A Pacific Penance

Here, one by one, are the twelve posts that tell the story of my most unusual voyage to the Gulf of Siam and back … read them from the top one down, come and join me on an aquatic adventure.


I Am Invited Overseas

Back in 1976, when I was about 30, a wealthy friend of mine made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I was to fly to Hong Kong, where I’d be the First Mate on a sailboat he’d bought and wanted to be delivered back to the US. I’ve done a variety of boat deliveries, they’re…

The South China Sea Blues

So we’d finally gotten through all of the lists, we’d left Hong Kong behind, and we were headed across the South China Sea to Manila. Sea trials are always an unknown, particularly with a new crew. But we’d prepared well, as I discussed in my previous post, and the boat, while mulish and hard to…

Onwards, Ever Onwards

The cure for anything is salt water — sweat, tears, or the sea. — paraphrased from Karen Blixen. So there we were, having left both Hong Kong and the Philippines behind us, sailing the South China Sea again. From Ray, the Captain, I’d learned one of the more valuable rules of thumb in my life. In…

Loaded And Overloaded

With Hong Kong, the Philippines, and the Sea of Waterspouts behind us, when we left off the previous section of the story it was dawn offshore of the island of Ko Samui, Thailand. We were on a tubby fifty-foot (fifteen metre) wooden sailboat. Opposite us, there was an eighty-foot (twenty-four metre) ugly Thai fishing boat, with a bunch of…

Shades Of Blue

The sea drives truth into a man like salt. Hilaire Belloc. I wrote last time the latest of a string of posts about how I ended up in a sailboat without a motor just leaving the passage between Taiwan and the Philippines, headed across the entire Pacific Ocean for California with the boat totally stuffed with twelve…

Terminator Winds

When last heard from, your obedient servant was on a sailboat somewhere in the mid-North Pacific Ocean, a boat with a busted engine that was loaded top to bottom with twelve thousand pounds of illegality. We’d already been a month and a half crossing and recrossing the South China Sea without touching land when we…

Rumors Of Dragons

This voyage so far has encompassed Hong Kong, Manila, the South China Sea, Thailand, the Pacific Ocean, and mid-Pacific with lots of miles still ahead of us. We’re in a fifty foot (15m) gaff-rigged staysail schooner, a tub of a sailboat. Up north of Hawaii, we got caught up in the tail end of a disintegrating…

White With A Red Stripe

For those not familiar with my tale of aquatic lunacy, so far it has gone from Hong Kong to Manila, the South China Sea, Thailand, the Pacific Ocean, and mid-Pacific with a side trip through a dolphin party. And finally, we’re approaching the US. A non-stop cargo sailboat trip from Manila to Thailand, then back past the Philippines and across the entire Pacific…

The Eagle Has Landed

It was late afternoon. After three and a half months at sea from Manila to California, we were due to offload twelve thousand pounds of Thailand herbal matter on the coast a ways north of San Francisco that very night. We were running a little behind time because the wind had died off a bit…

De Vliegende Hollander

At the end of the most recent episode in this sorry tale, the boat’s captain Ray and I were sitting on a 50-foot sailboat, watching the first light of dawn strengthen. Overnight, we had just finished successfully offloading ten thousand pounds (4,500 kg) of foil-wrapped compressed one-kilo bricks of Thailand’s finest herb. Block by block,…

Floating Through Life

From where Ray and I sat in the cockpit of the 50-foot (15 m) sailboat, we looked across a couple hundred yards (meters) of rough offshore ocean at the fishing boat we’d met up with. We’d been going up and down the California coast since our almost-successful offload of ten thousand pounds more than three weeks…

The Last Watery Waltz

I have just one rule about writing. I only write when I can’t stand not writing, when the ideas roiling around in my head cry out to be put down on paper. And this is that point, where I stop thinking and start writing about how as I described in my last post, after 142…

That’s the story, the whole story, and nothing but the story.


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