have a blind eye to the weather.
Eventually I plan to ship her east and take her south to the Caribbean, the most challenging place I have every sailed. I’ve been truly freighted on boats more than once in my life and most of those experiences are from the Caribbean. Too much wind, lots of unpredictable currents and lightning storms. Leaving Panama we also had heavy traffic to contend with, triple over head seas and a sick crew. Is was like sailing through a beautiful fish tank watching dolphins soar through the water 10 feet over my head while breakers filled the cockpit and soaked us through our foulies. A warm surge of water down the neck was the only time we weren’t freezing. I swear we were all borderline hyperthermic within the hour.
Sookie will get her final fidaly bits of this and that this season as I hope to finish her rig, a project I started nearly 5 years ago. As silly as it may seem I’m thinking about adding a third reef to her main and two sets to her staysail. This little boat carries a good amount of canvas but as of now too much when the wind pipes up and not enough on those days where we drift from zephyr to zephyr.
I’m also rethinking my ground tackle that has never let me down but I’m always looking for a better way. The real question is can I haul 100lbs off the bottom. I do my best to anchor in shallow water but sometimes the bottom is an easy hundred feet down. Life aboard a small boat isn’t always easy but it’s worth the challenge and those magical days are worth every single cold and frightening moment. They say that sailing is 90% bordom and 10 sheer terror. I started with a solid foundation and have built a ship from it. The most important part of good seamanship is knowing that I am always the weakest link on my boat. Sookie is a dream happily drifting about the sound but that’s not what I built her for.
I scribble a few more notes and pull out my calculator. 37′ makes for a pretty large slip fee but at sea she is just a little 28’sailboat displacing 14,000lbs, not exactly a behemoth by anybody’s standards. Her Mike Anderson wind vane is the first thing I touch and it sings freedom to me, she also has two nice auto pilots.
Long flat wide decks with tall stanchions and a big beefy bow sprite. Her cockpit is comfy, I sat for hours in it drinking ice cold beers, eating snacks and discussing my favorite topic, small ships. I climbed the mast and inspected every inch of her rigging, it’s good. Her sails are good, her bones are good, her price is almost good. Will she be cozy and warm or the straw that broke the camels back.
For everything I have to gain I lose the one thing that I prize more than anything, simplicity. I tease my friends and tell them that you will never get a girl to lie down in a boat she can’t stand up in, these word echo through my head, I write more numbers on a piece of paper and fax it off to my future, maybe…
In every sailors life there will come a time when we stop playing pirate and become one. A sturdy ship, a hearty wench and the promise of the high seas. If you don’t believe in love at first sight I can’t convince you any differently, but I do. She makes me want to be a better man, to work harder at protecting her and keeping her safe and happy and nourished. Ive sailed and loved many a good ships in my short years on this planet but never before had I been so taken by sheer beauty.
I reflect back to my first sailboat, I wasn’t old enough to drink yet but I already knew exactly what I wanted in life. Her name was Atarah, I didn’t inspect her or ask a single question of the seller, she was for sale and felt right so I bought her and started sailing. Eventually that little weekend cruiser took me to Mexico and beyond. I did my all time longest solo passage on her which was beautiful in so many ways but most importantly in solidifying the simple fact that anything worth doing in life is better done in good company. The simple answer to the question is two“
You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.”
― Henry David Thoreau
It isn’t often that I actually envy myself but today I do. Im having an absolute awesome year but it’s certainly been one of letting go, stripping my life to its very basics essence and now rebuilding in my typical grab the bull by the tail and look him square in the eye fashion. You might think you have a man cave, but if it doesn’t have a Man Can you are sadly mistaken…you better Axe somebody.
It all started when I finally realized that if I didn’t pull a classic Stormy and blow my wad, that I have exactly enough money to get home, launch Sookie and perhaps not even starve to death in the first month. Then it happened, I found the perfect camera that I couldn’t afford but must to have to complete my expedition/bug out/man cave arsenal. It was one of those deals that will be gone in a milasecond, I wheeled and dealed and it was sure to be mine if I could get there before the other people coming to buy it. My ride, now an hour late was starting to concern me, I sent a message. Are you ever coming home? No reply, I thought my luck was running out so I sent a letter to the seller now two hours after I was scheduled to buy the camera, SOLD! DAMMIT! I felt just a bit releaved because there was no way I could afford this camera and the universe was smiling at me by depriving me of my most loved way of seeing the world, through the lens.
Back to my business of getting home I was once again side tracked and found the true paterfamilious of cameras and deals. Hard as I try to negotiate this guy wouldn’t budge an inch or hold the camera till I could get to Portland to pick it up, I even offered to send an imideate non refundable deposite, no, no, no, first come first sale. By some rare miricle I scored a ride two hours north the very next day and now am the proud owner of a brand spanking new to me, very lightly used studio kept DSLR. This thing looks like it is straight out of the box, has very low miles on it and is ready to go. I ordered a lens from eBay but sent it to the wrong address so we will see when I actually get to go shooting but it’s all coming together.
I knew that there was no way I could afford to go this route but I also couldn’t afford not to. That’s how I get shit done, by just doing it. The best part of the puzzle was an hour later at the wine supply store when I was more than admiring the Man Can, a 64 ounce mini steel wine keg when the owner handed it straight to me as a gift for reasons still unkown. This thing is stupid awesome and will officially complete the man cave, best of all it’s an instant party disguised in a clean and sanitary yet reusable drinking utensil. I’m surely convinced that this is the Univeses way of congratulating me on my continued boneheadedness that keeps this whole gravy train rolling. It’s also a reminder, not that I need one of how awesome the world is when we let it be.
Step off the cliff and a net will appear. I don’t know who wrote this but it could have been me.
I can’t imagine anything better in life than a day on my little Brompty. I had all sorts of errands to run and while I have a big new SUV at my disposal the Brompton was calling my name. I rode the path along the rivers edge into town. Two bike shops a cup of coffee, a little mingling and showing of my folding steed and lots of window shopping at my local REI.
I stopped at the university for a cold beer and more show and tell, I love Eugene and all of its hippie weirdness. Back on the trail I worked my way back to the winery to end my day with a bit of live music and a glass of my favorite Cab. Riding my little Brompty is just about the most fun I can imagine, smiling from ear to ear, the wind on my face and a nice beer from the local microbrew set the weekend buzz into motion. I swear there are days when I just want to mount this little girl and Ride her forever. I wonder how long it would take to ride her around the world, not that I would be in a hurry.
Little Sookie is only half the package, she gets me there and provides a roof over my head but once I arrive my two wheeled chariot shows me the sights, makes new friends and adds one more memory to the bank. I’m excited to explore every inch of the islands but for now this quirky little town always has something new to offer. Winter riding is a far cry from the lazy summer days I spent exploring this town by bike in the hundred degree balmy winds but winter in the PNW isn’t really winter.
She’s all cleaned up and ready for a weekend at the coast. I envision fresh eggs and bacon, a hot latte and a fire place to warm my frozen bones between rides to here, there and everyehere. I’ve got good tunes in the iPhone, my tiny bag is packed and I don’t have anywhere to be till Tuesday. Life is good when you have a bike…
As a kid I had a dream – I wanted to own my own bicycle. When I got the bike I must have been the happiest boy in Liverpool, maybe the world. I lived for that bike. Most kids left their bike in the backyard at night. Not me. I insisted on taking mine indoors and the first night I even kept it in my bed. ~ John Lennon, The
How often in our life’s do true one in million opportunities arise. We all have that simple choice to accept it or walk away and never know what the future would have been.
Captain Ahab had his whites whale, we all have our own. I’ve come to a fork in the road, I have put my faith in the simple act of tossing a coin. Heads or tails, either way a new destination will be revealed. Once a choice has been made there is no point in looking back. I’ve never given up on a golden opportunity and I never will. I watch the coin slowly spinning in suspended animation, it hits, spins and lands…
I’m just leaving…
For the first time in my life I feel truly alone, lonely and perhaps a bit apprehensive about my upcoming journey. Landing in a strange place and not knowing a soul isn’t a new experience for me but the timing for such foolery isn’t ideal. Packing up the last bits of my life I find remnants of this and that, now only snippets of time gone by. I know its always darkest before the dawn so I try and squash all my uneasy feelings and search for the light knowing full well that without stepping off the cliff there is no chance that a net will appear.
As scary as it all seems on this cold rainy day I know that letting fear guide my life would be my downfall. Living a fear based life is living a life doomed to medeocrity. One by one I pack my fears with my small pile of personal possessions and prepare to take them on this journey with me. I will slowly and sytematically discard them with each new milestone achieved and hopefully some day very soon I will look back and laugh at how scared I really am today.
“The danger of venturing into uncharted waters is not nearly as dangerous as staying on shore, waiting for your ship to sail in.”
I took one last look around Sookie and locked her up for the winter. Ive whittled my possessions down to a 38 liter daypack and my Brompton. The boat is packed and ready to take me to Alaska in the spring but there is a long cold winter between here and there.
I continue my search for a one way ticket but which way do I go to find summer. My destination is unknown but my future is steady as a rock. My search for a warm sandy beach with the occasional gentle island rain shower has begun.
Introducing my new torture chamber a Brompton M6R, Ok its almost mine, I sent a $200 deposits to a complete stranger, I just have to raise the balance of the cash and find my way to Seattle to pick her up, I say her because I have named her Bernie.
This is one of the smallest folding bikes made.
She will fit perfectly under the companionway steps on Sookie.
Smart and collapsible is great but this is also going to be my new touring bike. I have a few tricks up my sleeve but i will reveal them later.
For now she is tour ready, I just strap my pack to her rack and split.
The hardest part is waiting but I know it will be worth it to have the worlds best folding bike.
How I got lucky enough to find the exact color and model I was looking for is a mystery but if you will it, it will come.
“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.”
― Ernest Hemingway
I would die if I were ever to be confined, New people, new places, life unfolding in ways I could never imagine. I could never imagine so I don’t try. With wandering eyes I move forward, always following that small space between shadow and darkness where photography finds its infinite magic measured in fractions of a second.
Confucius said it best when he said, choose a job you love and you will never work a day in your life. Uncorking a bottle of wine last night, for the first time in my life I saw it as art, the wine makers gift to the world. I couldn’t help but to wonder how many hands touched this object of impossible perfection before it was passed to me.
No man is an Island, wandering from here to there I carry with me the thousands of life’s lessons handed down to me from the masters. My art is found in my struggle to do what most people have never given a second of thought to, Seeing. Its my constant struggle with vision that rewards me with simple images created with a single push of my shutter release but its the journey that makes each snapshot so valuable. If there is a more difficult way to do something I will find it. My natural powered journey continues. The long rolling hills can’t beat me down, when the wind blows hardest from the direction I want to travel my sailor mind tells me to change course and find a new route. The sky opens up on me, one more day I won’t need a shower. Life may not be easy these days but its simple as dirt, We gorge on fresh berrys pulled from the roadside, drink gallons of pure crystal clear water, bath in the most un usual places and sleep here there and everywhere One night its a huge bed with clean linen sheets, the next an inflatable matress or our down sleeping bags with flimsy foam pads to insulate us from the earth. The photograph is a snap shot of the final destination. The journey is the story of how we got here.
There is a real magic in enthusiasm. It spells the difference between mediocrity and accomplishment. Norman Vincent Peale
Eating cold beans straight from the can tasted especially delicious today, it tasted like freedom. The choice in front of me is simple fill the local bank or fill the memory bank. Packing and repacking my backpack I just can’t seem to fit it all in the way I want to, my life is complicated now. The more I look at Bristol Channel Cutters the less appealing they become to me when compared to Sookie.
I got notice today, I’m heading out in a week and since I doubt I will find a new home for Sookie in such a short period of time I am mothballing her for long term storage. Everywhere I look on this fine little ship I find pieces of me. A dead mosquito smashed on the ceiling board reminds me of our nightly battle with those little bastards. Coffee grounds in the corner of the bilge remind me of our first heavy weather of the trip and how the boat looked like a salt water bomb had exploded inside of her. Emily passed out in the cozy v-berth from exhaustion, wet water gear everywhere. The boat took a hit from a big gust and went so far over that contents from one galley locker that Emily forgot to latch actually found their way across the boat safely lodging in our boot locker. Pebbles stuck in the tread of my Xtratufs from every beach we visited. Sandy remnants of Emily’s shell collection, foreign coins, immigration codes, well used and battered charts each telling their own story, my story, our story,
We had a great adventure, one of hundreds the sea has given me. While all adventure someday come to an end, new ones are always beginning. I’m going to Portland to bang nails while I contemplate sitting in and air-condition office in a big cushy chair adding and subtracting zero’s. The more I think about it the emptier my soul feels. I’ve been rebuilding sailing and living aboard boats for almost 10 straight years, I need a break, I need the stillness that you will never find at sea. Reading through my log book I don’t want it to end but honestly I just want to sit on the shore for once looking out at the sea and know that their will be no weather to contend with, no bad anchorages, no boatyards or condensation or… The live-aboard fight is getting to me. Most marinas welcome derelict vessels that never get used but bringing my little cutter in to live-aboard starts world war three. I have yet to stay in a marina with a single boat that is better maintained than Sookie. I’m a hermit, I keep the dock clean and don’t bother anybody but I constantly am harrased for wanting to live a reasonable life.
Distance makes the heart grow fonder so that is the direction I Have chosen be-it a day, week, month or two years I need to recharge. When I leave I will have Sookie ready enough that I can launch her and sail away in an easy weekend. If she sells I will convert the proceeds and bury them in the jungle as I always do and continue the search. I’m looking for a boat but its not the boat I’m searching for, the right boat will always find us. I’m searching for the life I was destined to live, a sustainable way to continue what has basically been a 13 year adventure and more than anything the peace that comes to the soul when you know you are living true to yourself and the slave of no man, corporation or entity. Freedom is the easist thing to obtain in this world if its actually what you seek.
Somewhere at 48 N – I tuck the logbook in behind my binoculars, tide book and tattered old copy of instant weather forecasting. No I don’t think we have had our last adventure together I reassure Sookie. Go to sleep now, winter is coming, We will both wake up soon enough.