Second Efforts

Lately I have had my head down replacing rusted steel in the bottom of my boat. Twenty-five years ago I first made this sort of effort on the boat, and as I completed work I said to myself “this should last twenty years–easy”–like that day in the twentieth year would never come. Happily, I’ve just completed round two of bottom work, and can at last spend more time churning out words for my second novel. Getting back to the keyboard is like a return to the gym at first, but less traumatic than welding steel plate. I hope I’ll write a third novel, and a fourth–welding steel, however, I’m pretty sure I’ve done for the last time.

I’m pleased to have had A Dream of Steam reviewed in Publishers Weekly this week. You can see the review at:  https://booklife.com/reviews

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New Steel

Reunion

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Last night I met up with old shipmates from my earliest days of sailing, most of whom I haven’t seen in thirty years. Recognizing each other was a bit comical since some of us have changed considerably while others haven’t so much. After a short time some sort of acceptance set in and the familiar characteristics of old friends wiped away what the years had made of us all. It was a fantastic night, catching up and also reliving some of the crazy adventures and dilemmas of our formative years. We talked and sang late into the night, but at last I had to go home. After leaving I reflected that these were people I had really known, certainly among the best friends I’ve ever had. I don’t know why I haven’t seen them in so many years.

The Falls of Clyde’s Layered History

falls-of-clyde-rusty bottom

 

To a writer, looking for fresh inspiration when creating historical fiction is an ongoing job. At times one can just trip over a great tale, but most often a story requires digging.

 

For me, weather-beaten objects can provide a good starting point. Last winter, while traveling through the hurricane-racked Caribbean, I was surrounded by the evidence of disaster. Each boat I saw, abandoned by wind and sea in some unlikely place, offered up a set of speculations: Where was this wrested from? At what point in the storm did it break free? How exactly did it land here? And then further back: Where did it come from? Who owned it? What were their hopes? Where are they now?

 

Let me turn now to the Falls of Clyde, an historic sailing ship lying in Honolulu Harbor. This once great square rigger has fallen on hard times. She is nearly one hundred and forty years old, and, despite the valiant efforts of local volunteers, has been in danger of being scrapped, or swallowed by the sea. I’ve walked her decks several times over twenty-five years, and each visit has lit up the imagination. Early on when the vessel was mostly intact, I could see her in her youth, her long, lean hull carving through the sea under a grand press of canvas. On later trips I took note of greater decay, and the individual efforts being made to paint bulwarks, or keep tar on the rigging. I wondered who was making the attempt to hold on. On my last visit the rigging had been taken down, and water was collecting below from leaks in the upper deck. My imagination ran down dark tunnels at that point; I began to speculate about what would happen should the volunteers stop attending the pumps. How long could this ship continue? What would be the final misfortune that would end her time?

Falls of Clyde-(NPS)

Happily, it is time for a new set of speculations. An organization named Falls of Clyde International has emerged with a plan to repatriate this storied ship to Scotland. They have secured a great deal, to have the Falls of Clyde transported on a huge dry-dock ship across the Pacific, through Panama and across the Atlantic starting in February. Once home, plans are in place to begin a full restoration. If you would like to help, you can find out more at: www.facebook.com/savefallsofclyde; e-mail directly to savefallsofclyde@gmail.com, or donate to their Indiegogo crowd sourcing campaign.

Falls of Clyde is a rare survivor of long sea travel, typhoons, and the ravages of salt and time. With broad-based support, future generations will be able to wonder about her long life and ask themselves: Who were the people who saved her?

Rhode Island Red

That awkward looking chicken in red below is none other than the author of this post, come north now that the weather has warmed up. I’m not ashamed to admit that I try to hide from the cold. In this shot I’m splicing some new wire for the Oliver Hazard Perry, Rhode Island’s sailing school vessel.20180617_140438.

Here also is my friend Boyd, serving up the topmast stays (a process of wrapping the wire in twine). This protects the wire from sea water and is a foundation for the seizings that form the terminal eyes.

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Boyd swinging the serving mallet

After a few weeks of refurbishment, while we replaced the top section of the main mast OHP is ready to sail again.

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If you get a chance, have a look at my stories page; I have written a couple of new shorts  while I’ve been preparing my first novel for print. A Dream of Steamcoming soon.

Bad at Blogging

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Growing Your Own Foremast.
A couple of months ago I posted that it was enchanting to watch the first snow fall. It is easier to feel that way if you know you won’t be shoveling in February, and just a few minutes ago, as I was waiting in line at the bank watching snow fall on television, I felt happy to be away. I’m in Antigua; my wife and I sail an old steel sailboat when we can get away so this winter we will be traveling northwest to Florida.

I’ve happened into blogging without much of a plan. It was suggested to me that this was a good idea for self promotion –and I can see it– but reading about somebody trying to write or get published seems like watching one of those news shows that tell you how they produce the news. I care about writing, but it’s only so newsworthy. I care about other things as well and so  while we are under way, en route to Florida, I think I will post about some of the places we stop, what the hurricanes have done, dark skies, dolphins and sea turtles. Hopefully I’ll get a few good pictures along the way.

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Nelson’s Dockyard, English Harbour, Antigua