So why am I writing or, more to the point, why did I make this interview series into a book?
Not everyone likes to listen or learns by listening. Some of us still like holding a book in our hands, feeling the weight of it on our laps, and even going through it page by page with a highlighter and marking what’s important to us as we read. I’m one of those rare birds who still likes to hold a book and feel its weight in the crook of my arm while I have a good cup of tea. Others nowadays are reading books on their computers or even on Amazon’s Kindle or Barnes and Noble’s NOOK. Who knows? There might even be something new by the time you read this. I also find that a reference book, which this certainly could be, is great when it’s accessible on your book shelf—you can quickly thumb through it to find the information you’re looking for. You could add a different colored sticky note to the first page of each chapter for quick reference.
Others learn by listening, and that’s great too! But I wanted to make sure I had this book in different media for everybody. That’s how important I believe this project is. It’s important because for years now, as I’ve learned more and more about boating, I’ve found there isn’t a lot of basic information out there; and the information that I can find is scattered all over the place. Also, I’m not always sure of the credentials of the people writing articles about boating.
But, let’s back up a few years and start at the beginning.
Growing up, I always had a fascination for the ocean and the skies—the moon and the stars. At night I would watch the moon follow me around and search the sky for the big dipper, little dipper, Hercules, and other constellations. When I was a little girl, my aunt Dee would take me to Revere Beach and we would walk the beach. She never let me go into the water without shoes on my feet for fear of seaweed wrapping around my legs and pulling me under. (What wearing shoes had to do with that, I’m not sure.) So I never went into the water, but always dreamed about it. When I got my own car I would head to Storrow and Memorial Drives on my lunch breaks and watch the sailboats on the Charles River, wishing it was me on one of them. (I also had a fascination for airplanes—watching them take off and land at airports—but that’s another story for another time. Maybe I’ve just wanted to escape from day-to-day life. I guess that’s why I now live near both an airport and the ocean.)
Fast forward to April 5, 2001. I was told over the phone that I had cancer. A couple of days later, in the doctor’s office, I was told that I had less than ten years to live. The year before I’d been misdiagnosed with multiple sclerosis and told that I’d be confined to a wheel chair within a year. Doctors can be so cruel in what they tell you and, more importantly, how they tell you.
After I came to terms with this news, and after I grieved for the person I once knew and had been, I set out to make some changes in my life. It was time to conquer my fear of being on the ocean. I called a friend of mine and asked him to take me kayaking. He did, and that experience really changed my outlook. Kayaking was so peaceful and fun. If I hadn’t almost been hit by a tanker, I probably would have gone again. Of course, I’d also been afraid of tipping over (I’m not a very good swimmer), an odd fear to have surfaced in me since my sons and I had done a lot of canoeing and rowing during our many camping trips when they were young and I hadn’t been afraid then.
Next, I took up sailing. I had looked into sailing on the Charles River, but at that school one first had to pass a swim test, which I didn’t believe I could do, and I really wanted to learn on the ocean. Ocean sailing was an experience that I found to be the epitome of relaxation. I absolutely fell in love with sailing and couldn’t get out into Boston Harbor enough. Mark, my primary sailing instructor, had so much passion both for the sport and for teaching that he made learning to sail really enjoyable. As with everything, some of my instructors were better than others. But Mark was awesome and whenever I went sailing on the 23-foot Sonar, I felt the boat and I were one. I could hop into the cockpit, grab the tiller, and feel her every move as we’d glide through the waves.
One day I went to the Sailing Center with a sailing buddy and we took out a boat with which neither of us was familiar. The boat was six feet longer than what we were used to and it had a steering wheel. I had never sailed a boat with a wheel before, but off we went. This was something new to learn—great! Wrong. Neither of us was experienced with this size or type of boat and we had no business taking it out by ourselves. What happened to us that afternoon would never have happened if we had taken out the 23-foot Sonar instead. We got caught in a couple of wind and rain storms. We tried taking the sails down, but the furlings came off. The wind kept pushing us sideways. I was trying to hold the wheel and watch the skipper on deck to make sure he didn’t fall overboard. The wind and rain squall picked up and pushed us right onto the beach—we ended up going aground. Then the engine wouldn’t start and we had to call Sea Tow. One of the topics we discuss in this book is heavy weather. A big part of that is knowing your boat, which neither of us did. It was scary.
In 2006, I went to a National Geographic Travel Writing workshop in New York. There I met a woman who also loved sailing and we hung out together for the day. When the workshop was over, she told me that she knew someone who was looking for a reviewer, writer, and photographer for a cruising guide book. She suggested I take a look at the website and then call her if I was interested. I did. A few days later, the publisher called me. That year, after they’d trained me, the project was cancelled. In 2007, the project was on again, so off I went.
My assignment was to review, write about, and photograph over 200 marinas from Block Island,Rhode Island, to St. John’s River in New Brunswick, Canada. I spent three months on the road, staying in hotels, motels, and bed and breakfasts, keeping a ridiculous schedule in order to get that project done. One thing I learned along the way is that boaters are a very friendly group. There’s a different mindset when you’re on the water versus being in the corporate grind every day. I liked it. For a number of other reasons, this project turned sour and never came to fruition.
But it was during this project that I met Chuck, the local harbormaster, and got to know and work alongside him. It was also during this time that Winthrop, Massachusetts, the town I’d just moved back to, was putting in a new marina. There were lots of questions being asked, and speculations being made, by the townspeople about the new marina. I approached Chuck the following spring and we did an interview which I recorded and put up on the web. This interview answered a lot of questions for the residents and the project continued with fewer objections. For a while after that I wrote a weekly column for the local newspaper reporting on activities at the local marinas and yacht clubs.
Around that time I started studying marketing on the internet with Mark Hendricks. I needed something to work on and decided to take everything I’d learned during the project from hell and turn it into something positive. This new project became TheNauticalLifestyle.com and it is always evolving. I’m not afraid to try something new and if it sticks, great. If not, why not?
One thing I learned during both projects is that I love interviewing people—I guess it goes with that curious mind of mine. You know how some children are always asking why, why, why? That’s me, still to this day—always asking why; always seeking, searching for answers. But it can’t be just any answer—it has to make sense.
Content, content, content is what Google looks for and what Mark stresses in his internet marketing lessons. So I posted a request on LinkedIn indicating that I was looking for speakers for an interview series that I was putting together. The rest, as they say, is history.
In this book I have tried to cover all of the basics as well as some more advanced boating topics for the old salts. It’s filled with lots of answers that should enhance your boating experiences. Interviewing these knowledgeable gentlemen has taught me a lot and it’s truly been a pleasure working with them. My wish is for you to get just as much out of reading this book as I have in putting it together.
The final reason for creating this book is that as I have ventured out on my journey to become a better boater, I’ve had many questions. What better way to get them answered than to interview the experts? So that’s what I did.