Blog Overboard

What can I say? Time flies when your having fun, I mean rum, no maybe it’s on the run?

 Likely that all three could apply. Or maybe I should just say some things are better left on the dock? Who knows, better yet who cares? Here I am again with an update  (Updates?…maybe…)  So enjoy it as long as it last I suppose, and don’t be surprised when I become a long lost internet cast away once again.

Elbow Reef Lighthouse

The Historic Elbow Reef Lighthouse

 In a ridiculous effort to start where I left off; Since I last wrote my amazing two armed crew “Jam” became an international-globe trotter of sorts.  She some how managed to conjure up a job in Japan while floating around Abaco. Yes, everyone was and still is totally perplexed by this. None the less just a little over a month after we had arrived in Abaco waters, I was waving good bye as the ferry whisked Jam out of Hope Town Harbour bound for Japan. Leaving just me and my furry first mate Gypsy aboard the good ship Lynne Marie, I suddenly found my self a solo sailor.

Jam helping out with the Lion Fish invasion

Jam helping out with the Lion Fish invasion

I had known from the start this solo situation was a very real possibility that could present it self at any given moment. Let’s face it not everyone is made for the sailing life and even the best of friendships can become overwhelmed when tumbled to long in a space totaling 27 not so square feet. I always knew that any crew could and would jump ship whenever they pleased. So I was not totally unprepared for this situation, if anything I knew it would come around sooner or later.
Crakin Coconuts in the Cockpit this chic was made for cruising!

Crakin Coconuts in the Cockpit this chic was made for cruising!

Let me be clear though, Jam’s departure was in no way a case of mutiny. Cruising life suited her well and I could see there a desire to keep on hopping down the island chain. I’m almost certain future sailing exploits await her. That month aboard together beyond being an adventurous good time was a learning, growing, expansive experience. We both took a major plunge, up and quitting perfectly good jobs to run off and see what else life had to offer, and we’ve both reaped the rewards of this decision in our own ways. Truly I don’t believe I could have picked a better crew, and honestly I likely would not have made it off the dock with out her. After three years of working, playing and traveling together, it was a bittersweet goodbye.  Both of us well on our way down intersecting paths of adventures, happiness and freedom.  Jam has now gone, saw, and conquered much of the far east and returned to this hemisphere. We were recently reunited and with her now back in Florida waters I can spy future Caribbean adventures on the horizon, hooray!

Laundry day.

Laundry day!

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I’d advise cleaning your conch before you eat it….


some cave exploration


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Bittersweet Goodbyes

You may now be imagining that I’d soon be getting lonely after Jam’s departure, the truth is I’ve not know a lonely day in Abaco yet, crew or no crew.  My mom had actually flown in for a visit the same week as Jam’s departure and by the time my mom flew out there appeared on the horizon another familiar figure. Woodstar my good neighbors from the one and only Banana River Marina, I didn’t have crew but I did have “da best” buddy boat around! They had ice!! They was rich!

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Just me and my furry first mate Gypsy

 The months that followed are a blur of long hot days fishing, diving, and exploring every beach, cove, cave and coral of southern Abaco.  Little Harbour, Lynard and The Bright of Old Robinson became favored spots. I saw more sea turtles than I ever imagined I could possibly see in a day. I’d dive daily on beautiful reef covered in sea fans concealing the likes of everything from goliath groupers, turtles, rays, sharks and crawfish. I became adept at free diving and fishing with a Hawaiian sling.  We spend days in the shallows of the Bright seeking out every blue hole we could find to explore.  It was during these days that the captains log was also thrown overboard. I had done pretty well at maintaining a daily log up until this point. Looking back its evident that entries continued to get shorter and shorter, the last couple entries a comical note or two about another day wasted fishing.  In short, life was good and blissfully slow, it was hurricane season and we were the only boats around with the exception of one or two that might pop up for a day moving through. We found some new and old friends in Little Harbour and caught the occasional lift to Cherokee for groceries. Fresh produce became the stuff of folklore, but it seemed there was always enough fish, rice, and beans to go around. Just as all things, these long hot days were made to pass.
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Gypsy loves a good coconut

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So many Snapper

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My first Hog Fish, so delicious!

Fishing potcake

Fishing potcake

Sweet sweet fresh produce!

Sweet sweet fresh produce!

As the end of hurricane season rolled into site murmurs of returning to Florida came bubbling up. Yes I had every intention of returning to Florida when I left, now? After months of floating about Abaco?…  well it sounded like a terrible idea. So I made the call to stay and once again waved goodbye as my friends headed out of Abaco waters. So the new “plan” was to try and keep on moving south! I could, after all always return to Florida if things went awry. I figured once winter arrived I’d probably be able to make some friends and find the right buddy boat to sail south with. Well it didn’t taken long… I found a buddy alright, but in place of sails he had roots! A local boy set a hook right in my heart, and well it’s a bit hard to admit, I’ve tuned back to landlubbing ways over the past year. I got no room to complain though. It’s been nothing short of amazing, and oh so comforting to have some land based resources come my way after 2 years aboard my 27ft floating home, and hey, can there be a better piece of land for a sailor to love than a tiny island on the edge of the great Atlantic? The good news is, while my guy be rooted to this place he is also a well traveled sailor. Sailing and boating is part of everyday life here, which really was the lifestyle I was searching for. I know future cruising endeavors await and in the mean time there’s a garden and local cruising is perfection. In fact my favorite cruising season is now here. Tomorrow  we’ll navigate Lynne Marie up to Green Turtle to take part in the yearly event that is the Stranded Naked Party and then Regatta Time in Abaco. It will be my 3rd year participating in this event and also marks the day I first laid eyes on my now boyfriend, all the more reason to celebrate!

Good bye Woodstar!

Good bye Woodstar!

A Little Harbour sunset

A Little Harbour sunset

Hello Handsome :)

Hello Handsome 🙂

As I reflect back on the course that brought me here, I feel so incredibly lucky, but really I know it had little to do with luck and everything to do with choice. I think back to searching for my boat, living on the dock, the weekly 40hr grind, the weekend after weekend of never ending boat work, the stress and the manic panic of the last couple weeks before shoving off. My mind wanders to where I’d be if I hadn’t taken every single disastrous wave or storm that came along this journey in stride and I can’t even fathom it. But, what I find amazing is the sense it was simply my passion and my choice to “keep on keeping on” that carried me right through it all. I just wanted to sail, to be free, to see the sunrise over new horizons and that was enough to keep me moving in the right direction. It was a long weathering route the majority of which had been completed before I ever actually set sail. Truely it was once I finally got off the dock that things became so much simpler, easy, breezy, fluid. Even though I had little actual “cruising” experience, even though I had little more than the bare necessities, even though I had limited resource and was winging it pretty much on my own, I still managed to find a route to my dreams of sailing off into the sunset. Of course it took form in a ways I could have never imagined. Ironically what started off as a wild eyed burning desire to “sail around world” would curb itself into a much healthier short term obbjective of just getting off the dock to anywhere! The Bahamas was an obvious choice.  I only ended up sailing 350 miles to get to here, but hey that’s all it took for me to reach paradise, now maybe that’s a bit of luck!  I’d still LOVE to sail around the world, but now that seems so much more plausible than it did 6 years ago as a 25 year old who had just learned to sail and knew nothing of cruising. It was realizing that many of the experiences I was seeking in my wanting to “sail around the world” could be had by a much simpler and accessible route that allowed me to start choosing to move in the direction I wanted to go.

Just can’t get enough of those wide open horizons


A found a heart in a piece of buttonwood!

 I have long forgotten this blog wrapped up in the joys and follies of discovering a new way of life, but I’ve recently felt compelled to share this bit, there may be more to follow…perhaps. I’ve been inspired by many other bloggers and adventures of all kinds along the way and I suppose this is my paying it forward, by adding my voice to their choirs. Another case of done it with zero regrets. It seems more, and more I hear the rallying cry to follow your heart, and I must agree with that.  More importantly, the time is never better than now. Taking even the smallest step in the direction you want to go today can make all the difference tomorrow, no matter how difficult or seemingly impossible the journey. Whatever it is, choose do it now or at least choose to start now by what ever means you can muster or in whatever small way you can. Forget about how you think it has to be done or what you think it should look like and seek a way, anyway that you can make it happen. You CAN do it, but’s its rare you’ll ever hear anyone actual tell you that, so if your lucky enough to have some one tell you “you can” don’t ever forget it. The route my heart directed was never “easy” but at the same time it was never truly difficult either, just challenging, and always rewarding. The biggest reward being where I find myself now. In a place and situation I could have never day dreamed up, where it seems I fit just right, and there’s no place else I’d rather be.  Where now bigger dreams loom over the horizon the likes of which I’d never even considered. How does it get even better than that? Keep on Dreaming and once you reach, don’t forget to dream some more.


Keep on Dreaming

Keep on Dreaming.

The Crossing

A Rainbow Welcomed us to Peck Lake the evening of the 25th

A Rainbow Welcomes us to Peck Lake the evening of the 25th

We awoke the morning of June 26th anchored up at Peck Lake about 15 miles north of West Palm. The plan was to jump the Gulf Stream that night, the weather was right but it wasn’t going to stick around. We all knew if we didn’t make it out the inlet that night we could get stuck at Peanut Island waiting to jump.  After coffee and a quick breakfast we prepared to pull anchor, I fired up the diesel and realized something didn’t sound quite right…. pulled the kill switch and hopped down to investigate…

I’d lost a nut off the back of one of the bolts connecting the alternator, as a result the head of an opposing bolt had been sheared off leaving the alternator dangling….. hmmmmmm this is not so good, I don’t have the tools for this…. but I know a neighbor who might!!

The evening before a nice Aussie, Jeremy, and his friend Skip had dinghied over to introduced them selves and investigate just where 3 young ladies on a sailboat had come from and where they were headed. We chatted for awhile about our plans and theirs. Jeremy left us with one of his cards, a Marine engineer , couldn’t of written it better. So I buzzed over to see if I could possibly burrow some tools…. and some expertise?! Sure enough Jeremy was happy to help. With a little patience and a bit of tinkering we got the sheared bolt tapped out and the engine alternator secure enough to make West Palm. A big round of hugs and many thanks was showered upon Jeremy, and we were off down the ICW once more.

Sailboat community, got to love it, everyone is always willing to lend a hand, Thanks Jeremy!!

Sailboat community, got to love it, everyone is always willing to lend a hand, Thanks Jeremy!!

Jam and Roo Cheesin with Jeremy

Jam and Roo Cheesin with Jeremy

But we weren’t quit in the clear yet, I still needed to get some hardware to finalize repairs, we could make it down the intercostal, but across the stream was a different story… I put the girls on the helm and I busied my self below, stowing things away, preparing the ditch bag, collecting batteries, GPS’s, navigation devices, emergency gear ect. We cleared the last bridge into North Lake Worth about 4 o’clock. We pulled up to a fuel dock to top off the tanks and find a local hardware store. Guys on the dock were great and told us we cold stay tied up as long as we needed, I hopped below and searched for what was close by, grabbed my purse and got ready to go hail a cab. No need. The girls had made some friends standing on the dock, a father in son who managed the mega yacht tied up on the next slip. Pops, as he introduced him self was going run me wherever I needed. So off we went to Ace Hardware, Pops and I rummaging through the metric hardware drawers searching for what would work just right.  We talked about the crossing and Pops shook me down about route, navigation, equipment, provisions and what all we had on board. It was a good little run down that got me focused on just what I was about experience the next 24hrs. Back on the dock I made the final repairs, against all odds, time it seemed was on our side that day, we were going for it.  We decided one round of shots was needed to clam the nerves and have a proper farewell cheers with Pops and B. We climbed aboard Lynne Marie just about 7 o’clock and pushed off the dock for GOoD, waving good bye to our new found friends.

Our last Florida sunset... I totally missed it. Good on Jam for snapping the pic!

Our last Florida sunset… I totally missed it. Good on Jam for snapping the pic!

Now I can’t tell you what Lake Worth, Peanut Island or the Inlet there looks like… not even one bit. I had the girls on the helm again while I was down below in a fairly manic state. Once more pouring over routes, headings, waypoints, gps settings, and all those little details that suddenly come to mind as you’re headed out to navigate your sailboat home with two of your dearest friends onboard across the gulf stream…. Finally as the last light of day left the sky I emerged into the cockpit to see the lights of West Palm falling away behind us.  Jam and Roo did a great job all day moving us down the intercostal and now that’d moved us right out the inlet.  We had a compass heading of 120,  the GPS was programmed, and the chart was out below waiting to be plotted upon. I was finally confident I had it all worked out correctly and now all there was to do was hold a course, trust the compass and whisper sweet words to the sea that she may keep us in her favor.

It was a long night after a long day followed by another long day. We were bucking both the wind and the current motoring through the night and though the wind was light and the waves only about 3ft the ride was pretty jarring.  We spotted only a few lights from passing freighters, none that came close, but it’s amazing just how fast they actually move. Jam was the auto helm of the night, I swear, Good Tunes equals Rocket Fuel to that one, she bobbed along on the helm thru the wee hours of the morning till sunrise. Roo asleep down below, me taking intermitted naps in the cockpit between, giving breaks on the tiller, checking coordinates and plotting our course. When the sun came up we were with in sight of the Bahama Bank, just where we wanted to be. That navigation jazz, it works.  Jam went down for some sleep Roo got up to take over. Finally out of the stream and on to the bank the waves settled to a gentle roll. Roo and I took turns on the tiller catching naps in the cockpit as we could.

Roo chessin in calm waters crossing the bank

Roo cheesin in calm waters crossing the bank

Jam catching some ZzZ on the bow

Jam catching some ZzZ on the bow

We pulled up to Great Sail about 5pm and threw out anchor. We had made it, with a lot of help & guidance from friends old & new,  we had successfully navigated the Gulf Stream and landed our selves in northern Abaco.  Break out the Champagne!  A good nights sleep quickly followed dinner. Tomorrow new problems would be waiting, but that’s a story for another time…

Fair winds till then,


Cheers WE MADE IT!

Cheers WE MADE IT!

Oh My Abaco!

Our frist Sunrise in the Bahamas after Crossing

Our frist Sunrise in the Bahamas after Crossing

Where oh where have the past two months gone!! They feel like they’ve been a complete blur even though my perpetual forward motion seems to only average about 4 knots! So many updates, so many amazing places, faces, and tales to tell. Here an now is a quick run down. Many more details, pictures, and stories of these happening to come as things have now begun to slow and routine is slowly working its way back into my life. To bad cause I sure do love that whirl of initial new beginnings, awe well routine has its perks as well.

Down the Intercostal and across the Gulf Stream Jun 24 -26

Spent two nights in the intercostal then hit North Palm Beach about 4 O’Clock refueled and jumped that night cause the window was perfect! We were sent off well by some new friends at the fuel dock, and even though I can’t say it was a “Smooth” crossing it was a complete success in the respect that we totally made it!!! After 36 hrs, down the intercostal that morning, then across the Gulf Stream that night, then across the northern Bahama bank all the next day we made Great Sail Cay in the northern Abaco by 5pm anchored up and slept a much needed whole night threw.

Jamie the auto helm of the night!! She held it down through the wee late hrs of the morning

Jamie the auto helm of the night!! She held it down through the wee late hrs of the morning

Me lossing steam after sunrise

Me losing steam after sunrise.

Cheers WE MADE IT!

Cheers WE MADE IT!

Great Sail Cay to Fox Town to Alan’s to Green Turtle Jun 27-Jul2

We got a late start out of Sail Cay due to groggy-ness and a stretched out alternator belt giving me headaches. We were headed directly to Alan’s but ran out of day light so eeked into the cut at Fox town to anchor over night just by the last light in the sky – Haven’t made that mistake again! Next morning we made the jump over to Allen’s got both the anchors dove down into some good holes just in time for a south westerly blow to come in strong. The next day high winds and rain kept us at Allen’s another night but we did get a few hrs of sun at the beach, made some friends with the neighboring sister tri’s and hung an ordament on the “cruiser tree.” Got out of Allen’s in a fresh breeze the next morning but unfortunitly that breeze was once again right on our nose. A slow motor to Green Turtle meant we didn’t make it in to port in time to clear in that day. We anchored up in Black Sound hoisted our quanintine flag and waited for morning. I cleared us all in the next morning Jul 2nd. We meandered around town most the day and found a nice little place with a pool, a bar and internet connection. Roo (our 3rd crew member who I have shamefully failed to introduce here up to this point) made her arrangements to fly out the next morning. We met up with a couple of our friends again from Allen’s and made plans to go over to the Staranded Naked party with them on their Tri the next day.

In the "Cruiser Tree" hanging our trinket

In the “Cruiser Tree” hanging our trinket

Stranded Nacked and Abaco Regatta Week Jul 3-10

The real BLUUUR begins!! What can I say about this week it was crazy, every day felt like three in one. We met SO many awesome people, there were so many parties and oh yes races, lots of sailboats racing. We managed to get on a 60ft Catameran for a couple days of racing – Not quite my ushual crewing experience of foredeck on a J24 to say the least!!! And know Jamie has a completely skewed experience of what crewing a sailboat during a race is actually like, but hey I can deal with fun and relaxing. It even gave me the opprtunity to bring out my camera and get some real nice shots, that hasn’t happened during a race since my days with Team High Sea’s in St. Augustine. We pretty much followed the races down from Green Turtle to Guana to Marsh and lastly Hope Town through the week.  The last Hope town race was cancelled due to fears of the developing storm Chantal to the south. As it turned out that storm broke up to mostly nothing and the 10th would have been a beautiful day to sail. Awe well most the boats in the area headed back to the states. We bid fair well to our departing new friends and were thankful that our livers would be recieving a break 🙂

Me and Jam rockin tu-tus at Stranded Naked Party!!

Me and Jam rockin tu-tus at Stranded Naked Party!!

Shoots out Racing!

Shoots out Racing!

The Abaco Rage my favorite boat at the Races - Sorry Double Trouble!!

The Abaco Rage my favorite boat at the Races – Sorry Double Trouble!!

Me at the helm of Double Trouble

Me at the helm of Double Trouble

Hope Town – Tillo – Lynard  &  Little Harbor

Ever since the races ended Jam and I have been throughly enjoying our no plan “plan”.  We kinda just meander here and there as we please. We made it down to Little Harbor and throughly enjoyed being out in the wild southern regions of Abaco.  We’ve been trying to fish and kite but haven’t had to much luck with timing either yet. With the exception of being rather sucessful at collecting conch. We are now in Hope Town waiting on some friends to arrive and I’m obviously starting to go through pictures and notes from the log to find things to share. There will be much more to share on all the subjects and new happening coming soon right here.

Saving the best for last


Or was I saving the beast for last? My last majorly daunting obstacle to having the boat sail ready is some updates to the electrical system.  What’s there works for the most part, the problem is I have no idea how.  Guess it’s a good thing I have a few important items to get installed and working correctly cause I definitely need some educating in the realm of DC electrical systems.

The main objective in these updates is adding a house bank and a couple solar panels to support it. My electrical needs are pretty basic since I opted to go without refrigeration.  I just need to be able to support lights, fans, VHF, bilge pumps, auto-helm, and the charging of a few select electronics.  So this weekend I’ll be diving in head first trying to get it all straight and hopefully learning a thing or two along the way. Wish me luck,  just thinking of all those wires has me feeling a bit fried already, I just need to CHARGE it, HAAAAAAA.

The Miraculous Work of My Two Armed Crew


I now have a dodger!  That’s right while everyone was out enjoying the beach and a cold one this past holiday weekend my crew and I were working on this masterpiece!


Well maybe it’s not quite a masterpiece but I do think it fits the look of the boat and it’s certainly functional to say the least.  It’s a whole new almost indoor space and odd as it seems it actually makes the cockpit feel bigger, I was worried it‘d have the opposite effect.  I’m pretty stoked about this latest addition, can hardly wait to get the paint and windows on.


Huge thanks to all my brave friends who were willing to let me borrow their power tools and hats off to my hard-working crew, I couldn’t of done it with out her!  Speaking of, it’s about time I introduced her, meet Jamie, or Jam as she is often called do of her insatiable love of music.


Jamie and I have been working side by side the last 3 years.  Literally cubical neighbors, and we’re both pretty excited to be giving up the regular 9-5 workweek for a while.  I asked Jamie back in January if she’d be interested in spending a couple months cruising this summer; the idea and resulting plans quickly snowballed. Then just as excitement was starting to build into action this happened…

Broken Clavicle 11

Jam tried to ruin EVERYTHING!  Haaaa just kidding – but that broken collar-bone is no joke!  Back at the beginning of April the noodlie armed girl took a direct hit to the shoulder when she fell off her bike. Turning her temporarily into a one-armed wonder.  This defiantly threw a wrench in our plans.  Especially since we had literally just sat down and mapped out a week-by-week work calendar for the boat…. Ah well the best-laid plans right? For a moment I was worried all would be lost but it seems it has all worked it self-out because now here we are; Jam with two functioning arms and a sizable but reasonable list of boat work to squeeze into the next 3 weeks.  Plus I’ve got some extra helpful, capable, knowledgeable hands coming to town this weekend to help with preparations.  That’s right, hide the rum, lock up your dinghy and hit the deck cause all three of those salty sailing lasses will be blowing around town.  Ahhh yes, I’m defiantly jonesing for some of that Trece Amagias energy.  Need their help to get this perfect storm a-whirling, stirring up those winds of change, filling up my sails to carry me away.

Just Jump

JumpMyself and Jam – My soon to be introduced crew- taking a leap off the bow of a dive boat in PR last summer.

Ready or not the time is NOW and I know it. I can feel it; life is begging me to give up the excuses, to gather my strength and resources, and allow my hearts desires to carry me forward. There is no amount of preparation that can make me “ready” to quit a perfectly good job and sail off in my little home to unknown horizons. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to do it. I could spend years and countless dollars outfitting a boat to have every marine electronic and toy onboard, a fat saving in a bank somewhere, and still not be “ready.” That’s not to say I won’t be prepared, but how can any of us be “ready” to take a leap into unknown waters? If you ask me, there is no ready, there is only jump.

As the days tick down to my intended departure date, just about a month away, it becomes increasingly harder for me to quite that little naysayer inside my head.  It whispers a million what if’s in my ear, instigating worry and fear. That annoying little voice it’d keep me glued right here for the rest of my years, in my nice stable job, knowing exactly what to expect day in and day out.  That annoying little voice it doesn’t like change, to bad so sad, because I DO.

And though I can think of many things I’d still “like” to have on board before I go, none of them are essential. Sure I could wait another year hopeful to stash away enough money for all those goodies. Yes it’d be nice to have an engle refrigerator along with a wind gen to support it, but it’s not needed. Yes I would love, love, love! to upgrade my camera equipment and get my hands on an underwater housing, but I know I can make do with the gear I got.  A couple kites, and a small quiver of boards would be nothing short of amazing, but I’m pretty sure that while I may be over there wishing I had some fun toys of this nature, I’ll be sure to find fun regardless. And who knows maybe, just maybe, the stars will align and somewhere down the line those things may just find me…. fingers crossed.

At this point I have my needs covered and I’m not willing to wait on casting off any longer. So I say to that little naysayer, “quite down you! this is hardly a difficult endeavor; it doesn’t need to be so scary and complicated as you make it sound! I’m not going around the world after all, I’m merely meandering across the Gulf Stream I’ll practically be in my own back yard!” How lucky I am to be so close to a whole chain of beautiful islands. No need to cross an entire ocean, or sail for weeks on end to arrive in warm clear tropical waters with safe anchorages practically around every turn. So as all the little details and stresses of my final preparations do their best to try and drive me mad, I just remember the sayings and feelings of all cruisers who’ve come before me. This little jem is working exceptionally well at the moment.

 The lovely thing about cruising is that planning usually turns out to be of little use.
– Dom Degnon

Sailors Of Old ~ “Man of Iron”

There are many amazing story’s and maritime tale’s surrounding America’s oldest seaport, Gloucester Massachusetts, but none so legendary as the tale’s of Howard Blackburn. Whenever a retched, “I can’t” crosses my mind – I remember Howard Blackburn. When I’m feeling overwhelmed – I remember Howard Blackburn. In any moment of complete and utter despair – I REMEMBER HOWARD BLACKBURN. The story of this man’s life, a harrowing tale of survival followed by countless self inflict challenges, distort the boundaries of human limitation. And that’s exactly why he’s one of my all time favorite sailors of old. Here, in short, is the tale of Gloucester’s “Man of Iron.”


The Fingerless Solo Sailor Howard Blackburn

In 1883, at age 24 Blackburn was a doryman aboard the schooner Grace L. Fears a Halibut fishing vessel out of Gloucester MA. One cold January day the captain ordered the men out in their dories to collect the trawls (long lines of baited hooks) early because a storm was brewing. Blackburn and his dory mate Welsh hoped to it, but by the time they finished collecting their lines a thick fog had rolled in and they lost sight of their ship. As the snow began to fall, the wind began to howl and the seas began rise, they gave up hope of finding their ship in such conditions and threw out anchor.

All night they bailed out the dory after every pounding wave and used their fishing gaff’s to chip away ice accumulating on the gunwales. The next morning arrived, the snow stopped but the sea and wind still ragged and the Grace L. Fears was nowhere to be found. They continued on at anchor the seas too wild to row. Then Blackburn lost his gloves, knowing his hands would soon freeze he shaped them in hooks around the oars and continued his work bailing with his “hook hands.” Late that day Blackburn prompted Welsh it was his turn to bail and Welsh replied he couldn’t. Blackburn told him he had to help, told him “look at my hands!” Which in Blackburn own account of the story, he says he wish he’d never done because at that moment Welsh gave up all hope. Before nightfall Blackburn pulled the anchor, slid his frozen hands around the oars and began rowing for the Newfoundland coast 60 miles to the north.

He rowed, hands frozen around the oars with no food, no water, and only a frozen dead man for company for 3 days. On the fifth day of his ordeal he reached the mouth of a river where he was spotted, brought to safety and treated for frostbite. He lost all his fingers and several of his toes, but he survived. A year later he returned to Gloucester a hero. Since he could no-longer work as a fishermen the people of Gloucester all contributed to give him some money to get back on his feet. He opened a tobacco shop and later a bar. He was a successful business man in Gloucester, and this sounds like the end of the story but it’s not!

Blackburn somehow still had a love for the sea, nothing it seemed could make landlubber of him. He tiered of running his bar so he found a ship and crew and headed south around Cape Horn. The best route he could think of to California, where the gold rush was in full effect. He didn’t find what he was looking for out west and returned to Gloucester at which time he began planning a solo crossing of the Atlantic aboard the Gloucester sloop Great Western.   He was successful and made the crossing to England in 62 days.  Two years later in 1901 he decided he wanted to do again (why not!) this time in a smaller boat. He sailed solo aboard the Great Republic reaching Portugal in 39 days, a new record.  That was his last successful solo crossing. A couple years later he set out again to cross solo in a small sailing dory but turned back when he hit foul weather. It is said that the year he died at age 72 he was still talking and planning another solo crossing. What a life, what a tale, what an absolute will of Iron.

Blackburn in a small sailing dory

Blackburn in a small sailing dory