I just dug this photo out from way back in my emails. It makes me weak-kneed with nostalgia and regret every time I look at it. That's me on the left, looking tanned and skinny and fit. On the right is Manny Sikau, a master navigator or pwo, from the island of Puluwat. At the helm is his brother-in-law. And that's my old boat, Vatna, the Hans Christian 33 Terry and I lived aboard on Guam for ten years. We were at sea attempting to sail from Guam to Puluwat. It was summer and I was adventuring. In short, I was following my bliss and I was somewhere out there beyond happy.
As it turned out, though, after two days, we were scooped up by a strong oceanic current that swept us south and way off our course. When we tried motor sailing to hold the correct heading, the wind was on the nose and we were bashing into the seas while our speed dropped to 3 knots. We had 500 miles to go and only three weeks to get there and then back to Guam. I finally decided to turn tail and head back home, to my eternal regret. As the fates would have it, however, when we were safely back on Guam, the weather closed in with a series tropical depressions passing to the north of us and setting up a strong north wind. If we had reached Puluwat, we would have been stuck there for a month or longer. The old lesson for cruising sailor is this: Leave you time limits on the dock when you drop your lines and don't look back.
Today, as I think about this, I'm about two-thirds done with the first draft of my next novel, The Spirit of the Voyage which concerns all this sailing in the islands of the western Pacific. I'm working a scene where my youthful protagonists are on a tiny atoll struggling to survive and fighting over a turtle with a shark. Memories, nostalgia, regrets, bliss, and happiness--the stuff a writer spins into words and weaves into books.