Boats, book reviews and other stuff

Oct. 7: Time for an update. I posted the review of The Long Road to Paris by Kirkus and we have been basking in the compliments even as we took a short trip on Silver Girl, our Catalina 310. Just one day down the ICW to Titusville.

 Now that trip had its adventures. We wanted an easy first day since we hadn’t had the boat out since last November, so we waited one day for the winds to die down.  You get kind of rusty with this stuff. Living and moving on a boat is much different than on land. There are lots of things to remember that aren’t in our immediate land-bound memory. Simple things like start the engine, then untie the lines, then back out of the slip, etc. etc. Don’t ever do these things in a different order! Oh, yes, and always have the boat hooks ready-which I didn’t when we pulled into the slip in Titusville. We did OK, but it could have gone smoother and made us look a little more experienced. I mean we are, experienced, that is, just rusty.

OK, so Ed says, over beer and chips-the way we love to end a day on the water. “That was a bit too easy.” If you have any superstitions, you NEVER say such a thing on a boat. Sure enough, next day on the way back, I am on a conference call (cell phones are either good or bad) Ed is managing the helm and radio to open the bridge in the Cross-over canal and I am chatting, or listening. As we leave the canal, the engine seems sluggish and when Ed tried to reve it up, the rpms just don’t change. Something has tangled in the propeller.

Now add this, cell phone cover drops out. Good in that I am now available to help Ed, bad in that if we need help, we can’t call. Of course we do have our marine radio. So, next step. We are in wide, but shallow water. We can’t risk going out of the water-way or we go aground. But we need to clear the prop in order to go on. Ed drops anchor knowing this is not allowed in the ICW, but what choice do we have. There has been no waterway traffic all morning and we’ve only seen a few open fishing boats in the canal.

Now, for you non-boaters, the only way to clear a propeller is to dive under the boat and clear it by hand, or cut away whatever is around it. I DON’T WANT ED TO DIVE. In the past he has done this, but he will be 77 in two weeks and has not been swimming for at least a year. We have the current against us meaning he will be swimming against a current. Does he really have the strength, endurance? Also we discover we have no facemasks on board. Meaning, he will be doing this by feeling his way along the bottom of the boat. Now you have to realize, on a sailboat with inboard engine, the prop is about 5 feet from the stern and in front of the keel. Not at all the same as an outboard mounted on back. I want to convince him to at least tie a line around himself so he doesn’t get carried off. He protests, saying it will  just get in his way, or worse yet, if it gets tangled, he will drown. Great, now I have more anxiety.  

In my head, I am imagining watching him carried off by the current. The anchor is down. I have to either get it up, start the engine and go after him-while trying not to go aground or inflate the dingy and try to get to him that way. I know I cannot lift the outboard over the stern and get it on the dingy and again, since it has not been used in more than a year, what chance is there that it will start. Next to none. My stomach is now contracting with anxiety.

So, Ed drops the ladder off the stern and starts to climb down. At least the water is warm. Then, not really wanting to do this he has a thought. We think it is seaweed around the propeller. We have seen huge hunks of it floating on the surface in this part of the waterway. He says, “I have an idea. Maybe if I put the engine in reverse, it will unwind the seaweed.” I’m for this. He climbs onboard, starts the engine and puts it in reverse. It works! He revs the engine to full rpm and it runs easily. Now just to get the anchor up and we are on our way again.

Nope, just one more thing. At this point a small open fishing boat approaches, the two guys waving and shouting. “Hey, you can’t anchor in the waterway”. They are headed to cross the bow of the boat, which has the potential of cutting our anchor line. Ed shouts back, waving his arms. “My anchor is down. Don’t cross my bow.” They shout again telling us we can’t anchor in the waterway. Ed shouts again. Now shouting is necessary over the wind, their engine noise and the distance, but it all sounds angry as you can imagine. Guess they think we are old fogies, better yet, inexperienced old fogies. End of story. When they got close enough Ed was able to tell them we had a fouled prop and as soon as he fixed that, we would move on. They then offered to call for help, which we waved off by telling them we had a marine radio on board and could manage. It is sort of surprising they didn’t stay around to make sure we were good, but in truth, we were free and didn’t need more help. They roared off and Ed proceeded to get the anchor up, me at the helm. All this took about 45 minutes and we were on our way back to Daytona. Not a boring day.

OK, now this trip was not complete until we returned to Daytona and I checked email. We were waiting to hear about a second review from Blue Ink a new book review site we had submitted to. But we had an email from Kirkus which was even better. Kirkus was telling us that our book had been selected for their list of “Best books in 2011”! It will be featured in their Dec. 1 issue and on their website for the month of Dec as picks for the holidays.

I will add, that we have now heard from Blue Ink. Sort of strange. We went to their website and found the review of our book but we haven’t received an email from them that the review was done. I admit, the review is disappointing. Not that they don’t like the book, they may be less enthusiastic than Kirkus, but it’s not the review that is bad, it’s the writing. It is not up to the standard of Kirkus reviewers. Perhaps the reviewers are inexperienced, this is a new endeavor. It would never impress an agent, I can tell you that. I think we expected more after the very well written review from Kirkus. Guess we are getting quite critical of other people’s writing. You can read it yourself on their website and see what I mean.

That’s all for now. What adventure will tomorrow bring?


About ejhowle23

Authors and adventurers, participated in the World Race 2011, an automobile rally from New York to Paris, crossing three continents and 14,000 land miles. Following much the same route as the setting for our debut novel, The Long Road to Paris. This blog describes our own adventures and challenges. And now you can follow our Bahamas sailing adventure that provides the setting for our second novel, Night Watch. Our rally, the African Safari Challenge, crossed five countries in South Africa in May 2014 and in 2015 we participated in the second Trans-American rally this time from Nova Scotia to San Francisco. Spring of 2016 we travelled 28 days around Australia with friends from previous rallies and in the fall participated in our most exhausting rally through Argentina, Chili and Peru- the Rally of the Incas. We were awarded the Against All Odds award. We're still not sure if this was for us or our car. Stewball never broke down and we hardly did. We will soon take on Iceland as a self-drive tour and in the fall of 2017 we will participate in the Odyssey Italia and then back to Africa for a do-over (almost) of the Africa Safari Challenge.
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3 Responses to Boats, book reviews and other stuff

  1. TBC says:

    Fabulous on the Kirkus Review. I remember back in the days when I was in publishing in Boston (Houghton Mifflin Company, Trade Division, i.e. non text books), we awaited each Kirkus review with anticipation. Sure, the NYT Reviews are critical, but the Kirkus ones come first.

    So, congratulations! That is really terrific.

    Now, to your adventures on the Waterway, glad it all turned out well.

    Hugs to you both,


  2. Ronald Sieber says:

    Somehow I keep imagining that your challenges in this incident would inspire a Laurel & Hardy routine out of all of this. Is there a modern equivalent for those two characters?


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