I probably had way too much fun writing this one! Go on … ask me how many bags of wine we can stow in our “cruiser’s wine cellar!” ; ) We interrupt our regularly-scheduled Bahamas broadcast for this fun announcement! This was such an honor and a treat for my Cruiser’s Wine Cellar piece to be included in SAIL Magazine’s 50th anniversary edition! Wow! This very fun article I put together at the request of Peter Nielsen with SAIL who asked for some insight into our new “creative stowage in the bilge.” A couple of custom starboard inserts afforded Phillip and I the perfect new place to keep wine cool and stable aboard s/v Plaintiff’s Rest.
There are some fun photos of the project in the article that I hope might inspire some creative bilge stowage on your own boat!
We hope you all enjoy the article! If you pick up a copy and enjoy it, be sure to let the folks at SAIL Magazine know. Then, tell us, where is your “cruiser’s wine cellar” on your boat?
I love wine … Nope, still not big enough! It can never be big enough. : D
Dang, who’s that chick at the helm? This is so fun to share followers. Bob Bitchin’ published another one of my articles in the Spring 2019 edition of Cruising Outpost. What a fabulous honor! Please go pick up a copy to read it and tell Bob and the lovely Jody what you thought! I wrote this piece during our voyage back last year from the Bahamas because it felt so empowering to be able to—now, after many voyages of practice—confidently take the helm and know the boat is under my control and that I’m just as capable of steering her as Phillip. That’s such a comforting feeling when it’s just the two of you out there covering many miles. Honestly, ladies—my badass female sailor following—I can’t emphasize enough what a confidence-builder it is to take the helm and maneuver the boat. Sure, it’s horrifically scary at first. There may be some tears, some pee, some shakes, some bumps and scrapes on the boat. But, keep at it! You’ll get better, I promise. You’ll get more accustomed and aware. You’ll get more confident, and (BONUS) your significant other will get wildly turned on. You’re welcome! : ) Ladies, it’s time to …
Photo thumb courtesy of the HaveWind followers who first spotted my article and were kind enough to take and send me the shots for this post. Thanks again David & Mary!
I mean, with the name “Pensacola,” we had to at least stop and see. And then we decided December 25th it shall be! Merry Christmas in blog time followers! I hope you all are enjoying our Bahamas Voyage vicariously. Fun video and blog post for you below from our “holiday on the hook” at Pensacola Cay!
It is always so fun to go back through our photos and footage and share these stories with you. Pensacola Cay. We were destined for it, right? And boy what a beautiful little stop it was. Each island in the Abacos offered something unique and memorable. Pensacola afforded us the first stretch of clear beach and enough wind for kiting. So, it was the first time we kited on the Atlantic ocean. That is not something I’m likely to forget for a long, long time. This was our first kite spot!
For us, kiting is not just a hobby, it is a sort of freedom. As with the sailboat, you are moving, propelling forward actually, by the sheer virtue of the wind. You steer by skillfully working the kite and board together just as the boat does with the wind, keel, and rudder. It’s a powerful, sometimes frightening, but more often freeing, exciting feeling to know you are harnessing the wind. There’s no rumbling motor. No stinking fumes going into the air. Nothing but nature is moving you along.
Time for a jump-off! Annie …
Man, did you see that mega-hop?! I cleared like a foot and a half! Okay, now Phillip …
I think we have a clear winner! Man, Phillip can really fly. I’m still working on jumping. It’s just not something that is coming naturally to me. So far I can either launch and land a mega-hop (yeehaw!) or launch a huge leap and yard sale it at the end. I hate to say that kiting, just tacking back and forth and maneuvering the board without jumping, is so fun to me that I often don’t practice jumping as much as I should because it might mean I’ll lose my board, crash my kite, potentially end my session. “Over a silly jump?” my mind screams. “Nuh-uh, not this kiter!” But, I love that I can push myself to that goal anytime I want to and it’s always there: a fun, challenging reward if I attain it. This—the challenge, thrill, peacefulness, and simplicity, i.e., harnessing the wind to maneuver—along with, of course, the high-flying jumps and flips, is what draws us to kiting. And to look out the opening of that beautiful little cove at Pensacola Cay to see the Atlantic ocean! An enormous body of water that we crossed in a boat not much bigger than ours only one year ago, was a really cool feeling. Like everything is connected together—time, places, and people—by water. This was us on that same body of water, not so long ago!
The water in the Bahamas, however, while warmer than Pensacola’s mid- to low-sixties winter waters, was still a little chilly. Likely seventy degrees if I had to guess, along with air temps in the high sixties and low seventies. Definitely nice and cool for a day on the boat, but a little chilly to get wet and windy in just a bikini alone. Oh, you’re right, Phillip doesn’t always wear the bikini – ha! But we had brought all of our wet gear for this reason, so we donned what I call our “platypus suits” and didn’t let it stop us!
It was so “cold” there, Frosty came to join us!
I was kind of surprised by the landscape as well. Many of the cays in the Abacos are formed solely on limestone, so in some areas the only walkable shore is a jutty, jagged patch of very unforgiving limestone. Didn’t stop us from traversing it, but you definitely wanted to tread carefully!
We also often stumbled upon what we began to call “conch graveyards.” I, a very naive and silly Bahamian cruiser to begin with, thought all those conchs must have decided it was “their time,” so they huddled together and crawled to shore, a heaving pile of shell and slimy innards drying under the sun. I mean, how else would they all end up piled together in a collective, crumbling heap?
Yes, I know now (after the patient and kindly Phillip told me) they’re there because that is likely where a local fisherman harvested and cracked them. Ahhh … that makes more sense. A concher left them there. Yes, “conchers” are real in Annie Land. So is the blonde hair! Phillip is rather nice to put up with me. But, my very silly questions about all the intriguing things I always seem to find when we’re exploring definitely keep him entertained. As do these beautiful views. Just walking around the islands, making footprints in the sand, and picking up shells is one of our favorite pastimes.
I had thought about keeping this guy, but after holding him five minutes (which left a hand that stunk for five hours!), I decided he was never coming near our boat. Do you see that little brown dribble coming out of the bottom?
Yeah, he seemed empty when I picked him up. I mean there definitely was not a live squirmy conch in there when I peeked inside. But every time I sloshed water in and swished it out, more of this brown goo would come out and I’m sure it was his poor decaying body, but my God that stuff was potent. Sorry little man, but you’re staying with the other stinkies! We do not bring stench aboard Plaintiff’s Rest!
With “dollars” everywhere, we felt mighty rich! : )
It was also great to see our boat anchored out in the Sea of Abaco. After all the planning and prepping and work it took to get her there, it was like you could feel how happy she was to finally be floating in these beautiful green waters!
And, just our luck, a few billowing, beautiful clouds rolled in and brought us a refreshing rain storm. That’s right, for Christmas, we gave Plaintiff’s Rest a much-needed, well-deserved, indulgent freshwater rinse. I listened closely and could hear her singing during the storm. Do you know what she sang?
“Siiiiinging in the rain. I’m just siiiiinging in the rain! What a gloooorious feeling, I’m haaaaaapy again!” (That’s what she always sings when it rains ; ).
It was a well-timed, rather-welcomed rinse for the boat and all of our kite gear stacked up on the deck. And, the storm left behind a crystal clear sky for the sunset. It’s happy hour on our boat. Cheers!
And you know you’re living right when you watch the sun both set and rise every day:
I know, I know. Sunrises. Sunsets. Cocktails and bikinis. Yes, it really is just like that many days. When we’re not changing the oil on the boat, or cleaning the dinghy, or on a gas and provision run. It is paradise. Dozens of times over with each little cay you stop at in the Abacos. But, as I mentioned, each cay seemed to offer something unique that made it stand out in our memories and distinguish each cay from the other. Do you know what our favorite thing about Pensacola Cay was?
That’s right! The SIGNING TREE!! It was something Phillip had read about before we even got to the Abacos, some big tree on the back side of Pensacola Cay where boaters leave old buoys, or life rings, or pieces of driftwood (all kinds of creative nautical trinkets) often with their vessel name, the crew and the date written or painted on it.
It reminded me a lot of the sea wall at Azores which is covered with colorful paintings left behind by cruisers who have been there.
Some of the items hanging from the Signing Tree were very creative. One had a message in a bottle. Another, a carved silhouette of their boat. One, a toilet seat! I’m not kidding. And, from s/v Plaintiff’s Rest? Your very own signed copy of Salt of a Sailor, another one of my “traveling books.”
Phillip and I like to occasionally leave a book behind in a port or place where we hope one cruiser will read it then pass it along to another and another and another, so that the book gets to meet a lot of different people and see many different parts of the world. ”Go little book, go!” we often cry as we leave her behind.
“All you have to do is be a little brave and really resourceful. Happy cruising!” I wrote inside.
Then we triple-bagged her and hung her from the Signing Tree. I hope someone, somewhere, someday tells me they found the traveling Salt of a Sailor that we left at Pensacola Cay. What if the little books is still there when we go back? That would be fine too, but I’ll have to open it to see if folks are taking it to read, then putting it back! I put a little log in the front where people can leave a note with their vessel name and crew. So, it’s kind of like a “signing book” too.
We’re making some fantastic memories along the way. Hope you all enjoyed Pensacola Cay!
Next time, we’ll take you underwater on our very first colorful snorkel in the Bahamas! Stay tuned! glug, glug, glug … : )
“Thru-hulls? Oh, hush! Nothing goes through my hull.” You gotta love Mitch! And every other new boat owner out there who is in that particular stage of boat-buying grief: Denial. When he thinks he is the only person in the world who just bought a boat that can’t sink. As Phillip and I are preparing our boat for the big, blue water passages ahead, I have a much greater appreciation now for all of the gear, supplies, and spares we need to carry aboard not only to make our boat comfortable and well-stocked so Phillip and I enjoy the passage, but more so the safety gear and supplies we must pack to keep her and the two of us SAFE. And by that we mean supplies that both: 1) ensure the boat is prepared to handle rough conditions, inadvertent collisions, fire, power shortage, or one of any other hundred equipment or engine failures that can happen out there; and 2) in the very unlikely, but possible, situation where Phillip and I need to ditch or distance ourselves from the boat, that ensure we, too, are prepared to do that as safely as possible.
While these are not the things you want to think about when planning for a voyage (i.e., a potential emergency), it is something you need to prepare for. And, the more I have truly opened my eyes to cruising this past year and pushed myself to learn and master the more difficult tasks such as navigation, steering, docking, weather planning, and emergency response, I see the need more than ever for the safety gear we carry aboard. I am also noticing that each time Phillip and I set off for another 4-5 day (or even 30-day) offshore run, we learn a few more lessons and add a few more very handy items to our safety gear and spares list. I will share below the new spare items we have added to the list this year as a result of our experiences in sailing from Florida to France with the esteemed Captain Yannick on his 46’ catamaran and mine and Phillip’s longest-ever five-day offshore passage to Cuba, both in 2016. And, since our Holiday Book Giveaway #3 will be a signed copy of my third sailing book, None Such Like It (of the tale of our Amateur-Kretschmer-like experience delivering Mitch’s Nonsuch across the Gulf of Mexico), I’ve included a fun excerpt from the book below from our efforts to fully prepare Mitch’s boat to safely handle an offshore passage. Enjoy and good luck on the trivia!
None Such Like It, Chapter Two: DENIAL
Having gone through the process of trying to outfit a new-to-us boat for a pretty extensive offshore passage on the Niagara, Phillip and I knew, if we were going to be making this trip with Mitch, that that we needed to start making lists early. It’s amazing the things you remember to bring the second time around. Before Mitch even went down to Ft. Myers, Phillip and I jotted down critical safety equipment, spare parts and other items that would be needed for the boat and crew to safely make the passage from Ft. Myers to Pensacola so Mitch could verify whether any of the items were already on the boat while he was there for the survey/sea trial. We sent Mitch with our rudimentary checklist and told him to inventory the items, note what was missing and what might need to be replaced, replenished or re-certified before we headed offshore in the Nonsuch.
LIST FOR MITCH
The house batteries─What’s the situation?
How big of a bank?
Starting battery and house? 2 bank?
Charged by the alternator?
Power cord, battery charger, etc.?
Is there an autopilot?
What safety gear does the boat have?
Check expiration dates on all of those
First aid kit
Emergency underwater epoxy kit
Does the boat have a 12 volt (cigarette lighter) charger?
What spares are on board?
What fluids are on board?
Is there a repair kit for the sail?
Cotter pins, etc.
Make sure the head functions
Does the boat have a life raft?
Do all sea cocks function just fine?
How many and where─identify and try all
Dock lines, fenders, etc.?
Make a list of what tools are on board
Make a list of galley supplies on board dishes-wise─pots, pans, silverware, etc.
What’s the bilge pump situation?
How many bilge pumps?
Are they wired together or separately?
Check for manual bilge pumps─how many?
Check for emergency tiller, make sure it works
Make sure there’s wooden plugs, nerf balls, whatever for plugging holes
How many and expiration date
Smoke alarms, CO2?
How many and where?
Radio and VHF─check them
Reef the sails during the sea trial─learn the procedure
While Mitch really was taking it all like a champ, checking and double-checking the list with us, I knew he was having trouble understanding the real need for some of these things.
“Nerf balls,” Mitch screeched at me over the phone one day while he was getting ready to make the trip down to Ft. Myers, and I figured that was a reasonable question if he didn’t know that that magically-squishy material, an accidental invention by NASA I’m sure, is wickedly effective at stopping leaks. But, figuring when it comes to Mitch is where I went wrong. Turns out he knew they could be used to stop leaks, he just didn’t expect any leaks.
“Yeah, Mitch. You can use them to plug a leak.”
A moment of silence and then: “But, isn’t that what the sea-cocks are for?” Mitch asked, sincerely curious. “Water starts to come in, you just close them, right? That’s what they do?”
I was glad he couldn’t see my face because I could not hide a smile. That’s when I knew it. He had reached stage two. Mitch was knee-deep in denial. I knew because I had been there. When Phillip and I were looking at our Niagara for the first time, I kept looking around the interior for a good bulkhead wall to mount a television on. Yes, a television. When I finally showed Phillip the “perfect place” I had found for it—the wall between the saloon and our separate shower stall—I only found one slight hold-up.
“We’ll just need to take this lantern out,” I told Phillip, all Bambi-like.
“We’ll need the lantern,” Phillip told me flatly. When my blank stare back didn’t convey understanding, he tried another route. “How are you going to power the T.V.?” which was met by an even blanker stare (if that’s possible). Then Phillip tried to walk me out of my denial, into the land of the knowing. “Honey, we have to run wires and power it. We need the lantern for light and warmth. I don’t think I want a T.V. on the boat.”
It turned out he didn’t. Neither did I when I finally understood what we were truly buying and outfitting—a completely self-sufficient mobile home where we had to engineer a way to generate every bit of light, power, refrigeration and energy needed. I’ll be honest, it baffled me when I first learned the two-prong AC outlets on the boat simply would not work when you’re on anchor. They’re such a tease! I thought they would always magically have power at any and all times, just like they do on land. In Innocent Annie Land, boats out on the blue are still connected to the grid.
I was up to my eyeballs in denial. Like me, Mitch was now refusing to believe he had just bought a complete mobile home that sat, at all times, half-dunked in water with the ability to sink.
“You’ll want the nerf balls, Mitch, trust me. The sea cocks don’t always work.”
But that didn’t really frighten him either. I truly believe Mitch felt he had purchased the only boat in the world upon which sea-cocks never seized up, because he maintained his stance, renouncing all things possible.
“Well, what about the spares? How many of those impellers and fuel filters and zinc things do I really need?”
“However many make you feel comfortable,” I told him, thinking a little fear and weight on his shoulders might help give him a little bit of a reality check. Pssh! He thrust it off like a rain-soaked jacket.
“Oh, nothing’s gonna break twice.”
After a while I kind of admired Mitch’s euphoric “can do” attitude—as in “my boat can do anything.” It was actually nice to not have the significant worry and responsibility of making the trip on our own boat. For Phillip and me, the fact that we were embarking on this journey on Mitch’s boat made it less stressful and more pure fun. It was also exciting for us to think back through that mental process of rigging out a boat for the first time on an offshore passage. It’s a little frightening, a little exhilarating, certainly a fun prospect for adventure. I remembered when Phillip and I wrapped up our own survey/sea-trial and reached that point where it was really happening, we were really about to buy a boat and we were really about to sail her out into the Gulf of Mexico.
Wow, that photo was taken April 12, 2013, the first day Phillip and I ever sailed on our boat. Can you believe that? Time doesn’t just fly, she soars! Because she does, it makes me even more grateful to know we spend most of our days on the boat, on the water, in the sunshine, soaking it all up, even as it’s soaring by. Phillip and I have been busting our hump this summer and fall getting our boat ready for another offshore adventure this winter and I believe she (and we) are more ready than we’ve ever been. And I also believe that our “ready” benchmark will continue to notch higher and higher with each passage we make because we always seem to face a new situation (in addition to the ones we’ve faced before) that teaches us a lesson and prompts us to add something new to the safety/spares list.
Fuel filters. You can never have enough fuel filters. We changed our primary just last week and are bringing 5 spares! We also changed the oil, transmission fluid and coolant and stocked up on extra fluids.
In addition to all of the safety items we usually carry (EPIRB, hydro-static life vests, jack lines, life raft, handheld VHF, handheld GPS, Delorme, Weems & Plath SOS light, flares, compasses, first aid, not to mention our dozens upon dozens of engine spares (oh heck, here’s a detailed inventory list from our Cuba voyage HERE if you want to see everything), Phillip and I have added the following to the list this year, just … in … case:
A spare raw water pump for the engine: It is our old re-built Sherwood which we replaced this year with a new Johnson one (because the Sherwood often leaked around the two seals that separate the oil side from the water side). After seeing the struggles Yannick faced with his raw water pump on the starboard engine across the Atlantic, we thought a complete spare pump would be a good idea.
A spare alternator for the engine: We recently found the old one our previous owner, Jack, had taken off our Westerbeke 27 when he replaced it with a higher-output one. We had it checked by B&M Starter and Alternator here in Pensacola, who verified it runs great. So, just in case our alternator goes kaput and there is not enough sunshine to allow the solar panels to power our battery bank, we have a spare alternator we can put on the engine to ensure we have continued power for radio transmission and the bilge pumps in case of an emergency. Speaking of bilge pumps …
Two spare bilge pumps: While our boat technically already has four (a 500 gph one in the forward bilge, a 1,000 gph in the center bilge, which sits under our sump box that has a 500 gph pump, as well as our manual bilge pump that is operated from the cockpit), we thought it never hurts to have more. So, we purchased a back-up 500 gph and 1,000 gph to replace the pumps in our forward and center bilge areas if need be.
A spare carburetor for the outboard: Okay, so this isn’t technically a safety item. The dinghy is more of a luxury, but if a failed carburetor would stop us from being able to see and feed the Swimming Pigs, or get to a killer kite-surfing spot, or even just get to shore so we can be served drinks by a chesty bartender who smells like coconut rum, I might consider that an emergency ; ).
Phillip was a grease monkey this week, rebuilding both the raw water pump and the spare carburetor.
Now, since we’re having so much fun talking about spares and packing safely for an offshore voyage, even those where Phillip and I are merely helping to deliver a boat as opposed to sailing on our own, I decided to base our book giveaway trivia this time on a very important spare that we certainly could have used on the Atlantic-crossing. This one is for all my diehard YouTube fans out there.
What was the first and foremost spare Brandon said we should have carried on our Atlantic-crossing on Yannick’s catamaran, a system which did ultimately fail us and forced us to pull in for repairs in the Azores?
When you need one of these, none such like it will do! First follower to answer correctly gets a signed copy of None Such Like It. And … GO! And, if any of you do not know the answer because you haven’t yet seen our two-hour YouTube movie on the Atlantic Crossing, then you’re in for a holiday treat. Pop some corn and call it Movie Night!
Hope you all are enjoying the holiday season. Phillip and I are excited to take you along vicariously on our holiday cruise! ’Tis the season … to go to the Bahamas Mon! Ha!
While it’s an exercise I truly feel we should all try to do everyday, it’s nice there’s a holiday that comes every year that really motivates you to step back, take a look at your life, and appreciate everything you are thankful for. I encourage you each to take a moment today to reflect on this yourself and see if you can name your top ten. It’s a great exercise in humility and gratitude. The adventurous life that Phillip and I currently lead and that we work very hard for is probably the thing I am the most thankful for. It stemmed from a very brave but scary decision I made when I was thirty to get divorced, move out of and sell my home, and eventually leave the law practice to start a remote writing career. And, it was this lifestyle and attitude change that has fueled each of my adventures since and it was the basis for my book, Keys to the Kingdom, which I will be signing and mailing to one of you for our Holiday Book Giveaway #2! Right after a very fun Thanksgiving Top Ten. The first follower to correctly answer the trivia question below in a comment wins! Good luck. And, feel free to leave your own top tens in a comment too. I found this exercise in thankfulness very revealing and rewarding.
In somewhat of a particular order, here are my Top Ten!
#1 My health. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to simply not be able to do the things you want to do. Even the simple ones like cleaning your house or driving a car, not to mention the thrilling and rewarding ones like sailing, kite-surfing and aerial silks. I am grateful every day that my body happily rises out of bed and to whatever I want to do, responds: “I’m in!”
#2 Family. I pay homage today to this fine, fierce fellow, John, my brother, and when we were growing up: my mentor, my tormentor (at times), my friend and my co-conspirator in crime. Also known as “Bro-Lo” (because Annie Jo is his “Jo-Lo”) and also boasting a face capable of rocking sunglasses of any kind because he looks that fucking fabulous.
And you do, Bro-Lo. Rock those shades!
#3 My youth. This Birthday Princess turned the big 3-5 this year and I feel just a few days older than 18. I’m so thankful I spend most of my days at this age on a boat in the sunshine, rather than behind a desk under a fluorescent light, and I’m so excited about the many more years yet to come, however many I’m granted. I also welcome the wrinkles and grey hairs! They’re just proof of what a kick-ass time I’ve had along the way.
#4 My sense of adventure. This was on our way to Cuba last December. I sometimes can’t believe Phillip and I sailed there just the two of us over 500 miles offshore from Florida to Cuba on our boat. While we did cross the Atlantic together in 2016 as well, there was just something about that voyage, our struggles, our fears, our accomplishments and being out there, traveling that far with just one other person, that made that particular voyage feel like the biggest adventure. I’m so glad I have a thirst and passion to see the world by boat, not to mention a boat and a buddy to do it all with!
#5 My sense of humor. Which I get from this guy. My Daddio! A man who, no matter how crappy the situation was when we were growing up (because at times it was), always found a way to slide me over on the bench seat of his truck, scoop me up under his arm and somehow make me laugh. Usually by singing some silly made-up song, a habit I also picked up. Thanks for all the laughs and silly ditties Daddio! Funny, I just now realized one of the main songs he used to sing to me was about a sailor. I guess it was a prophecy.
“Who’s that knocking at your door? It’s Barnum Bill the Sailor!”
#6 Friends (who share the same senses). These are the people in my life who also seek adventure and who also see something funny and ironic in even the most terrible of circumstances. They know just what to say, or when to say nothing at all, they call me on my shit and slap me straight when I need it, and they make fun of me when I need that, too. Someone’s gotta keep me humble.
#7 Our boat. She is the sucking black hole of our money, time, sweat, blood, money, time and money and she is worth every damn penny and drop. Plaintiff’s Rest is our ticket to the world. Even when you break, leak, groan, ooze, gulp and guzzle, I still love you girl!
#8 Food. It’s just good. All of it. So damn good. And, I’m so thankful to be a healthy, active person so I can keep stuffing my mouth full of it. This is from our first Thanksgiving on the boat, 2013, when we sailed to the Wharf to spend the holiday with Phillip’s family. Gobble! Gobble!
Annnnnd this was us about an hour later. I’m thankful for post-Turkey sleep too. ZZZZzzzzzz
#9 Wine. It just makes everything better. Particularly boat projects! Cheers!
#10 (But really #1) My Adventure Buddy. My life partner, my rock, my friend, my confidante, my Everything Buddy. My Phillip. I wouldn’t be here (a salty sailor / traveling author with the world at my doorstep) without him. Buckle up, Sir, we’ve got a million places to go!
Man, that was fun, right? I encourage you to do one of your own and go find old photos to go along with it. It’s a great exercise in humility and gratitude. And, since Phillip and I are so grateful for all of our followers here, we’ve got a Keys to the Kingdom gift in store for one of you. For fun, I went back and pulled a quick story from an old blog post about our very first Thanksgiving on the boat, in 2013, to inspire the trivia question. Funny, I mentioned several Annie docking debacles and my fear of docking, even back then. Well, that’s another thing I’m grateful for this year. Working up the courage to take the damn wheel and just dock the darn thing. You may bump a few things, you may scuff the hull, but you just have to do it so you won’t be so scared of it anymore. Docking is always going to be an adventure. Enjoy the old HaveWind tale and good luck on the trivia!
We had a slip reserved at The Wharf for Thanksgiving, so we pulled anchor Wednesday morning (November 27th) and headed over that way. We were going to have to stop first at the fuel dock to pump out before we could tie up at our slip. The wind was really howling as we neared the dock so I bundled up some more (yes, more) and prepared to jump off to secure the boat as fast as possible. We were not going to have another Annie docking debacle. Not that day.
As Phillip inched the bow up next to the dock, I jumped off (with an actual line in hand this time) and clamored around furiously cleating lines off to keep the boat on the dock. It was a bit of a scramble but we did it.
And, when the fuel boy came out to see what we needed, the first thing he said to me was: “What’ll it be, sir?”
I can’t imagine why …
My God, look at me in that outfit. Surely, it wasn’t that cold, do you think? Apparently Annie did. I can’t believe I even could jump in that get-up. But Phillip and I loved that yellow slicker. It came with the boat, and it was way too big for either of us, but we wore it anyway, for years.
For a free Keys to the Kingdom book, signed and mailed to ya: What did we call that rubber suit of yellowy goodness? And … GO!
“Why yes, yes I do! I did long before the Tube of You. And here’s a Writer Annie gift for you!”
Okay, maybe the exchange wasn’t quite as sing-songy and rhythmic, but that’s about how it went down last weekend at our favorite anchorage, Ft. McRee, when I had a Video Annie follower come knocking on the hull, and he had no clue I wrote, too.
It’s funny. The power of YouTube. It still never ceases to surprise me. It seems this is the new learning hub of the 21st century. Reading is a long lost art. It is rare that someone “looks up” the answer to a question or learns how to do something in a textbook anymore. They Google it or, far more often, find and watch a YouTube video on how to do it. Video is the streaming source of knowledge and entertainment these days. And, while that is a wonderful thing, I still love books. I love words. I love to string them together, rearrange and massage them and bring a reader into my world. And, I especially love to read. Since I decided to stop making my own YouTube videos earlier this year, I have literally been able to read eight times as many books than I did in 2016 when I was filming, editing and publishing a 20+ minute YouTube video every week. Eight! That was not because I wasn’t motivated to read. I just didn’t have the time. If you’re curious, I always (try to) keep a running tab of the books I’ve read each year, in order of preference, and you can see the books I devoured (and highly recommend) here. Let me know if any of you have read and totally gorged yourselves on these books too. And the Sea Will Tell and Brain on Fire gave my a whole new appreciation for the art of story-telling, the intrigue of missing pieces and the power of perspective.
I believe books are a wonderful thing and still more powerful and absorbing than videos. You may not agree. That’s totally fine. It’s just my preference. I prefer a bit of a blank stage for my imagination to fill rather than a visually-complete video that leaves no room for my mind to fill in the gaps. Populating the stage myself with characters as I see them, quirks as I anticipate them and mental sights, sounds and smells inspired by the words I read is a complete thrill and—better yet—creating that stage for others by writing the words myself is the ultimate satisfaction. I’ve said it many times, and it still rings true. I believe in words. I hope you do too.
I thought this little “Video Annie Writes, Too” would be a fun story to share with you all to kick off our four-week Holiday Book Giveaway. That’s right, a free signed book every week until Phillip and I leave for the Bahamas in December. Phillip and I are very thankful for our boat, our health, our ability to pursue this amazing lifestyle and the many followers who have inspired me to keep writing and sharing and we want to give back. So, enjoy the little ditty below. (You’ll love it. Brandon becomes a lawyer – ha!). Then try to answer the fun trivia at the end to win a free signed Salt of a Sailor book, mailed right to you, courtesy of HaveWind.
So, the Blue Angels show at Ft. McRee. It’s an event Phillip and I try to catch every year because it is such a spectacular anchorage, with most of our boating friends out there along with us for the weekend PLUS a free air show. I mean, what’s there to even think about! In 2014, we rafted up at Ft. McRee five-deep for the show!
In, 2015, we rafted up again with Brandon and that’s when he came aboard and diagnosed our rotten stringers. Episode #31: The Blues Bring Bad News.
While that was a sad day on the boat, Brandon was right there with us from the start telling us “It’s not really that bad,” and “We’ll get you fixed up.” And, I’ll never forget Phillip staring at those rotten stringers, shaking his head and still saying, “This ain’t stopping us from going to Cuba.” And, by God, it didn’t! Not long after that weekend, 2015, is when we hauled out and spent an entire eye- (and wallet-)opening three months at the yard completing a pretty major refit on our boat with Brandon at www.PerdidoSailor.com. While many days in the yard were hard, grueling, frustrating and just down-right depressing, we kept chipping away at it with Brandon looking over our shoulders and mentoring, it was probably the most beneficial, productive three months of our careers as boat-owners because we learned so much about our boat, how to diagnose and repair her, how best to maintain her and—to be honest—how well-suited Phillip and I were to work together on any problem she could conceivably present us (as there were, and will continue to be, many).
Now, almost two years later, an Atlantic-crossing and a fantastically-invigorating trip to Cuba (just as Phillip had predicted) under our belts, we decided the Blue Angels show this year would probably be our last big Hoorah in Pensacola before we shove off for the Bahamas this December. So, Phillip and I planned weeks in advance to sail over and drop the hook to enjoy the air show from the view of the Fort. And, it was a glorious weekend on the boat. November temps in the high sixties. Bright, sunny, cloudless skies. An amazing performance by the Blues, right over our rigging. And, another fun weekend out with our fellow cruising friends in one of our favorite anchorages.
But, that’s what we often expect at Ft. McRee. What we didn’t expect (as Video Annie hasn’t been spotted in a while) was a knock on the hull from some excited HaveWind YouTube followers: Bruce and Chris on s/v Sea Hawk. Chris could be short for Christine, Chrissy, Christorama. I didn’t care; I like the name Chris for a girl. These two were fun!
And they were just a few boat-lengths down from us!
The view from Sea Hawk:
Turns out Bruce and Chris were anchored not too far behind our boat, which had Brandon’s Gulf Star rafted-up on our starboard side, and they had recognized the name on the back of our boat “Plaintiff’s Rest” from some of our YouTube videos. This past year, Bruce and Chris moved out of their house up in Michigan and onto their 1968 Morgan (beautiful classic boat) and started sailing around Lake Superior to get their sea legs feet wet (or freezing!). They had eventually made their way down the coast to Pensacola with their sights set on the Gulf, the west coast of Florida, the Caribbean and beyond.
Bruce dinghied up behind Brandon’s stern and started chatting away with Brandon who was out on the deck, grilling sausage. About 80% of the time when Brandon and the family are out on the boat, there is sausage of some form grilling—breakfast, lunch, happy hour snack, or dinner (and we love them for it!). I heard the words “Video Annie” and figured I had to pop up to see what was going on (and more importantly, what Brandon might say in response). Bruce—God love him—was talking ninety miles-a-minute with no one able to get a word in edgewise. He was talking about my YouTube videos, our time in the shipyard, our sail to Cuba and how he and Chris had been following my video blog for a while, how it had inspired them to finally start cruising, yachta, yachta, yachta …
I peeked out our companionway and could see Brandon smiling and chuckling to himself. Then Bruce said, “And you’re a lawyer too, right, like Annie? You guys both practice, or used to. Chris and I thought that was so funny, two lawyers become sailors.” And, Bruce continues rattling on. I’m now laughing behind Brandon’s back and seeing him try to cut in to correct Bruce, but after Bruce just kept on a-truckin’, Brandon finally said. “Yeah, the practice is hard. I have to go to a lot of depo parties.” I then let an uncontrollable cackle out. Brandon loves to call legal depositions “depo parties.” I finally stepped up into our cockpit so I could finally be seen by Bruce and he bellows: “VIDEO ANNIE!”
Turns out she lives on. That feisty old gal. Bruce, a little confused, glanced down at the name on Brandon’s stern, 5 O’Clock, then at the name on our stern, Plaintiff’s Rest, and said “Oh okay, this is your boat,” as he pawed his dinghy over to our Niagara, still chatting away about us (Brandon and I as he pointed) being lawyers and all. Then Phillip finally emerged from our companionway, and Bruce said, “Oh … ” the first moment of silence since he’d arrived. “Oh yeah, the bald one. You’re the lawyer!” Bruce shouted, and Brandon lost it. “Yeah, the bald ones are better,” he laughed.
Brandon, you funny!
Love that guy.
After a few minutes of unraveling Bruce’s confusion and him now understanding this was the same Brandon with Perdido Sailor, from all of our shipyard videos, Bruce then felt like he was truly in a celebrity circle. We had a very fun chat with Bruce and his wife, Chris, about their finding their boat, following our HaveWind blog, enjoying our videos and, even, their first big sea experience on Lake Superior. Chris was telling me that their first day out, they experienced 6-8 foot seas all day, and I told her that sounded a lot like my first offshore voyage on our boat. “Oh yeah?” she asked. And, then I asked if she had read Salt of a Sailor. Bruce perked up and said “Video Annie writes, too?”
’Course she does!
“Yes, I love to write!” I piped back at Bruce. “Do you like to read?” I challenged him, to which he and Chris both immediately spouted, “Yes!”
“Wait right there, then,” and I promptly went below to fetch Bruce and Chris one of my books from our cabin. I began writing an inscription in Salt of a Sailor for them and told them they would enjoy the story of my first voyage which I told them, as I winked over to Chris, “also involved some 6-8 foot stuff.”
“Oh, our second day across the lake, we were in 12-14 footers!” Chris responded.
12-14 footers? In a cold-ass lake! I thought to myself. Holy Moley! I can’t wait until Chris writes that story because I would love to read it! You can follow along on Bruce and Chris’s Sea Hawk’s Journeyshere.
The reason I share this fun little exchange is because while I will never have the same reach with simply my blog, Instagram and Facebook page, that I had with YouTube—because video marketing is simply the way of the future—I still always want people to know that my platform at HaveWindWillTravel started with words. It started with one of my favorite passions: writing. And, I want to share my love for books and stories as much as my love for photos and videos. Writing that, just now, I had to go back and look. Wow, here is my very first blog post, dated March 29, 2013, titled “My First Sail,” which later became my first article in a sailing magazine, Cruising Outpost. Man, how time flies!
Everyone knows the saying: “A picture is worth a thousand words.” And, most millennials would probably say: “Then a video is worth a thousand pictures.” While that may be true, I believe it’s all in the eye of the imagination-holder. My own humble view is that it is, in fact, words—with their silent draw, their open canvas, their endless possibility for interpretation—that are worth a thousand videos. With that in mind, I blew on my signature to dry the Sharpie scrawl, closed the cover to Salt of a Sailor and handed it to Chris, saying: “I hope Writer Annie inspires you, too.”
After that fun little share, I believe it’s high time Phillip and I kicked off this four-week Holiday Book Giveaway. What say you? If some of you don’t know, I have published three fun, entertaining sailing books that I love to share with followers. You can download and read free previews of each book or order copies here. Just as Bruce and Chris now hold and (I hope) cherish their signed copy of Salt of a Sailor, one of you can too. First follower, either here or on Facebook, to answer this question correctly in a comment wins! If you know the answer but already have a hard copy (or do not need another hard copy to give away as a gift), please let another follower chime in, thanks!
Book Giveaway #1:
For our first book giveaway trivia, we’re going to dig all the way back to the origin of Annie’s sailing days, back to 2013 and our first passage on our 1985 Niagara 35. Who doesn’t love the infamous Mitch, right? The answer is no one. Just no one. So, “while you’re down there” digging around in your HaveWind mental archives, what was the food item the infamous Mitch was craving right after we broke down in Carrabelle and were waiting on the mechanic to come and have a look at our engine?
And … GO!
Happy Holidays folks. Phillip and I are so grateful to have you all following along and we hope you continue to enjoy ours and pursue your own journey! It’s a big world out there. Mostly accessible by boat! : )
Man … I look a little TOO excited! But, it is exciting! Another article penned by Yours Truly, Author Annie, in SAIL Magazine, this time their Multihull Sailor edition, covering our Atlantic-crossing in 2016 on the esteemed Captain Yannick’s 46′ Freydis. I had a lot of fun with this one from start (catchy title, no? ; ) to finish, tying together a memorable moment from each of our thirty days at sea across the Atlantic Ocean. I have included the complete text from the article below so you can read at your leisure, but definitely pick up a copy when you get a chance and see what a great job the folks at SAIL Magazine did with the photos and eight-page layout.
Phillip and I also had a great time making and sending Captain Yannick a fun video letting him know about the article (it was a total surprise) and how it appears he’s right up there with the Vagabonds now. Mr. Big Time!
There she goes, crossing the Atlantic Ocean herself, off to Nice, France to find her way into Yannick’s hands. Go, little magazine. Go! Let us know when she arrives Yannick!
Without further adieu … I give you:
FIRST TIME WITH A FRENCHMAN:
A Virgin Crew Sails a Catamaran from Florida to France
Dolphins and diesel fumes. A blood orange moon rising on starboard as the muffler melts on port. A taut, glowing veil before a sun that will shine down later on its wet, shredded remains. We were thirty days at sea. A virgin ocean-crossing crew aboard a French-built multi-hulled rocket, bashing our way non-stop from Florida to France. That was the plan anyway, before the tide came in. The actual unscripted voyage, however, with all of its detours and unexpected deviations, proved infinitely more memorable than our foolish man-made scheme as daily it was feats and failures and one of the most exciting, exasperating experiences of our lives.
In the Days Before One: Fate has twisted plans for our French Captain. With both retirement as a fighter pilot in the French Navy and his family’s next chapter as live-aboard cruisers on the horizon, Yannick has one solitary goal in mind: sail his 2005 46’ Soubise Freydis single-handed, non-stop from Pensacola, Florida home to Roscoff, France. Fate, laughing, devastates his boat with a lightning strike that suffers Yannick six costly months at the yard but also an impressive re-fit and a loyal, motley bunch to serve as his Atlantic-crossing crew.
Crew emerges first in the form of Johnny, a weathered sailor and diesel engine mechanic who helps Yannick repair his engines and who—at 71, still surprisingly healthy and with bucket in hand—seeks to scratch “cross the ocean” off his list. My boyfriend, Phillip, and I—slugging away on a devastating re-fit of our own Niagara 35 at the yard—catch wind the Frenchman on the freaky-looking cat is taking on crew and shamelessly ask for passage. Having crossed only in cavernous carrier ships to remote, scorned places in his youth as a U.S. Marine, Phillip is chasing his lifelong dream to cross the pond in a small boat. A tomboy turned lawyer turned “this sucks, I quit” vagabond so I can seize the very type of opportunity a trans-at affords, I sign on for fist-clenching adventure and blue water experience. Two weeks from cast-off, the newly-formed crew scrambles to replace blown windows, step the mast, test new sails and pack the cat with thirty days’ worth of food, safety gear and supplies in the sweltering Florida May heat.
Day One: Heat pours out of the starboard engine locker as Yannick lifts the lid two hours out of the Pensacola Pass, with the high temp alarm still ringing in the crew’s ears. Boiling the extracted thermostat reveals impaired coolant flow and installation of a new one affords us a slightly high, but steady temp on the Lombardini albeit with a “lot of piss,” I note. The Captain finds it comforting enough to keep motoring across the glassy Gulf and amusing that the first language I start to pick up on is Diesel, not French.
Day Two: “It’s French for ‘Cheers,’” Yannick tells us as the crew “Santés” over an immaculate steak dinner in the cockpit. The motoring, while monotonous, affords us beautiful satin sunsets in the cockpit and leisurely time for quid pro quo French-English lessons. “Well how should I say it?” Yannick asks when I snort at his post-dinner inquiry of “How are you going to clean your dirty body?” Chuckling, I reply, “Would you like to take a shower?”
Day Three: Showers of glitter trail behind them as they zip and glide through the dark waters below the bow. Yannick and I forge a lifelong memory during a midnight shift change when we are mesmerized by a pod of dolphins slicing through phosphorescence. Forty-six feet away from the chugging engine on starboard, their breathy puffs and water lapping on the hull are the only things we can hear.
Day Four: “Did you hear an oil alarm?” Johnny asks, raising his head and greasy hands out of the starboard engine locker, a silk sheet of saltwater behind him, trying to figure out why, at 5:06 a.m., the starboard engine shut down on its own. Replacing a clogged fuel filter proves an easy engine fix. Making drinkable water with a faulty water-maker proves not and starts the slow parade of minor equipment failures and boiling of the Captain’s blood.
Day Five: Blood rains down from the fighting tuna on his hook as Phillip thunders “Fish on!” to the crew. Soon, boat sushi is bouncing in our bellies during a swift, sweaty two-hour stop in Key West for fuel, ice, water, “And a not so crappy can opener!” Yannick shouts, orchestrating our pillage from the boat as the crew shoots into the town like darts.
Day Six: Rain darts into Yannick’s eyes at the mast while he directs the crew’s first attempt reefing as a squall off the tip of Florida brings winds over thirty on the port beam. A merely intense but brief storm proves fortuitous as the crew learns their many mere discussions about safe practices did not serve them near as well as drills would have. The afternoon is spent doing reefing drills where the Captain has made separate reefing instructions for each crew member and taped them up at his/her designated post.
Day Seven: “Post A connects to Post B,” Yannick reads from yet another manual. I watch in half-admiration, half-exhaustion as the Captain flutters from one boat project to the next, cleaning out the elbow of the starboard engine exhaust, tapping new holes in the water pump, even sawing a chunk out of our only cutting board to make a mount for the windex that allows it to account for the fancy rotating mast on the Freydis. “That’s fine,” our head chef, Phillip, grunts from the galley. “If you use it all, I’ll just cut on the counters.”
Day Eight: Cans jump on the counters. Teeth jar in mouths. The bashing of the water on the hulls of the catamaran is like a nervous system message so strong it bypasses your brain. Muscles flinch without instruction. The crew grows accustomed but never comfortable with it. When two hundred nautical miles are slaughtered in a day, we know: with the bashing comes bumpy but beneficial speed.
Day Nine: “It is used, primarily, for speed,” Yannick says, trying simultaneously to learn and teach the crew the purpose of his rotating mast, one with so much windage it can be trimmed like a sail. Strictly monohull sailors, the crew stares at him dumbly, not nearly as intrigued by the ability to use the mast as a fourth reef as the initial inquiry that started this free physics lesson: With a rotating mast, what happens if you overtighten the shrouds?
Day Ten: The shrouds continue their murderous shudder with each crash of the boat. As non-catamaran sailors, the crew knows not how tight the shrouds on a Freydis should be but, as mere sailors, they know they should not be so loose as to vibrate and clang to their death with each romp of the boat through the Atlantic. The Captain sends satellite messages to professionals, checks hourly the chain plate on the port side and tears through texts on rig tuning.
Day Eleven: “Tuning must be done very slowly,” Johnny and I chuckle to ourselves, cotter pins in our teeth, wrenches in trembling hands, as we tighten the shuddering shrouds on each side the following morning and wonder how anyone could possibly do this quickly. Coupling this “slowly” advice from a rigger back home with a turnbuckle thread measurement from the previous owner, Yannick supervises the rig tuning and we slowly ease the shuddering of the rig underway.
Day Twelve: While underway on a cat, it is a myth you do not have to stow anything. Bowls slosh off counters. Wine glasses topple (but are quickly refilled) as the crew members “Cheers!” a record 243 nautical-mile day and peak boat speed of 19.5 knots. Steady winds of twenty-three and eight to ten-foot rolling seas entrance as the catamaran climbs and skids down each magnificent wave.
Day Thirteen: “Magnificent,” Yannick sneers as he eyes the melted end of the muffler Johnny has extracted off the port engine at dawn. Phillip and I now know we were wrong in thinking the eased winds and smooth motoring the night before had been a gift as we now cough up plastic melted fumes while clambering out from our port berth. Undeterred, Yannick earns his “MacGyver certificate” for the trip by reassembling the melted exit point of the muffler with the PVC tiller extender arm for his outboard, a blow torch and some hose clamps.
Day Fourteen: Hands clamp and tug the head of the spinnaker as she billows ethereal and enormous in the water behind the starboard transom. Her halyard cinched only in the winch but not clutched at the mast allows the sinister waters of the Atlantic to suck her down between the hulls and drag her all the way back to the stern. Yannick, in a sacrificial attempt to salvage both the sail and the rudder on starboard, emerges blood-spackled, dripping on its remains splayed out on the trampoline, wet, twinkling and tattered.
Day Fifteen: “Tattered glittery skirts,” I hear Yannick telling Phillip as he hunts for a hard drive. Mourning the loss of our spinnaker, Yannick claims, will be eased by a video he and the other wearisome pilots used to watch during long hours on the carrier ship. It is a four-hour rendering of the glittered, scantily-clad, cosmetically-enhanced women who populate the neon-lit night clubs of Ibiza, and he is right. We find ourselves immensely comforted by thumping pink panties.
Day Sixteen: “They’re my Paris panties,” I explain as Yannick eyes a pair of rather fifth-grade looking underwear with little Eiffel Towers and “Bonjour’s” on the lifelines. “I bought them special for the trip,” I say with a smile as Laundry Day proves special bonding time for the crew and reminds us all how truly few blue-water days we have left.
Day Seventeen: Left, only left. It freezes the wheel only when Yannick turns left. The ten-year old electronic auto-pilot on the cat starts to show its first signs of wear when it refuses to disengage when de-powered and allows steering only to the right in what the Captain dubs “ratchet-fashion.”
Day Eighteen: “Hand me a ratchet.” Yannick’s requests come muffled from the starboard engine locker as the auto-pilot’s housing refuses him any attempt for disassembly or repair underway. Auto-Turn-Notto will die. Soon. All we can do is watch and listen as each mechanical movement of the wheel is followed by a grind and squeal.
Day Nineteen: “Whee!” I can’t help it. Gleeful squeals leak out of me at the top of each wave. The boat moves underneath me like a stallion galloping at speeds equal to the 22-knot winds that hold during my entire night shift. But when a wave kicks the the stern out and shoves us almost ninety degrees off our heading, the thought that it might soon fall on me to right us, I stop squealing and decide to get my bearings.
Day Twenty: Bearings and bolt threads that were once intact and operating in the cavity of the auto-pilot now pour out into a pile of metal dust on the salon table. “R.I.P. Auto” reads the log book as I head up to hold my first night shift hand-steering. “Dress warm. Wear gloves,” Phillip warns.
Day Twenty-One: Warning him we “should not do it” would have been better, but the crew knee-jerks initially and simply tells the Captain we “can do it” as he struggles to decide whether to hand-steer the remaining eight or nine days to France versus stopping in two days when we reach the Azores to repair the auto-pilot. A stern discussion between the fighter pilot and the Marine results in a wise decision to stop our non-stop voyage mid-Atlantic.
Day Twenty-Two: “Mid-Atlantic Yacht Services,” she answers over the sat phone as the crew books a slip at Horta Marina and schedules auto-pilot repairs with MAYS fifteen hours out from the Azores. Morale soars as we see whales and our first sighting of land in sixteen days and immediately tanks when bad injectors on the starboard engine cause it to shut down an hour out from port.
Day Twenty-Three: I’m on port with the big “boat-saver” fender as we shove off from the hundreds of colorful, weathered boat insignia on the Horta dock. After nine incredible days downing beers at Peter Café Sport, exploring volcanos, and indulging on impossibly fresh cheese and beef from the very cows chewing cud and watching you eat from the hillside, we leave the Azores under port engine alone but steer our catamaran north to France by daintily clicking buttons on a screen.
Day Twenty-Four: The screen lights our faces as the crew indulges in book after book, movie after movie, matinees, even double features in beautiful fifteen knot winds on the stern. Crossing an ocean with a functioning auto-pilot makes even devil’s work too much for our idle hands.
Day Twenty-Five: My hands are tied. Yannick has outright busted me. “Oh, it’s a time change day,” he says in a mocking high-pitched voice. “Oh, we need to conveniently jump forward an hour again during Annie’s shift again,” as he squints his evil French eyes at me. Putain! Time change occurs during Phillip’s shift that day and I take revenge by choosing My Cousin Vinny as the movie that night as it seemed, among our rather impressive 500GB hard-drive of movies, the most … American.
Day Twenty-Six: “Try not to act so American.” Yannick advises us as we approach Roscoff. “No selfies, eat slow, wait for the check, and don’t revert to Spanish when you can’t recall your French” he looks at me. “We know the difference.” Fun, lighthearted discussions about our expected arrival in two days seem to jinx us as the day ends with a rather harrowing hoist of the Captain up his seventy-two foot mast after the main sail came flying down on its own inexplicably around dusk. We suspect the topping lift, inadvertently left taut, may have chafed through the main halyard. This mystery, however, is instantly tabled when the Captain’s descent brings worse news: the rig is compromised. The troubling shuddering of the shrouds earlier in the trip has caused five of the sixteen wires on the starboard shroud to snap just below the swage at the mast. Worried a wind-filled main or worse, change to a starboard tack, could dismast us, the crew decides to remain on a port tack, flying only the genny for the remainder of the now four- to five-day trip. Yannick spends the night poring over rigging textbooks and catamaran specs.
Day Twenty-Seven: Yannick spends the morning documenting potential cracks at the base of the mast and re-tightening the spinnaker halyard we ran to a starboard cleat in case the shroud goes. I find him later standing in silence, his heavy head laid against the bulkhead in his berth. The crew tries to rally le capitaine with the cinematic masterpiece that is Hot Tub Time Machine and succeeds when we settle upon Yannick’s mantra for the trip—“I’m on my waa-ay. Home sweet home!”—blasted at decibels that could be heard from Roscoff, rounding out the movie’s final score.
Day Twenty-Eight: I score no sympathy points from the Captain in my plight as I pass him at 2:00 a.m., flashlight in hand, on my way to the port engine locker. I can’t decide whether I want to prove or disprove my mind’s wild concoction—down in the auditory carnival that is my berth—that the port engine has become submerged, fallen out and left a gaping hole in the hull of the boat. Yannick laughs when I seem vexed at the sight of a completely safe, dry engine and says, “Tonight, I’ve only slept twenty minutes.”
Day Twenty-Nine: Twenty ships surround us in the English Channel. The radar screen that has offered only an empty halo around our boat for weeks is now filled with dozens of vessels. The excitement of the night shift is bittersweet as we all know it is our last on this trip. In an amazing show of endurance and inspiration, the boat and Captain, equally tired and compromised, carry on, both fighting their way to France.
Day Thirty: Fighter pilots scream by in a heroic show of unity seeing their former comrade coming home by way of sailboat across the Atlantic Ocean. Yannick waves heartily at them from the bow, his smile so big I can see it from the stern. A small crowd cheers as the crew and boat see it, the finish line, the final feat in sight as we prepare to dock the gallant Freydis in Roscoff. Yannick’s son’s is the first voice we hear in France as his small, powerful pipes rip through the air: “Bonjour Papa!”
Funny, that title makes me think of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Not a terrible chick flick. At least that blonde gal—who I believe is now the dashing Blake Lively—was not at all terrible to look at in the movie.
No, here, we’re dealing not with pants but with a book. A kind of special book. One that has very specific travel powers and that has opened itself only to those salty mariners who dare to find literary magic in the most hit-or-miss of places: the Pandora’s Box that is the free marina book swap. Many of you have seen them, perused them and—more often than not—taken them up on their very kind offer of “take a book, leave a book.” The free marina book swap is a fantastic concept, particularly for cruisers who love to read and are generally aiming to travel on the cheap. Everywhere you stop, there it is: a free, no-membership-required little library with a wide variety of books and no return dates. I have previously written about my love for book swaps as well as the apparent voodoo that goes along with them, the ever-illusive “book swap mojo” and the deference it demands.
Annie here, returning (with much reluctance) a very powerful read, The Paris Wife, to the book swap in Key West during our trip down to the Keys in 2014 to pay homage and ensure my continued good book swap mojo.
I am also intrigued by the typical books you always see in the marina book swaps. I like to imagine the types of cruisers who leave and read these genres. I’ll bet the Clive Cusslers are the sort of Captain Ron type cruisers that bump their way into any anchorage and usually ask forgiveness rather than permission when it comes to docking their dinghy, borrowing power, water and the like. Then, there’s the Danielle Steels and the Nora Roberts, the “Fabio books” (I like to call them), like our Western Man here. Shazam!
I’ll bet the readers of these rather unabashed love stories are just that: romantics. They likely see their husband/captain in a bit of a lofty, heroic manner and while many aspects of cruising may frighten them a little, they find the chivalry of their mate taking the wheel against dangerously beautiful blue water so moving, they find the courage to go. So, kudos to you Romance Ladies. Cruise and read on! Now, who’s reading the John Grishams, Deen Koontz, Tom Clancy’s and the like? Probably problem solvers. Those types of boat-project gurus that love to talk for hours about whether you should Loctite that transmission shaft key back in place or drill a hole in it and use seizing wire. (For those of you thriller/suspense fans who are familiar with our “tranny key” problem, feel free to weigh in in a comment below. ; )
But, what type of cruiser leaves or takes a book like this?
Me, of course! Being it’s duly-appointed author and just so darn proud of that little salty gem. But also being the type of person—to a freaking “T”—the very book itself describes: “A durable but not-so-dainty sailor.” I like to envision the other boaters and mariners out there who have read, enjoyed and especially shared Salt of a Sailorwith others feel they are somewhat the same, or had somewhat the same experience when they were just getting into sailing. Graduating from the ignorant-but-eager “What rope should I pull?” to the more seasoned “They’re not called ropes. They’re lines. Or sheets or halyards or topping lifts. Anything but ropes.”
These are my people. Having enjoyed the experience so much myself—of becoming, first, a sailor, then a cruiser, then a bonafide “I finally get it, boats … always something” boat owner—I love sharing my experience through each phase of the transformation. My revelations, my fears and, particularly, my lessons learned. But, what I did not quite know, until I stumbled back across the Traveling Book, was how much others were enjoying my stories as well. Now, it’s time to share the story of the Traveling Book with you.
Travel back with me to last week. Phillip and I cruising up Florida’s Forgotten Coast, really soaking in all the little sleepy marina towns along the Big Bend, for the first time in years feeling once again live true live-aboard cruisers. Ahhh …
On our way north from Key West, we stopped again in one of our favorites Florida ports—because of its few fantastic restaurants, quiet coastal walking trails, great kitesurfing cove and rightfully-titled “friendliest marina in Florida”—Port St. Joe. We love that place. And, it was really fun to learn, turns out, they quite like us too.
We had just docked at Port St. Joe Marina after having spent the day motoring up “the ditch” from Apalachicola along Apalachicola River and Lake Wimico.
And, I should say up-and-coming Captain Annie docked us right and proper in Port St. Joe, because I did. I nailed it! And we had just finished washing the boat down—the chore we always tackle the minute we get docked up after a passage—when Lisa, who runs the marina office, walked out to our boat, knocked on the hull and asked: “Is this the famous author?”
I stammered a little, blushed, a little slow on the uptake. “I don’t know about famous … ” I started in making my way up the companionway stairs but was wondering: “How did she know?” Or at least how did she remember so quickly put two and two together having not yet seen my face.
“Plaintiff’s Rest,” Lisa blurted out, and Phillip and I shared a kind of “Yeah, so … “ look not knowing where Lisa was going with all of this. “The name of your boat. I’ll never forget it as I’ve never met another Plaintiff’s Rest, so I knew, when you hailed us out in the bay, it had to be you. You’re Annie, right?”
I nodded and then recalled that fateful day years ago when Lisa and I first met. You see, when Phillip and I were in Port St. Joe last on our boat (it was during our way down to the Keys in 2014), Lisa had found me pouring over all the treasures in the marina book swap and we struck up a conversation.
I’m such a sucker for books!
I told her I was a very amateur writer and wannabe author working, at the time, on my first non-fiction sailing book that did not yet have a name. An avid reader herself, particularly of pieces written by cruisers as she meets so many running the busy marina there at Port St. Joe, Lisa immediately said she wanted a signed copy of my book once it was published. It was the first time anyone asked me for that. I was so flattered and motivated by our conversation that I feverishly wrote several chapters after Phillip and I left Port St. Joe on our way down to Key West. I completed the first rough draft of Salt of a Sailorduring that voyage, self-published in February, 2015 and—remembering Lisa’s request for a signed copy and her very-encouraging excitement about reading my book—sent a first edition signed copy to Lisa at the Port St. Joe Marina office.
I also decided to make that my first “traveling book,” writing a little note in the inside cover explaining why I, as the author, had donated the book to the free marina book swap in hopes that it would travel from marina to marina, being shared among cruisers, each of them writing inside their name, home port, date they finished the book, and what they thought of it for the next reader, and that I might somehow stumble across it again one day and get to see all of the “durable but not-so-dainty” mariners it had touched. What a cool prospect! I didn’t know if it would work, if cruisers would really follow my lighthearted instructions and keep the Traveling Book alive, or, much less, if the book even made it to Lisa in Port St. Joe. But, I soon learned, it had accomplished much more.
“We all loved your book!” Lisa said.
No, take that back. I beamed. Lisa told me she was so excited when she got my book in the mail (now over two years ago) that she saved it for herself first, read it, loved it and then shared it with many of her permanent tenants at the marina, who then shared it with others. Apparently my little book went all around the marina in Port St. Joe for a year or more, with all the cruisers talking about it and sharing their favorite parts, before it traveled off. Where to? Lisa did not know, but it didn’t matter as the whole point was that the book traveled—from book swap to book swap—not to which marinas it traveled to. That little worn copy may be somewhere in the South Pacific right now for all I know. I like to imagine it is. Sitting salty, sun-dyed and dog-eared next to a leathery old cruiser and his scruffy dog, waiting to be read (perhaps finished!) during sunset.
And what an awesome moment to share with Lisa again. “Well, you played a big part in it,” I told her, because she had, that fateful day when we chatted by the Port St. Joe Marina book swap. So many of my followers motivate and encourage me to continue to share our ups and downs as Phillip and I are, ourselves, still working toward becoming full-time cruisers. My writing is where it all started.
My goal when I left the practice was to build up some sort of online company where I could earn remote income through my writing. While I have failed many times in that effort and had to learn from my mistakes and misplaced efforts and strike out in new directions, I also learned so much each time about marketing and how I can best use my writing skills (and new skills I have learned along the way) to help my clients reach and engage more people and grow their businesses, as I grow mine in turn. Although my career as a renowned author—where Phillip and I were supposed to simply sip Mai Tais and watch my royalty checks roll in—never took off quite how I imagined, I don’t mind at all. I simply love to write and when book or story ideas come to me, I love to run with them. It’s the ultimate creative high! And the ultimate reward.
Lisa, too, was about to get a very-surprising reward for her contribution as well.
“That book was so much fun,” she said, talking about Salt of a Sailor. “I wish you had written another.” I smiled again as Phillip and I shared a glance full of fun secrets. I told Lisa I had written a sequel to Salt, that actually covered parts of the trip Phillip and I were taking at the time I met her, on our way down to the Keys in 2014 and that I would bring her another signed copy to the marina office later that day. And, much to my surprise, Lisa asked:
“Does it have all of those old stories about your grandma and growing up in Alabama?”
You’re darn right it does! And just like that. BOOM. Traveling Book #2 was born.
Go little book, go!
If any of you haven’t read Keys to the Kingdom yet—the story of my escape from corporate-consumeristic America—go to the Books tab at HWWT.com to download a free preview and check it out. Next time we stop in Port St. Joe, Lisa will be thrilled to hear as well about my third book and I’ll leave her a signed copy of None Such Like It to round out the trilogy. Books are such fun!
Also, as a fun aside. While my docking at Port St. Joe went well, unfortunately the DE-docking did not when this amateur helmswoman took the wheel, didn’t handle the prop wash too well, backed up like my buddy Chuck would say, “a drunk elephant,” got us all whopper-jolled in between the two dock aisles (I call them) and had a slight boat bump on the way out. Well, technically it was a very minor anchor-to-outboard *kiss* at the last minute, so Phillip says it’s technically not a boat-to-boat collision.
But, docking. Still scary. Still not great at it. But still working on it. My nerves were better this time, though. Throughout the very tedious 10-point turn Phillip walked me through, I didn’t lose the ability to function, and I only left the helm for a second (just a split-second!) to fend off another boat’s bow. Apparently as helmsperson that’s the one thing you’re not supposed to do. Whoops. Still learning.
I think we all reach a crossroads in our lives. When somethings strikes you. Bolts through your chest, lights your nerves on fire and smacks you right outside of your skin. Then you’re standing there, completely exposed, wearing your true desires now on the outside rather than in, and you see your life with a new perspective. “Am I really pursuing my dreams?” you ask yourself. “Is this still making me the happiest I can be?” Doubt puts a haunting hand on your cheek and turns your face to the left, then to the right and alternative paths begin to form in your field of vision. They lead to big, frightening dreams, grand adventures, risks, rewards maybe even regrets and failures. There is no right answer and there is no guarantee, but now—for the first time—you see an intersection and you don’t know which way yet to go.
Wow, that sounds pretty dramatic. Sometimes it can feel that way. That big and scary. Some moments in your life are that powerful and the decisions you make afterward are the hardest you have ever faced. I wrote about that moment in my life in my book Keys to the Kingdom and how it led me to quit something I had been very devoted to and to which I had given a great deal of my time and efforts (the practice of law) in order to pursue another path: cruising. I recently had another mini-moment like that. When something slapped the sense out of me and made me see my current situation in a new light, or perhaps I should say in a shadow. A cave.
I was staying on our boat alone down in the Keys for a couple of weeks while Phillip was handling a trial and some other matters in Pensacola and we were gearing up to sail together to the Miami Boat Show on Libra. Many of you know, offshore sailing is one of my most intense passions. To me, there is nothing as beautiful as the sun sinking into a blaze of pink on the Gulf, nothing as soothing as the sway of a floating boat, nothing as entrancing as water cresting off the hull.
So, I love to sail offshore. To reach foreign shores by boat. But—over the last couple of years—in order to do it I have had to complete hours and hours of computer work before-hand so I could unplug and go off the grid, with most of them devoted to making our weekly HaveWindWillTravel YouTube videos and Patreon posts. While I have several marketing clients I do work for—work that I enjoy and am very grateful I can do remotely—I spend about about 1/3 of my time working for them and the other 2/3 working for HaveWind, while also only making a mere fraction of my income. And there is no search for sympathy here. I set this all up myself. I know that. While a fun-loving, swearing sailor I am, a lazy underachiever I am not. You can take the lawyer out of the practice, but … I’m still Type A and I still push myself very hard at times. Too hard sometimes. And I might have continued down that path had I not had been slapped in the face with my own reality. This was my moment:
I’m down in Key West, where the waters are crystal green, the wind is often blowing a perfect 10-15 kts out of the southeast and the sunshine, itself, is bright and warm enough to make you smile within. I’m healthy, working for myself and living on a boat. An amazing, great sailing, loves-to-have-water-moving-under-her-hull boat. And I’m down in the shadowy bowels of her cabin, with probably eleven hours of video work ahead of me, that day, and griping to a very good friend about how much HaveWind work I have to do. You know what he tells me? “That’s dumb. You should take your boat out and go sailing.” And you know what my answer was?
“I can’t! I have to make a video. And, I can’t single-hand the boat.”
You see? SLAP! Did you feel it? I did. My own words coming out of my own mouth sounded so stupid. So unnecessarily defeatist. I knew everything about what I had just said was wrong. I knew my friend was right. I knew a lot of things, but not what to do about it just yet. So, I stayed. In my cave. Squinting at a glowing screen, for about three days straight, making videos. It took some soul-searching, talking with friends—particularly my Phillip who has always guided and steered me to do things that make me happy, even if they seem big and scary and perhaps full of failures—but I finally got there. And I knew which way I wanted to go.
Toward the water. Into the sunshine. Offshore on more adventures. Sometimes with me behind the helm, learning to actually steer and sail and truly single-hand a boat so I would never have to again say “I can’t go sailing because I can’t sail alone.”
Ahhhh … that’s better.
After looking at how many hours I already have on the water and offshore, Phillip and I decided I should go for my Captain’s License. What an amazing thing to pursue at such a young age in my sailing career. I’m a little scared of all the studying and the big test I’ll have to take. I’m a little scared of taking the helm of the boat and bumping into things. And, I’m a little scared to say I’m not going to make weekly full-length YouTube videos anymore because I’m afraid to disappoint people and feel like a quitter. But, I’m saying it anyway dammit! And, I’ve quit something before when it wasn’t right to pursue what I felt was.
HaveWind is about inspiring you all to pursue your dreams too. Whether they be cruising or writing or travel or whatever. It is the pursuit of your passion and the courage to make the tough decisions that get you there. It’s not about spending 15-20 hours a week making videos and other content to meet self-imposed deadlines. I am incredibly proud of the videos I did make (I mean … a complete two-hour movie covering our Atlantic crossing! Come the heck on!) and was glad Phillip and I were able to share Cuba with you in that way. But, the filming does take me out of the moment. The time needed to edit and create weekly high-quality videos takes its toll and takes away from our enjoyment of cruising. Nothing about what I do here should ever do that.
And, to be honest—and those of you who have tried it may agree—YouTube can sometimes feel like a hamster wheel, making you chase harder and harder with each video to please people and grow more than you did yesterday. It can be exhausting and frustrating. I’m looking forward to my next voyage where I don’t have to worry about camera angles, lighting, one-sided audio or hard drive storage. I can just sail and breath and read and write. And Phillip and I are getting so much closer to our cruising goals and traveling more. We will be flying down to Key West next week to spend a few weeks sailing our beautiful girl home where I will be taking the helm more, studying for my Captain’s license and accomplishing that and I’m so excited to devote my time to all of those amazing, fulfilling things.
I’m going to spend more time on the water, learning more, challenging myself, and seeing more suns melt into blue horizons over the bow of my boat than the square of my screen.
I also have a desire to challenge myself to write more and try to create scenes, characters and even more powerful emotions in each of you through words as opposed to GoPro footage.
I believe in words. I hope you do too.
And I hope these convey to you the need, motives and excitement about this decision. If you enjoy my writing, it will always be here and will continue to come in a heartfelt, relaxed rhythm when I find something that inspires me to share. Not because it’s Wednesday and I have to get a post out. I also have several articles coming out in the various sailing magazines soon and I can’t wait for you all to read them. I have several more that a handful of editors requested from me while we were at the Miami Boat Show and I’m eager to devote this new-found free time to those as well. Heck, maybe there’s another book in store in 2017 from Author Annie. I don’t know, but I’m excited to find out. Aren’t you?
As far as Patreon goes, we’re going out on top. I know many folks signed up there because of the weekly videos and we would not feel right continuing that when we’re no longer producing full-length videos so we will be closing that chapter after our last giveaway. I struggled with that platform on many levels because it did occasionally feel like begging. And self-promotion is not something I have ever enjoyed. But, Phillip and I have been humbled and honored by the support and our hearts have always been invested in our Gift of Cruising campaign. It’s been awesome watching people follow our footsteps and start cruising on their own. For that reason, we have decided to use the last of our Patreon funds to give away our fourth and final Gift of Cruising: a free voyage on SailLibra. Libra is making her final run of the season this coming May from Key West to Pensacola May 10th – 15th and we want to give that experience to one of our Patrons.
Patrons, if you are available to make that voyage and would like a chance to win free passage for the sail of your lives, email me. We’ll throw your name in the pot and we will draw in one week, on April 14th. Sound good?
Are you kidding me? Sounds freaking awesome! This could be you at the bow!
A big thanks as always to Captain Ryan for partnering with me on this. Y’all need to join a sail on that boat. I’m telling you. It’s life-changing. And, we hope, Patrons, that you all shuffle those weekly donations to a separate bank account of your own (mine is literally called “Cruising Kitty”) and put them toward your own goals and dreams.
While this decision was very hard for me to make and I had to muck through some very muddy emotions to get here, I’m very excited for what the future holds. I hope you all see this as a positive transition and continue to find yourself inspired here and eagerly working toward your own goals. I am incredibly proud of what I have shared in the past, the content I have created and the passion I will continue to share here. I’ll just be doing it now more than filming and editing it. That sounds awesome. Let’s do it.
“Take the boat out and go sailing! Whoo hoo!” says In the Moment Annie.
“And I want to go there, and there, and there, and … ” Ha. Sail on friends! I put a lot of heart into this farewell video. I hope you enjoy it. Get inspired. Get on board.
There she is: “Get Inspired. Get on Board!” Please let me know what you think and, if you can, please help support our cause! We hope this will help us reach and help more people out there like you who have the dream to cruise. Thanks to all who have followed and supported so far. It means a great deal to Phillip and me.
Curious about cruising? Come aboard. At HaveWindWillTravel.com, we’re creating cruisers, one dreamer at a time by sharing our story through books, blogs and videos, touring boats and giving away “Gifts of Cruising” (currently a 6-day bareboat charter course) to help people just like you who have the dream to cruise. Life’s too short. Don’t miss the boat! Get inspired and get on board on Patreon.