A Shipmate’s Departure

The winds of November tear past my boat. I sit inside, warm and comfortable, watching as flags and halyards beat upon each other in the fury of the gale. Mozart plays on my computer.  It is a good day for contemplation.

Today, I still grieve for my former shipmates who have passed on this month. Two larger than life, gentle men. Lovers of life, tellers of tall tales and great cooks, friends, drinkers. Both gone too soon from us–fighting battles against their respective cancers. How unfair.

I sat down a couple of days ago and wrote this poem. It is especially for Barney Higgins and Ian Relay, but also for all the good Zodiac crew–past and present, and in fact, for all sailors and lovers of the sea.

                               A Shipmate’s Departure

Zodiac rides at her moorings now, a hush is on her deck
A dock line creaks in protest as its tolerance is checked.
There is no noise, no movement here, all has come to rest
Even gulls do mute their cries, a shipmate’s passing to attest.
The ship recalls the deckhands’ who will linger here no more
Her wooden frames and planking store the memories of nine-score.
Remembrances of summers gone, of seasons long since past
Of souls who’ve raised her sails and climbed her towering masts.
The old ship knows her crews may change, new faces come and go
Yet their passion and their voices shall ring forever down below.
Each shipwright who has corked her seams, every seamstress that has sewn
Every sailor, cook or captain that the boat has ever known.
They all reside within her hull, when their time on earth ebbs low
And raise her sails anew each morn, to seek the north wind’s blow.
For lovers of the sea and ships are bound to this world they share
And Zodiac keeps many souls within her tender care.
So weep not for those who leave us, shed tears of grief no more
We will surely meet onboard again, as we sail towards heaven’s shore.

207264_10150141694351216_6569621_n       For Barney and Ian.

From My Point of View

I made this Youtube video over a year ago. I feel that it sums up the dedication page in Prepare to Come About very nicely. “For my families–both blood and saltwater.


Somewhere along the way, I’ve learned that the old saying, “You can’t pick your family,” is entirely inaccurate. True, the members that make up your blood relations are not chosen by you, however if you are very lucky, then you end up finding your other family, those who can color your life equally and dramatically.

We were lucky in that way, and the stories and themes that are woven throughout Prepare to Come About exemplify the ties of both types of our families. The peaks, the ebbs and the strong bonds of those connections are quintessential to the book.

I’ve enjoyed the entire process of writing and editing the chapters of my book. Through the work that has gone into the memoir, I’ve discovered quite a bit about myself and grown to appreciate those families even more than before–during both the good and the bad times.

In the last few months, we’ve had a few losses in our families, by unexpected illness, emotional distress and accidents. Several of them are characters in the book. I’m grateful that they’ll always be a part of my story, both on the page and in my memories. John Lennon said it best. “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.”

I hope that you’ll enjoy the video, the scenery alone is worth the watching. A special thanks to new friends Forest Sun and Ingrid Serban for their song Twenty Toes in the Sand.