#43 – Bookshelf – Part Two: Cruising Sagas

Sailing-Alone-Around-the-World-cover Cruising literature as a genre started with Joshua Slocum’s Sailing Alone Around the World published in 1899. Many who read it were motivated to reach for their own adventure, and many of those who succeeded also wrote up their experiences. More new sailors were inspired to leave the dock and more stories were subsequently chronicled. Now, over a century later, the cruising memoir tradition is alive and flourishing, exploding onto the Internet with myriad websites and blogs.

While Sailing Alone Around the World is a classic and Slocum’s adventures the inspiration for many sailors to take off and circumnavigate, I would have been equally interested to read the experiences and viewpoints his first wife Virginia who sailed the world at his side during thirteen years he was a commercial ship’s captain. By accounts, Ginny was a perfect partner for Slocum and took to their shared life at sea despite several misadventures and despite bearing and raising all their children on board. Wouldn’t Ginny’s perspective be a wonderful one to share? She sounds like an Admiral to me!

the long way » Read full column

#42 – My Bookshelf, A Mental Voyage – Part One

Tackless II bookshelf

For many cruisers, reading is a major pastime, and the time to read is one of the great gifts of cruising. When Don and I did our big refit in Trinidad in ’99 we added 480 inches of teak shelving, tucked in from stem to stern. It’s the one thing boat designers totally forget about cruising, the amount of books we want to have on board.

Even with all the added shelving, I had to learn I couldn’t keep every book I read. Instead, beginning in ’01, Don and I each kept an Excel spreadsheet booklist. Since then a quick check reveals I have read 414 books and Don has read 283. (Our reading rate slows notably during time we spend back in the US!)

Those totals do not include reference books, manuals, cruising guides or Lonely Planets, and do include more mysteries, romances, and just plain junk than I would like to admit. But that’s the nature of cruisers’ reading; you read what you can swap for, and, for most entries, it was not any big deal to stamp them with our rubber “From the Library of Tackless II” stamp, scribble in the date and port, and leave them on a marina swap shelf.

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#41 – Taking Passions Cruising

A land lubber might be forgiven for thinking that when we commit to the cruising life our main and overriding passion is for sailing. Very often this is true, of course, but we are not one-dimensional creatures. We all have other interests, other passions — some long-standing and others we’ve never had time for before. Some will be the reason we go cruising in the first place, while others will be new discoveries. Many will fit easily with the cruising life-style; but others may take a little adaptive thinking.

Gwen diving with friends For me, scuba diving was a long-standing passion. It is what got me into boating in the first place and led to the dive-sail charter business. When Don and I made our big decision to take off cruising, I foresaw our voyage as one long string of scuba dives right ‘round the world!

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#40 – Guests Aboard

Grandbaby visiting! If you have family and friends, and you have a boat, and you take that boat somewhere interesting, sooner or later someone will want to visit. You may invite them, or they may invite themselves, but either way, having guests aboard requires forethought and adjustments in routine to ensure that what should be a fun time stays fun.

Having been a charter captain, I have well-considered ideas about how to make visits go smoothly. It turns out most of the Admirals have similar guidelines. It’s no surprise, because, fundamentally, it is all about being a good hostess.

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#39 – It’s Never Too Late

My Life in France One of the nice things about having your own column is that every once in a while you can indulge in a tangent that may seem to be totally off the wall. This time the subject is Julia Child. There’s a movie – Julie & Julia — that’s just opened starring Meryl Streep, based at least in part on Julia’s auto-biographical memoir, My Life in France. With luck it will still be running when this column hits print.

You may be wondering what Julia Child has to do with cruising. From my perspective, quite a lot. Julia Child was an aunt…sort of. » Read full column

#38 – Part-timing

Undoing a month s ocean crossing via 8 hours on a jetWhen we set out to cross the sea, no longer are we automatically committed to a one way ride. From almost anywhere in the world we can get back to our starting place (or anywhere else our fancy takes us) for the cost of an airplane ticket. While air travel is not an inconsiderable expense, it’s an option more cruisers are routinely planning for in their budgets …although there is nothing more surreal than undoing a month’s ocean crossing via eight hours on a jet.

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#37 – Logs and Blogs

Early cruiser attempt to keep in touch - conch horn symphony in the San Blas Islands (Mary, Camryka) The tradition of recording experiences as one explores extends back to the beginnings of navigation. Historically, ships’ crews recorded details like currents encountered, shoreline, bottom composition, depths, as well as reception by inhabitants, water and food stores available, and weather patterns, all to facilitate return visits and to enable others to follow. But also by keeping personal journals and making sketches and paintings, those early sailors strove to bring new lands alive for the people back home. By giving shape to the world with lat/long positions derived from the stars and careful notes, those early sailors laid the foundations for the charts and guides we cruisers use today.

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#36 – Language for Cruisers

Marcie Lynn and kidsBonjour, hola, buenos dias, malo lei lei, bula, g’day…..these are ways to “hello” from the Caribbean to Australia. Tackling foreign languages can be scary. There are the pitfalls of pronunciation, the embarrassments of using a wrong word, the confusion of word order, the mysteries of gender, and the maze of myriad verb tenses. But the goal for most cruisers is not to be fluent. The goal is to be understood. The rewards accruing to even the smallest effort are tremendous.

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#35 – The Cruising Galley

Gwen cooks dinner on the smokeless grill We’ve all seen the cutesy paired slogans on T-shirts, hats, and drinking glasses that are marketed to sailors in just about every chandlery and nautical tourist shop: You know… the stuff that reads “Captain” and “Galley Slave”. You’ve got to wonder: Who actually buys those? » Read full column

#34 – By Dark of Night

By dark of nightAt a recent cruiser dinner I found myself sitting next to a couple just starting out. The wife clearly had reservations about their upcoming trip which will call for sailing overnight. I asked her, “What is it that scares you?” and she looked at me like I was a dunce. “It’ll be dark!” » Read full column