3 min read

Let's go sailing

Let's go sailing
Once upon a time I was young and had a full head of hair! Photo credit, Tammy Qualls.

But maybe not with me

Welcome Aboard!

The newsletter has been on hiatus for — checks notes — six months! My apologies for the long absence. In that time, a lot has happened. Pertinent to the newsletter, I've switched hosts from Substack to Ghost(Pro). The reason for this move is simple: Back in the Fall of 2023, Substack incorrectly answered the question as to what was the correct number of NAZIs they'd allow on their platform. Reader, if you think the right answer is ZERO, then you are smarter than the duh-huhs who run Substack. After hemming and hawing about free speech (at which point I was already anxiously eying the exits), they came back with a number greater than ZERO but less than TEN. Needless to say, though free hosting was nice, being adjacent to a NAZI bar wasn't. So, I pay a modest fee to be on Ghost(Pro) now.

In professional news, I acquired a literary agent! I am over-the-moon excited with my agent and agency. My YA fantasy novel is currently on submission. I am hopeful that it gets bought before the heat death of the universe.

In OTHER professional news, I got laid off — while on vacation 😦 — on February 22nd. I signed with a new company on March 22nd. 😄 I am relieved that I no longer have to wonder where my healthcare and grocery money are to come from. The stress headaches haven't subsided yet, but I am feeling productive again.

And without further ado, let's begin today's adventure on the low seas.


I have an undeserved reputation while on a boat. Maybe because I'm a man, or I say that I've sailed before, or that I was a Boy Scout. Whatever the reasons, the skipper usually thinks two things about me. One, they think that I can tie a bowline. And two, you can trust me around a rudder.

Neither of these is true.


While on a rather posh sailing adventure in Turkey and Greece (ed.: it wasn't posh, the beer was cheap, and the bunk was cramped), I developed enough rapport with the ship's skipper that he would send me over the rails to tie the boat to the pier with a bowline.

Reader, I am shit at tying a bowline. Try as I might, it's just not a knot that I can consistently get right. Sheepshank, sure, I got you. Reef knot, easy peasy. Even a figure eight—double or single!—I'm you're guy. But for the most important knot in sailing and camping, I have the worst time despite years of trying to beat the knot into muscle memory.

Did I tell this to the skipper? Maybe. Probably not. Even if I did, he was the type of captain who wasn't about to trust any of the passengers to this task (they were all women! gasp!)

At one port, I attached our boat to the pier with what I thought was a bowline. It was not. That night, my SLIP KNOT came undone as the boat rocked in the waves. While the boat didn't go careening into all the deck piers (just some), the jostling and the loud snap were more than enough to wake us all up. Since white guys only fail upward, I continued to tie all the knots for the rest of the trip.


Rudders aren't safe around me. And I'm not safe around them. It's truly best if we just never meet under work conditions.

The first rudder mishap was while at sailing camp in France. Okay, that was kinda posh. Not the accommodations, but getting to spend a week (not) speaking French and sailing on a lake was a teenage dream come true.

However, while crewing the boat — I wasn't even in the helm mind you — the rudder shattered under the not-very-high winds. The boom instantly came about and whacked me in the head. My friend said I was out for less than a minute. I still have a deformation on my skull from where it hit me that confounds barbers to this day. And because we were idiot Americans, we obnoxiously sang "Yellow Submarine" while being towed back to the dock.

Many years later, while sailing my friend's boat from Richmond, CA to San Mateo, actual high winds picked up while I was trying to relieve myself off the bow. I didn't go into the bay when the rudder snapped off, but it was extremely awkward when I whipped around the jib stay, fly open. Fortunately, my modesty was preserved by the two other crew members being preoccupied with avoiding the massive swinging boom (see previous paragraph). I didn't get a head injury this time, thank the gods. And we got to the slip under our own power, a two-stroke outboard motor that just barely functioned as a replacement rudder.