The awesome folks over at Mighty Goods put this awesome tribe together, check them out, lots of good reading on this blustery winters day.
When I was 18 my friend Sandra would always describe my life as such, nothing through the years has changed. I just got an email from one on my favorite YouTube sailing couples. I won’t name them here and ruin their surprise surprise but they are downsizing and had a few questions about Flicka’s and Falmouth Cutters. When they spill the beans I’ll throw it up here but they are already a household name and killing it on YouTube. Small is beautiful but over the years yachting rags have done their best to convince us that 36′ is the minimum and that 46 is even better and safer. Lies, lies, lies.
Just yesterday I met the happiest man on the planet earth. His first circumnavigation was on a 26′ twin keeler. He went on to sail another 95,000 Miles in his 31′ cutter including removing a perfectly good running diesel and sailing back to Washington from New Zealand sans engine just for the zen experience, now he’s buying a Falmouth Cutter to continue on with his voyage.
Big boats aren’t safer, they are rarely more comfortable and often substantially more dangerous and less comfortable. Have you ever tried to lift a 80lb anchor while dragging through a dark crowded Anchorage with a broken windlass? Fighting huge sails is another issue with larger boats as is being a target when you anchor your 350k yacht off a beach where the average residents family income is under 10k. Expense is the biggest issue as is time to maintain it all. Maybe I’m just a selfish jerk but I’d much rather spend my time with my sailing partner or locals or exploring the far flung ports I’ve worked so hard to arrive at.
I actually have grown to enjoy warm beers and was the first person on the planet earth to start pushing consuming white wine warm, it has so much more and better flavors when enjoyed this way. Nothing on a boat needs to be refrigerated. The more real foods you consume the less space it takes. Honestly if I had Just pocketed 2.8 million by selling all my bitcoin at 16k I still would never consider a boat over 28′
I’m having a complete mental breakdown over selling Sookie for a larger version. The more real this all becomes the more I’m asking myself WTF am I thinking. Sookie is a very well proven sailing machine, has more than enough space and as far as my life goes I don’t have a single complaint. When’s the last time you sailed into an unknown harbor and had someone rowed out and thank you for sailing your beautiful yacht into their harbor? Happens to me all the time.
I’ve heard the age old myth that a faster boat can outrun a storm. This myth is perpetuated by people who have never sailed offshore, have never experienced squalls and micro Burts, no weather forecasting on the planet can alert you to these. There is also the fact that a faster boat can actually sail you into bad weather that a slower boat would have missed or put you on the dangerous side rather than the safe side of a TRS
I’m a minimalist and a sailor, if I want to get anywhere fast I’ll ride my bike or fly in a jet, even the fasted cruising boats on the planet are slower than my gimpy old legs can turn my pedals, speed does not equate to safety unless maybe you are running from the law and your car is faster than theirs.
The only yacht that I have ever come across that has a better booze section than me is Delos when they loaded in 1000 cans of beer and 200 bottles of wine but there are seven of them and I’m all by my lonesome so my 8 cases of wine and 100 cans of beer will do, I always carry a few gallons of rum for emergency’s. On top of that I can still carry 4-6 months of food if I plan right and enough water for a nonstop to anywhere. Sailing small boats also gives mass creds in the cruising community when you drop the hook in some remote location and the next smallest boat is 40′
I’m so frustrated with the mega yacht culture I’m actually contemplating turning this into a minimalist sailing blog just to share the real benefits of going small. I think the tides will eventually turn and small well designed sailboats will again rule the cruising world. You don’t have to be rich and famous to enjoy these simple pleasures. Go small, live simple, live now.
Three weeks before setting out on my bike tour I hauled Sookie and buttoned her up for a long winter. She is bone dry and fresh inside just like it was yesterday. I could of easily done her few winter projects and launched her when I returned but I was too sick and lethargic and our Indian summer slipped into winter. If I want to make a big trip this year I have 30 days to get her launched and find crew. She needs to be in Port Townsend by June 15 so time is not on my side. Today she got her first bath of the season but there is much to do as she has moss growing from every nook and cranny.
Her brand new engine stalled half way between her slip and the hoist. I’m not sure what is going on but lack of a motor has never stoped me before, real sailors don’t need motors. Every time I’ve hauled her I’ve wanted to strip her bottom and start fresh, her bottom is absolutely atrocious but there is no power here so again it will have to wait, the list never ends. Once she gets her bottom wet it’s out of sight and out of mind for the season.
Living on land for a few months was a necessary evil but now I’m counting the days to her launching although she won’t go in the water till all my ducks are in a row. I’m not giving up my tiny home till I have a solid go ahead for a trip north to BC. A good friend was picking my brain about my cruising experiences through Baja and mainland Mexico. I tried to explain that the Salish Sea is the best cruising on this big flat earth. Now having sailed through Mexico himself he is returning to this magical and endless cruising ground. The sailing is easy but the challenges are endless as are the new horizons.
It’s taken nearly 7 years but the transition from refit to outfit is finally coming to fruition. Without a safe place to store my bike I’ve got some pretty large decisions but time will work those out. For now it’s my favorite part of the year, paint, varnish and installing all my new toys minus the new dinghy which tragically won’t fit on Sookie and can’t be delivered east. I just may have lost my mind because I keep thinking about AIS and a real VHF to go with it but that’s just boat porn for now.
These fittings cost a fortune but they sure are Purdy. I’m still having bi polar disorder with my wind vane and will more than likely add a Cape Horn wind-vane, I’m just not sold on the trim tab that I currently have and not loving the idea of drilling more holes in my rudder, it’s always a trade off but for now it’s not a huge priority.
Sookies hull actually has a small amount of tear drop shape, it’s hard to see but it’s there. It’s beyond me how any designers can come up with such works of art but there is a beautiful Hess 24 anchored in my bay, one of the only sailboats that ever sails into Fish Bay a true testament to her design.
So today she had a good scrub, I pulled my chart book and started making notes on all the smaller details. You can see her fully loaded water mark which is about an inch lower than her LWL. I’m loading her lightly as in the best of worlds she will only need to carry a 75 day run worth of supplies which is child’s play for her.
Don’t let the grey sky fool you, it’s warm today and only getting warmer. It will take a week or two to have her looking smart and then I can start turning screw drivers and wrenches, bending on sails and last but not least see if I can get that beautiful new engine to purr like a kitten. My brain is scrambled but it feels good to make the transition back into the sailing world. As far as money goes, well I think Larry Pardey hit the nail on the head when he said…
And money? “Money is like screwdrivers, You need ’em, but if you have too many they just get in the way. Do you know how many rich people waste their lives worrying about their money?”~larry Pardey
Through good times and bad times, till death do us part. I mutter the words as I teach tying a proper cleat. I look up and smile, if you don’t know the knot tie a lot. I’ve lost my dingy on more than one occasion either to slippery knots or high rising tides, take your eye off the ball for even a moment and your going for a long cold and sobering swim.
I’ve purposely been tying all the knots in my life very loosely, it isn’t that I’m not attached to them but right now I don’t want any anchors in my life. I’m rapidly coming to the reality that I’ll be flying to my new home to start construction, not driving so my new windlass and dinghy will either be stored in a shed or used as props in the winery till I figure it all out. The drama of getting all my stuff 4000 miles away has prompted me to unload everything in my life. I’ll arrive with my daypack and the shirt on my back. Starting clean is a good thing.
I’ve always kept Sookie tidy and organized, anything that can’t find a home is jettisoned. A cluttered life is the surest outward sign of indecision, insecurity and being completely lost. To the uncommitted your mind is truly your worst enemy. Sitting on a small island waiting for a ferry to another small island I watch the TV and listen to how strong the economy is. One day later I hear the news that my country has gone bankrupt again. It takes me an entire day to hitchhike to Bellingham to buy a few thousand dollars worth of silver, another day back and a third to find the perfect place to burry my new treasure, I don’t trust banks and I never will.
The concept of giving up all the security I have created in Sookie to build a new boat is a giant leap. I look at our massively failing economy and it causes great concern in making the jump. On the other hand if I can finish the boat before the financial world implodes I’ll have the ultimate bug out boat that is completely off the grid and brand new. A 7 day juice fast has me feeling light and strong, my mind crystal clear and focused.
My only snag is that my future is completely out of my hands, I can’t start the new boat until it’s ready for me and as of today there is nothing but a few drawings pinned on my wall. I’ve taken a giant leap of faith in this whole process so I’m sitting in a holding pattern. In the meantime I want to spend a month in Hawaii or cycle from Alaska home or sail Sookie around Vancouver island. I have the time and wherewithal to do all three if I start this week.
Sitting here waiting for the phone to ring is frustrating. I turn my attention inward, crank the heat to a hundred degrees and do a little yoga, my little tiny home has been treating me very well when I’m actually here so I’m utilizing all my internal space for as long as I have it…
Two steps foreword, one step back. I’m making ground, slowly but surely this pipe dream is almost ready to smoke. Piece by piece I’m out searching for a pirates bounty of old bronze, hard woods, fittings, winches, blocks, anything and everything. I have accumulated enough to start my own marine chandlery but this is only the beginning. I know exactly what I want and won’t settle or budge an inch.
It’s all the small things that matter. I could buy a house for what the end result is going to be on this feisty little girl but I don’t want a house. For a bit of motivation I’ve ordered a new anchor and it’s not a Rocna. I found an old email of a line manufacturing company that wanted to send me spools of free line. I’ve sat on many large offers waiting for the right time. Like it or not I’m selling advertising in exchange for boat parts. Selling everything that doesn’t matter. Tracking down and digging up all the very real treasures I have left safely hiding in wait for the big one.
It’s not without regret as Sookie is pulling at me everyday and more than likely will stay in the family as my summer home in the islands. She is that special that I just don’t think I can say good bye to her. The more my brain turns I can’t help but to wonder if she is actually the finer of the two yachts but time will heal all wounds, fill in the blanks and answer all questions. For today at least my accountant tells me I can have my cake and eat it too.
Spring is close at hand, it’s 50 degrees today. I’ve invited a friend to round Vancouver island with me in early spring but she is hesitant, a farmer and the water scares her as much as it scares me. That old wind vane sits in the corner but I still can’t commit to installing it.
I’ve put hours of thought into the new boat and she will have no electric whatsoever, at least for now. I’m slowly working my way off grid completely. My log book will be my journal of record. Colored pencils will paint the memories. My little single side band receiver will tune me into the real world when the silence becomes too loud to bear.
Some things are better left silent until they are accomplished but even then time for reflection and adjustment must be taken. One year ago on this day my 10 year vow of poverty ended as silently as it rolled in. I’ve learned so much over this journey but most of all that money is the single largest barrier to freedom and happiness that exists on this planet. It sucks us in and holds us fast. It isn’t that I hate money or think it’s a bad thing, far from it but In having almost none I found the freedom to live so many amazing journeys that I couldn’t afford while I was wealthy. That fine line of enough is well understood and appreciated. Having a few of the desired necessities are so much more appreciated having happily gone without for so many years.
What I’ve come to realize In so many ways through this amazing journey is that while Sookie may not be anybody’s ideal boat she truly is mine. The new boat is a new project mostly because I can. To live a truly endless summer is a lifetime dream, now my future reality. Naturally I’ve been going a little crazy with my new financial freedom but the reigns are being pulled in. My simple life is about to become more simple. My personal needs are fewer and further apart.
Not any part of this journey has been easy but I never expected it to be. I wanted to experience the harsh realities of the cruelties of society. How they look down at people who they think are lesser than they. I’ve been abused my whole life by crewel people because of my disabilities, even more so when I was poor but I’ve never let the hurt hold me back, it’s always been the fuel in my fire. Little people don’t frighten me, big people don’t frighten me. Poverty doesn’t scare me any more than wealth does. I’ve said this so many times but my biggest fear is living a life doomed to mediocrity. All my dreams have always been set at a very attainable level, or so it seems…
More than anything I hate that I can’t just spit out the details of the new boat, I’m not into secrets I’m into sharing but its out of my hands. This may be the last blog post about the new boat till I actually start construction in September but. I’m still working on it every day. Accumulating parts, searching for wood measuring, accumulating, planning… Anyone that knows me knows that I’m not into long drawn out processes. Nearly 7 years into sookie and I’m still cooking on a camp stove because I can’t commit to what I want on her. The new boat aside I’m still working on Sookie every day, doing my best in this extremely poor economy to earn money and trying to make use of every second I have remaining in the islands.
I used to pay people to do all my work saying that my time was more valuable than the money it cost. Somewhere in my late 20’s I learned that I wasn’t learning anything new by paying people to work for me. I took a new or should I say old approach. My parents were hands on do-it yourselfers. We made and fixed everything in our awesomely fit our work shop. My grandfather built his house out of a dead tree and a bunch of raw material, it was plain simple and a work of art.
I know I lack many of the skills even though the hull and deck construction has nothing to do with me. My hope is that dozens of sets of hands will join in and assist from design choices to cutting and sewing sails. To build the new boat will be one of the greatest learning experiences of my life, come help me and I’ll keep your belly full of snacks and grog.
People often ask me why I did two long distance tours on a folding bike. The answer is I’ve done far too many tours the easy way on real touring bikes and wanted to try something new, a greater challenge. The same with road touring on a plus bike, it’s borderline insane but I’ve long passed the days of panniers and skinny tires. People who haven’t spent the last 30 years on the water can’t understand why I need a new project a bigger challenge to sink my teeth into. When I was 18 I bought a boat and went sailing. And continued for the next 31 years.
it Isn’t that Sookie isn’t the perfect boat, she is and then some. It’s just that now having all of My adult life on the water I know I belong there and not on dry land. The small increase in size is adding 4 times the living space both inside and out. Maybe I’m crazy, maybe this is all a big mistake but I’m no stranger to failing and I’d rather try and give it my all then spend my life wondering what if. My brain needs a mammoth redirection.
My one and only goal in life is to build a simple sensible home and set off in search of buried treasure. When I become too old to pull the strings I’ll find a rickety old dock where it never gets cold, pour a glass of green label and tell my stories of war and peace to any youngins that care to listen.
When Larry Pardey kept on and on with Lin about Sailing around the horn she replied “Larry at this point in my life I have nothing left to prove” he responded ” at this point in your life Lin you have nothing to lose”.
It’s hard to imagine where the years have gone. I spent a fortune in 1999 preparing for the big computer roll back of millennium. Other than me killing the power at the stroke of midnight during a huge dance party I threw for my friends the New Years rang through without a hitch, the world didn’t end and my empty pocket book was yet another valuable lesson. Back in those days I was living in Seal Beach, my boat was 5 minutes away on my trusty beach cruiser. Sookie was on the next gangway where we often shared a glass of wine and the sunset. My office was in Beverly Hills, strategically as far away from my beach town as was tolerable. I don’t know why I’m so fortunate in this world but Art Of Hookie has been named by one of my favorite bloggers SV Terrapin. As a top blog to follow in 2018. I found them years ago, it was the photography that captured me but their story is as unique as any.
Each year I’ve listed a few of my favorite blogs but last year I did it a little differently and let the world name theirs on this little site. Again for 2018 I’m hoping many will chime in and share their favorite blogs and vlogs of 2018. My new favorite vlog for the year is sailing Tarka. The previous owners circumnavigated on this little boat and then again on their 27 foot Vancouver sloop. Some boats are just plain special and Tarka is one of them. This guy has no experience but is deep into his journey. His videos are fun and funny and while often far too short they carry me away on the coldest nights of winter.
So let’s have some fun, add you’re favorite blogs and vlogs and please feel free to share your own if it’s awesome. 2018 is the year of sailing. Work hard and I promise you your dreams will manifest before you’re eyes, cheers mates.
I woke at noon and everything in my life felt impossibly perfect, well except for a well earned scorching hangover. Somehow I completely missed the New Years. Yes I knew it was New Year’s Eve, I worked the bar for most of the night but slipped out before the merriment began. I was so preoccupied with other little distractions that for the first time in my life it completely eluded me. Winter may only be two weeks old but here in the very north west it’s well on its way to dying. Our biggest boat show is in a few weeks signaling the coming spring.
I wish I could say I’ve figured it all out but that is far from the truth. Maybe I’m just being greedy but I’m not ready to let go of Sookie, having a boat on each side of the world has always been my dream and now it’s very close to my reality. Supposedly I have a buyer showing up on the third with a pile of cash but I’m not buyin it. If I do sell her I’ll be in the boat shop working on big Sookie by the end of the week. If I don’t I have many options but I really want another big ride before I dive deep into the boat project. It’s all quite complicated but also so very simple or at least it all will be once I figure it all out.
Looking back over my life I can’t help but to wonder why I’ve lived in Wisconsin twice, the first time I moved there straight from the jungles of the Pacific to witness the longest stretch of below 0 temps in the history of the state. Another 7 years based out of Lake Tahoe and now the PNW. I have 9 jackets hanging on a single chair, my only piece of furniture yet I’m still cold more often than not both in and out doors. Hell I used to get cold when I lived in Hawaii.
I sent a letter to a friend bouncing an offer I have on Sookie. His response, “sometimes dream about starting over with a hull and deck and rebuilding the same basic idea into a new hull, but it’s not in the cards for me. When it comes down to it, I’d rather spend this year sailing than the next three in the yard.”
This makes lots of sense although I don’t know anyone around here who gets to sail for a year. With the seasons we have here even in the best of circumstances it would take me 4 years of 90 day seasons to sail for a year. On the other hand I can work on big Sookie for a year and move to the Caribbean and never have to wear 9 jackets again. I could even do that in southern Florida for a year or two if I’m too broke after building her.
When you take the time to create your life those days aren’t wasted, the labor, blood, sweat and tears encountered in the challenging and often frustrating process is all worth it. There isn’t one piece of gear that can be ordered from a marine chandlery for the new boat, it will all be cast or fabricated, there is an art to all this. I’ve been deep in studying woodworking as best I can at least and holding out for perfectly suited woods for the new boat. I’m hoping to incorporate many white woods to make her interior bright and shiny, all interior paint although there won’t be much will be in a very light yellow, we did this on the Roo and the color it cast was always warm and inviting. All her vertical surfaces will be oiled wood while her horizontal surfaces will be heavily varnished.
No matter how you look at it, at the end of the day there is nothing so much fun as messing around in boats and that’s my new job. It’s an almost warm and perfectly sunny day. There is much to do in this life but I think I might just have one more cup of coffee before I get to the tasks at hand.
They say there is no such thing as a prefect sailboat, I have to disagree… Nearly ten years ago I had the great fortune of brokering what in my opinion is the finest sailboat to roam the planet. She was old and had been sailed hard with a little neglect in the process. I’ve touched every inch of that boat from the tip of her mast to the bottom of her keel. She sails like a dream and turns heads everywhere she goes. Each year her restoration has come along amazing, transforming her without really transforming anything. I’m tired of fixing and restoring old boats. I’ve decided to buy a brand new hull and deck and finish her my way, this journey has been a long time coming.
I’ve calculated that if I sell everything I own on the planet, get a ton of writing projects and work 16 side jobs I can have the new Sookie launched within 18 months of today! She will be every bit as strong and simple and beautiful just a few feet longer and wider. A lifetime of experience will go into this little boat and I’m sure the finer parts will be finished over the rest of My life but she will Launch and set sail before hurricane season 2019.
She will carry no more and perhaps even less luxury than Sookie, to keep costs down I’m thinking all kerosene lighting, zero electricity, a sextant, paper charts and no thru hulls beneath the waterline. She will have one battery and very small solar panel to keep my iPad and camera rolling. Her interior, simple comfortable and workable. My new dinghy will fit perfectly on the dog house, and the windlass on her sprit. All teak will be left bare and salt scrubbed. Tall bulwarks and stanchions will make her wide decks secure and believe it or not this boat will have a real diesel engine. Every inch will be adorned in bronze from her port lights to her terminals.
I’ve dedicated every second of my adult life studying, maintaining, Sailing and loving traditionally designed sailboats. It’s my time to take stewardship of the finest boat ever to ply the seven seas. I can’t do this alone and I know many hands will be involved in the process, I’ll do my best to document the whole journey but for now it’s hurry up and wait for wire instruction so I can get the ball rolling. In the meantime I will be staying in the islands to scrimp and save and enjoy my last 10 months in this little island paradise before moving to the mainland to continue this most excellent adventure.
From the log of Sookie. I’ll be broke before the new year but never as poor as those souls who leave their dreams collecting dust in the furthest corner of the attack of their mind.
In the last two two years… My ex girlfriend tried to sink my boat. My dog died. I was hit by a truck on bike tour. Hawaii law enforcement put a bounty on my head. I was run over by a boat, attacked by Bambi… the list is endless as are writing ops. I’m having midnight coffee with a friend talking about what it means to write and where it comes from and how far creative licence can be pushed. She belts out, it’s easy for you, you have cultural collateral. True I guess but I’ve deleted at least 6 domains without so much as a single data byte about where to find me. I don’t care about numbers, just quality of content. As a creative the need to destroy the past is always present and it’s fun to start with a blank canvas. Working on a boat project, I look over at my bosuns bag. The project is supposed to be the art but that bag just caught my eye, it speaks to me.. I picked up my old camera with my calloused leathery hands and pushed the shutter release one time. No this isn’t my art either, nor are the words I peck out on my old iPad.
Art comes in many forms, for me at least my art is in being and living true to myself. The reason I chose to start sharing this tiny perspective is something I’ve never really contemplated. My nights have been spent searching blogs and vlogs looking for something to entertain me while I bounce between dozens of projects most half started, some half finished. It seems that at least the content I can find is one of catering to the readers, or what they think the readers want. Huge amounts of effort go into making a fake story seem more real, more fun, more exciting. Bad actors is what comes to mind. Is it really that exciting? I tend to under share, it just feels better that way. I think I would feel like a prisoner if I was living my life for a bunch of people I don’t know, have never met and will never meet. I like my slow boring life, no I’ll more than likely never sail around the world. I won’t be flying to the moon or swashbuckling with pirates. The creative payoff is when I feel the shutter click and know I’ve nailed it in one shot. Pushing the publish button is more like sweeping out the shop at the end of the day so I can start fresh with a clean space in the morning.
It all started with midnight trip to the jacuzzi with a warm beer, then we decided to ding dong ditch my neighbor while we huddled down giggling in the bushes. Back in the boat shed we pulled out pencils and drew a map of a flat world with dragons and ships sailing off the edge of the earth. At dawn with the camp stove hissing in the background we tucked it into a bottle and threw it into the sea. If it’s ever found and it’s figured out that it’s a treasure map they will find a very special bounty. We used the backs of our spoons to draw on the smooth golden sand, sea birds our only witness, by now the sea has claimed our story. So how do I define creative collateral? For me it’s the tools I need to make my art, the boat, the bike, my cameras, iPad and all the little bits that help me to share the journey. The real art for me is all the little things that are happening while all this is going on. They way my camera fits perfectly into my hand. Being dry in a tempest because my foulies love me. Dry feet in comfy sea boots or often one soggy sock because I misjudged the depth of water dousing my warm dry sock. How it feels on a perfect reach an hour before sunset in 10 knots of wind. Clean sheets, a simple meal, finding our way safely out of the fog. The art is in the process, a snap shot can’t convey this, words can’t convey how calm the world feels at times, or how out of control. Art is the process nothing more, nothing less. the byproduct of the art is only as authentic as it is…
As I dive into the world of cinematography my still camera and single image format will be my biggest teacher. Rather than a straight cut and paste of all the formulas out there that seem to be so common I hope to make up my own, after all this is my journey. Like the old saying, if you can’t explain it to a 5 year old you probably don’t understand it yourself.
“It is too difficult to think nobly when one thinks only of earning a living” ~Jean Jacques Rousseau
Holy crap that was quick. I snapped out of it like being smacked across the face with a 2×4. Lists, lists, priorities, procedures. I went through the whole boat preparing her for her when ever the hell she will launch. Everything was devided into; before launch, after its warm enough to set up adhesives, in the water and wherever we may be. Eff not having a trailer, Eff the water-less, electicity-less boat yard and Eff winter. The dinghy isn’t coming anytime soon, not one truck on this island I can borrow. Ok, get engine ready to launch. Unsure about worth of windvane, ok figure that shit out and sell it if it’s ghetto. Still questioning worth of windlass which means I’m still questioning my sanity. And the little things, holy mother of nickel and dimming to death to my secret stash of F/U money.
Sure, yep, uh hump I’ve reached my breaking point on land, I just want to fall asleep nestled to the dock but all the leeward spaces are taken, no worries, we’re still on dry land. I cleaned and prepped my engine for its annual service which I’ll give it when I have a good no rain day. It has exactly 5.43 hours on it and remarkably started to sputter and stall when I was heading towards the hydro lift to haul her, I had bigger fish to fry so once she was safely tucked in I wrapped her up and split. Going through the WTF senereos of why this is happening I first check to make sure I had drained the carb, I always do this if I’m not using at least once a month, bone dry. next I checked the oil level, bingo. Who was the F-tard who over filled it??? Hummm, must have been me, another of the joys of being blind as a bat. I’m sure that’s what it was.
Off to Chandlery to buy lower unit oil 🙁 everything but what I need, check lockers for engine oil, score :)+< I pulled both my bosuns bags which carry every tool I have used when I completely took this boat apart and put her back together so I know I have the proper tool for the job, any job.
Yummi, nothing like a clean, well oiled machine to work on, clean enough to eat off of. I grabbed all my boxes of fasteners and parts boxs and made my way back to the boat shed to make my lists of what I need for the rest of the week. Lots of people carry piles and piles of spares, I carry very few as there quite literally are almost none I could or ever would need. I do carry lots of things that tend to get dropped overboard like fasteners and tools, the only thing I don’t have other than a kickass machette is a good wire cutter as I’m getting ready to do some new rigging this is on the list.
Armchair cruisers and in inexperienced sailors will tell you, you need a good wire cutter, although they always mistakenly say bolt cutter, there is a huge difference Incase your rig comes down to get it away form the boat. Tip of the day. I can walk around the boat and pull every rigging pin faster than superman can cut one shroud on a heaving deck. Tip 2 should that actually happen A) it’s all your fault and B) your gonna want that stick on deck if your planning on getting home.
It wasn’t all work though, A close inspection of all my fittings showed that all was well but a little polish is for sure in order. My now Almost 7 year old rigging is still in perfect order, I pulled one of the mechanical fittings and sure am glad I added internal sealant, the metal inside is as new as the day we spliced them all. I’ll never forget that day, I was paying $190.00 an hour for the crane and they kept trying to hurry me. I stopped what I was doing and politely reminded them that unless their service was free I would take as much time as needed to do it right the first time.
The weather is perfect and I’m praying it stays that way, cold yes but not as cold as it’s been. I postponed tearing apart the ceiling boards that line the hull of Sookies v-berth but that one is still high on my list as is making the whole boat upsidown proof. One of these days I’ll give a step by step guide on how to knock a boat down and keep it down. My sailing friends thank that this impossible and that they will round up. I can assure you that it is very possible if you fuck everything up just right.
If she doesn’t feel like a home she’s not but Sookie is dry and clean and all ready for me to move aboard for our short hops that will have me hauling her again, unloading and reloading repeat as necessary. A night job in Port Townsend would be my dream come true but I’m not broke yet, although I am doing my damdest job to ensure more endentured servitude in the very near future.
I just want to rip these tarps off but with no water to clean her they are reducing half the Moss growth that is a PNW winter nightmare. I’m all alone in the lodge, I have the whole bar to myself. Sinatra is playing somewhere in the background. The lights are all dim, the smell of fresh Madron in the fire. My soul is burning brightly tonight and my only decision is to stay a few more hours or close up shop and head to the boathouse.
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.
The cold grey sky is a relief from those days where you can see the sun but can’t feel it on the only patch of bare skin winter knows. I pull a bottle, the sound of the cork screw twisting down the neck and then pop, I’m overwhelmed with the scent of pure nectar. The clink as the bottle touches my glass and the bouquet awakens my senses. I’ve worn my pencil to the nub, my finger tips are raw from sliding up and down my tiny fret board. I’ve done far to many sit ups and pushups. It’s warm in here and in my mind I’m sitting on a white sandy beach, the smell of coconut wafting through me, soft balmy tropical breeze gently blowing across my bare skin.
Out of desperation I succumb to the humiliating dehumanization of digital dating. 12 hours and thousands of profiles down I realize I’m not attracted to one of these people. So cut and paste, thousands of empty desperate souls. I may be desperate but my soul isn’t empty. I delete the whole thing and come to the realization that perhaps I’m meant to go though this life solo. Windy went to a good home, or at least one with right angles and a yard where she can safely be left alone all day, cold and lonely. Living on a boat makes me unworthy of rescuing a pup. I move on, the days roll into one another. Boat parts arrive daily but the weather isn’t cooperating. I’ve made a second request of the boat yard to either move Sookie of take the mast down, another shroud broke in the last storm. The mast swings around like a pendulum when the wind blows as the ladder hanging from it sways to and fro. I can hear it banging all night from my cabin.
Depression slips though the door so quietly it didn’t recognize at first. I have know-body to blame but myself. I am the judge, jury and executioner. I’ve made my choice to remain here and while I still don’t know why, I’m starting to resent myself. I’ve taken to this little bit of security in having gainful employment, food on my table and a place to call home. It’s this security that is like a small leak in the dam. The water slowly trickles out like my life’s units, with each growing day it will increase until the dam fails and my life’s units are all gone. I’ve become a slave to debt. Not personal debt, I have none of that but future debt. If I just work long enough to earn enough, to have enough, then it will be enough. But you know what? It never will be enough, not till I’m too old to use it and then too much won’t be enough because it will have no value when I can’t spend the years of toil buying the youth that was given to us for free. It’s like willingly trading a brand new free car for an old shitty one that barely runs and then spending 40 years to pay for it. That leaking dam will never be full but it does have enough water to reach the sea.
I lay on my bed, the blankets are warm and soft. Staring at the ceiling it’s too far away. The walls are too square and the windows too large. This isn’t a home it’s a house. I miss Sookie where I can touch everything from everywhere, warm wood, aged and full of character. The darkness is surrounding me, I pull out my phone and check the weather in Tortola, it’s 82 today and every day. It’s 85 in Pate’ete, I can’t help but to wonder which one is closer. I guess neither as long as Sookie is on dry land. I watch a giant fire ball as a comet crashes to earth and take another sip from my genie in a bottle…
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…
Or TRS thats how we refer to a hurricane in the northern hemisphere. It’s called a cyclone or typhoon in the lower portion of the planet. Call it what you want but I’ve gone category 5 on Sookie. A little trigonometry and now I believe she is reasonably safe from the boat in front of me. Check that one off the list and don’t ask cause my lips are sealed. What about her rudder and thru hulls? Well let’s dive into that and my new wind vane which is really heavy.
I know lots of people who like I used to, dream of owning a Falmouth Cutter. Honestly if your not rich which I most certainly am not I wouldn’t recommend a boat like this. The only day I’ve ever been able to afford this boat was the day I wrote a check for her. The very next day the bottom started to fall out of the marine industry and I’ve been boat rich, boat poor ever since. The purchase price on these boats is nothing compared to the cost of a refit. If I could do it over it very well may have been cheaper to just have Cape George build me a new boat from scratch. The good news is I was well aware of what I was getting myself into. If I had a hundred grand i could easily and without a second thought drop it into this boat in one day and that’s not including any electronics or safety gear, just basic boat stuff.
Science is sexy and a huge amount of it went into sookie today. Sookie has three through hulls which in my opinion is three too many. My old Allegra 24 has zero and it was such a wonderful thing. I replaced her galley through hull one day before I launched her 6 years ago with a standard bronze mushroom head, not ideal but I was under the gun. Her two cockpit through hulls are of an undetermined age. None of them have thru hull bolted flanges. There is a right way and a wrong way to do everything, this is clearly the wrong way. My scientific method was to grab each one and very forcibly shake the shit out of it. They passed with flying colors and all the balls open and close with ease. I haven’t touched them once in 6 years as there is no reason to close any of them. My sink is center line so no matter how far over she heels, no water will back siphon, I’ve tests this theory to 90 degrees.
Next on my list was my pintle and gudgeons which will also be replaced at some point. I took crescent wench and closed it down on the stainless steel and then tried with a large amount of force to snap them. My failure to do so was a huge success. I wouldn’t sail to Hawaii with them but they appear to be safe and secure for now. I should add that there has never been and form of sacrificial metal attached to them. There is a high amount of speculation that electrolysis comes from the water. A friend of mine who is one of the most respected marine surveyors in the country says this is all Poppycock and that electrolysis comes from a poorly wired boat. He laughs every time he hears the term hot marina. Either way they are 30 years old and my magnifying glass didn’t show a milligram of pitting or micro cracks, nothing.
I finally pulled and inspected my wind vane that was purchased second hand off a Falmouth Cutter, it has sailed to Hawaii twice which is good that one of us knows the way. I’ve named it Chloe and she will always guide me though the night. It’s surprising robust and shouldn’t cost more than 400 bucks to rebuild. My biggest issue is attaching the trim tab to my foam core rudder. The rudders from Sam Morse tend to have de lam issues and most I’ve looked at have water intrusion, fixable but a major Job. Sookies rudder was build by the gentleman who finished her from a bare hull and deck and is strong and dry.
The big Rubiks cube is tying it all together. If I add bronze fitting it will lower my rudder one inch which means I need to raise my rudder insert in the checks one inch which means this all needs to be done before my next big trip or go without the wind vane which I really want. This decision has to be made before any holes are drilled in the rudder.
My preference was for the Mike Anderson style vain which is much more visually pleasing. It’s only fatal flaw is that it won’t work with a tiller pilot while under power but since I refuse to add an electric tiller pilot to Sookie that’s no big deal. Tiller pilots are for motoring and I find I tend to motor a lot less without one. My dream is to find a sailing partner who is up to the challenge of engineless sailing. I doubt she exists but it’s fun to dream.
Today was without a doubt the most headway I’ve had since returning. I’m starting to feel stronger and finding much more motivation. If I stay focused I can launch before the New Years. My new focus other than the vane is Sookies new cabin sole with stainless steel water tanks and finishing out her v-berth ceiling boards.
I had a beautiful swim tonight which along with the amazingly warm weather has really upped my motivation for an extended spring cruise before I haul her in Port Townsend to prepare her for shipping to Florida. My number one focus in life is to be anchored on the Bahamas by the end of November 2018 which I feel is a very attainable goal. For the first time in nearly 20 years I’m free of all obligations, in the right frame of mind and have the right boat for gunk holing around the Caribbean. On top of that while I may be on a seriously tight budget I am 100% debt free and more than willing to do shit jobs like cleaning boat bottoms and climbing peoples rigs if it keeps the kitty funded…
I take it as a sign from the gods, the seller of my trailer has vanished off the face of the earth, I hope he is ok. I get another offer for sponsorship for the blog. I try to explain that nobody reads these words, they up the anti, I respectfully decline it. This is my journey, I don’t want to do it that way. I flip on the VHF, weather guesser says 30-50 knots, oh joy of joys.
Some days I go to the boat 10 times doing this and that, grabbing tools or a piece of wood or… others days I forget I even have a boat, winter is like that. I gave the boat yard guys huge tips when they hauled Sookie and requested she be put close to water and power, they gave me the best spot in the yard. As soon as I left they moved me to the exact spot I asked them not to. I’m right next to this dipshit who has half his rigging removed, one of his spreaders pulled, he hasn’t touched the boat in two years. A ladder hangs from the top of the mast swinging in the wind. If the 30 year old forstay goes the mast will fall straight back crushing a Sookies new boomkin and taffrail. I brought this to the yard managers attention three days ago, nothing. The mast flops and sways in the wind. It’s all my fault. If I hadn’t gone on bike tour I’d have 20k in my pocket, could have fixed all the little things and be shipping her east today. No regrets on my decision, just a little bummed how it all turned out.
I’m tired, maybe a day off is in order. Haliards clank and clink outside my cabin. The view of the bay is excellent but not like living aboard where I’m part of the view. I get a text from a friend, he is half way down the Baja peninsula surfing and fixing all the broken shit on his 50’ boat. I suspect he’s doing more surfing than fixing and it makes me smile.
Yesterday was rudder day but a snafu had me behind the bar all day serving hot food and cold drinks to hunters. I’m not really sure where you would hunt on such a small island but they are everywhere. My view from behind the bar is of Sookies empty slip, I’m closer than ever to just saying screw it and launching her, this is why I never get anything done, every year I flip out and splash her and the work gets pushed back, this is winter in the PNW
For a lack of anything better to do I sweep the pine needles off my deck, it’s cold outside, too windy to ride. I look across the bay, there is a boat on the beach. She is the loneliest most neglected boat in the world. Twice a year she goes aground on the rocks, a testament to her strength. All summer vagrants fought over her stealing her from each other but now it’s winter, nobody cares. I’ve fallen into a deep depression, I have to get out of here.
Sookies log sits untouched, blank pages waiting for my pen to touch clean white paper and fill in the void of my life. To record the passages of my youth before it’s gone…
Just like a skier can’t ski without Snow and a surfer can’t surf without waves a sailor can’t sail without wind. Of corse there is always wind, you just have to be a good navigator to find it. My wind is in my journeys but shackled in the boat yard I feel as lost at sea as a sailor could ever become. Winter came and left. The temps are hovering at the exact temperature where I literally can’t get anything done. I don’t think I’ve ever felt this caged in my life.
The long lonely nights completely isolated, no internet, no little projects to work on, nothing. To many days like this and I fear I’ll turn to the bottle. There was a time when my videos filed the lists on YouTube, I pulled them all because my story was missing something and I had to find the proper recipe. Years have slipped by, when I don’t have the proper ingredients I just jump on the bike and take a break. I don’t know why but now I feel ready to dive back in and make some sailing videos, now that I’m in the boatyard. Now that it’s winter now that…
No matter how I chalk it up the next 2-3 months are going to be very slow and tough ones. While I try and put it all together it’s time to start shopping computers and filming gear. Any tips would be greatly appreciated. What ever I choose it has to be charged by my ships batteries so that’s also a consideration as is the right minimalist gear. Easy to use, tough as nails and smallish and lightish. All I have no is an iPad and a Nikon D7200 with a 35mm 1.8. Last year I decided to go a whole year with just this lens and it has changed how I look at photography.
If you know any links that will help. Have experience on what gear to use, or even charging tips I’ve worked hard and saved to pay for this next chapter I’m just not sure where to start. It seems all the videos out there use the same boring cut and paste style. My desired format is simple 8 minute clips, nothing more. To create the exact opposite of what is out there now.
On my last journey for some strange reason 90% of what I shot came out as sound bites only. I just put together a bunch or raw footage when I returned from that voyage before I left the boat. I posted this two years ago as not to impress but just as a few raw files to share a small piece of that journey.
Although I Write Screenplays, I Don’t Think I’m a Good Writer.
– George Lucas
Ten years ago me and my bat shit crazy ex wife, girlfriend at the time got a wild hair up our collective asses to drive to Alaska and build an off grid cabin. We were well on our way when we pulled into a little town I had never heard of to buy gas. Before the sun set that day I had accidentally purchased a sailboat and become a resident of Bellingham Wa. Flat broke and with winter bearing down fast I needed to find work.
Day one as a yacht broker I walked into the door to a flustered office, seems one of their sailboats threw its transmission in a place called Friday Harbor. I had never heard of that place either but offered to sail it back. 20 minutes later my small plane was climbing out over a very boisterous Bellingham Bay. Seeing the islands I had never heard of from 1000’ aloft blew my mind. So many little nooks and crannies to explore. I had a great day on the water, learned about the psycho tides that were never mentioned to me and fell as deeply in love as a human can with this region.
It was on the long challenging sail back that I decided I would sail my boat to Alaska at any cost. Now single with a different boat and minus the love of my life, Chloe I still haven’t made it north of the Discovery Islands. The set backs have been many and often, I just pick up the pieces and keep plodding foreword nose always to the ground. Setting sail from Bellingham without a penny to my name was the smartest thing I have ever done. Now again with my back to the wall I think I have exactly enough to get the boat. Somewhere between Port Townsend and Florida. My only question is blue Caribbean waters or snow capped mountains…
The very first thing I did when I got back on Island was take everything out of storage and put it back on the boat. As usual the amazingly warm weather sidetracked me and the thru hulls didn’t get ordered in time to beat the wether. Then it got really cold so I unpacked the whole boat, and then repacked and…
Today was even less productive than my packing escapades. Finding a solid three axel trailer isn’t an easy task. Studying, measuring and remeasuring I’m determined to build one if I have to but now timing has me playing the mental packing games over and over in my head. The sailing season with a good heater is a full six months up here, 9 if you push it but certainly not 12. Moving the boat to Ventura would see all the little things that add up done once and for all but as much as I love the Channel Islands they are pretty damn boring compared to the Salish.
I love the challenges this place serves on a near daily basis but the cold is going to kill me, hell Im freezing here in July. I just sucked it up and ordered boots rated to -30 but they still won’t keep me warm. My first ride in the snow almost claimed all my digits to frostbite, yes it’s going to be a long cold winter. No I’m not putting sookie in the water till her bottom side is done. Yes I want to ship her to Cape George Yachts and blow my life savings on her. Yes and no I’m shipping the boat to Southern California. Why yes and no? Because if I find a trailer I’m shipping her to Florida and sailing her somewhere warm so I can haul her out and do her right.
My work who is also my landlord has kyboshed Windy and time is of the essence so I have to figure this all out fast or let go. I’m not good at doing anything fast or letting go. My mind is a pretzel but it makes sense. I worked a whole year for my ride, timed it to be back here in the spring and left enough money buried in the Forrest to pay for a summer of sailing. Now I feel like I have nothing, or nothing to lose.
I write to serve, not to impress; it’s the same way I live my life. Simple, humble and always to the point. I drink the water everywhere I go, I’m sure I have more parasites than capital hill. All I can Say is thank god for my Terry thermal kilt. At the edge of the woods on my hands and knees in the cold sand with smoke wafting through the air. The kilt pulled up around my waist while I projectile vomited all night long from both ends while trying to defend my tent from the raccoons. Those little rat bastards are relentless and gave me a run for my money trying to steal my fruity snacks. On this night it was from smoke poisoning.
Sailing into Panama was the second sickest I’ve ever been in my life. If it wasn’t for the worst case of montezumas revenge it surely would have been sea sickness from the passage from hell. I spent 36 hours Straight near death at the helm because knock on wood I don’t get sea sick, my crew would have had to die to get any better. As soon as the boat was secure I announced that I would never sail again and was leaving. I’ve said it before, sailors have the shortest memories.
Back in the tent curled in my down western mountaineering bag my body was in uncontrollable convulsions. My dexterity was so far gone I couldn’t zip the tent. This may sound like hell but it beats the shit out of the snow blowing sideways past my deck while I’m not on the Baja divide. I should be pedaling across the border today.
My feet are burning from running around barefoot in the snow, the wind is blowing, it’s a tempest. I am the eye of the storm, the calm, potential energy ready to go kinetic in a nuclear fission with the flip of a switch. It’s cold as hell but I’m warm in my wool onesie now soaked from making snow angels. My long hair frozen and caked with frost swims with the wind fanning like kelp in a running tide, feral, wild, free…
I get a text from my brother “do you have enough red wine?” My plate is full, I may not be where I was heading but it feels weird to be living after all the drama of the fire. It was a close call but they all are. The life of a nomad is a dangerous journey yet far safer from the stress of rush hour traffic and the zombies of the cities. I’m feeling pretty fortunate these days but also restless, I won’t be working though the winter. The only question is where and when.
I’m willing to push my bike through every inch if I have to. The divide is all I can think about, sailing season is months away but it’s perfect cycling weather south of the border. I need a few new stories, they are all out there I just have walk out my door, although I am ordering bottom paint before I close my eyes just in case…
This is without a doubt one of my favorite pictures I have ever seen. Everything about it describes the quiet dignity of the true romance of sailing. Hank on yankee cut jibs, batten-less main, tan bark. Every sailmaker on the planet will tell you the error of your ways using this set up. Slow, tender, shorter life… the interesting thing is that rumor has it that Ron never lost a race to a BCC in his life.
My dream is to pull the mast and paint it mahogany yellow. A new suit of tan bark yankee cut sails, no battens in the main, no headboard and a teeny tiny tri sail. My. Bonus sail would be a drifter or a new asym.
We all know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What I find beautiful is simplicity. Minimal electrical systems, simple sail set up, wide decks and soft curvy lines. I understand the necessity for an inboard engine but seriously doubt I’ll ever have one. To me the heart and soul of a sailboat lies in her rig and design. Clean, simple interiors, rich wood, lantern light and a cozy layout. Systems make me crazy, I hate installing them, paying for them and maintaining them. The most complex system on Sookie is her galley sink, a few clamps and a hose.
Water comes from my 2 gallon gravity feed tank. Hot water comes from my tea kettle. Light comes in many forms from my soft white incandescent lamps to bronze lanterns, 12 hours a day it comes from the sun. I don’t live in my boat, I just sleep in it, I live on the planet earth and it has plenty of space for my needs. I chucked the cedar bucket years ago and went modern with a plastic one which I have grown to love.
There is an old saying measure twice, cut once. On sookie it’s more like measure 100 times and then think about it for a few years. She is perfectly functional as she is so any changes take me a very long time to get to. Her sails fill dozens of pages in my log book. Sookie isn’t just a boat, she is a work of art, so slowly and surely I make progress.
I’ve wanted to add a roller to sookie now for years, that 5’ bow-sprite gets pretty exciting at times. The staysail and tri are no brainers. The jib and main have me torn. Yes I know tan bark stretches more as do batten-less sails. I know roller furling makes sailing easier. Again size is a huge factor, that roller is heavy and adds quite a bit of windage aloft. It also makes for easy reefing and sail storage, keeps me on deck and in a pinch can help sookie point a bit higher. On my flicka I would roll out just a smidge in higher winds to help keep her nose up. Everything is a trade off but it’s almost time to start writing checks so I need to figure it all out.
When I get lost in it all I refer back to this picture and all the things that made me fall in love with this lifestyle. To be on the water, to see and feel things I’ve never experienced, to live a ferrel and wild yet civilized life. I’ve always loved living as close to the edge as I can, close enough to peer over without falling. The challenge has always been in less stuff more experience.
When it comes to outfitting sookie money has never been factored in, if I can’t afford it I’ll live without it till I can. It’s hard to think about but I might be hanging up my bicycle for a little bit so i focus on the blurry aspect of the refit.
Any damn fool can motor around on a ship. The ocean from the deck of a small boat will instill in you both fear and beauty that can’t be realized in the depths of your mind. There is no movie, there are no books… your all alone out there and nobody is coming to get you. The sea is indifferent to your suffering. Heavy weather can be a challenge yet the closest I’ve ever come to loosing my boat was in the calmest weather I have ever seen. You never stop learning, while it may get easier it also becomes more difficult. When I was younger I thought that with experience my fear of the sea would diminish. What a fool I was, with each and every mile I learn more about what the sea is and her cruel nature. The challenge isn’t in avoiding it, this is an impossibility. The challenge is to flow with it, to live so close that it flows through your veins. This is where I live.
Another perfect sunrise ride, but what else would you expect from these islands. I stuff Chika in the corner, strip off my salty Chlothes, make a piping hot cup of coffee and listen to the morning news. Its odd how the more money I have, the poorer I feel. I guess when you have nothing to loose is when you experience the truest freedom in this world, I'm at a serious cross roads.
In hindsight my little Brompton would have made it just as far as my Surly Minus a few hundred Miles of Dirt. It would have saved me 2K on the Front and another 1500 on the back. The Brompton truly is the best all around touring bike and easily fits in my little boat. Chika on the other hand is an Apocalypse bike and a nuclear explosion of fun. Try as I might I just cant fit her in the boat, even in a hundred pieces. Still none of this matters as she easily fits in my Tiny Home. On the other hand the rent on the tiny home Is 3K a year which would easily pay for any Brompty on the planet. Not that its about money but it all adds up.
I love my new house and its only 50 yards from the boat, my work is 100 in the opposite direction but still I'm far too tempted to launch Sookie even though I've promised myself I wont till her bottom job is done in the spring. The sail quote came in and is easily affordable for all new sails. I'm still waiting for the quote on the boom and Nylon mast track. My little Boat world is busy but so is my bike life and I've never been more torn.
Deep in the middle of a midlife crisis, I've had many and each one was amazingly fun in its own way but this one is different. Seriously how many good summers remain in the log book, 10? 15? doesn't sound like much time left. I've been in the battle of attention between boats and bikes my whole life but now they are both anchors in their own way. I have it good here and very easy. I could just spend my final glide path as a weekend warrior and do everything I want but deep down I know sooner or later my life will be Plus one and that opens the doors for long distance sailing, I just hope it happens before the universe has me wearing diapers and calling everybody laddey. Either way I've got to finish the boat now so we are both ready, willing and able.
Winter will be here at any moment so all I have to do is keep piling boat supplies and pray for an early spring, then again I could ship her south tomorrow and start the real work on her. Something about this quote resonates so much when I think about how much we take our youth and time for granted.
"When the last tree is cut down, the last fish eaten and the last stream poisoned, you will realize you cannot eat money." Cree Indians
Freedom comes in many forms. It’s been a scooch over two years now since I’ve taken Sookie on a long journey. Somewhere out there the notion of sailing and freedom morphed into one singular definition. Walking through a small Canadian town in search of affordable cabbage and stove fuel the smell of cold beers and hot burgers was equal amounts of torture and temptation. By the time we got back to the boat that temptation was little more than a memory both for us and for the fortune ones consuming them. Beans and cabbage on the other hand, served with a warm beer from the cockpit of my tiny ship was the reward for keeping within our $400.00 a month budget. Sailing off at dawn to destinations unknown was no longer the dream but the reality.
There are a thousand ways to do it. While the folks over at Sailing La Vagabond have made their name through videos others like captain Fatty Goodlander and Lin land Larry Pardey made their way through writing and both in the beginning very hard work from port to port. Others like Bob Bitchin started magazines to find the dream. I have friends out there who worked their whole lives and now live off retirement while others have small reoccurring investments or incomes to keep the ball rolling.
Six years ago when Sookie came into my life my plan was simple, save 25k a year for five years and split. That never did happen, when the boat industry took a dunking I threw in the towel and sailed away without a single penny. I knew I wouldn’t get far but in this part of the world 5 miles may as well be 500. There are so many nooks and crannies to explore, the constantly changing weather and currents and moods of the ocean that one can never grow tired of sailing the Salish.
I haven’t in any way shape or form lost my love for these waters but all the pictures of the boat I may never own have sparked something in my brain, a deep desire to cast off the lines in search of warmer weather, clearer water and greater challenges that surely lie ahead on a journey of such magnitude. In having so much in this world, in being so close I still have to ask myself if I can afford it. Sookie needs lots of little things, I’m not talking fancy things but still she is an old boat in excellent condition. Her bits and pieces many of them original are tired.
Back to funding the expedition I have to remind myself that with the freedom money delivers the means can be a prison. I’m fortunate to be old, fat and ugly, no chance of YouTube or Instagram funding the journey. I’m overly fond of
My anonymity so writing for the big rags is off the list. I don’t believe in sponsors or sponsorship so that’s out as well. My brain is mush so doing it the old fashion way isn’t even worth attempting. Still there are always ways, things no one has thought of yet. Maybe I just have to go back to my old star fish method which is to find 5 small forms of income that equal almost enough income to not die.
The new boat which I’m not getting has a writing career built in but so does Sookie. A few videos here and there won’t kill me but I really prefer to keep all my eggs right here in one small basket. The biggest hurdle is my absolute love of two lifestyles that have absolutely nothing in common other that freedom and exploration. All my cyclist friends can’t see why I waste my time writing about sailing and my sailing friends, well…
Then there is the time factor. Seasons are short here both for sailing and for creating an income. Mid September locks the door on my cell and won’t unlock it till spring. Jail break is impossible during the winter so planning the big escape really comes down to timing. Having Sookie in the boat yard is killing me, I can’t work on her, I can’t live on her and I can’t sail her but if I don’t suck it up and do some major little upgrades I’ll never make it to distant waters which start just around the corner.
Sitting on the beach watching the sun kiss the lands I want to see I know I have to make some serious choices and commitments. I just don’t feel ready to give up what I have, to have what I’m giving up. The answers are all out there I just have to keep moving till I find them. Yes all first world problems and good ones at that.
What’s you method, I know it won’t work for me but knowledge is power…
“To begin” implies “to search for some kind of ending” – Lin Pardey. I’m knee deep into spring cleaning for my upcoming marine survey. I’m continually shocked at how much I can cram into this little ship, everything is out of eye sight and has its place. I’ve never actually loaded her to her LWL but I’m sure someday I will. My dream is for an empty BCC to pull up next to me and see if it can pile away all my stuff, I doubt it can. I fear my grog alone would be a challenge.
Storage on Sookie is everywhere, under her berths all lockers are beneath the water line and it’s easy to distribute her weight, I usually have a minimum of 1,000 lbs of moveable ballast in the form of water, booze, books, beans and…I tribute this to serveral key factors, the biggest one is that Lyle Hess intentionally designed the boat to be 700lbs light in the lead department. She also has lockers under her deck completely surrounding the boat with the exception of her anchor locker. This is where I store clothes and Chips and toilet paper, anything light. Lastly here is the garage, it’s far too large, I have my ships batteries wedged in under the aft end of the cockpit and a few other heavy items like fastener boxes and huge barrels of all things stainless steel. She is like Felix’s magic bag of tricks, I can reach in and pull anything out.
It’s not so much that she is some kind of giant monster, she just doesn’t have all the things most people need that take so much space. I’m pretty sure she will swallow everything from a Flcka 20, Dana 24 and Nor’sea 27 combined. When the apocalypse hits come find me, we’ll be fine ;). It is a bit of a puzzle, my bike goes where the engine should be. My backpacking and cycle touring gear tuck into that spot designated for the head right next to a hundred paper charts and my foulies. And my two moonshine smuggling lockers are, well… that’s none of your damn business.
Unlike a fin keel where the weight starts at the keel joint and extends to the bottom of the keel, all of Sookies ballast is in the very bottom. I don’t know if this has anything to do with her motion but I am continually shocked by her pleasant ride. When the shit hits the fan I’m always waiting for it but it never comes. Sookie handles like a lady… UM except for the death rolls which absolutely suck ass but a bigger sail budget could help in that department.
Still, she is a light boat that only displaces 7400 lbs full. There are three schools of thought. People that have never sailed them believe they are some golden chariot based off of all the hype and sensationalism they have read. Then there are the true blue water sailors who think they are cute coastal cruisers. There is a third opionion, those of people who have owned and sailed them thousands of miles, we tend to be the maniacs. By design she was intended for blue water cruising and while I’ve never crossed an ocean in her I wouldn’t hesitate if that was my choice. For me she is the perfect gunkholer but even more importantly has proven the be a delightful writers lair which is what most of her time is spent as. Small enough to tuck in anywhere but large enough to point her nose out when all the big boats stay in. The question is can she ever be a real home without the homey festures that her big sister offers, I’ve been living aboard for the better part of six straight years.
I never have understood the definition of what makes a boat a yacht but I would guess Sookie has her bowsprite through the door. She always has enough booze and beans to feed a crowd, does everything I ask of her and this year is seeming to have the proud distinction of changing that old acronym B.O.A.T “break out another thousand” to “break out another ten thousand”, sheesh. I’ve never really looked at Sookie in terms of cost, she is what she is. When I turn my eye towards her sister who is much younger than her I can’t help but to wonder in terms of cost, not only monitary but in time. If I had the money I could easily drop a 100K on her by sunset, yes she is a yacht but I’m no yachter…
From the log of Sookie, I watch a 50’er with two screws and bow and stern thrusters struggle to dock on the end tie in 15 knots of wind with 5 crew members. I was always astonished at how much fun Chloe could have with a fucking stick. Like my ex girlfriend always used to tell me, size doesn’t matter… 😉 or does it???
Of all the things that I have experienced on a boat at sea, being with someone who is loosing their shit in heavy weather is by far the scariest. It’s hard enough to take care of yourself and the boat but finding myself in this situation is something I work hard at avoiding. I was solo in the worst Gale I’ve ever experienced and in many ways it was a good thing because it’s the most frightened I’ve ever been in my life.
The mental fatigue wears at you, the motion feels like you are slowly being beaten to death and physically things go south surprisingly fast. For all my love of the sea, heavy weather sailing has never been something I enjoy although being caught in it has its finer points. It’s impossible to understand the power and beauty of the sea unless you have been a spec on the ocean caught in her mighty fury.
At some point in our lives we call it and say enough is enough and decide to live a more sedate and comefortable life. In thirty years of sailing I’ve met thousands of people who call them selfs sailors but less than a dozen with the skills to safely sail solo in Gale conditions in a small boat, it’s a whole different game. It’s a test 99.99% of sailors would fail if they had the courage “read stupidity” to show up. I’ve found my solace in this tiny sea that I dwell in but still the ocean calls.
My desire for a much larger and heavier sailboat is primarily based off of age and experience, I can’t tolerate what I could when I was 25 or 35. I get fatigued easier, cold faster and my brain goes stupid in half the amount of time, this latter point is the most dangerous place a sailor can ever be and where most bad things happen out there. To understand my position all you have to do is take your small boat, or any boat into a full blown gale in the straits a time and place very few will ever see.
I sent this amazing journey …continued in part two.
It’s hard to believe that my fifth summer in the islands is creeping up on me. In that time I’ve slowly explored from Bellingham to the Desolation Sound and everywhere in between. While I’ve been on my slow journey I’ve watched friends circumnavigate, sail the Pacific Rim and cross as many oceans as exist on this big blue marble.
My journey has been a little different, than many but for the most part we all have one very similar obstacle, making money while we play. Ive watched sailors like the kids from Sailing La Vagabond Crush it while others have flat run out of money and turned to scrubbing boat bottoms for 5 bucks an hour to keep their dreams alive. One friend of mine left with 500 bucks and sailed nearly 40,000 miles finding work along the way while others have had to hang up their boats for a year or two and return home to make ends meet.
Creativity and flexibility will get you father than anything. I have some good friends who circumnavigated in sections always flying home to their real jobs and then back for the next leg. Then there are the ones who found their calling on land half way around the world, sold the boat, swallowed the hook and became expats. We all have different paths and different road maps but one singular goal, to experience the most our life’s have to offer before our fun meter runs out of tokens.
A very long time ago I gave up on the idea of ever meeting someone who adventures spirit can come even close to mine so I let those dreams of distant lands take a back seat to what I do have, the Salish Sea and all of her glory. I love the challange this area represents with her wild swings in weather, insane currents and bagillions of navigational hazards. I’m reminded of the old story, Who moved my cheese. If we aren’t constantly adapting to our new enviourmnets the vortex of time will steal our youth and replace it with regret and stagnation. I literally am afraid of my own shadow but it’s never stopped me from chasing it.
I wake before the dawn with a squeak, stretch my body as far as I can and let out a mighty roar. The sun isn’t up yet and that’s how I like it. I shine my light across Sookies cabin on Brompty “wake up you lazy so and so good for nothing Hog Wallup”, we’re going for a ride. The coffee pot steams, my stereo is blaring and I’m muppeting out in the saloon, I’m a total spas in the mornings.
I don’t know what was going through my mind when I packed for my last cycle tour but I didn’t even start to prepare until about an hour before I was ready to leave, that didn’t work out so well. Having nothing to do but turn the pedals and think for hours a day I had lots of time for hindsight and you know what they say about that.
The big hit offenders where my ukulele, full size DSLR and iPad not to mention bringing way too much food but I couldn’t leave it on the boat so it came with me. Things that irked me along the way were my uber expensive ti pot which I didn’t really need and did fine without on my Hawaii bike tour. My steel water bottle weighs 8 ounces empty but always seemed to keep my water cool and was easily accessed but still, if nothing else it weighed my mind down. It was new before my first tour, now dented and mangled it’s still a good friend. My stove really pissed me off, advertised as uber light and it was but I needed a wind screen, more money and more weight and I can’t for sure say if it saved me any fuel or not…
My ti cup now 11 years and a hundred thousand miles old has always been a gold mine. The cream of the pie was my new Western Mountianeering Caribou, at one pound five ounces it packs small and is always warm and fluffy. Without it I literally would have died this week. Rather than hyper focus on light weight I just left everything behind. I’m sneaking in a short tour soon and my new load will be flawless, I know everything I need and everything I don’t. New mangings as I trashed my last pair and a new bright yellow hoodie Patagonia R1 is all I will need to add clothing wise and an iPhone 5 will more than likely replace all my other electronic gear making photography much easier and more spontaneous.
The Brompton T Bag is freaking genius as is the relevate Pika seat bag. I’d really like to upgrade to a titanium Bromoton and the new bike won’t have a rack, this will save about 4 pounds plus the 9 pounds of other things that will be left home. My goal as always is to pack light, bring only what I need and to get lost and stay lost. I don’t have as much time as I’d like but I need to ride before my big trip starts. Life is short, live it.
From the Brompty journal, Lost. I don’t know exactly where I am but this camp site is the creepiest to date, I’m too scared to stay here but it looks like 28 miles to the next possibility of a camp ground. Time for a ciggi and a bit of local knowledge. Ok, it’s not that I’m lost, I just don’t know for sure where I am.
It’s official, the Ratcliffe windvane is mine, as soon as I can find a way to pay for it and I will, I always do. One more piece to the puzzle and again I can’t help but to stop to ask myself if I’m crazy for loving such a small boat. I’m sure they are still out there, young couples crossing oceans in small well found boats but I can’t seem to find any trace of them in the thousands of searches I have done.
I found a copy of Wandering under sail in England and now it’s in the mail. I also found a copy of White cliffs to coral reef in Australia and that one is crossing the pacific as we speak. Both books written about Wanderer ll a Virtue 24 and both a goldmine I’m hoping for information and insight into crossing oceans in a small boat with a modest budget.
It was Lin and Larry Pardeys books that got me to rethink my Cal 40 and turn my eye to smaller more traditional sailing boats. Deep in the recesses of my mind I’m always at some stage of trying to convince myself that I need a bigger boat but I don’t know why. I have 100% confidence in Sookie and know her two and only weak points quite well. She won’t drive into more than 40 knots and she has no cockpit combing which can be a huge pain in the ass when you hit the death rolls.
I know hundreds of people have happily made do with their small boats. While I have made some pretty impressive passages in small boats I’ve yet to cross any oceans on one although it is very high on my list. Small as she is, I’ve never been uncomfortable on Sookie other than in foul weather or from the cold, her tiny cabin is a pretty good fit.
It’s calm today but more storms are forecast, more cold is on the way, this has been a brutal winter. Up early I cleaned Sookie from stem to stern and now am drawing sketches and trying to decide were to store 60 meters of 5/16 chain. 5 minutes with a 2″ hole saw and I can have it all in the bilge right at the base of Sookies mast.
I think most people believe that small boats are simple, their not. They may have simple systems but it’s much more complex when it comes to fitting each and every piece in just the right spot. Done right my new chain and water tank will add 400 pounds of ballast right where it should be, low and centered. It was genius of Lyle Hess to under ballast this boat by 700 lbs leaving that extra bit to stores, and water. Every inch of her build mirrors the prime directive of her design, a blue water yacht…
From the log of Sookie, Frozen bay – I should have bought a bigger boat but I’m glad I didn’t…
Quality, durability, epic design, and fun. Take a peek though my compainionway and the first thing you will notice is that these are the qualities I surround my life with. I didn’t get here by accident, I’ve driven boats, bikes, cameras, computers and all of my gear into the ground. There isn’t one gear company on the planet that will let me torture test their products because they know there is a 99% chance it will fail me and I’ll write the truth about it. I use my shit hard.
The things that can survive me, my Nikon’s, Mac’s , Sookie, Brompty, these are the things that I have pushed far and hard, always expecting them to care for me no matter what foolish hell I take them through. I’ve had a pile of Nikons blown up in a methane explosion when I was on a moving live lava flow. Dropped, splashed and smashed my Mac’s as well as subjecting them to high humidity and freezing temperature. Sookie has been put mast head in the water as well as literally submarining through a huge wave in the straights of Juan de Fuca. Brompty has been covered with so much mud you couldn’t tell what she was, hit potholes at 40 mph while fully loaded, been off road, through knee deep rivers and ridden harder than she deserves. All of my gear always shows as new eventually as I care for each item as if my life depends on them and they often do. As a documentary photographer my life is a hard one but one well worth living even though I put my physical body through these same tortures.
I got letter from a girl in Australia today inquiring about my Brompton and a Essay I was recently asked to write. I’ve been so busy I forgot to mention it here but the letters are pouring in and I’m loving it. I little back and forth I got the idea she was trying to get me to talk her out the hair brained idea, I didn’t. I gave her my 100% support and even offered to join her if she needs a little extra crazy in her life. I’ve been seriously considering upgrading to a Titanuim Brompton and this would be the ticket.
So there I was lost on some lonely stretch of road in Oregon, feeling like the last human on the planet earth when Brompton stumbled across my blog and now I’ve been found by a group of fun loving criminals seeking to steal every second of their time for a bit of plain old living the dream. I’ve never been one to tell others what to do but I might suggest that a nice long bike tour will be one of those things you talk about for the rest of your life, it’s a game changer for sure.
Those days out under the sun and often trapped in a deluge of rain were some of my happiest on this planet. My mind was blown by the constant beauty of my surroundings, how often I was faced with challenges and how strong my body became in such a short period of time. Touring on a Brompton? It isn’t for everyone but as far as I’m concerned for me it’s the only way to fly.
From the Brompty journal. My tent had three inches of water in it at the peak of the storm. In my sleep my head slipped off of the little inflatable pillow I was using and I almost drowned, I’ve never seen it rain so hard in my life, the island is sinking. A comment from a rockstar I met in camp searching for his next sound. ” boy you sure were taking it all in last night, it must have been blowing 50 and that rain, we saw you standing naked, hands raised to the heavens, a vision neither of us will forget for a very long time”. I’ve survived yet another challenge but maybe survive isn’t the best use of wording for what I’m doing out here.
Freeze up has arriveed, I’ve just ice skated down the long lonely dock to Sookie, my world is frozen. I was tending to my fire when I actually smelled the first snow and exploded out of the building like I was a fifth grader on the first day of summer vacation. I raised my hands to the heavens, opened my mouth and had my first taste of winter. I love weather, it’s always been the guiding force in my life
Back on the boat I received a letter from a sailing soulmate who literally sailed Sookies sister to the South Pacific. The letter is the highlight of my day, week and month. There is so much alive in my world, birds by the hundreds, seals, wharf rats and all my bunnies, my world is a magical place and also a very dangerous one at this time of year. One slip and it’s all over, there is not a soul down here, just me.
I pull my uke and butcher Paint it black and it makes me smile. As of today I have half the cash for my new one off wind vane, another piece of the puzzle and another night of potatoes, cabbage and Ramen, my focus and dedication is one demensional, the sailing season is almost here and I’ve slipped a whole page down on my todo list, they call it yachting for a reason.
The biggest casualty of the day was learning that no matter how hard I try I can’t load my video into my I pad. Guess that one will have to wait a bit but I’m a patient man. I look around Sookie, read though my notes and again wonder how little I can thrive with, am I overly ambitious, have the paranoid land lubbers with boats finally rotted my brain or am I being completely reasonable and how would I know. I put down the list and sing the song that seems to fit outfitting s sailboat and my mood the most…
I see a red door and I want it painted black
No colours anymore, I want them to turn black
I see the girls walk by dressed in their summer clothes
I have to turn my head until my darkness goes- The Rolling Stones
For me the list is short and simple, Falmouth Cutter 22, Vetrue ll 25, Vancouver 27, Nor,Sea 27, Bristol Channel Cutter 28, I don’t know of any other boats that fit my personal requirements for a safe, comefortable, seaworthy blue water sailboat. This is my list but what about the theoretical hers?
Finding a seaworthy boat is simple, write a big check and she’s yours but on she-worthiness it’s whole different ball game. I love all the above mentioned boats but as of today still prefer my outboard engine and shit bucket. Don’t get me wrong, a well running high octane inboard trumps and outboard hands down when it comes to convienince and at times it’s possible that it may even be safer but they also cost a lot, smell like shit and take a giant portion of your boat away, everything is a tradeoff. For me the number one reason to have a Diesel engine has nothing to do with the engines auxiliary propulsion but rather the giant fuel tank than can plumb to a heater and the alternator that can charge the batteries that run said heater. I’m extremely fire paranoid and prefer diesel to all other heat sources.
Again heat is at the top of she-worthiness. When I purchased Sookie I had the exact opposite in mind, I wanted a boat that would have the long term effect of keeping most of the opposite sex away and uninterested and boy has it worked. I always thought my stinky little hippie girl, hairy armpits and all would show up but that hasn’t been the case as of yet. I guess I did too good of a job at protecting myself from having one too many anchors on the boat.
Space is another factor for the she crowd, I like a small cozy boat, the world is full of space, just row to shore and roam as far and wide as your heat desires. Oddly enough the bucket is rarely an issue but the lack of an oven often is. And then there is the shower, yes I could add a water maker but I won’t, I like showering on deck or in the water, it’s fun and when it’s cold I can just row to shore or take a sponge bath in the boat.
Maybe I’ve just had a bit of bad luck but when it comes to making my boat she-worthy I find that the parties that have been interested have only been interested if I make the boat exactly like a house, with a pottie, shower, refrigeration, freezer, push button heat and space to roam. Oddly enough, with each passing year I start to wonder if personally I wouldnt prefer a boat that is a bit more she-worthy. I’m not there yet but there are times when a hot indoor shower seems like it would be pretty luxurious and cold beer, well who wouldn’t like that. They say the spots on a leopard never change so I may just stick with my trational ways forever but in this life we really do never know what lays around the corner.
The images above are my ex wife Lizzie who I love very much, she never had any complaints about any of the three boats we sailed together but where as my heart and soul are connected to the sea, hers were always found the highest tops of mountains. Some things no matter how wonderful were just never meant to be. I’m camera-less so I had to use a few old images…
Not a single hour of any day has passed without me second guessing pulling the plug on my bike trip to Mexico. In many ways that journey was the beginning of a much larger voyage, and possibly was the most relevant undertaking I have sought out to achieve in my life. Sure Mexico was on the tip of my tongue but it was a test to see if I just wanted to continue on all the way around the world. In short the answer was revealed almost instantly and a resounding yes.
Three weeks have slipped through my fingertips since that bitter sweet day. While I had no plans of returning north for the winter here I am and my world is getting larger every day. An invitation to stay at the bat cave turned into a miricle on wheels, ending at an estate in the sky overlooking the islands , I honestly didn’t ever want to leave.
Three weeks out of the saddle has made me fat and lazy, out of shape and one mile into my ride the answers to all my questions were answered, my knee is still blown. I should have called the trip and turned around but it felt so good to be back in the saddle, so free and so exciting to roam off the map and find myself. I had very little idea where I was going but wasn’t worried, I know just about everybody in the islands, I knew I would find my way. The hills were big and hurt, I was overdressed at times and underdressed at others, fall is exploding sending my senses into overload.
My first stop was Deer Harbor, sipping a cold Anchor Steam with tourists in the light drissle was delightful, I found a friends new boat but he wasn’t around so I continued my tour down quiet county roads meandering a crooked course, the pace as lazy as I am. A closed farm stand was calling my name so I stopped to hide from the rain and smoke a ciggie, I was soaking up what is called the Gold Coast and enjoying every ounce of the view when I heard my named called. I was literally in the middle of nowhere but there was my friend, the one I was here to visit, I was exactly where I was supposed to be.
We picked juicy fire red apples that matched the maple leaves surrounding us, then moved on to ones that matched the fall aspens, munching on the sweet nectar nature had provided for us. Meandering through the woods, by a nice pond while the dog chased everything with the same enthusiasm I have for Brompty and finally we were at the garden to pick fresh carrots for the cake. A birthday extravaganza and a dinner party was in the making at the steel fortress perched high over the pass. The view was endless across the many islands Sookie has carried me to. I’m moving Sookie to this island as soon as I can find a safe spot to hang her hook.
A giant fire, flickered and danced with the laughter that filled our grand celebration, good food and great company marked yet one more impossibly perfect journey like the many that start and finish from the saddle of my faithful Brompton. Travel insoired by Natural power is an addictive way to explore, I can go as far as I’m willing and able . I’m not ready to leave this magical paradise but I’ll be back on those quiet country roads again, sooner rather than later. It’s good to be home in my little island paradise, the tourists are gone, I see more deer on the back roads than cars, the slow lane is my chosen way of travel.
“As a kid I had a dream – I wanted to own my own bicycle. When I got the bike I must have been the happiest boy in Liverpool, maybe the world. I lived for that bike. Most kids left their bike in the backyard at night. Not me. I insisted on taking mine indoors and the first night I even kept it in my bed.” John Lennon
To the landsmans eye the ocean is always flat, they look across the ocean not much unlike their ancestors did before we had learned to navigate the seas always thinking that the world is flat. The wind is angry by the time it funnels down the straits of Juan De Fuca. It hits the bluff at San Juan point crossing the San Juan channel and slams across the bay. The huge fetch and oposing tides don’t help. There is little in the way of protection where I’m sitting right now.
It sounds like a fighter jet flying overhead getting louder and louder until wham! The gust hits you, the boat heels and the dock lines do their best to shatter the wood bull rails. While it’s scary I’m not afraid for my safety although I have been on occasions while tied to the dock. It’s more that I worry about the strain on Sookie and her bits. People made fun of me when I had to custom order 8″ x3/8 lag bolts for Sookies cleats but that’s how thick the section is between the cleat and half inch backing plate, insane? No I don’t think so.
At 45 knots sustained on a wind over tide this place turns into hell on water, a cauldren of boiling water washing both under and over the marina. Boats have sunk, docks have blown away, you name it’s happened here, again the price you pay for living in the islands over the winter. For the most part it’s not that bad but it only takes one big one…
Im tucked into my lee cloth to keep me from being thrown out of my berth. My down bag snugged up around my naked body, I’m warm and as comefortable as is possible considering I’m having my ass handed to me by a full blown winter storm and it’s only the beginning of October. Maybe this means an early warm spring will send me on a gentle cruise to the Queen Charlotts but in the deepest recesses of my mind I’m planning a trip down the coast to Pamana if I can find the right co-pilot, although on nights like tonight a warm cabin in the woods sounds pretty wonderful. Just in case things get out of hand I have my ditch bag packed and ready. I packed it many times and never had to use it, I’m hoping this is another one of those occasions but it’s better safe than sorry. It really isn’t much more than an annoyance because I want to cook popcorn and can’t, at this point and I doubt the winds have even topped 40, it’s a calm night considering what was forecast and the wind is still SSE, its the sou’wester that gets my goat…
From the log of Atarah, Baja, 1988… my notes say 28.8 on the barometer, impending hurricane, it’s reading 28.7 oh shit… from the log of Sookie, Salish sea, barometer reads 28.9 gonna be a fun night…
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
I’m like the walking dead, I haven’t had a day off in a month. I’m up at 530 working on Sookie, then it’s off to work seven days a week and back to the boat till dark. I’ve never been this burned out in my life. Every inch of my body hurts from being run over by a boat. My days are like running a marathon, my nights, sanctuary in my little one man tent.
Every morning I wake and I can’t move, my spine feels like it is cracked in half. Slowly I force myself up, my knees swollen still from yesterday but morning brings coffee and the smell of teak sawdust, the rich aroma of freshly laid varnish, paint and all sorts of sealants.
Every day I swear I’m done with traditional boats, my next boat will be all plastic with metal hand rails and an aluminum toe rail and I will love it for its lack of necessary maintenance. Each and every morning I swear this but by the pale light of the setting sun with a cool beer in my hand I inspect the days pitiful progress and I smile. I touch Sookies bow and I proclaim my love to her.
I’m burned out on boats and sailing and living aboard, I want to be as far away from this time in my life that I can but in some deep place I know I will shed a silent tear when I walk away. I could splash her today and spend another winter aboard but I won’t. I need to recharge and find a new zen. I’ve been in a coma for over a year, my brain isn’t firing and I can’t do anything right. My burger and fries a day that I’m alloted from the resort galley has me looking like I’m pregnant, I feel stagnant because I am, all my days blur to no purpose and I still don’t even know why.
I glance at my watch, it’s time to clock in, I glance at my calander and wonder how I can survive the next month but also know it’s nearly impossible to finish here in time, to leave before winter catches me. I’m in a weakened state both mentally and physically but that date keeps me focused, it’s a very small window of freedom that the road affords. When my ride ends I’ll be broke a thousand miles from home and it will be winter, this is my freedom, my choice, my life. I stretch and squirm and let out a morning roar. I’m not following the path less taken, I’m making my own…
“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
― Benjamin Franklin
Some things just aren’t meant to be. By the end of the month Sookie will be all wrapped up, when I return she will be the ultimate day sailor and gunk holer, I’ve thrown in the towel on blue water sailing with her. Life goes on and Sookie will sail on but not beyond the reach of the Salish Sea.
I’ve hit my wall, to many nights on the hard cold ground, too many days of going hungry, to many seasons of not enough progress towards my goal. Sookie is ripe and ready for this tiny sea and that’s where she will stay. The seasons are short here as is the crappy low paying seasonal work, living aboard during the winters can be brutal, wet and cold, I’m ready for a square bed, hot and cold water and push button heat. It feels good to have a few bucks in my pocket for the first time in three years.
I cashed my check, bought a small pile of food to drop at the food bank and boxed up all the things I will no longer need on Sookie, I strapped them on the back of Brompty and delivered them over serveral trips to the free store and feel good about my long day. Working seven days a week all by myself in a position that warrants three people has been fun but also reinforced that I’d simply rather be sailing even if it’s just my own waters.
My last day here in the islands is about 5 weeks away and then I will set off in search of a winter home, reasonable work and a bit of warm weather.
“We got so much food in America we’re allergic to food. Allergic to food! Hungry people ain’t allergic to shit. You think anyone in Rwanda’s got a fucking lactose intolerance?!”
― Chris Rock
With the last bits of paint in my cup I give Sookie a new set of eyeballs and she is pleased. She has always had eyes from the first time I splashed her and she always will. Someday I will put them high on her hull but we are still bonding and so the process continues. Ancient maritime lore has it that if a ship has eyes she can see where she is going and will never collide.
On again off again it seems my new windvane and my efforts to aquire it were all in vain ;). No matter, I have pleanty to keep me busy in my minimal time off and living in a resort is turning out to be quite a wonderful way to spend the summer regardless of the small squalls that come and go. Last night all tucked in my little cocoon I slept like the dead, dreaming of sailing adventures and woke refreshed and ready to tackle another day in the yard, on the bike and with a little luck time for more research on shipping Sookie somewhere warm. My dream would be to ship her to Ventura , then ride my bike down to meet her.
My superstition about shipping boats is holding me back but if I do move her it will be to almost the exact place she started her life and where she was put on a trailer for her long voyage to me. The days of summer tick by weeks at a time and now my end here is nearer than my beginnings. I don’t expect anyone to understand my superstitions or the way I do things but Sookie isn’t just a sailboat, she is a ship and a home and something that gives my life great meaning. She keeps me young and strong. As much as I hate the idea of storing her for another winter, my alternative; if I do she will be ready to rock the day I return.
For now I’m moonlighting between her and Brompty, somehow I still make it to work everyday with a big smile, full of energy and the knowledge that there s a purpose for all this madness. Sitting in the morning sun on the deck of my resort a yachter has offered to buy me breakfast. Steak and eggs, hot coffee and a dead calm bay as I lounge around in my tanned bare feet wondering if there is anything such as first world problems or am I just the most fortunate human on earth. I take in a deep breath and slowly exhale, where should I begin…
I’m talking to a yachter on a 2 million dollar boat with hundreds of thousands of dollars of electronics, he is very concerned about leaving the bay on a negative 1.3 tide. I look over my shoulder and see Beth and Cody sail in the harbor on their home built 29′ sailboat ” well if they can make it in engineless I’m sure you’ll be fine”.
The most beautiful girl in the world has shown up in my Marina, everytime I turn around she is there, smiling, her eyes lighter than any shade I have ever seen sparkle brighter in the sun than the diamond in her nose. She always stands close, looking up at me with those eyes, that smile, close enough to feel like a couple. A short flowy blue cotton sun dress drapes and perfectly outlines her soft frame and all of her curves, it has a Buddha on it, I know this dress very well and she feels like home. More than anything I want to know her better, I flush everytime she is near, I let her go and it hurts on some deep level but I do nothing.
I help an 11 year old dock her fathers 38′ sailboat, she handles it like a pro. The yachters come and go, friends come and go, the days come and go. Work is slowly progressing on Sookie but I need help if I want to finished her in time but in time for what? Indesision rules my days. I’m in my cocoon before the sun goes down, warm enough and cozy, 5:00 Am brings a new day, where should I begin…
“There’s no advantage to hurrying through life.” -Shikamaru Nara
I’m at a stand still, I’ve hit a brick wall. I’m challanged by my own knowledge and now finding I need to learn more about the things I thought I already knew. I’m working with a girl to find her a perfect boat for blue water sailing, her budget is too small and she has read to many books and blogs about the perfect offshore boat written by people who have never sailed those boats they write about.
I’m taking notes, walking through another boatyard and scratching my head. Do I hate boats, have I become some sort of eletist sailing snob? I don’t think so, I hope not but once you’re been in the belly of the tempest you form some pretty valid opinions. I’ve been fortunate to sail on hundreds of them, sailboats that is. A lifetime on the water front will do that to a person. I go back to ground zero and start with the foundation. The keel, layup, rig, design. The myth that older boats are stronger than newer ones is just that, a myth. Newer boats are by far stronger, layed out better, at least the good ones are and will give you far fewer headaches than buying into a 50 year old sailboat based off of lore that some guy needing money wrote a book about.
Not that there aren’t good old boats, there certainly are. I think the biggest problem is that you get what you pay for, if you buy a $3000.00 boat thats pretty much what you have in the same way as if you buy a $300,000.00 boat. I use myself as the most classic example, I could have bought an Ericsson 27 outitted it, circumnavigated and still had money left over in my pocket for the next adventure for what I have invested in Sookie.
My problem is that I’ve done many offshore passages in shitty old boats because that’s what I had at the time, it was great when I was 18 but I’m not 18 anymore and simply want more, once is enough. Back to Laura and finding her boat, she challanges me in a good way, I’m learning as much as I’m teaching her. She isn’t looking for a lake boat, or a coastal cruiser, she wants a blue water sailboat and it’s my job to find her one on her small budget, what she does with it is up to her. I sailed the Caribbean in a 36′ costal cruiser and didn’t have a complain in the world other than the miserably challanging sailing conditions.
Walking the docks this morning a ran into an old acquaintances sailboat, from what I’ve heard through the coconut telegraph he has kicked he cedar bucket and the world has lost a great sailor. His boat a Coronado 25 is almost identical to my 26′ Seaquest that gave me my first solo offshore adventures. He did lengthen the water line and add a larger rudder. He has sailed that boat from San Diego to Alaska and seen every single gunk hole and harbor I between In his stock late sixties era day sailor so I’m brought back to my drawing board, maybe any boat will do, within reason that is.
I am reminded of a quote by David Brinkley: “A successful (wo)man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him (her).”
A seagull flying overhead asked the fish “how’s the water?”. The fish responds “what the hell is Water?” Every day of my life is an uphill battle but like the fish, it’s all I know, so in my reality it doesn’t even exist. My sailing instructor Captian Lea started me off with long windy and wet windward passages, I figured that’s what sailing was and I loved it, it was all I knew and so they have never bothered me. Let’s face it, I can’t sing, I can’t dance and I can’t play and instrument but I do all three.
Wet decks, cold spray across the bow and living in a small boat heeled well over isn’t a bad way to go if it gets you to your destination. I’ve been working my ass of and spending nil, hoping to scrape the much needed funds to get the boat to San Carlos, or Ventura or Florida, somewhere warm, a place where I can have a full year to work on Sookie and get her ready to cross oceans.
My accountant tells me I don’t have a snowballs chance in hell of doing it this year so I’ve adjusted my course fallen off a bit and am settling in for a long wet winter. I’ve applied as a charter master in the Carribean, a banker in Nevada, and a broker in Florida, I doubt I will do any of the three but I’m covering my bases. I’m slowly coming to terms with the fact that there will be no little sailors or sailorettes in my life, I took my eye of of the ball and just like that 14 years of my life has vanished. When I adopted Chloe it wasn’t because I wanted a dog, it was because I wanted children but wasn’t sure if I was good enough of a human being and worthy of the honor of raising children. Pretty much up until very recently I’ve held onto the belief that little tanned feet would eventually rule the decks of Sookie.
As of today I have 75 days until I have to spin the bottle and decide my winter, I’m poaching s tree house until my tiny new one man tent replaces the one I temporarily borrowed, I hope it’s better than the last but after living in a giant two man tent I think it may be a bit cramped. My knees are blown from my job, basically I’ve been running a marathon a day, every day, I’m too old for this shit. Two and a half months is far to long to wait for my next journey to begin but not nearly enough time to cross everything off of THE LIST. One day at a time is all I can do and should it all become too much I’ll just mount my trusty Brompty and pedal off into the sunset. Sailing hard on the wind only sucks if you choose for it to.
“Never throughout history has a man who lived a life of ease left a name worth remembering.”
― Theodore Roosevelt
The rain comes each night and occasionally in the mornings, this has so far been a no summer, summer and my brain is confused by the lack of warmth I wait so long for each year. I’ve postponed my entire future waiting for a sign from the sea, no more sailing, the bike trip is off and now I have to figure out what road lies ahead.
I don’t know why but I sent off for payment instructions for my new wind vane. I haven’t been able to find much motivation to take advantage of Sookie being in the boat yard, my brain is in knots. To many choices will do that to a person. I slowly read about a girl and her solo circumnavigation on her Falmouth Cutter 22.
It’s been nearly a year without Chloe and the void continues, I play with every dog I meet but deep down I know there will not be another in my life. I piddle around Sookie wondering why I didn’t just sail off broke for the summer but reading through the manuscript of a book I wrote and will never publish about my accounts in Hawaii and I’m reminded that I don’t need any more adventure in my life, my fun meter is pegged.
A slow boring simple life is out there, it’s calling me and now all I have to do is say yes, but I have already said no.
Happy Canada Day. My grandfather who loved all Canadians very much as did his father and that before him as well, passed this story on to me to share with future generations.
When John Smith and Pocahontas were exploring the north west passage they were captured my a motley group of woodsman who were quite friendly. They apologized profusely for capturing them and shooting at them but explained that they were protecting a great nation that would some day be famous for hockey and bacon.
When John Smith enquired about the name of this great nation his captors proudly called it the C.N.D. territory which stood for Canuck and native democracy. John Smith asked how it was spelled and his capturer said C,eh N,eh D, eh and so John smith pronounced it Canada and he smiled and the Canadians smiled. The explorers were released and a life time friendship of two nations was born.
This date was July first and all Canadians will forever celebrate this day as the day they joined as neighbors with America. This would explain why they decided to put their border so close to ours and why they give us great gifts such as the blackberry phone and maple syrup. In exchange for these most wonderful gifts we created Costco and affordable cheese and milk and that is how two great nations came to rely on each other and the Orin of Canada day.
Sooner or later every sailor will be unfortunate enough to learn the painfull meaning of the bitter end as the last bit of anchor rode slips through thier fingers and then nothing… I’ve been bipolar to the A.D.D.TH degree these last few months in a desperate landlocked voyage to point my bow north.
Sooner or later we all have to pay the piper and with a great deal of indesision I’ve thrown in the towel for a summer cruise and bit the bullet so to speak. Sookie is getting hauled till next spring. I’ve been playing too much and ignoring the final stages of my refit, new pintles and gudgeons, a rudder cheek rebuild and my barrier coat. In my typical voyaging on a hundred dollars a month budget constraints I’ve decided to patch my existing barrier coat and save the real job for some hot and steamy third world boatyard. You can’t fit a ten pound parcel into a two pound sack.
I’m bent to say the least but it has to be done if I ever want to get anywhere beyond my 300 mile circle and I do. Back and forth we went but there is simply no way around it. So now that I’m getting ready to put on my land legs,my list is impossibly long, a jigsaw sort of puzzle to finish only what is completely necessary on my beer budget. I have a feeling I will still be rebuilding this little girl for many years to come but so is the nature of being blessed with a good old boat. Both my master and my servant she needs my full attention right now and so she will get it.
I’ve potentially lined up the lowest paying job on the planet and a free dusty, dirty patch of dry land to store Sookie where I can liveaboard and work on her. It’s going to make for very long days, up at dawn for a few hours of work, clock in for a long day in the sun and then back to this and that till the sun goes down. November first is my weather cut off and then it’s of to somewhere warm for the winter, I’m already looking into the Caribbean and the many sailing oppertunities in that beautiful sea.
“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” ― William Wordsworth