Some great deals you won’t want to miss.

By Mike Jastrzebski

I haven’t posted in several weeks, but I’m hoping to be back on my regular Sunday postings here on Write On The Water. The reason I’ve been remiss is that I was wrapping up a slew of projects revolving around my new Wes Darling book, Stranded Naked Blues, Which is now available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo and Google play. The price is only $3.99 and you will not be charged until the actual publication date on all sites which is June 14th. If you’re planning to by the book it would help my rankings if you pre-order.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000031_00004]

While you’re at it if you haven’t read Key Lime Blues yet you can grab a free copy here.

Key Lime Blues-Apple interior

You can also get a free copy of my psychological thriller, Mind Demons, by signing up for my Reader’s Group, just click here for details.

Mind Demons-eBook Cover

And finally, if you have a few minutes and the inclination, I’d appreciate it if you would check out my Facebook Author Page and like it.

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Editing on the water


Our anchorage off the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort on Vanua Levu in Fiji

Our anchorage off the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort on Vanua Levu in Fiji

by Christine Kling

The common wisdom when it comes to editing a manuscript is to put it aside for a few days and then come back to it with fresh eyes. This time I followed the common wisdom and then some— by putting it aside for a month and sailing 2,000 miles to another hemisphere.

Coming back to the book now and reading my wonderful editor’s comments, I feel elated. He likes it! He says it holds together! Believe me, I had my doubts.

This story is so much more complicated than anything I have written before, and I already had such a difficult time keeping the last two books straight in my head. Sometimes I have these great “Ah ha!” moments, and I make some change to the book. Now, a month later, I look at some of those passages, and I can barely remember writing them. I have a hard time following my own convoluted story. I wish I had time to make a giant wall graph of it all. With 86 chapters and 132,000 words, even my outline doesn’t fit on my computer screen, and the chapter headings don’t really explain all the twists and turns that occur.

Happy as I am that my editor has such nice things to say about the book, that doesn’t mean there isn’t some comment or correction on 80% of the pages. It’s difficult, demanding work to go through and read and address all the places where he said the story gave him pause for one reason or another. What I love about his editing is that he reads the book as a careful reader—not as a writer. He leaves most of that stuff for the copy editor. He points out the places where he got confused or bored or where he laughed and perhaps that wasn’t what I intended. Then it’s up to me to figure out how to make the words on the page match the story that’s in my head—the story I want my readers to see in their heads.

I do love the editing process, but I only have a few days left to finish this pass through, and I’m not allowing myself to go ashore until I finish. Take a look at the photo of our anchorage above off the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort. Can you see why I’m in a hurry to finish?

Fair winds!


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How many scrapes does it take…

2015-05-28 14.25.47

C.E. Grundler

…to get to the glass on a 38 year old Cheoy Lee?

The world may never know, because we aren’t exactly counting. What we are, however, is tired. And a bit itchy, but that’s because someone we knew had a fiberglass emergency and we lent a hand. And while I’ll admit the boat looks like a mess, now more than ever, things are actually starting come together. I’ve managed to reclaim a portion of the cabin from tools, only to have it immediately claimed by the crew.

2015-05-21 13.50.31

The crew, who is tired as well, but that’s from running around the boatyard and trying to get a closer look at the yard cats.

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Brilliant (Part II)

by John Urban

Brilliant at Mooring

A few weeks back I posted some photos of Mystic Seaport’s schooner Brilliant. This past week I had the chance to spend some time aboard Brilliant on the western end of Long Island Sound where I saw, firsthand, why so many have loved this boat for so long.

Brilliant was born a yacht, designed and built to the highest standards. She raced successfully, then saw her hull painted gray during World War II when she was used to patrol the shoreline. Later, under the ownership continuous care of Mystic Seaport, she’s sailed the coast and crossed the Atlantic as a sail training vessel.

This beautiful craft was built way back in 1932. Today, she’s equipped with radar, a knotmeter, and depth finder, but she’s otherwise original, and with the sails raised and set you realize nothing more is needed. Brilliant heels over, finds her groove and charges forward.

Brilliant underway

Brilliant’s most striking quality is that this remarkable boat has welcomed more than 10,000 students and sailing enthusiasts who have been experienced the thrill of being on a wind-powered vessel that offers lessons in leadership, teamwork, and self-reliance.

The photos and short video clip I’ve included in this post offer a sense of Brilliant’s handsome beauty. Every bit as powerful is the strong sense of security you feel when sailing aboard this wonderful schooner.

Captain Nicholas Alley, Brilliant’s skipper, described the welcome this boat receives when she enters a harbor. “Just the other day someone came up to us and shared a personal story about sailing aboard Brilliant. And you know what, that happens same thing happens three to four times a week.”

Brilliant bow

I recently read a quote by the sailor and author John Rousmaniere: “The goal is not to sail the boat, but rather to help the boat sail herself.” This pithy statement carries substantial truth about sailing, maybe even the entire truth about sailing. Yet, some boats sail themselves more than others. Brilliant is one such boat.

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Fiji by the numbers

Barney's excited to see the red building - it is the Copra Shed Marina.

Barney’s excited to see the red building – it is the Copra Shed Marina.

by Christine Kling

We are enjoying a blissful Sunday afternoon here with Learnativity swinging on a mooring ball here in Savusavu, Fiji. We arrived Friday afternoon at about 3:30, just in time to clear in with Customs, Immigration, Health and Biosecurity. We still have to apply for our cruising permit on Monday, and that must be faxed to Suva for processing which will take about 3 days. We will also have to go to the various offices tomorrow to pay our fees. In case you’re interested, here is what it will cost us to clear in for our six month stay in Fiji – and remember, this is in Fiji dollars and it’s 2 Fiji to 1 US dollar, so cut all prices in half to know the US cost.

Clearance fee to Copra Shed Marina for use of their (very short) dock while clearing  $15.00

Health quarantine fee  $172.50

Biosecurity   $89.70

Refundable bond for the dogs $1500 each = $3000

Cruising permit $8.00

The actual costs add up to less than the $300US it takes to clear in to the Bahamas for a 3-month stay, but the bonds for the dogs are a bit of a pain. The dogs are not allowed off the boat, and if they are caught ashore, we would forfeit the bond. Otherwise, we are to go to Biosecurity at whatever port we depart from and inform them of our departure one week before we leave. The bond will be refunded then. Wayne has come in and out of Fiji several times and this has never been much of a problem.

We had anchored two nights en transit across the Fijian waters to get to this Port of Entry, the first night in a sheltered bay at the western end of Yadua Island, and the second night off a small Fijian town called Nabouwalu where there was a ferry dock and the anchorage was tucked in behind a reef.

This shows our passage through the reef strewn waters from Yadua to Savusavu

This shows our passage through the reef strewn waters from Yadua to Savusavu

There are really only four ports of entry in Fiji and we wanted to clear in here because it is the farthest east. Since the winds blow from the east, it’s easiest to start in the east and then work your way downwind back through the islands. We did our two upwind legs just trying to get here, and typical of the last week’s passage, it was blowing 25 and gusting to 30 so it was a quite a wet motorsail.

Once we were cleared in, we went ashore for a walk around the town. Savusavu is only about 5 blocks long, but it was late on a Friday afternoon and things were bustling. Fiji has a large Indian population that settled here through having been brought as indentured labor in the 19th century, and a group was singing and beating on tambourines on a corner. The bus and jitney station was crowded with people making their way back to their villages. This is probably the second largest town on the island of Vanua Levu. The bigger town is Lobasa, but it is at least a 3-hour bus ride away on narrow winding roads, so this is the big city for many around here. There were several clothing stores, lots of little miscellaneous shops that sell canned goods and phone cards, a bakery and the open market. We visited one of the three banks and got some Fiji dollars, and by the time we made it back to the Copra Shed Marina, the sun was setting and the bar was calling our names. In the end, we stayed for dinner and made it cook’s night off. The fish curry I had was excellent, and Wayne’s tuna was super, too. The Australian Shiraz was $7 Fijian a class and the entrees were about $20 Fijian each. The restaurant in the marina is one of the more expensive places in town to eat.

Yesterday we went to the market and bought our first fresh produce in three weeks. Papayas (1.50), pineapples (2.00), cucumbers, carrots, lettuce, bananas, tomatoes — it was like sensory overload, and the prices are very reasonable. We added fresh bread at the bakery, and we had the makings for a wonderful dinner and breakfast on board. I got a sim card for my iPhone and I now have a working local phone with a data plan, and we signed up for the wifi from the Copra Shed Marina, 7 days unlimited $30 Fijian. Tomorrow, we will buy a cellular stick for the router. With the cell towers on the high mountains here, they have very good cellular coverage throughout most of the islands.

Deadlines are always a bit of a problem for sailing, but I’m pleased to say we made it here in plenty of time – even with our 3- week passage. I’m supposed to start the edits on the new book on the 26th, so the numbers have worked out very well.

It’s great to be back in Fiji, and I look forward to seeing more of how much these islands have changed in the last 40 years.

Fair winds!


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Scraping away…


C.E. Grundler

Time sure doesn’t fly when you’re scraping away decades of bottom paint, which is why as we drove up to the boat this morning my assistant and I were debating what day it was. It’s been all hands on deck as we check off the punch list towards seeing Annabel Lee afloat again, at long last. My daughter’s significant other has been lending me a hand on boat-work, and in exchange I’m trading cars with the kids for the summer. He and my daughter are taking a cross country road trip to several national forests; my JettaTDI wagon will give them far better mpg as well as more room for their camping gear, and I’ll get back a car covered in great bumper stickers.

We haven’t scraped up to the bootstrap – we’re still debating lowering it to match the actual waterline – and there’s a whole lot of sanding and sealing to follow, but we’re definitely getting there. I’ve been splitting my days between intensive writing and equally intensive boat time, fueled by the headway I’m making. Over the coming weeks the running gear will be going back together, the decks finished up, we’ll be dealing with the salon windows — and then it’s into the water. And on that note, I’m getting back to work.

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Not sleeping is the enemy

By Christine Kling S/V Learnativity, voyage to Fiji
Sunday, May 17th, 7:00am
Position 12.41S 179.04E Wind 15-20SSE, course 210, boat speed 5-6 knots Distance to Bligh Water entrance 240 Bearing 195

You can follow our progress on this tracking map:

The sun is just up and I am sitting up in the captain’s chair watching the sea through the salt-caked glass of the boat’s cockpit windshield. Wayne and the dogs are down below sleeping. We are doing lots of hobby-horsing in the confused seas and wind chop and that is slowing our speed down and making for a less-comfortable ride, but I’m pretty sure he is able to sleep through it. And, I am feeling good for the first time in about 24 hours.

After our three-day stop in Funafuti atoll, our sailing conditions have been variable, but the only constant has been when there is wind, it is on the nose. Yesterday was an absolutely gorgeous day with lighter winds. We tacked and sailed almost due east all day and gained back much of the easting we had lost. But the night before we had lost the wind and the flogging sails, shaking out reefs, then the starting of the engine, then the uncomfortable restless doggies in the berth had added up to no sleep for me. On my night watch from 2-7, I had a headache, and by the time I hit the bunk around 10:00 am to try to catch up on sleep, I felt hot and cranky and the overhead sun was cooking me through the hatch. Again, I did not sleep.

Exhaustion is the sailor’s enemy. The chance of your doing something stupid and injuring yourself or damaging the boat increases greatly. Fortunately, I am a good sleeper about 90% of the time, but those few times when I don’t sleep well can wreak havoc with usual sense of well being. It can become a vicious cycle where I become too exhausted to sleep. So last night when I went to the bunk around 8:30 for my off watch, I tossed and turned. Then a squall hit and the boat was over-canvassed. We were heeled over so far, though I was trying to sleep crosswise in the aft cabin bunk and my feet were braced against the cabinetry, I was still sliding down the bunk and ending up in a fetal position with two panicked dogs scratching me for help. I got up to see if I could help, but Wayne had it under control. When it became clear the higher winds would last beyond the squall, he started the engine, both to reef the mainsail and to avoid a tuna boat that had appeared. In the 8 years Wayne has been cruising on this boat, he has updated the electronics significantly, and it has a great touch screen chart plotter with digital radar and an AIS transceiver. Running all these instruments at night uses lots of juice. He can set a safe zone alarm around the boat and if anything from land to ships to squalls appears in that zone, an alarm goes off. The radar is set to do 10 sweeps every 15 minutes and the AIS is always on. This is how he sailed as a singlehander spending nights in the captain’s chair napping.

Once that tuna boat was inside our perimeter, the alarm kept beeping.

As things settled down, I did fall asleep, but then I was awakened by a slamming cabinet door, then the plywood-backed cushions jumped off the little seat, then Wayne’s tool bag full of wrenches fell off its shelf. At that point it was quarter to two, so I struggled out of the bunk, braided my hair, and made my way topsides.

“Reporting for duty, sir,” I said as I gave the captain a mock salute. He wrapped his arms around me and said, “No, you go back to sleep.”
“But, it’s my watch, and you need your sleep, too. One of us should be well-rested.”
“No,” he said. “I’m used to this. I sailed by myself for years. I can nap a bit on watch.”
I let him talk me into it. For the next three hours, I slept the wonderful deep sleep of oblivion, and I awoke to a beautiful dawn and a husband I adore.

Fair winds!
Christine .

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Helicopters and hitchhikers

by Christine Kling

S/V Learnativity, voyage to Fiji
Saturday, May 9th, 6pm
Position 05.23S 177.50E Wind 0, course 145, boat speed 6.5 knots

You can follow our progress on this tracking map:

We left Majuro last Saturday, and we have been at sea every day since. Our world is life aboard this 52-foot boat, and we do not have TV or Internet or broadcast radio. We are ending our third or fourth day of motoring all day through a glassy rolly sea. I’ve lost count. The autopilot steers the boat, and we cook, read, work on the boat, and the days pass in a pleasant rhythm of small but glorious events.

For example, as I write this the sky is all lit up with one of the most spectacular sunsets. Gray bulbous clouds rest on the horizon while above the fluorescent blue sky is streaked across with bright red-orange clouds. It looks almost like geological strata in rock.

The days blur together, but these moments stand out, and we are never bored. There is so much to do, books to be read, meals to prepare, and I haven’t even started to teach myself to play the ukulele I bought in the Marshall Islands.

I usually sleep the first part of the night from about 9-2, and then it’s Wayne’s turn to sleep as I take over on watch. So, just at first light I was keeping an eye on the chart plotter. I looked up from the book I was reading to check again, and there was an AIS (Automatic Information System) target very close to us. That means there’s another boat out there. How did he get that close without me seeing him? I jumped up and pushed the buttons to see what info the AIS offered. There was no boat name, but it said he was only moving at 1.5 knots, and that he was “moored.” Yeah, right. In the middle of the Pacific Ocean? He was about 14 miles away. I turned around to look at the horizon to see if I could see the glow of his lights, but there was nothing. When I turned back to the chart plotter, the icon on the screen of the little AIS target boat was gone.

Ah, okay. It’s a tuna fishing boat and he must have nets in the water. That’s why he’s not moving, and why he doesn’t want to broadcast to the competition where he is. For some reason he switched on his AIS for a few minutes, then shut it down again. An hour later, the sun was well up in the sky, when I heard an odd noise coming from the same direction where the phantom tuna boat had been. I looked at the sky and saw the helicopter. He made a beeline for our boat. These big tuna purse seiners use helicopters to go out and spot the fish. We would often chat with the pilots at the Tide Table restaurant in Majuro – or just listen in to their conversations about what life is like on those boats. Most of the pilots are American, Kiwi or Aussies. This chopper had two guys in it, and they flew around the boat four times, so close they were whipping the water around the boat into a froth. As you might imagine, this close to the equator with no wind, it is hot. Add to that the fact that our 165 hp diesel engine has been running for days, and you can’t imagine how hot it is inside the boat. Most swim suits are made out of nylon, and they don’t breathe all that well, so we spend all day dressed only in our cotton underwear. So, when the helicopter arrived, I didn’t even think about the fact that I was only wearing a bright pink bra and pale pink panties. I jumped up and waved to the guys. I gave them a thumbs up to let them know we were okay, but they kept going around and around the boat. I guess it was more interesting than looking for tuna watching this crazy lady dancing around in her underwear.

Around midday, Wayne announced it was time to shut down the engine to check the oil, water and filters. We unfurled the genoa and tried to get the boat sailing. Under full mainsail and genoa, we were able to do 1-1.5 knots, but the sails were constantly flapping and flogging as the boat rolled on the long swells. As usual, when Wayne emerged from the engine room, he was covered with oil and sweat. The boat was barely moving, so he unclipped the lifelines leading to the transom steps and made his way down. He flipped the swim ladder into the swirling water under the stern and climbed in.

It’s startling how much water rushes past when the boat is only doing 1.5 knots. Wayne was hanging on to the ladder in the sparkling clear blue water, and his body was trailing behind as the boat towed him. “This feels great!” he said. When he got out, I had to strip down and try it. He was right. Skinny-dipping in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in 90 degree water is amazing! It’s fun-scary knowing the boat is moving, and you have to hold on tight because you could never swim fast enough to catch up. The blue of the water, especially under the boat, was magnificent! It’s very odd being towed behind your boat knowing that the water under you is at least 5 miles deep, and you have no idea what sort of critters just might swim along and see your little body looking like bait.

After we’d both soaped up and rinsed off several times, we were finally back up on deck when we noticed a little bird, dark head and white body, sitting on our lifelines. He was hitching a ride, and when I hung my towel out on the lifeline not far from him, he just cocked his head and looked at me as if to say, “I just need to rest up for a bit. You don’t mind do you?” He wasn’t the least bit afraid.

We are now well past the halfway point of our passage having covered just over 1100 miles. It is fun being able to post these blog posts by email through our Iridium Go satellite communicator, but I must admit, I do miss being able to read the comments on the blogs. Even if I won’t be able to read them for another week or so when we finally arrive in Fiji, I hope you will leave a few words to let me know how it feels to be joining us on board the good ship, Learnativity, for this voyage to Fiji.

Fair winds!

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Ever have one of those days?

Where you get up early, all fired up for an ugly day of dirty work. I mean Tyvek suit/Mask/Respirator/Gloves day.  This comes from a winter of boat near-abandonment, in a shed that has again become the domain of feral cats and pigeons in the rafters.  A winter that came and went while I knew I’d have a horrendous cleanup, not just from time and wildlife, but a cleanup that remained after that final nightmare deck glassing, which would have never been completed if not for my daughter’s significant other.  And he was with me again as we excavated the boat from months of overdue cleaning.

Yeah. A good day. Dirty, tiring, but oh so satisfying, the see the boat re-emerge from beneath the debris. We tossed junk in the dumpster, loaded my car with anything that didn’t need to be there, then headed home and off-loaded. A very good day, and I still had time to shower and then write before dinner. I sat down for a quick snack first, while the dogs jumped in the pond out back.  And then it hit me.

I didn’t see one boat bag when we got home — the one with my phone, wallet, and pretty much everything else important. And I know where it is…in the salon, beside the helm. That shower’s going to have to wait.

Yup. Definitely one of those days.


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Two of my books are now free

By Mike Jastrzebski

Key Lime Blues, Book 1 in my Wes Darling Sailing Mystery/Thriller series is now free in the following eBook stores. Here are the links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, and Kobo.

Key Lime Blues-Apple interior

A Wes Darling Sailing Mystery/Thriller, Book 1

For some people working in the family business means suits, power lunches, and afternoon meetings. For Wes Darling it was guns, lies, and dead bodies.

The Darling Detective Agency was founded in 1876 by Aaron “Dusty” Darling. Now Wes’s chain smoking, stressed out mother is grooming Wes to take over. How does he handle his mother’s demands?  He heads to Key West, moves onto a sailboat, and takes a job tending bar at a little joint called Dirty Alvin’s.

Life is carefree until his mother’s lover, a man who mentored Wes for years, is murdered on a Key West beach. Reluctantly, Wes is drawn into a spinning web of murder, sex and deceit.

First there are his mother’s pleas for help. Throw in a six-foot tall red-headed stripper, a retired mobster who acts like it’s the 1940’s, a pair of dim-witted hit men, a phobic psychic named Elvis, a small fortune in stolen diamonds, and what do you have? Mayhem in Key West.

This slightly humorous mystery about an ex-private investigator who runs away from responsibility to live the good life is bound to make you wish you could do the same.

Also, Mind Demons, my psychological thriller is still free by download from my website when you sign up for my reader’s group. Here’s the link: Free download of Mind Demons.

Mind Demons

If you like the free books I hope you’ll consider buying my other books. Click here for links to my other books.




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