WritersWeekly’s Managing Editor, Brian Whiddon, will be taking over News from the Home Office for the next four weeks because, to be completely honest, his “home office” will be far more exciting than mine during that time! We’ll be breathlessly reading about his adventures alongside you. And, it all begins below!
First Leg of my Sailing Excursion
As some of you readers know, I live on my 36′ sailboat, the “Floggin’ Molly.”
Last year, I realized that getting hired on with BookLocker.com and WritersWeekly.com, combined with today’s wireless technology, would afford me the opportunity to do a LOT more sailing without needing to take vacation time. So, back in November, after several months of training, I was ready to hoist the sails and live as a waterborne vagabond for a full month. That would offer me time to venture further south to places like Venice, Sanibel, Captiva Island and Cayo Costa.
Angela agreed I was ready to take my “home office” to the open waters. I began prepping for the trip. However, replacing some opening ports and installing an autopilot delayed my departure. Then, it was too close to Christmas time and New Year’s. So, the trip was put off until February. Then, in February, we caught wind of the Tate Publishing disaster. With 39,000 authors getting the rug pulled out from under them, we knew we had to do something. Since then, it’s been “all hands on deck” to handle the wave of new authors signing up to keep their books from becoming extinct.
Finally, with the work load under control, I set March 15th as my departure date. I had extra passengers on board for my first day on the trip. You can read here what happened with that attempt. We waited 2 more days, and set sail for the Manatee River, some 26 miles away.
The sail south was fast and COLD! The winds were a steady seven knots from behind and to port. We were bundled up in several layers, but had a great time as the “Floggin Molly” zoomed down Tampa Bay, and under the Sunshine Skyway bridge.
Angela said she kept seeing something flash several times in the water off to our starboard side. That made us a little nervous because the Coast Guard had been looking for two missing swimmers for the past two days. We really didn’t want to wind up finding a body on the trip. Suddenly, I saw the flash, too, and realized it was a dolphin fin rising out of the water. The sun was just right, and glistened off the dolphin’s smooth skin – just like someone was holding a mirror.
When we were just outside the marina in Palmetto, I contacted the office by phone. They gave me directions to my transient slip and I began my approach. I accidentally passed the dock where my slip was located and shifted the boat into reverse. The engine transmission control went limp. I put it back into forward gear, and tried to shift into reverse again. Nothing. You cannot stop a boat without reverse and I was running out of deep water quickly.
I was able to do an emergency U-turn just in time to avoid running aground in three feet of water, and headed back to the safety of the deep channel. Then, as I throttled up to gain speed, my engine suddenly began to slow down!! Over and over I’d push the throttle forward. The RPMs would climb for a second, then fall yet again. I could only get about a knot and a half out of the old girl, and was beginning to really fret over what could possibly be happening to my engine.
We finally reached a place where we could safely anchor just outside a marked channel and I went below to check the engine. I discovered that the screws holding the mounting brackets for BOTH the transmission and throttle cables had vibrated loose. TWO different cables and TWO different brackets, on TWO different sides of the engine! Murphy’s law was indeed in effect that St. Patty’s day. I got to work and tightened the screws down. In about an hour, the Molly was purring like a kitten again, and chugging along back to the marina.
After checking in, we all had a fantastic dinner at the dockside restaurant. But the temperature dropped like a brick once the sun went down. Mason borrowed Angela’s jacket to keep warm but apparently his head was cold as well (plus the setting sun was in his eyes.). Our waiter couldn’t help but do a double-take when he walked by this:
After dinner, the Hoys walked me back to my boat, and surprised me with a bottle of cold champagne they’d hidden on board. (They’d also brought sparkling apple juice for the boys.) They threw me a short bon voyage party. They’d previously left a car at the marina and they jumped in and headed back to St. Pete.
Saturday morning, I headed out from the marina, and anchored just off the DeSoto National Monument in Bradenton. This spot is thought to be the location of an ancient Florida Indian village and possibly the location of Hernando DeSoto’s landing in what later became “Florida.”
I took a dinghy trip ashore, and wandered the park and its beach. However, because it was a weekend, the beach was pretty busy. Some guy felt he had to park his pontoon boat right next to my dinghy even though he had a good 50 yards of beach to choose from. So, after strolling around a little longer, I went back to the boat. I settled in for the afternoon with a good cigar and some dark German beer.
The idea was to stay anchored for the St Patty’s day weekend, and avoid all the drunks on the Intracoastal Waterway as well as get some work done.
Sunday, I awoke to 15 – 20 mph winds. I worked on the computer while my boat bucked and thrashed around on her anchor line, occasionally heeling over deeply when a motorboat would go by, throwing its wake my way.
By 5:00 p.m., the temperature had dipped into the low 50’s again and the wind intensified. I dropped a second anchor to ensure I didn’t drag. The winds died down at 6:00 and, rather than kicking myself over wasting the effort of setting the second anchor, I instead marveled at my ability to calm the seas with such a simple act – like how washing one’s car brings rain.
Monday morning was gorgeous and peaceful. But, rather than motor down to Cortez, I instead decided to spend one more day on the hook to recover from the beating I took the day before. Besides, there was still plenty of BookLocker and WritersWeekly work to be done.
Publishers! By Brian Whiddon, a.k.a. “Secret Squirrel”Brian Whiddon is the Managing Editor of WritersWeekly.com and the Operations Manager at BookLocker.com. Brian is an Army vet and former police officer, and spent several years chained to a desk, commuting Tampa's congested roadways, working in corporate management and training, while writing in his spare time. He is now an author, an avid sailor, and NRA-certified firearms instructor. Brian lived and worked aboard his 36-foot sailboat, the “Floggin’ Molly” for 9 years in St. Petersburg, Florida. He calls her his "rescue boat" that he found abandoned in a boat yard and rebuilt himself - fulfilling a dream he had to one day live aboard. Now, in northern Georgia, when not working on WritersWeekly and BookLocker, he divides his off-time between hiking, hunting, and farming.