Things were going wrong as they tend to do when the wind has been blowing thirty knots all day and the seas were running to ten feet.
As the sun had gone down the furling line controlling the big foresail on our forty-one foot sailboat had snapped, letting the sail run out to its fullest.
This put an unbearable strain on the steering system and, in short order, the rudder cable snapped.
So now, as darkness fell, I found myself on the plunging bowsprit of an uncontrollable boat a hundred miles out at sea trying to retie the line. It was natural at a time like this to ask myself the obvious question:
How did I manage to get myself in this situation?
I grew up on a small farm in the Berkshire hills of Massachusetts. After graduating from high school – one of a senior class of just seventeen students – I attended Emerson College in Boston for a couple of years. I then found myself in the Army, serving in the Signal Corps in the Republic of China during the Viet Nam War. When I came home, I finished my B.A. and M.A. in Communications Disorders at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.
In 1981, my wife, Terry, and I moved to Key West where I worked as a broadcast journalist for two years before joining the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) and moving overseas to teach. We spent two years in Iceland and then twelve in Germany, teaching and traveling and raising two children while I worked seriously at learning to write.
In 1992, my first published short story appeared in a small literary magazine in Minnesota and shortly after that it was published again in the Prague Review. In 1994, my story, “The Rifle“, won an international short story competition in Paris and was published in the literary journal, Paris Transcontinental.
Three years later we accepted a transfer to the island of Guam in the western Pacific where we bought the sailboat and moved aboard. We lived on that boat for almost ten years and it was there that I wrote the Eye of the Stallion Fantasy Series. It was also while living on Guam and while sailing among the tropical islands of Micronesia, that I studied the ancient secrets of the Pacific island navigators, the basis for my adventure novel Brothers of the Fire Star which was selected as a national Book-of-the-Year Finalist by Foreword Reviews in 2012 and later a Finalist in Adventure Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, and Historical Fiction by the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards. Terry and I now live on the Eastern Shore of Virginia where I’ve settled into a writer’s life. We still sail and still travel, but it’s wonderful, after twenty-eight years living overseas, to be home.
We survived that wild, moonlit night at sea when everything was falling apart, and now, looking back on it, it seems to have been a very fine adventure. I have always thought that that was the way life should seem, at least when you look back over it – a very fine adventure, and maybe something to write about.