Holding Down the Fort

All is quiet on the home front around this cunning little household. We’re deep into the winter months here and that means dark and cold. At least it’s not wet. We’ve had a dry spell with sunny, cold days that are outstanding, even if too short.  Man, it’s really pretty around here when the sun is out. I wonder if other parts of the country focus on weather the way we do here. It’s always the topic of conversation and impacts the mood of the population as a whole. I’ll bet there is a research grant somewhere in that.

This would be a good boat to have right about now.

Unless you own a trawler or a pilothouse, winter is pretty miserable sailing weather around here, as referenced in my last post (oh, so long ago) about our trip to Blakely Harbor on New Year’s Eve. That little stunt cost me big time in that I’ve had bronchitis ever since then. Live and learn. I’m choosing ‘indoor’ activities just now to keep my delicate lungs from the cold air. Yes, I am nothing if not a high maintenance princess. Pass the tiara and bring me my blanket.

Since I’m only doing easy things, that includes a ton of reading (and playing on the Wii, but that’s another story). I bought Mike the usual selection of sailing adventure related books for Christmas and we’ve both been working our way through them.

One of the ones I’d like to recommend to readers is called [amazon_link id=”0985816201″ target=”_blank” ]Breaking Seas[/amazon_link], written by Glenn Damato. I bought this book because the subtitle grabbed me: “An overweight, middle-aged computer nerd buys his first boat, quits his job, and sails off to adventure.” What’s not to love?

[amazon_image id=”0985816201″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Breaking Seas: An overweight, middle-aged computer nerd buys his first boat, quits his job, and sails off to adventure[/amazon_image]

I will tell you right now that neither of us could put this book down.  Reading this book was like watching a train wreck. We knew what was coming, but couldn’t look away. I watched Mike’s expressions as he read it, listened to his gasps and exclamations, his groans of despair. When I read it we commiserated with each other that while the author did a great job of convincing us that he was almost totally unlikable,  we couldn’t stop reading. Something almost visceral compelled each of us to continue to the end of the book. I finished it in almost one sitting. And it’s 345 pages.

When I say ‘unlikable’, that’s basically an understatement. No one could possibly be as big a loser as this author makes himself out to be. Maybe he was using the time-honored writing technique of “exaggeration”.   Describing himself as unlucky in life, love, and looks, he is the quintessential man with a chip on his shoulder and this comes through over and over in his writing. Just ignore the whining because the story is worth it and he’s probably not as bad as he thinks. He has learned to be a ‘man’, so now he’s probably a pretty decent guy.

I guess you would call his story a classic archetype of the ‘hero’, who, against all odds, and not knowing one thing about what he is doing, discovers the real man within himself and comes home changed, probably for the better. He develops skills and learns that he can rely on himself, that he has fortitude and is resourceful. And this is a good thing to discover if you are someone who buys the second boat you’ve ever looked at, not knowing anything about sailing, and then take on crew who are complete strangers to you. I guess I’m assuming he would think there would be problems. He has enough stories for the rest of his life. He came home in one piece and for that alone he should consider his voyage a great success.

(Spoiler alert: Deck to hull joint that leaks like a sieve. Also, an ingenious fix to a terrifying and potentially life threatening engine problem. Toilet issues that never seem to end. Crazy-pants women.)

It’s good to read books by people who have challenging psychological experiences when out voyaging because I don’t think they get talked about enough. He makes no bones about the fact that he was mighty uncomfortable a lot of the time, and that he actually likes having the conveniences of a land based life. On the book’s back cover, he warns the reader that he will not ‘sugar-coat’ the truth. And he doesn’t. Frankly, I appreciate that. He thought he would like the ‘adventure’ part of voyaging more than he actually did. Reading his story made me think about some things that I had not given enough thought. Not enough to make me change my mind about wanting to voyage, but still, just saying… It’s good to know what things you might run into so you can think about how you will deal with them when the time comes.

Reading between the lines, this book will teach you a lot about certain aspects of the cruising community between here and Mexico, especially how people find extra crew for their boats (something I will be loathe to ever do after reading his book).

Definitely worth a read!






11 thoughts on “Holding Down the Fort

  1. OK, just ordered (and received) the Kindle version of the book. Going to start reading it right away since I’m not really invested in the book I started yesterday yet. Thanks for the recommendation.

  2. OMG! Melissa, after what you wrote about the author, I hesitate to say this but…
    …I’m up to chapter 5 and I have to admit that the author sounds an awful lot like someone I know REALLY well. It’s a guy I see in the mirror every morning. Oh, I’m not like Glenn in every way. After all, I’ve got Lulu, and, although I’m shorter than him, I’m not as fat (yet), but in his approach to buying his boat (we bought the FIRST one we looked at), and learning everything from a book and/or the internet instead of through experience, on being too sheepish to make an offer on a boat because they would want to do a sea trial and he wouldn’t know what he was doing, and on and on. I could have written much of this book! I’m thoroughly enjoying it. Thanks for the recommendation. And thanks to Amazon for making it available on the Kindle so that I could have it in my hot little hands minutes after reading this entry. Even down here in Baja!


    • HAA! Well, I’ve met you Steve, and you don’t strike me as a self-pitying kind of guy, but hey, at least your deck to hull joint doesn’t leak like a sieve! Glad you finding a good read, just the same.

      • No, not self-pitying, although I do my fair share of complaining on my blog when conditions make me uncomfortable. But, other than that, and the fact that Glenn had way more money to get his boat in order than we had, I did so many of the same boneheaded things he did. I’m about halfway through the book and have to make myself quit reading once in awhile so I’ll get something else (like the breakfast dishes) done. Can’t wait to read his experiences with his AirHead.

        • Lol! You are having the same experience we did with this book! Can’t wait to see what happens next, although we know it will be bad! Well, Steve, if you see yourself in this guy, I’m sure you’ve matured past it by now or Lulu would be letting you know. Regarding the Airhead, you just wait! Note: we will NOT be buying one. (And actually his reasons for getting one were well thought out. He did his research on it.)

    • Check it out! It’s very entertaining, even if it’s hard to admit that. We, too, are looking forward to warmer weather… in about, say, 6 months.

  3. I can’t imagine how cold it is up there right now. We complain here when the temps are in the 40’s. Much like the Northwest, Louisianians focus alot on weather in the summer and the extreme swings in the winter. For months people everyday comment on how damn hot it is outside, and then in the winter they are always shocked that one day was 80 and the next was 30.

    Thanks for that great recommendation. I actually may take you up and buy it for our Kindle. I’m DYING to know what happens with the Airhead, since you know, we have one.

    • Don’t give it away, Steve! I knew someone had one, but couldn’t remember who it was. Remember, Dani, I said this is like a train wreck that you can’t look away from.
      My mother in law, who lives in Tennessee, is always wowing us with her wild temperature swings in the winter. 70 degrees one day, 40 the next. That’s just plain weird. We get some cold snaps, but this is a long ‘below freezing’ snap for us. I don’t really mind because the sun is out and I prefer this to rain. Generally rain is the rule up here except in the summer.

      • I won’t give it away. And, BTW, having now finished the book, Glenn was not the one who I found to be the most dislikable creature in the story. That honor would fall to…. whoops, don’t want to give anything away but I bet you know who I mean.

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