By 1980, the market had closed to imports and I had drifted back into boat building when I had too much time on my hands. I found a local multihull builders club, and damn it, the bug bit me again! I drew up a 19′ trimaran on an envelope, and built it in 20 weeks early in 1981. I trailered it to Puget Sound, and reached the San Juan Islands that summer. I found a new style of cruising: sailing by day along the sheltered waterways and anchoring safely by night.
It had a magical effect on my life, and led me on many coastal voyages for the next decade. The following winter, I gave a few slide shows that were well received, and people often suggested I start writing about my adventures. I thought it was just my accent that caught their attention, but I gave it a try. I remember I wrote my first stories with a pencil nd did a lot of erasing. But after much trial and error, I succeeded in converting my speaking style into the written word.
In 1982, I spent 100 days making the long journey up the Inland Passage to SE Alaska and back. I began writing for Multihulls of Boston magazine, the bible of the trimaran builders in the 1980’s. I managed to take a sailing trip every summer, including down the coast to the California border, across Lake Superior, and back to SE Alaska. That gave me enough material to produce a story every winter, and see them all published in Multihulls. then for Freshwater News of Portland. I had a few scary moments while making long inshore boat trips every summer, but contrary to the popular tradition. I began seriously questioning all forms of religious belief.
A New Career in Journalism
I took up nautical writing professionally in 1988, quickly widening my horizons to include local fishing, tug and barge, ship building etc. learning as I went–and have stuck to it ever since. I became a journalist full-time, beginning with the twin Portland (Oregon) publications Freshwater News and Oregon Cycling. In the 1990’s, I added several regional and national boating magazines to my list of credits. 1988-2002: I made many visits to builders of pleasure and commercial craft in the NW.
I wrote Volume I of the Rubber to the Road Rides Around Portland Guides, published in 1998, selecting and riding 30 scenic routes starting in Portland or nearby. Almost 20,000 copies have been sold, with all proceeds donated to the Community Cycling Center. From 1996 to 2001, on the other end of the business spectrum, I was writing all the public relations copy for the Portland Shipyard–a major industrial facility with hundreds of employees.
I was also encouraged to apply for the Illegal Immigrant Amnesty scheme created by President Ronald Reagan. I had definitely learned about self-employment by the time I received landed immigrant status in 1991, and remained self-employed for the rest of my life!
In 1996, I resumed practicing French conversation. I quickly learning to dance basic tango in 1999-2000, and continued to practice this fine art for the next 20 years. (I also came out of the closet as an atheist in this period.) When I turned 50 in 1997, I adopted sea-to-summit climbing as an incentive to challenge myself to climb more peaks in the Cascade Range without taking excessive risks. I also initiated an annual winter visit to Central and South America with my folding Bike Friday, which gave me a climbing goal and an adventurous vacation. (See my s-t-s page here.)
My Portable Life
In 2001, after the death of the founder, I began learning to edit and proofread the Freshwater News, and my own sailing took a back seat to land-based activity. In 2002, when rents became onerous in Portland and writing work harder to find, I went to Astoria for the summer, and decided to stay at the mouth of the mighty Columbia River.. I volunteered at the Fisherpoets Festival and in 2007, I organized an assortment of fish-processing equipment and fishboat gear at Pier 39 into the Hanthorn Cannery Museum, preserving the history and lives of the cannery workers. I was soon voted into the position of chairman, and managed the non-profit organization’s affairs for ten years.
In 2012, I was surprised to find occasional employment in the local bike shop, Bikes & Beyond. In 2013, I achieved one of my long-term goals by cycling across Brittany to see the end of the Vendee Globe solo sailing race around-the-world non-stop. I saw Tanguy de Lamotte finish in 10th place, and nine months later talked to him at the start of the next big event on the Open 60 calendar, the Transat Jacques Vabre.
I also had the pleasure of meeting Bertrand de Broc, and going on board his 60′ boat “Votre Nom Autour du Monde.” (Your Name Around the World) He is the sailor who may have invented crowd-sourcing (financement participant) when he financed his 1996 Vendee Globe by allowing people to sponsor him for a small sum and have their name on the side of his boat while he raced around the world.
In 2015, I began contributing regular boat reviews to Pacific Maritime and Pacific Fishermen magazines, which revived my writing career. And the amazing tango twins, Celeste and Estelle, moved to Astoria and began giving regular dance classes. That year, I had stories in the Freshwater News, The Bike Paper , Northwest Yachting, Fishermens News, Pacific Maritime, Western Mariner of B.C. and American Ship Review (Professional Mariner).
After moving very frequently during my 30 years in Portland, I succeeded in living in the same building for 15 years–and I learned to appreciate small-town life on the north-west coast.
I would like to contact these old friends from Europe:
Marcus Burroughs–Old Colfeian, who opened my eyes to youth hosteling
Timothy Child of SE London who now lives in the SF Bay Area
Jitske Muller of Amsterdam, who worked in the Derdre Wereld Winkel
And from the USA:
Deborah Lang of Kankakee
Merchant of the Four Seasons