Oct 302012

A lot of you probably know already that the HMS Bounty sank off the coast of North Carolina early Monday morning. The entire tall-ship community and beyond is in mourning.  I send my prayers and condolences to the family, friends and ship-mates of Claudene Christian, who was recently found unresponsive and later pronounced dead, and Captain Robin Walbridge, who has still not been found.  Deepest gratitude to the brave Coasties who went out into that storm to rescue the crew.

Jul 292012

Having a new home every 3-6 months can be hard. The process of upheaval and resettlement is physically and emotionally tiring. I’ve been doing it for a little while now, and I thought it’s time to start taking notes to make the process as pain-free as possible. Here’s what I have this time around:

-Re-read “West with the Night” by Beryl Markham*. Whether going somewhere new and unknown, or returning home to normality, Beryl has an insight or two for you.
*This may be substituted with a memoir by any obscure and eccentric adventuring character from the early 1900′s.

-Don’t plan to drive to upstate New York the first day back after car has been sitting for six months. Oil change, fluid checks, tire pressure, deep clean inside/out, and the new alternator will require at least a day.

-No less than four days to fully rediscover and repack breadcrumb trail of belongings stored throughout New England. NO LESS THAN FOUR DAYS.

-Find yoga mat, old journals to flip through, and a pretty dress that has been packed away for a while ASAP.

-Plan for a full week for family visits, and another week for friend visits.

-Schedule a dental checkup ASAP.

-PLEASE remember that the adventure does not end when you get to New England. There WILL be a re-acclimation process, it WILL take some time, it WILL be more difficult and confusing than you expected. It WILL pass. A week of no-pressure R&R by the ocean somewhere couldn’t hurt.

-Amidst all of the little errands and visits with the people you love most, don’t forget to include a healthy dose of alone time and beer (not necessarily together). This will help you recover more quickly.

All in all, for a happy, bases-covered return home, it looks like I will require about three weeks, some plans with family and friends, some places to go for solitude, and enough money for an oil change, a dental cleaning and a bunch of gas and beer. Done, and done.

Jan 072012

I just finished reading this fantastic sailing adventure book by a Brit named Miles Smeeton. He and his wife were heroes of WWI and after the war, like many people, missed the excitement and adventurous lifestyle they’d grown accustomed to.  After attempting a new start on a farm in Canada, they bought a yacht and began sailing around the world.

“Once is Enough” is Miles’ account of the attempt by him and his wife, Beryl, to round Cape Horn west to east in their 46′ wooden yacht, Tzu Hang. He and Beryl, along with their friend and ship’s carpenter John, survived an almost unbelievable knock-down, dismasting and swamping of Tzu Hang. After completely repairing and refitting the destroyed ketch, Miles and Beryl made a second attempt.

I found my way to this book while reading “A Voyage for Madmen” about the 1969 race to be the first non-stop solo circumnavigator (also a great read). This is a beautifully composed memoir of an exceptional journey through the South Pacific. What more can I say without sounding cliche? If you are addicted to sailing adventure stories like me, you’ve got to hunt this one down.

Give a man — or a girl for that matter — a horse he can ride, and sooner or late he, or she, will want to ride further and faster and to jump higher. Let a man climb one mountain and he must find another until he seeks the snows. It is the same with a ship…Capes and seas, like mountains, “are there,” to round and to cross; and adventure, even when not in search of knowledge and without scientific aim, is good for its own sake.

-Miles Smeeton, “Once is Enough”


Dec 182011
Maybe a little overkill

For those prone to worry, please remember that I’m a slight obsessive-compulsive, and this is all definitely way beyond what most would do to prepare for this trip. However, out on the open sea, it’s tough to be over-prepared, and this won’t be my last time out there. So, taking cues from my Basic Safety Training course, this is the set of gear I intend to have with me (or very close at hand) at all times:

  • Whistle
  • Inhaler on a carabiner
  • Small, waterproof flashlight, strobing & high-powered (maybe a bike light?)
  • Reflective velcro wristbands (that can be attached to anything…)
  • A wool stocking hat
  • A folding blade in a sheath
  • A small mirror glued to the inside of my seashell necklace (I’m serious)

Here’s the whistle I bought today, also with a compass, magnifying glass and thermometer!

Anything to add?

Dec 142011

The health insurance provider that I’ve been using for the past year and a half is becoming increasingly impossible to deal with. For the second time I’ve been denied an appointment with my doctor because the office was incorrectly told by my insurer that my coverage had been canceled. Not what you want to deal with in an emergency.

Since I have asthma, and I’m income-limited, I have relatively few options for affordable insurance that won’t deny me for pre-existing condition. And since I consider health insurance a necessity for myself, it’s moments like these that I see my bigger dream of this life on the water as very precarious and vulnerable.

When things like this happen, it’s easy to feel prematurely defeated.  But then I think about the most important thing I learned in my Personal Survival course this week. That is the power of the will to survive. Will to survive doesn’t just exist when you’re floating around in a life-raft waiting to be saved. It’s a day to day way of being. It’s staring adversity in the face, whatever it is, and saying “I will not let this stop me without a fight.”