The awesome folks over at Mighty Goods put this awesome tribe together, check them out, lots of good reading on this blustery winters day.
There are 4 inherent properties that make money real. It has to be durable, transportable, divisible and fungible anything else is fiat, fake and doomed by history to end in disaster. The blue water cruising yacht is much the same. It must be able to keep the mast up, the rudder on, the water out and sustain life, any boat that doesn’t have all 4 of these characteristics is not a blue water cruiser and like fiat money is doomed to fail miserably. My new dinghy will arrive Thursday, the windlass is well on its way to be mounted on my bowsprit, I’m working on the windvane and today called to order 280′ of 5/16 G4, unfortunately they won’t deliver so I’m doing some head scratching. The main issue is that for this set up Sookie is two feet short, I’ve known this all alone hence my ongoing two foot itis.
Sookie can carry the weight and be unaffected, she can store provisions well beyond capacity. I’ve never felt cramped, even with two for very long periods of time. In my opinion she is the best damn boat in the world and the safest although that can be debated until the end of time. The last guy I entered into this debate with eventually had his 44′ custom built million dollar yacht sink out from under his feet in less than 3 minutes, his life raft didn’t deploy and all his abandon ship gear went to Dave Jones Locker. Had he not had his massive power dingy trailing behind he would have lost not only his life but that of his crew, you can’t buy safety. Maybe I take safety at sea more seriously than most or it could just be that in a lifetime on the water I’ve seen the Darwin awards headed out in epic proportions.
I’ve never once not felt completely safe in Sookie although there have been many occasions that I simply would have rather not been in the conditions that I’ve been in. While all eyes have been on the Caribbean, I know full well how shit happens, especially when I’m involved in it. My plan B which is pretty damn secret is and it was up until today to race my friends to Hawaii May 2019, they are very important people me and well, quite frankly Sookie has a really nice ass and i figured there is no better way to start thier second circumnavigstion than staring at her ass for a few weeks. From there i would contuine on with her refit and be warm for once in my life. the logical part of my brain has me selling the boat and getting on with it. unfortunalty ive never been very good at logic and know that i would never get over selling this boat.
There is simply no way to describe how wonderful she handles the sea, its much like surfing where im close enough to the water to drag my fingers and be part of it all. I’m taking a week off with nothing but my metal tape, a sharp pencil and my boat book, this ride very well may be over. On the other hand it may not even have started. Yes first world problems but since I live in the first world they are all very and mine.
The duality of my life has been quite interesting, I’ve fallen deep into the bottle of depression but also knowing full well my mind body needed a full blown bender. Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system I can start my climb out, work my body a bit harder every day, spend more time doing bigger things. I woke today to total clarity, I’m still trying to quit smoking, have gone off the bottle cut way back on caffeine, no sugar, piles of organic yummy ness. Six weeks ago I felt like Adonis, now I feel like an avocado with twiggy limbs weeble wobbling my way through life. The tragedy of the fire is behind me, a bad shake and nothing more. I pick up my new fiberglass dinghy in a few days, when the time is right I’ll start to try and put the pieces of my puzzle together.
A friend of mine is trying to get answers out of me and why I’m spending so much time and money on a boat that’s already perfectly outfitted for the waters I sail in. He’s convinced I’m pushing out to sail around the world with Sookie. My answer is an unwavering no, I have no intentions of sailing out of the Salish Sea and yes I’m making her a 100% unstoppable blue water machine. By August she’ll have all new tan bark sails, a roller furling jib, 280′ of 5/16 G4 chain, a manual water maker, wind vane and a hard dinghy strapped on her cabin top. My new windlass and Herschoff dinghy will arrive within 2 weeks and I have the windvane in my hands and am currently rebuilding it.
It may just be temporary insanity but I want her ready for anything at anytime. I found this new windlass on eBay but it’s missing the brake clutch, a set screw and chain cap. I called Port Townsend foundry and they will make the missing parts for me. Sookie used to carry this same windlass and 200′ of 5/16 chain and it really made her sail like shit. I’m going to be cutting a hole in her foreword bulkhead so the chain can be pulled back to the base of her mast. I’ve never used this area and I think it will work really well and even add a bit of positive ballast to the boat. Its in the beamiest part of her hull so I’m hoping it will all work fine.
I also failed miserably with the hard dinghy on deck but if I can ever get Lefiell to return my call I’m ordering a new boom so I can finish my gallows. The main will be cut higher so I think I can raise the dinghy higher and be able to get in and out of the boat. When I decided on 1/4 inch wire which is a size up, I calculated that it only added 11lbs aloft and this seemed reasonable to me. There is also added windage but that is made up by dropping Hilliard size down a notch, everything on a small boat is a compromise.
I’m having a sea hood made which will hold a 50 watt solar panel and a second one will be mounted on my front hatch, that’s all she will carry so I’ll have to use what I can make wisely, lastly I’m still searching for LED lighting with a nice and very warm white. It’s been insanely fun around here with so much going on and I even was blessed with a visit from one of Sookies sisters although a peek from shore was all I got.
As usual, Sookie will continue on with no refrigeration and yes I’ve happily lived in the tropics without it. No AIS or any other forms of communication other than her little hand held vhf. I’m keeping her as simple as I can and ready to shove off to see the world with nothing more than a set of hands to untie her lines. Oh shit, I almost forgot to mention that Sookie has a new sister but I’ll dive into that one at a later date…
You won’t find it on any one beach or mountain top. It flows through every river but can’t be found in any. it’s not about boats or sailing, tiny homes, travel or simple living. It can’t be bought sold or negotiated. It’s everywhere and in anything and while it exists in every inch, ounce and cubic foot of this big beautiful world, it is by far the most elusive of all desires. If you posses it you already know what it is. If you don’t you very well may never taste this eternal nectar.
“Your living the dream” I hear it countless times in any day. My little yacht is on display in the center of the marina. Late nights, early mornings and the slowness only island time can know. My Mooring lines are fast with no plans to untie them. That little umbilical chord that charges my batteries and cranks out warmth in the chilly evenings is starting to grow cobb webs as is my engine. Spring and fall bring the best of our seasons here for cruising. Summers are meant for slow lazy days exploring ashore.
Our options are overwhelming. I’ve made all the lists with a yes, no, maybe so. In the end ive thrown all plans out the window. What ever happens will show us the way soon enough. For now it’s work hard and play hard. Save most of my pennies but spend enough to make it all right. My morning lattes are a subtle reminder that I’m still part of the one percent. A glass of wine at sunset, meals made from scratch and always enough time to derail from it all for a nap on some secluded beach far from the noise and crowds.
My hair is turning blond, long, wild and locked in tight curles. Skin tanned and softened by the lazy summer breeze and my feet, bare and always coated in salt from the cool waters of the shallow bay I call my home. The ring of my bell as I pedal past yachters coming and going. My watch twinkles and shines in the hot afternoon sun, I like shiny shit and that little hunk of Swiss steel is all part of my uniform. My non existent name tag reads Dock Master and that’s what I am today.
This place was simple to find and easy to make my home. All I did was cut the dock lines and sail away with out anything but a half finished boat and a pile of lentils. That’s the thing about security, it’s far greater than any anchor for keeping one held fast in that little holding pattern we call life. Always working towards some imaginary place where all our dreams will manifest before our eyes.
They say that life is what happens while we are making plans. To know this freedom is as simple as to take it. Today is my four year anniversary with the day I cut my lines. She is exactly 26 miles from the place we left behind but it feels like more than a million. Thousands of miles have passed under her keel since then but we always end up back in this little utopia just a hop skip and a jump, exactly one world away from where it all began. Happy anniversary Sookie…
Ive collected my 2016 income documents and again have sucessfuly earned less than the US poverty level in America, score! To add insult to injury of the complelty backwards ass way Americans live or think they need to live im upping the ante. My goal is to continue on at this income, I’ve also decided I need a plane, I have access to a grass strip and also Holly has convinced me to build her a tiny home so that project is up and rolling.
You can blame my parents for teaching me the value of the dollar and a litttle bit of income discretion but most of all it’s that while they have thought I was bat shit crazy since the day I was born they have always if ever reluctantly supported my happiness. I’ll have to check but now that their are two of us in this crazy bandwagon I might be allowed to earn a bit more which will help cause Av gas ain’t cheap.
I know so many who struggle financially, not because they don’t make enough money but because they spend too much, often far more than they earn. As an ex banker my number one rule for all purchases is cash and carry. If you can’t afford to pay cash you can’t afford it and yes that goes for houses and planes. Debt freedom is the truest freedom you will ever know.
So I’ve been collecting treasures for constructing the new house, I have my feelers out for a sweet plane and yes Sookie is coming along quite well but as can be expected slowly but surely. Land is still unaffordable but it’s not a matter of if the ecomeny will crash, its when will it crash, its inevitable and that’s when we’ll find our land deal. When the market goes land in these islands is almost free. Statistically a full blown depression is on our doorstep. Yes I live in poverty but I also live in America where living in poverty is little more than a first world problem based off of our personal choices not circumstance, winter is coming…
“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” Warren Buffett
I’ve never once measured my life or lifestyle with anyone or anything. From my first day on this planet earth I’ve gone against the grain, finding my own path for reasons I often haven’t known until well into my journey. When I decided to tone my life down and live well below the poverty standard, half of it to be exact it was a self experiment in what is really important to me in life.
I never expected to continue beyond that first year but it just felt right. As easily as I slipped into that lifestyle and with as little thought as I had put into it back then I’ve decided to crawl out of the muck and re enter my destined glide path. Having already lived at the top I have my impressions of that lifestyle and in comparison to my current lifestyle it has its desirable and undesirable traits. I’ve slipped back into reinventing my life again and now I’m in search of that middle ground and setting some roots.
Possession wise I seek to have very little in this world although if I do aquire something it has be a usable tool, manufactured to the highest standards on earth and must be serviceable for a lifetime, you get what you pay for and each item represents a form of real wealth not only as an asset but also in the quality of life returned through the years of reliable service and fun. This middle ground I’m seeking comes with many risks, most of all to the freedom I’ve been afforded but I’m not too worried about stepping in a slightly more normal existence or home ownership. Sound as it might I’m not settling down, I’m ramping up.
From the log of Sookie – All the stars have lined up in the heavens above, I’ve taken a left onto easy street and from here on out it’s smooth sailing.
The only thing worse than the constant damp bone chilling cold is the insult of being able to see the sun without actually feeling it’s warmth. At 22 degrees with a 40 mile an hour wind that makes a negative 20 windchill and I’m not sorry to be happy to say sianara to you winter, you miserable fucking hell! I’ve been given a reprieve.
It’s been so cold in the boat that it actually hurts. My skin hurts, my body hurts, my mind would hurt and it will if it ever defrosts. I’ve been like the stay puff marshmallow man wearing every bit of clothing I have with every blanket and both my down sleeping bags and still haven’t been able to stop shivering for one single second. All that extra body fat and I can assure you it’s ample, has done nothing to cure the cold.
The wind has been pile driving out of the north east, funneling through the small cracks in my companion way floppy doors and there has been nothing I could do to keep the free and constant air conditioning at bay. Now it’s so calm it’s erie and up to a warm and toasty 31 degrees but that’s not what’s keeping me warm, nor is it my trusty and useless heater. Today I was given word that everything is about to change and again the suggestion that I split to the South Pacific for a few weeks and that’s just what I’m going to do.
Have you worked for a company that actually gives you everything you want without asking and then with no hinting or hollering up and says hey, bro… the islands are calling your name, take off and go surfing for a bit, get tan, have a few drinks and we’ll have this whole place revamped for you when you get back. They also offered me a house to live in, I shit you not, my own little studio right on the water overlooking the bay and Sookie.
And here lies my dilemma, fist of all I don’t deserve the rockstar treatment I’m getting and second of all I have to be very careful not to fall into the abyse of comefort and complacency. I don’t want to be comefortable in life, I don’t want it to be easy and I don’t want security, that’s what has people dying alone of old age. One wrong step and I’ll be sitting back in my big leather chair in an office that is never half a degree too warm or too cold.
I’ll spend my life saying someday as I stare complacently out the window waiting for the right time which will never come because there never is a right time. I’ll grow fat with mortgages and credit card debt to pay for my car that never gets driven over 5mph in bumper to bumper traffic and only transports me from the Job that steals my youth to pay for the house that holds me financially improsioned but never gets used for anything other than sleep. Every year I’ll swear to myself that I’m almost ready and that for sure next year will be my year but next year will turn into decades and before I know it I’ll be too old, too soft, too lazy too…
Yeah fuck you winter, you can’t break me and nothing will send me back the hell on earth I lived, that so called financial security. I fought hard the gain my independent freedom to roam, to learn to live with almost nothing and to love it. To wake to a day that I own and to do what I want, when I want for absolutely no reason on earth other than because it’s my choice. Choice is a freedom worth fighting for at any cost…
One of the most frequently heard comments? concerning my boat is that it is not comfortable. It is a very true statement. But I design and build boats and go to sea in them not for comfort but because I am curios and the activity gives me pleasure and excitement.
Comfort diminishes activity; lack of activity leads to lack of stimulation, without stimulation you become bored, fat and tired. You get energetic only by using energy, not by resting.
Eating and entertainment work like drugs or borrowed money, they lessens the boredom ordeal momentarily. In the long run they make the situation worse.
Strive on the other hand is painful at first, but as time passes will bring curiosity pleasure and excitement. The problem with that healthy solution is that it is to abstract for most people. Historically man has never had to worry about to much comfort and is therefore not designed to deal with it. On the contrary lack of food and rest has been the problem.
Modern society has changed that. Industrial and farm factories are now producing more than we need. Few free spirits has survived a new species of man has been breed, the obedient man. He eats not real food but ersatz food. His experiences are ersatz screen experiences.
It is so much easier to watch sport than to compete yourself. It is so much easier to do ersatz sailing and to start the engine when the wind fails than to use an oar or wait for wind. But like all ersatz things there is no thing like the real thing.
A captured animal in a zoo is not a happy animal. He tells us that without talking, still he gets plenty of food and good shelter and his life is without danger. Still he would rather bee free.
Modern man in the big cities are like captured animals. We have all the comfort and food we need, still we are bored. But because we live among millions of equally bored people we do not notice the gloom. Only occasionally do we meet a surviving free spirit and wonder why he is so happy. It is not comfort which makes me happy.
written by Sven Yrvind
The unintended consequences of following your dreams can only be success and again I’ve been blessed more than I deserve. I’m not letting the cat out of the bag but I’ve been given the honor of collaborating on a project that is nothing short of far and near in my heart. To celebrate it’s completion Im sipping on a glass of Monkey Shoulder Scotch that a little kitten left on Sookie.
The writing part was easy but scheduling with a photographer, well that was damn near impossible. It’s not that I don’t have the time, it’s more like; run, run, as fast as you can, can’t catch me I’m the gingerbread man. I’m so deep into everything I’m doing right now, I’m like a ghost, I’m nowhere and everywhere. Enter my go to and personal photographer, it took two weeks to get together but we squeezed in a quick 5 minutes and got the job done. One minute into the shoot, he called out “get me a hammer cause I’m nailing it”. I laughed and my constant smile was proof that while my modeling career may have ended many years ago I’m still as comfortable in front of the camera as I am behind it and that I still love it like no other.
My polyamorous ways seem to piss off everyone alike. The sailors want me to drop my silly cycling ways and get on with it as do my cycling friends want me to drop my silly sailing ways and pedal off into the sunset. At the rate I’m going I’m going to get to circumnavigate the planet both from the cockpit of Brompty and Sookie and that’s where my heart lies, I have two mistresses and love them equally
It isn’t about the bike, or the boat, both works of art in my eyes. It’s about saving the planet, living with the smallest foot print I can but leaving the biggest one I own. A year ago I was fresh off of sailing the inside passage. Sitting on a beach in Hawaii mourning the loss of Chloe and starting what would turn into 9 weeks of cycle touring for the year. It’s not that my dreams changed, I changed. The Hawaii I knew was gone, it had been bulldozed and replaced with a parking lot.
It could have been on any of the dozens of beaches I slept on but somewhere out there I made a commitment to myself and the world that since there is know-one to follow in this revoulution that I will be the leader. Eight years into my boycott of cars I think I’ve earned at least a smidgen of confirmation that I’m dedicated. It isn’t just fossel fuels that I’m boycotting it’s nonchalant pacifism and all of the destruction of my planet that comes with human greed and laziness.
It may be taking me longer than any other human in existence to realize my dreams but I’m living them every day and doing it my way. Less is more in my eyes and I own the world because other than my plastic bucket I barely have a pot to piss in. What I do have are the things that money can’t buy, time, true happiness, ultimate freedom, undeniable youth and my health.
Im exhausted tonight, I’m cold and a bit hungry but none of that matters because I almost have all of the ingredients for success. All I have to do is mix them all in a bowl and stir and I can have my cake and eat it too. Like me, both Sookie and Brompty were made for crushing it and that’s what we are doing, crushing it…
From the log of Sookie, after surviving my idiocity and intentionally pointing my bow into a gale in the straits of Juan De Fuca. ” I’ve always felt sorry for cats, they only have nine lives. I’ve had a million and counting”.
I tried to open the hatch and it wouldn’t budge, I was literally frozen in my boat. I had to use my back and slam it up against the sliding hatch serveral times before I could break the ice and escape my warm and cozy cabin for a bitterly cold and windy dog walk. This is one of the many things we go through when we liveaboard full time in the Pacific North West. If you want to live aboard in winter get a hybermate and lock them in the boat…
Opening the sliding hatch and having several feet of snow fall into your home. Docks that are three feet wide with a solid three inches of ice make for a deadly commute. Wind storms, the highest I’ve seen is 89 mph in Bellingham. It’s all part of this life, get a thick wool sweater a good pair of Carharts And get used to living in your foulies.
I can’t say why I came back here when my whole goal was to winter somewhere warm, something about a hurricane in the keys. It’s a crime that I was born with such thin skin and a chicken heart because winter can be one of the most beautiful times of year to sail around here. Let’s face it, I’m always cold and everything under the sun scares the shit out of me, those were the cards I was dealt.
Sookie is unwrapped and put back together, a quick coat of wax on her hull, a bit of polishing of her stainless and a thick coat of bottom paint and she will again be my floating home. My number one goal this year is to get over my phobia of the cold and do some serious winter sailing. In the morning I will start listing every non essential item I own for sale and start a savings account for all the new shit she needs starting with new rudder hardwear and a heater. I’m going to try my hand at sewing if I can find a teacher and make a proper sun / rain awning but mostly I’m just going to snuggle in for the long dark cold nights of winter.
I can’t say I’m exactly overjoyed to be back here but every star under the heavens aligned to get me here so I’m going to with it. I bought a tiny amount of food which on this island cost damn near a hundred bucks but tonight’s meal was a very special treat, beef flavored cup of noodles, my mind is still in cycling mode so I’m not used to having cooking options, a warm squishy bed and real clothes. I’ll be on the ferry before the sun rises and back on island before lunch getting Sookie ready to splash into her home, the salty brine. There is a jacuzzi just across the marina but I’m saving it for tomorrow night when I have cold beer. I’m fortunate that what ever crazy scheme enters my head I always have a warm and dry place to lay my weary head.
The candles are lit, dinner is put away and my home is neat and organized. Sookie is clean as a bean and ready for some pampering. In the morning I’ll fill lthe man can with whiskey, top off my fuel tank and get my brand spanning new outboard ready to rumble, she has a whopping 5 hours on her. My sail locker is full and soon enough Sookie will carry her requisit 4 months of food and booze stores, ok she may already have the booze but man cannot live on bread alone. After living hand to mouth on the bike it will be fun to do a bit of hoarding and man tacos will be back in the menu any day as will my signature breakfast bowl. Come on by and let me pour you a drink and stuff some food in your face :).
By noon I had reached my personal limit of exhaustion, weeks without a day off, Sunday is supposed to be an easy day. The straits were throwing a tantrum which meant I had a pile of frazzled boaters, some staying some hiding but all of them having massive issues docking. Blown furlers, boats dragging anchor and breaking waves over the entire end tie had my 15 hour day filled.
I woke up crumpled in a heap of my own pitiful state lying on the dock like a piece of doggie poo. The day started out promising, I actually obtained a cook pot and wind screen, some string, and low and behold two pairs of socks to go with my new kicks, yep this sailor now has a new pair of shoes in the mail. I gave up on water proof pants and picked up a pair of running tights with a killer print on them to keep me warm in the cool mornings and having completely given up on a bright pink don’t run me over cover up I got a Terry thermal wrap to cover my junk. I was feeling pretty satisfied and broke when I met a very hungry girl living in her boat. She didn’t have enough to cover her groceries so I covered it with a bit to spare for her and now I feel like a huge pile of shit having all this new gear when I’m reminded of how many people struggle just to eat in this world.
Somewhere between her and there I dropped for the count till I was awoken by a girl on the dock with a cold beer and a hand up. Refreshed and ready to rumble I made it back to Sookie and sanded till the sun went down. My feet hurt so badly I can barely walk but it’s tent time and my favorite time of the day when I can pile into my little cocoon and sleep like the dead, after a great glass of J.Scott that is 🙂
“When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.”
― Hélder Câmara
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…
All clean and smooth as a baby’s bottom I admire my little ship. The slings left some pretty nasty stains on her hull and being hit twice this year has me needing to do a bit of cosmetic work but I need a clean pallet to start my masterpiece. I say clean pallet but this yard is filthy, one minute after her scrub down and a car driving way too fast up the dirt road sends a plume of acidic dust in the air.
Tuesday I will pull her bowsprit for the first time in five years for a full inspection and proper paint job In between my regular job. This will also give me a chance to inspect and varnish my well worn bow chocks. I’m still searching for a small bronze hawse hole for my stern anchor and trying to get the nerve to install a permanate 4 gallon gas tank with a proper fill hole and vent, that will give me a 48 mile range at 4.5 knots with an extra 12 from my one gallon backup tank. I can’t ever imagine using more than 4 gallons in a year so this would be a good upgrade and one that’s easily removeable if and when I ever build a new sculling oar and go engine-less again.
I’m still trying to figure out the best way to install my wind vane but it hasn’t arrived yet so all I have to work with are my drawings and a few mocked up pieces of wood. Nothing will ever be done half ass on this boat so blending in a cross beam to my beautiful boomkin is slow going. I have an amazing shipwrite on the island, if only I could get him to help me install the bases for my boom gallows. I’m working on a good bribe to lubricate the process and get him to show up for what will take him less than an hour to do what is an Impossibility for me. Sookies cockpit feels very exposed in large and steep seas without proper lifelines in the cockpit, lee cloths will finish the womb and while I’ve give up on a dodger for now the spray curtains will be a huge upgrade in comefort and safety as the FC has no combing.
I have three envelopes filled with one dollar bills, it’s not a lot but I’m feeling very wealthy these days. One of them says boat, one says bike, the one labeled food is empty but I’m well fed these days so I continue the endless cycle of filling and emptying my little envelopes as work very slowly progresses toward and unknown future. I’m continually reminded how many of my friends have plans for my life, as of today I have none. I’m a drone now, my mind dull and clouded by the present life I have chosen.
I get an email titled Gale sail, an invitation to cross the straights on a brand new tri sail and staysail made by Carol Hasse, I want to sail more than anything but instead I will work for pennies. I meet a couple, perhaps in thier 70’s they are dressed from head to toe in brand new travel clothes, they even wear expedition sailing boots for the one minute walk from the hotel to thier little boat that hasn’t moved since they blamed me for crashing it. I study them intently and wonder what amazing stories they will tell thier friends and the pictures of them smiling looking like Indiana jones.
I’ve fought my entire life to never end up old and rich and running on emty yet here I am doing the one thing I despise more than anything on the planet. I’ve become a psychologist studying anger and why so many people simply can’t be happy. I don’t get to experience the root, just the present, pissed off vacationers. I’ve decided to roll solo, my empty coffee cup tells me it’s time to start my one and only day off this week, I have much to do. I look down at my watch, not because I want to know the time but because it’s shiny and glimmers in the sun and it makes me happy to no end, I love shiny shit.
“When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It’s to enjoy each step along the way.” – Wayne Dyer
Ounce for ounce Fritos have more calories than any other food in the planet. They also happen to make great fire starters, I’ve even used them to cook my coffee in an empty tuna can and to this day they still only have three ingredients, corn, oil and salt. Call it junk food but it’s always been my go to survival rations. Be-it after a long day sailing in the relentless sun or a pavement pounding hill climbing 80 miler into the wind and up hill the whole way on Brompty. I get my sodium fix, calories and they just taste good, I prefer the scoops and use then to shovel spoonfuls of tuna into my pie hole.
Reading though dozens of bags on the self I can’t believe how many ingredients all the other Chips have, even the so called natural ones. I grab my bag of Fritos and am reminded of the simplicity of my trusty Brompton, six gears is enough. Most bikes these days have thirty gears and fragile and sensitive derailers, WHY? As humans are we that lazy the we want to completly remove the experience of hill climbing from our lives. Why do we always need to add more expense, complexity and weight to something as simple as riding a bike? If my knees weren’t blown I never would have sold my trusty fixe but let’s face it, none of us are getting any younger.
My Brompton has a three speed internal hub with a high low derailer giving six speeds. She was designed for commuting and while she did fine in my 750 Mile fully loaded tour through Hawaii I’m reducing her gearing by 12% which is easy as switching from a 50 tooth chain ring to a 44 and clipping a few of the chain links giving me a bit of extra oomf for the hills and head winds we expect cycling the west coast. Neither of us will train for this ride other than just playing around the island so the first few weeks will be a very rude awakening.
Our loads will be as simple and minimal as our bikes with just one extra set of clothes so I can only imagine how stinky we will be but we have already vowed to skinny dip every body of water we cross in an attempt to save money We neednt spend for such silly luxury as showers. We will be fully dirbaging it as we each only set off with a grand and want to make this trip last as long as out bodies can hold out. There are people out there who go to great lengths to never be to hot or too cold. To never be afraid or push the limits behind thier boundarys. To never take a chance in finding a true adventure, we are not those people, we are gypsy lovers and this is our dirtbag diary.
Fritos scoops 9 ounce bag, average price $2.50
270 calories from fat
45% RDA sodium
32% dietary fat
18 grams of protein
I’m beginning to feel like nowhere man, not a single place where I can work on Sookie, and a dismal employment scene. I turn my attention to Sookie and and the neighboring yacht I’m helping out with a little splicing. Both heavy displacement full keel cruising yachts, one displacing 60,000lbs and one a smidge under 8000lbs.
At 5 net tones Sookie is the only pocket cruiser I know of that can be US Coatgaurd documented. I turned her little galley into a rigging station, I’m always surprised how much space she has for everything. Her long sweeping forefoot isn’t a true full keel but Lyle Hess was able to find a balance where she will always tack a bit slowly but easily and will heave to instantly with no fuss, this safety factor is why I chose her over all other cruising boats.
Her 33% ballast ratio is spot on and the reason I can haul so much food around without sinking her beyond her lwl. I’ve been doing an absolute ton of research lately on under 30′ cruising boats and am constantly surprised at the high end ballast ratios, the higher the ratio the more you pay in loss of comefort and load carrying ability.
I searched for years of a FC without an inboard for many reasons and while I’ve cursed the outboard in so many conditions I’m a sailor, not a motor sailor. Of all my years at sea all of the most frightening and dangerous situations have been while under or do to our powerlant or laying at anchor. The internal combustion engine is a miserable beast but I still very reluctantly use it on average about 10% of the time. My brand new Tohutsu, is a joy to have and runs perfectly but she is still auxiallry which means I work hard at not using her if at all possible. My old Yuloh was a work of art but Sookie is just to small to carry it so a new sculling oar will be added after the new wind vane goes on if I can make it all fit.
Which brings me back to my full keel from her very long waterline to her hollow entry everything about Sookie is easy on the eyes which is why it’s so hard adding solar and at the same time keeping her simple and traditional looking. Finding a place to add a small solar panel is a challange without destroying her beautiful lines. My new solar charger has arrived, a gift for a friend through AOH so now it’s time to start drilling holes, feeding wire and trying to sneak in a good location. On a boat of Sookies size the only instillation worth doing is a fixed one and I think I’ve found a home for it and this is super exciting at the prospect of no longer having to pay transient moorage while cruising to top my batterybank.
The very first thing I did when Sookie arrived from Southern California was to remove everything from the top of her mast, both antennas and the wind chicken. Nothing makes you a worse sailor than staring up at that damn thing all day with a crick in your neck, it’s also danegeous because you should be staring at the water. I pulled the deck lights from the spreaders and dewired half the boat. Now two small batteries power nothing but lights and a small cigarette lighter that I can plug my little hand held vhf into to re charge, the big one was given away the first day I was aboard. My lead line still works perfectly as does my hand held compass for taking bearings and no need for a knot log in this day and age. It’s both fun and a challange keeping with the tradition of Sookies design and full keel but also her simplicity makes her substantially safer and more fun to sail, or in my case sit around the dock working on her for our next big adventure.
“A sailor’s joys are as simple as a child’s.” – Bernard Moitessier
Night time is the scariest, when you are all alone… The wind howling through the rigging, waves slapping the hull. The tug of your anchor line all the while wondering if you will pull the whole bottom of the sea and drag it across the world with you. The rocky lee shore gives nightmares only men who have gone to sea can dream of. It’s cold and my body won’t stop shivering.
Cold and blustery winds blow, Sookie is riding nicely, I let out a little extra scope as it looks like the next few days are going to be a bit breezy. I don’t trust my leaking dinghy, after it was thrown through the washing cycle having been left on a rocky beach in a gale the owner patched the holes with epoxy thickened with oats.
For the first time ever I miss my rubber ducky, that piece of shit didn’t row well and was like towing a suction cup but was incredibly sea worthy and put in many more years of service and abuse than anyone could reasonably ask. I expected my dink to be sunk by morning but it’s still there and as long as it floats, my lifeline to shore and people and…
I have all my warmies on but I’m still cold, my fingers are cold everything is cold and damp, reminds me of the day I sailed into blubber bay like a drowned rat after crossing the Straits of Georgia , guess that Heater I have in Port Townsend should have been on the top of my list. I hear the occasional crash of water against the side of my hull as the gusts roll through, the rigging is moaning and the sky dark and brooding. The occasional fix of Internet gives me a bit to do but I have to go easy on my power management as I still have yet to add solar, its too gross out to work on the boat. My fingers worn to the bone from my uke concert today and according to Enviornment Canada for the foreseeable future the weather is looking really sucky all week with winds gusting to 40 predicted to hit late tonight, gross.
“it was times like these when a man in a desperate situation must take whatever madness is offered to escape the darker madness in which he finds himself trapped.” ― Sean F. Hogan
My young niece, a child the last time I saw her only a few months ago has bloomed into a woman, my brother at her side fishing for sculpin in the late afternoon sun. My mom sits next to me in the cockpit sipping on wine, her first visit to Sookie. It’s been a long crazy day and we are all tired, fat full of my world famous man tacos, life is good in our quiet little Marina.
I look over at the young one, I wasn’t much older than her when I bought my first sailboat and a set sail. It was the easiest thing I have ever done because it was what I wanted more than anything else in the world. Now decades later having filled those dreams I look to distant horizons, a new and different way of sailing through life. Looking out over the quiet bay at dawn, I realize it isn’t my dreams that have changed, it’s me that has changed.
I’m not that same person and my goals are now simpler and smaller although when I say smaller I say smaller from my current perspective, compared to a young Stormy they are like climbing Mt Everast but that’s what my simple life is, ever evolving to meet my current needs. The islands are magnificent at this time of year, the journeys slow and un choreographed, no rules, no goals other that to wake up every morning with a feeling of satisfaction in that I’m doing everything right, right now. Today is one of those days, everyday is. Life is what happens while we are making plans.
“You say, ‘If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.’ You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled.” ― Charles Haddon Spurgeon
I hear the giggles being chased by tanned bare feet. The liveaboard life is a fine life for the little ones. I can only imagine it’s like living in J. R. R Tolkins Shire. Catching huge crabs off the dock, running barefoot through the spring grass, local farms and the farmers market, these young minds are living a life city kids couldn’t imagine in thier wildest dreams. I guess us grown up kids are doing the same as well.
Cleaning the boat for guests I found a killer bottle of wine and decided it would be a feast of all of my very well ripened veggies. In the city these would be thrown in the trash but on my tiny footprint I eat everything. In my ganja induced food coma I cranked reggae music and swayed to the beat as I chopped diced and spiced my gourmet meal.
There are no rules onboard Sookie, no curfew and no expectations other than to rejoice in the simple life and to keep our tiny footprint as small as possible. I’m not a vegan or a veggie head yet 98 percent of my diet would suggest that I am. I’ve chosen to commune with the briny deep I share company with, rather than to exploit it for my own benefit, not that for one second I disparage others that do. I just happen so see the creatures of the sea and earth as my brothers and sisters. I will however break with tradition on random occasions of cannibalism but it is an extreme rarity.
Crunchy kale, island heirloom tomatoes, fingerling potatoes, local garlic and onions, all these fruits of the land are my bounty. My quinoa salad is a masterpiece topped with fresh dried spicy pepper seeds, cilantro and if I’m really splurging fresh fetta cheese from a local farm.
I pile everything in the steamer, throw everything but the kitchen sponge in my pot and cook it for 10 minutes to conserve fuel. Another ten minutes off the heat and I have a fancy dinner with exactly enough leftovers to heat up for breakfast with a few farm fresh eggs and a bit of spicy juice. Simple living for sure and not for everybody but the perpetual smile on my face and well worn crows feet tell me I’m in to something good.
When it comes to finding the perfect liveaboard the key is to find a boat just small enough that you want to step out into nature at every available opportunity. To find a boat you can almost afford, because let’s face it, I’ve never once met a person who can afford thier boat be it 100 foot motor yacht or a 15′ Montgomery. The labor of love and sacrifice that we lavsh just a bit beyond our means, like a starving artist who is so passionate about creating thier masterpieces year in and year out with satisfaction and a life well lived as thier only rewards. The labor that you put into your boat and life will eventually pay off. My best advice having done this for almost all of my life is to make your first boat your last boat, go slow, make your home your lifestyle, your art and your artistry and take her everywhere you go. Sookie isn’t just a movable home, she is a moveable feast.
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien
With a pop and whoosh my little hobb fires to life. A hand full of fresh chopped garlic is thrown into the cast iron skillet and both the sizzle and the aroma please the senses. I’m cooking a feast by the light of my lantern. The sweet melodies of Bebe Gilberto echo through the cabin to the rhythmic chopping of cold Steel and hard wood, bits of veggies tumble to the floor, two eggs roll back and forth with the surge. I take a sip of my extra spicy Virgin Marry and smile, this is yachting.
I was recently sent a picture of me sailing through the Desolation Sound, I was surprised by how small Sookie looked and how large I looked in the cockpit. Sookie has never once felt too small for me yet somehow I am always eyeballing larger boats. Sure would be nice to have a Diesel engine, or space for a hard dinghy. My mind wanders through all the what ifs yet somehow as nice as they are to think about I can never push the button.
I have a full price offer on Sookie which is causing me great pain. She is having issues qualifying for the dollar amount which secretly brings me great joy as the offer I’ve written on a turn key boat on the east coast that is 100% ready and waiting for me to take her to Bermuda isn’t my true love. My offer hasn’t been accepted yet, maybe I’ll get lucky and they will say no.
Cozy is the best way to describe Sookie, she fits me like a glove, sails like a dream and is the most beautiful boat I’ve ever laid eyes on. Having my faithful pup at my side, I was never in a hurry to do anything other than to give her my undivided attention. Now that she has gone to that big field in the sky I have an indescribable urge to sail far and free. Not having the budget to finish this fine craft I more often feel trapped like a rat. Is it just a boat I seek or is it a lifestyle?
The new boat is big and powerful and beamy with double roller furling headsails, a huge Diesel engine, a powerful windvane and even a water maker and dodger. It was professionally outfitted by a couple that dove into the dream before they tried on the lifestyle. Well over a hundred K into the boat, they want it gone, my offer is slightly half of thier investment and we are close.
Dining and chatting over the new boat I can’t help but wonder if it’s the biggest mistake I will ever make. Will I lose that cozy factor? I’ve owned some pretty large sailboats and even my Cal 40 wasn’t as fun to sail as Sookie, it was also way more boat than I needed. If this all falls together I’ll be in Massachusetts in two weeks for sea trials and a lazy summer of learning the ropes of my new boat. If it falls apart, well… Who knows.
“A big group of daily friends or a white painted house with bills and mirrors, are not a necessity to me—but an intelligent conversation while sharing another coffee, is.”
― Charlotte Eriksson
The only thing more annoying than sailing in a gale is sailing out of a gale and into a dead calm. The life of a budget liveaboard voyager is one of never ending chasing. Chasing the wind so we don’t have to use the motor, chasing fresh water cause we never carry enough, chasing work because we never stop moving for Long and chasing a better use of space because no matter how large a small boat is its always too small until spring outfit in which case no matter how small its always too big.
It isn’t all waterfalls, rainbows and perfect sunsets although I do get my fair share. The task at hand on top of everything else in the world it to rig some lame sort of steering system and a way to safely navigate. It’s always a dance to keep enough sandpaper and brushes without overdoing the budget or missing the good weather in the small doses we get it due to not having enough supplies.
The rudder is done but it’s only the beginning, rain is coming tonight so I’ve taken the day to hunt down exactly what I will need to finish Sookies rear end during the next short weather window. At this time it’s hurry up and wait but I’d rather be onboard waiting that somewhere else hurrying up.
The Brompton has come into her own delivering me in style form place to place as I buy the last little bits of this and that. I was able to skimp just enough to have a box of wine and a shower in the budget. I’m still in my refit stage so as the green rolls in I grab a head of cabbage, a pile of eggs and a bag of potatoes and everything else goes into boat gold as I call it because anything made for a boar seems to be priced in gold. Somehow I always pull off the right amount of refit with some outfit and exactly enough food and fuel to keep the fire stoked. It’s a good life but not for most.
For the most part DINKS “double income no kids” have the best success in this life. It’s really a godsend to have that extra set of hands and income but some of us pirates just aren’t willing to walk that plank. I would say it’s a lot of hard work but I almost enjoy the process while I’m doing it and knowing my boat is unstoppable is a good feeling when your hundreds of miles from your home port. It feels good to finally be back in the throws of it with bits of paint in my hair, tools scattered around the boat, a huge pile of something eatable in my big pot and just enough hooch to sit back at the end of a long day to admire the fruits of my labor. It’s tape pulling day and arguably the best damn day of my life.
“There is an art to flying”, said Ford, “or rather a knack. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.”
― Douglas Adams
Have you heard the news today…murder, rape, crime, hate, slimy polititions, and that’s all in Seattle less than a hundred miles as the crow flies from this utopian world I live in. Has the whole world gone mad? It’s cool this morning but I have the heater cranked, my big fluffy socks keep my toes wiggling and warm. A super fuzzy jacket and my purple sailing kilt have my sleepy morning a blissful one.
My alltime favorite book and superhero is Forrest Gump. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish in life if you can simply avoid the traps and anchors that hold us fast. Freedom is a word I take very seriously and I’m not looking to some skeezy lying politition to provide it for for me.
An early morning ride on Brompty shakes the mad polluted world on the airwaves and reminds me it’s just a myth, living in the sewer is a choice, I’ve chosen a different path with different obstacles. Fresh air, no traffic and an island that has what we call the Lopez solute, every person waves as they pass you by.
I’ve traded the persuit of little pieces of green paper for the persuit of green rolling hills with young sheep and goats lazily playing in the pastures. My religion is love for my neighbors, no judgement and an extended arm, meal, or just some happy teasing for anyone who needs or wants it. My prayer is appreciation for the weather and the many moods she brings me.
Actions speak louder than words and the way you live your life speak volumes over the tiny words that come out. Natural power and off grid living is the surest way to save this planet and our souls. Want to end war and child slavery, sell you car and stop shopping at Wallmart. I don’t worry about my neighbors as I have my own battle to fight, typing on my second hand iPad I’m the problem, my second hand Nikon also shows that while I think I care I really don’t or I’d refuse to purchase the byproduct of my tools of the trade. It’s journey and while I get better each year I’ll never get there, just closer and closer.
I’m avoiding my boat chores by writing, it’s my job but one I love in ways I’m not capable of describing. My fingers peck a little screen with a muted clicking noise and my story appears on a flat white screen, how far I have fallen from my lead pencile and a scrap of paper. My log book is where I pour the secret inner working of my mind and my mental warm up to a more modern form of story telling.
Today is a day for giving and sharing. Like every day, today started and will end on my little Brompton. Sookie is my refuge, my little turtle shell and I’m in hiding, it’s a full moon which makes me batshit crazy. Tonight when my island is asleep I’ll sneak out of my hole ride Sookie to the end of the road and run wild and naked though the woods howling to the moon with all the other creatures of the night.
From the log of Sookie June 2011. I loved her like a hurricane, I loved her because she was dangerous, and so am I. The collision of two fronts created the perfect storm.
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.
I woke to a bright and sunny windless day, it’s gonna be a scorcher and a perfect day for a little dock sailing and life assessment. Let’s see, hangover, check. Good hot coffee, check. Art of Hookie up and running double check. Thanks to the always wonderful and generous Just Julie AOH will be live and running on a bottomless pit in a few days, that’s right we just grew up and now AOH is a real website.
Laying in bed after the multi day shinanigans I realized I don’t have a single friend in this entire world. I don’t call people, or go out to bars, or meet in the park for potlucks. What I do have is an ever growing tribe connected by the sea, we don’t call eachother or really even write unless we are sending out notice of tribal journey with invitations to all. Insert Miss Julie, I can only describe her as special cargo, I met her one milasecond before Sea Trout and have loved her ever since. Always the generous one, she feeds me, pours mean cocktails and even opened up her temporary landlocked home to me and Chloe when we were in crisis getting to the vet.
The list of precious cargo grows every day, starting with our very own clementine princess Julie, Laura, April, Chelsea, Nina, Nikki… The admission to the tribe is free and the membership is lifetime. All night and day apart from one another I doubt a single one of us agree on anything be it boat size, shape, or design or … It’s our mutual love for the sea and the freedom we all have fought so hard to live our individual lifestyles the way we choose without being under the constant thumb of mediocrity.
All ships have sailed today and it’s already too quiet and a bit lonely but when Solace snuck out early this morning her crew left me with the greatest gift in the world. I now own Art of Hookie and can continue to spew by nonsensical, liveaboard and occasional sailing nonsense to no end. If you need a kick ass Wordpress Pro she selectively takes on new clients between her constant sea adventures.
From the log of Sookie, who needs friends when you have a tribe, a water tribe… Lopez island 2016
Coming into a unknown guest dock to charge my batteries was sheer anarchy. The current was ripping, a brisk breeze had the chop in a tantrum and there were boats everywhere going this way and that. I was in the middle of the runway and had no reverse, in fact I had to shut the engine off every time I put it into neutral or it would wind up till it blew. We had 28′ of side tie dock space for my little 22′ cutter but she is 31 LOA.
It doesn’t matter how far you have sailed or how long you have been out, the second you tie up you are no longer using your sailors brain. Tied to the dock we become liveaboards, even if it’s only one day. Our lines secured, electricity pumping, an endless supply of water. Conservation is soon thrown out the window, who cares how much trash we make, we can dump it all right here. Long hot showers, a meal out, the money flows like the free water we are prepetually filling our tanks with. A trip to the marine chandlery, i.e. Land pirates and we start to realize how expensive society is, but it’s not just the money, it’s the way we mentally change.
Sitting dockside chatting with sailors about dock fear is interesting. One of them fresh off. 30,000 mile journey, another finding refuge from an extremely rough passage and another getting ready for a potential circumnavigation. When your out there you become hardened fast, you can’t always hide from the weather, you just deal with it. Sitting snug as bug in a rug in the marina we start to lose confidence in our boats regardless of where they have safely taken us. Is my rudder strong, do I need to replace my rigging, what about my motor. When and where will I be able to top off my cruising funds again. If you don’t have this anxiety you don’t know all the facts. Setting off voyaging is like preparing to sail to the moon, it’s just you out there. I see them every day, potential blue water sailors making thier boats rescueable rather than safe. Can’t afford new rigging but i just got a new AIS and single sideband. Sure my ground tackle needs improvement but I need a new life raft and solar for the boat. Sails would be nice but I’m too busy putting in a new stereo system. These are the same sailors that come bareling into the Marina full bore not realizing they need fenders and dock lines till they are fifty feet out.
For all the wonderful solo passages I’ve had sailing solo just plain sucks. Life is to be shared, good and bad. Having someone to help with sails, navigation, pulling anchor or just keep,you company on those long nights good or bad weather. When I’m alone in a blow it’s the loneliest place on the entire planet, when I have crew to keep safe it gives me a prime directive, I don’t have time to be afraid, instead I’m in awe inspecting the fruits of my countless hours of labor making my craft a safe and stout ship. The ones who say just go aren’t fools, they are just the ones who haven’t and won’t ever just go, they have no idea what it takes to outfit even the most basic boat.
I was recently reading a clip of a story of a guy who just went, I won’t recount it here because it’s none of my business but he lost his boat and everything with it, too many Chiefs in his life and not enough Indians. As the captian of your vessel it’s you and your crew that will decide when your ready, be-it for your first time crossing to Catalina or setting off to the sail the world. Sitting in my quarter berth going over charts of the Carribean, I know I’m ready as is my boat but all, the small things are still holding me captive. My prime directive is finding a wind vane but it’s no more or less important than all the small things like new anchor line, or a nav system I can read with my blind eyes. The clock is ticking and if I miss my window it means a yet another cold winter waiting in vain.
90 percent of seamanship happens 20 feet from the dock. -Jay Fitzgerald
Sure, I’ve got whiskey, scotch, bourbon, gin, vodka, all top shelf, lemon and lime liquors for home made margaritas. I’ve got good wine and great and Shitty beer but all I wanted was a glass of wine out of a box, it’s my staple and I’m out, poverty sucks.
I feel like a total ass but I broke my own cardinal rule and busted out a kick ass bottle of wine with nobody to share it with. Gouda cheese, green olives and farm fresh salami. Yes, that’s right I’m having a pity party and your not invited. It seems to happen about this time every month, I accidentally look at the calander and oh shit, bills are due.
Since I can’t do anything about it today I corked a world class bottle of wine, made snacks for dinner and here I sit suffering miserably alone and in poverty. I light a few candles, put on some good music and smile. I’ve worked my entire life to make it from the top to the bottom, it’s been a struggle and I do have to say, it fits me like a glove. I look around the cabin in the soft flickering light and realize I’ve made it, nirvana. I’m not poor, I’m broke, there is a difference.
“We are not rich by what we possess but by what we can do without.”
― Immanuel Kant
I really don’t know how to say this, so I will just spit it out. The party’s over, and in a morbid way I feel guilty for letting everybody down. Today I wrote my last will and testament. Planning your own wake is actually quite fun, the plan is to have me cremated, put my ashes in my shit bucket and raid Sookies liquor stores which are ample. Sail Sookie out, then throw the whole bucket, ashes and all into the deep blue ocean. I have to say I was getting a bit jealous of the after party. The truth is my biggest worry through all of this is who will care for Sookie in the mannor in which she is accustomed.
Not for one single second have I taken any of this seriously, I simply couldn’t give a rats ass about my last days. I’m a pirate, a ninja and when my time comes I’m totally down with it.
Maybe that’s why I stay so young, because I haven’t a care in the world. I don’t have any stress not a single thought, when you live your life in the moment literally nothing can bring you down. Sure I won’t get to retire when I’m 75 and I doubt that anybody will feel sorry for me scrubbing toilets at that old age but the payoff for me at least is priceless.. I don’t have a plan, there are no dreams and wants and I’m not chasing my future. I simply exist in the time and space that I do and life is petty ok.
Of corse I have been given a wake up call, I’ve been burning the candle at both ends doing anything and everything I have to, to keep the party going. I woke up today and it was petty fucking clear that my natural remodies weren’t working. A friend insisted I see the local nurse practitioner and that’s just what I did. When she walked in she asked what was wrong and I told her straight up, I’m dying. She smiled and asked me why I thought I was dying. My answer, because everybody keeps telling me I’m gonna die. This girl was seriously one of the most amazing encounters I’ve ever had in my entire life, we laughed and chatted and at some point she did do her doctor thing, turns out I have two haineous ear infections and just like that I was sent on my way with serious instructions and a promise that I would eat some food. I’ve been a little too creative lately moving my food budget to the boat budget side. Humm, take this, move it over here, and….it’s gone.
So that’s it, once again am a huge fucking let down, shit I’m the only person who can actually fuck up dying but I have to say I’m quite happy to get a few more good stories in while I’m at it. Today I was notified that I may be 100% full of shit and I take those compliments very seriously. If my life seems to be lived beyond reality than I just may be doing something right. Oh and my redicules vow I made, it was taken in a weakened state of mind, fuck that, I’m all in.
P.S. Thank you to all the people who sent me letters of concern but please don’t ever waste your valuable time worriying about me. This isn’t my first rodeo. I think Benjamin Franklin said it best when he said. “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
It’s not like I haven’t tried as hard as humanly possible to avoid it, but it was bound to happen. I’ve been put in charge of selling a beautiful 1985 Pacific Seacraft Dana 24. So just like that I’m temporarily part of the work force again to earn a few bucks for Sookies new wardrobe.
It’s getting pretty exiting around here. My engine problems are solved, I have an unbelievably unseaworthy dingy minus the pump and oars but it’s super light and pretty in a tired old pathetic way, and I love it. I was just reading a recount of a 217 mile 24 hour run done in a little FC and it sounds frightening. Give me a nice 100 mile average and I’m smiling, I don’t like to do anything fast. Each day I slowly move ahead doing one simple project at a time. I’m moving closer and closer to finding a perfect little oasis where it never gets cold and I can happily live aboard and do sailing trips between island explorations by bike.
I can’t say where it has come from but Im rapidly losing all interest in going north. If I could ship Sookie somewhere warm I’d haul her today and dry her out for new barrier coat and send her on her way. As of now she doesn’t have a smack of osmosis, hydrolysis or delamin her hull. Everybody keeps telling me to ignore it and fix it once it shows up. To me that’s like saying why make your children wear a seatbelt, you can always send them to the er to get put back together when you get in an accident. Take one look at Sookie and you will know how much she is loved. I owe her 120 days in the yard, the only question is when and where but Baja is looking better every day. I’m secretly planning to add a dodger to her but that’s just Crazy talk.
Wow all this work on the boat, so what are my plans? I don’t have a single one exept to live every day free as bird, eat lots of lentils and potatoes, ride my Brompton a million miles and appreciate every second of it to my fullest capeability. I’ve slipped into a simple groove and I love it. Sleep in, write a bit of jiberish, work on Sookie a bit, then walk up to boatyard with very short list of projects on The little Dana 24 I’m selling. In exactly six months, summer will start to end and another year will have slipped through. Time flys when your having a god time.
A gust of wind throws me from one side of my v-berth to the other with a whack of my elbow. An involuntary Yelp escapes with some choice words and a new day is born. I stretch and yawn wishing there was somebody in the galley making coffee and eggs, it’s good to want.
I don’t know what day today is but it’s going to be a good one. The boat is cleaned from top to bottom when I hear a rap on the hull, a transient boat has slipped in from the night to take refuge from the storm. They bring me hot biscuits and a banana. Snacks are my favorite food and we share a smoke with thick black coffee, they talk about boats and admit that they love little Sookie, thier boat is too big and they are loosing steam with the constant battle of maintaining it.
I invite them for lunch but they have other plans so I go about my cleaning and organizing when I get a text with a picture from a sailor who won’t identify themselves, it reads lonesome sailor not alone. I climb into the storm to top off my one gallon water jug that I use to top off my two gallon water jug. While its filling I look up as Sookie and smile. I have never once walked or rowed away from my little ship without stopping to admire her beautiful lines. My slow life gives me the time to polish and preen her, we take good care of each other. I haven’t given up my dream of a few extra feet but that can wait until I need it. Today I find that I have more than enough of everything.
I have barely eaten a scrap of food since arriving on island, so much going on, so many decisions. I choose today to wipe my slate clean, I walk away from everything but the sea and a feeling of quiet calm fills me. A make a huge breakfast for lunch, my lockers hold a nice bounty of this and that. Sipping on a Virgin Mary i play house in my little sailboat There are two types of sailors and they are both most excellent The first who sails for sport and the second who makes sailing thier lifestyle. I’m the latter. Chopping my potatoes and onions a gust of wind hits and knocks me into the counter, veggies go rolling and my Swiss Army knife almost cuts my toe off falling to the ground. It feels so alive when you live on a sailboat, she never stops moving. The sailors I’ve been meeting these days are all cut from the same cloth, I have my tribe back and I’m very protective of them.
I make a nice stew, it has everything but the kitchen sponge in it. The slow simple life of a sailor fits me just fine. Drifting from place to place, always meeting new smiling faces is my chosen path. Simple foods, simple people and simple dreams, what more is there. I’m listening to money talk on the radio, my old profession and a bit surprised and pained by how much emphasis the callers are putting into earning and saving money so they can retire when they are 70. I retired broke a very long lime ago, it’s amazing how we utilize our time once we realize how truly precious and valuable it is.
“The Master said, “A true gentleman is one who has set his heart upon the Way. A fellow who is ashamed merely of shabby clothing or modest meals is not even worth conversing with.” ― Confucius
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.
When you live on a small sailboat outside isn’t very far away. With no television, Internet or any of the other wonderful distractions life throws our way the days are long and more often than not fun filled. Throw work out the window and I wonder how many people could happily and successfully occupy the typical 18 hour days the the pacific north west throws our way, for me there never seems to be enough time.
I’m in the precession of wrapping up the first of the three months I will work this year, the other nine are mine. Bike touring the islands, sailing, a new photography project and as many days as I can fill surrounded by good friends, new and old. The year will end with my bike tour of Cuba but now a new adventure has been put on the table, Alaska. Alaska is the one and only place on this planet that has successfully eluded me for a lifetime. On paper it seems an impossibility with so many other adventures on the map but sometimes you just have to take a chance and show up, May is looking like the perfect time to sneak out, jump the Blue Canoe and make my way north.
A the ripe age of 23, a budding young and very successful photographer I was sitting in the park enjoying a peanut butter sandwich. My view was a beautiful Pacific Seacraft Flicka named Toucan. I loved that boat and went to visit it often. At the time I had three full time jobs, didn’t know it at the time but I was setting up for a trip that would change my life forever. A man came over and asked me if I was a traveler pointing to my camera bag. We chatted a bit before he told me about the Alaska Marine Hwy system. At that point in my life Alaska had never been on my radar, but I wrote all the information in my spare little reporters journal, that pad would soon form into a travel journal as I crossed wonderful destinations off my list and added more and more destinations to my memory banks.
I had been successfully saving my pennies for a Flicka but the closer and closer I came to realizing my dream the more I learned about boats and boating, the more ownership seemed like a prison, the boat a financial ball and chain that would keep me from living the life of an explorer that I wanted to. I had already cruised extensively and while I loved it I also. Found myself wanting more than always being attached to a boat. I didn’t want to be owned by the boat, wanted to see the world and while I knew I could a afford to purchase the boat even way back then, I also knew that the sea wore me out and that as much as I love traveling with the wind I also like to get away from the constant mainetnece and expense and travel by other means, that was over twenty years and 10 boats ago. After all this time I still have not been able to commit to any one one way of life. My preferred method is to do everything I enjoy for shorter periods, biking, touring, travel, camping, backpacking, road trips and just plain old living aboard. As much as I love to get out and roam, coming home is one of my greatest passions.
The Pacific North West may be the only place in the world where you can live aboard and sail year round in wild and Un-polluted areas. In my humble opionion it’s the best cruising grounds on earth, has all the wild the world has to offer yet is only a short sail from America, good work, reasonably priced boatyards and has real live aboard status in the marinas. I look at my pile of stuff and Realise I’ve finally done ir. My collection of toys is complete, my life is made for escaping. I look at my life, my empty budget and the fact that I’m many miles from home, all calculated risks. I not broke, I’m even. The real adventure is the freedom to choose, the cost is everthing you have and the payoff is priceless.
How many days have I been away from Sookie it doesn’t matter. A long journey is coming to an end so a new one can begin. Gone are all my worries, true freedom sits at my doorstep. Some days the wind will be my friend, but others she will test my resolve. The coldest days of winter are slipping behind leaving the wet grey reminder that spring is near. I stand naked and dripping in the mirror surveying my body, my strength is coming back and I’m going to need every ounce of it.
I’ve given my notice and in a matter of days I will start my journey west. Not home to Sookie, not yet. I need movement, not the kind where you go somewhere and stay a while before moving on, that’s not travel. I need to see the unknown horizon, to travel with good company and to experience the story’s I will write when I’m feeling nestaligic for yesterday’s setting sun.
I left my little island home with a expedition size load and I will be returning with the same amount of luggage only this time it will be very different. I have been collecting this and that carefully storing away each item in a box for a later date. I’m prepared for the cold, the unknown, the uncertainty of what may or may not lay ahead.
I’ve been careful not to make any plans, there are no obligations, no expectations… I don’t need another job, my sandles are ready and my feet fill them perfectly. Each step is my own, I rest when I’m tired and I run when I’m excited. I left Sookie neatly wrapped up and ready to go, all I have to do is hose her off, fill her water tanks, make my bed and go, or stay or…
With the stars to guide me through the night, the promise of a rising sun in the east and the knowledge of where I’ve been I will follow my compass to my new home.
Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.
– Calvin Coolidge
I’m further away from anywhere I’ve ever been, somewhere in Oregon. I look out the window at the rainy sky and feel the ocean as if it’s close enough to touch, today it is. You can blame sailors like Robin Lee Graham, Tania Adbi, Brian Caldewell and Lin And Larry Pardy. There a too many to list but they all have one thing in common, simple voyages on salty little pocket cruisers, small is beautiful.
Today will be spent in front of the fire with a glass of whiskey and good company. My sketch book has been out all weekend trying to sort provisions, where to add the new heater and water tanks and for the umpteenth time diving into electronic navigation to aid my paper charts.
All boats are not created equally and I feel fortunate to have one with a true full keel and a stern hung rudder the two most crucial elements when it comes to my personal choice for safety and reliability. My last three boats have had stern hung rudders and I wouldn’t consider anything else for my personal needs.
Fitting two people into such a tiny space is not and will never be easy which is why I chose a boat with an outboard engine as opposed the a good solid diesel which I often find my self desiring, every inch of interior storage counts. Somehow in my misaligned mind I still want a Bristol Channel Cutter 28 and there is one patently waiting for me but I just can’t push the button so for now all my efforts are going into Sookie.
She’s 95% perfect as she sits and with a lot of hard work and a little luck I will finish all of her minor changes including a soft privacy door for her v-berth incase somebody wants to stay up late or sleep the day away..I haven’t chosen a gimballed stove yet but alcohol is looking like it will be my choice but a nice little propane burner is a very close second. A new larger, sun/rain awning for the cockpit and lots of little racks in the galley for spice and oils to keep everything at hand. I will top it all off with a small solar panel and an LED tricolor bulb. All interior lights will remain incadesnt because I can’t stand the horrible light of LED for her cozy interior.
By the end of the season Sookie will be 100% off grid and ready for any adventure we choose, warm or cold. I’ll be removing small bits of her interior storage to make a little more and a more comfortable space but nothing major.
This year I will also finally complete her lifelines bringing them all the way to the stern of the boat with lee cloths to lean into for complete relaxation under sail or on the hook. The little refinements will make a huge differences on this tiny little platform.
There is a space for everything on this little ship, by design Lyle Hess created a masterpiece in minimalism but what more could you expect from a designer after 50 years of designing boats for other people Sookie is a product of design for himself. She is slow wet and tender, just like I like her.
And after two days in civilization we realized we could never stay for long and started to plan our next adventure.- Bob Bitchin (Letters from the Lost Soul)
My second day in Maui walking in the morning sun I thought I was hallucinating. Walking towards me was a beautiful girl draped in a short white translucent gown. A light rain driven by 80 degree balmy winds and the backlighting from the early sun made this a perfect scene. She followed her pet pig to me and a new friendship was formed.
From Argentina she was a close talker, laud and exaggerated. Arms flailing in the wind we both shard the same excitement for life. I would later learn that she is a famous raw food specialist. Sitting on the porch of her bungalow, wind howling and a full moon rising she pored me a smoothie and handed me her joint. I’m not a pot smoker but when in Rome…I could feel my body being charged by the magical elixire. Maui could have been the perfect get away and in many ways was but timing is everything and I really had no interest in being there at the time. Now so far removed, my tan still lingering but fading with each new day I wonder when it is that I will go back to the jungles of Hawaii, I can already hear her calling my name.
I’ve been in detox for a decade from corperate America and suspect it may be another decade before both my mind and body have healed from the toxicity of that way of life. Living in the city I can feel my body slowly dying, traffic, angry people everywhere and the convenience of processed food on every corner and every channel of a TV I seem to watch daily even though I haven’t found the need for one in over a dozen years. That raw food diet that she raved about every day glowed on her fresh soft skin, it emulated in her bright smile and radiated off of her sun kissed body.
One thing for sure a partial raw food diet is in the making in my life once I have recaptured it, once I have escaped the madness. I have a fist full of recepeis and will start to experiment with my own when I return to Sookie. I’m doing ok with my quitting smoking and research is telling me that smoking a hand rolled oorganic ciggi every time I get the urge for niccotine will help curve the craving and perhaps break the bond once and for all.
All I really know is that I’ve been blessed genetically and feel that my physical has room to grow. Years ago I was dragged into the forrest by a band of gypsy girls, they named me Stormy and told me of a long journey I would soon be on. A huge part of me was killed on my little beach in Hawaii, the part of me that I never needed or wanted. Society in general takes its toll on us but it doesn’t mean we can’t find a new home, a new way of living and a new life. That little beach taught me and provided me with everything I need emotionally in life and while the jungle was hard on me, it also taught me what I don’t need. I write few notes in my journal, the last line reads, there is time for everything in this life when it’s the right time. I smile when I think about that little beach knowing full well I can recreate it anywhere I want at anytime I choose. It was that little beach that taught me that the fight I’ve been fighting for so many years wasn’t at all what I thouht it was. Now I see my battle has always been for freedom and not being tied down”….
Do not believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding, find out what you already know, and you’ll see the way to fly.” R. Bach
In about three weeks I will start my pilgrimage back to Sookie my little man cave and eventually back to Friday Harbor. Unless a miricle happens Sookie is going straight back into the water, her new epoxy coat will have to wait till next year. The plan was to have her in Port Townsend by last September but the finest laid plans of mice and men often go astray.
Her heat and windvane are ready to be installed, bits and pieces of rigging measured and ready to be ordered and one new sail, an asym is ready to be cut. It’s been busy around here and now I need to prioritize my list. If I was 25 I could push her out today and sail her anywhere but I’ve grown lazy and cautious as my days roll on. The dumbest thing I could do is just point her to Canada and blow off yet another season of work and I wonder if that’s just what I will do. Either way I have a few months to figure it out but I just can’t stand the thought of not sailing north for the summer. Last year it was painfully difficult caring for Chloe and even leaving her on the boat for short bits to go for a hike had my stomach in knots. That girl could get herself into quite a bit of trouble on the boat. This year it will be different, I don’t have to worry about weather or time my crossings for potty breaks. I don’t have to worry about what would happen in a worse case sinerio if the boat was lost, getting a frail dog into a crappy rubber dink in storm conditions with angry rocky shores… There is a lot of safety planing and strategy when you have little paws to care for. This year I’m free of all of it so a different shipbord plan will be in order, more hiking, more exploring and more pushing little Sookie in the rough stuff. Sea trials are one of my favorite things and also a very important step in learning how far this little ship can be pushed.
It’s grey and cold today, I didn’t go for my morning ride, another day of my life I will never get back. I sit in silence wondering if I will do the right think, suck it up find work and finish the boat or just say fuck it and go sailing. I can’t image where this year will find me but I’m with stupid so anything can happen. I look across at my pile of newly aquired winter clothing, it’s going to be damn cold on the boat when I get there with no heat and I will have to sneak around as I’m not allowed to stay on the boat in the boatyard. I have to be patient, a new adventure is in the making and it will start right where the last one ended, on a little piece of freedom I like to call Sookie.
I’ve hit my breaking point, I can’t take it any longer. Living on the edge of existence in the jungle was pure raw living at its best. My life has grown stagnant to no end, I’m being mentally retarded by television. I grow stupider every day, I can feel my strength fading along with my tan. My life has gone easy to an extent I can not accept. Im literally dying , suffocating like a fish out of water.
I feel guilty every day, I have a huge house, more food than I could ever eat, heat, hot water I’m living an upper middle class existence most don’t even know exists. There is no challenge, no reason to live. I meet available single girls every day, they throw themselves at me, I want to vomit, they are so empty and shallow. The city is bitter, it’s cold and it’s half dead like a zombie. I’ve created my own prison. I miss Sookie like a long lost lover, it hurts in my heart. The air is toxic, I’m lost, I think I’m dying…
I am not a man, I am a wild animal that is hungry for raw meat, the hunt, the chase, I am wild, trapped in a cage and it’s a dangerous place, this zoo. Living on the threshold naked in the jungle my skin tingled, my eyes sharp, my thin muscled body strong, I was the top of the food chain, I take what I want when I want it. I hunted the reef with no mask snorkel or fins, my eyes trained to see clear in the salt water I swam with the Sharks, they were my brothers.
My fists are like clubs, nicknamed Tom and Jerry they will always get me out of a scrape, they pull me up coconut trees and pry loose the fresh tender meat of the green nuts. I am a hunter, a warrior, a scout and a chef… I am wild.
I can feel my life source draining from my soul, without the beach I have no strength, the edge is my home, the edge of the sea, the edge of the shore the edge of life. There are no storms to fight, I just close the door. There are no fires to light, I just flip a switch, there is no struggle and without struggle life ceases to exist.
In this safe simple life, my writing is shit, there is no story for tomorrow, no reason to live. I don’t want safety. I don’t want security. I don’t want any of this. Am I the last of the Mohicans, are there no more wild children of the earth? I need a new tribe, a water tribe.