Saturday, September 23, 2017

What is art?

What is art?  Is it writing?  Is it taking photographs?  Or is it painting and sculpture?

I belong to a local art group.  I quickly learned that they were focused on painting and little else.  Well, after attentding several meetings, I lost interest.  A few days ago, I received an email wondering where I was.  This was my response this morning...

Hi Jud,

Thank you for the note. Yep, in the hospital again in August. It seems to be one health issue after another. I am facing yet more challenges now.

I am also helping two buddies out with building horse fences, working from 7 to noon most days. We call our company "the Old Goat Fence and Deck Company". Our motto is "If we ain't in the hospital, we show up!". Since I don't finish working until noon (getting much needed exercise), it precludes me from attending meetings.

But besides that, and although I enjoy the presentations, I get a feeling that OAG doesn't take photography seriously as an art form. It is focused on painting, mainly, and although I certainly enjoy and appreciate painting as an art, artistry goes beyond that. I left an Ocala photography club because they were too focused on only photography. Which I guess they should, being a photography club. But to me, art can be found in many mediums.

I will return on an off day from building horse fences. OAG should consider stepping beyond the confines of painting, though. Let me tell you a story why.

When I was young, I loved to read. I lived in our town library. Every week, I'd take out the maximum of three books, and I would devour them, returning week after week to get three more. Loving reading, I also loved to write. In 10th grade, we were given a book report assignment to read a book and report on it. I read my book, and worked very hard on my report. I wrote an outline, and then draft after draft. I submitted the final report. A week later, it came back with an F. I shot my hand up and asked my teacher why. My English teacher said because it was good. Too good. I was incapable of writing like that and I must have copied it. I was a lousy writer.

I went through life thinking I was incapable of writing. But about 25 years ago, I posted on a sailing magazine's online message board about what I learned from chartering a sailboat and sailing in the Caribbean. The magazine's editor emailed me and asked if he could publish it. Me? A guy who can't write? Sure, I answered, figuring it would be heavily edited. It was not. It was published word for word. And I got a nice check! I went on to write many magazine articles over the years, and then a wildly popular blog about cruising down the eastern seaboard on our 46 foot trawler, which has over a half a million hits ( And finally, I wrote three books just last year, one of which is on Amazon's best seller list.

So my advice to the OAG, whether I am able to return or not, is to accept and nurture all art forms. OAG should not be focused on painting. It should include all art, from photography to the performing arts. Consider presentations by members, and what they do and why they do it. Why do you paint? Why do you photograph? Why do you write? Why do you do whatever it is you do? Why did you join OAG and what did you expect it to be?

Also, by having weekday meetings, you are limiting OAG to retirees. Consider also having weekend meetings, so those of us who work can attend.

Whether I can attend again or not depends upon the Old Goat Fence and Deck Company, but regardless, you have a good thing going there. From my decades in business though, I think you can expand and do better.

Best Regards,

Dave Gibson

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Over Half a Million Hits now?

I've been reliving our cruise on Drift Away by rereading this old blog, and I have to say that it was an incredible adventure.  Plus Pam and I met some amazing people.  This post from a few years ago was about reaching 100,000 hits.   It has now surpasses a half a million.  Cool beans.

I guess some things are timeless, and someone googling small ice makers or electronic chart plotters still stumble on it.   And that is definitely cool.

But what I think I also miss are the commenters who took the time to read my ramblings each day and to insert their own pithy comments.  Thank you all.  You are part of the reason I wrote, and why I am now an author.  The next book "The Voyage of Drift Away: A Toilet Companion" is upcoming, thanks to you all.

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.