Douglas Arvidson is a past winner of the WICE/Paris Transcontinental International Short Story competition. His short fiction has been published in Paris, Prague, and in literary magazines in the United States and he was recently invited to be a staff writer for the Prague Revue, a cutting-edge, online literary journal ( The novels in his fantasy series, The Eye of the Eye of Stallion, include The Face in Amber, The Mirrors of Castaway Time, and A Drop of Wizard's Blood. His new novel, Brothers of the Fire Star, was selected as a finalist in the ForeWord Reviews 2012 Book of the Year national awards and as a finalist in three categories in the 2013 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards: Action Adventure Fiction, Historical Fiction, and Young Adult Fiction. It has become part of the pantheon of Pacific literature and is now included in school literature programs. Brothers of the Fire Star is an adventure story set in the Pacific during World War II and concerns two boys of different races and cultures who escape the island of Guam in a small sailboat when the Japanese army invades. They must then struggle to survive as they master the secrets of the ancient Pacific navigators. Appropriate for young adults as well as adult readers, Brothers of the Fire Star is available on Barnes & Noble, ( and Visit the author's website:

Monday, June 29, 2009

San Diego

Tried downloading pix for this blog but Terry's computer doesn't have the necessary driver. Tried downloading it from the Nikon site, but I'm apparently too stupid to get it right. In any event.....

....we flew here yesterday--biz class--and ate and drank too much and felt disgusted with selves. Was a nice flight, though. Right over Wichita, Kansas (flat with many farms laid out in big squares) and then over the Grand Canyon and the Salton Sea. Spent day with Eli and Bailey, Terry saw the boat, was impressed, and now we're at the Marriott Hotel down by the Rio San Diego (San Diego has a river? Yes, with real desert water.). Tomorrow while Terry works, I'll help Eli and Bailey take on fuel (2000 ga.) and change engine oil (50 gallon drums).

Meanwhile, Michael Jackson remains dead (his mother has filed for custody of his children. Why not? She did such a great job with her own kids.), the Republicans are fighting tooth and nail to keep the American people from getting universal health care, our troops pulled out of the cities in Iraq, and the Red Sox won another one. Oh, yeah--and another airliner falls into the sea, 150 dead. What's going on? Aliens? Must be something logical like that.

If and when I figure out how to download pix here, I'll add a couple. We're here until Thursday morning when we catch the train up the CA coast. Looking forward to that.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Home: Computer Problems Slow the Blog Production Rate

We didn't ask the gods for much. Just a following sea, following wind, no fog, and wide berth from the big guys--like this tug coming up behind us (it's worth looking over your shoulder now and then). You could get complacent in this busy, busy part of the ocean, off the Jersey coast, especially on a nice day after days of fog when everything seems very sweet.

But that was last week. It was a different world. We're home now. The boat is out of the water, halfway up the Delaware Bay (more than halfway home) and I've left two messages with the fix-it guy whose boys are supposed to make repairs.

Truth be known, after three weeks on the boat in the rain/fog, setting our schedule by tide tables, corkscrewing down standing waves at harbor entrances, it's great to be home for a break (see below). I'm tending the yard, worrying about the greenness of my grass, the thickness of my mulch, the health of my cats. I love waking up in the morning and not worrying about the anchor/mooring/tides/currents/fog/bilge pumps/schedule.

Still, they say the true test of a yachtie is this: After getting the hell beat out of you at sea, after having been scared to death for days, after swearing you'll sell the damned boat as soon as you get it tied up at the dock, after cursing the whole bloody idea of boats, after all that---three days later you start thinking--"well, maybe it wasn't so bad after all..." and off you go again. I'll be off to finish getting the boat home as soon as things are tightened up and the bilge is dry. With luck, we'll make it from the upper Delaware Bay down to Onancock in five days...but this is a boat.

Meanwhile, Sunday, we're off to San Diego for a conference (Terry) a visit with son Eli, and a train trip up the coast of California to see friends. Hope my laptop is fixed today.

Here's a pic of our back yard, a work in progress. Feels good hanging here for now.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Cape May and Up the Delaware Bay to Greenwich, N.J. Where We Leave the Boat for Repairs

Terry and Bill Negotiate the Cape May Canal

We may have set a record--for an Alberg 30--going up the Delaware Bay from the Cape May canal to the Cohansey River. We had the wind behind us, the tide with us, the engine helping us, and the jib out. As we left the Cape May canal and plunged along farther out into the bay, the ocean swells coming in behind us rose up bigger and bigger until we were surfing down their fronts. At one point, I saw 9.2 knots on the GPS.

The object was not a pleasant day on the water, but rather to get the boat into a safe harbor and contemplate what to do next. We were taking on 5 to 10 gallons a day through the rudder post and the prop shaft packing glands and we could not reach them to tighten them down. The weather had been abysmal for three weeks and was scheduled to continue that way.

Brother John had flown home, as scheduled, from Atlantic City, and Terry joined me for what we hoped would be a nice week or so finishing the cruise to Onancock. We were also joined by sailor who has been plying the Delaware in his own Alberg 30 for the past 20 years. Bill had offered to help us up this notorious small body of water, and we accepted.

After just five and half hours, we were at the entrance of the Cohansey River and an hour later, we turned into the wind and current and slipped up against the dock and tied off. That night, it continued to rain hard and we continued to take on water. By morning, we made the decision to haul the boat out here and get done what needs to be done. The boat fix-it guys here know Alberg 30s, have a great reputation for excellent work, it's close to home, and we have friends/family here.

So, the boat is "on the hard" waiting for much needed attention, and Terry and I are back home. I'll be driving up there checking on things and hope to get the boat back in the water and finish the trip in August or September. Meanwhile, I'll keep up my ususal blog here, every few days.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Free at Last: Atlantic City to Cape May, New Friends

Here we go, out the channel and away from a city where rich are rich, poor are poor, and both meet in the middle in the effort to alter the rules of probabilty (do we understand that life is stacked against us?)

After four days of fog, we woke up that morning with the misery gone, the wind (a breeze, really) from the north, and a promise of sun and fair currents. And so it was to be.

Here's brother John at the helm on a fair day at sea between Atlantic City and Cape May.

This is the view from Seawind at the moment: Utsch's marina, Cape May, N.J. A great marina with class-A showers and ship's store. They give you a bag containing a bottle of their own wine and some other treats when you sign in. Never heard of such a thing.

Our old friend from our Guam days lives here. Jay came out to greet us as we turned into the channel. He's a big-ship captain and also runs his own fishing boat. It was great seeing him.
My eyes want to slam shut. I'm beat--pooped, dead on my feet, exhausted--on and on could I go? Certainly. Tomorrow says we'll motor up the Delawar Bay. 'Til then.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Thank You, The Donald (Trump) for Your (Expensive) Hospitality

Here our beautiful boat sits, with any luck at all, for the last night in the glow of Donald Trump's magnificence.

After four days at $90/day, with the addition of fog (Trump apparently can't control the weather--was he charging us for the fog?) the weather guessers are telling us we'll have ten knots from the north tomorrow, with moderately sunny skies. Good enough and good for us.
Today, my bro and it worked on the boat, and then took the jitney into the boardwalk. Such a place--a freak show, a sideshow, an all-American dream. We found what we wanted in, of all places, an Irish Pub, which brags wonderful portions of solid food and dark, welcoming, non-threatening decor with (unread?) books on the wall behind the bartender instead of mirrors. We ate, drank, and then walked down the boardwalk to the Trump Taj Mahal and, rather than gambling, took a nap in one of the spacious, dark lounge areas. Wonderful.
Then back here, to Trump's Marina, and the thrill of a rock n' roll band that is blasting at 140 db. Good luck sleeping tonight. But, we're up with the seagulls and slipping our dock lines, off for Cape May.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hanging Out in Atlantic City: Fog, Roulette Wheels, and Shooting Craps

Steaks on the grill, fog in the sky, money down the drain. Such is the price of being fogged in in Atlantic City. Here we are, three days after arriving, still at the Farley Marina in the Trump Marina Casino.

Actually, we haven't bet a farthing on the dastardly machines, but we did walk around for several hours today watching the gambling set get happily fleeced. It looks like this: old retirees, bent over their one-armed bandits, smoking cigarettes and pushing the betting button (you used to have to yank down on a crank but now even sin is automated). In other sections of the casino, are the serious gamblers, huddled around black jack tables, just like in the movies. Serious business.

We're watching the weather and hoping for a Saturday getaway south to Cape May. The forecast calls for mostly sunny in the 80's with north winds, perfect for the run south. I have contacted a friend, a ship captain who used to the master of the Petersburg, an 800-ft. tanker on Guam. He lives in Cape May and he'll help us get the tools to sort the leaks out. Somehow we have to tighten the packing glands on the rudder post and the prop shaft--that's where the water is coming in.

Tomorrow, though, we expect to still be here. We're going to get an early start and go over to the boardwalk and spend the day off the boat wandering around gaping like boys fresh off the farm at this great side show that is Atlantic City.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

We Take Refuge in Barnegat Bay; A Dangerous Run Through the Fog; A Day Off in Atlantic City

The East Coast Cruising Guide warned us that going into Barnegat Bay would be treacherous but just inside the entrance there was a small anchorage with good holding in fair weather. We had been aiming for Atlantic City, but after a day of bashing into increasing headwinds, we had had enough--after watching another sailboat head into the inlet, we decided to risk it. Good for us. We found the anchorage, sank the hook into slimy, black mud in 10 feet of water and stayed for the night. The next morning broke fair and we were getting ready to go when the fog rolled in.

After an hour or so, it seemed to be lifting, so we hauled up the anchor and motored back out to sea--where we met this. Then it was pea soup fog all day--7 hours of it. Hairy stuff when your sailing blind without radar. We had our fog horn, though, an ear-splitting device that we blasted at regular intervals. We also had our radar reflector hanging high in the rigging and that, in the end, is was saved us. After we made the turn at the Atlantic City channel markers and were motoring in with a big swell behind us sending us corkscrewing down there fronts, we heard the blast of a warning horn and looked up to see an 80-foot trawler with his outriggers spread wide, coming straight at us. His radar must have picked us up, because he veered off course saved these sailor's bacon.
So, we made it to Atlantic City and into the Trump Marina. A nice place. As you can see, plenty of room for us little guys. Showers, laundry, etc. all impeccably clean and its attached to the marina casino. But while we might gamble our lives we'd never gamble with our money, not much, anyway--heaven forbid. We do plan on taking the free shuttle to the Trump Palace and dropping in a few dollars to support The Donald Fund.

My navigator just informed that it's just 33 miles to Cape May and the weather forecast for tomorrow calls for sunny skies and winds from the North. How nice will it be to sail with fair winds and following seas? When we get to Cape May, we'll be joined by Bill Brenneman, a man who has sailed the Delaware for 30 years in an Alberg 30 like ours. He'll help us get half-way up Delaware Bay and then we'll be on our own for the last run to the entrance to the Chesapeake-Delaware Canal and into the Chesapeake Bay.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

We Give the Bronx a Goodbye Cheer and Down the East River Through Gotham We Go

My son, the yacht captain, gave me this hat with ironic instructions to pose with it as we went by the Statue of Liberty. Here it is, Eli. We had a good laugh, too.

New York Harbor is all about dodging big, big, big stuff--like the Staten Island Ferry--two of them, going in opposite directions.

Here's the U.N. Sadly, it looks shabby and unclean and needs a good scrubbing. I remember it from my high school days when it was new and spiffy.

You gotta keep an eye out behind you. Here the going was clear.

Here is the Throgs Neck Bridge--the entry to the fabled East River. The whole story goes like this: We've been on the boat for two weeks now and one week of that we were socked in by rain and/or repairs. When we got going we had no wind, so we motored all the way up to Orient Pt and then down Long Island Sound to City Island, at the head of the East River (not a river, really--a tidal estuary). Then it rained again and we had more repairs and we were thankful for the nice folks at the City Island Yacht Club where we picked up a mooring and got our soggy selves straight, including a day trip into the City.

On a promise of fair weather, we left this morning and tackled the heretofore dreaded and forbidding East River. While holed up at the City Island Yacht Club, with rain pounding on the cabin top, we went over the Eldridge tide/current book a hundred times, debated and argued (you've got to get the currents right in the East River) and apparently got it straight. When push came to shove (when ebb came to flood) we had a great trip down the estuary and were dumped out in happy and fine form into New York Harbor a couple of hours later.

With the tide/current with us, we then motored across New York Harbor and under the Varanzano Narrows Bridge doing 8+ knots and now are in our next nice yacht club in Sandy Hook, N.J.

Tomorrow we'll try the 64-mile stretch down the Jersey coast to Little Egg Harbor. Trying to reach Cape May by Monday night--but really, no rush.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Hanging Out in the Bronx? Are You Kiddin' Me?

I should have taken more pictures today--of the Bronx. Of the little old lady who, with her husband, has been running the same tiny, get-anything-you-need hardware store for the past fifty years. My brother handed her a screw and said I need something a little bigger than this. She looked at it and said, "That's a 5/16ths. You need a 3/8ths." She had everything, down to the right sized tap to re-thread the hole the fuel filter is mounted on. Said her husband was home because he had twisted his prosthetic leg backwards at the knee and was in great pain. After we left her store, we had breakfast in a little cafe down the street. For $12 we were filled up with great food (my brother's breakfast sandwich cost $2.00). This is New York City? Geddoudahere!

This picture is from Seawind's cockpit. In the background is City Island, Bronx, New York City. I had all sorts of Hollywood-infected prejudgements of the place. Was everyone in the Mob? (They all sound like it.) Would we get mugged when we walked down the street? Would we witness a drive-by shooting?

No. Not even a pickpocket. At least this part of the Bronx is leafy and nautical. Lower-middle class, but pleasant and civilized. Make that friendly and smiling and helpful and decent. My brother and I were picked up at the boat by the yacht club launch for free (we paid $25 for the mooring, knocked down from $35 because we were having mechanical problems) and were allowed to use their showers for free. They were absolutely helpful and kind to these tired voyagers. Thank you to the City Island Yacht Club.

Today John fixed the problem with the engine's alternator (and I learned something), and we ascertained that the water coming into the bilge is coming in through a deck fitting, not from the sea due to a serious issue with the rudder post. We are ready to go, but the weather forecast for tomorrow is calling for more rain (90% chance), and we figure we'll be hanging on this mooring for another day.

That leaves Saturday with its promise of fair weather. We'll slip our mooring early and head out for the much-anticipated East River leg of the voyage--right through the middle of it all.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Seawind's Voyage South: Today's Log is for Mrs. G's Class at Amelon Elementary School in Amherst, Virginia

Hello, Mrs. G's class. It's great to know your looking at my blog. This is me, today, sailing my boat, Seawind, on Long Island Sound. My brother and I are sailing her down to the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia. I'm standing at the "helm" or the steering wheel of the boat but we actually have a computer that steers the boat for us if we are just going in a straight line. Otherwise we to steer her ourselves.

Most of the time the weather has been cloudy and rainy, but today we had sun for a few hours. It felt great after being cold for three days. As you can see, the water is calm--there was no wind so I did not put the sails up.

This is the deck of our boat. We don't have a shower, so we use sun showers. These black bags are filled with water and the sun warms them up.

This is how we navigate our boat. The little T.V. on the left tells how deep the water is and the one on the right is a GPS that tells us where we are and where we are going. It will even tells us where we have been. You can see the little picture of a boat following the straight line. That's what we need to follow. We also use maps made for boats. These look a little like road maps and are called charts.

I took this picture from the back of the boat this afternoon after we anchored for the night. We are almost in New York City. You can see the Throgs Neck Bride in the distance. Tomorrow morning we are going to sail under the bridge and go right through the middle of the city. Wish us luck.
And I hope you have a great summer.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Voyage South: Today's Pictures In Reverse Order (I Was Too Tired to Rearrange Them)

Here's the sunset from Port Jefferson where we are anchored tonight. The bloody color comes from N.Y. City's lovely air quality, I'm sure.

Here we are motoring down the Sound. There was NO wind all day but I did put the mainsail up for a while so I could call myself a sailor.

This is the lighthouse at Orient Point, the entrance to Long Island Sound. We feared the dreaded tidal rip in this passage, but timed it just right and the weather was with us. This trip is all about timing. Piece of cake.

This fine birdy friend joined me for dinner in Port Jefferson Harbor. She was bold as brass and in need of friendship. I gave her some meat.

This was this morning leaving Dering Harbor at dawn. We go to bed with the sun and get up with it, boil water for coffee and shove off. Tomorrow, we make the final approach to N.Y. City and then, the next day, through the East River.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Writer as Sailor Writes

Seawind on Her Mooring, Dering Harbor, N.Y.

We finally got outta dere--seemed like we never would. We left three days ago, got a mile off shore, and found out the depth sounder was dead. The captain (me) made the scruffy decision to turn around. You can't get the job done without knowing how thin the water is. So we were back where we started. The marina that did the work on the boat was kind enough to haul us out and we spent two days figuring it all out. Finally I hemorrhaged more money on a new unit and my genius brother installed it including drilling out a bigger hole in the bottom of the boat and rewiring.

With the new transducer working magic, we waited for the tide and then left New Suffolk. Wind blowing 20 to 25 knots. That's stink in shallow water with strong tidal races. It was like white water rafting. I put out a rag of a jib to pull us through and the little Westerbeke engine was perfect to get us through 4 knot currents. Then there was navigating through and around islands with sandbars sticking out, inviting disaster. Brother John had previously entered way points in the new Garmin 540 GPS and we followed them and stitched our way along.

Now in Dering Harbor, Long Island, the wind still blowing stink but supposed to diminish tonight. Tomorrow we leave at dawn to make the flood tide through Plum Gut and into Long Island Sound and then down towards Gotham. We got a water taxi into the harbor, hit the bar and ate a light meal. It was supposed to be $50, but I offered the young driver a $20 tip and he forgave us the yacht club fee. Mr. Pettibone, who owns the mooring ball, no longer has a boat, it seems.

The wind is supposed to drop off tonight. A nice flat water, light wind sail would be fine tomorrow. I must admit that my mouth was cotton-dry all day--we were on the edge. We've never sailed this boat before, and she has a roller furling system that is 35 years old. But she was a perfect lady--strong, beautifully designed, and perfectly maintained by her previous owner--and the ancient roller furling was, to my judgment, superior to the modern designs I've used. Tomorrow up at dawn and through Plum Gut on the flood tide into the Sound.