River City Challenge


Here’s one of those projects I’ve been working on recently.  The awesome folks of River City Challenge in Jacksonville called me again this year to help them out with their poster. I’m pretty pleased with the way it turned out and I’m hoping I might even get to see it in physical form this year! Fingers crossed I can make it to Jacksonville for the festivities in April, only time will tell. I was definitely happy to help these folks out with such a great event that supports the North Florida Land Trust. Our rivers, estuaries and mangrove forest are so vital to the health of our waters and coast here in Florida, it feels great to help support a non-profit that’s all about protecting them! It’s going to be a fun event whether your a competitive paddler or not.  There will be good music, art, knowledge and beer a flowing, so if your in the Jacksonville area be sure to check it out! You can visit thier web page for more details www.rivercitychallenge.org

Happy paddling to all you competitors out there 🙂

Time the Slipperiest Fish of All


FishIt feels like time has been accelerated to supersonic speeds and is in limited supply these days.  Man-o-Man has there been a lot going on and it seems like I’m still gaining momentum.  Some days I want to release the main sheet, throw the tiller and round up to a complete stop just to catch my breath! But no, I’m holding fast I’m going to need every bit of that momentum to get me off the dock this summer. Goals have been set, routes charted, and the winds of changes are picking up. Abacos is word for the summer and with just 16 weeks left for preparation, planning, and completing projects my to-do list seems never ending.  That’s some how frightening and exhilarating all in the same moment. All these things I’ve been seeking, all the dreams I’ve been dreaming, all culminating. Now all that’s left is the foot work and I know I can take care of that. So stayed tuned friends I’ll be sharing a lot of new things here, updates on boat projects, trip planning, various art work, photography and design pieces I’ve been working on, and even some writing I’ve started doing for another web site.  It’s all going to be a lot to keep up with but I’m determined to stick to my goals one of which is to share here more often!

Trece Amigas, Sisters of the Sea

From left; Sista Rachael, Jes-sea Rae, and me in Panama 2011

I don’t have any sisters by blood, but this life has provided me with a beautiful bouquet of amazing woman though out the years.  These are ladies who’ve gone beyond friends. Who’ve shown up at just the right moments to share and experience the current with me, there to help steer, encourage, and inspire.  They are the gals with whom I’ve shared my deepest thoughts, giggles, and awe-mazing moments.  And they have shared their, wisdom, love, families, and beautiful presence with me.  They are all exceptional in their own ways, you all know who you are, please know you are very much loved and appreciated by me.

This particular post is about just two of these ladies, Jes-sea Rae and Sista Rachael my sailing soul sisters if you will.  They have already been mentioned here and will un-doughtily be mentioned quite often so I figure I should give them a proper introduction.  Jessie Rae or Jes-sea as I like to spell it, is a Floridian Eskimo. Sounds like an oxymoron but it’s true, her mother’s full blood Inuit and her fathers a Florida boy. No wonder she’s a master fisherwoman who’s got a green thumb that’d make a bird of paradise bloom in the desert. Girl walks around with herbs stuffed in her pockets, a braid always in her hair and her eyes on constant observer mode.  On land or sea at she knows how to fashion a meal and some basic comforts with whatever she’s got. As a sailor she’s got more miles under her keel than most sailors I know, our age or not.  She spent about three years hopping from boat to boat, crewing deliveries, gaining certifications and a whole lot of experience along the way. The girl’s sailed all over the Caribbean, the Atlantic, both American and European sides as well as a-crossed the pond, she has made it as far as Madagascar on her ventures.  It’s not surprising that when I randomly met her just weeks after I began sailing I was instantly captivated by her.  At the time we met she had just returned to St. Augustine after her 3-years adrift and was laying plans to go to England to get her Yacht Masters certification.  I was determined to soak up as much knowledge and influence as I possibly could before she left. Luckily she didn’t mind, she liked my enthusiasm and we became quick friends. A week later she introduced me to her friend, Rachael.

Known throughout Jacks Beach and St. Augustine as Sista Rachael for her Reggae singing, long blond dreads, and sultry attitude this girl’s a whole lot more than just a soulful voice and a fine behind.  Girl’s got the kind of brains and raw energy that makes the seemingly impossible plausible. I’m talking all kinds of smart, book smart, street smart, I’m overachieving before I’ve had my coffee smart.  There’s something about Rachael, some would call it luck some would call it charm, me, I think she may just be magic.  She’s got a way of finding the most amazingly beneficial, but completely unheard of situations.  Case in point for the last year plus Rachael’s been “managing” Paramour a 38 ft. West Wind Vagabond sailboat.  Through a series of curious events this boat pretty much landed right in her lab.  I will have to tell the tail of Paramour at another time, it is interesting and full of strange one-thing leads to another events.  Now Paramour is not hers, but she is welcome to live aboard it, to sail it whenever she likes, in exchange for maintaining the boat, not at her expense but at the owners.  Basically  she has a big beautiful blue water boat to play around and learn on at no expense to her self, oh yea and a place to live rent-free.  See what I mean? Of course this won’t last forever Paramour is for sale but I’m sure by the time that bridge falls into the sea Rachael will be half way across her next unimaginably bridge that appeared as soon as needed.

Now the three of us don’t get together often, distance, busy schedules, all the details of life keep us warped up in our own worlds. But in the fleeting moments in which our paths do intercept there is such an intense energy of joy, confidence, camaraderie, and love it feels as if we’re some unstoppable force capable of anything. And while we’re not always sailing, jumping ship, commandeering dinghies, washing up on tropical islands, sneaking into places we wish were free, slaying fish or drinking out of coconuts it always feels like an adventure when we’re together.  Even when all we conquer is a bottle of rum and a silent night, our laughter and song ringing out for all to hear.

 We are Trece Amigas, sailing sisters three, the only lasses ever known to be saltier than the sea.


In the beginning, there were ripping tides, J boats rides, a beautiful bay front, a watchful lighthouse, full moon cruises, a roaring inlet, oh so much Bush beer, and these guys….

It all started in St. Augustine when a co-worker asked me if I’d ever been sailing.

“No” I told him,

“We should go sometime, I could teach you” he said

“Yeah?! let’s go!”

“I’m serious.” he said

“So am I!”

That was that, by the end of the week I found myself at the helm of a J-24, my life forever changed. It’s hard  to explain, the experience I had when I first felt the sails fill, the boat tune in, slicing forward through the water only the sounds of birds and the wind in my ears. I can’t tell you why it was so much more than just sailing a boat. It was a great AAH Ha moment, a real stars aligning, treasure finding, mind melting realization of a moment.  I think it may have been the single most insanely clarifying moment of my life; I didn’t know the first thing about sailing or sailboats, but in that instant I knew it was for me.

The year that followed was full of sailing and I couldn’t get enough. I was extremely lucky to have a group of friends who always wanted to get out, one of which had regular access to a J-24, a Catalina 30 and a Cape Dory 22.  We started racing the J-24 in the yacht clubs Wednesday night “Beer Can” races. We took night cruises on the Catalina whenever the moon was full, we sailed to our hearts content, in the river, out the inlet, offshore, whatever the weather was good for. I learned a lot rapidly, and at the end of the summer 4 of us who had all been learning together took a basic keel boat certification course.  The biggest benefit of the course? I could now talk the talk. I had already acquired most of my basic skills from my time on the water, but I was lacking in my vocabulary, I wasn’t fluent in sailor speak. Suddenly I was able to communicate about this new passion and I started tearing through sailing literature with new understanding.  The books inspired me further, growing my love, all I wanted to do was get on a sailboat and be able to keep going, no turning back!

Awe the frustrations of being a dreamer.  Life of course was still happening all around me and as much as wanted to just cast off all ties and sail away I had things to take care of before I could make that happen. I finished college and hung around St. Augustine awhile longer. I had an amazing summer teaching kids how to sail on Opti’s and Sunfish . Then the hunt for the “real job” began, but while I hunted a “real job,” I also started hunting sailboats. I didn’t know were my job hunt would lead, but I knew that a coastal city was as mandatory as finding the job. I had a plan to get my hands on a sailboat just as fast as I possibly could.

Dinghy <3, Shooting Stars & Bioluminescent Waters

Every Girl Deserves A Good Dinghy, or so Jes-sea once told me, well this sailing girl has finally found hers. After months of research and scouring craigslist I finally took the plunge settling on a 7’11” Dyer ‘Midget’ with a sailing rig and pair of oars.  A little fiberglass beauty with solid design, hand laid fiberglass construction, and bronze hardware details, Dyer dinghies are classic tenders that surprise, are still being built to this day. I figure a company that’s been making and selling handcrafted dinghies for over 80 years must be doing something right.  The real kicker? It was in St. Augustine in the possession of an acquaintance I knew from my time teaching sailing camps there. So off I went to St. Augustine for a night. I got to catch up with my ‘sailing sisters’ Rachael & Jes-sea, then picked up the dink before getting back on the road the next morning.  A trip to one of my favorite places, a chance to catch up with two of my favorite people, and a new sailing toy all wrapped into one?! Yes, yes, and yes.  So home I came happy as a clam ready to try out my new dink…only life and weather was uncooperative.  Between work and afternoon thunderstorms I didn’t have an opportunity to take her out for another four days.

Finally Thursday night the clouds had cleared and there was a bit of steady wind stirring around the marina, I wasn’t waiting any longer. I grabbed a headlight and rigged up the sail. Tommy came along for ride and we slid silently out of the marina into the barge canal headed for the river.  It’s August and the bio-luminescent algae in the water is at its peak. The water was ALIVE, all around us fish could be seen darting in ever direction. Their rapid movements illuminated from the stirring algae.  Behind us my little dinghy’s wake looked like clouds of pixy dust floating through the water.  Above us the sky was dark and starry with no moon in sight.  I spotted several shooting stars streaking across the horizon, the first of many to come from a meteor shower that would peek over the weekend. We reached the river and sailed out of the channel into the shallows of a small mangrove island. BIG glowing silhouettes of fish started streaking out from beneath us. My dagger board hit bottom and so I headed back for deeper water.  My little dinghy sailed pretty good with two us on board.  It had been a long time since I’d sailed a small boat and just as my heart was filling with joy about how this moment seemed so perfect it got even better. I heard the distinct sound of a dolphin exhale. On the other side of the channel were pair of dolphins herding schools of fish onto the shallow riverbank.  We sailed right up to them, the water boiled with fish, the dolphins in quick pursuit, the entire dance illuminated right before our eyes.  We came with in about 10 feet of them and for a moment the action was all around us, then swiftly they had continued their hunt up the riverbank.

I tacked around and headed us back toward the Marina but once we got into the barge canal the wind became shifty and I was unable to make any headway. No problem, break out the oars….this should be pretty straight forward right? Not quite, who knew rowing was such a highly refined skill!! After about 20 minutes of laughter, frustration, some serious concentration, and still no headway Tommy finally agreed to take over. Thank goodness cause well I’m sure I would of made it back eventually, it would have been a long sleepless night and I think I would have returned as one giant bug bite.  I have since been working on my rowing skills and I’m happy to report they’re coming along nicely.  I’m growing to love my little dink more and more every day.  I was on the fence about a hard dink vs an inflatable, which is what every cruiser seems to recommend these days, but I am so happy I ended up with a little sailing/rowing dink instead. I even found an old school 2hp Evinrude outboard, so I can motor as well, if I like. I’m sure that there will be moments in the future were, weather, or distance, or who knows what may cause me to look at an inflatable roaring by me with envy from my hard little dink. But I also know there will be many more moments of wonder like that of the dolphins hunting in the bio-luminescence of the Indian River. It was a moment that could of easily slipped by unnoticed if it had not been for the silent mobility, that sailing affords.  It is that silence, or rather those sounds you can hear, the creak of your boat, the water against your haul, the dolphins exhale, that allow your senses to come alive and in tune with the world around you.  It is a huge part of my love for sailing; I live for that moment when the sail goes up, the engine goes off and peace floods my senses.