Sunday, July 23, 2017

Visiting an Old Friend. Drift Away.

Friday was our buddy Gibb's birthday, so we treated him to a trip to St. Augustine.  That is where Drift Away now lives, now named Happy Ours.

Pamela was very apprehensive about seeing our old boat, but I wanted to see the progress the new owners have made, and Gibb (once a boater too) wanted to see it.  

Our friend Gibb is a big guy, 6'2".  So I let him sit in the front and I sat in the back behind Pamela in the car.


We were met in the parking lot by Vern.  He and his wife Ruth are the new owners.  The more observant of you will notice the new blue Sunbrella replaced the green we installed.  Also the windshield was installed, and the bowsprit has been removed to facilitate the repair of the foredeck.


Notice the brightwork, Ruth's handiwork.


Dust-catching blinds were removed, and curtains installed.



As Vern and I toured the boat, he mentioned that he uses the blog periodically as a resource when undertaking boat projects.  Yet another reason ya'all should write blogs.

The work left to be done was considerable, for sure, and they even ran into a few mechanical issues, which surprised me because when we had Drift Away hauled at Green Cove Springs it was running perfectly.  But such is boats.

Vern and Ruth are nice people and doing a great job with the boat, but Pamela didn't handle it well.  We had too many fond memories aboard that boat and it pained her to know those days are behind us, but she did say that the new owners seem to love that boat as much as we did.  To me, it is comforting to know that the boat is being lovingly cared for, and not sitting in a bone pile in some dingey marina.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Writing Cruising Blogs

I had a comment on my last blog entry asking about writing cruising blogs.  I'm certainly no expert, but I'll give you my opinion.

Background:  I worked very hard on a 10th grade English composition.  I wrote, edited, and rewrote. I got the paper back with an F.   My hand shot up.  I asked the teacher why.  He said it was good.  Too good.  I was incapable of writing like that, so I must have plagiarized it.  With the wind knocked out of my sails, I went through life thinking I couldn't write, so I didn't.

I used to frequent the old Cruising World message board a couple of decades ago and I'd post often.  I wrote a post about what I had learned after my first charter in the Caribbean.  I soon received an email from the editor of the magazine asking if he could publish it.  Dumbfounded, I didn't know what to say.  Figuring it would be heavily edited, I told him to go ahead.  It was published almost exactly as I wrote it.  And I got a check!

Maybe I could write?  I love to write.  So I started writing and submitting articles to a number of sailing magazines, all of which were published, and then I was asked to write an article for a general cruising magazine.

In 2011, I started this blog to keep things fresh in my writing, but also to tell stories of our restoration of an old trawler, and then our cruise down the ICW.  Now, I author books.  Three last year, one non-fiction and two novels.

And now that Pam and I no longer cruise, I don't update this blog everyday like I used to, but only an occasional post here and there.  It is time for someone else to pick up the mantle.  Here is my advice, for what it is worth.

If you want to attract a following, post everyday you are able.  People want something to read in their cubicles on coffee breaks.  I used to get emails if my blog wasn't up by 9 AM.

I learned in an Effective Business Communications course in college to not use big college words if you want to get your point across.  It makes one sound arrogant and stuffy.  Write like you talk.  And since you're addressing each person one at a time as they log on to your blog, make it conversational.

Reread and edit each post before publishing.  Make sure there a no typos, misspelled words, or poor grammar (unless it is part of the story and done purposely).  The few times I was in a rush and did not proofreed (see what I did there?  😁 ), I would invariably find all of the above.  Ugh.

Keep each post concise and to the point.  No one wants to read long, windy, drawn out blog posts.  If I click on a blog and it is too long, I close it.  If it has hundreds of photographs, I close it.

Keep it as lighthearted as possible.  Everyone loves a bit of humor tossed in.  If you do something stupid, be sure to include that for sure.  Everyone goofs up, and we need the company here on the Group W bench.  But if something sad happens, such as a pet dying, by all means you can write a sad post.

Use photographs.  If you're doing a boat project, show what you're working on.  Before and After photos, pics of parts, etc.  When cruising, photograph interesting sights along the way.

If you like a place or an event, say so.   If you don't like it... well... use criticism sparingly.  No one likes negativity.

That's all I can think of off the top of my head.  It is what seemed to work for me.  If you decide to write a cruising blog, let me know and I'll be your first subscriber.  I'll buy a cubicle so I can read it properly.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Drift Away the Book cont'd

I have six years of blog entries.  That's a lot of writing!  Some of you have suggested that I turn the blog into a book.  That would be a formidable task, but I found an online tool that will do it for me for $80.  Well worth it, I think.  So instead of my next book being about Sasquatch, I think it might be about Drift Away.

I don't know how many pages this book would be, but the blog has to be over 1,000.  Ain't nobody got time for dat.  So I need to whittle it down, a lot.  What should the book cover?

My thought is to certainly cover the cruise down the east coast, and perhaps how we acquired the boat, and the funny boat projects.  I would delete minor, dull boat projects and most of the "view from the bridge" photographs.  I would include some of the high points of living aboard in marinas, such as Isle of Hope and Brunswick Landing, but omit the mundane stuff.  My gut feeling is that anyone who buys this book wants a sense of adventure and what cruising is really like, not the boring stuff (not boring to me, but I lived it).

I would include the novelties of the blog, such as victory beers and the Navi-Nut (patent pending)  (Hi Kurt!), and a bit about what it is like to travel with large dogs.

Any ideas or suggestions?  Should I omit the year from the dates?  Or the dates entirely?  Keep one blog entry per chapter and title it "the Drift Away Toilet Companion"?

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

I is an author!

For several decades, I wrote occasional magazine articles about boating.  Then this blog.  Then my Bleecker Mountain Life blog.  I then decided to write books.  In 2016, I wrote three.

The first is non-fiction, and titled "Living Among Sasquatch: A Primer".  Yes.  Non-fiction.


It has been on the market for a little over a year, and has 109 reviews on Amazon and rated 4.4 out of 5 stars.

The next was a quirkly novel based on the first, but told from the Sasquatch's perspective, and he misinterprets just about everything he sees.  It is titled "Living Among Little People: A Guide For Sasquatch".


The third isn't quirky.  It is outright insanity.  All of the humans in it are real life friends.  I won't explain the title because that would ruin the book for you.


Writing has been quite a journey.  I never thought I'd be an author.  Of Sasquatch in particular.  But it was writing this daily blog and reading your comments that inspired me to do it.  Thank you.



Thursday, December 22, 2016

Drift Away the Book

Question for you.

Many of you know that I've been a writer for a long time.  Mainly articles for boating magazines, this blog, and the blog Bleecker Mountain Life.  That one became peppered with stories of Sasquatch.  At the urging of a few readers, I wrote a book called "Living Among Sasquatch: A Primer" which is selling amazingly well.  It has 84 reviews on Amazon with a 4.5 out of 5 star rating.  That encouraged me to write a tongue-firmly-planted-in-check novel.  It is based on the first book, but told from the Sasquatch's perspective as he struggles to make sense of us, humorously getting most of it wrong.  That one is new to the market, but has five 5 star ratings.  It is titled "Living Among Little People: A Guide For Sasquatch".

Now that I'm retired, I have more time for writing.  I'm already more than halfway through my third book, another novel and a sequel to the second.  Writing is a hoot for me.

I have ideas for future projects.  I'm considering using this blog as a reference for a book about Drift Away, and our adventures, misadventures, projects, and travels.  It would be told with the same quirky (or idiotic, depending on your point of view) sense of humor as my books and this blog.  I'd describe finding the boat, fixing it up, traveling, almost sinking at Liberty Landing Marina, losing both engines off of Sandy Hook, and include the many places and people we met along the way.  Navi-Nuts (patent pending) and Victory Beers would figure prominently.

But my question is this.  Since everything is already on this blog, would it be merely redundant to write a book about it?  I'm sure that it would sell to people who never found this blog and are dreaming about cruising, but I'm not sure how many folks haven't found this blog. It's still getting many hits everyday.

So any ideas and advice, positive or negative, would be welcome.  Thanks in advance.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

My First Sasquatch Sighting

I saw my first Sasquatch tonight.
Pamela and I lived with them all around our cabin for three years in upstate New York. Pamela saw her buddy, but I never saw one. Never. My rationale was that you don't see one unless it allows you too, or simply doesn't care that you do.
Well, I was returning from a book signing at Winter Haven, Florida with author Scott Marlowe. Pamela was tending bar at the Pig Pen in Hog Valley, so I was driving down Hog Valley Road, which passes through the Ocala National Forest. I was tired and pretty much on auto pilot. It was dark. I was driving through a desolate part of the road. On my left was what looked like taillights, bright red. But this area is as flat as a pancake, and these lights were high off the ground. I slowed down to see what it was as I passed. The red lights weren't red lights at all. It was eye shine, anywhere from eight to ten feet off the ground. As I slowly passed it, the eyes followed me. My high beams caught it. It was a Sasquatch. He was simply standing there watching me drive by. He didn't bolt. He didn't run. He didn't duck. He just stood there. My jaw dropped and my brain disconnected. I drove to the Pig Pen, my brain still disconnected. I sat in the car thinking. I'm not afraid of Sasquatch. Why didn't I stop, back up, and turn a bit to shine my headlights directly on it? I don't know why. It was like being in shock or something.
I looked for it on my drive home. Nothing.
So I lived with them all around in New York for three years. They ran around the cabin, knocked on the walls and windows, and hollered outside. I never saw one. But driving in Hog Valley, one just stood there. Nice as you please. Amazing.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

You're Incapable of Writing Like That

I have insomnia tonight so I decided to pass the time reading old Drift Away blog posts.   I was reading them in chronological order to relive our cruise.   I came across this one.  25,000 Hits.  Really?   This was December `16, 2011.  Glance over at the hit count now.   Very cool.

The first comment was from an old friend from childhood, Bob.  He wrote "congrats on approaching 25,000 pageviews and keep the creativity juices flowing.  It's enjoyable reading.  Notwithstanding the fact that it provides a "fix" for your right brain.  There's got to be a book in it for you somewhere."  Those were prophetic words, Bob.  So far, two books actually, and I'm deep into writing my third.



And my novel that is now on Amazon...



Yep, I thought it would be a book about cruising on Drift Away.   Never in my life about a cryptid named Sasquatch and Bigfoot, yet there it is.

I always loved to read and write.  But in 10th grade, that changed.  We were assigned a composition in English.  I worked very hard on it.  In the old days, we'd write an outline, and then a draft, and then the final version.   I turned it in.  It came back to me as an F.  I shot my hand up, and the teacher called on me.

"Why did this composition get an F?" I asked.

"Because it is too good.  You aren't capable of writing like that.  You copied it."

I was devastated.  I took my 11th grade English regents exam.  I was walking down the hall and passed by the teacher's room.  Mr. Schwartz saw me and motioned for me to come in, which I did.

"That has to be the best regents composition I've ever read," he said.

I thanked him and left bewildered.  Ah.  He probably passed me to get me out of his class, I thought.  I can't write.

Fast forward to the early 2000s.  I was frequenting Cruising World magazine's online message board that I frequented.   I had just returned from chartering in the Caribbean where boat boys (guys who motor through mooring fields to sell everything from plaintains to tee-shirts) were said to be a nuisance.  Well, I disagreed.   I think that boat boys provide a cool service to cruisers, and will even take special orders.  I decided to write a post about it.

A couple of days later, Herb McCormick (the magazine's editor at the time) emailed me and asked if he could publish it in his magazine.  I didn't know what to say.  So I said OK.  Schooled On A Charter was published, almost word for word.  How cool is that?  Maybe my 11th grade teacher was right.  Maybe my 11th grade teacher was right, and my 10th grade English teacher was an idiot.

I went on to write articles for Cruising World, Good Old Boat, Latittudes & Attitudes, All-At-Sea Southeast, and finally Cryptid Culture.  Then this blog, and then Bleecker Mountain Life.  Finally, the two books you see above.

The vast majority of books about Sasquatch have a handful of reviews.  The ones on the market may have 10 or 20 or so.  My first book went on the market in February of 2016.  It has 82 reviews on Amazon.  But what I'm most proud of is that it has 82 reviews on Amazon and a 4.5 out of 5 start.  Most of the negative ones complain that the book is too short (179 pages) which is a fair criticism.

The novel Living Among Little People: A Guide for Sasquatch is 308 pages.  At 79,000 words, a full length novel.  I just hit Amazon and only has 3 reviews, but they are all 5 star.

I didn't write this long essay to brag.  I think you regular blog followers know me better than that.  I wrote it to tell you not to listen to anyone about how well you write, photograph, paint, or anything else for that matter.  If you love to do something, do it.  If you think it's good, does it really matter what anyone else thinks?

Also, challenge yourself.  My magazine articles and my first book were relatively easy to write.  All non-fiction.  I merely wrote about my experiences.  I was a reporter.  I found fiction was very difficult for me.  At first.  I had writer's block at 13,000 words, and setting the novel aside and picking it up later didn't help.   I wrote an outline.  That didn't help (the goat ate it anyway).   I just sat down at my laptop and wrote.  In 4 weeks, I finished it at 79,000 words of a targeting 80,000.   I'm at 30,000 words of my next novel, a sequel.

Yes, I started a Drift Away book based on this blog, but I set it aside to find Bigfoot.  That may be my 4th book.

I hope all of you old followers of this blog are well.  Well OK, you passersby too.