Learning to Sail on Lake Mead, Nevada

We left off quite some time ago with blog posts describing how we learned to sail.  I intended to add more when we were doing the Pacific crossing, but Galapagos Internet happened.  But maybe it’s time to add a few more posts on that topic.   When we left off, Andrew was racing on the Great Salt Lake while I spent the Summer working on my Summer Clerkship in Las Vegas.  As luck would have it, I was offered a full time position at the end of my Summer.  So, we made plans to move to Las Vegas in 2006.  The remainder of 2005, 2006 and beginning of 2007 was chock full of projects.  I graduated from law school, we bought a house in Las Vegas, I took the bar exam, we got married, traveled to Oktoberfest in Germany for our honeymoon and spent 2007 making our new house home.  These projects consumed so much time that we did not do much in the way of learning to sail until fall of 2007.   At the end of September 2007, we were still sweating out the Vegas heat.  Some friends from Utah visited us with their water ski boat, so ventured out to Lake Mead to see what was going on.  We had not heard there was a yacht club there, but as we were milling about the marina we were reading the nearby billboards.  We found pictures of sailing races gone by and a calendar with the fall racing schedule.  We knew just what to do.  The next Saturday, we arrived at the dock early wearing soft soled shoes and carrying a case of beer in hand.  We stood awkwardly, and we waited.  Like magic, as captains started arriving for the 9:00 a.m. meeting, they signed in, greeted each other and milled about.  Several were casting glances in our direction.  The gentleman coordinating the meeting, Yacht Club Commodore, notices us and asks “Are you here to sail?”  When we answer yes, a number of captains perk up with interest.  One captain, surrounded by three or four crew members hangs back and eyes us suspiciously.  He must be one of the captains with a swift and competitive boat. After racing with Stephanie, we knew that being on a competitive race boat speeds the course at which you are able to learn.  We needed to devise a plan to weasel onto that boat.  In the meantime, everyone decided that Keith Smith should get to take us out.  He was single handing his Catalina 28 “Brandywine.” He was enthusiastic about having us aboard, so we climbed on.  EVERYTHING was labeled. When he called to suck in the outhaul or release the boomvang, we had only to look around to find the handy label.  “What’s the big stink?  This sailing thing isn’t so hard!  Everything is labeled!”  I thought to myself.   It was a slow wind day.  You could probably apply your eyeshadow in the reflection of the lake, but the weather was beautiful and it was a nice day on the water.  Lake Mead would be our sailing home from 2007 – 2012, and what a perfect sailing home it is.

Source: Learning to Sail on Lake Mead, Nevada

Tahuata Bound

    Ostrika and her crew cleared out of Puamau early the next morning to head to Fatu Hiva. Fatu Hiva is a windward island of the Marquesas and is the most frequently photographed bay in the Marquesas.  Some boats sneak in to see it before they legally clear into the Marquesas through Hiva Oa.  I am a rule follower, so we didn’t sneak in.  We figured we could sail the thirty miles windward if we wanted to, legally, after we check in.  But, as Ostrika headed off to do just that, we looked at our charts and it seemed like a long, rough sail.  Winds were predicted at 25 – 30 knots directly out of the Fatu Hiva’s direction. Is it really worth it?  All of these bays are gorgeous; should we beat up Sonrisa and ourselves trying to sail upwind to another gorgeous bay just because it is photographed in sailing magazines?   We decide instead to head back toward Tahuata, Hiva Oa’s neighboring Island.  We sail downwind in the lee of Hiva Oa, covering in one day the same path that took us four days to sail up wind.  The wind lightened up as we neared the point of Hiva Oa, so we decided to stop for the afternoon/night in Hanamenu Bay.  We stayed in this bay the first night we left Atuona, but we did not do any exploring.  This time, Andrew and I unfolded Grin and rowed ashore. There, we found a little village but no people.  The buildings are boarded up, but there are various items around that seem to indicate people use the buildings every now and then: fresh paint cans, bottles, clothing on laundry lines.  It’s weird, maybe they are weekend homes?  I would be creeped out, but the guidebooks all said this is what we would find, and everything was fine the first night we stayed here.  We walk down a little path and into the jungle where we find breadfruit trees, lime trees and mango trees.  It’s not mango season, but a few perfectly ripe mangos have fallen off the trees and are just lying on the ground waiting to rot.  Their skin is red, fading to pink, orange, and then yellow, just like a sunset.  We wipe them off and bite in.  The juice dribbles out of the fruit, warm from lying in the sun. Sweet and floral, these are easily the most delicious mangos I have ever tasted. We follow the sound of a burbling waterfall to find a fresh water pool doused in sunshine and surrounded by breadfruit trees, coconut palms, and flowers.  We put our feet in.  The water is crisp and cold, a stark contrast to the humidity in the air. Andrew plays with a curious crawfish until he gets pinched, then he searches for a fresh coconut on the ground.  I am eaten alive by noseums (pronounced “no-see-‘ems), these tiny bugs pack a punch. Even my thick layer of Off bug cream is doing nothing to dissuade them, and now I am itchy. Back aboard Sonrisa, the solitude is complete.   There are no other people, boats, or even birds around.  There is nothing but the sound of waves crashing on the beach, a clear sky and cool air.  This anchorage made for a perfect night’s sleep.   The next morning, we upped anchor early to make our next landfall at Hanamoenua on Tahuata.  We have heard rumor that this bay is a perfect white sand beach, with water that is clear and safe for swimming.  The wind is perfect, and we have a quick sail around the point of Hiva Oa.  When we clear the point, the wind comes up and up and up!  20 knots, 25 knots, 30 knots, 35 knots.  We are bouncing along at 6.5 knots of boat speed, triple reefed (main sail as short as it goes), and the little jib for our front sail.  A wave hits Sonrisa’s port (left) side and leaps into the air.  As if in slow motion, Andrew and I both watch helplessly, pinned down in our beanbags by the rush of water.   In an instant, the wave fills the cockpit and the scuppers drain it back into sea.  Andrew and I are soaked.  Everything on deck is salty and wet.  Luckily, all our hatches were locked down, and Sonrisa was dry as a bone below.   We shorten the jib further using the roller furling, and just about the time we calm down from our dousing, we hear an explosion.  Out of the corner of my eye I see boat parts flying downwind into the sea spray.   “What was that?!”  Andrew yells above the din of wind and waves. I look up from where I saw pieces flying.  Our wind generator fan is destroyed, with only one blade left swooping in the gusts.  We have extra blades, but the explosion took the nose cone with it.  We do not have an extra nose cone.  Hopefully, it is just for decoration?  Lordy!  This was just supposed to be an easy little day sail from one anchorage to another.  “I wonder if Ostrika made it to Fatu Hiva all right?”  Just as I say it, Andrew spots Ostrika on the AIS pulling into the same anchorage we are headed toward.  They get settled, then hail us on VHF.  We ask them if the anchorage is calm and protected as planned.  The anchorage is on the lee

Source: Tahuata Bound

Puamau Part 2 – Tangle With A Manta Ray

After dinner, we all continued to chat around the boombox.  The “kids” all drank their fill of their homemade fruit hooch and became a little tipsy.  A new friend staggered into camp and found a seat on a log near the boombox. He, too, was apparently already lit on some local substance.  Neil-Nail-Nell explained to me that I should ignore this man as he is “simple” and a little crazy.  Ben tells me the newcomer is “Charlie Chaplin’s cousin,” and then they all laugh.  The newcomer shakes his head and says, “No, no!  I am not Charlie Chaplin’s cousin!  Stop it!”  The boys all continue to laugh.   I introduce myself, and our new friend told us his name but it was very difficult Marquesan phrase.  So, unfortunately, Andrew and I are left only remembering him as “Charlie’s Cousin”.  Charlie’s cousin stretches out his arm with his fist at the end.  I am not sure what he wants, but I reach my fist out, too, and he knuckle bumps my hand then opens his hand to indicate the “hang loose” sign: thumb and pinky out.  I smile and do the same.  He smiles.  Then, for the rest of the night, every now and then he wants to knuckle bump. He tries to learn our names, too, but eventually gives up and calls me “Bella” and Andrew “Bebe Lu Lu”.  He tries to teach us the name of his dog “Rokki,” but much like Neil-Nail-Nell, every time I repeated the dog’s name Charlie’s Cousin would just shake his head and say: “Not Rokki, Roggi!”  So I would say “Roggi” and he would say, “No! NO!!!  Not Roggi!  Rokki!”  There must be something amiss with my American-LasVegan-Utahnian accent.  For the rest of the night Charlie’s cousin would alternately request a fist bump from either Bella or Bebe Lulu, then point at the dog and chime “Rokki!  Roggi!  Rokki!”  Soon, Mario informs us that this man is the best pig hunter in all of the Marquesas.  He will take us into the jungle for three nights and help us hunt a pig.  When Patrick asks how he hunts, it is explained that they will use a spear and a trap.  I start scratching my arms just thinking of all the mosquitos.  How exactly will we be sleeping in the jungle for three nights?  “Bebe Lulu!” The best pig hunter in all the Marquesas calls out, holding his fist toward Andrew.  Andrew bumps (again) Pig Hunter points down at his dog, “Rokki!  Roggi!”  He then punches Rokki on the nose, and the dog yaps and cowers away.  Patrick and Andrew look at each other.  They look at Paula and me.  I don’t think we are going to go pig hunting after all.   We all decide that we have had a lovely evening, but it is time to depart.  Neil-Nail-Nell offers to walk us back to the boat.  We tell him it is unnecessary, but he says his house is in that direction anyway.  He shows us where the whales are buried, and then as we arrive at the dock he points out giant manta rays swimming in the water.  They are enormous!  With wingspans as wide as I am tall, they flap about in the shallow water.  They seem very active tonight, more active than I have ever seen a manta ray be, but I’m sure it’s ok.  We will get in the dingy and motor out slowly.  We pile in the dinghy, and begin to motor away from the dock.  But, instead of tracking where Patrick expects, the dinghy just keeps going in a circle.  What the heck?  Soon, Neil-Nail-Nell is waving his arms on the dock “C’est dangereux! Tres dangereux!”  When the drunk, 24 year old local is waving his arms screaming that something is dangerous, it is time to revise the current plan. The manta rays are all around the dinghy in a circle, flapping their wings rather frantically.  Patrick tries to guide the dinghy back to the dock, but we swing in another circle or two.  I see the manta rays’ spear-like tails in the water and think what would happen if they puncture the dinghy.  Or what if they hopped in; can they do that?  Andrew throws the painter back to Neil-Nail-Nell and he pulls us safely back to the dock.  I jump out, Paula jumps out, Andrew jumps out and then Patrick kills the motor and jumps out.  Only now can I see that an enormous manta ray has tangled himself in our stern anchor line.  He and all his friends are concerned about escape.   Neil-Nail-Nell springs into action.  He instructs Patrick to help him pull the dinghy up onto the rocks.  I’m sure Patrick did not want to pull his dinghy up onto the sharp lava rocks, but Neil-Nail-Nell was already in progress.  They wrestle the dinghy through the surf and up into the rocks, scraping the bottom with loud gouging noises.  The manta ray trails behind, hopelessly stuck.  All I can think about is the guy from Croc Hunter who died with a stab wound from a manta ray spear. Neil-Nail-Nell finds the stern anchor lying in the rocks just a foot or so away from the manta ray’s enormous mouth.  He unties the anchor and tries to pull the rope around the Manta Ray, but the rope will not come out

Source: Puamau Part 2 – Tangle With A Manta Ray

The Millennium Biltmore Hotel

It’s one of the coolest hotels I’ve ever had the chance to stay in. When I did my reading of Little Dead Red in LA for Shades and Shadows, I spent the night at the Biltmore. Astounding.…

Source: The Millennium Biltmore Hotel

I’m reposting because this really is one of the coolest looking hotels I’ve ever seen. Never been to Baltimore, but maybe I’ll drop by sometime.

Indie or No?

kdp-logo-stacked-aNot plugging KDP in particular, but that’s what I used when I couldn’t stand my Middle Grader any more and had to publish it so I could move on. It has two sequels, but maybe we’ll talk about them later. This post is about whether you want to publish your own work, or go the traditional route. There are arguments either way.

With Indie publishing, of course, the advantage is just what I wrote about above: you can publish the damned thing and go on to another project. But, just having a book published does nothing at all for sales, does it? Look on Amazon at the sales rankings for various books. Most don’t have any. Because they, basically, don’t sell. Messy Meisner doesn’t sell. But I don’t really care, because I had my own reasons for publishing. Besides getting the thing out of my brain, it allowed me to concentrate on a YA romance, working title Jake and Diana. Diana is a Spanish name in this case, so pronounce it accordingly.

Jake and Diana is, I believe, a good book, with romance, danger, aggression, Goals, Motivations, Conflicts, some humor, you know, all that stuff you want in a book. I plan to pitch it to an agent and an editor at the RWA conference in a few weeks. Because, yes indeed, I want to go the traditional route with it. I’m hoping that success with an YA will make it easier to market the Middle-Graders. It could work, right?

At the moment I’m drafting another YA romance. I’m not sure if I even have a working title for the working title, but I do have a rough outline and a few chapters out on my cloud drive where I can get at them easily. Jake and Diana is currently being (I fervently hope) beta read. I hope the readers say some nice things about it, so I can use those things in my pitch. I really like the support you get from RWA, so I may stick with YA romances, although I do like a good Middle-Grader. Time will tell. Another thing I don’t know is whether I’ll publish traditionally, or Indie. It may come down to whichever pays better, and how much I want to handle the sheer business of promoting books.

If you’d like a cogent discussion of just what Indie means, really, try this article from Fiction University.


The Dinner Whale

As soon as the anchors were down and we were all satisfied that Sonrisa and Ostrika would stay put, Patrick and Paula pick us up in their dinghy.  We head toward the beach, but stop and hover just behind the breaking waves.  Searching for a good place to land, we consider the possibility of turning sideways and being rolled by a crashing wave. Landing a dinghy on the beach is not easy with crashing waves, and sometimes, it’s just down right impossible.  We are loaded with four gallon bottles of gasoline for Mario, four people and a heavy outboard motor, all of which will be doused in salt water and strewn upon the beach upon a single misstep.  Patrick makes the wise choice, turns about and heads to the sketchy looking dinghy dock on the other side of the bay.  We arrive, unload the fuel and people onto the dock. Patrick throws out a stern anchor to keep the dinghy from knocking into the rough rock wall of the dock, and we begin our hike to town. Soon, we come upon a group of seven young men on the beach.  They inquire as to our purpose in Puamau, and when Patrick explains we are going to visit Mario, they all hoot and holler “Mario! Woo, lucky Mario!”  Pointing at Andrew and Patrick they say “You can go see Mario, but these two (pointing to Paula and me) have to stay here!”  They laugh, and high five each other.   Two break away and introduce themselves as Ben and Neil.  We shake their hands and repeat “Ben and Neil” pronouncing Neil as one would typically pronounce Neil, with the long “E”.  Neil shakes his head, “No, no, it’s Nail” he said with a long “A”.  I repeat “Nail”, but then he says: “No, no it’s Nell” he said, with a flat “e”.  I repeat Nell, then we go through the series of three again, each time with him saying “no, no, no.”  Eventually, I just give up and say: “Ohhh, I got it!” even though I didn’t really get it, “Enchante!”  (Pleased to meet you in French.)  He smiles and falls in step with us.  He insists on taking the bottles of gasoline, because he is “very fit.” He carries forward up the road lifting the bottles in either hand like he is doing bicep curls.  I see “N-E-I-L” tattooed in large letters on the back of his forearm.  There, that explains things.  Ben and Neil-Nail-Nell escort us to Mario’s yard, where there are a few more people gathered around a boombox playing what sounds like peppy, dance club music with an island beat.  Neil-Nail-Nell asks me if I like dancing to music like this.  I agree it sounds like good dance music.  Mario emerges from his house with abig smile.  He greets Paula and I with the french “kiss-kiss” on our cheeks then shakes Andrew and Patrick’s hands.  “I am so happy you all returned! Today is a special day.  Would you like to try whale steaks?”   Apparently, that morning eight sperm whales (“Cachaloe” in French) beached themselves and died.  This phenomena is rare; the last time it happened here was ten years ago.  There isn’t anything the locals can do to help the whales.  So, the locals cut out as much meat as they can reasonably store or eat, and then bury the whales on the beach.  Mario was excited to cook up his set of steaks and share them with us.   Mario set to work cutting up the steaks.  I asked him if there was anything I could do to help.  He placed a butcher’s cleaver and eight cloves of garlic on top of a round slice of wood. He instructed me to mince the garlic cloves, and so I did.  In Mario’s open air home/kitchen, on top of a cutting board that was nothing more than a slice of a coconut tree, I minced garlic while Mario and I chatted.  It was just like being at home in my kitchen, preparing dinner for party guests.  Soon, Mario looks over at my minced garlic, and he smiles a large smile.  “Impeccable!”  he says. “You must cook for Andrew?”   I’m not sure what he expected, but my mincing skills seem to be up to snuff.  I scoop the garlic off the cutting board with the knife and slide the pieces into his bowl.  He adds soy sauce and olive oil, whisks it together, then lets it sit.  He pours oyster sauce over the bright red, lean whale meat and instructs me to mix the oyster sauce into the whale using my hands.  I stick my hands into the pan and turn the meat over in the sauce, making sure everything is evenly covered.  Mario pours a little of the garlic/soy sauce mixture on top.  We leave the whale to sit and marinate for a couple of hours.   Everyone sits around the boombox smoking hand rolled cigarettes and trying to communicate alternately using the Marquesan, French and/or English words they know.  Neil-Nail-Nell, Ben and another friend of a similar age are entranced by my “exotic blue eyes.”  They ask me how old I am and when I tell the 34, they smile.  I ask them how old they are, and they tell me 24. They want to know if I have any single sisters who will eat whale, too.  They are shy and sp

Source: The Dinner Whale

Dad On Board

What does your Dad think of this crazy sailing idea? This question is posed to me quite often.  You have to feel a little bad for a guy who’s daughter has some crazy idea that she is going to sail off into the middle of an ocean with that guy who married her.  Dads of daughters out there….can you imagine?  Since it is Father’s Day, I thought I might tell you a little more about my Dad.   My dad has three daughters and no sons.  Much to his credit, he didn’t let this daughter conundrum stop him. He always said his girls “can do anything a boy can do, only better.” So, as a little girl, he taught me to play softball, I was always invited to go pheasant hunting in Delta, Utah, and when I was old enough, deer hunting.  The traditional family hunting spot is in Whiskey Creek (pronounced “Crick” in this instance).  My Dad’s family has been hunting there for at least three generations if not more.   To reach deer camp, we would travel quite a few miles off road into the mountains, up a dirt road requiring four wheel drive or a bit of finesse.  Once there, we pitched our smaller tent next to a large, canvas tent that held several bunks, a fire burning stove, and a camp kitchen for my dad’s cousins.  My uncle Ray would ask my dad if he wanted a “soda pop”, reach into the cooler and pull out a Budweiser.  He’d crack it open and throw in a dash of salt.  Uncle Ray would give me a big hug and laugh.  My face would squish against his suspender straps and wool plaid shirt.  He smelled like roasted coffee grounds.   We would go to bed early because we would have to wake up in the dark of night (3:30 a.m.) or so to eat breakfast and start hiking.  We had to be in place at the top of the mountain by sunrise. It is really cold in the mountains at 3:30 a.m.  I would throw on my long johns (which by afternoon, I would always regret), my jeans, my hunter orange wool button down shirt, a bright orange beany cap, and my hiking boots.  Then, I would set off, usually the only gal in a pack of men with beards and rifles.   We would hike several miles together and then split off to go to our respective rocks.  My dad had his own rock, but by the time I was going hunting with him he took me to my grandfather’s rock each time instead.  It would still be dark by the time we would arrive, my pant legs would be damp with the frost I brushed through as we hiked, and I would get cold as soon as we tucked ourselves into the crevices of the rocks.  Making an exception for me, even though the deer would smell it, my dad made me the tiniest of fires to warm me up.  You could cup it in your hand if it wouldn’t burn your wool glove.  Sitting at the top of the mountain, you could see the top of the peaks of the range that surround the area.  Whispering, my dad would tell me stories about other hunting trips with his dad. The stars were numerous until the pink light of sunrise started to brush them away, first at the horizon, then spreading to the dome of the sky.  Quietly, as that early light would turn from pink to yellow, a group of deer might sneak over the ridge.  Some years, neither he nor I had a license to hunt, so we were just there for the fun of it.  My Dad would point and say: “Look, Les!  Isn’t that beautiful?”   My Dad has a million pursuits he could pursue, but he put all of them aside to work.  My mom stayed at home to raise all three of their daughters, and my Dad kept that engine running.  He would get up at 4:30 a.m. to be to work by 5:30 a.m. so that he could be home by 5 to coach my softball team, attend (and videotape) my dance or piano concerts, etc.  While he has always worked in mining or chemical manufacturing, he is an artist at heart.  He is a very good photographer, an excellent chef, an artist of landscape design and lawn maintenance, and a storyteller. He is the guy that taught me you can enjoy life even if you are not perfectly comfortable.  You will not see deer sneaking over the crest of a mountain at sunrise if you do not hike six miles in the dark and settle in by a rock even though you are very cold.   Andrew and I started talking about this sailing idea within a year of its conception, but I don’t think my Dad believed we would actually go until approximately six months before we left.   “You can’t go until you take me out and show me you know how to sail in the ocean.” He announced on a late summer morning as we sipped our coffee on his beautiful back patio.  The deep crease on his forehead furrowed with concern. “Dad!  We took you sailing for the Fourth of July last year!  We showed you we could sail!”   “No, no.  That is not in the ocean.  Anyone can sail in the bay.  You have to take me out in the ocean and show me you can sail.”   I laughed.  “Ok, ok.  I would be happy to, but don

Source: Dad On Board

Once again, excellent pictures if you click the link.

En Route – The Hunt For A Pig Hunt

After our long day of rowing, we wake up feeling sufficiently provisioned and fueled for at least a few weeks.  I give the internet one last try, but it still won’t work. I am also very tired of rowing.   Our plan is to hit several anchorages on our way back to Puamau (where Mario lives) to see about that pig hunt.  We hang our bananas from the stern arch, weigh anchor, and say a loving goodbye to Atuona.   The wind is up, and we have a brisk sail through pass between Hiva Oa and its next door island, Tahuata.  For the first time, Andrew and I feel like we are “cruising”.  Hanamenu Bay is our first anchorage destination chosen purely for exploration.  Previously, all our destinations were “on the route,” chosen because they take us further along our path.   This first anchorage is on the leeward (dry) side of the island; we set our anchor between large black cliffs covered in golden vegetation.  A black sand beach is nestled at the furthest point inside the anchorage, with a handful of abandoned huts.  Our friends on Ostrika invite us over for sundowner cocktails.  The next morning, we up anchor early for a 10 mile, upwind sail to the next anchorage: Hanaipai.  We can’t help but fire up some Stevie Miller Band and set our sails for maximum speed.  We have to catch Patrick and Paula in their 55 foot Oyster!  The waves are not too large, and the wind is piping at 20-25 knots.  We set our jib, a small corner of our genoa and a triple reefed main sail.  This set maximizes our ability to point high without being blown sideways and heel over too much.  I hand steer so we can maximize our speed on the wind shifts — and just for fun.  I start our tack at about 60 degrees off the wind, build speed, then use that speed to climb higher into the wind (and point more directly at our destination) until we start to lose speed.  Then, I fall off again to gather speed.  We successfully keep an average of 6 knots and keep up with our bigger/faster friends.  We pass by a running waterfall and sheer cliffs as we enter a lush, green anchorage with brilliant blue water.  Sonrisa lets down her anchor with salt spray in her hair and a big smile on her face.   The next day, we set sail again for another quick upwind beat, this time, to an anchorage with clear water and a white sand beach.  Finally, water that is safe for swimming.  We swim over to the beach, explore a bit, and snorkel with some colorful fish.  Andrew scrapes off the green slime and small animals that are growing on Sonrisa’s hull above her antifouling paint.  She is relieved to be looking pretty again.  We invite Ostrika’s crew over for dinner. I prepare a small hen served in sauce made with bacon, shallots, carrots, celery seed, saffron, and green olives served over brown rice, and Andrew experiments with a bread pudding for dessert. We serve the hen with a Chardonnay from our shakedown run to Santa Barbara in April 2015, and the bread pudding with a bottle of Dolce we bought on a trip to Napa Valley with Katrina Harris and Jamie White in 2012.  Today, we are the version ourselves we like best:  enjoying nature, cooking for friends, and sailing.  We wait out a storm for a second day in this anchorage, safely tucked away.  It rains so much that we gather enough fresh water to clean Sonrisa’s decks, do a large load of laundry (now how to dry?), and take two fresh water showers. Otherwise, Sonrisa bobbed safely in place on her anchor.  Andrew swims despite the rain.  Everything is wet, so may as well go swimming.  I stay below, process pictures, and look longingly at the pretty beach just outside our window.  I’m try to cling to my dry status as best I can, but sweat is the other option inside Sonrisa with her hatches closed. When the sun clears the next day, we romp forward on another upwind leg to Puamau. All in all, it took us four days to cover twenty five miles around the island and end up back at the same place we reached in two hours via vehicle just a few days ago.  We took the “scenic route.”

Source: En Route – The Hunt For A Pig Hunt

There are some excellent pictures, which you can see by clicking the link above this line.

The Rowersons

“Hey! Aren’t you the rowers?” Having been anchored in Atuona Bay for five days now, we are gaining a reputation amongst the cruisers. We are the “Rowers”. Each morning, we hop into Grin, grab our oars and get started. We don’t have anyone beating a drum or crying “Row! Row! Row!” but maybe we should. We paddle twenty minutes to the dock, and tie up for the day to explore. We repeat the process in reverse to go back to Sonrisa each night. Sometimes, we need to return to the boat mid-day to change clothes, deliver groceries, or otherwise sort ourselves out. This means that we paddle out and back, out and back, twenty minutes each way. By the end of each row, my shoulders and back are burning like mad; at the end of each day they feel like heavy rubber. One would think that if we wanted to be the “rowers” we would position Sonrisa as close the dinghy landing as possible. No. In addition to being the “rowers” we are also “l’ultimo velero” or “the last sailboat.” At every anchorage since the start of this voyage, we have anchored at the very back. In the Galapagos, whenever we jumped on a water taxi we would request they take us to “l’ultimo velero” and they would groan. We would typically tip them a little extra. As we slowly row through the anchorage, cruisers stick their heads out of their boats to see what is going on. Two retired guys from Washington State actually call across the water: “Hey! We are wondering: Don’t you have an outboard?” We explain that we do, and that it is working just fine. “Well, ok, why don’t you park your boat closer to land?” This is such a good question! And the only reason I can identify is that we are lazy. You see, when we first arrived at Atuona, the anchorage was full of boats. Over the course of the week, many boats have left and we had plenty of opportunity to up our anchor and move closer to land. Each time we saw a new opening, though, we would ponder the move and decide Sonrisa is comfy right where she is. Her anchor is nicely settled into place, and if the weather suddenly shifted we have an easy escape. No one else wants to lay their anchor down on top of ours, so we guarantee Sonrisa will not be tangled. We are also too lazy to put on the outboard. After at least one commute if not two via oar, I would declare that we should put the motor on. But, in the evenings, we were so tired from all the rowing that we didn’t feel like putting the motor on. The next morning, we were fresh and rowing didn’t seem as bad as the process of dangling the motor down from its hoist and wrestling it onto the back of the dinghy in the waves. This series of decisions became really silly on our last day in Atuona. The fuel barge had refilled the tanks at the gas station, so now they could provide us with diesel to feed Sonrisa. There is no fueling dock, though, so we have to fill up by carrying our three jerry cans back and forth between Sonrisa and the gas station. This is a team effort. I hold two funnels stacked on top of each other while Andrew tips the heavy 5 gallon jerry jug just enough to get the fuel flowing into my funnels. Sonrisa’s filling port is on her stern, starboard side, nestled between her pretty teak toe rail and the cockpit combing where her primary winch sits. It’s a little bit awkward to access with jerry jugs, and there is no good place for Andrew or I to really sit or perch. Andrew generally puts one foot on her side deck, one foot in her cockpit and sits on top of the staysail winch. I also put one foot on her side deck and press my knee against the lifelines and her blue splash skirt to push them out of the way. I try to sit on her combing, but the only place available has a cleat that pokes me in the butt. I sit there anyway. Andrew must tip the jerry jug forward with finesse to prevent the fuel from “glugging” and splashing. But finesse is not so easy when Sonrisa is pitching and rolling in the waves. I end up doused in diesel. It takes about ten minutes to drain a five gallon jug, so after thirty minutes of draining and another ten minutes to shift the three jugs around, our jerry jugs are empty and ready for a refill. We place the empty jugs into Grin, row twenty minutes to the gas station, throw out the stern anchor, tie Grin up, carry the jugs to the gas pumps, and wait for the attendant to fill them up. Once the jugs are full, they weigh approximately forty pounds each. We pay, lug the jugs back to Grin, row Grin and her additional one hundred twenty pounds of fuel back to Sonrisa, hoist the jugs onto Sonrisa’s deck, tie Grin up to Sonrisa, and repeat the process of emptying the jerry jugs again. Luckily, we only used half of Sonrisa’s fuel tank on our trip across the Pacific. We only had to repeat thi

Source: The Rowersons

Feeling a Draft?

The important thing about being a writer is writing, obviously. If you want to tell a story, the only thing to do is to start telling it. But, nobody that I know of can write a good story in one pass. Sure, you’d like to think that Shakespears knocked out Hamlet over a weekend, but in fact it took him a very long time. Which means that the thing you are going to knock out over the weekend, or week, or month, or however long it takes (longer than any of that for me) is your first draft.

The salient feature of my first drafts is that they are terrible. I try to keep the voices consistent, but I’ve yet to actually do that. I try not to have contradictions in the action, but, well, you know, I’ve never done that either. So, in essence, although a first draft can be a lot of fun, and I truly enjoy putting up things for my characters to (usually) fail at, the result of all that fun and games isn’t anything I’d want anyone but myself to read. Ever. Of course, unlike, say, Twain, who revised right on the original manuscript, I save versions as Word files as I go along, so I suppose that at some point in the future, unless I get up the ambition to delete a lot of stuff, future generations of scholars will marvel at my sheer incompetence. But, that aside, nobody reads my first draft. Nobody.

The second draft is usually the one where I actually do work on the characters’ voices until they are consistent and in character. Honestly, the first draft sounds like I’m at a read-through reading all of the parts. Not that interesting. But, hey, things improve with age, including my revised manuscripts.

With the second, and consequent, drafts, I keep adding things that weren’t in the plot, or the characterization, the first time through. Honestly, sometimes what’s finally ready to be reviewed and critiqued looks like a completely different story, written by a completely different author. And it still, of course, is not ready for prime time.

But, lucky me, I’ve learned to enjoy the revision as much as the origination. Sure, it’s fun to make up new stuff, but it’s also fun to hone it into something folks will want to buy. (Oh, please, let them want to buy!)

If you have a drafting and revision quirk you’d like to share, put it in a comment below. I approve everything that isn’t obvious spam. Looking forward to hearing from you!