First of Four Gales

At 26 years old, I had almost no reference point. I was too inexperienced to know better....or worse!  To fully comprehend the challenges that lay ahead of me. There was no jumping overboard or escaping this wild bronco. We were heading to our destination, but we were also heading into a series of major storms. Facing this obstacle was my growth opportunity. How I responded would be my personal test.

We Were Smoking!

On our second day after leaving St. John, winds and seas start to build for our next 9-day close-hauled passage. As we heeled more, jib changes became more and more necessary as waves added pressure on sails, sheets and halyard.

Orcas and Russian Sightings

Approaching St. John's, Newfoundland after 5 glorious sailing days, I remember feeling ready to reach a destination. Ready to get my feet on something solid. Ready to step ashore and feel grounded. But I did not know enough to get ready for what lay ahead. 

Newbold's Dock Walk

At a restaurant on the docks not too far from the Newport Yacht Club, I joined Newbold, his family and some of the crew for a "departure" dinner.  The excitement and anticipation were palpable as our departure was the next morning.  Smiles all around as most of us were giddy with anticipation.  The day had finally arrived and the next day we set sail for Newfoundland. As the Smith family, friends and crew members well-wished and toasted to our good fortunes, Newbold reminded us that there would be no drinking aboard until we set foot on dry land.  No one really knew when that was so all freely imbibed in celebratory libation, even our skipper!

Re-Riding Reindeer

When I started my blog, I had been writing for years. But like any life made up of many versions, my stories have been collecting, unfolding and accumulating long before my sharing my sailing across the Atlantic on a Reindeer. Our sailing tales could never be just one story. There were many aboard and as many they all possessed a one-ness to them. My best retelling I could do was divide them up into thirty digestible chapters. I recently revisited, revised and republished these from my 1976 adventure. In an effort to reintroduce, repackage and re-present them into bite size portions, they tell more than the sum of their parts. For me, they tell about youthful naïveté revisited. About they were all a loss of innocence and a rite of passage. I went on this voyage to rediscover and heal my manhood.

Our Teacher, the Sea

Recently I hired a bi-linqual Floridian Latino to replace and install my boat’s new rudders. During a brief conversation with him in English, he suddenly announced he believed all Americans should speak English. Despite the fact that his native tongue was Spanish and he was speaking on his cell phone in Spanish, he believed English should be required for all Americans. This pronouncement sounded so ridiculous, I questioned about his reasoning. His answer was “so we could all understand each other.”

Raining Umbrellas

A foreboding sky, dark clouds on the horizon and 20-knot wind gusts speak volumes to sailors. Yes, but preparing for scattered showers, a drenching downpour or deluge, a monstrous  monsoon? Threatening weather is whether or not it is a sneak preview or a coming distraction.

Cormorant Lessons

Their seabird numbers may rival the prolific pelicans or seagulls. But it is their personality that gains my respect. Quietly confident, not showoffs or attention getters; they don’t have to make noise or play loud Latino music to announce their arrival. They fish with silent bravado. Their catch is a daily deed - not one that commands a photo opp. They hunt isn’t for some ego show; they don’t need to validate their talents. They need to come to the surface and blow up their chests for s camera. To them the sea is their source. Their  livelihood and sustenance. They may fly, but they swim for their food. No traps, nets, snares or hooks, their beaks snag their meals.

Wake Up!

Its 3:30 AM. I’m awake. It is dead calm outside. I slept on my Mystique last night. I slept through my mystique last night. It wasn’t until we came up on deck that our eyes really opened to the world around us. Every day is Earth Day.

Sailing with One Eye Open

When the wind drops, a sailor tweaks different controls on his boat to maintain speed and momentum. A loss of either could mean he will be unable to steer his craft effectively. Losing one alters one’s choices and one’s course. So what would be different from a one-eyed perspective? Maybe the result would be same, but maybe the perspective changes the way life is viewed?

The Weather Window

As I sat quietly in Friends Meeting during silent meditation a few Sundays ago, I heard a powerful engine-like sound approaching from far away.  As the noise grew louder, the opposite open windows of the 1684 meeting house attracted my attention. Outside my mother, father and grandmother lay. Outside the window their graves absorbed the energy of the sky. They could no longer feel any life’s forces. But as one of their progeny, I could feel this energy coming from outside and above.

Handling Our Worlds

On a typically windy day when clouds caste their shadows on the turquoise water, the sea can look like a patchwork quilt full of lights and darks.  While sunny skies and low flying clouds these dark and light patches frequently dot the sea surface. If unfamiliar to their appearance, I remember feeling cautious around them. They may have a surprise waiting for a unsuspecting skipper.

Sailing Helen Keller

To sail. To spread a wing in the air and soar. No internal power. No fuel, just atmospheric energy. The only motion created by the elements of wind and water.  To some humans, sailing calls as powerfully as the ancient lure of flight itself, and to those who pursue it, the passion only increases. After Helen Keller blindness woke the world to her intelligence, sailing gradually woke to the idea of teaching sailing and even competitive racing to the blind.

Changing the Past

When Tiger arrived around 5:30 pm from Nassau, they anchored near us. Soon after, Mikiel and Monica dinghied over to our catamaran in West End cove. Immediately they noticed something tragic had happened. They saw our damage laying on our afterdeck. They called for us, but we did not answer. What happened to us he thought. Then Mikiel’s thoughts lead him to speculate how our rudders were damaged. Then he wondered if we were all right.

Tow Jobs

Most of us are born with five toes on each end of two legs. With those two, we gradually learn to stand and walk. Though in our early years, we often crawl, stagger wobbly-hobble, maybe even swim a floor to find our balance and equilibrium. We have to explore the world around us.  To stand and withstand a vertical posture, we need to become more upright.