It’s a Sailor’s Life for Me

Well folks… after being a land lubber for the past 35 odd years, I have accepted a crew position beginning in the Spring onboard a Flying Scot at Monmouth Boat Club in Red Bank, NJ. My skipper is none other than the wonderful and talented Wendy Elovich.

Flying Scot crew

Although this is NOT a picture of Wendy, or me… this is a photo of a Flying Scot in action. I will be the one in lime green, ready to do whatever the skipper asks. The smaller sail, the jib will be under my control, as well as the spinnaker (the bright-colored balloon sail to you non-sailors).  Ahhh…. the salt water hitting me in the face, the smell of seaweed and algae, and pulling jelly fish off the lines. Goodie! I can’t wait!

My dad’s passion was sailing… and as his children we had no choice but to love it too. Growing up I just assumed every one knew how to sail. As an adult I now know that’s not the case.

During my marriage and raising my own brood… sailing wasn’t in our life. My husband wasn’t a fan, and therefore it was ‘off limits’. Occasionally my brother would invite us all down to the club for a ride on the Race Committee Boat… and I even worked with the Girl Scout’s and brought my troop down for a weekend of learning how to sail. But on a day-to-day basis sailing just didn’t exist.

In a brief moment of craziness I found myself crewing on the historic maiden race of the schooner Virginia in the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race in October of 2005. Prepared to race for 2 to 3 days, the howling winds at 22 knots allowed us to finish in only 14 hours… all 127 nautical miles!!! To say it was the most thrilling adventure of my life just doesn’t say enough. The awesomeness of being onboard a great vessel, in the dark, in heavy winds is just too hard to put into words. The feeling of the large boat, creaking in the wind, water splashing against the sides, mates calling signals down the line to the captain because he can’t see where he’s going, is too difficult to convey.

At one point a hush fell over the crew as in the dark we felt the boat flatten out, the bow tip up slightly and the boat take off under us in a plane. THAT is the grand moment of sailing!!! THAT is what it’s all about!!! To think I experienced that moment frozen in time leaves me in awe still.

schooner Virginia

The wind direction swung around quickly, and our captain made the split-second decision to jibe… without calling down below. Our cook (ahem, chef) having never cooked onboard a moving vessel was down in a catch hole digging up supplies when the action took place… slamming him against a rail where he bruised a few ribs and cried out in pain.

Meanwhile the flames went out on the diesel fueled stove spewing heavy fumes and thick black smoke in the galley. The cook, screaming for help and directing someone… ANY ONE… to hit the emergency OFF switch woke me from my 4 hour rest shift. I was the only one who heard him. I choked back the smoke and through tear streaked eyes burning from the fumes, I fumbled around and located the switch.

Helping the cook to his bunk he continued to moan in pain and asked that I send word to the captain he needed to be airlifted off the ship. I explained that wasn’t going to happen. We were racing. Whatever and whoever was on board at the starting line, must also be onboard at the finish. Only a case of imminent death would require the captain to make the decision to airlift. Some tape tightly wrapped around his ribs and a bottle of whiskey held him to the finish a few hours later.

This race was newsworthy as it was the very first race for the new boat. Reporters were onboard sending detailed reports to their publications on every facet of the voyage. The gourmet food we ate, the comfortable accommodations, the experience of the crew… you name it no slight piece of information was left out. The Internet was abuzz with pictures. On my return home I printed out every word I could find, there was even a photo of me coiling line during the race… ME, A STAR!! Sadly those papers were destroyed in subsequent basement floods and moves.

At my age, most people consider retirement from the sport. Instead I’m running straight for  the opportunity. I’m told it’s like riding a bike… you never really forget, and everything you ever learned comes back to you once you step onboard. Well… that’s what I’m hoping.

See you on the water!

 

 

Books, Books, Books and more BOOKS!!

I’m sure you all thought I had given up posting to this blog… but in reality I was dedicating my time to a NEW VENTURE and simply didn’t have a moment free to type.

A few months ago I alluded to a great idea that would set the book world on its edge… and wow… did it EVER!!! On October 12th Shari Sanford from The Paperback Exchange in Belmar, NJ and I threw the first annual Belmar Bookcon!!!! Filling Pyanoe Plaza with 24 authors… all either self published, or published by small independent houses… PLUS 4 Independent Publishers! The world of PUBLISHING is changing… and we felt it was time to educate the world about it.

Years ago when a self published author came into one of my bookstores suggesting I read their book and perhaps place it on my shelves… I would barely give them the time of day. I’ll be honest… I looked down my nose at them. My view was if they couldn’t get a book agent or publisher interested in their cancer survival story… then why would I be interested??

Being a sucker for sob stories I would upon occasion read one or two of them. It was rough going. Misspellings, no continuity, major grammatical errors, lost train of thought, dull as dish water. Ugh! The more difficult part was returning the book and telling this person who just spent the past 7 years of their life writing this tome that ‘although the story is compelling, I suggest you hire a professional editor to put the final polish on your book’. Inevitably they would reply that their 2nd cousin once removed on their father’s side is an avid reader and THEY edited the book… and besides, there were already 1,000 copies printed and sitting in their garage. OY!

One day… one magical day… this all changed!! A man named Keith Smith walked into my Princeton bookstore and asked us to take a look at his book. His approach to the desk was different than most. Most authors were sheepish and shy, Keith was not. Well dressed, attentive, and sure of himself… he waited for a paying customer to finish their transaction and walked confidently up to the desk. OK… it didn’t hurt that he was ‘easy on the eyes’ either.

He proceeded to tell my daughter and me about his story… notice I said his STORY… not his book. By the time he was finished my mouth hung open and I couldn’t wait to read his book… Men In My Town. It’s a true unsolved crime which happened to him as a young man in Rhode Island. I devoured the book in one evening!!!

Keith returned to the store a few days later. As I handed the book back to him and placed an order I remarked, “I smell movie rights.” The only disappointment I had was while he recounted his story to me verbally, he mentioned a few things that were not in the book, which I felt needed to be added. But as usual, the books were already printed.

My view of self publishing changed that day. Some AWESOME books were being written and regular John Q. Public would never know about them. It took a few more years for me to get my life in order and begin to trumpet these wonderful books. Along the way I have stumbled across The Bronze Horsemen written by David Mallegol… about the domestication of the horse, Ridiculous by D.L. Carter, a Regency Romance I would NEVER have picked up to read but absolutely LOVED and Sweet Tea by Wendy Decker, a great story about a girl dealing with her mother’s mental illness… just to name a few.

Of course all of these books are available through your favorite online bookstore… HOWEVER… I would prefer you help out your local Independent Bookstore and order it from them. If you don’t know who that is… may I direct your attention to Indiebound.org. Simply type in your zip code and ta-dah… your local stores pop up. This is also great for when you are away from home 🙂

If all else fails… or you want to save some time… call Shari at The Paperback Exchange… 732-681-6829 and she will gladly ship you a copy. PayPal and all credit cards accepted.

NOW for the BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!!!!

I have made the commitment to read TWO books a month that were either self published OR published by a small Independent Publishing House and review them on my other site… Unique and NovelJoin me over there if you are looking for something new and different to read. I promise you these are books you won’t ever hear about unless read my blog!