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:

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Other Aspects of a Writer's Life: Clinging to the Irrational Belief that My Sailboat Has a Soul

Seawind, our Alberg 30, on the hard

I'm a sailor; been one for a long time. Can't imagine a life without boats and my sweet 30-footer makes me sigh every time I look at her. We bought her up in Long Island two summers ago and my brother and I sailed her down here to the lower Chesapeake. She lives at a nice little marina just a short drive from our house and just at the edge of the Bay.

This brings me to the tao of sailing which is the boat itself. A beautiful sailboat is an essence, a distillation of complex things. It's a phenomena, a cause of contemplation. It causes a certain madness brought down to a fine point. In short, I have this irrational feeling that my boat is alive. It seems so obvious; she breathes, feels, desires, responds to love as well as to neglect.

Yes, I believe it because I'm projecting my living self onto the boat and so, of course, reductio ad absurdum, she lives, too. She absorbs my projections like a house--and we all know houses live and breath. It's a hangup we can enjoy like so few of our other hangups.

In any event, it's nearly winter, a bad time for northern sailors. It's a time of guilt and regret at not having paid more attention to the boat's needs, not having sailed more or finished the woodwork project started in the spring.  So, I decided to haul her out and give her a little bottom paint and change the zinc before putting her back in for the winter.

Glad I did. The modified ablative paint the marina in Long Island put on her had some strange things happening to it. Little blisters had formed, with water getting in under the paint but the gel coat/barrier coat look okay. The zinc still had a lot of life left in it.

My friend and fellow sailor, Denny, helped me bring her up to the boat yard, a three-hour trip--no wind, motoring the whole way.

When we got there, the lift was ready. I drove her into the slings and out she came.

A good, long, hard, high-pressure shower took off most of the barnacles and slime.

I'm going to let her dry out for two or three weeks before sanding and painting. In the meantime, I'm off to San Francisco tomorrow and will drive back across the country with my son, the yacht captain, whose 112' Westport is being loaded on a container ship and moved to the East Coast where they will cruise the Bahamas and the Caribbean for a while.

Looking forward to some father-son time and the adventure of a long road trip. I'll be reporting here.

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